on the writing & reading trail

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Edit diary and reading

Day 137 (September 25)

An early start to the day attending to personal and business arrangements, so I didn’t get to the Library till later to start editing.

Editing: Scrolled through last twelve chapters of Book Two (Present tense) and attended to most highlight areas except in those two pest chapters that still need a fair bit of attention. However, I’ve tracked down the relevant research material and will be able to check details for re confirmation or necessary changes in coming days.

I was diverted from that task to check for potential date changes that could affect issues for Book Three (working title meantime is Future hope) so I dropped into the second part of the story to check. Once there, the need for a few changes jumped out – nothing major – and I found myself enjoying the new timeframe but it is clear there is a question significant to the ending date for Future hope to be considered. Today I tapped into the story where Freya is ending her furlough which included time in Scotland, Europe and Australia, with a holiday at a ranger’s home in Kruger National Park prior to commencing her next mission which will take her back to South Sudan.

Following a number of startling experiences in Scotland and Denmark Freya’s personal confidence about her place in family and life in general has been enhanced. Little does she realise there are more surprises and twists in store. I am looking forward to starting the edit of Future hope from the beginning, starting on October 1.

Below is a short excerpt from where I started reading today, when Freya and her former nursing boss in Australia (Louise) and Louise’s erstwhile Dutch colleague (Hanne) spend time with Sandy, wife of the park ranger Bill who has not returned home as expected, possibly because he is shadowing a poacher.

Louise and Hanne smiled at each other. They’d caught up on essentials in the last few hours, and the years of separation had faded away. During the ten days here, followed by four weeks travelling on their own, they’d fill in the fine details at leisure, how and when they wanted. In tandem their gazes swept the room, and rested on Freya, sharing a sense of delight at her total relaxation. It seemed the bush was her place.

Although Sandy sat as if at peace, there was an aura of restlessness about her. Ten minutes on, she said, ‘If Bill doesn’t come soon, I won’t put off asking all about you any longer Hanne. I reckon I’ve been patient enough. Bill will just have to put up with my second-hand story to save you repeating it. I told him about the fun we had when you stayed with us in Cape Town so long ago. You were on your way to Australia then.’

‘That’s where I met Louise. She took pity on me late one night in Rockhampton when I’d missed my Greyhound bus booking for Brisbane. I never did get to spend time there because Lou persuaded me to go with her to Cairns and use her place as a base to explore north Queensland. She said Brisbane was just another city but the north was something else.’ Hanne turned to smile at Louise, ‘She was right. It was a magic place that year. Cairns was laid-back, the tableland communities were interesting and it was a privilege to see the tropical rainforests and travel as far as you could go, to Bamaga on the tip of Cape York. I always meant to go back to Oz to see southern parts of Australia, but never made it. And we lost touch.’ Hanne reached over to pat Louise’s arm. ‘How did we let that happen?’

‘Life gets in the way I guess. I moved a lot around that time, taking casual jobs. And then I got into serious work and for a few years it took over. Steep learning curves getting into management. . . . And you got famous and busy with all that writing and projects.’

‘Thanks to Freya’s volunteering you tracked me down.’

Reading: My shelf of books on loan from the library is looking very different from recent months. Instead of flaunting a predominant mix of fiction with around 30% humanitarian aid volumes, it is now 100% with books for the move to editing work on Future hope. Suddenly (and I’m sure very temporarily) I feel a compulsion to work solely on material that will help to flesh out my writing. The book of recent days is by Paul Watson, Where war lives: A journey into the heart of war. So far it is a stark and sobering read, but will be helpful to bring more authenticity to one of my middle-range characters. Freya was drawn to Leka when they met during her flight to Africa in Present tense. He turns up again in Future hope.

The following paragraphs are taken from a review of Watson’s book by Levon Sevunts, himself a journalist, writer, producer and translator at http://sevunts.com/?p=35:

“The writing is edgy, sometimes chaotic and raw. It feels like you’ve jumped in for a bumpy ride with a war correspondent: You get the passenger-side view of the madness around you and the inside view of how journalists work and survive in humanity’s hellholes.

Along the way, Watson shares his mental anguish, his feelings of guilt and his struggle with depression and the onset of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Yet he manages to avoid the “tortured soul reveals all” stereotype. Where War Lives is an emotional but also intelligent book. It takes the reader behind the headlines. Watson “unspins” lies and propaganda, shows the reader the connection between fighting in the streets of Mogadishu and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

The book also shows the power – sometimes unintended – of the media.”

Anthology celebration: I’m including a photo of our group from the anthology celebration, along with one of the group unable to attend due to his work commitments.

Our absent writer

Celebrating our anthology

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