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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of the Month Report: December 2013


Submissions:3
Rejections: 3
Acceptances: 1 (Sassanid Sands)
Published: 0
Stories out in the wild: 11
New stories completed: 0
Mood: I've got that usual end-of-the-old-year, I'm-definitely-going-to-pull-up-my-footy/writing-socks-and-kick-many-goals-in-the-new-year-no-matter-what-the-Fates-throw-at-me conviction, and am hoping I'll make good on it.

Now, time to brace myself for 2014.  Happy New Year everyone.

All my Sequins are Polished, I'm Ready to Go.



I'm up!

I've hiked up my spangly tights, smoothed down all articles of clothing spandexy, warmed up with a few back flips and pranced into the ring to strut my stuff before a hopefully appreciative audience. So, should you require a quick read before the evening's festivities, my story Winds of Change is up for your perusal over at Lakeside Circus. Slated for December 13, 2013, it has only just now appeared in the main arena.

There have been a few teething problems with the new Lakeside Circus site (must send them an email about the a certain link at the end of my piece), but after much whip cracking to bring the internet lions into line and the glittery dust settling, you can now pop on over and enjoy a new story every few days.

Monday, December 30, 2013

One Minute to Midnight Sale


It looks like my dark and sad little story Sassanid Sands has found a home, which is both a lovely end to my writing year as well as a welcome just-in-the-nick-of-time-to-count-as-a-2013 writing statistic to boost my less than spectacular sales tally.

With only a day of the year to go, I'd say that a few projects that were scheduled for 2013 but haven't happened yet will now be booted to 2014 (I hope so!) - such is the publishing industry - which will make my number of publications for this year take a sudden nosedive and give next year the appearance of being positively stuffed with stories (if more are sold, naturally).

It's been a slow year for me writingwise, but much crappy crap occurred, including another operation, treatments, and lots of energy leaking into the ether. Sometimes, to just keep moving is about the best you can hope for, and you have to make sure that you remember to be grateful for the fact that you are indeed capable of moving. I was mostly still able to do my Arvo Job duties, though with reduced hours, occasionally go horse riding, head off for a movie each week, get out and about to a few special events, visit friends, pat cats, read, and take care of day to day life. I only wrote four new stories from scratch this year, but have almost finished a few biggies that have been simmering a goodly while, and sold 5 stories.

For now, that's good enough.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What I Got for Christmas...


...was a whopping great cold.

Thank you, public transport, and all those caring, sharing, unmannerly individuals who apparently never learnt to cover their mouths whilst coughing up their lungs. I just knew they were out to get me.

This lurgy was sneaking up on me those last days at the Arvo Job, slowed me down the first few days of my holidays but thankfully behaved itself for our family Xmas celebrations, then felled me on the Thursday.

Ah well, the worst of the coughing seems to be over. And books have been read rather rapidly, lots of movies have been watched, pots of tea have been drunk, and copious amounts of ice cream have been consumed, so it's not all bad.

Still, I had plans, other plans, big plans, do-worthy plans, admirable plans...

Tomorrow. It's another day, they say. We'll see.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Egg the Second


I thought it was a one-off event. Something of a miracle, really. I wasn't expecting a repeat performance. But today, 22 sleeps after the initial surprise, as I was going about my business, I spied this ovoid beauty from, presumably, the Chook nestling in one of the cats' cuddly sleeping thingies. It's beginning to feel a lot like Easter rather than ye olde Yule tyme.

Otherwise, I've been busy relaxing, looking for new writing markets (I found a few anthos that peaked my interest) and tidying up the work board over my desk, jotting down ideas, reading, and, of course, lovingly preparing the annual Danish Xmas food for Wednesday. It's best not to rush these things.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Setting the Tone for Things to Come


So I made it through the end of the year energy management of the Arvo Job rush, and the attendant hurly-burly of officey festivities and various personal crises around me as people contemplated a brand new year coming up fast whilst wondering where the heck 2013 had gone (where all time goes - into the past), to reach the (cross fingers) peace and  stillness of my Xmas Holidays.

Two. Weeks. Off.

Yay!

I'm all set for a fortnight of resting, catching up on stuff and people, writing, nursing ideas, reading, walking, horse riding, and bike riding. I'm meticulously easing into the right mood. Yesterday, after a nice sleep in, we saw American Hustle (lots of fun, though we had a chat about it with the theatre attendant afterwards because she'd heard it was good, but had also seen a lot of people walk out on it. We decided they'd thought they were going to see something along the lines of Anchorman 2) and did a bit of Xmas shopping. Today, having had another nice sleep in, I shall, in a short while, retire to a comfy chair and spend the afternoon nose deep in Mockingjay.

I have permission to read until I drop. So far, Suzanne Collins has pulled me right into her wonderfully politically aware world, so I might as well schedule time off for a long, unbroken read. I might even finish it - ah, the indulgence of reading from cover to cover in a single day. I saw Catching Fire a few weeks ago, and liked it better than the Hunger Games, which seemed to be a bit coy about committing to the political aspect of the books. Obviously reassured by HG's box-office success, Catching Fire dove right in. I particularly enjoyed the devious part de deux played by stalwarts Donald Sutherland and  Philip Seymour Hoffman. Anyway, I thought it was about time I finished the trilogy, hence today's indulgence.

And for anyone who thinks that Orwell was a tad oversensitive about the evils of mass surveillance and that YA dystopia novels are unnecessarily bleak and unrealistic about the future with their negative 'what ifs', I give you the ridiculousness of this amazingly appropriate tie-in link about two protesters who were prosecuted as terrorists - ah, how insecure authorities looooove to overuse the 'T' word to get their own way:

http://www.vice.com/read/two-environmentalists-were-charged-with-terrorism-hoax-for-too-much-glitter-on-their-banner

When they got to jail, they found out they were being charged with a "terrorism hoax," a state felony punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Their attorney, Doug Parr, has been involved in dozens of protest cases like this one in Oklahoma and Texas. In other arrests, protesters have faced trumped-up charges, but this is a radical escalation. "I've been practicing law since the 1970s. Quite frankly, I've been expecting this," Parr said. "Based upon the historical work I've been involved in, I know that when popular movements that confront the power structure start gaining traction, the government ups the tactics they employ in order to disrupt and take down those movements."

The abuses of power that abound these days by authorities caught with their pants down by various demonised whistle-blowers just goes to show how quickly societies can career down the infamous slippery slope. The righteous and proliferate lack of shame by the doers of outrageously dodgy acts is what astounds me the most. That, and their fragmented logic. We, it seems, should accept surveillance by corporations and governments with a smile because if we're not up to no good, we common folk going about our everyday lives have nothing to fear, yet they feverishly legislate against the release of any information that reveals deplorable abuses perpetrated by the Powers That Be. Surely, if organisations are likewise all decency and good intentions, they too have nothing to fear from transparency. But no, they want a one-way mirror.

