Ah. Two weeks of solid writing time stretches ahead.
Early morning beach walks. Decent espresso any time of the day. Cicadas in the ti-tree and chooks in the backyard. Lunch with a book in the sun. Me'shell NdegeOcello on continuous play through my headphones ("Just sit back, relax/Listen to the 8-track/I'll dig you like an old soul record"). Writing. Although I'm getting rather hemmed in by books.
I don't know where they all come from, these books. They follow me home like stray cats. It's a mystery, honestly.
I left Australia with two boxes of books: essential references and half my reading pile. All the rest were packed into dozens more boxes and sit patiently in storage in Melbourne.
I worry about them. Maybe there's a silverfish in my Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Maybe it's too damp for poor old C.E.W. Bean. He's been through enough. Perhaps a possum is nesting, as we speak, in a shredded box of travel narrative or Fiction B to C.
But there they are. And here I am. Every so often I feel a desperate need to look up something in The White Nile. Or read all the Aubrey books one more time. I've had to buy new copies of War and Peace, Tacitus and The Dam Busters because I'd left them behind. You just never know what you'll need.
I accidentally bought another copy of The Victorians - when it arrived I thought it looked rather too familiar, and then remembered it was in the other half of the reading pile.
But perhaps they are somehow making their way over the Tasman, because in the two-and-a-half years I've been in NZ the original two boxes seem to have bred rather more offspring than you would have thought possible. There are three boxes sitting here in the study now, several piles on the floor and desk and three piles on the table and every shelf crammed. Perhaps I shouldn't have bought the 1951 Encyclopaedia Britannica, but it's so nice to have some kind of definitive answer on questions that have been bothering me (when was the last Auto de Fe, for example, or the spread of movable type through Europe). Not that I sit around idly worrying about such things - it's research. Mostly.
Then there was the school book fair in Napier the other week. I picked up stacks of kids' books, including a few I hadn't been able to find anywhere (like Jill Paton Walsh's Fireweed). The day before I'd been to a bookshop in search of Ronald Welch's The Gauntlet. At the fair, there was the same bookseller, arms full of purchases, and on the top of her pile was dear old Ronald. She handed it over without even blinking, for me to buy instead.
"Found it!" Bless her.
(She was from The Little Bookshop, Latham St, Napier, and specialises in kids' books: she does run a book finding service, but I don't think it's usually that fast.)
Normally I don't buy ex-lib books, but somehow the familiar Dewey Decimal sticker on the spine of a much-thumbed Puffin makes it seem like an old friend.
Anyway, I've been threatened with divorce if I don't get another bookcase soon. Things are getting serious. I'll have to ban books from entering the house. Set up an x-ray machine at the front door. Tell the postie not to deliver anymore parcels.
In about six weeks' time my own first book will be in the bookshops. I'm going to go into Whitcoulls and stare at it. Then I'm going up the road to Dymocks to stare at it. Then I might see if it's in Borders.
I might even buy a copy. Just because I can.
We'll let that one in the door.
But now I suppose I should go and write some more of the bloody things.