Monday, 30 December 2013

The View Through Concrete...

I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the years'.  – Henry Moore  (1898 – 1986)

Having a predisposition toward over-analysis and self-flagellating internal monologues I generally avoid the siren call of reflecting upon the year that has been.  Having a personality that is hard-wired for more ups and downs than a hooker at a blowjob convention, I tend to like to leave the past in the past and run like buggary from it.   However I am going to break all my own rules (because I don’t like rules, even my own) and have a wee look back because it’s been a good year.

October 2012 saw the publication of my first novel Creepy & Maud (Fremantle Press 2012), whilst 2013 saw it Shortlisted in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards, Older Reader’s Category.   Well, that’s good news!  No problem having a look back at that.  It received (mostly) good reviews and came out in audio format thanks to the Association for the Blind.  It was also listed in Australian Book Review “Books of the Year”.  A lot of people were involved in bringing Creepy & Maud into being, and they took more risks than I did (I just had to write it).  Extraordinarily, they’re all still talking to me, too!

I got to talk to lots of nice people.  From my very first “Author Talk” at Christchurch Grammar School (mouth so dry tongue kept sticking to roof of mouth) all the way through to breaking into ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ in a session at the Kimberley Writers Festival, I've met a slew of gorgeous people and made some really good new friends.  That’s worth dragging this year into the next.

And income.  Coming from a place of excitement and gratitude for the opportunity alone, my response to my first royalty cheque was an email to my publicist which read: “I forgot this shit pays!”  And pay it did.  2013 was the first year ever I was able to nonchalantly take one of my babies to the vet without checking my bank balance first.  And for those of you who consider it gauche for me to talk about money – I am gauche.

I also received an unparalleled amount of support at my day job, a job I will never leave because I love the construction industry.  I just love it.  It fulfills me.  (She’s probably reading this).  I have taken a lot of time off this year for appearances and festivals.  This would have been impossible without my employer, Jacqui Croon-Hargrave, being as excited as I was.  You don’t take that for granted.

So thank you, all of you, who made 2013 nice to look back on.  You know who you are.  Now give me a moment to recover my cynical, moody center before the schmaltz police turn up.  And watch this space for some BIG news January 2014.

Post Script: A special shout out to my best friend, Joscelyn Evans, who once booked a hotel room for the weekend just to read one of my manuscripts.  She who has believed in me since the dawn of time must be acknowledged.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Being Naked

“She's not wearing makeup so her face just looks like skin.” 
 Chuck Palahniuk, Choke 

Due to an unanticipated complication to recent illness I haven’t been able to wear makeup for over a week.  I’m like most women of a certain age – I don’t wear a lot, but I have a look, a finish, a mask.  And I was surprised and intrigued by my own, and others, reaction to the lack of makeup. 

I like makeup.  I can hide things, enhance things, and was very excited when my son first introduced me to primer.  I had to ask what it was.  He told me to think of it as polyfiller.   Done!  So when you are accustomed to having an identifiable physical face that you present to the world the consequences of leaving it behind when you leave the house can be quite extraordinary.

From inside my head I still feel like the same person, obviously.  However my reality check first hit me when I stopped for fuel on the way to work.  The console operator, whom I see several times a week, asked me if I was unwell.   I said no.  Then I remembered what I looked like.  And became immediately self-conscious about presenting my natural face in public.  I began explaining that I had no makeup on, and then why.  Even as I was doing this I became irritated.  Not at her.  But at my need to explain.

I felt naked.  I felt unfinished.  I felt...ugly.  The feelings continued throughout the days as people asked me:  Have you been crying?  Are you sick?  What’s wrong with your face?

Like most girls, I grew up believing I was ugly.  We do, you know.  We are bombarded with air-brushed, digitally enhanced bullshit from the moment we open a magazine.  Our acceptance as women in this society is diabolically tied to our being suitably coiffed, waxed, manicured, pedicured, made-up and thin.  And we buy into this not realizing at the time that we have accepted a bill of goods that does not exist within reality.
It’s like being naked in public.  People are uncomfortable.   Here’s the sadness – I’m uncomfortable too.  Every morning I look at myself in the mirror and plan how I will hide my face. 