Ah well, hopefully history will sort itself out, and hopefully in our favour. For now, I'm off to the Capitol to cheer on Katniss.

    

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nowhere Day


After lots of flat out, end of the year Arvo Jobbing (with two more days to go *sigh*), much Xmas busyness (and more to come) and a weekend of movies and horse riding etc, I gave myself permission to do absolutely nothing today. In fact, I insisted upon it. Apart from a reading, the hanging of Xmas lights out the back, and a few household tasks, I'm proud to announce that I napped a lot and accomplished my goal!

The weather helped, I have to admit. There's nothing like a really hot and daggy day to help one maintain low performance and stay on track to achieving not a single pre-determined target.

Alas, I did slip up a little. All my floating around with an offline brain proved conducive to ruminating upon story ideas, and even though I told the half-done tales that presented themselves that I was off for the day, a few notes were jotted. But nothing major! I swear!

Oh, and I did go 'yay' to an email about a story being held for consideration, but it was a very soft cheer. Hardly audible.

   

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Horse Riding Cures Almost Everything, Maybe.


I've had a few aches sneak up on me lately, and wasn't sure how well a day of horse riding would go down with my body, but being a great believer in not knowing how things will turn out until you have a go, I headed off with a pocket full of pills to meet my sister for a whole day of riding in Daylesford, just the two of us. If worse came to worse, I thought, I could always bail on the afternoon ride.

Good thing I did go. A couple of panadols was all I needed - which is, strangely enough, a lot less than I down to get through a far less physically exerting sit-still shift at the Arvo Job (go figure) - and a great day was had. My sister sneakily snapped this fab photo of me contentedly moseying along through the forest on my old friend M. with her phone, and I'm glad she did. See, you can miss out on much good stuff if you overthink what might happen. I actually feel really good, though tired, and I will, no doubt be sore tomorrow, and the day after. However, it's important, I think, to do things that make you feel strong when you're not well, even if you have to push yourself a bit - the positive feedback loop is worth a truckload of pharmaceutical products. My sister and I have vowed that we'll be getting back into our regular riding schedule again next year. We're over pottering along the laneways like old ladies and want to be hellions on horseback once more. It's our thing.

So yeah, beautiful weather, scenic countryside full of rolling hills, happy, green forests full of colourful parrots, good horses, fine food, fun company, a much appreciated lift home (thank you, Cindy) AND I snapped a few pics for my much neglected Foalwatch:


Friday, December 13, 2013

Methinks We Might Be Living in a Mike Myers Movie


And while we're on the topic of surveillance, how about this masterful piece of Friday fun, or at least I truly wish it were - the logo for the latest launch by US National Reconnaissance Office, the agency in charge of America's spy satellites.

So let's break it down: a grouchy looking octopus, tentacles gripping a globe, and the mantra "Nothing is beyond our reach." Yep, that really sounds like a great logo for the good guys.

Surely someone snorted out loud when whoever came up with this design presented it for the first time? Surely there was just one sane person in the whole room of military/Peeping Tom types who burst out laughing and yelled 'Pull the other one'? Someone who discerned a slightly dodgy message in the image? Someone grounded in the real world? Someone with a sense of perspective? Someone who'd seen just one James Bond movie? Or an episode of Get Smart?

Anyway, the NRO obviously thought it was okay, and as said, they've stuck it on one of their rockets. You can see the pictures of the launch here. I hope the NRO doesn't get too attached to this logo. It's almost too embarrassing to contemplate the possibility of scores of grumpy, mean-looking octopuses orbiting our planet, their grabby tentacles lined with surveillance suckers reaching out for us the bad guys while they take snaps of us the bad guys as we they go about our their business and eavesdrop on our everyday conversations the bad guys' evil plans.

The world just gets weirder by the day.

Oh, for the good old days when only evil geniuses intent on world domination indulged in such pictorial megalomania. And had fluffy, white cats.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Writers Get Political


Yesterday, which was International Human Rights Day, Writers Against Mass Surveillance set up a petition to launch an appeal in defence of civil liberties against surveillance and information storing by corporations and governments. As someone who has been following the whole sordid and often surreal NSA affair (see this article about the Information Dominance Centre - yep, really, that's what they so benignly called it - with your surveillance-loving types courting funding by using a Captain Picard chair to milk funds from congressmen. It's scary stuff if you like to believe politicians are grown ups), I can only cheer. It's a worthy international cause supported by a very impressive bunch of writers from all over the globe. You can hardly argue with their stance:

The basic pillar of democracy is the inviolable integrity of the individual. Human integrity extends beyond the physical body. In their thoughts and in their personal environments and communications, all humans have the right to remain unobserved and unmolested.
 
This fundamental human right has been rendered null and void through abuse of technological developments by states and corporations for mass surveillance purposes.
A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy.
 
To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual as in real space.
* Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of thought and opinion. 
* Mass surveillance treats every citizen as a potential suspect. It overturns one of our historical  triumphs, the presumption of innocence. 
* Surveillance makes the individual transparent, while the state and the corporation operate in secret. As we have seen, this power is being systemically abused.
* Surveillance is theft. This data is not public property: it belongs to us. When it is used to predict our behaviour, we are robbed of something else: the principle of free will crucial to democratic liberty.
 
WE DEMAND THE RIGHT for all people to determine, as democratic citizens, to what extent their personal data may be legally collected, stored and processed, and by whom; to obtain information on where their data is stored and how it is being used; to obtain the deletion of their data if it has been illegally collected and stored.

I just hope citizens in general haven't been too trained in handing over all their personal information to be outraged at what has been happening all over the world, and too accepting of what they perceive to be a fair trade-off for the technological goodies they so thoroughly enjoy to see that such passivity leaves us vulnerable to the vagaries of politics. It's all good if your government has no busybody, fascist tendencies, adopts zen-deep calm in the face of calamities, is rational when faced with irrational suspicions, is transparent, kind to old people, children and animals, and has sterling anti-corruption policies in place. However, Orwellian powers are less fun in the hands of ruling bodies who decide they need to know and control everything because their own citizens are actually the real enemy, who are in government purely to accumulate wealth and power for themselves and their cronies and family, or who are a collection of sociopaths who simply like to keep people in a permanent state of fear and paranoia for the fun of it.

