"I'm just going to write because I can't help it."- Charlotte Brontë

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

Instead of heading off to Melbourne for the spec-fic workshop, I went to the movies yesterday morning (The Avengers – yay, Joss and everyone else who helped bring this much fun to the big screen!), but even that light duty, laughter-filled, back-up plan brought on a relapse. So instead of merely resting and then meeting up with a friend for the leisurely opening of a local art show in the evening, I spent the rest of the day recuperating, napping, and chafing at the bit over how much I wasn't getting done. Lots of reading and movie watching is great for a while, but I hate being out of action for this long. It's soooooo frustrating. ***

Also, I got a rejection for a story that I was really hoping would make the cut. Isn’t it always the way? When you least need them...

Ah well, there’s nothing to do but stay calm, stay the course, and stay positive. I’ll send off two stories today, one of which I’m absolutely certain will be accepted :)

***this frustration is entirely my own fault, it turns out. If I'd remembered what the nurse said before I went in and read the post-surgery information sheet properly afterwards, I'd have realised that recovery usually takes one week, all of which is a bit of a relief really, because otherwise something wasn't right. For some reason, I got it into my head that a couple of days would do the trick. Wishful thinking, perhaps.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Doctor's Orders

So, with a little help from family, friends and wonderful hospital staff, I’m back from my latest adventures, those of the not-so-fun, medical type.
If I’d dragged myself to the computer and blogged last night, I would have uninterestingly posted: ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. Likewise, if I’d crawled to my keyboard this morning. Possibly in a few hours when the pills I’ve just popped wear off, if I feel inclined to bore you, I might once more haul myself here and tap in ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, but right now, I’m fine. I’ve been doing exactly what my post-surgery sheet says I should do – nothing strenuous - which I’ve interpreted as permission to chat and email to my heart's content, watch movies, read for hours, sit in the garden and study cat-chook behavioural dynamics, and indulge in long and leisurely scourings of the internet without feeling guilty. I also choose to take it as an excuse to do a lot of linking and copying rather than raise a sweat composing an original post.

So I discovered that Richard Harland has also blogged about the joys of attending Supanova last weekend *** over at Ripping Ozzie Reads. I did see him and Michael Pryor, whom I recognised from this session of the novel writing workshop I did two years ago, and suitably steampunk the pair and their friends looked too.

And apropos the link to Women Fighting in Reasonable Armor that I posted last week***, back in January, spec-fic funnyman Jim C Hines posted a piece called Women Striking a Pose (Women and Fantasy Covers) in which he put his own body on the line and copied the often ludicrous I-do-fight-but-much-more-importantly-I’m-darned-sexy stances women warriors are forced to adopt to sell their creators' prose. His verdict then was: My sense is that most of these covers are supposed to convey strong, sexy heroines, but these are not poses that suggest strength. You can’t fight from these stances. I could barely even walk. A few days ago, to balance the equation, Jim blogged about posing like a man for urban fantasy and romance covers. One of his conclusions this time was: Male poses do not generally require a visit to the chiropractor afterward.  I love the shots with his teddy bear. Very sexy.

And startlingly in tune with my own private zeitgeist, Kristine Kathryn Rusch has posted about the Real World and life’s many adventures getting in the way of writing:

I want to be robo-writer, the person who can write through anything. But I don’t know any writers like that... Some things just slow you down or take you out for a while. And while I understand that, I sure as hell don’t like it.

She concludes with wise words about writers giving themselves a break:

If you’d call in sick to a real job, then don’t write today. If your boss would tell you that you’re being ineffectual and you need some time off so go home, dammit, then you should really knock off writing for the day. If you’d take a vacation or compassionate leave or family time at the day job, then do so as a writer.

Which brings me back to my very own veg-out today. Happily zonked out on painkillers, I’m tempted to hit the keyboard and bash out some sub-par prose, I really am, but instead, I shall go outside again, stop to smell a rose along the way (and yes, there are Real World roses in the back garden for me to sniff), sit in the sunshine, crack open a book and just be for what's left of today.

