Thursday, December 15, 2011

End of Year

This has been one of the best years of my life.
It's been difficult. I should say, more emotionally than anything else. I haven't really felt the press of time in the same way that others have described.
I haven't pulled all nighters, or typed 'til my hands burned (although they did ache now and then) or yanked out chunks of scalp over a particular combination of words (has anyone actually done this? If so I should buy you a beer.)
I have worked much harder this year than I ever have before on a single project. I'm the kind of person who procrastinates until the night before and then relies on luck and, let's face it, undeserved intelligence to get the job done.

But I somehow managed to finish my baby, my portfolio for this course, a whole three days early. And, rather than scraping through on a B as I so often do, somehow I seem to have got away with an A.  I lay this completely on the doorstep of my classmates and my teacher, Bernadette Hall. Without your support, I would still be floundering under a pile of confusing metaphors.

Emotionally, it's been hard. Being surrounded by supremely talented people, I don't think anyone could help but be intimidated. After getting to know those people (I speak of course, of my lovely classmates and teachers) I became even more intimidated, since not only were they talented, they were also nice, intelligent and generous. Terribly so.
There was no chink for my ego to break through. No place where I could say, well, yes, but I'm better at this (unless it's wiggling my ears. I'm pretty much the NZ champion at that).
Eventually it dawned on me that... well, I enjoyed my work. Other people said they liked it as well.  I was getting published here and there, so it couldn't just be kind words.
And I enjoyed my classmates work, very much. And oh boy, did they do well this year. Publishing credits and well deserved wins all around. You should definitely check it out. Try Turbine, or the Dominion Post's Your Weekend Summer Edition, or the next (March) edition of Sport magazine.

Basically, what I'm saying is this year I learned to stop being dumb and stop comparing myself to others (and despairing at the result). Yes, a lesson I should have picked up from Sesame Street when I was six. But, it's the most valuable thing I've learned this year. All the writers in my class deserve to be published, because people everywhere deserve to be exposed to them.
Which is why, although I was awarded the Biggs Poetry Prize this year, I think it could have just as easily been given to any one else in my class and it would not have surprised me one bit (well, you know, except the fiction writers. But if they had happened to write poetry...).
Everything I've accomplished this year has been because of the incredible gift of being able to interact with the people in my class, and my teacher.
There should be no comparison because once you get past a certain point of skill and dedication, we're all just swimming around in a sea of awesome, calling out encouragement and critiquing each others' stroke and I've enjoyed it very much (too bad I'm still so attached to those confusing metaphors. Oh well).
I want to thank them all, very sincerely. I'm gonna miss you guys.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Mr Peter Biggs and Mrs Mary Biggs for their generous sponsorship of the Biggs Poetry Prize. I am astonished at the fact that people will take the time to set up and contribute to awards like this, which mean so much to the recipients. I was thrilled and humbled to be chosen. Thank you very much.

Finally, thanks to my family for putting up with me this year. Particularly my mother, who had to endure me sulking at various times and my melodramatic conviction that I would utterly fail and somehow also wind up friendless, despised, destitute, etc etc. Yes, you can gloat now if you like.
I won't mind a bit.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sitting in an Old Villa...

At the moment, I'm living in a villa in Wellington, which is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. He's a grumpy old man of a house, creaky and stiff and given to conniptions over the weather.
I love him to pieces.
I have my very own secret hiding space under the floor in my room. It's something I've always wanted.  The boards have been cut and can be removed, and I could put something in there, if I wanted. I could hide treasure in there, put a rug over it and no one would ever find it. I could stow away forbidden literature, or ill gotten gains. I could even secrete a baby whose parents are on the run for some reason, and unfortunately ended up entrusting their baby to me.  It would have to be a quiet baby, but I could do it.
Or, you know, since we aren't quite living in a totalitarian state (not yet anyway... no thanks to all of you out there who didn't vote in the last election!) I could put something awesome in there for the next person to find. A little story, maybe, or a handful of beads, or an origami crane. Or, you know, a voucher for free chips. Something nice.

The last person to live in this room left me an emerald green bottle, small and fat, roughly same dimensions as a nectarine.
I thought it was some kind of antique until I noticed a row of them in the liquor store. But it's pretty, particularly with a nosegay of wild flowers.
Where do I get the wild flowers? Why, from the jungle in my backyard. It might only be a small jungle, about four meters square, but we are dedicated to letting it go back to its natural state, wild flowers and all.
At least until the next house inspection.
 Because this crotchety gentleman doesn't belong to me. I am only visiting. If he did I would scratch his itchy windowpanes for him, he's always wriggling them about. I'd get rid of the old paint and fancy him up for company.
He's already been host to a decade of dwellers, most of whom have left a layer of themselves behind, in the cupboards and the drawers. In the cracks between the floorboards.
I'm planning to take everything when I go. I'll scrub my room clean, ball up the blue tack, clear out every nook and cranny.
But I'll leave something in the hiding space. What, I hear you cry?
Well, that's between me and my grumpy old man of a house.