Personally, I prefer to err on the side of caution. Checks and balances, please, really big ones, because people mostly have a very hard time not abusing power. 
 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Kids Will Be Kids


I love it when archaeology gives us a glimpse into the everyday lives of past peoples and show us that some things just never change, thank goodness.

In the 1950s archaeologists made a great discovery near the city of Novgorod, Russia: they dug up hundreds of pieces of birch bark with all sorts of texts written on them. The 915 items are mostly letters, notes and receipts, all written between the 11th and 15th century

In the 13th century, young schoolboys learning to write filled these scraps with alphabets and short texts. Bark was ideal material for writing down things with such a short half-life. Then the pupils got bored and started to doodle, as kids do...

http://erikkwakkel.tumblr.com/post/67681966023/medieval-kids-doodles-on-birch-bark-heres
One of these doodling kids was a certain Onfim, who had dramatic daydreams indeed. You can read more about his artwork here: http://www.goldschp.net/SIG/onfim/onfim.html 

Onfim was being taught to write, but he was obviously restless with his lessons and when he could get away with it, he intermixed his assignments with doodlings. In this first example, he started to write out the first eleven letters of the alphabet in the upper right corner, but got bored and drew a picture of himself as a grown-up warrior impaling an enemy with his spear. To remove any doubt about the identity of the warrior, he even labelled the person on the horse as "Onfim."

I especially like the doodle with Onfim as a mini-warrior with his warrior Dad:


 Ah, kids. Give them a stick of chalk or a piece of bark...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Oh, What a Tangle of Cords We Weave


Today I recharged me with a sleep in and a couple of naps so I won't conk out at the Arvo Job over the next couple of days, and added some power to my iPod to prevent a catastrophic inability to access sanity-saving, mind-expanding but gentle-on-computer-strained-eyes audio books during my breaks. Strange to think I once scoffed the notion of listening to books.

 I also juiced up my mobile phone, mostly so I can receive texts as I hate talking on the thing in public, and topped up my notebook lest I find myself working away on a story on the train, tapping words in a rush of inspiration only to have the dreaded 'battery low' warning pop up, bringing on a mad scramble for old fashioned paper and a pen so I can capture a few shiny sentences before they disappear into the ether. And to think that once upon a time, I could only write in my non-moving study at my very own keyboard with no-one in the room and absolute silence around me. What a wuss I was.

 Last, but not least, I uploaded a new collection to my e-reader, and left the device to siphon energy so I can keep up with my now habitual daily intake of short stories (usually 2). It's turning out to be a real gem that e-reader. I'm getting a real feel for the work of different writers, and love the way I can now easily access collections I'm curious about.

So, I'm all powered up (and I'm a relative Philistine compared with many device-dependant people I know) and ready to hit the commuting trail again tomorrow.

Aaaaaah, only 2.5 weeks to the Christmas hols....

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Because the World Also Needs Little Girls Who Can Lift Horses


Over at io9 there's a post about Pippi Longstocking (or rather, to give her her full name, about Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking, or, in Swedish, Pippilotta Viktualia Rullgardina Krusmynta Efraimsdotter Långstrump). Apparently:

In 1971, animators Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata began preproduction on an adaptation of Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking books, but in the end, were unable to secure Lindgren's permission. But we can still see Miyazaki's watercolor concept art of the strongest girl in the world.

They provide a link to the Miyazaki and Studio GHIBLI LiveJournal where you can see said concept art.

Whether or not you think Miyazaki would have done a good job of portraying Pippi - and there are many who don't think he would have remained true to the character and would have imposed too much of his own slant on things, which might explain Lindgren's vetoing of the project - it's fun to look at the images and wonder about what might have been.

I love Pippi. She's strong and revels in her strength. Not for her the fluttering ways of hiding her innate talents to make herself less threatening and more acceptable to an unimaginative world. And I think the world needs her more than ever, because not all girls are the same, and not every little girl fits into the sparkly, pink princess box that is getting a tad too prevalent and "must do" popular in a peer pressure way for my comfort, which I've mentioned quite a few times over the years. If you want to get into the pink, sparkly box, fine, but little girls shouldn't have to if they don't want to, and that should be more than okay too.

So yay for Pippilotta, the strongest girl in the world, animal lover, competent cook, courageous adventuress, sailor extraordinaire, the scourge of bullies and most loyal of friends.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

End of the Month Report: November 2013


Submissions: 9 (3 to the same antho)
Rejections: 6
Acceptances: 0
Published: 1 (Winds of Change)
Stories out in the wild: 11
New stories completed: 1 (has already been sent out and rejected for the first time)
Mood: Slowly but surely, I'm getting more done writingwise. Will now slowly but surely get on with doing some more :)

Eggstraordinary Surprise


I've just come in from a morning of being in the backyard and out and about and enjoying the fabulous weather to do some writing, and I found this gift from the chook on the spare couch-bed in my study, still warm. Not wearing my glasses, I thought it was something less savoury at first. Colour me surprised when I realised what it was  - I didn't think she had in in her. And it's a biggie from such a small chicken.

She's been coming and going for over two years now, and just when I think I've got her figured...

After my last post about her back in August 21, sure enough, she went completely vagabondy on me and I barely saw her for over 2 months. She became, yet again,  FIFO Chook, off having adventures, and returning every now and then to check we were still here, fill up on food, and grumble about the state of the world. I didn't worry about her this time, just muttered harsh words about her ingratitude and opportunistic nature. Then three weeks ago, she turned up and I knew immediately she was back for another round of domesticity. It's a real Jekyll and Hyde thing. That night, she popped back onto her usual roost just outside the kitchen, and has spent her days since sneaking into the house whenever possible, either hanging here in the writing room with me or sunning herself in the lounge room with the cats.

And now an egg. I'll no longer be able to accuse her of freeloading if this continues. I'll have to name her Productive Chook. I just wish she'd use the nesting boxes I've set up for her in different places. But no, that would be too common, too normal. Ah well, we'll see. This might be a one off performance.

I'd better watch where I step/sit for the next while until I've got this new state of affairs figured out.

Now, to my writing keyboard. No, November writing report first.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Quicksteps


I'm usually a one speed person when walking - zip, zip, zip with an invisible, soundless horn that I mentally honk at the sloooooow people who always seem to be blocking my path. This is still my default setting the moment I step off the train and hit the pavements of Melbourne, and the one I ratchet up when doing medicinal laps of the local botanical gardens, but I noticed about six months ago that I'd finally developed a second speed for living in the country. It only took four years, but now, when I head off for local doings, I positively amble.

