I’m so mad at myself! I have a nice, professional-ish, writery website on which to post things and I’m hardly ever posting my work. Every time I have an idea, it ends up being more novelly than something that could be a short piece of prose or a poem. I really have to just like… get out there, and start just making notes, so I can turn those notes into something…. not notes.

Seriously, I was going through my old notebook tonight looking for something to spark the imagination, found a short scrap of prose, started going through it to turn it into something sharper and realised I just loved the setting and the character and I wanted to do something with them. I named the character, realised there could be a mystery, a plot with smugglers and murders and caves filled with treasure and everything while Plucky 1940s Novelist sallies forth to put it all to rights. Doesn’t that just sound all Agatha Christie!

But I’m still left with next to nothing to post on my site. I wrote a poem the other night, actually, but I liked it so much I went and submitted it to a poetry magazine instead, and I won’t hear back probably for 3 months so that’s that for that piece for a while. And novels are great but it doesn’t leave me with much to post.

I don’t suppose it matters overmuch as I don’t have any patreon subscribers anyway. But whatever, point is, I need to write moar, work harder, etc. Write things people will really want to support. Magically become a world-renowned rich writer person who does signing tours and stuff.

Now I am going to go to bed and read Gormenghast. Goodnight folks!

I’ve been reading the Gotham Writers’ Workshop guide to Writing Fiction (while sending a Sim through a degree in fine arts, and feeling faintly jealous). It’s very good! I’m not too far into it but I love the conversational tone and the exercises and so forth. I’m reading with a highlighter by my side, highlighting passages I love.

 

“I’d needed to write all those go-nowhere scenes – to see how my character acted in a variety of situations, and above all to see what they were like when they had the leisure to quietly be themselves.”

 

It really corresponds to the way I feel about writing. (And look! A writing instructor used an adverb! Take that, haters of adverbs.)

I really need this right now. I have ideas but nothing that wants to get down on paper. Plus I have that little handful of adventurers from 2012′s NaNo who are wonderful and really need something proper to do. I just can’t seem to find the right setting to give to them. I love this little crew, and it makes me sad that I can’t give them the story they deserve, or a world to live in.

I’ve had this book on my shelf for years, but I’ve never seriously picked it up to read through it and complete its exercises. I think this is about time to do it. The first exercise is to make a solid schedule of writing, every day, at least 5 hours a week. The first starts tomorrow and will I be able to wake up in time for the 11:30 start I have set for myself? We’ll have to see.

Ugh, I’m so tired. I feel like I haven’t written, or read, anything in ages. My days are disappearing on me like…. well, like sands through the hourglass. *cough* How does all this time get wasted? How do all my goals evaporate? How do I find myself, every Sunday, with a list of tasks not yet completed?

This week has been particularly dreadful. Part of it is that I’ve been sleeping so late. Every day it seems I’m lying awake until 7am and then sleeping 9-10 hours. I’ve become almost entirely nocturnal. Which I’m fine with in theory but it means I get so little done during the day, as I always try to get in bed by around 3-4am to try to get to sleep. I waste more than half my day either sleeping or trying to. It’s ridiculous. I’m exhausted, foggy-headed and completely unable to focus on being creative. It’s nearly 10pm and I want to go to sleep. Hell, maybe it would work.

For some reason I feel creatively electrified by the early morning. Something about the cool sharpness at that time of day. I want to look out to see with a steaming cup of coffee for 15 minutes and then sit down at my laptop and get something productive done. I always feel like I could be so productive if I got up early. And I like the early morning! I like being up early. It’s the getting up I find difficult. I really need my 8 hours sleep nowadays, and I find the act of falling asleep so difficult that I always end up getting up early in the afternoon instead.

It doesn’t help that my allergies have been so bad this last month. I don’t know what it is! My first thought is animal hair; Sam the cat and Rocco the dog have long winter coats that might be getting up my nose. Maybe it’s some sort of mould? Anyway it just makes me want to make gross sounds and drink water constantly, instead of going out for runs or writing things like a PRODUCTIVE PERSON. I mean I want to make MONEY from writing, so I have to do it more bloody often. Not to mention reading. I’m partway through Clash of Kings and halfway through Gormenghast and I haven’t read either of them in ages. But they’re both really good!

C’mon, self, get your shit together!

the process

Spent the last…. hour and a half writing a bit of prose. It’s 220 words long. And I am exhausted.

You are probably aware, oh readers, how this sort of thing goes. You do the actual writing in ten minutes. But another fifteen is spent with a thesaurus because there’s a word you want to use hovering at the edge of your consciousness, just out of reach, and you know you want to use that specific word so you’re going to find it come hell or high water… and also because you just noticed you used the same word twice in one paragraph and that won’t do at ALL! You expend a large amount of energy whether you’re searching or spewing your words out. The big OOMPH of creativity.

And then you transcribe it. Or I do, anyway; I write most of my short prose longhand and then edit as I transcribe it into a word processor. I snip out bits sometimes, but usually this is when I expand on those original ideas as I go. I flesh things out, split sentences in two, break paragraphs up as ideas become larger. Often as I go, I’ll know a paragraph needs work but my mind is already working on the next one, so I’ll set it aside and come back to it after I’m finished transcribing.

After that I read through and start pruning. Every sentence gets re-arranged, snipped, pared down. A word is added or cut away to increase the aesthetic appeal of the sentence or the paragraph. This is when the most time gets spent chewing one’s nails and dithering over word choices, but I like this part. I like taking the mess and refining it and refining it until it’s good. I end up going over it a few times in this stage.

And then you go over it again. This part is not quite so enjoyable because this time it’s those bits and pieces you skipped over as being generally OK. Now you have to decide whether or not you’re keeping that word that seemed ever-s0-slightly awkward. You remove it, examine the sentence, replace it, examine it again. And again. Chances are whatever you decide on, you won’t be entirely happy.

At which point you have to decide what you’re going to do with it. You could put it aside and come back to it later, which is the wise approach. You could decide it is Good and put it in the Good Pile, or that it is Bad and put it in the Bad Pile, or that it is Generally OK, Maybe I’ll Work On It More Later and put it in the…. corresponding pile. Or you could throw up your hands and say “fuck it” and shove it on your website, which is the option I have just taken because I am a fool.

But an exhausted fool who has just made something she likes, so nyer nyer.

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.

wpid-20140122180924158.jpg

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

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