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Do you guys have this? An undercurrent of anxiety that seems to be impossible to shift, despite breathing exercises and walks? My anxiety is generally deadline induced, and the only way I can get rid of it is by working on the thing that is due. The only problem was that quite a few things are due right now, so whatever I’m working on isn’t going to alleviate my deadline problem completely. And as soon as I’ve ticked off a deadline, another one will appear… sometimes I think I have an anxiety quota to fill. Anyway, I’ve got this done for the week! Now onto the next thing…

Hey, if you’re in Wellington this Saturday 3 June, I’ll be at the winter zine market, selling a few comics not featured on my blog. You’ll find me between 12 and 5pm at Thistle Hall, 293 Cuba Street.





I remember going to Smith and Caughey’s in the 90s, when we had a friend who worked there in the menswear department. He took us up to the staff tea room, where everyone was chain smoking, wearing Chanel-style suits, sitting in the spots they’d occupied for decades. I got a cup of instant coffee. I feel nostalgic for the old fashioned department store – Kirks in Wellington has been bought out by David Jones, and Collinson’s and Cunningham’s in Palmerston North was taken over by Farmers when I was still a child. Still, Smith and Caughey’s sails on, a great ship full of stuff you never needed in the first place if you wanted to remain true to your punk rock heart.

Lock picking club



I had a fantastic if somewhat overwhelming time in Auckland at the Writers Festival. This is one of the things that I did that was not part of the programme. The internet is amazing in the way that people with niche interests can find a place to converge. I never realised there were so many lock picking enthusiasts in Auckland!

The look



One thing I find really frustrating is how I can intellectually recognise that I’m being manipulated, that what I’m worrying about doesn’t matter and is in opposition with my belief system, and yet some annoying part of my brain can’t let it go. I can also intellectually recognise that looks are important, that fashion is an art form, that we express ourselves culturally and artistically through our clothes. Our clothes, our make up, is our armour, protecting us from the world. Still, I find it crazy in this age of selfies and self-documentation that I still am surprised when I see another person’s version of myself. These days I get to control how I look – or do I? I realise that I’ve been fooling myself, that I’ve only been looking at a sliver of myself, the front-on.


If you’re in Levin, I will be talking in your town tomorrow, at 2 pm, at the Festival of Stories.

If you’re in Dunedin, I will be taking part in two panels at the Dunedin Writers Festival – one on Saturday 13 May, Picturing Words and Wording Pictures, and one on Sunday 14 May, It’s Personal.

If you’re in Auckland next week, I will be taking part in the Auckland Writers Festival – more on that later.

Thirteen Reasons Why



First up, here is a suicide prevention line in NZ: 0800 543 354. And if you want to find out more about the show, start here.

It’s super hard, parenting in this age of media over saturation. New stuff floods in and becomes a sensation before we’ve had a chance to parse it, and everyone gets on board with their various interpretations of it. It’s bad / it’s great / it’s good entertainment / it’s dangerous and gratuitous / it should’ve come with a rating / it’s totally overwhelming.  I’m sure it’s true what the commentators said – the book was better. It was more nuanced, more subtle, less of a revenge story and more of a heartbreaking portrait of how bullying contributes towards suicide. I find the whole cloak of silence around suicide confusing though. There seems to be a belief that if we deny that it happens, then it won’t happen. Which is patently untrue, given New Zealand’s suicide rates. Whenever there’s an article about someone who has died and they don’t tell you why, I become obsessed with finding out. As a child I knew of suicides – there were kids at school whose parents had gassed themselves in their cars. There were stories I overheard my mother talking to her friends about.

I’m still unsure as to whether it was a good thing or a bad thing to watch with my son, but I feel like it’s important to acknowledge that suicide exists, and that there are things you can do – help you can get – in order to prevent it. Although if you read All My Puny Sorrows by the brilliant Miriam Toews, you may come to different conclusions.

Anyway, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and also to hear any good TV recommendations you have!

Mice, part 2



The tragic tale of the mice! You can read part one, before it all went wrong, here. And, to make it worse, Thunder escaped for a week and we only just found her this morning under the bed. She seems ok, if a little in shock. The kids are hoping that she’s got pregnant on holiday, so we don’t have to wait for a new mouse litter from the pet shop.

NEWS: I’m going to be appearing in a few different places next week!

On Tuesday 2 May, I’m going to be on a panel at Victoria University about gender discourse and sexual violence.

On Thursday 4 May I’m going to be appearing at a Victoria University Alumni event with a bunch of other writers – Damien Wilkins, Ashleigh Young, Hera Lindsay Bird and Bill Manhire. If you’re an alumni, you can register here to come along.

And on Saturday 6 May, I’m giving a character development workshop at Wellington City Library, and will be on a panel with the legendary Dylan Horrocks.

The following week I will be appearing at a small literary festival in Levin and one in Dunedin. The week after that I’ll be at the Auckland Writers Festival. It’s all on! I’ll need a lie down by the end of May.


The drift



…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…