Had to flee the house today, due to threatened invasion by plumber, landlord and cleaner all at once. Merely clamping my headphones on tight was not going to protect me against thumps from roof, pipes and vacuum cleaner. Friends very kindly lent me their house so I could sit at the dining table with my laptop and stare out to sea.
I wondered during the morning whether one would ever actually get any work done with such a view. Our own study window looks into a thicket of flax, with only the odd passing chicken to distract the eye. But in fact I powered through everything I had to do. Nearly finished yet another redraft of an old manuscript, and scraped away at a short story as well.
But there were builders working next-door and, as everyone knows, it’s impossible to build anything without a radio blasting feeble 80s hits out across the entire neighbourhood. Never mind the power saw and nail gun – Flock of Seagulls nearly finished me off completely.
I suppose one should say that one requires complete silence when writing, and that contemporary music detracts from the sensibilities required to write about the Great War. But actually I took my headphones so it was Me’shell’s Plantation Lullabies and good old Missy Higgins that saw me through safely.

By the way, I have a couple of short stories out this month: ‘Florence Nightingale’s Owl’, in the NSW School Magazine, beautifully illustrated by Noela Young; and ‘Anzac Day’, in the latest Random House NZ anthology of stories for kids, History: Hideous and Hilarious, edited by Barbara Else. My story isn’t particularly hideous or hilarious, but it’s in there. The book hits the shops on October 6, I think.

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