I'm very conscious of the change and quite enjoying it. I schedule more time to accommodate this more relaxed state. I used to stress out getting to the train in the mornings, but now I mosey along thinking things and admiring the gardens that line the streets. I used to step off the train at night and rush home so I'd have an extra five minutes for doing domestic whatevers, but now I potter along enjoying the stars, moon, creek sounds, trees in the darkness and whatever wildlife decides to jump out and scare me. Now, when I head off for a bills paying and shopping trip, I simply cannot make myself pour on the gas. This is good, as it also helps me blend in - I once met a local woman in Melbourne who, though a stranger to me, said she recognised me because she'd seen me speeding between shops as I went about my business in town.

So yes, I did some local ambling today, and thought about that ambling and what it meant, and also did much chatting with the girl in the fruit shop. I'm a Wednesday regular now. I did writerly stuff too - writing, of course, subbed 3 stories (one was a recent rejection which an upcoming antho held for close to seven months, almost took, but in the end decided it didn't fit the tone. I'm really starting to dislike that phrase. What's so untoney about my stories? Ah well, onwards...) and wrangled content for the great, individual contributor pages Carrie Cuin is busily setting up over at Lakeside Circus. For now, my page reads: This performer is still getting ready for the show. While you wait, try your luck at a game of chance. We hear the ring toss is not quite as rigged as some of the other booths. Issue One is out on Friday, so you can view my efforts then.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Brilliant Timey-Wimey Was Had By All.

Bendigo Cinemas seriously underestimated the amount of interest there would be for the nerdy old Dr Who 50th Anniversary Special. First they cautiously scheduled a mere 2 showings, which sold out quickly, then added a third (to which we hastily bought tickets), but by Sunday they had squeezed in 2 more sessions earlier in the day and another after our evening one, so they went from 2 sessions to 6. People arrived early to get good seats and long queues formed, but everyone was cheerful and in high spirits, so there was a lot of street fun going on prior to the movie.

It was a great evening. The theatre attendants were wearing cool fezzes, there were Tom Baker scarves everywhere, young lads with bow-ties and slicked hair did their best Eleventh Doctor impersonations, giggling teenage girls dressed up as Amy Pond skipped about together in groups, and sonic screwdrivers were wielded with impunity. All age groups were represented. Inside, the atmosphere was good-natured, and once the movie got going, and it became apparent there were going to be plenty of in jokes to reward the faithful, and everyone realised it was going to be FUN, the audience bonded and it became a true Event.

You just don't get many of those.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Daleks are Forever


Because, let's face it, Doctors come and go, but a humble cafeteria saltshaker, when mixed with a little imagination and a healthy dose of chutzpah, can be whatever you want it to be, and the final product a thing of beauty (apologies to John Keats) that the people then embrace and make their own.


 
 
 



Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Robot Doggie in the Window


I'm a relatively connected and well-read girl, so I was delighted, but not surprised, to see a full scale Dalek holding a huge popcorn container and slurpee turn up at our regular movie theatre a couple of weeks ago, to read a Dr Whom cartoon in the Age newspaper on the train on the way home last night, and to discover this morning that Episode 13 of the BAMF Girls Club featured a certain bowtie-wearing and sonic screwdriver-wielding gentleman popping into the chaotic household shared by Buffy, Hermione, Bella, Michonne, Lisbeth, and Katniss (who recently had her own tie-in episode because of her upcoming movie.)

What did astonish me, however, this afternoon whilst out for a spot of shopping, was passing the local upholstery shop, an establishment that usually reeks of rural conservative properness, as is only fitting for a business that can make or break your most recent redecorating scheme, and spotting a very professionally homemade replica of everyone's favourite robot dog comfortably ensconced amongst the dignified wingback chairs. That's an affirmative - there was a K-9 in the window.

That's the kind of unexpected, everyday wonder that makes me think there's hope yet for humanity.

And do I have tickets for the Great Event tomorrow? You bet, what with all my ABC signals mysteriously vanishing when regional Victoria switched to digital. Yep, that's a techno advance worked out great for me. This way, if I'm careful, I have a ghost of a chance of seeing what happens before all the blogs blow the lid off John Hurt's Doctor.

Also, I must honour the child within who spent many hours in the schoolyard with friends screeching 'Exterminate! Exterminate!' and zapping Cybermen.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Those Darn Danes

 

I love this portrait. I love that it exists. I love that the artist, Thomas Kluge, hasn't been beheaded. I love that the painting itself hasn't been burnt, its ashes then dumped in the moat of a 1,000 year old Danish castle. I love that you can go see it at a public exhibition. Many points to the Danish Royal Family for its sense of humour.

You can read a more arty analysis of the mysterious and spooky, and altogether ooky portrait here:  http://www.fastcodesign.com/3022006/design-crime/this-painting-of-the-danish-royal-family-will-steal-your-soul

Thursday, November 21, 2013

After an Officey Day...

 
 
...full of weariful intrigues and much uphill struggling, it was lovely to come home to a package from Prime Books, rip it open, pull out books that include one's own name in the TOC, and fondle said books.

Yes, I've received my contributor copies of Aliens: Recent Encounters. Guess what I'll be dipping into this weekend?

Nice.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

And Young Ones Shouldn't Be Afraid


I have a few rules for life, which I try to stick to but don’t always succeed, and one of them is to not give into the temptation to try an impress anyone under the age of twenty-five with tales of my own awesomeness at their age.
 
Firstly, they won’t really believe you. You’re old. You were born old. Even if, by some miracle, you really were their age at some point in history, it’s a given that you were just a younger version of exactly the same person you are presently living the exact same life you do now. Personal development is just theory to a seventeen year old. They haven’t lived long enough to know what it means to have crammed one or two more of their lifetimes into your lifetime. They’re as clueless about the difference a few decades can make as I would be before the millennia lived by Methuselah.

Secondly, the very young are not really interested in the past exploits of we oldies. At all. In a few years, maybe, but not yet. Note, as I’ve done on many occasions, how the eyes of the young glaze over as you go on and on about the amazing adventures you got up to whilst island hopping across the Mediterranean with just a sleeping bag and a toothbrush, as you brag of partying for weeks on end and boast about all the lovelorn fools you spurned, as you fondly grumble about the long nights you spent in a lab finding a cure for cancer, and laugh at your own recollections of training for years and then coming last in Tour de France. The young are consumed with their own awesomeness and how that awesomeness ranks compared with the awesomeness of their friends, and are convinced that they have an awesome future ahead of them. This awesome future is a given. It has to be, otherwise life looks way too scary from where the young stand. You might have stuffed up - because obviously you have, just look at your life - but they definitely won’t. If they’re lucky, they don’t know about life’s sneaky derailing tricks yet or that heartbreaking things can happen that require years of recovery and that random chance often brutally knocks you over. Because. They. Are. In. Control. And they are awesome. Unlike old people, who are unawesome.
 
