Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Not writing.

It hasn't been the best week or so for writing. Son was sick at the beginning of last week, which meant we had to put off our planned trip to Dunedin until he was better. Which luckily didn't take too long - we drove down on Wednesday and back on Friday night. I had a dance workshop on Saturday which might have been where I picked up the illness that struck me down on Sunday night and has only started to come right this morning after lots of sleeping and generally lying around feeling sorry for myself.

So not much writing, but I plan to make amends in spectacular fashion this afternoon. Had a great time in Dunedin. I hadn't been there for nine years and as soon as I drove into town I remembered how much I love it. Something about the Gothic quality of light and the buildings and the way its history has been preserved in the inner city. I spent a lot of time in Dunedin in my youth, when I played in bands, regularly touring there and even living there for a short time when I played in the 3Ds. Then, I thought it was a magical place, full of ancient wisdom, and certainly there was something there that produced all that great music.

I even liked visiting in the middle of winter, staying with people who usually had nothing more than a two-bar heater to huddle around for warmth. We had many a party with blankets over our knees and we wore all our clothes to bed. It was just what we did. I think people must be softer these days with their fancy heating and wanting to walk around their houses without their coats and hats on.

The first time I drove out to the Otago Peninsula I loved looking at all the drystone walls - they seemed a direct connection to the Scotland the Dunedin settlers had left behind. But this time I didn't see any - perhaps they have finally fallen down and been replaced by wire fences; or perhaps we didn't explore enough.

We were very kindly accommodated by fellow author and blogger Vanda Symon. She and her family made us feel wonderfully welcome and relaxed, and, as she mentions on Overkill, we even had a bloggy lunch, with Tania Roxborough and Paradoxical Cat. So, while I wasn't writing, at least my brain was being stimulated. I am slightly in awe (and a little suspicious - kidding Tania!) of Tania, who wrote her latest novel, which is 120,000 words long, in approximately two months.

The highlight of the trip for me was the Otago Museum. We only visited two exhibits - the butterfly house (which I wish had been there when I was researching The Sound of Butterflies) and the Animal Attic. The latter is a replica of the original museum with its wondrous collection of 19th century taxidermy and natural curiosities, which was wonderful for research for my current novel.


We decided to take the scenic route back to Christchurch and got lost not once but twice, and since it was 5pm when we left, we were driving around the hills when it was dark, so we didn't even have the benefit of any scene from our scenic detour in the end.

The upside of being sick was that I caught up on some long overdue reading and in three days read Mary McCallum's The Blue and Sarah Laing's Dead People's Music, both of which I highly recommend. No time now to go into great detail - a hungry novel awaits.


Vanda Symon said...

Ha Rachael, if you'd come and stayed with me in Dunedin in my student days you would have needed the hat and coat inside. It must be a sign of aging, getting all namby pamby and actually heating your house!

The v word was most appropriate - habiable, which means partially heated and almost habitable!

Mary McCallum said...

Rachael, your Dunedin trip sounds wonderful and I always love those glimpses into your exotic past life. How lovely to stay with Vanda [is it true there is a Mount Laundry at her house? or does it come and go...] And thanks for the plug for The Blue. I am really pleased you liked it. Your comments here and by email made me pick it up again this morning and read a bit... sometimes it's hard to believe you wrote all that stuff once upon a time...

Rachael King said...

No mountain that I could see, Mary, I think Vanda may have been exaggerating. I know what you mean about picking up stuff you wrote years ago and not quite computing that it came out of your head. I try and avoid reading TSOB these days! But last night I found the synopsis and first chapter I wrote on a children's (8-12 YO) book a couple of years ago and I was pleased to see that it was really quite good! That's going to be my new project (after this novel) when various children are asleep.

Bookman Beattie said...

Yeah, agree, special place Dunedin.
Thanks for sharing your experiences.Next best thing to being there.

Catherine said...

I've just checked my photos of Otago Peninsula from last November and there is a glimpse of a dry stone wall or two. I doubt they've fallen down in the months between, so it must be a matter of going to the right spot.