Last journal entry and the months have flown by. I had hoped by this stage to be feeling rather satisfied and smug even, with a completed manuscript for a publisher, albeit for a little tweaking. When, in fact, I still have a confusing array of scenes and characters still at a loss to decide whether they are in the past or the present and does it matter. But, some positives, with Reina’s input. Firstly, many superfluous pages have been culled, for the betterment of the story, I think. Secondly, I have a stronger sense of the background of my characters due to the readings Reina has suggested. Although much of this is not in my novel, it has helped the writer.

This is also the time to express gratitude to Huia Publishers and Te Tupu Papa programme, brought about with the help of HUIA, Creative New Zealand and Te Puni Kōkiri. Without their support, I suspect this manuscript might have remained a weekend pastime. Special thanks to Dominika for all her administration arrangements and the emails of support.

A heartfelt thank you to Reina Whaitiri, who tells it like it is: ‘I am sounding like a cracked record, Larree, but this is confusing.’ Arohanui, Reina.

So, write what I want or what a reader will want to read? It’s a hard line for a wannabe first-time novel writer with a publisher prepared to offer their services. It is a difficult decision. My mentor, Reina, is being made to work overtime; I am wondering if she expected to be a counsellor as well. Do I want to get a book out of this, a solid hard copy that can be held and read in bed, on the train, in the library, or is this just an opportunity to see my name on a blog? NOT: I want a reader to read this, I want someone to pick my book from a library shelf, a book shop, a book club, and enjoy the read. It’s a hard line. Especially when you are new at this.

But the months have not been without their costs.
My ankle is strapped, and I am foregoing the anti-inflammatories, for now.
The pain should be perceptible so we know what is going on, my physio says.
I can tell you what’s going on, my ankle hurts, I say.
So your ankle hurts because you have back pain. Sciatica, he says. Sit up straight, do back exercises, stop hunching over your keyboard, get a proper chair. Sit with your elbows at right angles, your knees below your hips, or you will do some irreparable damage, and you will not be walking in Spain.
Who mentioned back pain? But that does it. I follow his instructions to the T, and suffer the exercises.
I am going to Spain, whatever. I am going to Spain with his wife, so he needs to get me walking.

My friend invites me to go walking, that’s fine, a walk, the sun is shining. I need to loosen up my ankle. I arrive at her place to pick her up. No, we walk from here, she says, okay. Three hours later, I am peeling my socks off at her back door to soak my feet in the foot bath she is preparing. Good, she says, while we relax with our feet in Radox, you passed the test, I will book for Spain tomorrow. Eight hundred kilometres is not so far in six weeks: two three-hour stretches each day. What else is there to do but walk? We will be in Santiago before the scallops are rolled over by the tide.
I am looking forward to it. We will have an adventure, I say, and sincerely mean my words despite my aches and pains.

The beginnings of a new novel, I think to myself.

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