Truth is, I’m not ugly.  I was just sold a bill of goods.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Cankles And The Single Girl...

“The really frightening thing about middle age is that you know you'll grow out of it." - Doris Day

I've never had a problem with middle age.  I like it.  There’s the grey hair that has forced me blonde, the increasing girth, the hormonal chin hair that you never seem to notice until it’s flapping in the breeze threatening to take someone’s eye out, the deteriorating eyesight, and those sudden internal temperature fluctuations that I’m told are to be expected but which I firmly believe are symptomatic of burgeoning Spontaneous Human Combustion.

I've resigned myself to having my hips replaced, and to having to sleep with a mask on because I disturb the neighbours...on Rottnest.   I’m OK with going out for a social drink and feeling it’s been a late 7.30.  I’m OK with my favourite perfume suddenly giving me a rash and no longer recognizing the back of my own hands.

None of this matters in comparison to the wonderful sense of settling into your own self, finally gaining the perspective years of dumb choices has given you, and the pleasure of having your response to the world with the odd “fuck you” accepted as eccentric and somewhat charming.   No amount of peculiar physical changes can compete with the lovely peace you find in your own company, the pride in the achievements of, and friendship with, adult children, and the sense that you've earned a right to be here.  
However, I was not prepared for...cankles.

Not at this age!  And you know why I have cankles?  Because my arthritis medication causes fluid retention! My feet look and feel like foreign bodies.  I occasionally poke them just to watch the dimple created refill with fluid.  I feel like an Oliver Saks patient.  “These feet are not mine...”

So I’m prescribed diuretics.  They give diuretics to someone who already has to wee twice after a cup of tea.  Not to mention the failing pelvic floor muscles.  I’m going to either wet the bed or turn into June Allyson.

Keep your legs elevated as much as possible, the medical professionals tell me.  The last time someone said that to me I was wearing stilettos and a spray of perfume (the same one now giving me a rash). 

I've never had a problem with middle age...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

When Gatekeepers Meet

The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen - Tommy Smothers

For those of you who follow my goings on, you will remember a post I wrote about being censored at a literary festival in 2013.  You can read that post here.  Having been a Gatekeeper myself, and wanting above all to promote and encourage communication between authors, their readers, and the people who decide what our readers can and can't read in the YA industry, I gave the following interview to Danielle Binks about my experience...

...and what I've learned is:

Gatekeepers are ordinary, sensitive human beings with people to answer to.  Having been a bookseller with the keys to the kingdom and a dodgy lock before me, I know first hand that reflexive antipathy is bred in the buyer (and seller) who fears and anticipates repercussions.

I cannot write with repercussions in mind.  They don't even occur to me.  I follow the voices in my head, who are real people to me, and my goal is to treat them, and my readers, with respect.  That's all I can do.

I have been in communication with the festival organizer who made that decision to have my attendance at the festival dependent upon not presenting Creepy & Maud.  I like her and I respect her.  Mistakes were made , fear and indignation met, but the outcome has been a conversation that I would not otherwise have had.  I am grateful for that conversation.

The link to my interview with Danielle is below:

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Latest Book Q & A...

Amanda Curtin tagged me in this questionnaire about my bookish behavior. Some of the questions were easy (we all know that b0ok recommended by a friend which ended up secreted in the recycle bin via over-arm bowl).  But choosing favourites from favourites and all the time feeling I have betrayed those who don’t make my paltry lists? – I needed to drink to get through this.  Please feel free to join in.  You can read Amanda Curtin’s responses here.  Mine are below (no heckling please)...

What are you reading right now?
The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil by Philip Lombardo
(Several people from my past make cameos appearances in this one...)

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
 Mad In America – Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill by Robert Whitaker
(I have a cameo in this...)

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
Room by Emma Donoghue
New York by Edward Rutherford
Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
Herzog by Saul Bellow
(Not necessarily in that order, but they are all here and accusing me every time I pick up something else).

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
None.  And why do people have magazines (and books) in their toilets?  I really want to know.  When you visit a friend’s loo and it’s decked out like a second hand book shop, do you automatically pick something up and start browsing?  No!  And do you know why?  Because you’d get cholera!  I’d rather drive to a gas station than pee amongst literature...

