Tuesday, May 27, 2008

ten things i’ve learned from some of my favourite movies

Dead Poets Society – Carpe Diem! Seize the day! And one day I fully intend to do exactly that. There are just a few things to get in order first, then I’ll be YAWPING over the rooftops of the world with the best of them.

Arlington Road – Conspiracy abounds! “Trust no one” might be a little strong, but I think it wise to maintain a healthy awareness of what you’re getting into, and with whom.

Field of Dreams – Maybe the voices you hear have something valuable to say.

The Fisher King – Sometimes, the voices are all about a girl.

High Fidelity – If all else fails, make a list.

Finding Forrester - Sometimes, no matter how big they are, you can beat the odds.

Phenomenon – Not only can you sometimes beat the odds, every now and then the Universe opens up and gives you the opportunity to be what you truly can be.

12 Monkeys – But then, no matter how real it seems, perhaps it’s not, and what is real is that we are all lunatics locked in our own psychoses eating spiders, travelling through time, and pulling our own teeth out.

Back to the Future – No matter how much you may wish it, you can’t go back – or forward – and change the mistakes you made. Or can you?

Enemy of the State – Sooner or later the Government will screw you.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Gets to the point that I've had enough of clutter. It's not that we're slobs or anything. Well, depending on your definition of slobs. We're not lazy slobs. We're just lazy. Things pile up. My excuse is that this house is just not big enough for the JUNK we seem to accumulate. Mail that we really should read, just in case there are bills; newspapers that Id like to read, but never do; and little pieces of paper, and post-it notes. My desk is awash with little notes to myself, mostly about the book: return to Karaitiana as originally planned; how does Cassie FEEL about the new school; tha active ingredient in anexate is flumezanil; Metcalf disovers Coach Woods murdered ten years earlier. And so on. There are a zillion of them.

And cords. Cords are the bane of my life. I just have to LOOK at a cord and it gets tangled. Cords don't seem to be terribly efficient to me. Bring on the wireless generation I say. I have computer cords, battery charger cords, phone cords (even cordless phones have cords!!), USB cables, printer cables, digital camera cables (okay, that another USB cable), extension cords, audio and video cords. Arrgghh!!!! Cords!!! I hate them.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

It occurs to me that writing a novel is not easy. I started writing my first “novel” when I was 15. I had seen on TV the sexploits of Alvin Purple, and was also heavily influenced by the Carry On movies. As a young, virile, milkman’s trolley boy – read fit, sweaty, adrenaline and testosterone pumping teenager delivering milk to bored housewives and frustrated spinsters – I figured my own situation was rife with possibilities for adventures rivalling Alvin Purple’s.

I set pen to paper, and came up with a pretty good opening paragraph. It was a slightly farcical misunderstanding between myself – George the trolley boy – and a rather gruff, weightlifting bouncer called Fabian who had come to the curb to get his milk. George expected he would bite the top of the milk bottle off – not the lid, the top - and guzzle it right there.

‘Homo?’ I asked him.
‘What did you call me?’ demanded the Greek man mountain.

And so begins the novel. George was simply asking if he wanted homogenised milk – “homo” in milkman-speak, or skim. Fabian, of course, thought something else. A BennyHillesque chase ensued with Fabian hot on George's heels, Shirley, Fabian's sweet but oppressed mistress on his heels. Charlie, George’s buck-toothed Indian employer, who had arrived in the truck just in time to see George abandon the stock on the street in favour of running for his life, joined the chase.

Luckily, Miss Jarvis, at Number 67 – you guessed it, a tall, leggy, cleavaged blonde in a sheer robe and with the sweetest disposition – managed to calm the situation, assuage Fabian’s homophobic rage, smile big enough to hypnotise Charlie – milk trolley? What milk trolley? - into submission, and rescue the hapless teen from the mob.

She was even sweet enough to invite George over later for “tea and cake.”

In the 70’s it might have worked, but I didn’t get much past “tea and cake.” While it was possibly a good intro chapter, carrying the theme through for another hundred or so pages proved to be more of a task than I had anticipated.

So I gave up.

But the dream of writing a novel never went away. It merely took a twenty year hiatus, and was rekindled by an obsession with the American Civil War. The battle of Shiloh, in April 1862, was the new theatre upon which my inner novelist would find himself. Look for that on bookshelves some time in 2016 (if I’m lucky).

Recent events at Waihopai might have seen one of my later characters at the centre of a media storm, if he were real. Mild mannered GCSB analyst slash ruthless undercover CIA operative Jackson Kennet wouldn’t have been so nice to the vandals. He would simply have arranged an “accident” for each of them. But protagonist – mercenary Mike Baker - may have intervened on their behalf. Who knows? That book should be published about August. 2025.

Celia is my latest obsession. Another ruthless character. The antithesis of saccharine sweet Civil War nurse Miriam Cormany Holt? Possibly.

Celia will hopefully hit the bookshelves sooner than the others. At least, that’s what my writer’s group promises.

Anyway, it frequently occurs to me that writing a novel is not easy. Unless you are Marian Keyes. Referring to writing her latest novel, one reviewer reminds us that “it may look easy, but there's real skill in creating chapters and scenes which, like shattered mirrors, reflect back various perspectives and shards of life.”

Hopefully I’ve matured beyond the Alvin Purple wannabe milk trolley boy to the point I might actually get a novel of worth on the shelves.