A better sort of evening

I’ve finished my second glass of syrah (that’s a shiraz to you Australians), I’m listening to a great musician, and tapping away at a novel for the first time in 14 days. Camp NaNoWriMo is not going well. But I’m smiling anyway. I don’t mind, as I never expected to do well this time around; I wanted to get myself started on a novel that’s been hovering around in my brain for about a month now, and it doesn’t matter to me if I write 3000 words or 30,000, I just want to get it started.

It was a dream, actually. It was thrilling at the time, and I woke up with it buzzing in my brain, all exciting and different, so I scribbled down some notes about it and determined to make a novel from it.

Which was marvellous but as it turns out dreams don’t to a terribly good job of filling in all the details. So I have a planet and some magic-ish powers, potentially derived from interbreeding with some alien species, but that’s an idea I just had while typing this sentence so I don’t know yet. I know there were twin brothers and a junk shop and a forbidden love affair but what the planet is like, and the town in which the characters live, and any other characters outside the five that were in my dream…. well, I haven’t a clue.

It’s been quite a long time since my last post here. I’m sorry I neglected you, after promising I wouldn’t. In the meantime I have, in fact, set up a New Fancy Website under my pen name, along with an email, twitter, even a patreon. Not telling you what it is – I sort of wanted to keep this and that separate, in case I wrote something embarrassing here once that I’ve forgotten about that would make me look shitty when I’m FAMOUS. But I did take down that woods poem and post it up there, so I suppose anyone determined enough would be able to find me ;)

It’s one of those weeks when I want to get out more, and chill with other writers and arty types in bars or cafés, listening to jazz or something. Shame that the people I know who are sort of into that live far away, and that I am kind of lazy when you get down to it and it’s an effort to drag myself anywhere.

But onwards and upwards we go.

Kicking around these ideas of “professionalism”. I have a Patreon account, but I’ve never set it up properly. I felt weird about it, like… I don’t have anything to offer people, except the work I do. I guess it’s moved on a little from when I signed up, so I guess it’s time to have another look at it. I like the idea. But then I’ll churn out some absolutely silly story like the one about the aliens. I don’t want people to pay for that, that was just for jolly.

Then there’s the website issue. I like WT. I like that I can write about writing in a totally melodramatic fashion, which I probably couldn’t do on a Proper Writerly Blog. I probably couldn’t use words like “writerly” on a Proper Writerly Blog, at least not until I’d earned my chops.

I have a pen name. So do I set up a website under that name? I don’t even have an email address for it yet. I could switch this blog to my pen name, but then I have other blogs under this account too…. no, it would be easier to set up a new blog for my pen name and just keep all the good writing on there. That would be better.

So. Time for a new twitter, a new email addy, a new blog account, a new every damn thing.

But I’ll still be here, guys. I need this place. I need it to mumble about writing, and talk about books, and spit out nonsense stories. But maybe you’ll come across me elsewhere.

(Also damn I really like that Alone in the Woods. Maybe I’ll remove it and stick it on the new blog once it’s up.)

Hyperbole and a Half (1)

I’m sure you know Hyperbole and a Half. The Alot and a certain frame from Why I’ll Never Be an Adult have reached meme status. I think many of us relate to Allie Brosh’s occasional inability to can, her feelings of inner weirdness, and more specifically, her experiences with depression. I know that for me, Depression parts I and II are why I really felt compelled to support Brosh by purchasing the book.

Although I didn’t actually purchase it, I got it for Christmas.

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Oh my GOD look at the veins in my hand

Now, you pretty much either love her humour or you don’t, and you can tell that by visiting her blog. (So, like… off you go.) Her deceptively simple (and hilarious) illustrations, fantastic humour and deft ability to put things into words are well known. But what is the book like? Is it excellent? Is it colourful? How does it read if you’re not scrolling down the page? And I am here to tell you that it reads well and it is extremely colourful and all the pages feel nice and smooth.

It’s a heavy book, and it’s heavy because the pages are thick and shiny and gorgeous quality. Each comic is presented on a different coloured page, with two to three frames per page. It is compact and solid, and one of those books that is nice to have. I have the paperback, and I’m wondering what the hardback is like. I bet it’s gorgeous.

Included from the website are such classics as The God of Cake, The Party, and Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving. Plus new stuff! I read it all in one go and it is great. It’s honest, well-told and very funny, and all people should have it, especially if you are a clumsy, socially incompetent, barely functional young woman. (All ma fellow barely functional girls say haaayyyy!) Like OK, you can read half of them online, BUT you gotta support the girls in comics amirite?

