Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won't do…

February 6, 2016

Back to the Island 3.4 – Every Man for Himself

Filed under: back to the island,reviewage — Tags: , , — lexifab @ 7:00 am

Bless me Internet, for I have committed the sin of allowing a blogging project to stall. It has been (nearly) a year since my last episode of Lost, and it was the better part of a half a year before that one.

By now you’ve all finished watching it, right?

Well, whatever, I think we’re beyond all understanding of why I’m doing these recaps, but it is still fun to go back once in a while and see what’s going on. I plan to persevere with the Back to the Island project, however intermittently I update it, if for no other reason than I have only ever watched the final season once. I really want to address my mixed feelings about it, but by now I think I can only really engage with it in terms of the rest of the series. Hence this painfully slow rewatch process.

But hooray, today we have one of my favourite episodes of Season Three, which is delightful even if nothing much actually happens.

* * *

Back to the Island 3.4 – Every Man for Himself

Quote: “Congratulations Ford. You just lied and cheated your way out of prison. You’re a free man.” – Warden Harris

Summary: Desmond begins to discover he has the ability to see impending disasters before they happen. The Others coerce Jack into committing acts of emergency surgery, and trick Sawyer into not escaping by telling him he’s got a bomb where his heart was. They say it more convincingly than that.

Best Part: Ben and the Others convince Sawyer that they have put a booby-trapped pacemaker in his chest so that if he gets too excitable his heart will explode. It’s plausibly implausible in exactly the same way that the best episodes of Leverage – another show about conman hijinks – always are.

Worst Part: Oh, and there it is – the first appearance of fucking Paulo. I mean, at this point he’s just another scruffy hunk playing golf on the beach, but soon he’ll be a hateful waste of half a season’s plot lines. Welcome to the party, Paulo! Here his scene is rescued by being mercifully brief and containing generous portions of dishy, mysteriously Scottish Desmond.

Books: Sawyer, imprisoned in the flashback, is reading Of Mice and Men. The bookage is not subtle in this one. In the terrific final scene, Sawyer thinks he’s being marched to his execution and quotes the rabbit-obsessed OM&M character Lennie. Ben reveals they conned him into cooperating: “Your heart’s not going to blow up James. The only thing we put inside you was doubt.” He twists the knife in, psychoanalysing Sawyer’s relationship with Kate with a two-fisted counter-quote from Of Mice and Men. Sawyer cops it right on his secret hidden sensitive side.

The mythology: Ben’s white rabbit has a number 8 stencilled on its back, which as a callback to prior Island mythology is only slightly more ostentatious than the fact that it is a white rabbit.

Summary: Plot-wise, this episode takes the tiniest step forward imaginable. In essence, Colleen dies of the gunshot wound that Sun gave her back on the boat (Jack, incidentally, loses another patient on the table, and if that’s not a prompt for a drinking game I don’t know what is) and her husband Danny is angry about it. Meanwhile, Desmond tries to be nonchalant about discovering hitherto-unmentioned psychic – or should I say “clairvoyant”? – powers. He saves Claire despite her crushing inability to take a hint.

Despite the miniscule forward momentum, this is one of my favourite episodes of the season. Nearly everyone gets at least one great scene, though Jack and Juliet downplay theirs so hard they might as well be acting in a trench. But Sawyer, Kate and Ben are all in fine form, scheming and emoting at each other. It’s a fine character piece that begins to shows us some of the more enduring chinks in hard-bitten-softie Sawyer’s considerable emotional armour. Some of Lost‘s main characters suffer badly from the show’s gimmick of regularly going back and expanding their back-story, but I don’t count Sawyer among them.

Also, Bill Duke as a menacing, emotionless prison Warden is just superb casting and a credit to everyone involved in the decision. I give this nine out of ten rabbits with an infinity symbol ominously painted on their backs.

February 1, 2016

Sneak peek

Filed under: news of the day,the interweb she provides,wombat,wordsmithery — Tags: — lexifab @ 2:17 pm

I am now less than a week away from my next overseas trip for week. I am rather less excited about this than I am anxious.

