Titirangi Storyteller

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Posts Tagged ‘Books

Writing for pleasure

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A long time ago I wrote a novel. Actually, I kind of wrote a few, but I really only finished one in the sense that it’s done and I wouldn’t change it. Not that it’s a great novel – but it’s pretty good. I like it. I’m proud of it. I’d let my kids read it – one of them has, and she seemed rather pleased.

I’ve let a few friends read it over the years and one of them loved it so much she had a vanity pressing done for my birthday a few years ago. It’s one of the nicest presents I’ve ever received. It means my book, which made it to a publisher’s ‘committee’ but didn’t come out the other side, gets to sit on my bookshelf. Every so often I pull it out and read it. Reading it as a book is infinitely far more pleasurable than reading it as a computer printout or on a monitor. I can take it to bed with me or read it on the bus.

Over the holidays I gave it to a friend to read – it’s a funny rite of passage in my friendships – I have to like you a lot to give you my book to read. I only have one copy, so I can’t entrust it to someone who might lose it.

She read it and liked it well enough – though she wasn’t blown away. That’s okay – being enraptured is not part of the rite of passage. When she returned it, I slipped it into my bag to bring home. And there it was when I went through the bag looking for something to occupy me on the long bus-ride out to my neck of the woods.

Yip, it’s pretty good, I like it. Soon, I was swept into another world. Not into the plot and the characters, though they are part of it, but into another me, the person I was when I wrote it, when I edited it, when I sent it off to agents. I remember the hush of my heart when it was tentatively accepted and it couldn’t be sent to another publisher. I remember the horror of maybe having to appear on talk shows to promote it. And the dreams of what I might do with all the lovely dollars I would get when it became a bestseller – and then I could sell the movie rights! Mostly I find myself lost in the times of my life so many of the vignettes took place. Though it is far from autobiographical – there is the wretched date with the boy who picked dead rabbits off the road and threw them behind my seat in his truck; my awe at being in CBGBs for the first time, certain that chap in the far corner was William Burroughs; trying to make sense of sexual politics in an era with no rules; living in New York in the scary 70’s and the discovery and loss of ‘true love.’

I think I’m ready to write another one. No matter if it gets through committee… a book you’ve written is a beloved part of yourself you will have forever. One is good. Two or three or four are even better.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

24/03/2010 at 7:30 am

Posted in dreams, fiction, Writing

Tagged with , ,

Ran into Camus and bumped my head

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Accidentally bumped into Camus the other day, a dangerous thing to do on a balmy summer night. But he was sitting there with nothing else to do but open up to me.

camusEgad.  Camus.  Nope, can’t say the conversation went well.  He began by telling me that all life springs from the absurd – a brilliant idea conceived in the movement through a revolving door.  Can’t say I was compelled to throw myself into any revolving doors, but he wasn’t there to listen to me. In fact, he reminded me that he was sitting there minding his own business when I came along and I should listen to him.

He told me the root of all philosophy was based on the question of whether or not one should commit suicide. That was the determining factor as to whether life is worth living. My head began to spin, but he took no notice and carried on.

Those who do commit suicide do it for the most mundane of reasons, he stated, seldom for the major tragedies that are later attached to them. I shook my head and he explained further. It goes something like this.

You experience a tragedy, depression, whatever, but you cope.  You go on, even though you are hanging on by your fingernails.  But then, it is the small thing, a perceived rudeness or dismissal by a friend, even casually is what does it.  That’s the small slight which tells us that life is not worth living.  We know we will get over the big things.  We know we will go on, no matter how tragic the circumstances.  But the small things, the day to day minutiae of our lives, that we can not cope with.

camus2I asked him if he wouldn’t mind if we stopped there. I had to think a while and get back to him. He seemed a bit dismissive, but I let it go. After all – he is Camus and I am not.

So, what does that mean to me? He’s right – life is absurd. Everywhere I turn I am confounded by a revolving blur of absurdity. I suspect the reality of the rational world around me ended the moment I reached adulthood. It defined that moment – a rational world had only existed because I was told it did.

Sincethe fifteen minutes of rage over being lied to ended, it’s been a non-stop process of managing the absurd. I’m quite good at it now. Doesn’t bother me at all.

