I set up this blog to write about and promote the three books I had published between September 2007 and June 2008 – All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens, Anarya’s Secret and Transported – plus post about other writers, books, and matters of interest to me. I’ve been doing all that, and will keep doing it, but I realised a few days back that there was one topic I hadn’t tackled: what I’m writing now.
I write short stories, poetry, and novels. Inefficient, maybe, especially for someone who writes part-time, but that mix doesn’t seem likely to change in the near future – because I’ve got all three types of writing on the go. My main focus is my new novel, but short stories and poetry refuse to be entirely set aside.
First, the novel. I’m prone to calling it “my new novel”, but that’s not strictly accurate. Before I wrote Anarya’s Secret, I had written another novel, with the working title “Antarctic Convergence”. The jumping off point for “Antarctic Convergence” was a story I wrote in 2000, “The Wadestown Shore”, which is included in Transported.
This is the story that begins:
I cut the engine in the shadow of the motorway pillars and let the dinghy drift in to the Wadestown shore. The quiet of late afternoon was broken only by the squawking of parakeets. After locking the boat away in the old garage I now used as a boatshed, I stood for a moment to soak in the view. The setting sun was winking off the windows of drowned office blocks. To the left lay Miramar Island, and beyond it the open sea.
The sunken office blocks of the Drowned city were far behind me. The rich waters and virgin shores of Antarctica lay ahead. I made my way forward to greet them.
“The Wadestown Shore” is (in revised form) also Chapter 1 of the novel.
I finished the initial version of this novel in 2004, but was unable to get it published. I decided to shelve it for a while, write something else (that turned out to be Anarya’s Secret), and then revisit the novel and the feedback I’d had on it.
I did that earlier this year, and though there are some valid arguments against rewriting your first completed novel, I felt that the basic idea of “Antarctic Convergence” was still good, but that the novel had major structural problems, especially in its second half. So I’m rewriting it pretty much from scratch, and I’m almost half way through the redraft. More news, I hope, in 2009.
Next, the short stories. I’ve written three new stories since Transported was put to bed, and am currently working on a fourth which I’m trying to finish in time for an anthology submission deadline. That isn’t exactly enough for a collection, and I’m putting completing the novel ahead of writing lots more stories, but I will keep plugging away. When new stories of mine do appear in print or online, I’ll let you know.
Last but not least, the poetry. Although All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens was published in 2007, I completed the manuscript (more or less) in 2005, so I have had three years to get some more poetry written. But, whereas I can decide that I’m going to work on my novel for the next two hours, sit down, and get 1000 or so words written, I have found that I can’t make myself write poetry: it arrives when it wants, and when it doesn’t want, nothing will induce it – yes, it’s that old favourite “the muse” again!
All the same, when checking the other day, I found that I had 29 poems which I’d consider putting towards a new collection – and what’s more, 29 poems that fit a theme. Will I write more poems that fit this theme and assemble them beautifully into a collection, or will I go off on a complete tangent? Watch this space!