Grated ginger root

Donna swallowed hard, her mouthful of Special K and milk catching in her throat. Her eyes flicked back to the newspaper. Had she read that correctly? Had he really said…?

“Between 1985-1987, I would sleep with about three women a day, every day. I never said no.”

Donna remembered back to what had, only a few minutes earlier, been a fond memory. It was 1986 and the band was in town for their “Money’s Too Tight” world tour. Donna wasn’t even a fan, but a couple of her uni mates were going and dragged her along.

It had been a fun night – the band played their hits – and after the show the girls had staggered off to the Royal Arms for a wine cooler. Donna didn’t even recognise him at first. He was just a pale ginger guy who was asking to buy her a drink. But there was something about him – a strange sort of charisma.

The next morning her flatmates had mercilessly grilled her about her night of passion. “You could sell it the papers,” Nicky shrieked.

And so it had been her little happy memory. On those days when work was busy or Neil was working late or the kids were being demanding, she thought back to that one little moment where she had a night of sexy fun with a famous pop star in his fancy hotel room.

But now…

“I regret the philandering.”

Regret? Donna had never regretted it.

“Can I issue a public apology? I’m truly sorry.”

Sorry? What was there to apologise for? For the first time in 24 years, Donna felt cheap. She swallowed hard again, wiping away a tear.

“Mum, can you give me a ride today? Mum? Oh… are you crying?”

“Oh, just thinking about, um, Grandpa. It’s OK. Yeah, I’ll give you a ride.”

But before Donna left for work that morning, she removed one CD from the car stereo changer, never to play it again.

I wanna hex you up

In lieu of actually properly writing something, here are some recent tweets:

My Sunday exploration has revealed that Karori has two supermarkets and not much else.
2:01 PM Jul 26th

I love that Color Me Badd’s Wikipedia entry has a subsection titled “Downhill Slide“.
1:38 PM Jul 27th

A #nzff poster taunts me with its image of the good-times train while instead I wait for the crap-times bus.
5:39 PM Jul 27th

I made a Mad Men cartoon likeness of myself: http://bit.ly/ojc28
12:13 AM Jul 29th

In lieu of sitting down and actually properly writing something (which would take a bit of effort), I redesigned my blog.

Well, I switched WordPress themes from K2 to Atahualpa. K2 was OK, but I got a bit sick of how the text was justified and, well, I felt like a change. Atahualpa is nice. It does what I want it to do, and now I can finally start mucking around with WP widgets. It takes a bit of self-restraint to not fill up all the sidebars with stuff. Oh hey, stop looking over there – keep your eyes in the middle!

In lieu of putting some time aside and actually properly writing something, I took some photos:

Haere maiFutuna cookieWot?Last train to Matangi

I take lots of photos but I don’t get around to uploading them much due to my iBook being almost ready to donate to a technology museum as an example of how computers were in the olden days.

But eventually I get motivated enough to set aside an hour or so and get the photos off my camera, tagged and uploaded.

See the last photo – the one of the train? That’s a drawing of one of the new Matangi trains that’ll be replacing Wellington’s urban trains next year.

As previously mentioned, Matangi was also the name of the little village I grew up in, south-east of Hamilton. But now seeing this train with Matangi in its destination board makes me feel a little bit ill.

It’s as if one day I could get on the train, expecting it to take me to the Hutt, but actually its destination would be Matangi, and I’d end up getting off at the siding by the old dairy factory:

View Larger Map

Also, see how it’s quite a nice sunny day in the Google Streetview pic but yet it looks really bleak and desolate? That was my childhood. I hope this helps explain my my issue with the trains being called Matangi.

In lieu of actually properly writing something, I renamed my website. Sort of.

My site has been called Robyn’s Secret Passage since I bought secret-passage.com in 1998 (You can read more on that history here.)

I thought it was a perfectly nice name, but I eventually got sick of the “Hur hur hur O RLY” response when I’d first tell someone what it was.

I’d switched to robyngallagher.com but my site was still titled Robyn’s Secret Passage. Then a couple of weeks ago, I decided to ditch that name and just name the site after myself.

Even though it just required changing text in a box in WordPress, I found it a strangely emotional experience. It took a while before I could click the “Save Changes” button.

I also ditched the tagline “The coolness that is Robyn”. That one originates from something that OG journal girl Olivia wrote in her online journal about a party she’d held and how “the coolness that is Dean and Robyn” came. (Jesus, that was too long ago.)

From memory, I originally used it ironically, but 10 years later it’s tired and faded and what it says doesn’t match me any more. Like a pair of those bumster jeans from the late ’90s.

In lieu of actually properly writing something, I’ve sort of tricked myself into actually properly writing something.

Novelist

One day in late October, while doing the daily web page rounds, I read on Moira’s web page that she was going to write a novel the next month. I was intrigued and clicked on the link and discovered the wonderful world of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it gets shortened to.

The basic idea behind it is that participants write a 50,000 word novel entirely in the month of November. This works out to an average of about 1666 words a day. The motto of NaNoWriMo (“No plot? No problem!”) means that instead of labouring over contructing meaningful sentences of literary genius, just sitting down and banging out whatever works come in to your head is ok.

In theory, participating in NaNoWriMo is a way of making yourself write that novel you’ve always felt you could write. The thing is, I’ve never felt compelled to write a novel. But NaNoWriMo sounded like a bloody silly and rather fun thing to do, so I signed up and became part of NaNoWriMo 2001.

Shortly after midnight on 1 November I started writing. I had a basic premise in mind – I was going to write about a chick who worked at a movie theatre – but I had no idea what I was going to write. I thought back to the last time I’d written fiction. It was ten years ago, when I was at school (unless you want to count Doreen McKay’s romantic fiction). I sat in front of my computer and wrote a bunch of complete arse. It was great.

Most days I wrote about 2000 words. One day I only wrote about 1000 because I had concussion, another day I managed about 60 words because I couldn’t be bothered. I had no idea what I was going to write about. There was no beginning, middle or end. I’d just sit down and start writing and would usually manage to come up with enough plot that I didn’t have to resort to dumb filler tricks.

Sometimes (i.e. most of the time) I got lazy and started writing in pre-existing characters. The McKay Family, Dr Kraw, Bob and Karen, Keith Flinton all made appearances, as well as Ronny Xiang’s Golden Lucky Horse Oriental Emporium.

About a week into it things got a lot easier when my lovely new iBook arrived. Instead of being trapped sitting in front of the crappy old slow computer, I had a nice, fast, portable laptop. It meant that when I went to the beach for a weekend I could still write.

There was a discussion board set up for people doing NaNoWriMo. I avoided it because it seemed to be mainly used by really mental people. The kind of people who would post about how their inner voice had instructed them to make their main character an alien. Other people would angst about suffering from writer’s block. Like it’s hard to write shit.

As the month went on I noticed that I was able to write a lot faster. Where in the beginning 2000 words would have taken me about five hours, I was now able to do it in only two. And I didn’t keep delaying so much that I’d be up ’til three o’clock in the morning.

I also noticed that my perception of film and TV stories changed. It was like when I learned to play the guitar – suddenly rock music was demystified. I could recognise really easy-to-play chord progressions and no longer was in awe of someone playing a guitar. It was the same with films and TV programs. Storylines and plots were no longer decided by some divine guidance, instead I knew that there was someone, somewhere sitting in front of a blank piece of paper thinking how on earth they were going to end it, then coming up with some half-arsed idea and somehow making it fit.

Along the way I was interviewed as part of the daily profiles of people doing NaNoWriMo. It was a funny interview, giving a rather interesting profile of me as a seductress. It’s probably my fault. Being in a creative, making-stuff-up mood, I kind of made up a bunch of stuff when I was answering the interviewer’s questions.

Eventually I hit 50,000 words on 25 November. I was so glad, so very glad to have finished it. My attempt at being dark, gritty and alcoholic in tone didn’t work and I found myself writing a reasonably upbeat and life-affirming ending. I’d discuss what I wrote in more detail, only I can’t really remember what I wrote.

So now I have a 50,000+ word novel sitting on my hard drive. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m planning on printing it out, reading it and if I’m not too disgusted with it, I may stick it up online.

I guess now I can say that I’m a novelist (“Soy un novelista!”), albiet a shit one. Like many things I do, it was some thing that I did so that I could say that I did it. So here we go. I wrote a 50,000 word novel in a month. Choice, eh?