I might feel differently if I were more confident that the workshops I’ll be running will be valuable and interesting to the people being quietly coerced into attending them. As for me, I get unwanted but necessary public speaking practise, so at least one attendee stands to benefit.

Be that as it may, today is a bit of a personal milestone: the Wombat-child started her kindy year today. As of this morning, I have two children attending the same school at the same time! Up until now our morning commute often involved four stops and took almost exactly an hour with all the doubling back and forth. We might now be down to as little as fifteen minutes. The sheer convenience of only having one morning drop-off and afternoon pickup has barely begun to sink in. I might get back half an hour every morning, to do with as I please! Luxury!

(Yes, I am aware that the two issues above are classic examples of the first-worldiest of first world problems. I don’t have a hell of a lot going on right now!)

Both events mark transition points for me. (The summer holiday in the Hunter was another milestone along the same lines, but it already feels like the sadly distant past). I’ve been preparing for them for months in various ways. In a real sense, it’s not going to feel like 2016 has started until they are both done and out of the way.

All of this is a vast preamble to my point, which is that I am going to launch a new website: davidversace.com

It’s not quite ready for public consumption, but it’s 90% there. It’s a very basic site built around a WordPress frame, in keeping with my current web design, management and coding skills, but it has all the essential elements I believe I’ll need for a simple author web presence. Or platform, if you want to sound cutting-edge-but-last-year.

Before I go out to the big wide world – which is to say, before I post something on Facebook and Twitter and make some changes to my email signature block – I would really appreciate it if everyone reading this could take a look over there. If you see any problems, please leave a comment on this post to let me know. I’m especially keen to know if there are any useability issues, security problems or browser clashes. Even better if you happen to know a solution!

(Don’t leave a comment there yet, please. I’m going to replace the placeholder post with actual content before I go live, so any comments attached to that post will be deleted).

Things I already know about: no author photo, no content on the blog, and the mailing list signup works but does not (yet)  automatically post a “Welcome to my mailing list” message. Oh and I don’t know if the RSS feeds work, but I have no reason to suppose that they don’t. Do people even use RSS feeds any more (I mean, I do, but as you can see from the site my internet-savvy stalled out circa 2009).

Thanks!

January 24, 2016

What I did on my holidays – Summer 2015-16

I’ve been having one of those summer holidays that I will probably look back on in the future and think “That went well”.

Well, no I won’t, because I have a terrible memory for dates and what-happened-when. But in theory I could look back on it with something approaching a sense of accomplishment. I’m pretty happy with some of these highlights:

House renovations – We’ve now owned our fixer-upper house for over ten years. We’re still fixing it up, and in the forthcoming years\ we will be replacing all the flooring and at least one of the bathrooms. By comparison, painting a few patches of the vast unrenovated expanse of our external walls is a trivial enterprise. But it still feels good to have just about finished painting all of the parts of the house which are visible from the street. At least the place appears to casual passers-by to be occupied , and not at all like a drug den impounded by the cops and forgotten in an administrative bungle.

Bass guitar – My Xmas gift to myself was to buy a copy of the PC game Rocksmith 2014, which is a guitar tutorial program dressed up as a game. You jack a real electric guitar (or in my case my buddy Simon’s old bass guitar) into the computer to learn basic techniques, whole songs and tricky passages. So far I am reasonably accomplished at playing Def Leppard’s genuinely awful “Pour Some Sugar on Me” (no link provided). I’m working hard to beat that by mastering some song that would constitute an accomplishment to be proud of, like “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.

After about five weeks of fairly solid practice, I can report that I am (a) getting better but by no means good and (b) developing tough callouses on the fingers where before I had numbness and/or pain. Rock and roll stardom awaits! (as soon as I beat the tutorial on doing slide notes up and down the neck of the guitar. Those are hard). Anyway, Rocksmith gets my recommendation as well. Short of paying for lessons, it really does seem to be a very effective way to learn how to play guitar.

Songwriting – Continuing on the musical theme, I wrote some song lyrics for the first time in ages these holidays. It’s something I do on and off, just for something different. My lyrics tend to languish undeveloped unless I can convince Evan (my songwriting buddy and about the only personal I know with any real music skills) to work out an arrangement for them. This year I plan to take advantage of my slowly-growing mastery of bass and ukulele to teach myself basic song-writing. Don’t worry, I’m not going to inflict a YouTube channel on anyone – I still have both a terrible voice and prohibitive performance anxiety – but I’m a step closer to my goal of being able to write a whole song, not just the words.

