Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
I spent most of today in Auckland with my editor and others from the local branch of HarperCollins, my ANZ publishing company. I had a great time looking over what the proof readers made of my sixth novel, 'Beyond the Wall of Time.' I'm a terror for repetition, and they always catch me at it. Some of the mistakes I make and never see during my own edits leave me embarrassed. Despite extensive notes characters go missing, swords and stones are there one moment and gone the next, and people stand up after having just stood up. Sigh.
I left HarperCollins having submitted two manuscripts, both of which I'm very nervous about. The first is a part-finished near-future scifi/fantasy hybrid, quite unlike my usual style. The second is ... a children's picture book. I wonder what will be made of them. I've got more hope for the novel, though we've worked hard on the picture book. It's not really my area of expertise, but we had a fun little story to tell.
Over a hundred dead, at least five thousand homeless, and the effects will last for years.
There are a hundred different things I want to say about this terrible event, but I'll limit myself to a couple. First, I'm appalled at the number of comments I've heard from New Zealanders about foolish (and that's being polite) Australians not abandoning their homes sooner. We kiwis live in a green, rain-soaked land, and we don't know what it's like to have to compromise with nature. Generally we just ride roughshod over nature and get away with it because there's so few of us.
Not in Australia, not after a ten-year drought, not in 47 degree heat. These people made what they thought was the correct decision, only to discover too late that living with nature sometimes means being completely overwhelmed by it. Not a single death can be laid at the feet of those who died: all were taking what they thought were appropriate steps to safeguard life and property. This is a tragedy.
It comes home to me because a couple of weeks ago I was right there, on retreat in southern Victoria. And this time last year I stayed two weeks in Yackandandah, currently threatened by flames. I used to borrow Kylie's car and cruise down to Myrtleford to play golf. Halfway between Yack and Myrtleford was a little town called Mudgegonga, a dozen houses and a CFA station. The fire went through there yesterday, and two people died. They weren't in the middle of a forest, and they had a Fire Station right there, yet they still got caught.
Australia is a wonderful place. But part of its beauty is derived from its location on the ragged edge of human habitability. Today we've learned just how ragged that edge really is.
Busy writing today, but of course writing is always interrupted. Today it has been interrupted by an out-of-control bamboo burnoff by some nincompoop neighbours. Middle of summer, set fire to their rubbish. Been listening to their shouts and the pop and crackle of exploding bamboo all afternoon.
I suspect my writing is soon to be interrupted by cricket on telly. How inconsiderate, scheduling cricket on a day I wish to write.
Wedding anniversary tomorrow. Twenty-four years in harness! Not a day we normally celebrate, as it is also exactly twenty-one years since we lost our first in a mid second trimester miscarriage. Didn't give us much cause to celebrate that year or in the years following.
We will celebrate tomorrow, though, by going somewhere. Don't know where yet.