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

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.

October 17, 2012

MRP Day 16 – Celebrating the successes of others

Filed under: friends,the month of relentless positivity,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 3:45 pm

Last night I received an email letting me know that one of my stories currently out for submission has made it through to the second round of reading. Which I have interpreted, perhaps naively, as meaning that someone didn’t automatically think that it sucked. Now I am certainly not getting ahead of myself – this particular story has already been rejected by a couple of other publishers – but it does put me in mind of the fact that sometimes things do go your way. The stars align, hard work and good luck pay off and someone backs up a truckload of cash and awards in acknowledgment of your genius [1].

In lieu of something of my own to celebrate, though, I can take great pleasure in the success of others. Today is a case in point – my homeys of the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild entered a team in the 2012 Write-a-book-in-a-day fundraiser back in July or so. [2] The goal was to write, illustrate, print and bind an entire book in a single 12 hour period. Their tale – Cover Story – is a twisty, black-humoured tale of creepy sympathetic magic and zookeeping, pitched at more or less the young adult reader (or perhaps younger teens).

Today the winners were announced, and Cover Story finished with a Highly Commended in the Open category, a runner-up in fundraising and the winner for Best Illustrations. Shauna O’Meara tirelessly slaved over a sketch pad all day to produce a remarkable number of highly polished pictures, many of which featured animals [3]. A well-deserved win!

So, who else has some little success to celebrate or wants to give a shoutout to someone else’s big win? [4]

 

[1] I am aware that this has never happened to anyone.

[2]I couldn’t spare a whole Saturday to join them, alas, or I would have been there like a shot.

[3] Animals are pretty hard to draw, yo.

[4] Andrea, how’s And All the Stars doing? I’d have called it out above, but I have no sense of the reaction to it yet, except that Jimbo seemed to be enjoying it.

October 8, 2012

MRP Day 7 – Birthdays and parties

Filed under: fitter/happier,friends,the month of relentless positivity — lexifab @ 8:59 pm

Another deadline cheerfully whooshed by yesterday, which suggests that if I were really serious about daily blog entries this month it might be a good idea to stock up a few spares in anticipation of busy days. Planning to make plans is something to be celebrated, right?

7 October is Der Simonster’s birthday, so last night instead of ensconsing myself in my writing nook [1], I sat aound with a small handful of friends – it would have been a slightly bigger handful but several regulars were otherwise engaged – chatting, eating cheap and delicious home delivery Chinese food and especially drinking copious amounts of Margaret River plonk. Being the midpoint in a long weekend in school holidays, we’d pretty much hit the wall before anyone arrived, so if you picture a low-key affair and then pump some aerosol tranquilisers into the scene, you would probably have a sense of the energy levels involved. It turns out that alcohol is a relaxant. Who knew?

Apart from the kids, we don’t really do much with our birthdays. I can’t even remember the last time I had any kind of even semi-formal celebration, other than perhaps dinner with Fiona (who was born two days before me). Certainly no parties. So this sort of gathering – whereupon a select few friends lounge about talking about movies and television and music [3] – is a pretty typical of the way we mark notable dates in our circle of friends. It’s very cosy and perhaps a little bit lazy, but it suits our very home-focused lifestyle.

One of these days, we will probably have to stage something that would pass muster as a bash or shindig. My personal lotto fantasy, unrealisable as long as I continue my near-unbroken run of not buying lottery tickets, involves hiring out a large boat and flying all my friends down for a huge days-long party in Sydney Harbour or somewhere like that [4]. There would be a band, and gourmet chefs and… Oh, who am I kidding? We’d probably all play Dungeons and Dragons for a week [5].

Anyway, back to the topic at hand – happy birthday to Simon for yesterday and I am sorry if I dozed off a couple of times! And if you happen to be reading this on your birthday, well – Happy Birthday!

 

[1] Which is really a large table in a spacious dining room with the laptop in it, but “writing nook” sounds like something a Real Writer [2] would have.

[2] Trolling Dr Clam, come in Dr Clam 🙂

[3] and perhaps even weightier topics, on rare and lamentable occasions.

[4] Actually, if it were one of those lottery wins that make the news, I would relocate the venue to Queenstown in South Island, which has a very picturesque lake and also skiing nearby. Dress accordingly if you see me on the news holding a giant novelty cheque.

