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

March 27, 2013

I didn’t know you were missing

Filed under: administraviata,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 7:43 am

In answer to the question that nobody has proposed or probably even entertained, I have been knuckling down on Ms Cole’s Arrangements for the past few weeks. It’s a cold hard slog down in the word-mines. Output is slow, self-imposed deadlines loom and self-doubt nips at the heels like a murderous pack of rabid foxes. There’s not much time in the schedule for diversions, at this point.

To coin a catch-phrase almost guaranteed to enjoy universal adoption, blogging is the first casualty of authorial diligence.

I need to have a working manuscript by July for the critiquing group. I’m aiming to have it finished well before then so that I can revise the earlier chapters, which contain various contradictions and bits where I’ve just put some lazy marker like [insert character description here] into the text. If I have to, I’ll go to the crit circle with a raw draft, but I’d consider it more polite if I at least fix up the obvious errors. For that matter, if I don’t fix the glaring stuff, there’s a chance that the simple mistakes will distract people from detecting the really egregious (logical, structural, character) flaws. From what I’ve seen my group is quite diligent at calling out the deep-seated problems – I have certainly tried to be for my own part – but there’s no call to make it any harder than it already is.

Anyway, things are going to be quiet for a while, at least until I feel like I’m getting ahead of my goals. At the moment I am optimistic that will happen sometime before July.

Oh, and while I am making excuses for a lack of blog productivity, there was that whole thing a couple of weeks ago where the site vanished for several days. (I think maybe two people noticed). At first there was a thought that it was Ukrainian hackerz, but actually it was just miscommunicated security advice from the ISP and whatnot. Nothing to worry about. Your comments are safe.

March 12, 2013

Epic of the Hedgefence

Canberra just had a three-day weekend. Instead of celebrating our fair national capital’s graduation from nappies to undies (which is about where I would put the first centenary in the life-cycle of a city), the family hit the front yard for some landscaping. Although come to think of it, I guess contributing to the beautification of the city is more than I’ve put back into Canberra’s cultural character in a while. So let’s call it three days of intense, exhausting participation in the social fabric where I swung a pick, dug a lot of stuff and barely spoke to anyone.

We’ve already done several weekends worth of prep work but there was still a lot to get through, digging about eight meters of trenches, flattening out some grassy mounds, planting and digging in two dozen pot plants, burying a soaker hose for irrigation and mulching it in. On Saturday night I was so sore around the shoulders and chest that I couldn’t breathe deeply. Still awake at two in the morning with spasms radiating from the centre of my chest outwards, I confess to harbouring the slight suspicion that I might have overdone it and given myself some sort of heart condition. (Why it is that my brain will always go straight to health crises and existential doom scenarios when it is overtired and sick of pain but it never thinks to pop some bloody paracetamol is a question for the ages…)

But it was worth it, right? We now have a hedge of Viburnum something-or-other forming an aesthetically pleasing barrier between us and the passing world. Which, you know, seeing as we are largely housebound introverts, it will suit us fine. At least, it will in about three to five years, when the hedge has grown sufficiently to form a proper screen and has achieved sufficient density to prevent, say, a ball from bouncing into the street.

It currently looks like a sparse square of shrubs surrounding a mildly uneven mound of bare dirt which might one day become lawn. It’s a vast improvement over the random jumble of rocks, lattice walls overgrown with savage roses, thick masses of ivy, ground flowers and unmowable grass clumps and inexplicable pottery shard that were there before the scourge of the bobcat.

There’s more to do: another row of planting along the front wall; cleaning up and levelling the parts that will eventually be grassed; groundcover and secondary planting in various patches. And then after all that, we’ll be going through the whole thing again with the (much larger) back yard. There’s trees to be removed, terraced steps to install, garden beds to raise, sheds to demolish… Ugh. I have a suspicion that it may, in fact, never end.

This gardening lark is starting to look like a bit of a trap.

Send help. BYO sturdy gloves.