Flash fiction – I wrote something! And finished it! I’m working on the Conflux 12 organising committee again this year. As part of the promotion for the con, the Chair will be sending out publicity in the not-too-distant future. I’ve written a story with my take on this year’s theme “Red Fire Monkey”, which will appear as part of the publicity report. For posterity’s sake, I will note that the story is a rare instance of me writing straight science fiction.

Holidays in the Hunter – Our family holiday this year included a bunch of families, staying at the delightful Lovedale Cottages in the Hunter Valley. Fifteen of us, including five kids and a three-month-old baby, snuggled up together in warm, cosy cottages as the Hunter was hammered with five days of torrential downpours that threatened to leave us trapped by rising flood waters. Fortunately the pool was indoors and heated, and in reality most of the really heavy rain was well away from us. Still, it was a bit of a wet holiday. I can recommend the Lovedale Cottages though – they have a tennis court, the aforementioned indoor pool, a golf course (!) and are very comfortably appointed in a distinctly rustic style. Especially great for big group holidays.

Granola! – Every time we travel, we inevitably end up eating breakfast at cafes once in a while. And when we do, I will automatically order one of two things (aside from coffee, which obviously goes without saying). Either I will get the eggs benedict, – because you can always judge the quality of a cafe by their attention to detail in hollandaise sauce and also because I love eggs benedict – or, if I feel as though I have been eating nothing but garbage over the course of the holiday I will pretend to be virtuous by ordering a granola with yoghurt and possibly some fruit or berries. It’s embarrassing really, but I excuse myself because neither is a meal I would make at home.

Which got me thinking, why not? And so I did the minimum possible research to discover that, in fact, granola is dreadfully simple to make. So I now have a personalised granola recipe, cobbled together from fifteen or so granola recipes I found on the internet. (This article in the Guardian about finding the perfect granola was the primary source – the beaten egg white trick seems to be the killer ingredient, although it does make my granola non-vegan, so your mileage may vary).Incidentally, my search for ingredients has taken me into a number of “natural foods” stores. If you see me in one, don’t worry: I don’t need a paleo intervention. I just need to be directed to the barley.

Anyway, the point being granola is delicious. Don’t skimp on the almonds and hazlenuts.

January 16, 2016

Near-future projects

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 7:32 pm

I don’t do New Years’ resolutions (except to get a cheap ironic laugh by breaking them in the same breath) and I’ve decided to hold off on setting myself some firm writing goals for 2016. I was so far off meeting them last year that it doesn’t really make sense to make long term project plans at this point.

Broadly, I’ll be editing the novel and writing as many short stories as I can, launching my new website, and learning a few new skills.

The short stories will take priority. After spending most of last year focused on the one big project, being A Flash of Black Wings (draft one), I am almost desperate to work on anything else for a while. Specifically I’d like to do something with the dozen or so “great” ideas that did their best to derail me whenever I got stuck on the novel. The only way to shut them up, however temporarily, was to chuck them in a notebook filed under “Laterz” and ignore them while I got on with the novel. But the moment the draft was done, they came sniffing around again. They smell weakness.

I’m not sure when I will go back to start work on editing the novel. Not until after I’ve returned from travelling for work in mid-February, at least. It needs a big block of time and unfamiliar brain-space. But I expect the next draft to take at least a few months of dedicated work, just to get it into the right shape that I’m willing to even show it to another human being. At the moment it has a very wobbly structure and the characters are formless voids floating in the vicinity of an incoherent plot. Some remedial work is necessary.

The new website is almost ready, except for a couple of technical bits and pieces that I need to figure out. One of the big items will be working out how to migrate the archives of this blog across to the new site. That will free this site’s host to close it up if he wants to stop paying for it. When I’ve solved all the technical bits I will of course post the new details.

