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Te Papa Tupu Blog 2

this is a post in three parts. the first was written in early October, when I was wrangling multiple deadlines at once. the second, a week later, after I cleared those hurdles and didn’t stumble. and I’m finishing it now with a third part, in the last week of October, as I prepare for the months ahead.


rather sheepishly, I’m back again, writing my second blog post for Te Papa Tupu. (should be my third, but here we are). let’s get one thing out of the way: learning guitar? toast.

now, how did we get here.

as it turns out, it’s quite difficult to juggle a full-time publishing course, my responsibilities as co-editor of Te Pararē, and my writing deadlines for TPT. add to that putting together applications for some incredible opportunities in the next year or so (cross your fingers for me!) and the dance becomes a little more awkward, a little more out of step each time.

I’m great at telling other people to look after themselves. to take a step back, to listen to their own voice begging quietly for a rest. but when it comes to doing that myself, the same advice that makes so much sense for others doesn’t feel applicable to me.

it’s a funny thing, what burnout does to the brain. I suspect I was in a similar state this time last year, with the final hand-in for my master’s looming. trouble is, I don’t remember. every time feels like the first time.

this isn’t a pity-me post. nor is it really a cry for help. if anything, it’s a mea culpa. maybe I shouldn’t have committed to so much at once. but… I have. and dammit, I’m still too bloody stubborn to give up. there’s no going back, there’s no do-over – and even if there was, I would have taken all the same opportunities that have opened up to me.


I suppose I should talk about my writing progress in this. I’m about 50,000 words through the overhaul of my manuscript. I’ve got a while to go (my manuscript is still too damn long), but I am making headway. without the guidance and support of my mentor, Steph, and the wānanga with the rest of the Te Papa Tupu 2022 crew, I have no doubt I’d be thoroughly lost in the weeds.

what keeps me going through the stress, through the perennial juggling act, is – in part – the certainty. this is what I want to be doing. this is who I want to be. this book is one I want to bring into the world.


in total, I’ve only worked on about three chapters of my manuscript this month. but the flipside to this is that I reworked two of those chapters in the last three days.

it’s good to be back.

the time away from actively rewriting my manuscript has been just as valuable as the time spent working on it until this point. we had a phrase in our master’s workshop last year: it’s all mulch. the words we cut, the words we add, the walks we take and the conversations we have. time spent writing has value – but so does time spent being part of the world. I haven’t stopped thinking about my manuscript,
or pulling each scene and character apart in my head to re-examine all the moving pieces. and, my god, there are a lot of moving pieces.

it’s a tricky balance to strike, deciding what is and isn’t necessary for a story. every change ripples outwards, and I have a habit of iterating often-conflicting ideas between chapters to see which ones work. (sorry, Steph! I know it’s hard to keep track of). I don’t envy writers like George R.R. Martin or Patrick Rothfuss, who have notoriously struggled with doing the same work for their respective sagas. or perhaps I do – because it’s just so damn satisfying when all the pieces start moving in synchronicity with each other.

I just hit the 60k mark with my MS – roughly halfway through. my hope is that the foundations I’ve strengthened so far will make the second half come together more easily, but I’m being very careful not to underestimate the scale of the climb ahead of me.

if the last month has shown me anything, though, it’s that I’m more than equal to the mountain I’m climbing.

because then the boulder’s going to roll back down the mountain, and I get to work on Te Papa Tupu Draft 2: Occult Continuity Boogaloo.

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