March 6, 2013

Podcasts

In the absence of particularly positive or useful things to say about my writing month (hoo boy), I’m going to do some quick shout-outs to the podcasts I’ve been listening to lately. I’ve already spoken of my abiding love for the world’s most dangerous comics and pop culture podcast, War Rocket Ajax, the amiable rambling of the Coode Street podcast that range far and wide over the speculative scene and the sublimely delightful feminist Aussie spec-fic chat show, Galactic Suburbia. Those are all still regular, much-anticipated items in my podfeed. Here are some of the other things keeping me sane while I clean up the front yard with a mattock, a shovel and a desperate awareness of my own physical limits…

Doctor Who: As all persons of wit and discernment are aware, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the greatest television program ever devised. No, not bloody Landline, I mean Doctor Who. I’m managing to indulge in a reasonable amount of Who fandom at the moment without actually watching any episodes. For one, I’ve just ravenously devoured the first two volumes -covering the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton eras – of Philip Sandifer’s collected essays on the program, compiled from his epic blog TARDIS Eruditorum. They’re great, offering in particular an insightful perspective on rewatching the program with modern sensibilities. I’ll probably do a proper review at some point, but hey, I recommend them if you’re interested in what was happening when the show started out.

Meanwhile, the Splendid Chaps podcast is celebrating the anniversary year by producing a monthly podcast, starting in January, which covers each of the eleven Doctors and will culminate in a final episode to be broadcast on 23 November. This is a really fun show, not least because the presenters, John Richards and Ben McKenzie, are the creator of Outland and a successful stage comedian respectively as well as being dedicated Who nerds. Episodes are recorded in front of an audience, the guests are smart, thoughtful and funny, there’s a chirpy and witty MC voiceover from Melbourne singer/actress Petra Elliott, and there’s (so far) a ribald fan song at the end of the episode [1]. Splendid Chaps is great fun. Oh, and they assign homework, recommending episodes to watch in preparation for the next themed episode.

Verity! is another Doctor Who podcast, with an all-woman panel. Six of them, in fact – including Galactic Suburbia’s own Tansy Rayner Roberts – though generally only four or so will feature on any given episode. It’s a round-table format, as you would expect, full of gleeful squeeing and thoughtful chat about all things Doctorish. What’s most entertaining and distinctive about Verity is the range of fan experiences and views represented (Old series! New series! Shipping! No snogging in the TARDIS! Trad vs Rad! Frocks vs Guns!) and the fact that in every discussion there’s at least one dissenting voice who completely disagrees with everyone else. Not only does it avoid becoming a pontificating echo chamber but it also makes for an excellent representation of Who fandom in general. And I do love my Who fandom when it takes a fierce delight in the show.

Writing: Another fat chunk of my listening time, goes to following podcasts featuring writers talking about writing. Shut up, that’s often much more interesting than it sounds!

ThrillerCast is a show ostensibly about thriller and genre fiction that in practise often goes off on interesting and sometimes gossipy tangents about writing and topics affecting writers and readers in general – which publisher is going under this week or Amazon’s latest atrocities or some author’s foot-in-mouth/social media-fail moment. Neither presenter – American David Wood and Australian Alax Baxter (who is local to this area and is a member of the CSfG, not to mention a lovely bloke) – is a worldwide international phenomenon, but they are both working writers with solid followings and a heavy investment in knowing which way the winds are blowing in the publishing world. They know their stuff, in other words, and if the business of writing is of any of interest to you – even if the presenters’ particular fields are not to your tastes – then I recommend ThrillerCast.

Nerdist Writers Panel. This is a fantastic panel show hosted by Ben “I’ve written for the series Supernatural and Supah Ninjas” Blacker. Every week, he assembles a power lineup of LA script writers (typically ones working in television, but it varies) and grills them about the business, their influences, their daily writing routines and their careers. Once in a while he breaks up the formula and speaks to comic writers as well (Ed Brubaker, Len Wein, Erik Larsen and Robert Kirkman have all been on in the past few months). Blacker is a great interviewer whose easy rapport with his guests overcomes any introvert tendencies they may have (as a few do, but fewer than you’d probably expect). No doubt it helps if you have at least a passing interest in the conventions and production of US television (or films, or comics, or off-Broadway plays sometimes) but the broad discussions are fascinating and, for me as a writer, very useful.

[1] I didn’t care for the song at the end of the first episode, but the one for the Troughton episode more than made up for it.

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