*** okay, two weeks ago. What can I say-time flies in blogland.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Painful Admission


It’s a public holiday here in Australia, and I’ve spent this cold and rainy day at home writing about dragons, submitting a story about a future apocalyptic rubbishworld, sending off query letters about old, maybe-lost-in-cyberspace submissions, rereading stories that are in the drawn-out limbo of possible acceptance (if only I could take them back, tweak them and make them even better!) and trying to second-guess whether they’ll make it, checking for new markets, resting up and reading.

It all sounds very productive, but I’m afraid my motives have not been artistically pure. I’ve been snuggling up in my speculative-fiction cocoon to escape the Real World, for tomorrow I’m off to hospital so surgeons can rummage around amongst my internals, and do a few tests and procedures. Not fun, but if it gets rid of the pain that’s been slowing me down both writing and life-wise this year (the number of bad days has been steadily increasing), it’ll be worth all the botheration. Unfortunately, it’ll probably put a crimp in my scheduled spec-fic workshop this weekend. Fortunately, I have some light duty back-up plans in place.

Anyway, it’s time to be stoic (aaaaaaaaaargh), so I’ll have a spot of dinner (must cram food down while I’m allowed - I'll be eying the fridge door for a midnight snack, I reckon), and then I’m off to the local end-of-the-month literary knees-up for some more writerly distractions. I’d better stay away from the wine though. *sigh*

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Girls' Own Adventures

Our early ride was fantastic and glitch free, but our big, afternoon ride was a series of stamina testing mishaps. First we had hardware failure, and had to turn back and wait for a replacement saddle. When we resumed the ride, my horse and my sister’s horse, which had been swapping as the lead horse without problem, both developed a serious aversion to being out front and setting the pace once we hit the narrow, windy bits through the forest where we usually gallop full pelt. The third horse was new and definitely not up for taking charge (herd instinct and equine hierarchies can be a bugger to negotiate sometimes). We had to work hard to get them halfway up the trail, but were finally defeated by a bridge. All three horses on the ride refused to be the first to go over the creek, and we since we were already running late, we decided to scrap that route, head back and take another path.

Reader, we got lost (and yes, we did have a guide – I’ll say no more.)

The long ride became a very, very long. Calls were made, trail signs were read, but the Wombat Forest is very big, and it took ages to get back to a place we knew, and we were soooooo tired by then. We watched the sun sinking behind the trees with a wary eyes as we rode along, finally hit open land and admired the sun setting over the beautiful Daylesford hills, sang a few cowboyish songs as it grew darker to keep our spirits up, negotiated who would get off to open certain gates and try to get back in the saddle again (I “won” and more “challenges” ensued). On the home stretch we met up with K in his car, and he drove behind to light our way and make us visible for any oncoming traffic.

So, we were tested and forged today, and rewarded with rhubarb muffins and buckets of tea before we headed for home. I suspect I’ll be a tad shakey-legged at the Arvo Job tomorrow.

Cluck, Cluck

Now there's chook-lit, a sub-genre of chick-lit?  Ah, the urge to categorize is a strong one.

Anyway, time to pull on my joddies and boots - horses await.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hmmmm

Well, I got the browser problem sorted out. It works the way it should now, I think.

Not impressed. I don't like it, not at all.
Still, it's free, so can I complain? I shall ponder upon this situation.

I Just Wanna Blog

Aaaaaarg, supposedly Not Evil Google is herding me. I knew a change was coming, but I thought I had a while longer to check it out. Now they've arbitrarily, there's no going back, changed my Blogger dashboard and setup with a supposedly superior version, but it all looks flimsy and cheap and messy and yuck to me. Also, since my browser apparently won't support it, things don't work properly, so I'll have to tinker. Or move to WordPress. I hate it when technology herds me by withdrawing options rather than convinces me with the power of their superior product to change my habits (and yes, I'm looking at you again, Victorian Public Transport System devised by people who haven't studied the habits of flesh and blood commuters, measured their body sizes and fitness levels, tallied their ages, considered their special needs, taken a squiz at the amount of luggage people cart around, or ventured onto a packed tram or train during peak hour...)