Thirdly, a young person’s definition of what makes for an awesome life is often very limited. The younger and more self-absorbed they are, the more convinced they are that they’re the only ones in the universe possessing knowledge of the One True Path to Eternal Awesomeness. Don’t even try to tell them that you too were once likewise enlightened, but then you grew up and discovered there were many  other paths in the forest that were also interesting. You are lost. They are not.
 
Anyway, I made this rule after watching far too many of my contemporaries bust a gut because they suddenly became worried that young folk didn’t find them cool enough. I know it’s a stage of life crisis, but it can get awfully unseemly. The insecure oldies desperately want the kids to know that they were also once slim and beautiful and active and brilliant and admired, and that they too did amazing, crazy, naughty things until the crack of dawn, but all they do is bore the socks of the young ones. It’s a hopeless cause. The young and the old cannot compare themselves with each other at any given point in time. The only fair way to compete, if you must do so, would be to compare the achievements of each person at the same age, which, without a TARDIS, is practically impossible. So it’s up to we older people to show some sage-like dignity, maintain our air of mystery, and allow the arrogant young to be up themselves. We once were conceited little know-it-alls – it’s their turn now. They’ll get old soon enough. Then it’ll be their turn to try and convince the upcoming generations that they used to be soooo awesome, although by then, there’ll undoubtedly be another exceedingly irritating word to denote the coolness that goes beyond cool but which usually only applies to the young.

It's how the wheel turns.

By the way, have I told you about the time there were a thousand people crammed into in a great sporting venue, all of them shouting my name while I…  J

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What My Brain Saw


So I was on a tram, on my way to the Arvo Job, looking at people and thinking about stuff, just maybe daydreaming a bit, when I glanced out the window and saw a sign with an arrow that clearly read 'To Extermination Complex'.

A split second and one blink later, my brain realised its mistake, tweaked a few synapses, "reality" reasserted itself, and the sign was so very obviously made up of the far more innocuous words 'To Entertainment Complex'.

But maybe my brain was right the first time? If so, what nefarious happenings am I not seeing on a daily basis as I make my way about town?

No, it was definitely an eye-brain glitch.

Not a matrix moment.

I hope.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Getting Stuff Done


I'm busy getting focused. I finished one story on Monday  - just a shortie, but it's done - and almost completed another today. I know how it ends, and it's not an epic saga either, so it should be done and pretty much polished by Friday after two lots of commuting-writing on the way to the Arvo Job. Then I've got two more stories lined up for completion. I'm feeling productive writingwise again :)

Alas, I've also had to fit in a lot of napping and sleeping lately. I hope it's a passing phase, but if there's one thing I've learnt over the past 2 years, it's if I need to rest, I MUST rest. Obey the body. It's busy doing stuff too. Give it what it needs to get on with the job.

So writing + Arvo Job + normal daily stuff + napping = not much blogging. For now.

Bedtime :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Because I Love a Little-Old-Lady-Turns-the-Tables-on-a-Lout Story.


And it's Friday. Almost Saturday. This is about a cat-loving, retired competitive ax-thrower and a burglar who should have done a background check on his intended victim.

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/11/04/ax-wielding-woman-chases-thief-away-in-hemet/

Never underestimate little old ladies.

Oops, it is Saturday now. Yay!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Room to Move


In the future, real estate agents need not fear unemployment, not ever. In fact, they will become an independent species of human, probably the dominant strain, running rampant through the galaxy and handing out their shiny brochures. They'll be impossible to eradicate, and all economic power will be controlled by their mighty interstellar guild because:

Astronomers report that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable Earth-sized planets in the galaxy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/science/cosmic-census-finds-billions-of-planets-that-could-be-like-earth.html?_r=1&

So pick a quadrant, any quadrant, and invest now. Best to get in early and buy before the prices skyrocket. So what if the planet is on the seedy side and needs a little renovating? Be a winner and grab yourself a continent or two. Or nab the whole darn thing! Location, location, location. You'll be sorry if you don't.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Energy Diversion


Today was a public holiday (Melbourne Cup Day), so I diverted the energy I would usually dole out on commuting to the city and expend on doing my bit at the Arvo Job into catching up on sadly neglected cleaning chores that often feel like a bridge too far during a normal work week. The place was starting to feel way too cobwebby and dusty for my peace of mind.

All the big rugs were washed and hung to dry out in the wonderful, warm, jasmine-scented Spring air, and tomorrow I plan to wash the floorboards before returning said rugs to their rightful places. Covers and cat bedding and assorted throws are likewise enjoying a night out under the stars and wafting in the freshening breezes. I also weeded - the back garden is mostly presentable now except for one damned black spot that I will out, out next for 'tis time to do't - and, continuing my Great and Borderline Obsessive Destacking Quest, I got rid of as many old cardboard boxes from the back shed as my recycle bin could hold. I'm already scoping out my next stack (once all the old cardboard boxes are gone). I think it'll be those printed copies of the different drafts of the first two books of my way-too-massive SF saga. Hard to part with, but they fill a lot of space, and my Great but Neglected Work is all safely stowed on multiple hard drives anyway.

I also baked and did a lot of reading.

All of this may seem like dreary stuff to post about, but I'm excited, because I can feel it's part of my old cycle of tidying up my physical environment after a period of relative blahness and so-so writing in readiness for a creative surge above and beyond my usual daily output. Things are bubbling.

And I did write today as well, in between my Herculean tasks. I ripped apart one of my darlings that just isn't being snapped up despite kind comments, and ruthlessly edited it. I'm determined that it SHALL be sold! The process was, satisfactorily, a lot like destacking :)

Now for some baked goodies and visual entertainment.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Most Satisfactory Sunday


After some token housework and zealously obliterating another papery stack (into the recycle bin it mostly went) to clear more space in my study, I spent a few happy hours sorting through my published SF short stories, picking three for a reprint anthology, checking the manuscripts and subbing them. Ah, the trio of  memory lanes I traversed in the process. I remembered the sweat and time and tears and effort I put into each of them, recalled the sadness of their initial rejections, and relived the joy I felt when I finally sold them. Okay, perhaps I'm being a little melodramatic, but you get the gist of it :)

Then I submitted another SF story for a publication that has cut back on its reading periods and is now only accepting submissions for the first week of each quarter. You have to be quick, you have to be organised these days - I'd jotted a note in my diary to make sure I caught this window, and held certain story for a month so it could have a shot at this market. Most publications are inundated with stories, and often hang up their 'closed to submissions' shingles for months on end, and even the ones with regular reading periods often beg off for six months or so while they catch up.