Look, I don’t know, man. I know I’m not alone here, but I gotta say in this review, that Depression parts I and II were so huge for me, because they put into words the entire experience in a way that is so hard to do, so hard to explain, and there it was just on the website. It was amazing. I cried, I know others cried. And it’s so incredibly brave of her to write those comics and publish them publicly like that. If you’ve lived with depression you HAVE to go read them. They’re amazing. I love that I own them now, in book form.

And Why I’ll Never Be an Adult, because that one spoke to me. I felt understood as a barely-functional person. Seriously, I will never have kids because if left to my own devices I regularly forget to eat meals.

Internet Forever.

Like, so, aliens.

Chiz asked for a story about aliens. Here it is. It is one of the odder things I’ve written. Like I don’t know what to say about it, man, it just is.

~ * ~ * ~

Xlog frowned at the print-out he held between his long fingers. The results, as he had come to expect, were inconclusive. He glared at the offending page.

“Can someone tell me why we decided paper was a good idea on an intergalactic mission?” he yelled rhetorically across the ship. He screwed up the piece of paper into a ball and threw it into the wastebasket.

Ibnat frowned at him, and retrieved the paper. She smoothed it out, carefully, and fed it back into the computer.

“Wasteful!” she scolded. “Use both sides of the damn sheet of paper.”

“You’d think we’d have better options than paper!” Xlog gestured angrily to the supine human on the workbench. “He had some sort of portable computer screen! And his species has barely sent probes beyond that weird little dwarf planet, let alone mastered intergalactic travel!”

“I wouldn’t say mastered, Xlog,” said Ibnat, though she had to admit the little communication device was rather neat. “It’s a pity they don’t connect with our technology,” she said, picking up one of the gadgets and tapping at its little coloured squares. An application opened, its tinny theme music filling the small workroom. “Catchy.”

“Of course they don’t connect to our technology,” said Xlog, “our technology is paper.”

“Shut up, I’m trying to lob birds at pigs.” Ibnat leaned back against the workbench, ignoring the sleeping human.

Xlog balled up another piece of paper and threw it at her head. It bounced off onto the floor. Ibnat stuck out her tongue, eyes nailed to her game.

Xlog scowled at his fellow scientist.  “I’m going out,” he said, stomping towards the door.

“Don’t mutilate any cows this time!” she called after him. “It’s fucking sick.”

“I told you, that wasn’t me!” He balled his fists and muttered a handful of Bibdonian curses under his breath.

What was that?”

“Nothing. I’m going to go make some crop circles.”

“Ooooh.” Ibnat tossed the communication device aside and pushed off the workbench. “I’ll come,” she said. “I loved the last one you did. It was beautiful.”

Xlog’s frown eased. “Really?” he said, thinking wistfully of the design. He risked a smile.

Ibnat smiled back, and stepped forward to hook her arm through his. “Really,” she said, and pulled him through the door.

 

JAAMin’

Here I was wondering what I was going to blog about today (and where, for that matter) when what crossed my twitter timeline but a call for submissions?

JAAM (Just Another Art Movement – love the name, personally. Very self-deprecating; very NZ) wants submissions on or vaguely related to the subject of shorelines. Poetry or prose.

I’ve submitted a couple of times, back in the day. Didn’t get anywhere, but nevertheless I was quite pleased with my rejection emails. I mean, a true writer has been rejected, you know? Preferably several times. After which one plants a beret on one’s head and Goes Forth to the local smoke-filled café, where one rants at length to one’s fellow writers about how one is a genius and nobody understands one’s work. Obviously. So naturally I felt chuffed at having my genius ignored. (Notice: this paragraph has been facetious. Except for feeling a strange sense of satisfaction.)

After that I rather lost interest in the whole enterprise of submissions. I became more interested in writing novels than the more submit-able poetry or short prose. I seem to have come back around to poetry and short prose lately, so perhaps it is time. Besides, when I last worked in a bookshop we used to get JAAM a couple of times a year, along with Grantia and one or two others. (No one bought them, except possibly the odd person who was IN them, but that’s to be expected.) It might be nice to be in something I once shelved.

So two things remain: a) what do I submit, and b) what do I call myself?

I’d rather use a pen name. I had one I rather liked, but after stewing it around in my head for a year or two it’s started to sound a bit silly. It was simple, but I don’t know. I might keep my real first name, and fuss about with potential surnames. It has to have a good metre to it, because I am obsessed with metre, obviously. It resonates in me like an eCHO OF A HEARTBEAT I CAN HEAR IT IN MY HEAD AND I CAN FEEL IT IN MY BONES.

