Old Rocks and Small Primates

Two very strange things happened to me today. I accidentally discovered the location of Stonehenge, and I listened with great frustration and annoyance as a monkey removed the rear windshield washer nozzle from my car.  In that order.

I’d heard of Longleat House and Safari Park before, but had never thought to go until I got stir-crazy this weekend. Turns out, it’s only a two hour drive, so I figured, what the heck, it might be a nice chance to get out of the house and see something new.

As I was driving down the highway, trying to remember what the national speed limit is on a single-carriage highway, I passed a sign that said “Salisbury”.  Now, any Peter Gabriel fan is going to know the first thing that popped into my mind at that point. Eagle flew out of the night.  Obviously.  But then, I kept thinking, “Why, oh why, do I have this vague recollection that ‘Salisbury Plain’ is a thing and that I should know something important about it?” A few minutes later, a group of familiar-looking hunks of rock appeared out the driver’s side window. I have to admit, I probably got a little too excited. It was a cool way to start the morning.

Now, I should preface the next paragraph by saying that, yes, there was a big sign in front of the monkey section of the safari that said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Monkeys will get onto your car and tear the ever-loving crap out of it. They will do this. You’ve been warned.  Feel free to take this detour if you don’t want the ever-loving crap torn out of your car.” In fairness to Longleat, they did warn me.

Still, I have to admit, I was actually surprised when several monkeys hopped onto the car and proceeded to do their best to disassemble it. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I figured that while the park didn’t want to assume responsibility for the kinds of awful things that happen to people who are stupid enough to drive a car into a pack of monkeys, they wouldn’t actually be so cold as to just stand by while said awful things happened. Or maybe it’s because there were also so many signs that were obviously meant to be a bit amusing, (“Warning, Lions!”…yeah, ha-ha, we know there are lions; it’s why we came) that it was hard to know which of them to take really, really seriously. I fully admit, however, that the fact that the weather stripping was torn out of my door, that the front windshield washer nozzles were redirected to odd angles, and that the rear one was removed completely, was entirely my fault.

Still, it’s hard not to be a little annoyed. Where the hell do you even find a replacement rear windshield washer?

“Monkey business.”  I get it now.

This, of course, means very little actual writing got done this weekend, which is the bad news. The good news is that all the re-arranging I’ve been doing with plot elements lately means I’ve been forced to fully and completely revisit the text, which means I’ve basically gotten a lot of the second draft done for the first couple of chapters. The second draft is where all the “find details” comes in, and I’ve been having a real blast reading over a sentence and making it all as real as possible (so, what does that place “smell” like, I wonder?).

It’s a great feeling to be in this position. I’ve been really worried about the release of book 2, about whether I even stand the remotest chance of getting it out by anytime next year. Over the last few days, my optimism has soared.

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