The Write Before Christmas

4:44am Beep beep beep: Partner’s alarm goes off. Usually, I get up with Partner, potter around until his lift for work arrives and then I take Dog for a walk. Today, I decide to sleep in.

5:15am Partner comes back into bedroom, says his lift hasn’t arrived, can I drop him off? Get out of bed, leave bed unmade (so I can resume sleeping when I return), pat Dog who is thrilled to see me awake and drive Partner to work. Start to think about how two of the manuscript’s minor characters could be connected through one object. Do the characters need to know each other? Is the object exchanged as a gift, or is stolen?

5:45am Dog greets me at the front door, thrilled to see me home, and I make way back to bed. But Dog keeps pressing her nose into the back of calves, each nudge demanding, “Take me for a walk! Take me for a walk! Take me for a walk!

5:46am Make the bed, change clothes and take Dog for a walk. Decide that the minor characters should remain strangers, but that the object would changed owners during the course of the narrative.

6:00am Step on an unnaturally rubbery patch of earth. Nearly die as I jump back, revealing the coiled body of a brown snake. On closer inspection, I see the body is covered in ants: the snake is already dead. I check on Dog who is feverishly sniffing the base of a nearby streetlight, oblivious to my near demise.

6:30am I arrive back home, feed Dog who is thrilled at the sight of anything edible, and watch a twenty-minute YouTube video on Chuck Palahniuk while trying to decide whether my two protagonists should be related. Would the narrative feel tighter if the two major character were father and daughter or would that be too distracting? Would it change the flavour of the narrative?

6:50am Open laptop, open word file and reread yesterday’s edited pages. Realise that the pages are still raw and spend the next hour reediting the already “edited” pages.

7:50am Coffee.

8:30am Get text from Partner reminding me about our appointment to check out a rental property at nine o’clock. No, I haven’t forgotten. Yes, I am on my way.

8:31am Brush teeth, get dressed and do hair. Dog is not thrilled when she realises she is staying home.

9:05am Walk through rental. Small yard, good kitchen, quiet neighbours. Chat to real estate agent while trying to decide whether the events of chapter ten should actually happen before the events in chapter eight. Is the lead up to the detective’s investigation taking too long? Should I throw in some action in order to keep the plot moving?

9:30am Drop Partner back at work, Partner suggests that I buy a Christmas present for a friend’s daughter as we are going to their house on Christmas Eve for dinner and wouldn’t it be lovely to show up with a gift and you’ll have enough time to do that and it’s not like it will take that long and while you’re there, could you pick up some milk? Because going to Stockland two days before Christmas is ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA. Start to wonder if I could legitimately make my detective a serial killer, then I remember Jeff Lindsay. Damn it.

10:00am Karate Chop soccer mum who is trying to pilfer the last remaining box of Lego in the entire universe.

10:15am Back in car. Realise I didn’t get the milk.

10:17am Trying to decide if now is the best time to become vegan.

10:18am Google alternative milk options.

10:20am Go back into the shopping centre to get milk.

10:35am Arrive back home, unpack car and pat Dog who is thrilled to see me home. Receive text message from Partner asking me if I can pick up some Gin while I am out.

10:40am Open word document, finish editing yesterday’s pages and start on today’s pages.

11:40am Feel pleased to have worked for an hour without procrastinating. Scroll back through word document and realise I have only edited one ‘new’ page. One page in one hour. Begin to wonder if I’ll be working on this book for the rest of my life.

11:44am Peel myself off the floor and check emails. Mentor has sent me a file containing her latest feedback. I read her comments, agreed with everything and resolve to begin remedying these issues immediately. Feel completely overwhelmed and resume position on floor.

11:48am Begin to wonder if my brief stint cleaning restaurant bathrooms at four in the morning really was the worst job I ever had.

11:49am Yes. Yes, it was. Resume editing.

12:55pm Make lunch while Dog watching longingly, wondering where her lunch is. Asshole.

1:15pm Grab scrappy notebook and begin brainstorming how to implement Mentor’s suggestions.

1:30pm Remember that I haven’t pick up Partner’s Gin, because going to the Bottle-O two days before Christmas is ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA!

1:45pm Pull up at Bottle-O.

2:05pm Leave Bottle-O. I don’t want to talk about it okay?

2:20pm Unpack car, open door, Dog is thrilled to see me home.

2:25pm Wrap Christmas presents that were bought earlier in the day. Dog stares at me, then stares at the door, then stares back at me, then stares at her lead, then stares at me as if to ask, ‘when did you stop loving me?’ I start to wonder if my detective should have a cat.

2:40pm Reopen word document and resume working on the detective’s chapter. Do Australian’s use the term ‘rap sheet?’ Google ‘Australia rap sheet,’ spend ten minutes frantically whipping through sites before eventually emailing Cop Contact. Stare at inbox willing an instantaneous reply to appear so I can continue working on the scene. I remember then, that one of my protagonists makes a quip about the number of women vs the number of men on the Australian Missing Persons website. Check website. Quip is incorrect. Quip is deleted. Then I remember that my funeral director makes a comment about the refrigerators in the morgue, only I didn’t know what the correct name of that equipment is. I Google ‘morgue refrigerators’ and find out that they’re called ‘cold chambers.’

2:41pm Begin to reflect on the day’s Google search and wonder if my computer has been flagged.

2:42pm Discreetly open blinds and check street for unfamiliar cars.

3:10pm Neighbour starts up blower, so I shut the windows and door of the study to block out the noise.

3:12pm Study door opens by itself.

3:14pm Relocate upstairs because the study is clearly haunted.

3:40pm Check inbox, Cop Contact has replied. In Australia, ‘rap sheets’ are called ‘history’, as in ‘I pulled up your history.’ Dog begins barking. Look out the window to see new tenants moving in next door. Suspicious given the timing of my earlier Google searches.

4:00pm Start to think I should be packing boxes in preparation for moving.

4:10pm Try to come up with ten reasons why we shouldn’t move. Only manage to come up with eight. Damn it.

4:15pm Reopen manuscript and continue tinkering with detective scene.

4:30pm Phone rings, it’s the new neighbours. Dog has apparently decided to take herself for a second walk.

4:45pm Return home with disobedient Dog and contemplate locking her in the laundry. I don’t. Instead, we play fetch for ten minutes and I scratch her belly.

5:10pm Reread latest paragraph while feeling disappointed that the editing fairies have not been hard at work in my absence. Begin to wonder if I should have accepted that Pharmacy Scholarship ten years ago, but then I remember that Pharmacology is just a stand in for the Man and I hate the Man. Return to working on the manuscript.

6:00-10pm Partner texts to say he will get a lift home, realise that I have been sitting all day and that maybe I should move my meat suit.

Close laptop.

Exercise.

Cook dinner.

Kiss Partner.

Feed disobedient Dog.

Read the final pages of Tim Winton’s ‘Breath’ while remembering the author’s anecdote about a fan coming up to him at a signing and saying ‘Breathe’ was his favourite book ever! Fall asleep while wondering if, one day, I’d be lucky enough to have a reader mispronounce the name of my book.

*Image by Daniele Dorelli Christmas Tree

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