That might go somewhere.

So here I sit, rifling through old folders of poetry. Occasionally a title will catch my eye and I’ll remember what I was feeling when I wrote it and I won’t submit it because I can’t even bear to read it again, let alone potentially edit it. Gods, some of them are good, but for me at least they’re just dripping with intensity I can’t deal with right now.

Oh my god, look at this one. I have no recollection of writing this. It’s from 2007 and it’s adorable. ….Deeply flawed, but adorable.

In the Pit of the Fallen
Pandemonia’s Keep
Within the Necropolis
My Beloved shall sleep
Though I stand in sunlight
Here I am but a shell;
I make Hells of Heaven
And Heavens of Hell.
Any place with his presence
Is Utopia true:
Though the brimstone rain falls,
All the skies will be blue.

Oh wow, and holy crap, this one here is a really good sonnet. Too bad it’s not on-topic. And here’s a great story! Also not on-topic. Damn. I guess this means I have to write something.

*whiiiiiiiiine*

Here is a bad poem YOU’RE WELCOME

OK here is a (pretty bad lbh) poem I wrote based on a prompt that runs “a 45 year old music critic falls for a 17 year old piano player hailed as a prodigy”. I have no recollection from whence I nabbed the prompt. Probably it was from A Writer’s Book of Days.

Anyway.

~ * ~ * ~

And she was a prodigy

Long-fingered

Kind-hearted

Wiser and better than any I’d know

A pianist oddity

Such music!

Such talent!

Skilled and impassioned in blood and in bone

And God how I craved her

Dimples

Philosophies

Speaking for hours on Mozart and Brahms

My articles raved her

“Just sixteen!”

“A must-see!”

Singing her praises in writing and psalms

I loved her in agony

Decades

And lifetimes

Separate us – and God, why must this be?

Please grant me my sanity

Sweet angel

Sweet siren

Playing your hymns to your damned devotee

It’s all relative to the size of your steeple

I scribbled a something based on this tweet by WriteHandedGirl

~  *  ~  *  ~

A star

The black

A step

A breath

The Beautiful People are gathered tonight

A glance

A bow

The breeze

So sweet

The Beautiful People, so graceful, so bright

The silk

The wine

She turns

He smiles

The Beautiful People do not fear the dark

A step

A twirl

A touch

A kiss

The Beautiful People, so shocking, so stark

A step

A touch

A gasp

A cry

A fall

The night

The dark

The cold

The void

The black

The end

Tonight.

Taking Off the Pressure

I think it’s time to admit defeat.

As much as I want to tell myself it is, this year’s undoubted NaNo failure is not just down to fibromyalgia. That’s part of it – after two straight days unable to type with both hands, I felt like I was so far behind that every day’s writing felt like not just a chore but a failure when I didn’t manage to hit whatever I’d need to hit every day to make 50k by December 1st. That was a number, too, that kept getting bigger. The fatigue, of course, made it so much easier every day to just say “fuck it, that’ll do”.

I feel bad. I feel guilty. I’ve never “lost” before. In other ways, I have  to chalk this one up to experience; if I want to make 50 in 30 days with my changing circumstances, I have to alter the way I think about NaNo. I need to plan more, I need to set the time aside for writing and make sure I get that done instead of remembering at 1am and churning out a couple thousand words by 3. By 1am these days I am about ready to curl up and watch documentaries on Youtube for 4 hours while failing to fall asleep.

But I’m not going to stop writing. I only have about 13,000 words, which is why I doubt I’m going to make it, but on the other hand it’s true that that’s 13,000 words I didn’t have a few weeks ago. It’s a decent place to build from, and I’m going to keep working on this novel. I’m hoping I can keep the spirit of NaNo with me as I go. And next year, maybe it’ll be better for me to give Camp NaNoWriMo a try.

Sure, I’m disappointed. I’m also sort of happy to have made the decision not to worry about it. The pressure to make what must now be pushing 3k a day in wordcount is putting me in a not-great place emotionally. I just want to work on my novel without that pressure this year. We’ll see what happens next year… but this year I’m happy just to get 500 words written a day. And if it takes me until February to get to 50k, well, so be it.

This bloody challenge

Hello. I’m procrastinating from novel-writing, so. Hi. Here I am.

I keep getting the weird sensation of wanting to throw things across the room, but I don’t have anything really throw-able and the thing I have in front of me, essentially, is words, so I keep picturing myself throwing gigantic words in floating Times New Roman across the room. (I’m actually writing in Bookman Old Style. Go figure.)

