…and Violet and her friend are playing with the mice on her bed (so hygienic!)
I really haven’t recovered from Mansfield and Me. I am trying to write a kids’ comic book, but I am lacking the ambition that has propelled me through all my other books – that this will be the one, that this will be the break out book. At the age of almost 44 I have to come to terms with the fact that there will be no break-out book, and that I just have to keep making things regardless of their reception. Ambition is deeply flawed anyway – it’s the hungry, insatiable monster who always ups the level so you can never be pleased with your successes – all you can see is the next marker of success just out of reach. Maybe the thing that’s getting in the way of me burning ahead with my next book is a. the nagging sense that I need some downtime and b. the knowledge that creating a book-length comic takes an enormous amount of work. Which is why I like doing comics here, which can be ragged and unfinished and drifty. Still, I’m coming up seven years on the blog… maybe it’s time to retire…
I had great plans to write a think piece – something political, something on a global scale. So much has happened this week. There’ve been chemical attacks in Syria, and bombs. Somehow, though, all the big ideas refused to coalesce, and it was easier to write about the new mice. I was reading an article online, about how novels in the past decade have been preoccupied by the self, and we need to write more novels like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which examines power and its abuses. I felt guilty – my novels and comics have been small in scale – and defensive – isn’t power and its abuses reflected in all interactions? Don’t the patterns in the world repeat themselves at a grand and microscopic scale? Isn’t it crazy how the veins in your body look like the veins on leaves? Everything is connected. Anyway, the internet likes cats. Cats are powerful. Mice are kind of at a disadvantage, even in their little cages. I feel bad about caging animals but somehow I made a contract with Violet that I had to honour. Now I have to figure out how to stop the cat from busting its way through her doors.
Maybe I need to be a bit more upbeat… introduce some funny punchlines!
Hey, I got a lovely review for Mansfield and Me in Landfall Review!
I suppose it’s a bit much to ask, to get through a dental hygienist appointment without full-on commentary and a little bit of judgement. The thing is, you can’t really say much back since they’ve got their tools in your mouth – you’ve either got to listen to them or try and watch the TV up above. Also, I may seem like I’m taking taking the moral high ground, but I’m secretly judging back. The thing is, even as I judge people, I also like them. Perhaps I like them because I can see that they, like me, are flawed and complex and can’t see themselves in their entirety.
I have actually tried to learn Maori before – I studied it at university in 1992 (!!!) and I also took a course at the local marae when I was pregnant with Violet. It turned out that the late nights didn’t suit me at the time, and I abandoned it, once more. When I was young, I was a linguaphile and managed to learn German, French, Spanish and some Italian. I studied them at school, and we got the chance to revise every day. Somehow I didn’t end up living in Europe, as I imagined I might, and when a Frenchman tried to talk to me the other day I discovered that I’d forgotten all my verbs. Still, there’s still time… my Parisian/Sevillan/Roman apartment is waiting for me….
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Maybe the frustration of the bus comes from not being in control – there are so many variables that can turn your 15 minute trip into an hour one. It’s crazy, I have my bus app and traffic reports via Twitter but I still can’t tell whether it’s going to be a good or a bad bus day. Oh, to live in a city like Tokyo or Paris, where the subways are constantly whooshing up and off into tunnels! I am not entirely convinced about the electric bike option, given the narrowness of the streets that wind their way to my home. However, I’m still convinced that if buses were more regular, not just down the main arterial lists, more people would use them. And! If they were cheaper! To take my family of 5 into town and back, it costs $25 in bus fares, and since parking is free in the weekend, guess how we go in?
I know! What was I thinking? But it’s a scary prospect, fishing a weta and a spider out of a letterbox. What if they run up your arm?
I just came across a card from my grandmother who died 18 months ago and felt sad that that was the last one we’d receive. On the news the other day I heard that postage was going up because nobody was sending letters anymore and it was unsustainable. Letters were dying out along with my grandmothers’ generation. Of course we still communicate, copiously, but there is no longer that paper record of your intimate thoughts and feelings at a particular point of time – words chosen for an audience of one, rather than the group audiences that social media provides. I salvaged a lot of Katherine Mansfield’s dialogue in my book from her letters. I wonder how future biographers will go about recreating lives from our texts, feeds, emails and vlogs.
Also, I emptied out my handbag: