Monthly Archives: May 2014

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it must be love

I’ve been in an obsessive love-fog frenzy, working on my new book. I keep staying up too late, letting veggies rot in the bottom of the fridge, forgetting other deadlines… all classic symptoms of distraction.reconciliation

Making good progress, however. Just need to switch focus to a couple of other things this morning, if possible. I need to do a small revision on another work, then post it off. I need to take a look at a couple of short stories and poems I’d like to submit and either do them, or put reminders on bright post-its on the kitchen cupboards, so I won’t forget about them, when I return to the love-fog.

I have now missed one deadline, but perhaps for the best. Unless anyone knows of a way to post an A4 envelope to arrive in NZ four days from now. Yeah, not likely unless I fork out far too much money. So that’s that.

How does obsessive working on a book work with two toddlers? Well… it often doesn’t, but this weekend was good. On Saturday, we returned seriously overdue stuff to the ludotheque and then borrowed a couple of new toys and games, including Agricola, an elaborate board game for the big kids (certainly not the toddlers).

We had lunch (mothers’ day was the excuse…) at a crêperie and then walked home. The kids slept and Luuk played ‘Papers, please’ which is a game that looks a lot like hard work. I wrote and wrote and wrote, all by hand, which apparently accesses a different part of the brain. I’d generally prefer to type, but writing by hand makes a nice change and then when I sit down to type, I can start by copying out my hand-written stuff, editing it as I go, and by the time I’m finished I’m (hopefully) on a roll.

On Sunday, Luuk did galettes for breakfast (actually was mothers’ day now), which are crêpes of buckwheat flour. They are usually used for savory fillings. First, you cook them like (thin) pancakes, and then you cook them again, fill them, and fold them over. We did ham and cheese and egg, like the Bretons. Delicious.

Elena and I went to the market. She ate the strawberries while I bought many vegetables, eggs, goat’s cheeses and fish. And then we ate most of it… well, not quite.

Luuk took the kids for a bike ride and I wrote some more. So nice and restful and undisturbed. Then I made lunch in peace…

veggies and cheese and more veggies and more cheese

grilled aubergine, capsicum and courgette stacked with fresh mozzarella and a bit of balsamic vinegar. Salad on the side, with avocado, cherry tomatoes and a soft but strong goat’s cheese (which Elena loved.)

The kids were all worn out from exploring two different playgrounds, so they slept. Luuk and I played Agricola (it takes a while so we have to time it carefully) and then experimented with the leftover crepes and flambéeing…

experimenting with crepes

Raspberries and appelstroop (dutch spread made with apples), flambéed in poire williams… or strawberries and chocolate, flambéed in poire williams… or lime and sugar, flambéed in rum.

To flambée you just need something with 40% or more alcohol. Whatever you prefer. Warm the alcohol in a small saucepan and when you’re ready, light it with a match and pour it, flaming, onto whatever you’re flambéeing. Fun, theatrical, and yum. And most of the alcohol burns off.

I got back to my book after our wee goûter, and luuk back to checking passports (in the game). Then the kids woke up. No boozy crêpes left for them, but plenty of berries. I do love summer. We will have stone fruit and berries for months now. And they’re good and ripe already. The season here is longer than in NZ, probably because the fruit is imported, but from relatively close by.

busy bees

By some miracle, the kids were happy to do their own ‘work’ at the table beside me, and I managed to keep on with my revisions. Glue everywhere, and pen, and tiny pieces of cut-paper, but that’s the price.

We’d run out of cutlery at dinner time. Too much cooking and eating. Luuk and I spent half the evening doing dishes, and the rest… you guessed it: writing and checking passports.

That’s our life now.

But I’m sure we’ll come out of it in a week or two.


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just act normal

Category : Daily Life

Well, there’s nothing normal about the limbo we’re in at the moment, and all the travelling, and all the travelling-to-come… but this week and last week and next week are going to be ordinary.

There’s school and work and writing. Bit of house work. Shopping for groceries (but nothing else because the big sales are a few weeks away yet and why would you shop now? That’d just be silly.)

The kids are well and happy and driving me up the wall.

ie. normal.

Luuk’s been playing Civilization on the computer so I’ve been getting LOADS of reading done. Love that. Finally getting around to reading Hemingway. I have a degree in American Studies, for heavens sake! Every second american in Paris (and more than that if you stick to people at Shakespeare and Company) is a bit obsessed with the man and he comes up in conversation too regularly. For a while I was not reading him because of that, and also because of Kat’s bit in ‘10 Things I Hate About You‘:

skip to 5:30

So I’m reading the thing Hemingway wrote about living in Paris. And if I make it to the end of that (because Kat ain’t all wrong) I’ll probably stop there. But I’m also reading Potiki, which I have meant to do for years. I even brought the book with me from New Zealand, yeah, two and a half years ago. So it’s about time.

And book number 3, because there are always 3, is Amercanah. Rave reviews got me curious, and so far, lovely prose and obviously an observant semi-genius writer, but I haven’t got far.

Note the absence of mush? I know. New leaf? Unlikely. Just taking a breather from the romance diet. What I’m writing, on the other hand… well, it might be a tad more serious than my usual flavour.

I have a slightly odd practise of under-writing first drafts and then fattening them up with important stuff like descriptions of characters and settings, later. Draft one will be 60 000 words, draft six will be 80 000.

So I’m fattening up a second draft. I’m a bit of a wuss and tend to gloss over hard stuff like emotions and anything to do with religion and faith. All my stories are love stories, so emotions are vital, but in this current work-in-progress the religion and faith stuff is increasingly central.

And challenging to write about without gross generalisations, cheese, and overly simple answers to incredibly complicated questions. I’d also hate to exclude, ie. I’m trying to make no assumptions whatsoever about my readers beliefs and values. Which is difficult, nay, impossible. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.

Now, a video of the kids and then I’ve got to get on with things.

Expressing affection can be complicated.

Good lesson to learn young.