[5] While we were not being seasick over the side, of course.

April 22, 2012

In sickness and in health

Filed under: fitter/happier,friends,news of the day,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 4:10 pm

It’s been quiet around here. Too quiet. I’ve finally come through the bout of bronchitis that I’ve been carrying for the past two weeks, just in time for the wedding yesterday of our housemates Simon and Sarah.

The bronchitis hung around forever, morphing its modus operandi several times over – hacking cough, stinking headache, fever, lethargy and never all at the same time. Thankfully the suite of antibiotics – including one normally prescribed for pneumonia (!) – put a bullet in its tricksy little brain and rolled it into a ditch. I’m still a bit on the flimsy side, but I’ll be back at work on Monday without any problems.

The writing

Since I had the concentration span of a fish finger during the illness, work on the novel was non-existent. That is, until one night last week when I sat down and hammered out the final chunk of text for Draft Zero of my novel in a single literally feverish session of a couple of hours. It really was one of those trance-writing sessions that some authors talk about, when the story pours out as fast as the writer can type it. [1] I don’t have those very often – my technique is more “think for twenty minutes, type for five, repeat”. It seems that slight doses of delirium agree with me. Reading back over it, it’s mostly usuable, which is even more startling.

So, yay, step one complete. My unreadable mess draft is finished. Sure, nothing much happens for the first forty pages, the protagonist doesn’t drive the action much, the cosmology is half-thought-out and largely nonsensical, there’s continuity errors all over the place and the climax is a cluttered mess that fails to address most if not all of the questions raised in the preceding narrative – but it’s done. Next job will be to go back to first principles and write a proper outline of the novel. What’s there is a useful guide, but now I have to knuckle down and start applying some elbow grease. I figure I will do at least three or four passes on the outline before I dive back into the writing. I do tend to write a lot faster when I know where I am going with something. I’m not setting myself any deadlines yet, but I hope it won’t take more than a few weeks to get the outline into the shape I want. While I’m doing that I will write short fiction if I feel the occasional urge to be spontaneously creative.

The wedding

The wedding of the year took place on a beautiful autumn afternoon alongside one of Canberra’s many picturesque lakes. Simon and Sarah opted for a very simple ceremony under the trees, with the formalities over and done with inside ten minutes. That’s always a good idea when most of your guests are standing. Brother Jimbo and I acted as Simon’s groomsmen. I am happy to report that neither of us managed to break anything. Then there were photos with mountains, trees and a lake decorating the backgrounds, some chitchat with some dear friends who’d come from near and far for the ceremony – not to mention various members of Simon’s family whom I’ve not laid eyes on for mroe than ten years – and finally it was off to the reception.

The venue was a small brewery called Zierholz, in the industrial wilds of Fyshwick. The food was excellent German fare – sausage, pork, sauerkraut and a slightly out-of-place-but-delicious risotto – but the beer was extraordinary, with a great range of styles. Nothing that I tried was less than pleasant and a couple of them I would have been happy to drink myself sick on. If not for the fact that I was still popping post-bronchitis codeine and that I had to do a speech, I would have researched their range with considerably more diligence.

Simon extended me the honour of delivering his best man speech, which I think came off well. Lacking the sincerity and depth of character to do a serious speech, I went for (specious) meta-analysis of the purpose of best man speeches and for (ludicous) speculation as to what Sarah might be getting out of the marriage. I made it to the end without blowing any of the jokes or collapsing with a coughing fit, and everyone laughed at the right parts, so I assume that it had the desired effect.

Even jokey public speaking takes a lot out of me though – after the speech (and the fatty food, and the booze, and the tremendously rich and fabulous chocolate cake) I was trashed. That’s my excuse for not dancing – not even for ‘The Time Warp’. My other excuse is that I can’t dance, but in fairness nobody else used that as an excuse, even though it would have been reasonable to do so.

Anyway, the whole day was sweet but exhausting. I’m glad for the relative lack of social obligations today. I probably need a bit of a rest before I resume normal speed tomorrow. I have a lot of work, exercise and writing to catch up on.

[1] Alternately, it may be comparable to Stephen King’s inability to recall writing the novel Cujo, though in that case it was because he was hoovering up sacks of cocaine at the time.

