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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

End of the Month Report: March 2013

Submissions: 1
Rejections: 5  (a.k.a. stories I can submit again)
Acceptances: 0
Published: 0
Stories out in the wild: 8
New stories completed: 0. I was doing well until I got distracted by Real World stuff. Am back on the writing wagon again, but not in time to salvage a credible '1' in this category.
Mood: I feel an overwhelming need to complete a couple of half finished stories I put many hours into last year - my JD workshop dragon story and my harpy story (I hear the antho I originally wrote the harpy story for might have a sequel...). This can only be a good thing. I'm very fond of both of these tales and their characters, and at the very least, it's always personally satisfying to finish stories. And one always should! I got my dragon story moving again today by going back, killing off a major darling, and continuing down a different road to the one that was going nowhere. A tried and true technique.

*Just corrected the March 20103 I initially , and obviously hurriedly, wrote as the month/year for this post. What a Methuselah I'll be if I ever do get to write that as the date :) Not that there'll be blogs around then. No, I'll be beaming my "interesting" updates straight into your brains. Hah, there's a scary thought. I'd better stop now...

Starry, Starry Right

Apropos four posts ago, my stars this weekend read:

 Much of March may have seemed like Groundhog Day, with reps of recurring behaviour, replays of all too familiar scenarios, déjà-vu communications, blasts from the past...

Spooky. It's almost enough to make me a believer.

On a more annoying front, there's a UK spec-fic anthology with Western star signs as the theme for which I suddenly had a great story idea two days ago. I'd given up on it and moved on, but obviously the old subconscious was still playing around with concepts. The problem? The deadline is today, and since I've been running around all over the place this Easter (must do out-and-about stuff while I still can) and have barely written a sentence, it ain't gonna happen. The stars, it would seem, in this particular case were not aligned in my favour.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Space Ponies

Revisiting Kim Stanley Robinson's Green Mars as an audio book in my break at the Arvo Job today, I heard the line There was movement at the spaceport and had to giggle. I replayed it just to me sure. (For confused non-Downunderers, this harks to a classic Oz poem - I'm sure you know the movie.)

I then had to hit pause and take a moment to clear my mind of the impressive image of a herd of brumbies thundering through Valles Marineris, Tom Burlinson coming up at the rear cracking a whip.

That's what happens when you watch too many Mars documentaries with mind-boggling graphics.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Freedom of Screech

The Castlemaine State Festival wound up today, and like all good arty get-togethers, there was controversy and arguments and outrage! Not about the incendiary work of established artists, mind you, but about the creations of the budding young artists at the Castlemaine Secondary College, all of whom learnt this week that you never quite know how individual audience members, burdened as they are with their own emotional baggage, beliefs and sense of righteousness, are going to react to your artwork. In a project called "Text Alley" created by year nine and ten students, three "controversial" pieces in particular roused much ire and generated hundreds of complaints to the festival HQ.

The first was a banner stating 'Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment'. I wonder how the complainants formulated their protest - that it wasn't happy and sparkly enough? Do they even remember what it feels like to be a teenager?

The second offensive piece was this silhouette of a reindeer with the message 'Christmas is a lie'. You can't read that message any more because it was subsequently vandalised by someone who spray painted over the banner and added  'This aint art'. So much for debating the issue. Some claim it was religious vilification, others that it ruined the magic of Christmas for the kiddies. I'd say that one's faith really should be robust enough to take on such a innocuous challenge. As for the kiddies, if they're old enough to read graffiti, then they'll already be deep into the 'Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus' conundrum. If they want to believe in the red-suited bloke, they will believe, and there are hundreds of books and movies about crusty cynics getting their yuletide comeuppance to support that belief, surely enough to counter the power of four words on a wall? Besides, wouldn't you expect an alleyway full of graffiti by teenagers to have some potentially offensive messages and pictures? Why would any parent take their littlies to such an exhibition without checking it out first?

The third scandal involves a banner with the slogan "Let Bogans Be Bogans', which I think is quite warm and cute, and the Castlemaine Secondary School's principal says is about accepting and tolerating all sorts of different people, but which some sensitive souls somehow turned into propaganda about the recent Castlemaine pokies dispute involving gambling levels and how to best utilise an old railway building. Art is certainly in the eyes of the beholder.

One of my favourites was this piece. Humour is always welcome.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I suspect that here and there about town, there are a quite few teenagers absolutely delighted by all the fuddy-duddy fuss and positive that they truly are artists. Their paths are set.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Good for a Larf

As I've mentioned before, here in Ozland, my non-Anglo name can occasionally cause me grief of the minor and often amusing sort as I go about my daily life. Part of my problem-solving duties at the Arvo Job require phone time and leaving messages, which I do very clearly, even spelling out my name as a matter of habit because it seems to help people come to grips with the goshy, darn foreignness of it, and yet people constantly call back hesitantly asking for Kim, Mumble-Mumble, Heather or any other name they happen to have pulled out of a nearby hat.

