In austere company

I told Cassie this morning that I hated Tyson, the scrawny little whining so-and-so. I hated him more today when I had to sit down for another hour of him. We didn’t talk much. He just went about his business. I realized what a dark story Tyson’s is. He spends the whole damn thing self doubting, mumbling, skulking around. I kept thinking how most of the old chapters are rubbish, compared to the replacements. I wondered if I would ever be done with him.

I got a little distracted when I checked through my writing logs for this year. Only then I realized why I dread Tyson so much. I’ve been working on him on and off for the whole year. I’ve only written two other novellas, and a few short stories. Most them all rather long. But for the most part, this year has been me and Tyson.

I wandered after our meeting together, and into a bookstore. I saw the Huia compilation I’m in sitting on a bookshelf. It stuck out, as it often does. But I saw where it was put. In austere New Zealand fiction. It reminded me that the Huia Short Story compilations are pretty austere things, being a showcase of Maori writers, but it took me seeing it there next to Patricia Grace and Witi Ihimaera to remember that.

I get doubts all the time, and most of them come with Tyson. It’s been two years since I wrote Tyson’s first draft. Since then I’ve written two other novels, a big number of novellas, and countless short stories. Probably about 300,000 words, I’m guessing. Actually most of my doubts are when I’m working with him. I don’t often doubt any other time. I don’t let myself. I know I can write well.

I guess I have to remember that I can do Tyson as well as I can do any other novel or writing that I work on. My doubts, I figure, come from the fact that I’ve been working on him for two years. That’s a long time to be stuck with something. In that time, it can very much seem like there’s no light at the other end of the tunnel.

I certainly hope that I can look back on these times and laugh when I’m finally done and published with the little sod. But I still love him.


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