I haven’t gone away, I’m just busy.
If anyone had told me a few months ago that revising three chapters of a novel plus synopsis would take three weeks, I’d have laughed in their face. Thing is: that’s all I have to hang the whole novel on. Agents request the first three chapters or fifty pages, whichever is shorter. At present, my chapters fill half that space, and instead of expanding, I’ve been chopping them ruthlessly. Now I’m thinking about merging some, and…
Ah, to hell with work. In just over 3 weeks time I’m going off to Japan (3 days after my writers’ workshop—hellufalot threes around…).
John, who’s a sweety, has just sorted out insurance. The post office currently runs a great offer for UK residents, but their website is down: after you have recalculated your quote, ticked all the boxes, registered (and come back and done it all again), you’ll find that you can’t proceed from the final questionnaire because it won’t let you choose one of the options about how you first heard about the site. Then you open up Internet Explorer and try once more. Then you join the phone queue and forego your online discount. But the prices they quote are still a hundred quit cheaper than the brochure, with a 14 day trip extension. Go figure.
It pays to shop around. The Japan Rail Pass (which you’ll need to buy from an authorized agent outside Japan) varies in quotes from 118 quid on Japantravel to a whopping 169 quid from Seat61. Yes, that’s for the same pass. Seat61 is an excellent information source, but I guess they’ll have to make the money back somehow. However, at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, the lesser agents still don’t accept online payment, which means yet more phone calls and snail-mail transactions.
It’s almost done. I’ll have to book accommodation for my final three nights in Tokyo and work out a rough intinerary.
I’ve compiled my luggage list. Aside from the usual trinkets (toiletries, first aid, pills, books, camera and (in my case) Zaurus with usb drive and a few printouts of the first three chapters of my Magnum Opus plus synopsis to shop around agents), I’ll take the following:
3 dresses (one semi-formal which I just bought for a fiver down the local charity shop ),
1 pair light cotton pants or leggings,
2 pairs socks (I wear them at night),
1 pair pyjamas (yes, really. I feel safer wearing proper clothes at night, in case there’s a fire drill or the tent gets swept away in a typhoon. Polycotton is light and dries super-fast for frequent washing on the road),
3 lots underpants,
duvet cover (in lieu of sleeping bag),
court shoes (heck, it’s the Hugos!)
Yes, you got that right. No jeans, sweaters, raincoats or boots. Apparently the lowest temperature in Japan will be around 24°C (ha!) and a rain coat won’t help much in a typhoon. I’ll pick up an umbrella locally, if needed.
All the same, this is about the most idiosyncratic list I’ve ever compiled. The advantage of taking dresses along is that they are quick to slip into and look presentable with a minimum of fuss. They’ll do as easily for the street as for meetings or parties.
I just hope that I won’t regret not packing warmer. It may be August, but down here it could be October. Strike that: we’ve had warmer autumns than this.