Friday, November 21, 2008


This is my daughter Issy. Isabel. It was taken five years ago when I took the family to Arapawa Island for research for The Blue. That's the mouth of Tory Channel behind her. She and her brothers loved the rope swing, the way it flung them out towards the steep drop to the water and brought them safely back.

Issy's been very unwell lately - stopped unexpectedly over the steep drop and struggling to get back - so I haven't thought of blogging this past week. There was nothing in me to write about. I needed energy and optimism. And then my computer started doing strange things and I couldn't use the internet, so there was no blog-watching either.

Nothing for it but to spend the spare moments, when Issy didn't need me, on marking the last of those creative writing papers, polishing up that manuscript assessment and sorting out the boxes of writing notebooks I've collected. I forgot I had so many (all those fragments of thoughts and observations - what to do with them?)

I also started reading to Issy again: Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book which I blogged on here. It's terrific so far. The sort of thrill I got from the beginning of Great Expectations, and the Leon Garfield books I read as a teenager.

The Blue has provided some entertainment on National Radio every morning. An odd experience, but I'm warming to it. I found the way the finished, crafted work (the novel) had been cut to create a new work difficult at first. Things are juxtaposed differently, events left out, the fine balance I tried to achieve between action and thought in a character, changed. But of course it had to be done, and some of the changes are felicitous.

The actors' voices take the text away now, and it's as if I'm looking at the story from the outside and can appreciate it anew. I even cried at one point! It's actually a fine adaptation by Frances Edmond, directed by Jane Waddell, and it moves me to think of people sitting at home and in their cars, and listening to it.

And Issy's getting better, although she is a little fragile.

I wish we had a swing in our garden like we used to - it was nothing like the Arapawa Island rope swing - but it did the job.

Late News: I have just realised this is my 101st post on O Audacious Book. Goodness, so many. Thank you to all my regular visitors and those who just fall here out of the sky - the man from Portugal who commented on this post for one.

7 comments: said...

I like your blog.

The Paradoxical Cat said...

I like your blog too!

Congratulations Mary on your 101th audacious post - there must be something in the air :-)

Hope Issy keeps getting stronger.

P x

Gondal-girl said...

I do hope your daughter is on the mend Mary, sending you and her my good thoughts. I love swings too. I once saw on Oprah when I was sick, a woman who had a swing in her loft. Since then, I am wondering how I could fit one in my flat!

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks PC - of course our blogs are centenarians together! And thanks, too, GG. Yes, a swing inside is a lovely thought. We move forward a step at a time with Issy. A day at a time, no more. It changes your way of thinking.

Vanda Symon said...

It's so hard when your precious one is ill - how to feel helpless 101.

Thinking of you all,


Fifi Colston said...

I've been listening to The Blue- I lock my studio door and hope no-one comes a knocking when it's on. I was moved to leaky eyes when it struck me what an amazing thing it must be for you to hear your words adapted and reconstructed for radio- there's a sense of having to let go I guess as well as the pride- yes you can be proud Mary (thats a song isn't it?)- but for the reader another cut and taste of the work knowing what happens and wondering where the revelation will come and how it will be acted out. I'll be re-reading the Blue from a different angle this summer and savouring it all over again.

Jane Harris said...


not only a poignant photo, but a stunning one (look good as a book cover ;-)

I enjoy your blog, thank you for writing it. Congrats on 101!

May your wee girl (for no matter what age she is, that's what she'll be to you) keep getting stronger.