Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sledding down memory lane

Memory is a strange thing. I can quote you the lyric to the Maverick TV show, which was made in 1960, and was in reruns when I was a kid ... but I'll be damned if I can remember the fantastic plot I thought of at 2:00am this morning. It was a humdinger. The kind of plot that gives you goosebumps, despite the fact you're lying on an electric blanket ramped up to MAX because the bedroom is like a meat locker. I knew I should have got up, got the lights on, jotted the whole thing down, but it's the middle of winter, and cold, and ... yeah. I told myself I'd jot it down in the morning.

Who is the tall, dark stranger there?
Maverick is the name.
Riding the trail to who knows where?
Luck is his companion, gamblin' is his game.

(There's a lot more of it, AND I know it all, AND I recall the tune, even though some of you are probably about to get up and flatly deny any such show ever existed. Well, before you do, I can prove it. This here is a link to James Garner's page on IMDB, and in case someone says I made THAT up too, argue with the DVD cover. The DVDs are not available in Australia, which is probably a good thing, because I would probably feel like Methuselah.)

So, where the hell is the neural super-highway to get back to this plot idea that was going to make for a novel that would knock our your eyeballs? It's utterly

I've heard you can have yourself hypnotized to remember things. Let me think about it. I've no desire to be barking like a chicken. Or any kind of barnyard fowl.

I was about to comment that it occurs to me that blogging is a strange and even lonely passtime, but before I could type the remark I was deafened by the uproar from other computers around 'Mission Control' (there are four live computers and two dead ones, three live printers and two dead ones, plus assorted imaging devices, in the DreamCaft nerve center). Le Tour on a Footy Field was being read ... and if I do say so myself, it's worth a chuckle ... and it's nice to get feedback.

Headcold report: almost gone. The cold, I mean, not Keegan. Keegan is definitely still here.

AQUAMARINE report: I'll start the edit tomorrow. I swear it. Actually, I'm looking forward to it. I was going through old files and drafts on the computer I shut down a few days ago, and discovered a wedge of 'deleted scenes' which didn't make the final cut of the book for reasons of time and file format incompatibility.

When I did the book in 1999, I was working on a borrowed Mac, converting files over from a Windows format, reading from a 3.5" floppy that seemed to have been zapped by x-rays on its way through way too many airports (Adelaide; Sydney; Vancouver; Seattle; Anchorage; Fairbanks). The disk was being a little bastard, and even when I could get the files into the Mac, the only program that would convert them was an email client. Go figure. Time was of the essence (isn't it always?) and I remember just surrendering, in the end, and patching various sections together before they were emailed over to London. They were aimed at Prowler, which at the time had bought out GMP but not yet been bought by Millivres).

Now, if I can remember, clearly, wrestling a Mac to get AQUAMARINE off the disks and into some usable form, in a word processor called Claris Works, why can't I remember the plot which came to me at 2:00am? The human brain is a weird contraption. I recall the sharp sting of the cold outside, and the icicles hanging off the eaves over the back door, while I was working on the book. I'd take a break and go for a walk in the snow ... I'd walk over to the public library to do a little research if the internet was so slow it made a mollusk on valium look like Speedy Gonzales.

Fairbanks is a quite-small town on the edge of the raw, frozen wilderness, but they had (and probably still have) a great library. You walked inside, and the heat and humidity hit you in the face -- that, and the sound of (get this) budgies. As in, real, live budgerigars. (To US folks, think parakeets ... but take it from me, they're native to this neck of the woods, and they're actually called budgies.) The library had a small aviary and an array of tropical plants. And daylight fluoros which gave the illusion of sunshine, while outside the real sun was barely above the rooftops at noon, and the roads were being plowed out. Budgies and tropical plants, now. Just my speed. As you'd imagine, I spent some fair amount of time there.

So, Thursday finds Keegan on a sled/sledge/sleigh (depending on where you're from) ride down a long, cold, white memory lane, and wondering if I need some brain food. I've heard that sardines are good for the brain cells. I'm sure there's a few cans in the pantry ... but I'd rather have a gin and tonic.

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