Anyway, if things starts looking funny, or this blog disappears, you'll know why. As is, fiddling around with a glitchy system, I'm not having fun. I'll get back to this when I have more time.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Out Of Smart-Mouthed Babes

Scene: On board a V-Line train.
Characters:
Mother, Father, two over-excited children of the are-we-there-yet type, and an eavesdropping commuter with a laptop.

First Sibling, pointing out window:
Look, look! It’s kind of a train!
Second Sibling (scathingly): Not kind of a train! It is a train.

An argument then ensues about what First Sibling actually meant by ‘kind of’. Second Sibling, a pint-sized pedant, will not give an inch, while Second Sibling grows louder and increasingly desperate to salvage some credibility.

Mother: Be quiet, both of you! It doesn’t matter what anyone said.

Dramatic pause.

Second Sibling (in a shocked tone): But Mummy, it does matter!

Eavesdropping commuter silently applauds.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Slowgress Report

The only writing I'm getting done these days is an hour each morning on the train on the way to the Arvo Job. I'm trying to finish up my spec-fic workshop dragon story, but mostly seem to end up pushing around words, killing darlings, and tidying up the sentences I've already written. I don't feel like I'm getting much done, but of course, incrementally, it all adds up.

So, I shall keep prodding the slumbering beast with a sharp stick until it unfurls.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Little Shop of Haute Couture

Since one can never flog a theme too much, I thought I’d share one of my end-of-a-long-slog-at-the-Arvo-Job-and-commuting pleasures, which is peeking into the window of this shop each evening at the recreated vintage clothes. It’s just up the road from where I live, so I’m almost home when I reach it, which is enough to make me feel warm and glowy, but this shop adds to my satisfaction. It’s a bright patch of light and fun and colour on a dark corner in a country town, and looks quite magical when I hit it at close to midnight. I always take a moment to check out the latest display of dresses and jewelry, and fantasize about having enough money, makeup, time, patience and guts to go with that 50s look.

The girl who runs this place absolutely adores her little business, and it shows. The place reeks of happiness and bustling contentment. She regularly changes the window displays, and the dresses seem to becoming more and more elegant. I’d say the whole Mad Men fashion craze has upped her customer base, ensures a speedy turnover, and has created a market for more and more voguish designs. The Grace Kelly exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery won’t have hurt either.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Furthermore

While we’re on the topic of what people wear, or don't wear, if you’re tired of illustrations or shots of warrior princesses obviously obsessed with looking “hot” risking their lives, limbs and prodigious mammaries by going into battle clad only in a leather mini and barely-there bra combo or a many-many-links-short-of-providing-any-kind-of-protection-whatsoever chainkini, then pop over to Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor. It features often stunning artwork of Women that don’t fight in high heels. Women that clearly give a shit about the practicalities of getting in a lethal situation.

I’d love to lift a few of the pictures and post them here, but the work is produced by professional artists trying to make a buck so copyright must be respected.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Apropos Dressing Up

After yesterday's mass cosplay, this collection of short stories looks especially pertinent: Bloody Fabulous, an anthology of urban fantasy about fashion edited by Ekaterina Sedia. The TOC is full of authors I really like, and the importance, or not, of clothes is a subject that has always fascinated me (how I wish I'd known about this antho and given it a go). As part of her introduction, Ekaterina writes:

We cannot turn into predators, even if there is a full moon outside – but we can wear jackets with metal spikes on the shoulders to feel a little bit more dangerous. Our clothes give us some shape-shifting abilities – from ethereal to tough to glamorous in a single day! They give us the means to tell the world who we are today (or who we would like to be) without uttering a word. And they let us play and pretend, manipulate our gender presentation as well as other aspects of sartorial personas: clothes are the ultimate disguise, alluring enough to bring a shapeshifter out in all of us.

Fashion = shapeshifting. I love it!

As for today, I got in some bread baking, some ironing, some walking, some token housework and 3 hours of solid writing. I'm still nutting out my workshop story, which is unfolding nicely. I usually submit SF for critiquing, but I've decided that what our spec-fic workshop needs is more dragons, or some at least, so I'm going the whole fantasy hog with dragons, prophecies, wars, kings, traitors etc, etc, although things might not be what they seem to be at first...