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.  It may have found its feet further in *whispers* - I didn’t finish it...

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?
Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
(Yes, I know that’s two but it’s my Blog, get over it)

What are your three favourite poems?
The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams
The Difference Between Despair by Emily Dickinson
Child by Sylvia Plath

Where do you usually get your books?
Almost exclusively online, both hard copies and downloads.

Where do you usually read your books?
In bed or lying on the couch.  I prefer to read supine.  When the book becomes too heavy I turn on my side until my glasses are skewiff.  Then I roll onto my back again and prop my book up on the dog.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
If I could find a book then I would read it.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
I don’t like to read into the night, especially if I am loving something – I want it to last.  I have only every done this once.  I pulled an all-nighter many years ago with Possession by A.S Byatt.  (Damn you, Byatt!)  I then re-read it, tasting every word.

Have you ever ‘faked’ reading a book?
I “fake-read” Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews when I was in high school.  All I had to do was read the two pages my borrowed copy fell open to (the sex scene) and I was in with everyone else!  I hear she’s publishing from beyond the grave now...

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
Yes – a couple of cook books.  And cook books tend to use that paper that smells so beautiful, and feels so smooth.  I was not disappointed.

What book changed your life?
My life is changing constantly so I am changed by books constantly.  This is an awful question and I had to think about it long and hard.  I came up with Amelia Bedelia  by Peggy Parish.  This was the first book ever read aloud to me.  I was 6.  It was read to me by my primary school librarian, Ethel Watson.  I discovered books that day.

What is your favourite passage from a book?
“You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner." Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Who are your top five favourite authors?
Five?!  You want five.  Jane Austen.  Lionel Shriver.  Graham Greene.  Isaac Bashevis Singer.  John Wyndham.  Colleen McCullough.  John Le Carre.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  (I could go on...)

What book has no one heard about but should read?
Killing Time: One Man’s Race To Stop an Execution by David R. Dow.  Personal memoir that reads like thriller.  Intimate yet universal.  One man fighting against a corrupt and ineffective legal system.

What 3 books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?
Mothers of the Novel  by Dale Spender (and you all thought we were adjusting our bustles and getting the vapours)
We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver 
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

What are your favourite books by a first-time author?
The Good Wife by Emma Chapman
(Yes, I know that’s one but it’s my Blog, get over it)

What is your favourite classic book?
There are so many.  Everything by Jane Austen and The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham.

Five other notable mentions?
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Happy As Larry by Scot Gardner
American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis
The Magus by John Fowles

1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover (see mine below)

3. Answer the questions above
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Kimberley Writers Festival 2013

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, "This is what it is to be happy.” 

- Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

We were sitting in a copse by the edge of the river, listening to authors reading from their works, when thin dust coloured leaves began pinwheeling toward the earth with the most extraordinary grace.  They seemed circularly suspended, independent of gravity, travelling in wide loop-de-loops, their mother tree whispering over them.  I was so astonished by the little leaves that I held my hand out hoping one would eventually come to rest in it.  Ali Cobby Eckermann leaned a little closer to me and said: "Spirits".

I have spent the last four days in the Kimberley, having been invited to present at the Kimberley Writers Festival.  I'd only been there a couple of hours before I understood why this is the Festival everybody wants to be invited to.  And invited back to.

It's the joy.  There are few, if any, formalities here - just a love of stories and the people who tell them.  And this is a place full of stories.  You can feel it.  The air tastes different and the rocks speak.  The sun simmers your bone marrow and the river listens.  I pressed my palms against the hot skin of a paperbark on Sunday and hoped for just a little transference, hoped that when I had to leave some remnant of the place would continue to thrum in me.

The community embraced us with an affection and enthusiasm that is representative of the Festival itself.  The school day presented the opportunity to speak with some remarkable young adults as well as coordinate a writing workshop for Year Sevens.  On the public discussion panels I was fortunate enough to share a couch with Deb Fitzpatrick, Robert Schofield and Marie Munkara - and when I wasn't on the couch I was in the audience listening to Julienne Van Loon, Terry Denton, Ron Elliott, Craig Smith, Susan Duncan and Ali Cobby Eckermann.