Today, a colleague informed me with a laugh, someone asked for Glitter, and yes, they'd wanted to speak with me.

Glitter. I like it. Glitter Christensen. What an attention-grabbing nom de plume that would make. Perhaps Glitter Rose? Hmm, no that sounds familiar, and vaguely Twelfth Planety. Anyway, I'm thinking romance writing. Chick lit. Something more glamorous than science fiction, although that's a horribly biased utterance, for who's to say SF can't have high heels, shimmeriness and twinkle?

Glitter. Yep, I still like it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Groundhog Year

Yesterday was a scan and consult day, and for many hours, it was quite a lovely day. The weather was stunning, there was a nurse who was ever so happy she could take shortcuts with me instead of going through the usual rigmarole of explaining the process (I suspect she got a longer tea break because she could cut corners with me), a new guy controlling the MRI scanner (my usual lady was off on holidays) with whom I talked about helium expanding and exploding, and everything was very relaxed and went like clockwork. I met my sister afterwards, and we had lunch at an excellent and very atmospheric place that made the yummiest gourmet pizzas before heading off to my consult, both of us brimming with optimism, because I felt fine, everything went so well last time, and I was quite proud of my stamina and wellness. Mind you, the writer in me recognised a classic setup for fall and kept pointing it out to me, but I repeatedly told her to shut up. Hubris, schmubris!

Alas, the writer in me was right and things went downhill from there. The hospital head honcho was at the consult, which was a big enough surprise, and she basically informed me that although I had beaten the odds last year and impressed all and sundry with my swift recovery (not that it felt swift), well, I was going to have to try and beat the odds again - not news even remotely close to what I wanted to hear. It was about this time last year I started having tests and such and the medical fun started, and to find myself twelve months later facing another round of surgery and treatments, well, I'm not, as you can imagine, terribly keen on saddling that particular horse and charging into into that particular valley again, especially since I'm feeling far better and more energetic that I have for a long time. Last year I was begging them to slice me open just to get rid of the pain. Now, although I'm not running at 100%, I feel fine, active, together, clear-headed, organised, and was planning to busy up my life and do more. I was most certainly not planning to become a patient again. I mean, I'm putting in time at the Arvo Job, I'm reading and writing and socialising, I'm doing push ups and tummy crunches, doing workouts with weights, walking vast distances and riding horses. Those blah days were behind me, I thought. And yet I must do as they say, to preempt what will become a bad situation if we don't act now.

So 2013 is looking like a repeat of 2012. Yippee-ki-yay.

I've spent today absorbing this turn of events.  People have been great - my sister is texting and is on hand to talk at any time, and my brother dropped by for tea, a chat and some strategising. Ah well, time to buck up, put on my stoic hat, thrash those odds, and remember to be grateful I live in a country that takes care of these things.

And in between, I shall keep the writing flowing (I'm better prepared this time).

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Walking the Local Arty Walk

So I didn't get to Sydney for various reasons and it turned out to be for the best, maybe (it looks like they had fun though), but since the Castlemaine State Festival in full swing, there were plenty of other things to investigate in the region this weekend. Yesterday, after seeing the pharmaceutical thriller Side Effects, in an entirely appropriate homage to Steven Soderbergh's intent to give up movie making to concentrate on his painting and other interests, we stopped off at Maldon to spend a few hours shopping and doing the Maldon Art Walk. We looked at paintings, sketches and sculptures in shop windows, popped in and out of open studios, and even, in an amazing piece of good timing, caught up with a friend who is displaying her work in the cutest alleyway converted stable ever, as you do if you possibly can (Maldon Mews Studio and Gallery).

Today, there was my invite to a poetry and photograph opening to fulfill, free, fun theatre (picture, left) and lots of food in the park, and wandering around, there were so many open studios it would seem that every fifth residence in town is inhabited by talented artsy folk of all types.

There's a lot going on, and I must try and get to a few of the shows over the next week ten days.  Being a huge fan of Italo Calvino's Baron in the Trees, I'm especially intrigued by the arboreal twilight theatre performance The Republic of Trees. How will they pull it off, I wonder. Well, there's only one way to find out.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Welcome Change

After a record breaking, for this time of the year, ten consecutive days of humid 34-37 degree heat, a cool change swept across the state today, providing glorious relief for the sweltering masses. There was no way I was going to stay inside, so I took Rover into the backyard, set myself up on the Xmas Swing, and wrote for a few hours on my latest SF masterpiece (the writing experiment is going well). Then I did a lot of reading.