As I laboured, Gus kept me company. Ahhh. A brand new story nicely buzzing along and loyal cat on my lap or by my keyboard just never gets old.

Starry-Eyed

Since Sundays at home are for reading fluff, I peeked at my star sign this morning. If you peruse these "predictions" often enough, you're bound to hit one that resonates with you at a certain point in time. I mean really, how hard can it be to come up with wondrously prescient pieces espousing 'life is tough' and 'but don't worry, it'll all get better soon, so please buy this publication and come back to read what I have to say next week'. Anyway, my star sign this week reads:

If life's been feeling like too much hard work for too little reward lately, you could opt for mattress therapy and pull the blankets over your head. Or, you could follow Buckminster Fuller's advice that things are never changed by fighting the existing reality, but by inventing a new model that makes the existing one obsolete.

The first part is true, and these days I'm often tempted to snuggle under my doona and wait for bothersome stuff to just sort itself out and for life to call me when it's safe to get up, but I'm guessing this feeling would at some point resonate with 95% of the human population (although I have no sources to validate my theory, having unscientifically plucked this number from the ether.)

However, my stars get full points for mentioning Bucky, one of my all-time favourite scientists and visionaries. Now there's someone who weathered down and out times - depression, unemployment, poverty - and rallied to achieve greatness. He was an architect, teacher, engineer, inventor, intellectual pioneer and all-round rational thinker. He was an environmentalist who understood what many people today still seem to be struggling with - the concept of finite resources eventually reining us in, so we really should try to act like adults and anticipate and control the process. He was a believer in integrated systems that worked with humans rather that against them and thus enhanced their existence instead of making them more miserable (the "brains" behind the present public transport system in Victoria definitely haven't read Bucky's work). He was a Big Thinker with a Big Soul.

So, my star sign advice for this week, for once, is sound enough. I'll ignore the astrology aspect of it, but go with Bucky's wisdom. A new life paradigm. Hmm, I'm on it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Summer in the City

Today’s trip to the Melbourne Showgrounds for Supanova was a recon mission. This pop culture expo has been on each year for the past decade, but I’ve never checked it out. Silly me. The atmosphere was fantastic. Despite the crowds, people were calm and well behaved – I’ve never experienced such orderly and good-natured queues, and because people weren’t jumping around trying to cheat the system and outmanoeuver each other, the lines moved quickly. There was lots of laughing, hugging, people complimenting each other on their costumes, like-minded friends greeting each other, and light-hearted discussions about the finer plot points of books/TV shows/movies/games.

Besides, there was always lots to look at and smile about – scary aliens, adorable aliens, sexy aliens, cloaked LOTR folk, cloaked Hogwarts students, the most amazingly detailed fantasy and Goth gowns with bead work that had me swooning with envy, big-horned demons, booted SF military aficionados wielding weaponry (Stargate, the Umbrella Corporation, a Zombie Protection Officer) scores of young girls in maid or sailor outfits wearing cute, fluffy cat ears, clutching cute, fluffy cat bags and/or hugging cute, fluffy toys (usually cats), priestesses, warrior and mainstream princesses, angels, Jedi knights, samurai of varying levels of cross-genre, people with cardboard boxes over their heads, The Hitcher from The Mighty Boosh, and a couple of guys in bright blue NASA overalls.

Even going to the loo was an adventure. Instead of the usual delicate powdering of noses and applying of eyeliner, there were ladies-who-lunch-on-brains smacking on another layer of grey foundation and freshening up their blood and gore. Instead of insecure teens endlessly fussing with their latest haircut, there were steampunk ladies adjusting their behatted wigs and space cadets confidently tossing their impossibly lustrous, fake locks. Instead of checking reflections to see if their bums looked big, woman were straightening their epaulets and realigning their wings. Girls valiantly negotiated hoop skirts around tight corners, or squeezed extremely wide and stiff, multiple layers of petticoats into narrow cubicles, thus demonstrating that the modern world does not design these spaces with the sartorially imaginative in mind, which I suppose illustrates another cookie cutter aspect of our society. Baroque will never make a comeback simply because it's too expansive, so we’re doomed to recycle the same 50 years worth of streamlined fashion.