We manage the absurdity. We manage the tragedy. So I go back to the minutiae that ultimately does us in. And I’ve got it! I’ve known it all along and maybe Camus deserves the credit. But it seems to me  (dare I whisper it???  so low Camus can’t hear??) the small stuff can’t do you in – if you don’t sweat the small stuff. Doh!

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

08/02/2009 at 11:25 pm

Posted in Books, dreams, time, Writing

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Tom Robbins in New York???

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There were about three hours today when I mistakenly believed Tom Robbins The man.was going to be hosting a 3-day writing seminar in New York at the very time I am going to be there in March. Registration is open until Tuesday.

My friend Bindi, who is coming with me, sent me an email with this brief info in the subject line. I don’t think Bindi realises just how much of a Tom Robbins fan I am. Or just how my heart was set aflutter at the mere thought of being coached by my favourite author of all time.

I was 19 or 20 when I first read Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and I was convinced Robbins must have been following me around. I considered myself the utr-ecgtbltimate passenger and hitchhiked up and down the east coast of the USofA in the mid to late seventies. The people I met were an awful lot like the people in Cowgirls, right down to the Chink – who didn’t live in a cave but was a crazy dragon lady named Mrs Lew who let me waitress part time in her Chinese restaurant. My best friend and I fancied ourselves the real-life Cissy and Bonanza Jellybean – me being Cissy and she Jelly because she went horseback riding every weekend we weren’t off on a mad jaunt.  One of my favourite memories is the two of us sitting on the bare metal floor in the back of an old Ford pickup truck, leaned up against each other, drinking cans of Schlitz and rereading Cowgirls. We knew right then we were having a ‘moment.’

tr-still_life_with_woodpecker1By 1980 life had changed and I found myself married with a baby daughter. It was a strange new world, all topsy turvy – nothing the way it used to be or the way I planned it to be or even how I thought it should be. Mr Robbins saved my soul with Still Life with Woodpecker, a fairy tale about a princess, Leigh-Cheri, who falls in love with a bomber, Mickey Bernard Wrangle aka The Woodpecker. When Mickey went to jail, Leigh-Cheri locked herself in the attic (with a maidservant to bring her meals.) It was a strange analogy for post-partum depression, but it worked for me. And made me laugh.

Robbins got a bit more serious and literary with his next two outings, Jitterbug Perfume and Skinny Legs and All. I was very busy being a productive grownup, had another baby girl and Robbins’ quote, “I believe in nothing, everything is sacred. I believe in everything, nothing is sacred,” was a the kind of reminder I needed every so often. I also found myself aching for the freedom of Boomer Petway’s Airstream turkey from Skinny Legs. I wrote a novel. Sadly, it was nothing like a Tom Robbins’ novel.


tr-skinny1 tr-frog1

1994 was a watershed year. I moved to New Zealand and Tom Robbins gave me Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas. I’ve never quite gotten the connection between the two – I guess we weren’t always in sync. Although – it was a year of isolation and loneliness and there was more than a bit of that in there. I just didn’t relate to Gwen, the heroine, though I surely would just a few years later.

tr-fiThings got a bit more interesting when the internet arrived. I joined a Tom Robbins discussion group – and four years later, ended up marrying the man of my dreams, a scalliwag bearing more than a passing resemblence, at least psychologically to that old Woodpecker. Robbins’ wedding present to us was Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates. A friend got him to sign a copy. We were chuffed!

Now I’m ashamed to say that neither of us have ever sent Tom Robbins so much as post card. We had a couple of fan tr-villareunions in Maine and considered inviting him – after all we’re his biggest fans – but there was something a little too Misery about it – I really didn’t want Robbins taking me for a Kathy Bates wannabe. So we were gobsmacked when Villa Incognito came out in 2003 and one of the lead characters’ surname is Stubblefield, which happens to be my husband’s rather unusual surname. And the description was so accurate and the behaviours… Well, I’m back to thinking Tom Robbins is following us around.

And that pretty much takes us up to this morning’s email…

It turns out it is a 3-day seminar given by Tony Robbins. Tony, not Tom. Sigh, I feel so deflated, so flat. Kind of sad. Lost something I never had… Perhaps I should send Tom a postcard and just say, “thanks.”

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

27/01/2009 at 12:12 am

Posted in Books, Tom Robbins, Writing

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