Jo Roach and her inimitable, tireless team managed to keep us all where we were supposed to be when we were supposed to be there (or as she calls it "herding cats"), and provided me with a real experience of this community and the hot, living earth that cradles it.  I haven't just felt well looked after, I've felt real affection in the enthusiasm I've experienced here, and I reciprocate wholeheartedly.

The food, the wine, the people, the stories, the spirits.  It all comes back to the stories and the spirits for me.  I had that moment encapsulated by those little leaves.  One of them skidded past my index finger but refused to be caught.  In that moment, when the spirits were mooching about in the shadow of those blood-rust cliffs, and people with stories to tell were telling their stories, I realized just how insignificant we are.  That's comforting.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Bats In The Belfry

“We can't stop here, this is bat country!”   - Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

It’s the only thing that keeps me going sometimes, the realization that I’m in bat country.  I can’t stop here.  It’s the threat of them, you see.  Those sleek, fat-gutted, kitten-faced, leather-and-vein-seraphim that can shit all over you if you stand still for too long.  They come out of the dark, deliberately, honing in on the breathing of the ones who stop, screaming their echolocation aria into the bones until the whole body is mapped, string-bagged, and strung-up.  You daren’t stop just in case, when you do decide to move on, it's too late and you just...can’t.

Those of you who have been in bat country will know exactly what I’m talking about.  The memory of tiny teeth gnawing on your brainstem and the comfort of fetid air turned over like a fog on the tip of cold wing will stir in you just as you read this.  The temptation to stand still long enough for bat shit to harden around you until you are nothing but an unrecognizable remnant, like a Pompeian blitzed by the pyroclastic  surge, is powerful.  They can chip out the hollow that used to be me in some future archaeological dig and say: “This one stood still too long.”

For those of you who have been fortunate enough to avoid bat country, I suppose a definition may be in order.  Bat country is that dark, dark place where you become hot-dry and cold-damp at the same time; where limbs are nightmare heavy and strangely disobedient; where things that would frighten children nestle like loved ones in the nook of your sadness; where you dream of sleeping long and deep enough to dream again.  It’s the place re-visitors grow to fear and expect; the place distortion rivals reality; the place decisions scatter like froth; the place pharmacological fortunes have been made. 

But we’re not supposed to talk about bat country.  We’re supposed to wade through it, even as our strength precludes the ducking and weaving we are renowned for and bats torpedo us like June Bugs.  Wipe away their greasy innards and move, move, move.  Don’t stop.  Never stop in bat country.

It’s the only thing that keeps me going sometimes, the realization that I’m in bat country.

Monday, 17 June 2013

"I'll Have the Caesar Salad with a Side of Violence"

Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”
- John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

It’s been an interesting week...

Today a man attacked a woman in an upscale London restaurant.  One can only imagine the hubris required to hold a pleading woman by the throat over appetizers, in public, as easily as one might pull out a chair for her or pour a glass of wine, without thought to consequences or appearances.  He’s done it before, clearly.  One doesn’t start out on the abuse track by going straight to the public demonstration.

Earlier in the week our Prime Minister was dissected into body parts for an opposition fundraiser menu, the defense being it was a joke and the guests never saw it.  She was then pilloried on radio feedback lines by a public who not only saw no harm but relished putting the bitch back in her place.

Later in the week our Prime Minister was sucker-punched in a live radio interview with questions regarding the sexuality of her partner based upon the fact that he is a hairdresser.  The interviewer crossed so many lines that watching said interview was like taking a face plant off a diving board into an empty pool.  Excruciating.  Support for the fired interviewer continues.

In 2012 Psychobiologist Dario Maestripieri bemoaned the fact that there was a high concentration of unattractive women at the New Orleans Conference of the Society of Neuroscience.  He publically asked why no beautiful women were interested in the brain.

Today I was introduced to a new male employee, about my age, with the caveat: “She’s wonderful.  We lost the two before her to pregnancy.” Then to me: “You’re not getting pregnant are you?”  Raucous male-bonding laughter.  No harm done.  Right?  There was no malice in it. Benevolent sexism at its best.  There is no response other than stewing.