March 23, 2012

What’s that law of thermodynamics about momentum?

Filed under: fitter/happier,friends,Games,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:18 pm

I’m pretty shaky when it comes to physics, but if I understand correctly it takes more effort to move something that’s come to a complete stop than it is to maintain or speed up something already kicking along.

That’s me and writing, right there. I just stopped doing it for the better part of a couple of weeks. The usual excuses are in place – first I had a flu that knocked me out for a few days, and then we had a houseguest staying for ten days. All of the above contrived to break me from my writing routine. For once I didn’t bother to fight it. I just surrendered to the inevitable and took the lazy way out. I went and played Mass Effect 1 and 2 instead.

(I don’t regret it either. ME1 – the only game in the series I’ve yet finished – is instructively epic science fiction. Basically it’s seasons 2 to 4 of Babylon 5, but told with economy and a few less clunky monologues).

Now we may against feel the absence of the diverting and amusing company of Winston from Japan, but my writing space is once again more or less my own. So I had better get back into it. No more lame excuses.

Having not touched the novel in a coupel of weeks, I am reluctant to pick it up again. I still don’t know what I am doing with it, or how I will drive it towards a conclusion. In my ignorance I am going to stick with my plan of just writing whatever gibberish pops into my head until I’ve more or less wrapped it up, before going back to the drawing board to develop a proper outline. By ‘proper’, I mean one that actually identifies what will happen in the climax of the book.

Interestingly, the writer’s group has already begun to help out. At a recent meeting, there was a discussion about log lines, which are 25-words-or-less summaries of who the protagonist is, what they want and what’s stopping them from achieving that. I worked out a pretty good log line for my current work-in-progress novel. I think it will help to keep my redraft focused on what matters to the story, and help me to indentify ideas that might not fit so well in this particular tale. We’ll see.

(No, I’m not going to share the log line I worked out, since it kind of spoils a key plot element. It’s a behind-the-scenes kind of tool).

So while the novel stays on the backburner until I get up early tomorrow morning, I’ve tried to regain some of that dissipated momentum with various exercises of lower intensity. Last night I drafted my next Lost review (coming soon, after it gets the edit that comes of the cold-light-of-day realisation that my character analysis was 100% off-base). Tonight I wrote maybe half of a short story told entirely in tweets – that is, 140 characters or less, including names and hashtags – which will probably prove to have been a dumb idea when I revisit it. Right now it’s amusing me. And after that, I have a metric truckload of reviews I want to write.

I just have to remember to keep tapping away at that main novel project. Otherwise sooner or later it will stop and never start again.

August 29, 2011

Winding down

Filed under: administraviata,fitter/happier,friends,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:40 am

I’m trashed. We’ve had a big weekend of visitation from Andrew, Von and their adorable little Jade Monkey. The house seemed even more full than usual of loud children demanding constant attention. It was also maxing out on superconcentrated doses of cuteness though, so it’s hard to complain.

Now I am chilling with new Doctor Who and chatting on Facebook with my buddy Rob (who is currently staring down the barrel of sinister weather formation Hurricane Irene, in what must surely be one of the great ill-timed first visits to the Big Apple for some time). He is providing a welcome procrastination excuse, though I am shortly going to have to bite the bullet and sign off  if I’m going to get anything done before I pass out from child-wrangling based exhaustion.

Chatting with Andrew over the weekend has prompted me to think that I need to set myself some writing goals, if only because I work better to deadlines than not. I have a list of projects on the boil – the current Sawl short (which is too long by far in its first draft), the throwaway Unicorn story which I want to edit into shape rather than throw away, the continuation of the Lost reviews, several other short reviews for various things I’ve read and liked, and a novel (of which I have written about 20000 words; I need to start again with a revised concept and a tighter plan, if not an actual outline). I’d like to think it’s not going to take me too much longer to get what I think of as my ‘main’ short story into shape, but then I would also like to think that it’s not going to end up 5000 words long, and yet that’s the territory Draft One has strayed into.

I am not going to do anything reckless like commit to targets right at the moment though. Having just opened up the draft document a second ago and read the last thing I wrote, it’s pretty clear from my total failure to recognise my own sentences that I am not in a fit state to exercise sound judgment.

That probably means I’m ripe to write weird fiction though.