Anyway, I also wrote a bit, so I feel I've accomplished useful writerly things this fine Sunday. All in all, 'twas a good day - peaceful, productive, and full of potential.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

End of the Month Report: October 2013


Submissions: 3
Rejections: 6
Acceptances: 0
Published: 0
Stories out in the wild: 8
New stories completed: 0
Mood: Not especially pleased with this month's effort. I've been a bit all over the shop. Time to pull up those writerly socks and get focused.

Have A Happy, Horsey Halloween



You can read more about the stupendous, seasonal painting of this very sweet, pretty, and obviously supernaturally patient pony appropriately called Raven over at the site of the person who actually did all the hard artwork rather than just, like yours truly, lazily pinching her cool photos because I simply cannot resist the opportunity to post a demon horse on this All Hallows' Eve:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/knot-just-rope/learn-more-about-knot-just-ropes-skeleton-horse/10152302769845760

Doesn't the sight of this skeleton horse make you want to throw a saddle on it, put a voluminous, black cape around your own shoulders, mount up and go galloping though a dark and stormy night whilst laughing maniacally?

And imagine if some little kid happened to look out the window...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You Don't Say?


I'm still annoyed this morning about a paragraph in an article I read in a certain vapid newspaper yesterday. The story was about the sad death of a young man, and the publication was milking it for all it was worth, of course. The paragraph in question:

A resident at the house, who did not wish to be named, said she did not know how the teen died and did not know him.

I still don't understand the point of that spectacular piece of non-information. This is lazy journalism at it's most inane. All I can think is padding, and for some reason, it really, really bugs me.

Why Drink from a Common Bowl?



Past midnight snap, hot off my Pentax.

Of course, this won't end well. Cats and vases and other generally smashable nicknacks seldom occupy the same space without mishaps occurring, but still I try. In this case, I thought the rather largish thorns would be a deterrent. I was wrong.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Overreacting Strangers in the Night


This evening, after the Arvo Job, I was walking to the train station when a car that was obliged by law to stop and let me cross the road actually stopped to let me cross the road. Since that was both nice and courteous of him/her, I looked at the driver, tipped my head in acknowledgement, and mouthed a distinct thank you as I walked past the front of the car - as you do in such situations.

When I'd passed, the driver opened his side window and shouted "You should say thank you, lady" in an outraged voice. I checked to see whether he was speaking to me. He was. And then he was gone in a vrooming rush.  'I did say thank you,' I thought, 'But now I really wish I hadn't.'

What did he expect? Maybe I should have given him a thumbs up? Shouted my thanks? Done a song and interpretive dance of gratitude on the pavement? I'm not sure. But I don't think his reaction was terribly civil. Maybe he'd had a bad day and felt unappreciated and neglected? Again, not sure. But it was a lot of commotion for a such small thing.

Ah well, it's been that kind of a day. Nothing to do but move on.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stack Attack


Around about Monday midnight, two cats came hurtling into my study, the one chasing the other, and sprang high onto my big worktable, but not high enough.

Bang! Cat number one (the chased) kicked back against a particularly precipitous pile of "really important stuff"and sent it spilling onto the floor. Followup bang!  Cat number two (the chaser) got into a twist trying to avoid the avalanche and sent what little remained also onto the newly-formed island of paper below. Ah, the joys of sharing a house with felines.

There was no way I was going to tackle tidying it up then. It'll have to wait until Wednesday, I thought with a weary groan, and spent the next day and a half skirting the messy mound. I was mightily tempted today to not do it, but being a grown-up, I did, both to clear the room and my head - and I must say my worktable looks a lot less cluttered now. I suppose I almost owe the cats a thank you. Then I wrote for 3 hours. Afterwards, once I'd had a nap, I set aside thirty minutes to attack a few "garden stacks" aka weeds, so the patio also has a more streamlined look, and gave myself a stern lecture about not letting things that tend to pile up get out of control. Weed a bit each week. Tick off an arduous (boring) everyday task or two each day. Clip and file articles, and write notes as I go. Don't procrastinate. Don't stack.

98% of what was in that toppled stack ended up in the recycling bin. Throwing stuff out is always the quickest way to get such jobs done. Amongst all the old magazines and forgotten printouts, however, I found a folder full of critiques from the spec-fic novel writing course I did a few years ago with Paul Collins. I reread the submissions and the kind comments, and wondered why I haven't done more with this novel, why I'd almost forgotten about this great opus that I was once so fired up about. I've written most of it, and it's been sitting on my hard drive for long enough. Of course, I haven't really been up for a longer project over the past couple of years of medical crap, but perhaps it's time to see if I can scrounge enough energy and head space to finish it.

No point putting it off any longer. Life will be much neater with it done.

Whether it makes it out into the world, of course, is an entirely different matter altogether.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Naughty Writer

Writers like to think of themselves as the poor, suffering, misunderstood underdogs of the publishing industry (and we are! We really, really are!) but over the last couple of weeks I've come across a few examples of editor and publisher misery caused by... hmmm, my fellow writers.

There was an email from a publisher exhorting writers not to review their own work on Amazon, the reason being that Amazon's review policies prohibit writers from reviewing their own work and if said writer is reported, Amazon comes down on the publisher, which makes the publisher look bad. Apparently, this is an ongoing problem, but I'm at a loss as to why anyone would do such a thing. Review your own work? It's embarrassing to even think about someone being so unprofessional. What would you even write about your own piece? Something along the lines of This is a fabulous story of great depth and intelligence and humour and complexity and subtlety and anything else you want it to be obviously written by a genius, who just happens to be me...? :)

Speaking of reviews, there's always the perennial problem of the occasional unseemly Internet ruckus caused by oversensitive writers wildly responding to reviews they don't like (not having written them themselves, obviously). The best advice I've seen in ages on how to deal with this situation is over at Alan Baxter's blog:

Don't worry, it's succinct.

In the meantime, Lakeside Circus, which is just starting up and is dealing with a influx of material and wrangling many writerly egos, felt it necessary to post a piece about reading guidelines, because many writers are such creative giants  that they seem to feel they can skip such mundane constraints (in this case, among other things, sending non-spec fic stories to a magazine that deals in speculative fiction), and another about experimenting with personal rejections. The latter included a warning :

Here’s the problem, though: for every author who takes the notes in stride, we have another who feels the need to reply to the rejection. Saying, “Thanks, I hadn’t thought of that!” is okay–it’s not necessary, but we don’t mind hearing from you. What we do mind is the authors who reply to argue with the rejection, who insult our staff, or misread the suggestions in order to complain that the fault lies in our reading instead of in their writing.

Too many of those, and we’ll go back to form rejections.

