PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA – (Drum roll) I finished the third draft of my second novel last Sunday.
Loyal readers of this blog (Hi Mum!) who recall my post when I finished my first draft will be wondering what happened to the second.
Well, half-way through editing the first draft, I decided on a major plot shift – a nerve-wracking move that added significantly to my workload, but will hopefully result in a much better book. Thus the second draft morphed into the third, which I finished on 26 October 2008.
I’d actually left the manuscript to one side, knowing I had only a page or so to write, to start a paid consultancy job here in Cambodia. I mentioned this over drinks to my friends Martel and Stephanie, the latter visiting from Melbourne last week, who said words to the effect of, ‘What the hell are you doing here? – You should be at home finishing it!’
Funny what it takes sometimes to get you over that last hub: they were right.
I’d been imagining more of a struggle to get the third draft finished, more of the Great Balancing Act between life and work, love and art…when all I needed to do was just sit down and write. Funnily enough, I had end-October in mind as a deadline.
I finished the last page on Sunday afternoon while Tash was sleeping. I didn’t celebrate as such (though Martel and I shared a toast at Liquid, which happens to make the best mojitos in Phnom Penh) as I’ve been holding out until Roo finished his first draft. That happened this afternoon. So tonight we hit the town – assuming the babysitter makes it through the monsoonal rain.
In other developments, I’ve joined a women’s book club in Phnom Penh. I’ve never been in a book club before and it rocks. I’m only sorry I have to leave it in a couple of months to return to Melbourne. We started with The Kite Runner, a best seller that many people loved but I thought was homophobic, and at least one person in our book club hated. Made for good discussion. Next cab off the rank is my novel Behind the Night Bazaar, nominated by Martel, whose praise is all the more valuable coming from someone who doesn’t read crime fiction at all.
I plan to do an author talk/reading in early-December before we leave Phnom Penh. The venue is the Living Room, a cafe in a beautiful old villa with wide verandahs, ceiling fans and a bamboo jungle in the front yard. It’s where our book club meets, where Martel and I volunteer for storytelling and craft once a month, and where Tash and I spend many an earling morning eating pancakes (her), drinking Mondulkiri coffee (me) and reading stories.
I might even read a passage from the new book. There’s a scene where our fearless hero Jayne Keeney, fleeing an assailant, stumbles into a dress rehearsal for a tranvestite beauty pageant and…TO BE CONTINUED.