Anyway, it was good to see the many stalls spruiking Australian ventures of all stripes- small press books, comics and artwork. I came across a few familiar faces at the author tables and bought raffle tickets to support Continuum 8 – cross fingers.

Summer Glau was also there somewhere with all the famous folk behind the barriers that admitted only folk with the big $$$ tickets. She was due for an appearance at 14.30, but we headed off just before then, our mission accomplished. T-shirts had been purchased, along with startup Aussie comics and hard to find DVDs. Next year will involve more planning – prepaid tix, an itinerary to cut down on aimless wandering, and perhaps I’ll sign up for a writing workshop. Foodwise, I’ll go into con mode, and stock up on cheese sandwiches, fresh fruit and gingerbread, and drag barrel of water on wheels along behind me. I’m still rehydrating

There might even be a costume, or at the very least a pair of fluffy cat ears...

Smiley Face

I've just discovered that a second complete stranger that I don't know, not even a tiny little bit, has mentioned here that my story Whale of a Time in Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations was a favourite. He writes:

My favorites include Gitte Christensen’s future vision in which humanity has divided into voluntary yet contract-based subcultures (in this case, a group of ocean-exploring steampunks); and a very smooth weird-West ghost story by Joe Lansdale.

Nifty (I like that he snuck in the word steampunk, because after I wrote it I thought Is it? Have I actually, without definitively setting out to do so, written a steampunk story? ) And to think I almost didn't submit this story after its many rejections. It just goes to show, you never know.

Now, gotta rush. Pop culture beckons and I have to get ready for a pickup.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Unto Every Generation

Stentorian voice:And so did the Beatles beget the Monkees who begot the Osmonds who begatted the Bay City Rollers who birthed Ah-ha who did produce Bros who did procreate New Kids on the Block who pushed out Oasis who assembled Backstreet Boys who possibly fathered Boys II Men who conceived Boyzone who adopted Westlife who...

Normal voice: I seems I've lost track of the latest and most heart-throbbish boy bands. Today, when I read in the newspaper that teenage girls were swooning and fainting all over Melbourne for a group of kidz with (of course) moppety hair called One Direction, I squawked “Who?”

But not to worry - thanks to some intense tutoring, I’m completely au fait with the lads now (there’s Harry and Zayn and... the other ones). In my defence, OD rose to stardom here during my extreme commuting phase, which leaves little time for following teen tastes in music. However, I suspect that from now on I shall need ongoing remedial help to keep up with the coming generations of impossibly-cute-boys-who-break-young girls'-hearts.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Way We Aren’t


Listening to Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars at the Arvo Job and reading this NASA article about their 1966 plans for a mission to Mars have combined to make me a little teary-eyed for the days when rocket ships were considered romantic and shiny, and every second kid wanted to be an astronaut. We all used to be so optimistic about space travel and excited by the mettle-testing challenges that lay ahead. The human race moving outwards to colonise other worlds seemed like the inevitable, logical progression of human history rather than a suspect pipe dream promoted by delusional geeks intent on emptying government coffers.

This subject came up over Easter too, at our traditional movie marathon when we watched Apollo 18. We got to talking about how long ago the Apollo missions were, and how basically you've got kids who can say "It's true. Men walked on the moon in my grandpappy's time" (which sounds a bit like something out of one of the Heinlein juveniles) but subsequent generations haven't followed up with extraterrestrial explorations of their own. This is something humankind needs to rectify. We have to make space trendy again. For their own good, and to safeguard the future of the human race, whether they want to go or not, we need to shoot a few charismatic kids into orbit so they can inspire their peers to follow them. Perhaps a reality show on a space station might lure them outwards, or better still, a planet-hopping Great Race. Anything, as long as it gets the kiddies excited about climbing into a capsule and being blasted into a vacuum, for our young 'uns should be out there with their iPads blogging on the moon, Facebooking in free fall, and texting their way to Mars and beyond.