It's sad that they felt the need to add that last warning. Personally, I cannot fathom why anyone would think that being aggressive is appropriate behaviour in this, or any other business. If you're a writer who can't deal with rejection letters, then you really need to find another creative outlet - they're part and parcel of the landscape, for most of us, at least. This post also helps me understand why so many publications do default to form letters. Of course, that just makes the personal ones all that more exciting and special.

Finally, there's the poor, beleaguered literary agent, and if you don't already occasionally pop over to Slushpile Hell, billed as One grumpy literary agent, a sea of query fails, and other publishing nonsense, do so now. You'll do a lot of groaning, but also laugh. And it's a wonderful example of what others in the industry deal with on a daily basis, and a lesson in how NOT to behave if you wish to establish a reputation for professionalism. Mind you, most of the examples used seem to be from the extreme end of wannabe writerly egos running amok and demonstrate a pathological lack of perspective. At least I very much hope they do.

So be good, writers. Do your homework, abide by the rules, be professionally polite, and save your rantings about the unfair treatment of writers for your Facebook pages or blogs :)

And if you truly don't like the way things are, there's always self-publishing...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Alien Thrills (or This Never Ever Ever Gets Old)


Killing a little time between finishing off my Saturday of going to the movies, washing clothes etc and getting ready to make yummy klatkager for a night of slovenly TV watching (last two episodes of The Walking Dead Season 3 here I come) I did a spot of writerly ego-Googling to see how the anthology Aliens: Recent Encounters is faring out in the wide world, and found that reviews are starting to trickle in.

You know where this is going, of course :)

And here it is. This Goodreads reader sums up her review with   :

Personal favourites in the collection include:

"The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species" by Ken Lui
"The Tetrahedon" by Vandana Singh
"Knapsack Poems" by Eleanor Arnason
"Nullipara" by Gitte Christensen
"Jagannath" by Karin Tidbeck
"A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel" by Yoon Ha Lee

Can you believe it? Me, one of the and others in this collection, making it as a favourite along with illustrious names like that in an antho choc bloc with BIG writers, at the very least with this one reader? Because that's what it's all about - connecting with readers. Writing is great, and you love your own stories because otherwise why would you bother to wrangle them into existence? but it never ceases to amaze me when something I've produced actually resonates with another person enough for them to kindly comment on it.

That is just so cool. Anyway, I'm grinning, and hoping others out there in the world enjoy Nullipara too.

Now for some zombie violence.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

They Shoot Computers, Don't They?


Today's stupendous post has unfortunately been postponed due to computer problems which have only just been (maybe) resolved. It's too late for blogging now - I'm off to bed. I've got an early start at the Arvo Job tomorrow, and I don't want to squander the restorative effects of my Wednesday R&R.

My Internet computer has been a tad rickety and overly temperamental the past few weeks. I think it's time for my IT brother to pop over and either massage it back to wellness or put a bullet in it and bury the whole kit and caboodle down some back paddock.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Son of Punjab, Where Are You?


After starting yesterday with a Sunday morning rejection ( I really like this one but...) I headed off to the Melbourne Festival for a day of music, exhibitions, eating and fun, finishing off with an effervescent show constructed around the Australian-born Bollywood siren known as Fearless Nadia and her movie Diamond Queen.

Born Mary Ann Evans in Perth, she was a huge hit in India during the 1930s and 40s - her most famous film was Hunterwali -  and this show sought to pay tribute to her amazing feats of screen dare-devilry (she did all her own stunts) and sense of fun and adventure. It was a hoot. Not only did you have Nadia swinging her fists and leaping about all over the place, but there was also the in house fighting squad from of Wadia Movietone doing all sorts of crazy and comedic action stunts, and some of her regular, faithful, animal characters like the very smart, he'd-give-Silver-a-run-for-his-money wonder horse Punjab ka Beta (Son of Punjab, scion of Punjab, another of Nadia's faithful sidekick equines) and a baby Austin called Rolls Royce ki Beti (Daughter of Rolls Royce), a vehicle with much personality and a very independent mind. Alas, we didn't get to see much of Moti the wonder dog in this cut of the film.

On top of the movie hi jinks, there were live performances in keeping with what was happening on the screen inserted in between - Indian dancing, vaudeville acts, and feats of high-wire, musical daring. All of this and energetic, Indian-Western music that had people jigging in their seats played by master musicians who all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

It was a fun evening that I've carried with me all through today at my less glittery and swashbuckling Arvo Job, doing a little Indian dancing here and there whilst daydreaming about Son of Punjab galloping into the office to rescue me. I saw myself swinging into the saddle, raising a defiant fist as Son of Punjab reared, and then we'd be off, the two of us, racing towards some distant adventure full of villains and stout-hearted, supportive friends.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Should You Choose To Accept It


A huge congratulations to Steve Cameron, who has just made his first professional sale to Mike Resnik's magazine Galaxy's Edge. Yaaaaaaay!

Writing is not the easiest of career paths to walk, and anyone, aside from the occasional genius, who undertakes the scribe's long journey (and remember, no-one forces you to take that particular road in the yellow wood) should be prepared for lots of rejection and disappointment, so it's great to see that all Steve's hard work and persistence has paid off, and that he's well on his way to a SFWA membership.

Also - and this is the bit that's all about me - it's wonderful to actually know someone you met when they were starting out their mission to become a writer, someone who has stuck to their guns and steadily worked their way upwards to professional success, because it makes me believe that maybe, just maybe, I can do it too. It's not a certainty, and possibly it may never happen, but knowing a real, live, flesh and blood person who has achieved a goal you're also aiming for certainly makes it less pie-in-the-sky and more feasible. Do the work, do it well, weather the storms, keep your eyes on the prize, enjoy the process and things will happen, is the message one absorbs. Steve's success certainly inspired me today; I hit my desk and tackled a particularly stubborn story I have to write, and resubbed a piece everyone seems to likes but no-one buys. I suppose that's why positive mentors and role models and supportive peers are so important in all areas of life.

So once again, congratulations, Steve. This is, I'm sure, just the first of many pro sales.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Roll Up, Roll Up for Lakeside Circus Short Fiction and Other Oddities


Over at Lakeside Circus, where they plan to publish 200,000 words of new flash fiction, short stories and poetry every year, they've started selling subscriptions. Get in early, and you get a great deal:

If you subscribe now, you can get our first year for only $20. Even better, if you purchase your subscription before November 15, our first issue will be delivered a week early. Before anyone else can buy the magazine or begin to read us online, you’ll have an entire quarter’s worth of short stories, flash fiction, and poetry, including work by:

Dean Fracis Alfar, C.S.E. Cooney, Trevor Shikaze, Ada Hoffmann, Mike Allen, Alan Baxter, Lucas Ahlsen, Cate Gardner, Jill Corddry, Rachael Acks, Conor Powers-Smith, Andrew S. Williams, Lisa Bradley, John P. Murphy, Dan Campbell, Gitte Christensen, Megan Arkenberg, Rich Larson, Jon Arthur Kitson, David Sklar, Andrew Gilstrap, Sarah Hendrix, F.J. Bergmann, Virginia Mohlere, Michael Haynes, John Skylar, H.L. Fullerton, Sofia Samatar, Eric Rosenfield, Jamie Lackey, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Bryan Thao Worra, and more!
 
