Greetings, friends – I’m back. It’s been dreadfully frustrating not sharing the last few days with you, but I really had to put my snout in the hole. And it’s done – for this draft, anyway. I sent the manuscript in the overnight mail last night, and it should reach Varuna in time for today’s deadline. It’s been a matter of 14 hour days and very little sleep. Even exhausted, my mind continued whirring as though that’s what it’s supposed to do at one, two, and three o’clock in the morning. It was all consuming. It burrowed into my brain and devoured it as surely as any parasite. As I said to the Changeling, I was sitting in the Mitchell Library yesterday after battling the pre-Christmas crush at the post office, and I could have let my head roll back into a deep open-mouthed snore quite happily.
So. There’s nothing further I can do now to enhance its chances of making the short list. Not one thing. I’ve done the best I’m capable of in the time I had, and actually I’ve made huge changes since getting back from my Varuna residency first week of September. I’ve surprised myself, and I know I surprised the Dark Heart, my Darkling reader who is so astute and even in her critiques that I was very fortunate to get her latest verdict in the flesh and in time for this deadline. Yes, the Sydney chapter of the Darklings met for lunch at Chez J on Sunday. It was so exciting having them come and play at my house. We sat out in the courtyard enjoying a rather changeable but mostly hot day, we scoffed my crab salad (they were guinea pigs, but I think it was good. And yes, I pulled the crab meat out of the shell with my own two hands, and no, I won’t be signing up for that job again any time soon), drank just enough wine to start feeling giggly, and caught up on writing, life, and love. It was wonderful. And then at the end of the afternoon, we wandered down the beach, walked across the isthmus to the harbour side, had a beer at the wharf and then off they went on a ferry home. A perfect afternoon, really. And the Dark Heart was as spot-on as ever in her identification of a couple of remaining problems (but the good news is there seem to be fewer since last time). I am so lucky, and so glad to be as lucky as I am.
The Varuna website says the short list will be announced January 20. It’s tempting, trust me, to abandon all thought of the MS between now and then, but in some ways I daren’t. Because what if I don’t make it? Or what if I do? Won’t I want the MS to be as strong as possible in any event, and wouldn’t that mean I have to keep working on it? I’m undecided. But I will step away, at least for a couple of weeks. I’m going to sit back and look at the other projects I’ve started and try to figure out which one comes next. If I’m not going to be working on the current MS in the interim period, then I need to be working on whatever will follow it. This isn’t overly optimistic; if this one never gets published, I’m not going to roll over and forget the whole thing. It’s far too late for that. I am finally doing the thing I’ve wanted to do my whole life, and I’m not going to stop now no matter what happens. I’ll have to just pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep on going, much like the father and son in The Road, except with much better food and nicer scenery.