My plot… isn’t. I still don’t really know what’s going on, or what the city the characters are exploring is really like. I want them to do things, but there’s nothing to do until they’ve explored, and I have very little idea of the culture of the place so I’m just letting them wander around and hoping they run into something interesting. I’m toying with the idea of a street-preacher to fill in some back-story, but I worry about falling into the old “telling not showing” crap.

On the bright side, I am now procrastinating from this blog post by novel-writing. I knew I should do this more often.

I am, however, two days behind, and that’s if I manage today’s wordcount, as I expect to. That perpetually unfriendly little gadget on the NaNoWriMo site tells me that if I keep going at this rate, I won’t finish until December 12. Thanks, buddy. On the other hand, there are some great pep-talks this year. My favourite of all time is the one by Neil Gaiman; I read it at other times of the year, too, if I need the encouragement. (Gosh, I talk about him a lot, don’t I?)

1000 words. Just 667 more to go. The Book Depository Sale starts in a few hours and I’m using it to keep me motivated: “If you don’t get your wordcount done, self, you cannot have any cheap books. Not, mind, that I need any new books. I just bought five recently – although one was a diary, and two were presents – and my “bought but haven’t read yet” pile is as big as ever. I have 34 at last count. Give or take. Still…. last time (or was it the time before?) I nabbed a great book of erotic photographs of men. $10, free postage. Totally worth the on-the-hour refreshing.

Non-literary note: I bought Peter Jefferies’ LP of The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World a month or so ago and it finally arrived! With an unexpected code for an MP3 download of the album! Choice. So that’s going to be my twisted, piano-slaying soundtrack for the rest of the month.

Let’s just take a moment, too, to celebrate that the “personnel” credits include one musician credited for “household objects” and another for “half-speed backwards vocal”. Spectacular.

 

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NaNoWriMo Approaches

Yes, once again, it is that time of year.

Last year is lost in a haze of anxiety. This year I am Medicated, so hopefully I will enjoy the NaNo experience a bit more. On the other hand, I’m all but crushed with fatigue, and I’ve barely looked through NaNo forums that aren’t hangouts. I don’t have a title, or a setting. My genre is hovering around “Victorian Cyberpunk”, all neon lights and neo-Gothic architecture, but whether that will count as sci-fi or adventure or what is beyond me. I have only the vaguest of ideas regarding the plot; some months ago I was gripped by an idea and scribbled out a chunk of notes in some notebook, but which one or where it is I couldn’t say.

Thankfully when it comes to characters I am quite happily set. I’m using the ones from last year.

No, don’t look at me like that! They were good characters. One of them had unclear gender identity! One was the quiet, secretly psychotic type! The only boring one was the main character and I promise she will be less boring this time! She’s going to roll her eyes and be a swashbuckling rebel! They were good characters, but the plot had no idea what it was doing with itself, and nor did I, more to the point. Fairly early on the characters got bored and stole an airship and then suddenly it was a fantasy novel in a subterranean land I didn’t like.

See, someone had posted something on twitter about the Liberian Civil War and I had misread it as Librarian Civil War which just sounded like the funniest thing in the world, but it turns out when you come up with reasons librarians might fight – like censorship – it becomes much less farcical. The whole thing was stupid. But there were some really good characters. So.

So. I’d like to put them in a setting they’d enjoy more. A plot they could really run with, about an oppressive government and an underground rebellion and a prince in disguise, even. (Oops, spoiler alert.) They’re energetic dreamers and I’d shut them in an asylum last time, when all most of them want to do is swing on a rope with a knife in their teeth. Except the psychopath who would rather sit quietly, and the soldier who has had rather enough of knives for one lifetime, but both of them can be convinced.

Thinking about it, my mind keeps drifting back to old NaNo novels – particularly the cyberpunk one, as there’s echoes of the same sort of thing here. I can barely remember those characters…. Kitten the transhumanist with her cybernetic tail. Arsenic the white-haired, strung-out drug addict. That was never going to end well. (It never ended at all, to be honest. I have notes, somewhere, about what I was going to do in the end. It got to 50k, sure enough, but it never ended. But he was lost halfway through the first paragraph, poor jittery mess that he was.)

I keep pausing while writing this blog post to scribble down some notes, and now my hands are covered in ink.

OK, admin-time: You will see to your left another possibility in the tip-jar section, Patreon. Feel free to check that out, or ignore it. I’ve also set up a photography blog to partner this one: Wormwood Hallows. It’s pretty bare at the moment but it won’t be that way for long.

 

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