So, the second part of the Oceania Trilogy has finally gone off to the printers, and my editor and I have sighed a deep breath of relief. Not that it was particularly hard going, but because 'experts' added their fourpenny worth and things had to either be explained, added to, deleted or changed - a job no author really wants to do, but then there is always the clever person out there only too willing to point out that the author got it wrong! And we do, quite often. Not because we're careless or ignorant, but because during the writing of a book the author is so taken up with the story and the way it is being told, that minor things (or even some major ones) cease to be really important in the scheme of things. But then of course I am supposed to be writing the history of Australia, and should know what I'm doing. But as the months of writing are followed by months of editing, page changing and chapter fiddling, things get lost or missed in the furore, and not even the most dedicated author or editor can really be blamed.
Enough already! I get things wrong, I admit that!
So book one is out, book two is at the printers and book three.... Well that is a work in progress, or at least it should be, but I seem to be stuck at about fifty pages in. Not because I've suddenly lost the power of imagination, and not because I have writers' block - but because of outside influences which seem determined to knock me off balance.
First there was a birthday party - not mine, but a young relative's - and this involved a house full of youngsters who came in at five in the morning, got up again at ten, ate hugely and went off to the pub to start all over again. This lasted for four days, and although I barely touched a drop they seemed to weather the storm far better than I did. You should see the bags under my eyes!
Secondly I discover I am expected in Austria.
The suggestion was made at the beginning of the year that I might like to attend a book and art presentation in Tulln, which is about half an hour outside Vienna. Okay, I said in a mad moment, thinking what a good chance it would be to actually visit Vienna for the first time and have a bit of a break.
I heard nothing from January to September, so assumed - always wrong to assume anything - that the whole idea had been shelved. Then I get an email on Friday - in German - which includes a programme of the event. Heck! Now I've got to stir myself and sort out flights, car hire and hotels, and I've only got a couple of weeks to do it all in. The problem with dealing with people from other countries, is that I'm incapable of any language other than English, or at least the Australian version of English, and therefore unable to communicate with them. There are questions to be answered. What am I expected to do at this presentation? Who is organising it? Why won't anyone answer my urgent emails? And has anyone thought to arrange for some of my books to be there? I'm not lugging hundreds of books onto a plane, and anyway, they'd be in English, which is a fat lot of good in Austria, where it appears no-one can speak English. I have passed over the problem to him indoors. He teaches English as a foreign language now he's semi-retired, and most of his pupils are Austrian, so perhaps he will have better luck than I.
Not really, as it turns out. His contact's English is about as good him indoors' German, and as he tries to write down addresses as they are given over the phone I can tell he is rapidly losing his patience. The reddening of ears is a sure sign!
Anyway, he will book the flight this afternoon, and we shall arrive in Vienna on 9th October, barring tsunamis and the crash of the Bank of England. If anyone wants to join me at the Buchprasentation und Vernissage, Wustenrot-Beratungsstelle Tulln, Frauentorgasse 87, 3430 Tulln, they will be made very welcome. The event will start at 19:00.
I hope there will be some of my books there - the German translation - and I will be delighted to sign them for you. Other than that I can't promise what the evening will bring.