Three waves of feminism: we vote, we lead, we birth and nurture, we work, then we work unpaid inside the home, we love men, we love women, we create and battle and care and produce and contribute and then we get up in the morning and do it all over again.  And I’m still trying to work out why my uterus became the topic in a professional situation.

It’s been an interesting week...

Friday, 24 May 2013

Avoiding Being Eaten By Wolves

A good friend of mine told me that his word of the week is “context”.  He wrote it on a post-it and stuck it to his computer screen.  He’s a paramedic.  He told me the story of a middle aged alcoholic indigenous woman whom he has treated many times, usually after she has been beaten or is in custody.  He told me this woman can “see” him; that she sees beyond the official accoutrements of his uniform and treatment, beyond the efficiency of his ministering and comforting, and in the simple act of holding his hand when she’s really busted up they seem to me to be healing each other.  My friend told me that when he finds himself judging people, he thinks of her.
I haven’t been able to get this story out of my head.  It struck me that we are all, always, relating to each other out of context.  It’s become routine to collide with people throughout the day furiously hiding our own context for fear of judgment, whilst simultaneously judging others as if their circumstances were completely self-created and blame-worthy.  Christ knows I’m guilty of it.  Is it an evolutionary thing, whereby our self-interest is hard-wired from the days we had to step on each other’s backs to get back to the cave before we were eaten by wolves? Or is this a more contemporary development, a symptom of a culture so obsessed with externals that we have been conned into believing: “No one bleeds the same way I do so I’m not sharing my band-aids.”? 
I wonder how things would be different if we recognized that the human being standing in front of us is the product of lots and lots of stories, some they wrote themselves and some they were cast in against their will.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

John Cheever’s Y-Fronts

John Cheever wrote in his underwear.  You can’t argue with the results.
For millennia writers and artists have been resorting to interesting and sometimes bizarre ways to contact their imaginary friends.  You can’t tell me some Neanderthal somewhere didn’t draw a stick man on the wall of his mammoth bone house, stare at it for hours, before throwing a tantrum and running out to club a wildebeest instead.  Those wildebeest are a terrible distraction, and yet I hear their siren song every time I sit down at this keyboard lately.  Even a deadline isn’t helping me.  Ever wonder why it’s called a deadline?
So in a further effort to avoid actually achieving anything today I decided to read up on how other writers managed their empty heads.  Of course none of these geniuses would have written a word if they had access to You Tube (I must disable that somehow...)
asdlg;yhy’[kl;;;;;;;;gsigak   (Cat walking across keyboard...better than anything I’ve written today so it bloody stays).  Here are my top picks for getting in the mood...
Truman Capote wrote supine.  He reclined on a sofa and wrote with a martini in one hand.  As the day wore on so did the strength of the drinks.  I tried this.  Lost an olive down my cleavage, dropped my laptop on my face and almost chipped a tooth.
Victor Hugo wrote naked.  He even had his valet hide his clothes so he couldn’t go out and couldn’t receive visitors.  Well, I don’t live alone and clearly don’t have the same relationship with my house mate as Victor had with his valet.
Dan Brown writes for an hour then drops to the floor for a round of pushups, only proving he’s as annoying in the process as he is in the finished product.
Hemingway wrote his 500 words a day standing up at his typewriter, as if trying to squeeze out something worthwhile isn’t punishing enough.  I don’t even like standing up in the shower.  I’ve been looking into those rubber footed shower chairs for old people with vertigo.
Hunter S. Thompson got up at 3.00pm.  He did four lines of cocaine, ate lunch, drank whiskey, did some acid, and got his best work done after midnight.  And I’m looking into rubber footed shower chairs...
So here I sit, sit, with a glass of red, fully dressed with no underwear on, and a fat black cat making more sense than I am.  And they wonder why Amy Lowell switched to cigars...

Monday, 15 April 2013

Squeezing The Cat, Stroking The Guinea Pig...

