Forgive me followers, for I have been lax. It’s been more than a month since my last epistle. It’s not for want of material, nor lack of motivation (oh, alright, I confess – a little bit of that), it’s mostly about bad time-management. So this is a little post about nothing, just to plug the gap really.
It’s started thundering and lightning as I start to write, which I will take as a sign, but leave it to you to decide whether that’s a positive or negative. And just now, that’s joined by the sound of softly-falling rain. It’s been raining on and off for a couple of weeks now, as those royal watchers following the Harry and Meghan trail to the Invictus Games might have noticed, but I have no intention of complaining. Eastern Oz has shrivelled to a browner shade of brown over the last two years, and any stock remaining has shrivelled with it, so every time the sky clouds over, we cross our fingers and hope it falls where it is most needed. Bill, meantime, has dragged the hose out to our balconies, so he can clean the glass without disrupting our neighbours on the lower levels. Good guy, Bill. And in another example of bad time-management, instead of taking over preparing the dinner which he had started, I’ll stay here glued to the keyboard.
When I left you last, I had just sent off my manuscript for evaluation by the agent. Two years of research, give or take. Two years of writing. The bad news is, it wasn’t making the grade as a novel. To get there, I had to distort true events to a level with which I wasn’t comfortable. So, after a fruitful discussion, we agreed I would start again. This time, I am trying to structure it as a memoir. I’m 13,000 words into a first draft. I took great heart from reading an article about Markus Zusak last week. After the huge success of The Book Thief, it’s taken him thirteen years to come up with his next, The Bridge of Clay. Reading his candid interview, it seemed to me the only great difference between our experiences is that his last book sold sixteen million copies.
While waiting for the agent’s response, I busied myself with other projects which had piled up. Without going into the reasons why, I have recently come into a few collections. One of them is books. A lot of books. Around six hundred if you really want to know. Great books. Mostly non-fiction, on a range of subjects to suit an enquiring mind, with a slant towards military history, as one example. Sadly, I can’t keep them all. But I so want them to go to homes where they will be truly appreciated. In the first instance, I’m waiting for an antiquarian (which these books aren’t) and second-hand book dealer to take a look. The pedigree of Berkelouw Books goes back to 1812 Rotterdam, so their outlets are places where people go shopping for their special interest. I’ve sorted the books alphabetically by author and piled them in my hallway as a start.
It was a little tedious unpacking carton after carton, so every so often I broke away to sort the coin collection that has come to me. It’s an eclectic collection, with hundreds of coins from around sixty countries, as well as the pre-decimal and decimal Australian coins. Some have a reasonable monetary value, others simply curiosity value. I set about examining each and every coin, as I wanted to appreciate them in the same way as the giver had. To facilitate a discussion with an auctioneer, I was compiling a spreadsheet on every coin in the collection. Working through country by country, alphabetically (cause that’s how my brain works), I was up to ‘P’ when . . . the laptop blew up.
You guessed it. I hadn’t backed up.
After trying several self-help fixes which I researched on the iPad, I decided the problem was that the motherboard had blown, taking out the monitor, and I crossed my fingers the hard-drive was intact.
I knew my eight-year-old laptop was long in the tooth, but I hate shopping, so had been putting off buying a replacement. Now I was forced out the door. Between researching, looking, talking to salesmen (and they were all men), cross-checking, procrastination, indecision, and several phone calls to my techie, another week went by. The good news is I finally made a decision, and he recovered my hard drive. That means all those photos from our Canada trip are still secure, assuming I ever get back to blogging about that trip.
And the back-up is now working properly. 11am sharp, every day.
A friend counselled me that this is a propitious moment. The universe decided it was time for new beginnings – a new laptop for a new manuscript. I may as well believe in that. I’ve got nothing to lose.
But meantime the coin collection has dropped down the priority list, pushed out by the return to memoir writing. The remaining coins may be scattered around my study for several months, perpetually stuck at “P”. And that’s before I start on the hundred or so commemorative medallions.
Oh, by the way, it’s already stopped raining again. But the sudden storm has delayed the opening of the Invictus Games by half an hour. Just enough time for me to copy edit and press publish.