June 17, 2011

Back to the Island 1.24 – Exodus Part 1

Filed under: back to the island,friends,the interweb she provides — lexifab @ 3:18 pm

Meagan has arrived, having single-handedly wrestled the controls of her ailing Virgin flight through the deathclouds of molten pumice billowing forth from the malignant heart of the Chilean Inferno-Mountain. Or something like that. I didn’t really catch all the details. The important part is that she is here for a couple of weeks of dinner parties, bad movies and discussing how good/bad our favourite television shows are. Just like old times. [1]

I am feeling dull-witted and out of sorts today. There are hockey fans rioting in Vancouver, the creator of Dilbert has gone screeching and flinging faeces off the brink of Misogyny Falls, and the Greek economy is collapsing so fast an event horizon has formed around it – but I couldn’t care less.

Help me manage my ennui: If something has you riled up or excited or pancreas-squeezingly bilious, tell us all about it in the comments. I crave novelty! Especially if it’s something good. Perhaps involving baby pandas or a new kind of caffeinated beverage. Or something good to read, perhaps?

I’ll be done with the Season One Lost reviews by tomorrow, so I will be looking for a new side project to supplement my other writing for the next month or so. I think I may solicit some writing challenges, or issue some myself, if anyone is up to a public game of ‘Write or dare’. Let me think about that.

Random wonderful thing from the internet for the day: here’s a 24 hour comic done by Australian artist Canaan Grall that mashes up Thor and the Muppets. He has some other long-running webcomics that I haven’t had time to check out yet, but based on how good this is I certainly will.

[1] Speaking of which, the Game of Thrones series is gloriously, sumptuously good, as long as you can keep up with the spectacularly vast cast and seemingly-disconnected plotting. It’s worth watching for the costuming alone. And the beheadings, of course (of which there have been at least four that I can recall). Man, they love them some decapitation in Westeros.

Behold now: the first half of the first season finale of Lost:

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April 20, 2011

Back to the Island 1.12 – All the Best Cowboys have Daddy Issues

Filed under: back to the island,friends,geekery,now playing: anything — lexifab @ 1:56 am

Try to contain your surprise, if you can: I have missed another deadline. My shame is absolute.

Actually I had every intention of going to bed and forgetting all about posting another Lost review, but there are a few things I wanted to record before I let them slide (like a deadline!). In this I will resort rather cravenly to dot points:

  • Friends Ted and Sumie have just announced the arrival of the third little Pokemon, Hiro Rafael. Nominative determinism would seem to dictate that he will fight crime in a racy airport thriller in about twenty years. Much love to the proud parents and the elder Pokemons.
  • JeffR (whose last name I regret not backing up to my current PC, along with the contents of the The Sounds of Lightning lexicon game) has just announced the start of a new lexicon game, The Feast of Harmon’s Fall, which he has made open to anyone that asks. I’m not going to join because I *really* don’t have time at the moment, but I know several folks as might stumble across this entry have enjoyed lexicon games in the past. This would be your chance to play one without having to organise it. He’s using one of the variants that limits the explosion of phantom entries. The number of turns will be limited too, so the usual attritional burnout that usually kills these games is less likely to be a factor here. It’s a cool premise too – one for the food fetishists amongst us. Ahem. Go check it out.
  • Portal 2 has been released. If you’ve finished the previous game, the first hour of the sequel is hilarious. I presume it continues thus, because Jimbo keeps guffawing loudly, which can’t solely be down to the Harry Dresden audiobooks he’s been listening to. But consider both Portals to come with my highest recommendation. Portal’s a short, brain-teasery physics-puzzle solving platform game with a sarcastic and deranged narrator. It’s genius.  Oh, and the Minecraft update is out as well. As if I had time for more computer gaming.
  • I need to get to bed. I’m supposed to be looking like a professional and conducting three interviews tomorrow (asking the questions, not answering them, thank goodness).

Here’s that Lost review I owe you myself. I think this is a pretty good one.

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March 30, 2011

A blog mostly about writing. Oh joy.