Otherwise, at the end of the day, we'll be tweeting about the sun going nova and that'll be that. The ultimate bummer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What Would Darwin Do?


As a final Easter note, my brother passed on this information, but I wasn't quite sure I believed him, so I Googled, and yes, Easter egg hunts across the US were cancelled this year because of 2011 incidences (how did I miss this news?) where overly-I'm-not-sure-what, supposedly grown-up parents rushed onto the field and shoved aside other folk's bewildered tots either to scoop up a bounty of chocolate for their own offspring or to clear the way and forcefully guide their children to "finding" the eggs.

Wow. Talk about jungles and competiveness. I'm heading off for the Arvo Job soon, and shall digest this scarily calorific brain food along with all the hot cross buns, cheesecake and chocolate (which I found myself or was given - I'm old school Easter, tough and self-reliant) I've consumed over the past four days.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Yielding to the Necessity of the Many Point Ones

Right, I'm back, full of cheesecake, chatter and chai. Now my keyboard beckons, and I must accept the stark fact that my workshop story will not finish itself. As pointed out in the links that can be linked via this morning's post, many masters of the dark art of writing have touched upon this arcane truth:

Robert A. Heinlein
1. You must write.
Jack Dann
1. You must begin. Every day you must write, no matter what.
Neil Gaiman
1. Write.

So, I must accept the inevitable. It seems there's no shortcut, no deal I can cut with the Devil or an in-the-know trick around this often quoted but often difficult to act upon "secret":

"The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair."
Mary Heaton Vorse

For, alas:

"The easiest thing to do on earth is not write."
William Goldman

Thumbing My Nose At Point Eleven

Steve Cameron has a great guest post about advice on advice, as in writing advice as opposed to financial or lifestyle or fashion advice, which is especially useful for beginning and emerging writers, over at David McDonalds' blog.

I followed the links and especially liked this one, all of which is a roundabout way of confessing that, despite it being a lovely, quiet, overcast morning absolutely perfect for writing, there's a pot of tea and a friendly chat waiting for me at a café up the road. Henry Miller will just have to wear it. I'm not sure this rebellion counts as Orwell's point six, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya wanna do rather than what ya shood do.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Easter Chicken

I've just realised that since the Chicken Who Came To Stay moved in last Easter, she's been part of our predominantly feline family for almost a year now. This forceful, feathered character very quickly went from lurking about on the periphery to moving right on in and making demands for food from me and respect from the cats. And it's not as if she's fearless with all cats. She always skedaddles for the big tabby who drops by once a day to sniff (not inhale) from the catnip pot. She's just supremely confident that she can handle my tribe. Which she can and does. Which says something, possibly unflattering to feline sensibilities, about Cooper and the girls.

I've tried to name our fowlish gatecrasher a few times, but she is so very much her own chicken that none of my quaint/cute/learned/pop culture appellations have stuck, so unless she learns to communicate her true identity to me, I think it's safe to say that this stroppy little nutcase of a bantam will henceforth and forever simply remain the Chook.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ready for Easter

It's been a blah week full of blah happenings with a lot more blah of the most blahey sort to come - I'm soooooo up for four days off.

A friend at the Arvo Job brought this box set to work thus making it extremely easy for me for me to finally watch Forbrydelsen (which is actually The Crime in Danish, but the show is always called The Killing in English). Ok, so I'm five years behind the rest of the world in joining the Sofie Gråbøl as Detective Inspector Sarah Lund fan club, but better late than never.

Also, I bought Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, and almost ended up paying many $$$$ for it when the book selling girl and I disagreed on how much change I was owed (I wanted $31 back, but she thought $1 was enough), so it's back to Hunger Games land.

There are people to visit. There are out and about things to do. There are films lined up and hot cross buns ready for a movie marathon.

