I was re-watching Star Trek: Generations this weekend. I was in that half-hazed, low attention space that watching TV has become for me. It was a grey Wellington Sunday and I was recovering from a night-shift at my weekend job.   

Eru Hart
Eru Hart finds "time is the fire in which we burn"

The villain for this particular Star Trek movie is Soran, played by Malcolm MacDowell. He is a shadowy figure with a slow face but darting eyes. From the moment he is first rescued from his damaged ship it is clear that he knows more than he is letting on. He is brooding and shady, half shaven and evasive. He also has a British accent, which in the Star Trek microverse means that you are either a doctor or a villain. Or Captain Jean-Luc Picard.   

Once Soran has had time to recover, the actual Captain Jean-Luc Picard descends onto the Enterprise’s bar to check on him. It is during this initial meeting that Soran utters the line: “They say time is the fire in which we burn”. It roused me out of my stupor. Wellington continued to blur away in cloud and rain outside my window but I felt suddenly clarified:   
This book would never get written with me on my couch watching re-runs. Time would burn the opportunity away. Day, by week, by month.   

Naturally, I continued watching until the end. The brief inspiration congratulated itself with another afternoon on the couch.   

Sunday ashed away.   

I see several problems with turning the eager and hurried 20,000 word manuscript I submitted for Te Papa Tupu 2010 into a published novel.   

My submission consisted of ten or so pieces written over a five-year period and one longer but desperately composed piece written in the final week before the deadline. The pieces were never intended to form one long extended narrative although there is one continual narrative voice linking them all, a half fictional ‘I’.   

I’ve found it convenient and organic to write from the first person because the starter for all the pieces was memory – that unreliable and emotional source. The recurring characters are members of my family and reappearing and vanishing friends. Looking back over my manuscript the perennial themes are poverty, dislocation, identity confusion and anxiety. These may make for an interesting diary but could they in fact be combined and revised into a novel (that noun that is so very frightening to the short story writer?)   

In short, I just don’t know. I really don’t.   

And it’s this uncertainty that I am battling with at the opening stages of this programme. The award is a fantastic validation -sure. I believe that all artists are hungry (in some circumstances starving) for recognition, regardless of what they tell you. The Te Papa Tupu initiative if anything is recognition that at least someone is interested in hearing My Voice. Intrigued enough with the entrée to order the full meal.   

I know I can write. It is one of the few constants in thirty years of flux. And I am truly grateful that someone has placed a value on six months of creative burning time – ever hopeful that heat will produce a result.   

Me too.

11 thoughts on “Te Papa Tupu ignites inspiration in Eru Hart

  1. I comment whenever I especially enjoy a post on a blog or if
    I have something to contribute to the conversation.
    It’s a result of the passion communicated in the post I browsed. And after this post Te Papa Tupu ignites inspiration in Eru Hart The Māori Literature Trust. I was excited enough to leave a thought 😉 I do have a couple of questions for you if you usually do not mind. Could it be just me or does it look as if like some of these comments look as if they are written by brain dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are writing at other sites, I’d like to follow everything new you have to post.
    Would you list every one of your public pages like your
    Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  2. Well, you’ve had enough people tell you not to be doubtful – all I want to say is get on with the novel – I can’t wait to read it!!

  3. Strike on, enough blathering about doubt and wasteful turmoil. Myself I can say this to you as I dither about so badly that I actually missed the date to even apply for this course, but alls well that ends well, you have an excellent chance with this initiative and will come out of it well, that much is plain already. Myself I plan to be recognised as the greatest writer in NZ history, my ambition will not dull until the brain starts to close down. I imagine you must feel something similar.

  4. Kia kaha tonu Tuakana,

    Whaia te iti kahurangi, ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei
    He tangata tino matatau ki te tuhituhi, pupurihia ou whakaaro, Kia tuhithuia tou pakiwaitara kaiora !

  5. You are an artist that leaves a lingering visualisation imprinted in my mind, it would be unfair not to get the chance to read your thoughts and enjoy your smorgasbord of talent!! Kia Kaha Mr Hart

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