Alas, I'm off to hospital again next week for tests, meaning that about four days ago, a serious case of scanxiety kicked in. Last time this happened, six months ago, I couldn't compose a written sentence for the life of me the fortnight leading up to the scan. This time, fortunately, I'm channelling my imagination and nervous energy into writing, so at least I'm still productive. And it keeps my mind occupied with other things such as the mechanics of alien invasions, downloading humanity and the like :) However, I may not be terribly chatty on ye olde blogge over the next week until this matter is resolved.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Doddering Old Dogs and Shiny New Tricks

Because it's always good to shake things up every now and then so one's brain doesn't calcify and one's hot-bloodedness doesn't cool and congeal, I've initiated a writing experiment for this month of March. Nothing spectacular, just an attempt to up my word count by using two smidgens of the advice promulgated by author Rachel Aaron in her famous piece from last year so enticingly titled How I Went from Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day that I'm sure many of you already know and have possibly taken on board way before me. If I can simply add a few more hundred words to each writing session, I'll be happy with that. Actually, I wouldn't mind achieving her starting point of 2000 words a day :)

So this month, before I hit the keyboard, I'll spend 5 minutes before each session jotting down what I'm going to write in the hopes that I'll then rip through scenes that I've already sorted out in my head. It's worth a go. To keep the experiment imminently measurable, this morning I picked an upcoming antho theme, fished out a title from an old notebook that I've been dying to use for years, had a quick think, did my note jotting, and then off I went. I did not reach any spectacular heights wordcountwise in the 2.5 hours I worked, but I was satisfied with the creditable result. The best thing was that I pushed forward with the actual story, getting stuck into the unfolding of the tale more than I have for a long while instead of getting sidetracked by endlessly fiddling with already written sentences.

Also, in part two of the experiment, I'll take a moment before each session to make sure I'm enthusiastic about the project, not just going through the motions. And if I'm not, if I'm a bit blah, then I'll damn well make myself excited about it!

In other news, I ventured into town and bought a huge bag of  chicken food with the words luxury, organic, yummy, free-range and many other tasty adjectives printed all over it for the Chook. She'd better hang around long enough to finish it!

Monday, March 4, 2013

No Happily Ever Afters

Strike Princess Number Two from the race - she was rejected this morning. So, one anthology, four princesses, and not one of my girls made it. Ah, the shame! They were not Gothic enough, methinks. Still, it was worth a shot or two or four, and it was good for my royal layabouts to get out of their hard drive palaces and loiter in the Real World for a while. Now I'll tuck two of them away again (sssh, into the bottom drawer they go) and the other two - I haven't given up on them yet, especially not my steampunk princess - will have to face the multiple glares of a few more editors before I question their worthiness.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Chook Who Keeps Me Guessing

It's well past 18.30 and evening will soon be upon us, but the Occasional Chook shows no signs of leaving. This does not seem to one of her usual Virginia Chook swing bys for a bit of peace and quiet away from the flock. She was already waiting outside the kitchen when I opened up the house at 9 this morning, and has been with us ever since, very coolly acting just like she did in the old days before her ungrateful defection to the chicken coop two houses up.

She's spent the day being overly chummy with the cats and wanting to snuggle up to them as they tried to catch some rays in peace and quiet (both these pictures were snapped today. Yes, I know I need to tidy up those leaves), hanging out with me while I was working in the backyard, popping in for a chat while I was ironing, pottering around like she owned the place, taking dirt baths and endlessly sunning herself on the patio. She's very calm, very settled, and very much not moving on.

Oh well, who can say what the Chook is planning now? I just checked - yep, she's still here, right outside the kitchen door nibbling on my potted lemon thyme. When I asked her if it wasn't time she headed back to her homies in the coop, she gave me friendly cluck and snagged another leaf. Hmm...

***UPDATE. Sure enough, she is once more ensconced upon her old perch in the bush by the shed outside my kitchen. What has happened? A serious fallout with her erstwhile homies? Complaints about the food? Ah well, let's see how long it lasts. This footloose and deviously fancy free chicken may just using me as a stopgap while she ruthlessly scopes out another coop.

Princessly Update

As of this morning, we're three down (warrior-dissing-her-Emperor-dad princess just got booted), with one princess to go. The stories I've sent for the princess antho have been rejected in the sequence I sent them chronologically, but they've skipped my second submission. Possibly the princess behind Door Number Two is in with a chance? Stand by for the thrilling conclusion to this ongoing plethora of princesses saga :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Timing is Everything

Honestly, I should try checking dates and looking in a diary every now and then before I make profound statements, what with my brain still sporadically cheesing out on me - the Spec Fic Festival isn't next weekend, but the weekend after. I only just worked that out because I was looking at train schedules and whatnot, and finally glanced at the actual festival program again. Duh! Give the girl a gold star for finally getting there. All I can say in my defense is that these days I tend to take life in one week blocks and am keeping things as simple as possible.

And yeah, wouldn't you just know it, the story that I would have liked to send off to a themed issue of a certain publication came back as rejected on Friday, the very next day after the deadline for the themed issue had passed. I soooo knew it! I could feel it in my bones. I would have bet money on it, actually. Whoever is scribbling the script of my life is, on occasions like this, such a predictable hack. A better, more imaginative cosmic writer charting the course of my writerly adventures, that's what I need. That, or more editorial control.

Mind you, I quite like it when the hack slips in the unlikely and unexpected triumphs against the odds...