“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” - Somerset Maugham

I have been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year – Older Reader’s Category.  (Pause for that to sink in for me yet again).  I know I should probably be taking this maturely in my stride, writing sage words about the honour and my gratitude (both of which I obviously feel), but I’m too busy squeezing the cat and jumping up and down in secret.

Here’s the thing: I used to be a bookseller.  As a bookseller we waited for the CBCA shortlist announcements in the same way we waited for our birthdays when we were six.  How many sleeps?  Will I get to see my favourites?  This was the big thing.  The Day of the Year.  Mecca.  When I was six, my mum and dad bought me a baby doll and a pram.  The pram had big orange flowers all over it with white tassels dangling from the hood, as soft as my guinea pig.  I got up so early for that present, it was still dark outside.  When I saw my name on the CBCA shortlist I could feel those downy tassels in my hand again.  (I broke the arm off my baby doll because I got frustrated trying to dress her.)

I never imagined I’d be on the shortlist.  I’m gob smacked by the company I’m in.  I only ever wanted to write honestly, in a way that cuts through the bullshit and recognises that young people have real lives that can be fraught and dangerous and poignant and relatable.  And I wanted to write about them without judging them or their judgments about the world they’re navigating.  Don’t you remember what it was like to be teenager? Awful.  Wonderful. 

Katharine England of the Adelaide Advertiser has written that Creepy & Maud “is perhaps the bravest shortlist choice for some years.”  I love this assessment.  I love it because this boy, Creepy, and this girl, Maud, do find some bravery in each other and, as a result, within themselves.  I realize that a “brave” choice for the CBCA may allude to this novel’s ability to push certain buttons and boundaries, however I embrace the term “brave” as representative of even one young adult who reads this book and realizes they are right to feel out of whack and misunderstood, and that the pain of that marginalization will make them stronger before it dissipates.

The CBCA Shortlist - Older Readers Catagory

Neil Grant - The Ink Bridge
Margo Lanagan - Sea Hearts
Doug MacLeod - The Shiny Guys
Dianne Touchell - Creepy & Maud
Vikki Wakefield - Friday Brown
Suzy Zail - The Wrong Boy

Friday, 29 March 2013

Are We There Yet?

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love” – Ernest Hemingway
We’ve all been on those road trips, both as children and adults.  I remember sitting in the back seat of my parent’s old green Holden driving to Bunbury to visit my father’s cousin’s dairy farm when I was little, struggling for space with two equally bored sisters who came up with the game of let’s-annoy-each-other-for-fun at precisely the same time I did, motivating a bitch-slapping counterpoint of “Knock it off!” from front seat parents who were probably thinking they should have left us in the back yard with a bowl of water, like they did the dog.
Then you’re a parent yourself and travelling with small children who never shut the fuck up, fart in the car without warning, constantly complain of being bored despite your fanatical faith in the Game Boy you thrust at them as soon as the ignition key is turned, and they always need to pee precisely five minutes after you have pulled out of the gas station but refuse to use a bush on the side of road because it’s not private.  You drag them back to the car and make them sit on a towel because you just know, and seriously think about dosing them up with Nyquil and filling their mouth with peanut butter.
Finishing a first draft, especially the first draft of that bugbear of literature – The Second Book – is a lot like the road trip.  It’s exhausting, exhilarating, satisfying, terrifying, and there is always that god awful smell from the back seat and the niggling misgivings about the sanity of getting in the car with the thing in the first place.  Then there is that awful question that sends a cold chill and homicidal impulse through every parent: Are we there yet?
I’ve finished this first draft of the second book and yet...have I?  When do we actually stop?  Like the road trip we get out and admire a view feeling all “this-was-so-worth-it”, but then we get back in the car and keep driving until we find another view.  Eventually we have to decide when we can share the view, knowing full well that while you believe you’re looking at the Grand Canyon, the person sharing the view with you might be seeing a pot hole.
Ok.  I think I’ve beaten that road trip metaphor into a coma.
I’m going to give myself a couple of days to read and re-read.  I’m going to criticize myself mercilessly, because that’s what I do to prepare for another’s criticism.  Then I’m going to send it on its way.  I’ll be sitting on a towel waiting on the verdict.