Once the magazine is out, the yearly subscription will go up to $30.  You can read the details, and possibly click the button, here.

Notice my name tucked away in there amongst the others? :) :) There are so many writers here I recognise and admire. Needless to say, I'm extremely chuffed to keep company with them in this inaugural issue of what I'm sure will become a mainstay publication.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bards and Sages Quarterly, October 2013


My plucky little NASA Martian rover and assorted other personable space probes tribute short story The Stars Their Hesitation in the Bards and Sages Quarterly, October 2013 issue is now available in a multitude of formats to suit all reading predilections, budgets and technological tastes (I was waiting for all the info to come together before posting):




Amazon Paperback

Amazon Kindle

Smashwords  (EPub, .mobi, PDF, LMR and PDB)

Please enjoy!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I Wanna Go To Space, And I Wanna Go Now!


I saw Gravity today. Best. Space. Movie. In. Ages. Maybe. Ever.

With not a single alien or phaser in sight, this was the most exciting space adventure I've watched in a long, long time, and it had, more or less, given the needs of storytelling, the added thrill of making the audience feel they were watching a drama that could happen in real life. It was so big, and at the same time so intimate, simultaneously vast and claustrophobic. I also liked the international feel of the movie, with the Earth rotating below, and all the nations of that planet represented with their stations and astronauts working together, each bravely trying to establish themselves on the new frontier. It made me feel warm and fuzzy and optimistic about humanity.

The visuals were heart-achingly stunning. The wannabe astronaut in me was overwhelmed by the beauty of this movie, and the courage and intelligence of the people who get the job done in the harshest of environments. I have to confess, I shed a few tears of yearning simply because this movie so effectively conveys that space is awe-inspiring and so full of potential, and I so want to go there just once in my lifetime, and I very strongly feel that WE AS A SPECIES HAVE TO GO THERE!

I especially noticed three lads in the audience today who gave me great hope. Early teens, popcorn munching, the kind of youths my aged type can often reflexively dismiss as shallow, I was initially rather dubious in a unforgivably superior way that they would enjoy the movie (no aliens!), but every time I glanced their way, the meticulously gelled, identically Bieber-haired trio were silent and spellbound. They too, it seemed, were members of my tribe of wannabe astronauts. Maybe they'll make it. Maybe Gravity will inspire them to go for it. They're young enough. I hope so. After all, who says astronauts can't be fashionably coiffed?

Monday, September 30, 2013

End of the Month Report: September 2013


Submissions: 8
Rejections: 6 (technically, one of these belongs to last month. I was waiting for an email, but when I checked the check-how-your-story-is-going link, I discovered the awful truth. On the other hand, this was the story I reported as being #927 in the reading queue a couple of months ago, and there were only a few places left for unsolicited work, so I was pretty much well prepared for disappointment.)
Acceptances: 1 (Winds of Change - dark, dark, dark, with added ghosts! Very happy about this one.)
Published: 0 (next month should be more interesting)
Stories out in the wild: 10
New stories completed: 0
Mood: Shocked by the fact that I saw Xmas decorations in the supermarket on the way home tonight. All right, that has nothing to do with writing, but I'm still recovering. Also, I'm a little worried about the weather. It is blowing a gale outside and the trees are making scary noises as they bend down and whack the roof and scrape the house. Another non-writing inspired emotion, but hey, it's not all about story scribbling.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

One Day, In A Faraway Land, When I've Got Plenty Of Time...

I was doing a quick, Sunday morning whizz around my usual sites and came across Charles Bukowski's poem air and light and time and space, which I'd pretty much forgotten about. It was great to reread this piece and once more be inspired to continue the daily grind of finding an hour here and there to develop ideas, of getting the words down one at a time, of accumulating pages and finishing stories and polishing prose and submitting work and once-overing rejected stuff and sending it out again. Because that's what writing all boils down to really, over and over again.
 
Basically, Bukowski's poem is a response to the perennial if-only-I-had-more-time-I'd write-a-novel-or-if-I-had-a-beautiful-Tuscan-studio-I'd-paint-a-picture lament which most artists regularly run into, the insinuation from these tormented creative types often being that they themselves lead lives that are far too busy or cluttered or devoid of necessities for them to fit in the luxury of creative pursuits, so any artist who does manage to write a novel or paint a picture must either live a Nirvana of no responsibilities, be wonderfully rich, or be a mad recluse with no social life whatsoever.


But Bukowski's poem knocks the pretension out of artistic wannabes (some of his poems about fellow writers are also brutal) who spend their lives saying that one day, most definitely, when everything is lined up ever so perfectly, they plan to get around to comfortably creating those fabulous masterpieces they know they have buried deep inside them and which are just bursting to get out. When they do finally sit down, said masterpieces are expected to manifest themselves easily and seamlessly. It's a wonderful dream, and an admirable goal, and if it helps people get through their lives, then it's not all bad. I can't say I haven't fantasized about full-time writing a few thousand times myself, just as I've fantasized about stories effortlessly appearing from the ether, presenting themselves perfectly on a page, and being snapped up immediately by ecstatic editors.

Unfortunately, for most people, the day job is a necessity, life never lets up, art is hard, and oases of peace and quiet with no distractions rarely present themselves just before a deadline.

So just shut up, sit down, and do the work, Bukowski bluntly says, and do it now:

no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
or
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
welfare,
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
away,
you’re going to create blind
crippled
demented,
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

If you have the urge, creating is not a luxury, but a necessary part of life. You have to negotiate, you have to prioritise. You can't do everything, so you have to choose. The act of choosing is what makes something important to you. If you choose not to, that's fine, but then don't pretend creating is as vital to you as the very air you breathe. Do it as a hobby. Nothing wrong with that at all. Enjoy the process. But either do it or don't. The rest is waffling.

Over at Zen Pencils they've actually illustrated the whole poem. The pictures are as amusing as the poem itself.

Hmm, I feel a Bukowski episode coming on. I think I'll be dropping the word baby into conversations for the next few weeks.