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Our writing retreat is on day three! We’re having a rather good time, although I must say I have to fight off the urge to procrastinate/sleep, but what else is new?

If you’d like to hear us chat about what we’re working on and our creative processes and influences and just silly stuff, we’ve resurrected the Hiveminded podcast for the week (maybe more in the future too, who knows?). Head over to the podcast page and scroll down to start with episode 11, which we recorded the day Karen arrived. We laugh a lot. It’s good.

I’m working through my giant manuscript, which was called Undragon Stories. I originally wrote it for my MA, worked on it during a three-week Varuna fellowship, then got completely sick of it and hid it in a folder on my computer and haven’t looked at it since. One chapter has since been published as a short story, but I thought there must be some other good stuff in there and so I’m using this week to dust it off, flesh out much of what is very skeletal at present, and see if it still is something anyone might want to read.

After a first skim through what became immediately apparent was that, apart from things I knew I needed to work on, there was a lot of stuff that was out of date. As I said on the podcast, if the book had been published when it was written, the cultural references would have been fine. But as a work-in-progress in the current day I need to actually update some stuff. Here are some of the anachronistic things that have popped out at me that I need to get rid of:

  • Having an impressive CD collection on display in one’s house
  • Smoking indoors in a bar
  • A giant rear-projection TV
  • Johnny Depp being someone you’d want to emulate in coolness
  • A BMW Z3 Roadster being the latest desirable luxury car
  • Liz Hurley and Britney Spears as cultural references
  • Star City Casino (now called The Star and the interior probably doesn’t look anything like how I described it back then…research trip to Sydney? Hmm…)
  • Zegna suits. I don’t know. Are they still fashionable? I don’t know anything about men’s fashion.
  • Bacardi Breezers
  • A young, single guy having a landline at home

I mentioned in the podcast that Daniel, the male protagonist, was like a cross between Hugh Grant in About a Boy and George Clooney in Up in the Air. Then I started to feel so unoriginal and wondered whether I had even tried at all when creating Daniel. I was somewhat relieved to learn that I hadn’t completely plagiarised the character, as Up in the Air didn’t come out until 2009 and I wrote this in 2003/4 (About a Boy came out in 2002 though, so you’ve got me there).

In terms of new writing (rather than just editing the manuscript) I’m digging into a lot more of the body image stuff that the female protagonist, Jasmine, wrestles with. In the time since I wrote this book the body positivity movement has gained a lot of traction so I’m not sure whether I need to take that into account or not. But then there are some things that just will always be a current issue, and sadly I think young girls hating their bodies is one of them.


Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash