Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I think the mad woman in Jane Eyre was based on me

I have turned up in the NZ Book Council's latest publication School Library Issue 3 .

I have been feeling a little crazy recently. I don't seem to be fitting in all the things I want to fit in, or indeed, need to get done. Yikes. And my overwhelming urge right now is to do nothing. Double yikes. My writing brain is all over the place - I can't settle to one story. Maybe its because its Spring. Yes you can have some lovely warm weather, BUT ONLY AT A PRICE. And I think those loved up tuis in my back garden have now become prospective parent kamikaze tuis. Result! (for them) but a bit of a worry when one wants to hang out the washing. I hope they don't take their protective zeal out on my freshly cleaned towels.

In the meantime here is something I started in a different lifetime that I one day hope to finish, if I can ever get my 'a' into 'g'. It is the start to The Snow Raven. It is not one of the three novels I have been working on most recently.

You couldn’t tell. You couldn’t tell from the way the leaves fell or the way the apples rusted away to red on the trees that the winter was going to be special. There should have been some sign, for what came after changed everything.
For weeks the weather slowly turned and the twins haunted the forest. The watery sun smiled down on them, barely making an impression on the chilly air. The drifts of leaves were thick and dry, crackling and collapsing when the twins jumped on them. Round and round the trees they went, forest-combing for the treasures that washed up on those beechy shores.
Forever on the hunt for shiny, sparkly things, Meddlesome was always looking down. ‘Finders, keepers,’ was her favourite saying of all time and ‘I saw it first’ was a close runner-up. Winsome didn’t mind. She was the quieter twin, the one who didn’t mind having second pickings, the one who came after; there were fewer fights that way.
So on this day, as every other, Meddlesome was looking down, hoping for a great find. And she got her wish. In the big dip in the forest where the ground sloped down to a point in the centre, a huge old kauri tree grew. Rounder than the two girls could reach and hold each others hands and tall enough to hurt their necks when they looked up, the tree rose above everything else in the forest. It was a special tree.
Meddlesome and Winsome danced around it twice, and walked around it backwards once, as they always did to ward off bad things. But something seemed different this day. Meddlesome’s fingers tingled and the hair on her head itched as she searched the ground. Then she spied it. In the long grass at the base of the tree she could see something. The twins knew this forest very well. They knew this tree and every centimetre of the ground around it very, very well. There were never any rocks at the bottom of this tree. Now a large, smooth, white stone nestled in the foliage. It looked like an enormous opal, a large shiny egg almost white but not, with many colours shimmering on its surface like oil patches in the rain. But the colours passed and as it settled down to a dull bone colour Meddlesome reached her hand out and picked it up. The sky cracked like a thunder clap and for a second the dull blue blistered with lightning.

“What is it?” Winsome asked peering forward to see the object cradled in Meddlesome’s hands.
“It’s an egg you nelly.”
“I know that. I mean what kind of egg is it.”
“Nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s quite big isn’t it? And the colour is really strange. Maybe its rotten inside,” and Meddlesome put the egg to her nose and gave it a quick sniff. “Smell’s okay. In fact it’s got quite a nice smell,” and she held the egg out for Winsome to sniff.
“Gosh it’s quite fresh isn’t it? Not like a smell at all really but a…a…it reminds me of something.”
“Yes,” Meddlesome couldn’t help but agree. “It’s like snow…snow at Christmas,” she said vaguely.
“Don’t be stupid. You don’t know snow. Especially not at Christmas silly.”
“Well, it’s like I imagine snow smells at Christmas,” Meddlesome pouted.
Winsome about to make another smart remark bit her lip, because the second she thought about it she realised her sister had almost found the answer she’d been grasping at when the egg smell reminded her of something. It wasn’t quite right but it felt very close. But this annoyed her, like Meddlsome finding the egg first somehow annoyed her. “You watch too much T-Box,” she said.
Meddlesome sniffed indignantly.
“I guess its not going to hatch now is it? Sitting in the cold like that,” Winsome went on, something prodding at a small germ of unkindness buried deep inside her.
“I guess not,” her sister replied. “Still we could take it home and keep it warm for a little bit. See if anything happens?”

Its a lot of narrative to begin with which some writers believe can be a problem, but other writers get away with it. I guess if its ever complete I can make a decision about the beginning then :)

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