The new site will be my “professional” site, inasmuch as it will be useful to have an author presence that I can separate from my personal life and my occasional moaning about word count. I intend to keep this blog going as a personal journal and place to post reviews, probably as a “hidden” page on the main site. If I can work out how to do it that way. I’ll let you know.

So this is my declaration of goals. In January, of which I have squandered almost half, I will:

  • finish the two stories I have in incomplete states: the one about the magic robots, and the one about the dogged magistrate and the murderous innkeepers. If there’s time, I will rewrite the one about the sinister newlyweds. That was a fun one, even if it didn’t quite work.
  • Launch the new website (with a complete lack of fanfare, but probably a little bit of content).
  • Resume a long-dormant and utterly undemanded review project.

This has all been very boring accountability stuff for myself. So I will also blog a what-I-did-on-my-holidays post, with pictures and stuff.

 

January 1, 2016

2015 – What have we learned?

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:34 am

Goodbye 2015. You were weird.

I started and finished a novel draft inside the year. Despite that accomplishment, I’m not feeling confident that I’ve leveled up as a novelist. I think I must have been expecting to gain some critical insight from the experience of producing this manuscript. I imagined myself figuring out how to write a novel, or at least getting a better understanding of how I write a novel.

Whatever I was expecting, I don’t think I got it. Or perhaps I just don’t have it yet. The editing phase is still to come. I think more than ever before, I’ll be leaning on the editorial process to help me figure out what I was writing about. I’m not especially looking forward to that part, so I can only assume it will be educational and character-building. It will certainly involve wholesale rewriting of between half and two-thirds of the novel.

I didn’t manage to write any new short stories, so I can’t say I learned much there either. I did read quite a few of them, which will be helpful, but it’s the doing that counts. My project for the next month or two will be to get all the ideas out that I’ve been stewing on while writing the novel.

I built a website – it’s coming soon, I swear – so I’m refreshing my atrophied web management muscles (less so the design muscles, but I never had those in the first place). I’m playing music again, which might actually lead up to composing songs. Who knows? That’s just for fun at this stage. I’ve resumed exercising. I’m feeling healthy, if not quite fit again.

And I’m about to go away on holidays, where I’ll be spending a week lounging about and chatting with some very good friends, playing with the kids and swimming and possibly indulging in a spot of tennis. While I’m there I’ll contemplate setting some goals for the year.

Not quite yet, though. First I’m going to drink this G&T and listen to “Disintegration” by The Cure.

Happy 2016, folks.

December 22, 2015

The year in narrow, blinkered retrospect

It’s been a big year for all sorts of stuff, but I’m not going to go into it. Instead, this is my obligatory look back at the goals I set at the start of the year. How did I go and what does that suggest for the future?

Short stories

The promise: I said I was going to maintain my stock of short stories available for submission at a steady level of ten, writing a new one whenever I took one out of circulation through either an acceptance or by retiring a story that had exhausted every viable market.

The reality: Definitively a failure in terms of productivity. In fact after writing my goals in February I did not finish a single short story all year, though I tinkered with a story (crappy working title “Unacceptable Losses”) all year and have left it floundering with probably about three hundred words to go for months now. In theory I could finish it tonight. I probably won’t though.

My stock of available stories went down thanks to three acceptances during the year. None of them have come out yet, though I was able to announce that “Seven Excerpts from Season One” will appear in the At the Edge anthology from Paper Road Press next year.

Acceptances are delightful, of course (all were paying markets) and absolutely what I’m striving for, but I did feel I let myself down a bit by not sticking to the plan of writing new material.

Oh, and I did recently receive notification that I placed highly (a “silver highly commended”) in the most recent round of the Writers of the Future contest. Which is not my best ever result but is still in the front-of-the-peloton zone.

silverhmbadge

Novel

The promise: Write a complete 80,000 word manuscript by the end of July without becoming a gibbering wreck.

The reality: Well, the July deadline came and went without great fanfare. Moreover as at the time of writing I have neither finished the manuscript nor reached the 80,000 word mark. But as I have about 500 words to get to the latter and maybe as little as two thousand words to wrap the whole thing up, I’m going to call this a mismatch between realistic scheduling and sustainable momentum rather than an outright failure. As I am now on holidays for a month, I predict I will at least get this one over the line before the end of 2016. Win!