And always, calling me, calling me, calling me, there is the writing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Time on His Hands

Audio books are good for revisiting old favourites. Today at the Arvo Job I finished the 1973 science fiction classic The Man Who Folded Himself a.k.a 'the ultimate time-travel novel' by David Gerrold a.k.a. The Trouble with Tribbles guy. It had an introduction by Robert J. Sawyer, and an afterword by philosopher Geoffrey Klempner, and everything in between these interesting additions was mind and morals bending stuff. First time I read it way back when, it sent my young brain off on lots of tangential 'hey, but no, well does that make sense, yes, no, uhm, paradox? what the...?' kind of thoughts, but this time I had a better grip on the relationships between the innumerable variants of the main character(s) and the endless number of universes created by them in their quest for the meaning of their countless lives. That's not to say that my brain didn't still throw up a few questions à la 'but hey, how can he? oh yeah, I suppose so, but..." However, my maturer version of me mostly just went with the flow this time.

So, I shall now launch myself into once more journeying to the red planet with Kim Stanley Robinson. Given that my iPod full of audiobooks is mostly just for lunchtime listening, I calculate I'll be finished colonising Mars sometime around Christmas.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Many Ice Ages of Writing

Writing is not for rushy types. It can take eons for absolutely nothing to happen. Take, for example, a story I sent off four months ago to an overseas semipro magazine that it would be absolutely fantastic to get into. Yesterday I received the good news that the story has been passed on for consideration (yes, another maybe – that makes four potential booze-ups of joy, or not). However, because they received so many submissions for their last reading period (thousands, apparently, and I sent mine towards the end of the submissions period, hence the delay) I probably won’t hear about the outcome for months. So the competition is fierce. The odds are anyone’s guess. Possibly, the story might end up having existed in a never-never publishing superposition for up to 9 months and I’ll end up back where I started - no sale.

I’m not complaining – I’m used to this glacial process. It’s why it can take years for a story, if you’re lucky, to hit the right market at the right time. It's why you need to build up a stable of stories and keep them circulating while you work on the upcoming stories that will replace the ones that hopefully get published. I'm just saying that patience is a must in this game.

Mind you, I received a rejection today for the story I submitted on Saturday after the workshop ("even though we liked your story...") so sometimes judgement comes crashing down from on high with the speed of an avalanche.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Who's the One?

So I slept in this morning, and spent a long time waking up with a pot of tea and a Sunday morning, no-rush read of the weekend papers (and thanks to the magic of daylight savings, it's not even midday yet) discovering in the process that poet Michael Farrell won this year's Peter Porter Poetry Prize, which is one of Australia’s most respected awards, and which comes with a handy $4000 boost to his possibly impoverished, starving-in-a-garret lifestyle.
What I love about his winning poem Beautiful Mother is that Michael bravely used a scene from Kimba the White Lion that he saw when he was about five. In it, Kimba is swimming from a shipwreck back to the jungle and is getting tired and is about to give up when a vision of his mother is formed by the stars in the sky encouraging him onwards. The thing is, I remember that scene! I even get a bit teary just thinking about poor Kimba, all alone without his Mum and Dad. Not a victim of circumstances, our little lion remained brave and honest and true. What a role model. Even if although he did get into a few fur-flying fisticuffs, like all heroes, he always did so reluctantly, and always showed mercy towards his pummelled foes.
Anyway, hats off to a poet who is unafraid to put references to Friedrich Schiller and Kimba the White Lion together to create art: You've always associated the two terms together/ partly due to your reading of Schiller / partly due to your watching of Kimba. Kimba sublimates / his mother in the water. You've always thought / your mother a baroque figure...
To celebrate this daring cross fertilization of ideas and brighten your Sunday, pop across to YouTube and sing-along with this. Come on, you know you want to. I can't believe how choked up I get listening to it. I'm a tiny child again, and the world is full of honest and brave people, and Good always triumphs over Evil. Memories and nostalgia can evoke powerful emotions. No wonder poets tap into them.

Kimba (Kimba) Kimba (Kimba) Kimba (Kimba)

Who lives down in deepest darkest Africa?(Africa)
Who's the one who brought the jungle fame?
Who's the king of animals in Africa?
Kimba the White Lion is his name!

When we get in trouble and we're in a fight
Who's the one who just won't turn and run?
Who believes in doing good and doing right?
Kimba the White Lion is the one!