Filed under: friends,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 1:28 pm

I still have a cold. My head aches, I’m kind of snotty, the dizziness is becoming a thing unto itself and I’ve just been carrying the baby Wombat about for an hour trying to settle her so my shoulder hurts like hell. Waah. Fair warning that I have absolutely no intention of editing this entry to either get what I shall laughingly refer to as  my facts straight, not will I make any attempt to impose cohesive structure on it. Instead I am going to exorcise a bunch of random botherations that have been intriguing and/or vexing me lately. Let the ramblage commence.

My writing

I’ve been doing some lately, primarily the Lost reviews but also some other bits and pieces on the side. The purpose has been mainly to rebuild the habit by investing time in just sitting down and hammering out something in which I have no serious investment. The good thing (for me) about the reviews is that I really can’t get blocked or frustrated with it. I know what’s coming next – duh, it’s the next episode – so all I have to do is commit the time to watch the episode and think about it for a little while, and then I can usually spray out a thousand words or so of commentary. The analytical side of things is coming along a little more slowly but that’s part of the purpose of the exercise as well. I presume that I will get better at it as I go.

What I don’t want to do is what I’ve done countless times in the past. Get all excited for a project that I think will be worth pursuing, either because it’s intellectually stimulating or conceivably saleable, only to have it fall apart because ill-discipline and circumstance put up roadblocks that I then don’t have the stamina to overcome. I’ve got I don’t know how many half-dead stories languishing in various parts of my electronic space [1] which began in bursts of creative energy only to sputter out when I lost my rythmn and couldn’t resummon whatever it was that compelled me to write it in the first place.I have a problem with finishing stuff. That’s the problem that I’m working on.

Andrew makes a good point that announcing one’s projects in public will eventually rob you of that creative energy, and I’m sure that in the main that’s true, but that’s not the problem I have. I tend to work better when I have the sense hanging over me that I may not be meeting someone else’s expectations. That I owe them something that I have yet to deliver. In truth I know that writing to please someone else is ultimately a doomed enterprise. Whatever their real expectations may be, they are not the same as yours. So what I do is assign a sense of obligation – “This is something that I think Clam would like to read” – and I sort of trick myself into feeling like I’ve made a promise to them. Sometimes I even discuss it with the person in question, but as often not the audience for a particular piece is either wholly ignorant of it or is actually just a fictitious construct, amalgamated from the half-imagined preferences of several friends or acquaintances. Whomever or whatever seems to suit the material will do. I motivate myself with a web of virtual obligations that have little to no bearing on reality. It occasionally occurs to me to wonder whether anyone else thinks this way, but I shy away from any hints that I might be a bit odd.

(I kind of strayed away from where I was going with that, but it’s a useful thing to have recognised about my writing style. That will be one of those probably-unhelpful tendencies that I need to find constructive strategies to deal with. Add that one to the list.)

The point I had intended to get to before ducking down that particular back country track was that as usual I have several ideas for writing projects that have been percolating away for a while to which I am unusually wedded. I don’t want to repeat my pattern of starting something cool and then dropping the ball when my puff runs out. Like a marathon runner, if I’m going to start the damn things then I would rather be the kind of person who will see them through to the finish. That means that I have to take a critical step back and look at myself in the mirror.

“Self,” I will say, “you’re a fucking disgrace. You’re lazy and unfit.” Yeah, I need the tough love. “You need to tighten up, get your breathing right, and be able to take more than ten steps in a row without getting a fucking cramp.”

Wow, I sure am mean, but I guess I’m also kind of right.

So that’s what the Lost reviews are all about. I’m starting slowly with some exercise to build myself back up to an acceptable level of fitness, to sort out my total lack of pace and rythmn and to toughen up my resistance to the fear of failure and disappointment. Only then will I start in on my projects, once I’m sure that I have the guts and the technique to push through the pain/frustration barriers and keep going until I cross the finish line. (At which point I will abandon the running metaphor with as little grace as I think I can get away with).

Other people’s writing

I hadn’t intended to blather about myself up there for quite as long as all that, but if blogs are not fed fat chunks of sopping bloody ego I am sure they whimper and starve. Anyway, I did have some other things I wanted to talk about.

My friend Andrea is a writer. A proper writer i.e. one that doesn’t actually stop writing for months or years at a time. A long time ago she emailed me a copy of her manuscript “The Silence of Medair” to comment on. I rather think that I let her down on that point and that whatever input I did offer was probably thin if it existed at all [2] but her ego is not as fragile as mine and she pressed on with it, submitting it as an unsolicited manuscript to an (unnamed) publisher. This links to her appalling account of the subsequent ten whole years that her novel sat in the publisher’s slush pile.