(And is it any good? Well, no, it’s pretty rambly and largely incoherent. I have a mass of notes on what to fix, and it’s a good bet that the editing process will take at least as long as the first draft did, if not much, much longer. But it’s still nice to be within arm’s reach of the first critical milestone).

Community activity

The promise: Be a good treasurer, write a treasurer manual

The reality: Well, the manual is not finished yet and could do with a bit of dedicated attention for a couple of days, but on the whole I have acquitted myself well in this regard. I’ve been a committee member who gets shit done, and the books all balanced at the end of the year. I don’t tend to be a natural organiser or leader, and basically I find trying to get people to do things or get one the same page as each among the most demanding and draining activities I can imagine. But I can make a spreadsheet make sense, and I can make things happen in the background as long I don’t have to wrangle more than one or two people, so I’ll take this one as an accomplishment.

All the same, I will probably retire from my post at the next AGM, because I will feel I’ve done my bit at that time. Ditto with helping on the Conflux organising committee.

Blogging

The promise: Build a new author website so that I can phase this one out.

The reality: This is 90% done. I haven’t launched it yet, but it is live. Feel free to go look for it (it’s not that hard) but if you do happen to stumble across it, don’t bother subscribing to anything. I’m procrastinating on setting up mail accounts and the newsletter software. It will probably happen in the next couple of weeks.  (It’s not remotely fancy BTW. It’s a functional site with boring author information that I can point potential publishers and clients to if necessary). I haven’t yet sat down to work out a clear plan for what to do with the site beyond that, but it will probably revolve around building on my friendships within the writing community. Hit me up if you’re doing a blog tour, I guess.

The other stuff

Collaboration: Did not happen. The novel ate my year completely. I’m still toying with various ideas for projects but this is one area that would demand focus and attention. At the moment I just can’t even make that sort of promise to myself, so it would hardly be fair to drag someone else down.

Serialised fiction: I made a few plans and outlined some projects that would suit a serialised format, but again, haven’t kicked any of them off yet. There’s one in particular that’s burning a hole in the back of my skull, but it will certainly have to take a back seat to all the short stories I’ve spent the year thinking about but not writing.

Shared world: No. Sensing a theme here? Though in fact I am contemplating ideas for contributing to an existing shared world. Nothing has gelled yet on that, but my contribution would just be a short story or two.

Comic script: See collaboration above.

 

That list doesn’t make for pretty reading, but I’m probably being too harsh on myself. This nearly-done draft novel has taken about nine months, which is an improvement over the thirteen months (twice over) that my previous novel attempt sucked up. Pre-plotting has certainly sped up that process, although one of the many lessons I’ve learned about that is that I could certainly stand to do more preparation next time. I’m reluctantly forced to admit that I am a better writer when I have a clear picture of what I’m going to write, and I suspect that a scene-by-scene breakdown would not go at all astray the next time I try this.

I’ll do a proper “Goals for 2016” post at some point in the near future, but I already know I have a couple of clear goals: write a bunch of short stories, edit the novel, and plan its sequels. In the margins I think I’ll build on one of my serial fiction ideas as the fun side project, but I’m cautious about holding myself to any kind of target on that. This writing biz seems to take a lot more time than I ever think it’s going to.

 

Right. I have a icy cup of creaming soda, a Pandora station tuned to 80’s alternative rock, and five thousand words or so to write in the next nine days.

I can do this.

December 14, 2015

The end of the year

Filed under: fitter/happier,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 4:39 pm

Bloody hell, it’s the middle of December already?

The last few weeks have been outstanding examples of that weird time distortion effect where you have million things to do, and you’re always busy doing them, but the holidays still haven’t arrived yet and when oh god when are you even going to get to slow down and relax?

Maybe that’s just me. Probably not though. I’m seeing a lot of weary-stressed faces around the place.

End of year anxiety is a real thing for me and I guess probably most people. I’m one of those people who measure their lives by the next holiday, or afternoon off, or commitment-free weekend. I don’t lose myself in my day job (I barely comprehend what that would even be like for people whose day job is not “hang out at the waterslide” or “read all these books and tell us when you would like a cup of tea”), so breaks away from the office are much-coveted preciouses which the filthy hobbitses can pry from my cold dead hands.

