20 01 2010

After a final ping pong whupping by both Kylie and Russell, we all decamped to the Hedgehog Cafe, Berry, for lunch bfore going our separate ways.

Cat, Kylie, Donna, Matthew, Russell, Nicole & Trudi. photo by Rob Hood

I didn’t achieve the wordcount I’d hoped for. My main regret is not pinching The Island, a Peter Benchely novel I found on the shelf and managed to get six chapters into before we left.

And so we face the final curtain…

19 01 2010

I’m feeling a bit bleugh today. Bored, cause I can’t work on the novel. A bit sick. Tired. You know… bleugh.

In good news, however, I finally managed to read a book this year, and what a great book it was – Lucy Sussex’s A Tour Guide in Utopia. It’s so easy to read, so accessible, and so you’re able to focus on the intriguing ideas and possiblities that she poses. Utterly fascinating, and a book I think I will want to read again.

I’ve been meaning to post about the books that are here in the house, because it’s quite an interesting collection. There’s some political biographies – one of Kruschev, another the Latham Diaries – alon with some non-fiction that leads me to believe that the owners of this house have an interest in socialism, particularly in communism.

Fiction wise, there’s the more literary end of things, such as Frank Moorhouse and Margaret Atwood, then there’s genre like a couple of RA Salvatore and Douglas Adams. Names on the shelf include Jane Austen, Wilbur Smith, Bryce Courtney, Frank McCourt, Dostoevsky, Ruth Rendell, Peter Benchley, Tim Winton and Lewis Carroll.

It’s an intriguing and eclectic collection, and one I was surprised to find in a holiday home. I read Karl Kruscelniski’s Great Mythconceptions from it, as well as the Disney book of The Little Mermaid. I think I might spend the afternoon with Alice and Wonderland.

– Nicole

The things that happen

19 01 2010

Woke up this morning hopeful that the neck and left shoulder were under control. Both were better. I slept in a bit, not feeling up to getting out of bed. Then a phone call. The carers couldn’t find my mother this morning. They rang to say she was in hospital. I have no more detail as yet and it is after eleven. Of course I am worried that it might be something worse than another fall, leaving Mum dazed or in a flap.

So there marks the beginning of day 13.


Endings That Aren’t Endings

19 01 2010

Today is my last one for writing for a while. I doubt I’ll make it to 20K words, but who knows? It might happen. Tonight I’ll be heading back to Berry to rejoin the rest of the FWOR group. Tomorrow we head back to Canberra.

I really wish I was going home from there. I’ve been away from home since the 30th of December. Since last year. But instead I’m heading to Brisbane for the Aurealis Awards. Which will be fun, if nerve-wracking.

And at some point I have to work out how to safely transport a ukulele on a plane.

– Trudi

In the zone and, crap, there goes the neck!

18 01 2010

When I set the goal of 60,000 words I knew I was pushing it. I can make 50,000 fairly easily, provided things go well, in two weeks of a retreat. If I only get one migraine, have one day out and I stay focussed. So I upped the ante for the sake of upping the ante. I thought I would come close. Anything over 50,000 words was going to be good. I even thought two days of 10,000 words and then falling into an exhausted heap would do it, make me reach it.

Today I was cooking. I was in the zone with 5,000 words by lunchtime and no fatigue, no strain. I’d break after 1,000 words, walk around let the ideas flow. The zen zone was all around me. The place I want to be and the place that is hard to get to where I am in the story. Then I went outside for a walk and I don’t know something happened. I came back inside, ideas brimming, ready to jump back on the machine and then I felt it. Pain in my upper left shoulder and the stiffening neck. I broke. Dreams of 10,000 words slid by as I climbed into bed and begged Matthew for a massage. Then I had to lay there still until it settled down. No  reading, no knitting and no writing. The hours ticked by. Matthew gave me another massage as well as a hot towel which relieved the pain. But the disappointment of getting to the zone and having to pull back, let the ideas all slide back into the murk is so disappointing.

