It’s been a busy few days. First there was the Festival of Llew over the weekend, which concluded last night and happily went off without a hitch (diabolical weather notwithstanding). Thanks to a friend cancelling at the last minute, we even ended up at the magic number of 9 for the joint birthday lunch with Llewie’s best friend, and were free to indulge in the full menu at our leisure. So much better. I also pulled off the unlikeliest coup of recent memory, after inviting two of his and D’s great mates, one of whom lives in PNG and the other in Melbourne. They both came, in addition to a couple more of their oldest friends. It was so lovely see them all together, especially as the PNG-based friend is also soon to become a father for the first time. A little hoorah seemed in order, and that’s precisely what they had. It was also supremely satisfying being the Keeper of Birthday Secrets – I had a great deal of fun orchestrating the surprise guest appearances – I even kept them from knowing about each other. Llew was, as you might imagine, utterly chuffed. Yesterday was his actual birthday, which he unfortunately spent at work locking horns with a gigantic tool, but he escaped in time for us to have dinner with his parents last night. And now we’re both completely shattered. Stamina, why have you forsaken me?
Now, after the most active morning on record yesterday, during which he or she pummelled the birthday boy’s hand as if in particular greeting (all other gifts immediately paling into insignificance), it was I who later scored a quick little glimpse of Baby J during my appointment with Dr F. The backbone was incredibly, thrillingly clear on the monitor, as were the four chambers of the heart, all rhythmically pumping away like one of the choreographed numbers in Fantasia, and the head was snugly down. But because of my low-lying placenta, and spotting over the Babymoon, I am still scheduled for a ‘foetal wellness scan’ at week 34. During the scan, I’ll also be seeking reassurance about the umbilical cord’s position – I just really, really want to know that it’s not around Baby J’s neck. The thought, when it succeeds in breaking through my mental fortifications, makes me sick with anxiety. I’ve tried to just put it out of my mind, but it’s a worry that’s always vaguely there, hovering just below the surface, whispering at me in a pretty heartless fashion. I’m hoping the scan will put an end to this nagging doubt, because it’s a really awful thing to think about, let alone experience (as a number of friends can unfortunately attest). Keep those fingers crossed, please.
And if crossing digits is your thing, I’ll gratefully accept any contribution directed toward the ASA Mentorship Program. I sent in my application today after really struggling with it the past couple of weeks. When I returned to that chapter rewritten in third person, from which I’ve kept my distance since making the change, I didn’t like it. I wasn’t convinced by it – it seemed to actually amplify my authorial presence instead of mute it – so whatever problems I am having realising the protagonist in first person, I’m going to have to keep trying. Mind you, what currently exists of my second MS is in third person and always has been, so I think it’s just a matter of deciding what’s right for each individual project. I’m persuaded this one is better served by first person, but I’m still glad I tried. Of course, this decision only attends to one of the manuscript’s many remaining flaws, and I’m afraid I don’t hold out much hope of nabbing one of the mentorships. I wish I could say I simply don’t care enough to be bothered imagining winning one, but that would be disingenuous. In truth, I would love to be awarded a mentorship – because I both really want and really need one – I just don’t think I will be numbered among the lucky few. Why apply, in that case? That’s a good question. I guess I still feel as though I have to keep trying, no matter how hopeless it all seems (and I’m afraid I haven’t yet recovered heart).
The better reason is that periodically writing these applications forces certain kinds of thinking about the work, and it’s beneficial to have to regularly articulate a project’s direction and status. It’s clarifying, and it’s surprisingly difficult to do well (so I find, anyway), which means I find the process very worthwhile irrespective of the outcome. And that’s lucky, because it’s rare to get the result one desires.