This year, happily, the anxiety in question is just expressing itself as being really bloody tired all the time, which is inconvenient but a hell of a lot better than being a grumpy stress-head. Where it does hurt is in rebuilding my writing habits. It’s pretty hard to get much momentum if you sit down to write at 8 pm (when the kids go to bed) and you’re nodding off by 9.

Still, my efforts to get something new on paper every day are paying dividends – I’m feeling my way back into the novel, I’m starting to find it easier to figure out what I have to write next, and I’m getting a clearer picture of the (revised) ending I’m working towards. I don’t know why it surprises me every time, but it turns out that the more time I spend thinking about a problem, the clearer the solution tends to become.

So for the next two weeks, my goal is to get the novel draft across the line. I have a nominal word count target of 85,000 words, and I’m somewhere about the 78,000 mark right now. So it’s very achievable, with a bit of concerted effort (especially since it matters less that I make the target than that I get to a point I can attached the words “The End” to).

This is also the time of the year to look back over the goals I set for myself (not to mention the revised ones) and see how I went – what was too ambitious, what was not ambitious enough, and where I lost focus or should never have tried to focus in the first place. I’ll get to that in a couple of weeks, I think, after I wrap up the day job for the year and get through the seasonal festivities (and the first day or so of the Boxing Day cricket test, not that it promises to be a very exciting one).

Season’s greetings, folks.

December 7, 2015

The building of habits

I write best when I write frequently.  I’ve figured that much out about my process [1].

The last few months writing have been like extracting hen’s teeth from an angry wolverine – painful and pointless. I’ve committed maybe a couple of thousand words of new text to paper in about four months. It’s been my longest fallow period since I started taking writing seriously again. (Not, I might add, my longest fallow period ever, for which see the years 1990 to 2002 or so). Certainly it was flat compared to the preceding 18 months though.

The difference was, I let myself have days off from writing – days that turned into weeks and months and would probably have lapsed into years if I didn’t do something. And luckily something came along that helped: a few weeks ago I read this article by Mary Robinette Kowal linking writer’s block to depression. Go read it, it’s a good article.

Now don’t get me wrong – I didn’t and don’t think I was suffering from depression. I am pretty sure I know what that feels like, thanks to several years of undiagnosed sleep apnoea and a sleep debt that could have put a fair-sized dent in a herd of elephants. Maybe I was a clinical case and maybe I wasn’t, but I got a clear enough glimpse of the real thing to know its general shape. But the article did give me a none-too-gentle slap across the face, woke me up and made me ask myself: “Is there something wrong?”

Even though I wasn’t writing much if at all, the idea that I had writer’s block never quite occurred to me until I read the article. And yet MKR’s list of typical expressions of writer’s block – the tiredness, the procrastination, the busywork and the general faffing about – were a straight checklist of all the avoidance behaviours I’ve been steadily accumulating since I stopped writing. That was back around the start of August.

I realised the obvious at once, which is that I had lost all momentum. I need momentum as a writer. I need to feel like I’m building steadily, getting faster and sharper and…you get the idea. When I don’t have that momentum, the gravity’s a killer. When I have to pick myself up and get going after coming to a dead stop, I feel like Jon Snow at the foot of the Wall, wondering how in the hell I’m going to get over the top, knowing there’s an army of ice zombies at my back.

I may have carried that analogy too far. Or maybe not far enough. It’s more like I’m the ice zombie, but in that case I’m not sure how to work the Wall into this and anyway never mind that right now.

MKR’s article also included several elements of what I hope will be the solution to freezing up mid-shamble (Stop that!)

First – Mary’s article mentions Habitica, a very basic roleplaying web app that effectively gamifies habit-building behaviour. Down at its core, Habitica’s core gameplay is building checklists and then ticking things off. Boring and artificial as that sounds – and is! – it’s an idea that works very well for me. I’m someone that responds strongly to making lists of things to do and then methodically ticking them off. To put it another way, an unfinished list of even trivial importance is a source of anxiety to me. So a game that rewards me for checking stuff off and sits there glowing judgmentally redly when I don’t is an embarrassingly effective brain hacking tool.

