Having said all that, I’m now off to a “garage sale” at a winery, where last year’s surplus stock is sold off, and also the workplace of a wonderful winemaker with whom I spoke at length in 2013. Back then, I’d decided I would make one of my main characters in Under Ten Thousand Stars a winemaker, purely because, A, I love wine, and B, it’s the author’s prerogative to make stuff up without the merest inclination of what you are talking about! Thus Michael Falconer was born. Michael, who knew everything about wine, unlike his creator, who knew how to drink it and not much else. Hence my visit to this marvellous man who spent the next two hours giving me the knowledge to write with conviction about grapes and phylloxera, de-stemming and fermentation. I took from that meeting a greater understanding of the secret world beyond the cellar door. Mostly, though, I saw how his passion for wine took him from buds on vines all the way through to award-winning wines that grace the tables of restaurants and homes throughout Australia and the world. That all-consuming passion, whether it be for wine or art, or making beautiful lemon tarts by hand, is something I can truly understand.
The Bay of Shadows is available now.
But I digress. Back to Haruki… His comments about physical exercise really resonated with me, not only because I love it, but also the benefit to my and, indeed, to any other author’s fragile soul. What struck me most of all was his observation: “Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.” It is what I think I’ve known all along, that great writing doesn’t come from the time you spend at the computer. Rather, it is the result of what you do away from it. That wonderful, messy, complicated thing called life from where all inspiration and magnificent storylines emerge.
The great Haruki Murakami had a particularly gruelling schedule of getting up at four am and writing for four to six hours before going for a long swim or an even longer run in the afternoon. Somehow I don’t think I will be emulating the running, because as my brother pointed out after we went for a run together once, “You look like a dying emu.” I did, however, persevere with grim, albeit slightly delusional, determination, even going so far as taking part in a ‘fun’ run. (A 14km circuit around Melbourne, which included a staggered start for those who chose to walk the course.) It took me over two hours to complete, the highlight of which was a couple of random strangers pulling up to offer me a lift to the finish line. The low point? A bunch of walkers overtaking me. Oh, come on! Really? When someone walks faster than you run you should probably look at doing something else. Still, I got a lovely gold medal, and the ignominy of taking out actual last place (it was there in the official record). Finally – finally- point taken!
A fresh weekend lies ahead of me and that usually means a number of things as a given: coffee – and lots of it – naps, books, some sort of cake, although I’m not fussy so biscuits and other interlopers fall into that category too, swimming in the sea, usually to work off all that cake. As some of you may have seen on Facebook, I started the rewrite of my very first novel UnderTen Thousand Stars last Wednesday and three days in I’m already stuck. (And, yes, I realise that may actually be record time to come to a grinding halt.) So what to do when faced with writer’s block? Well, probably don’t go on the Internet to read articles about how to deal with writer’s block, because not only is it an exercise in frustration but you’re usually back to where you started one hour earlier and half a dozen cat videos later.
MADE IN PIXEL TOGETHER