While waiting for the pumpkin soup

I just wrote the final few words of my novel in between facebook chatting with my sister, about tuberculosis and her close call with norovirus. I left the main character there with her daughter, future uncertain, difficult, laced with the hard push to survive. She’s been through the worst though.

And even before putting the final polish on the thing, even though this is the third version, I think it’s not good enough. That’s how I work, no savouring the moment, no forgetting, few and far instances of relief and distant relaxation on a dimly lit shore where the sea suds the land. Nah. On to the next thing. How will I make the next the better? How will I become good enough?

There is no good enough. There will always be more, less, worthy, unworthy. It’s all relative, subjective, but shit is shit, right? And if no one wants to read it, it’s shit. Perhaps … although I think it’s more complex than that.

I’ve never cared about that. It’s my opinion I care about and in my opinion it’s constantly and definitively not good enough. I wonder what it would take: accolades from colleagues, a few hundred words of praise, one valued seal of approval – no, not even then. It’s a disease this not good enough.

Too freckly, too fat, not intelligent enough, too intelligent, too tall, short, plain. Never just enough.

It seems to only make it worse that suffering from not good enough at my age is ludicrous, other people have serious shit to worry about. No home. War. Famine. Genocide. Donald fucking Trump. The planet. But not good enough is persistent and tough, habit-forming. Intergenerational, in fact. And you know what, enough is enough.

It’s enough. I’m enough. The world is enough. I want to enjoy it. Not good enough can go jump. It’s stopped me for too long, enjoying this miraculous, privileged life.

Things learned from writing this novel:

Transitions are easy and simple. You could keep a catalogue of them if you want. You don’t even need to build up to a flashback or anything like, just simply, quickly signpost the hell out of everything.

‘Three summers ago…’

‘At midnight when the moon turned to a cool sliver’

‘She was twelve when she first saw him…’


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About duendest (Tina Cartwright)

Tina Cartwright grew up on the East Coast in the South of New Zealand. She lives and works in Melbourne. Her children’s picture book, Kiwi and Scorpion, was published with Penguin NZ in 2008. She edited and translated Taking Latin America Home – a self-published anthology influenced by Latin America which raised funds for the Sweet Water Fund in Nicaragua.

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