Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

The week that was and the week still to come…

This week I've spent the week on the sick list and through the barking, snuffling, feverish experience they call viral bronchitis I have learned two important truths about myself.

  1. I am a slow learner. No matter how many times I catch a virus I always approach it with the same mix of blind, stubborn, denial, determined to soldier on despite any prior evidence of military bearing. I go to work, on Panadol, infect half my colleagues and end up in a pick-up-sticks heap the following morning and all the while in the background my poor, long suffering husband is saying: you're sick Liz, take a break go to the doctor's.
  2. I am an extreme pessimist. No matter how many times I recover from a virus I always suffer it with the same last-dying-breath attitude. In dazed, disbelief I wander through the week convinced, despite all medical assurances, that for me there is no hope of recovery.

As you can imagine, with these two attitudes in operation, I always need twice the recovery time of other population members. This week has been no different (so much for cognitive behavioural therapy). However, for once, I don't need to stress about the need for additional recovery time because we are going on holidays. Now, when I say holiday I don't mean me, Andrew and Biskit the dog. I mean a family holiday with all ten of us in a hired house at Port Arlington.

Yikes, I hear you say and, well, my thoughts exactly. We will have two opinionated academics in the house, a son and son-in-law that relish an argument, a teething baby, his sleep deprived parents, a daughter who left home at the age of sixteen and, frankly, hasn't regretted it, two teenage boys, a family friend who likes a drink, or three, a social worker (always analysing) and a physiotherapist (checking our postures), ravenous seaside appetites, sunburned noses, big noisy dinners, various theological and political hobby-horses, and a lifetime of niggling habits and petty annoyances. What's that? You'd like to come along. Be my guest. But seriously, I may need a holiday to recover from my post viral holiday.

Fortunately, despite these significant traumas, past and anticipated, I am now almost recovered from my virus. So almost recovered, that yesterday I was able to spend a few hours working on my novel. This may seem like cheating, seeing as yesterday was supposed to be a library day. You will note, however, that I said almost and a few hours added to which, the doctor said, don't go back until fully recovered.

The upshot of these few stolen hours is that I've now almost finished the complete re-write of my novel. And I have to say, writing the second half has been much easier than the first, blood-from-a-stone half of the experience. Why? A return of early promise? Or simply a greater willingness to press delete? The jury's out on that one. But it reminds me of a an analogy Kate Morton once drew in an interview. She said at first writing a novel can be like dragging a kite bumping along the ground, until it is up and airborne, then it can almost feel like the kite is flying itself.

Now, I don't know that my novel will ever fly as high as Kate Morton's but I do know that this draft is a hell of a lot better than the last one. Fortunately, I also have writing friends willing to critique my work and a trusted manuscript assessor ready to take my payment, which means I should be on track to start submitting by mid-year.

<insert trumpet fanfare and great excitement in the publishing community>

But first, I have to survive the family holiday.

At this point, please note, if you are a burglar and reading this blog, Biskit the family dog will not be coming on holidays with us and, despite his fluffy, Sorbent soft appearance, he is an exceptionally good guard dog (not). Added to which, we will have a big, rugby playing Fijian house-sitting in our absence. Oh and, by the way, I won't be blogging from Port Arlington (I find it hard to write under the influence of minor tranquillisers).

So, I'll see you when I've recovered from my post-viral, family holiday.



Diary of a summer virus


Our great big family wedding anniversary


  1. PS. The left-home-early daughter has just read this blog and would like me to add that she is happy, well-adjusted and, now, a qualified PCA, thank you very much, and that we were impossible to live with.

  2. Carine

    I’d come along! I think I can spout an opinion or two about politics and I’d have no trouble joining in on the niggling too 😉 Have fun on the family holiday! And congrats on the (almost) finished re-write. Looking forward to reading it once it hits the international publishing scene. xx

    • Carine, you have already passed the i-can-survive-a-corbett-family-holiday test. You are welcome anytime. We are in great need of a Dutch perspective. x o

  3. Sounds like fun, Liz. My mum and dad are always trying to arrange something similar – with nowhere near the success. My brother has such a difficult job to pin down – he’s a director of photography for Masterchef at the moment. Anyway, have fun, look after yourself, and as one of your writing friends, I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve done with your novel.

    • My brother and his family are home from Africa so that narrowed the window of opportunity and proved a powerful catalyst. We’re having fun. As for the novel, I’m very much looking forward to your insights, Leisl

  4. Loved this post, Liz. Have a fantastic time away and come back totally recovered, if not exhausted. Sounds like great, rowdy, fun time. Can’t wait to read your finished mss.

  5. Thanks, Chris. We’re having fun and it’s been more relaxing than I anticipated.

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