As a bonus, slavish adherence to checklists also encourages me to make sure I get all the other work around the house done as fast as possible.

Second – I’m back to exercising. I have a fairly light workout routine that mostly works the abdominal core. It only takes a few minutes and I can easily do it a couple of times a day. Supplemented with walks of thirty-plus minutes, which I manage a few times a week, I have a decent basis for at least building a bit of strength and endurance, if not necessarily shedding the winter kilos. It’s a tone-up, not a crash course in muscle building and cardio bullshit. Keeping it tight.

Third – At my height, I was writing 750 or more words per day. When I stopped, that dropped to not much more than a couple of hundred words on the few days I could manage anything at all. In the months when I was blocked, I would berate myself for not coming even close to what I knew to be an achievable target. But what I’d forgotten is that it took me months of gradually acceleration to get to that pace. It was deeply unrealistic of me to expect that I could just tool up to top speed without starting in first gear again. I’d stall, and be surprised and disappointed in myself, instead of acknowledging that stalling is the only outcome I should have expected.

So I’m giving myself a break – 100 words a day. I know that as I ease myself back into the habit of daily writing, I’ll start cranking out more. But I’ll start with the consistency, because I know that it works for me.

Fourth – I’m playing musical instruments. I have access to ukuleles and a bass guitar. I’m teaching myself how to play them using fingering charts and Youtube videos. It’s surprisingly fulfilling, even if my fingers hurt very much at the moment.

So that’s me. That’s my summer planned out. I’m getting my words back, I’m going to finish this damn first draft of the novel, and I’m going to replenish my short story stocks. And I’m going to be able to play along to the Gorillaz’ “Feelgood Inc”, even if it costs me a finger or two.

 

[1] I promise not to describe it as a process again, at least not until I finish my MFA and the lobotomy bandages have been removed.

November 17, 2015

Bogong moths

Filed under: fitter/happier,news of the day — Tags: — lexifab @ 1:15 pm

A few minutes ago I took a second glance out at the leaves blowing past the lunchroom window and realised that what the air was really full of was bogong moths. Every spring they migrate in vast numbers south along the ranges and back to the Southern Alps. Their flight path takes them straight through Canberra, where they spend a couple of days flitting about national monuments and banging into lights, along with their more regrettable habits of splatting into windscreens and getting devoured in vast numbers by all the fruit bats living in Commonwealth Park.

They are Canberra’s equivalent of the first swallows of spring or that groundhog in Pennsylvania, marking a moment in the turn of the year that you could set a watch by. (It wouldn’t be a very reliable watch, but good enough if you’re in a position of having to depend on natural cues for your timekeeping).

Everything feels very transitory for me at the moment. A brief period of marking time and gathering strength for the next big push. I’m getting ready to dive back into heavy writing. I’m looking forward to doing a lot of house painting and other renovation work. I’m starting to get back into a regular exercise routine.

No doubt part of it is just down to the turn of the weather. I don’t complain much about how cold Canberra gets in the winter (which generally last until at least September) but on the other hand I don’t defiantly rage against its chill embrace by taking long runs in the frozen hours either. As a result I’ve gained weight over the winter – probably in the order of five or six kilos, though I don’t track it closely enough to know for sure. Coming into spring, I’ve been lethargic, uninspired and able to plumb unfathomable depth of procrastination towards just about everything. I think I’ve also been a bit sick, though not with anything acute enough to prompt a visit to the doctor.

Everyone else in the house has had at least one bout of colds, flu or worse (this winter/spring season has including one dose of whooping cough and a perforated eardrum amongst several maladies) and while I think I dodged the worse of it, I’ve definitely been run down to the point of near-complete apathy.

Either way, I can feel myself coming through it now. Summer holidays are coming up. The days are warmer. There’s cricket on the telly. Energy levels are on the rise again. The ideas are starting to flow.

Time to get flapping.

November 9, 2015

Suffering from acute ennui

Filed under: Uncategorized — lexifab @ 2:46 pm

Please send motivation. Stat.

#yesicouldhavetweetedthiswhatisyourpoint

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