It’s almost unbelievable. The poverty of professionalism, the dysfunctional process control, the agonising span of time involved is incredible. Moreover, Andrea’s patience with the process – I presume grounded in a sensible unwillingness to alienate a potential publisher or to gain a poor reputation within the industry – must surely exceed the minimum standards for canonisation. Good on her for eventually drawing a line under the whole sordid tale and withdrawing the novel on the tenth anniversary of its submission. More power to her for deciding to publish it for herself [3]. I heartily endorse “The Silence of Medair”. Go and check out the sample chapter and see if it’s your thing. If it is, go and buy it like I’m just about to.

But the icing on the cake has to be the fact that after all its trials and all her waiting, Andrea’s novel has been recognised in this year’s Aurealis Awards in the category for best fantasy novel. It’s up against works published by large publishers (hmm, well I’m not 100% sure about Orbit, but my sense is that it’s a big player in the F&SF genres). I also note that it’s the only self-published work in any category. Stiff competition, in other words, and the achievement is all the more remarkable given the horror story of its publication. Good luck on the 21st of May, AKH!

 

Anyway this has taken up more time than I really ought to have been spending at the keyboard so I will leave the other stuff I was going to ramble about for another day. Who wants to talk about what they are writing at the moment?

 

[1] Which I really need to consolidate and back up, except that administrative busywork is one of the many methods of procrastination to which I am all too ready to resort.

[2] Providing useful feedback is another skill of which I feel a sore lack, so that’s something else I am working on.

[3] I’ve been thinking a lot about the self-publishing field lately, not particularly because I want to join it, but because I’m interested in how open a writer’s options have become. But I kind of feel like I’m lacking some basic grounding in the subject. Because I don’t have an e-reading device like an iPad or a Kindle and because I just can’t read an entire novel from a computer screen [4], I have yet to really participate in or fully come to grips with the changes in the market. But that probably won’t stop me from pontificating on the subject in a future Lexifab entry.

[4] This, by the way, is the reason that it took me so long to get back to Andrea about ‘The Silence of Medair” all those years ago, not to mention why I have several novels by friends of mine backed up in my reading list. I have terrible stamina when it comes to reading long blocks of text from a screen with a landscape layout. I don’t know why – it’s not a vision thing, because I’ve always had this problem and I had 20/20 vision last time I had it checked. I just cannot sustain the concentration when reading in this format. A problem that just doesn’t exist for me with the aforementioned readers.

 

March 11, 2011

On gratitude towards Fridays

Filed under: fitter/happier,friends,news of the day,workin for the man — lexifab @ 12:33 pm

Ah Friday-before-the-long-weekend, thank you for existing. I need a bit of a rest.

Just got out of a meeting for which I’ve been preparing for two weeks. Considering my microscopic meeting-management skills and a woeful lack of confidence in my own subject matter expertise, it went pretty well. I only forgot one person’s name, which is pretty good for me. Ahem.

I’ve been kind of burning the candle at both ends all week – working all day then hitting the keyboard as soon as the kids are asleep to ramp up the word counts. Bedtime is post-midnight every night, which would not be so bad if the Joey didn’t wake up at 6:30 am with metronomic precision every morning. I’m hoping he can cut me some slack and let me sleep in on Saturday, but my breath will not be held.

Baking appears to be off this weekend, after the oven exploded yesterday. I didn’t see it, but I heard the loud whump as something vital blew up. Apparent there was a not-insignificant ball of plasma involved. How Jimbo managed to avoid getting burned when he was standing right in front of it is a bit of a mystery. Maybe he is out of phase with this universe.

We aren’t having all that good a run at the moment with our heavy household appliances. We replaced the heater a couple of weeks ago. That was three grand. And now this. Ouch. Lucky I’m not superstitious or I’ d be worried that these sorts of things come in threes. Or, wait – am I just not superstitious enough?

My goals for the weekend are to play with the kids, visit friends, catch up on two months of household accountancy, play some D&D, write a few thousand words on various topics and edit a few thousand others, and hopefully, help some other friends move house. And get some rest…ah, yeah, maybe that one will have to slip.

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