I blame the table I am working on. It is too high even with the ergonomic chair. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try again but this time I’ll use the adjustable table. I hope that the neck repairs itself tonight. Though I’m not that hopeful. I may have to rest my laurels on 45,500 words for this retreat.

There were highlights to the day. Hot bread for lunch. Chocolate muffins courtesy of Cat. A bowl of lollies thank you Nicole. Lovely Matthew taking care of me, hanging with me. The great treat tonight though is fresh fish, crumbed and fried, salad and wedges. Thanks Russell and Kylie.


the hard road

18 01 2010

This afternoon Russell described one of my stories a being like a mullet: too much boof on top, then trailing off all straggly down the end. Another friend critiqued it and called it Heart of Darkness meets Dr No. Which is utter bullshit — I lifted the ending straight from Beneath the Planet of the Apes!

Both Russell and Kylie are still whupping my arse at Ping Pong

– Cat

And now the end is near…

18 01 2010

Just two full days of the retreat left, and we’re all starting to get the I-don’t-want-this-to-ends.  For me, it’s because these retreats allow me to focus on my writing and be with my friends without any sort of responsibility. Freedom from all the things you HAVE to do as part of keeping a regular life on track.

Then there’s all the fascinating conversations about philosophy, writing, social Darwinism and environmental determinalism, religion, liking religion, hating religion, thinking Jesus was a pretty bodacious dude but otherwise the church sucks… Brainstorming your own work, reading other people’s. Watching terrible terrific movies like Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Team America and last night’s offering, Idiocracy. Making vast inroads into the massive supply of alcohol brought with us. Eating fantabulous food (last night’s was Cat making Simon Brown’s pesto pasta – yummmy!, with Matthew making fresh pasta).

I’m really pleased with the work I’ve done on the retreat – finished the copyedits of book one, finished my edit of book two. I’ve not done as much reading as I would have liked, but I know I’ll get time later to do that.

There’s already talk of next year’s retreat. I guess the fact that after two weeks with each other we want to do this again speaks volumes for how well this group functions together.

– Nicole


17 01 2010

Looks like I can’t bear the thought of not meeting my own target. I have forced myself to sit here and write and write. I have resisted the call of a nap. I have resisted the call of a walk and of the knitting. I have written over 7,000 words today. Yay, me.

I am dreaming if I think I’ll make 60,000 words. Fifty will make me smile. Have to go and think up more story for tomorrow. BTW I am thoroughly knackered.


I am legend!

17 01 2010

The edit is done. I am happy. I like some of the new elements of the story – they’ve added layers without taking away from the things that were already working. The only question in my mind is whether HarperCollins will accept my idea for the major encounter – don’t want to say too much, but it’s so cool.

I will spend some time basking in the glory of my achievement, and then get back to work.

– Nicole

Three days to go and counting

17 01 2010

Yesterday was a day off. You may have seen that from other posts. I think it is therapeutic to have some time out, some time to gather your wits, before diving back into the writing again. I had hoped after the great lunch, fish and chips, and talk that when we got back I’d be able to squeeze out a few thousand words. Except part way through the day I felt blah and then by the time we got back to Berry, my head ached and my belly felt a bit sick. I tried to nap but my son rang and then I’d somehow volunteered to cook dinner so I had to get up. I am glad I did. We had a nice meal, sour cream, chives and smoked salmon penne pasta and salad, and a good chat. I dragged out my knitting and some how Cat magically got the reluctant DVD player to work first time again. First movie option, Female Trouble by John Water,s worked but was the wrong region code and wouldn’t play. That meant it was random crappy kung fun movie time-The legend of the eight samurai. I finished my knitting-the back of my jacket-and found the blue haze over the movie and the appalling black magic and suspicious absence of kung fu, insufficient to keep me from my bed. However, that did not impair the others’ ability to have a good time.

Now I can grin because I’ve had eleven hours of sleep and I’ve made triple chocolate mini muffins. My time to blitz my writing has come.