Sunday, 29 June 2008


I might start a new novel.

At least, it feels like a new one is creeping up on me. Reading a story by Miranda July in bed the other night - "The Man on the Stairs" - I felt stirred up not just by the chill and depth of the story but by my own need to create something like that (I mean "like that" in the loosest sense, since I am much too flabby and mainstream to be anything like July). I fell asleep with my mind racing all through the novel I'd been rewriting before we came to Oz - the one I insisted on taking a hard copy of in my hand luggage because I didn't want to be parted from it . . . the one that made it safely here and has been shut in a drawer ever since. For its own good, you understand. I mean, no one could expect me to carry on writing when I had all this freaking-out-about-emigrating to do. Least of all me.

Only I'm a bit bored of freaking out. I'm still friendless, still Ugged-up, still being laughed at by the local children - that's not likely to change so I might as well get on with it. So the morning after the July story I opened the Sacred Drawer and had a peek though some of the manuscript, and breathed a sigh of relief when it only stank slightly. I could fix that, I thought. Shut the drawer pretty damn fast but felt I'd be back soon.

But that's not the novel creeping up on me - that's the novel I have to fix up and send out on its merry/tragic way before the creeping novel can begin properly, only this time I feel like there's going to be a lot of research involved and I want to start that right now.

I can tell I want to start right now because when I was pushing the ever-heavier Phil n Teds (seriously, it reminds me of pushing drunk students in shopping trolleys) towards Melbourne Aquarium this morning I was tempted to buy a huge bag of bribe muffins for the children and instead visit the Immigration Museum, where I suspect the research will germinate. If I thought the muffins would have lasted more than five minutes it would have been a more likely plan. But instead we made it to the aquarium, where I chased the children - in different directions, obviously - through shark tanks and turtle pools, and then when we got back I did something that convinces me I'm about to embark on a new project:

I cleaned the fridge.

This might be a normal, perhaps even weekly, chore for some people, but to me it signifies a profound need to get my house in order before I completely neglect it for about a year. It was a great clear-out - I'd thought the fridge was full because I'd been diligent at supermarket shopping, but it turns out I'd merely been slack at chucking out because it has gone from rammed to bare.

Just to seal the deal, I then made a roast dinner. On a Monday night! This might be "guilt cooking", to make up for the possibility that my head will be somewhere-else-ish from time to time in the near future, and I might distractedly say "Mm," a lot when asked if they can use the big scissors, and they might be wearing the same socks two days in a row, and I might only have time for one round of "My Favourite Things" before bed because I'm desperate to punch my card and get back to my research. 

Yep, I'm kind of a cross between Julie Andrews and Mrs Sugamo.

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Anonymous said...

Don't speak another word about it or you'll jinx it! I think it's great the way you've obviously been gestating this all this time. Cleaning your house and nest building is a sure time it's time to give birth!

Jem x

PS I don't know the story you were talking about. Must google it.

Mum'sTheWord said...

Jem, you're so right - I never talk about my novels but I have been so intrigued by the creeping up of this one.

The July story is in her collection: No One Belongs Here More Than You.