Just sending some quick thoughts your way from leg two of my Australian tour. Most of you would be aware of the havoc that the Chilean ash cloud has wreaked not only to my plans but the plans of thousands of others around Australia and the world, once again proving that no matter how clever we think we are - flying in the sky like birds with only a modicum of the effort - old mother nature can still bring us to our knees.
I've been incredibly lucky (albeit behind the general unluckiness), in that the ash hasn't prevented any of my plans so far. Jetstar mercifully decided to re-instate their flights the day I flew out to Sydney for Robert McKee's STORY Seminar and I made it as scheduled. For those not familiar with McKee, he's a screenwriting and script guru, who specialises in the principles of writing a good story. He is also remarkable. His students have between them won 35 Academy Awards, 164 Emmys, and countless more accolades besides - students as diverse as John Cleese and Peter Jackson. I am extremely excited and proud to count myself among their number. It was four intense 10 hour days, all the more enjoyed because of nearly missing them. McKee is an absolute legend, in his 70s, having taught the course for decades, and yet does it still with unflagging energy and enthusiasm. If you're interested in any form of writing I highly recommend it. Here's hoping he comes back again in the next few years.
The plan was to fly out to Brisbane yesterday afternoon at 2pm, but after arriving at the airport I discovered the flight had been cancelled that morning. they rescheduled me for a 'no-guarantees-it-will-fly' flight at 6am today and I prepared for a night at the airport. I noticed on the monitors that it said the flight was on schedule - bizarre. So I asked one of the staff members but she said "Flight 816? Definitely cancelled." Fine.
I sat there for an hour, reading my book and deciding what to do next. Flicking through the Jetstar website on my phone, I noticed once again that it said the flight was on schedule. You can't ask a third time I thought. I decided that yes, I could, and would, ask once more. As I was walking over to the desk I heard a final boarding call for Flight 816. I got in line.
"Hi. Um... Look I know I've been told that the flight to Brisbane is cancelled, but I just heard a boarding call and I have to ask..."
"Oh 816? Do you want to get on that?"
"Yes, yes, I would rather."
"You better give me your bag, take this, and start running."
They had re-instated the flight at the last minute, and I'm glad to say I made it and learned the important lesson that it never hurts to stick around and see. And here I am in Brisbane - safe, on-time, and amazingly keen to start plotting out the novel that I - finally - feel I have the tools for.
And that is worth every penny, and every inconvenience.