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

November 16, 2013

TMoRP Day 19 – Grommets!

Filed under: family,fitter/happier,joey,the month of relentless positivity — Tags: , — lexifab @ 10:30 am

Number One Son, aka Internet-Pseudonym Joey, had day surgery a couple of weeks ago to implant grommets in his inner ear. A followup consultation this week confirmed that the operation was successful. So, that’s good.

His hearing’s always been a bit dodgy. Much of the time he has the usual childhood selective hearing, which is mysteriously deficient when it comes to being asked to pick up toys or stop setting fire to things, but often astonishingly acute whenever ice cream is mentioned. Sometimes though, he misses conversations even when he’s paying attention and/or not speaking at the same time as someone else (which admittedly is not very often. He is an unstoppable chatterbox).

We got worried enough about it to go through several rounds of audiometry testing, which showed that he has a slight hearing deficiency in certain registers. Nothing critical or with high potential to impact his learning capacity, but a little more serious than mere ongoing inconvenience.

His eustachian tubs, which should be dry and full of air to equalise pressure on the middle ear, are a bit on the soggy side. The grommets are basically just a tube to allow the passage of air to ventilate the middle ear, which should reduce fluid buildup and improve his hearing.

Presumably any hearing gains occur over some protracted period of time, because we certainly haven’t observed miraculous improvements in his attentiveness in the past couple of weeks. I theorise that he’s somewhat out of the habit of paying attention though, so patience and retraining are probably in order.

The annoying (i.e. non-positivity-related) element of all this is that for the year that the grommets will remain in place (they fall out of their own accord somewhere between nine and twelve months after emplacement), we need to be careful with swimming. He’s allowed to get water in his ears, so he can continue with his swimming lessons, but he’s not allowed to dive down to below one metre. The water pressure might affect the grommets.

In most kids learning to swim, this would be an intolerable restriction. Who doesn’t want to dive to the bottom and swim around underwater? But in this case it’s a problem for us, not him. He hates submerging his head, let alone duck-diving. If he’s told he has to dive to the bottom, he tends to panic.

So while we were making very slow progress towards getting him comfortable with swimming underwater, now we have to hold him back from that until as late as next summer. Not a big deal, but longer than I’d have hoped to delay his swimming progress. No doubt it’s very selfish of me, but I long for the day when I am able to get into a swimming pool with the kids and not have one or both of them hanging off my shoulders all the time.

Still, the grommets should help the hearing and reduce the risk of ear infections, so yay for modern surgical techniques, eh what?

February 7, 2013

Short stories made long, junkets and kindy life.

Filed under: family,joey,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , , , , — lexifab @ 4:25 pm

Crit group

I took my short story about British and Russian spies in the Great Game [1] to the CSFG critiquing group last night. Now this was a story that I thought was 90% of the way there, so I had been in two minds as to whether to wait for the monthly crits to resume after the summer break, or just start submitting it for publication.

I’m glad I waited. They were brutal.

In a good way, mind you – everything they said was spot-on (except where various people completely disagreed, but even that was illuminating). My protagonist doesn’t really do anything but shout. The stakes are undefined. Two of the three characters are more or less complete cyphers and their motivations are interesting but murky. Some of the most interesting stuff happens in the flashbacks.

That was the crux of it. Too much of the important stuff in the story happens in flashback or, worse, exposition. It’s a classic example of “show don’t tell”. I need to go back and play out some of those scenes. I need to establish who the characters are so that the story of their final confrontation makes sense.

Unfortunately that means I have to make it about four or five times as long as it currently is. Which on the one hand is great, because I’ve been wondering if I was even capable of writing a long (say 10,000+ words) short story and this is an opportunity to find out. On the other hand, it sucks, because I’ve been procrastinating on my novel throughout January and my enthusiasm for this project is NOT GOING TO HELP.

The solution – or at least the thing I am going to try to see if it will work – will be to write both at once. That is, write one for a while, then when I get bored or stuck switch out to the other.  They’re dissimilar in terms of tone, characters and voice, so it’s unlikely that one will bleed across to infect the other. And I think – though I might be drastically wrong on this – that I should be able to carry the energy and enthusiasm for each across to the other. If not, well maybe I’ll just get fed up and just pick one to finish. A win either way, I hope.

Congoing

I might have mentioned that I’ll be attending Conflux 9 here in Canberra over the Anzac Day weekend. I’d better be, obviously, because I think they’ll want me to be at the book  launch and I’ve also just signed up to be on a couple of panels.

But looking beyond that to October, I’m also heading off to Brisbane for the 2nd annual GenreCon. It’s a meeting of the minds of writers, agents, publishers and fans from across the spectrum of literary ghettoes – romance, crime, thrillers, historicals and of course speculative. By all accounts last year’s event was a huge success [2].

This year, one of the guests of honour is Chuck Wendig. Yeah. I’ve kinda got a big writer-crush on Der Wendigo these days, as you know, so if they’ve convinced him to leave his compound in the backwoods of Pennsyltucky and get on a plane to Australia, the least I can do is take a leisurely flight north to listen to him talk and buy him a beer. Or worship at his feet, whatever he prefers.

Anybody else thinking about making the jaunt?

School age

Totally unrelated to anything writery, Number One Son (aka the Joey) started “big school” this week, which in the ACT means Kindy/Kinder. He looks pretty smart in his big sun hat and school uniform, lemme tell you.

It’s a bit of a relief too. He was beginning to become…let’s say “restless”…about having to serve time in childcare with babies and toddlers while he waited for the school year to start. Now he’s back together with pretty much all of his pre-school friends, in whose company he will probably spend most of the next seven years. I’m sort of excited to see how they all turn out.

It’s scary to be the parent of a school-ager. But it’s kind of great too.

 

[1] Yes, of course there’s a speculative element. Though one of the very valid criticisms was that it showed up so late in the story that it derailed the narrative.

[2] In no small part, I understand, because everyone went away with great ideas about community-building and networking after seeing how well-coordinated and supportive the Romance Writers of Australia are.

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