Life seems to have been frustratingly disparate lately, at least for a girl who likes focus, direction and deadlines. There have been galling stops and starts, weeks interrupted by socialising and faulty hearing aids, bicycles and laptops, and battles with endless procrastination as I push myself to write. On the day we held the funeral service for my grandmother, I was made an offer for my second novel, Entitlement, but I was too depressed to even open a bottle of champagne to celebrate. I’m still waiting for the contract and the go-ahead, which is painful because until then I have no direction on the novel, and not being able to work on it makes me feel a little unwell. Unlike with A Curious Intimacy, which I was sick of by the time it even made it to the publishers, and which I had to edit in the middle of writing a PhD, I’m desperate to be in the midst of this one. It feels like it will be a more successful work: the characters are more real, the plot is tighter and more dramatic, and it has more relevance to contemporary politics. I am already in love with it in a way I never was with ACI, which was a largely academic, feminist exercise, although the emotional aspects of it were drawn from experience.
In the interim I’ve been working on short stories, some of which have lain in my drawers for more than a decade. Again, because of the nature of the work, this means more stopping and starting. The worlds I’m writing about are smaller, the action briefer, and as it’s harder to get into the swing of it, I am easily distracted. I’ve also dug out my thesis to rewrite it for publication, as once I begin work on Entitlement again it will take over my life and I won’t be able to concentrate on anything else. However I’m struggling with one of the links between the chapters and so I keep walking away from it. Things just don’t seem to be resolving themselves.
After the funeral I stayed at Parental Unit’s for a week, during which time their 7 month old whippet chewed up my hearing aid. I had stupidly left it on the couch, having taken it out because the television was so loud (Parental Unit are also going deaf) and the subtitles were on. When I saw the little bits of hearing aid scattered at my feet, my heart fell through the floor. I extracted a final piece of the casing from the dog’s mouth and added it to the sorry collection of wire and microchip. It’s still too horrifying to be funny yet, as the new hearing aid cost more than two grand, a rather expensive learning curve.
Then both my computer and bicycle decided to die on me, the former needing a new hard drive which, due to a total lack of communication by the IT nerds who replaced it (never use The Mac Doctors, people), wiped out my operating system and my applications. It takes a lot to make me cry, but when I couldn’t get my laptop to go after several trips to Annerley, I burst into tears. Not in front of said nerds, unfortunately, which might have helped them to register their incompetence and lack of clarity. Meanwhile my bicycle, being an English brand little known in Australia, needs a new hub, which will be expensive. However, as with my very pretty but largely uncomfortable and unwalkable shoes, I will endure whatever pain it takes to be able to keep on using it.
Despite all these literary and technological frustrations, summer is slowly creeping into being. I have put away my boots and taken out my stiletto sandals; the flowering jacarandas make for a gorgeous ferry ride to the uni; H is coming home for good in two months and there is beach and holiday action scheduled for January. And this weekend, the guilt and procrastination paid off as I belted out a wonderful and peculiar short story in two days, inspired by P1 and his mention of the aquatic ape theory. When a story comes together this quickly, you know it’s working. If only the rest of my life could do that.