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

February 16, 2012

Peer group. No pressure.

Filed under: wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:30 pm

I am not a creature inclined by natural disposition to seek out new social situations.

Let me rephrase – I seriously hate meeting new people. Ordinarily I would stress this point with some mild exaggeration in the direction of the crippling terror that overcomes me any time I am cornered into blind socialisation. But as several acquaintances with real anxiety disorders have demonstrated to me, I just suffer from the mild discomfort of the introvert and should therefore refrain from hyperbole. (In  other words: social phobias are real and you don’t have one, so harden the fuck up, shy boy).

It did occur to me, as I contemplated whether to summon up the nerve to go along and see what the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild was all about, that the above complaint might not be completely unfamiliar in writing circles. Writing’s an inherently lonely activity – I am all by myself as I type this, without even the traditional dram of scotch to smooth away the rough-edged emptiness – so could it be that in the kingdom of the painfully introverted, a mere social awkward like myself would be considered a king!?

The answer, if you have not already decided for youself, turns out to be an unsurprising no. Not a king. Not a queen either. Probably not a face card of any kind. Not an ace either, as if you were thinking that way.

I decided that, short of instant deification, I could probably cope as long as I wasn’t heckled, viciously assaulted with unbound manuscripts or asked what my novel is about. So I went.

Sure enough, it was a meeting full of people I don’t know. But then I suddenly remembered that I go to meetings with people I don’t know most days of the week at work. It never bothers me there. Five minutes later I had pretty much forgotten whatever it was I was afraid of – regicide, maybe – and just had a good time. Even when the inevitable “Tell us who you are and what you’re writing at the moment” icebreaker came around, I cheerfully gave them my name and explained that it was my first day. That held them. For now.

It helped that I had some support. Fi’s uncle Rob has been a member in good standing for a bit over a year now. The jammy bastard started going to the short story critiquing group and won a bloody competition with his first story. It was, I have to admit, a cracker of a yarn. He convinced me over Xmas lunch that I should go along. As if that wasn’t enough hand holding, Kaaron Warren also went along, so I did indeed get a chance to meet her in person. She was lovely, of course, as so many writers of exceptionally creepy work are. I think that she probably doesn’t attend often, so I was particularly grateful that she made an exception this time.

And it’s a writer’s group, so for the most part they talked about things in which I am very interested right now. Like critiquing groups, shared anthologies, calls for submissions, conventions, signing tours and suchlike. There was discussion of writers’ retreats, of who’s been offered contracts, of doing tours of robotics labs and haunted towns. It was pretty cool. Fi’s uncle Rob, a nuclear physicist (if I understand correctly), did a talk on using the weirder elements of real astrophysics in fantasy as well as science fiction. Everyone chatted about nuclear pulse propulsion and generation ships and Uranus’ funny orbit.

They have a novel writing support group, which I’m going to go along to. It’s helpful to sit here and blogplain (a word I just made up to describe the entire internet, eight  years ago) about how progress is slow and how my characters are undermotivated and blah blah blah. I expect it will also be useful to supplement my theoretical pontification online with having to go to someone’s house, look several strangers in the eye and try to bluff my way through an analysis of my central them. I’m hoping they give me some good hints, because I have no idea what my central theme is yet.

Anyway, it must have been good because I want to go again. Shyness and all.


  1. …how my characters are undermotivated…

    Following on from your Weird Al post, how about “Argh! Get these weasels off my face!” for a motivation?

    …analysis of my central them…

    I love this typo! I think otherising your inner conflicts is, probably, the road to madness, but I can see the attraction. 🙂

    If I could ask you a favour, could you ask your writer’s group what they think of my rule #7? It’s the only I’m not 100% sure is sound.

    Comment by The Once and Future Dr Clam — February 17, 2012 @ 8:06 am

  2. Glad you came along! It was a fun meeting and Rob gave an excellent talk, I thought.

    Comment by Kaaron Warren — February 17, 2012 @ 9:01 am

  3. …central them…

    Yeah, well, actually, a preponderance of “main” characters *is* one of the problems with the manuscript as it stands. A few too many of them can lay claim to the dubious distinction of protagonism. In fact the character I thought of as the protagonist is among the least motivated of the bunch. So (cough) the typo speaks truth.

    I’ll definitely cite you if the differential equation thing comes up. I did meet at least one guy at the meeting who seems like he might commit acts of gratuitous calculus in the middle of a narrative. (That’s not a joke, by the way. That is really how he seemed. It was…unexpected).

    Comment by lexifab — February 17, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

  4. Hi again Kaaron. I did have a good time, despite my (only slightly exaggerated) nerves. That talk was excellent, wasn’t it. I can’t believe I didn’t know what rogue planets were all about, and I had never even heard of the Interplanetary Transport Network (which was kind of mindblowing). Very useful. I’m rather keen to hear the second part of the talk.

    I’m having dinner with Rob’s family tomorrow night. I’m planning to put the screws on to make he goes through with Part 2…

    Comment by lexifab — February 18, 2012 @ 12:32 am

  5. Yes, make sure he does! I don’t think I’ll go to the next meeting, but Rob’s already put his name down to do a reading, so it’ll be worth it for that alone!

    Comment by Kaaron Warren — February 22, 2012 @ 10:10 am

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