Posts Tagged ‘writing’

… of a migraine and I’m over it … days 1-2 were low level annoying throbbing pain behind the eyes … day 3 was OMG-give-me-painkillers-or-take-off-my-head-please agony … days 4-5 are back to low level aching … I just want it to go away … and so, a lolcat in lieu of actual content until my brain and eyes stop trying to kill me. Should be writing something, but just can’t. Meh. Just call me “Fluffy”.

Oh and btw, tomorrow’s drive-by is China Miéville – he thinks raisins are abominations.

funny pictures of cats with captions


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… the idea of self-promotion, something with which a lot of writers are quite uncomfortable.

I’ve just finished writing an article for the next edition of the Australian Writer’s Marketplace on finding a literary agent … one of the points I put in there was ‘Write first, agent second’.



If you’re approaching a literary agent, you need to have a product to offer her/him. The agent is running a business, the business of selling your book to a publisher, who then sells the book to readers … and the happy outcome of all this is an income for everyone. Huzzah, puddings for all. Yet I still receive queries at least once a week from people who say ‘I’ve been thinking about writing and I need a literary agent.’

Well, why? You have no product to present. You got nuthin’, buddy. So, write first, agent second.

Similarly, I’m getting a bit perplexed by newbie writers who are creating webpages for themselves, stalking other writers on FB and the like in order to ‘promote’ themselves … when they have no writing. No publications out there for a reader to go and look at … some post their writing on the site and that’s fine … but those who don’t have anything there but are madly promoting themselves are a puzzle to me.

You need to have a product. You need to build a reputation based on your writing. If you’re a Mafia-hitman-in-training, then surely your resume should have some instances of actually putting horse heads in beds, rather than simply saying “I totally want to be a Mafia hitman and put horse heads in people’s beds, Mr Gotti.” Surely one must show a record of achievement.

Otherwise, where’s the substance of you as a writer? You’re just Paris Hilton, all surface, all self-pimping, no depth, no achievement. Why bother?

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Oh the Relief

… which sounds like an advert for a heartburn pill, but is not.

It’s the relief of a writer who, having finished up a few projects, has had empty brain and a dose of contentment for a while … and not a creative thought in sight. This is a disturbing phase, when one of the voices in the head starts to say “You’ll never write again, y’know … that was it, bimbo. You are so totally done.” It may say it so many times that you start to believe it … although I generally try to shut the inner critic up with choclit.

This afternoon, after a couple of months of percolating, of researching bits and pieces and climbing (read: scrambling) up and down a mountain and doing a bush walk in the rain avec leeches, I finally had the urge to write. Something came through.

And so, Ragged Run is beginning to take shape … in novella form, I do believe.

The night moved, liquid sheets of black spread out then folded back in on themselves. The breeze, seemingly benign in the sticky summer heat, made its way down –– Street. It picked up pieces of garbage as it went, discarded newspapers, chip packets, cigarette boxes. It plucked dirt and detritus from the gutters, sweeping all it could find into an ever-growing, rapidly formed body. It looked like a man, a rough torn thing though; a man of rags and trash and darkness.

            Had anyone been paying attention, they might have noticed when it began its journey turning off Brunswick Street and rolling down the slow incline, that the sound of well-shod footsteps was audible. But as the road sloped, drew further away from the lights, as the whirlwind picked up speed and mass, the noise of anything remotely human was lost.

            Almost at the bottom of the thoroughfare, almost at the glamour of the James Street precinct, the whirlwind feinted right, then turned a hard left.

            The homeless man who’d been sheltering in the curve of the cement garden wall felt only a brief sting of ice reaching into his lungs, then the crushing sensation of too much air all around him as he was lifted from the ground and quickly ceased to be.

            At the very bottom, where the streetlights bloomed, the sound of footsteps was once again heard.


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This is one reason why I love my friends: they are wise.

We writers suffer together, even though some think writing is a solitary activity … and it is at the basic putting-words-on-page-and-hoping-some-stick level … but still, we suffer together … suffering solidarity. And sometimes a friend writes something that is so true and so real that it hits home, because they’ve put into words the very things you’ve felt. Brendan did this today:

Anyway – I have written stuff for three decades now, I am unlikely to let a little thing like the prospect of a lifetime of obscurity and penury stop me now. I will arise and go now, not so much to Innisfree but to the dining room table where my laptop is. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Find the next word, write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The rest lives here: http://brendandcarsonsfiction.blogspot.com/2009_12_01_archive.html

We’re all Literature’s monkeys.

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Revenge in Action

This is what happens when you (a) let David the IT guy read your writing and (b) give him sass over a sustained period of time :

It’s too good not to share. Thanks, David 🙂

Note: no children were harmed in the making of this scurrilous image.

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Yesterday, I lost words.

On Friday at Write-Club, I’d finished a 6000 word first draft of a story. I left it alone on Saturday to percolate. On Sunday I felt I’d give it a read over, maybe do some editing if the spirit moved me thus … which, happily, it did.

I started on the hard copy as is my wont and marked up the first five pages, then went to the soft copy and made those changes, also doing some extra writing and re-writing as I went, for this is my process. Feeling fine, I went further and did on-screen editing of a further six pages – pages I knew were clunking and holey as donuts. I knew they needed attention to transitions, story logic, character inconsistencies, set-up, connections, etc. But that was a first draft, so it was okay. Second draft is where you start making sure the bones are connected under the story’s flesh and that the flesh itself is nice and firm.

I was so happy with the work I did. I stopped when I heard my brain begging for choclit and the story was looking at me as though I’d worn out my welcome. This was fine – always stop while you’re ahead otherwise you may just be writing crap on top of a run of good stuff.

Then I closed the document. Then I emailed it to myself from my work PC. Then I opened it to check I’d attached the right doc … and found that I’d not saved the changes. And the auto save on the PC was apparently not working.

I didn’t cry because, quite frankly, my brain shorted out. There may even have been wisps of smoke coming off my head and out my ears, accompanied by a slight scent of eau de burning. But I think I was suffering the kind of numbness you get when a shock is so great that your brain ceases to operate – when the only thing you can do is carry on with the ordinary things that you know you can do successfully. Like making a cup of tea without inflicting self-injury – who can bollocks that up? You need to know, somewhere in the back of your wounded grey matter, that some small task is easy for you. And after all, the accidental deletion of tea is an unlikely occurrence.

It was the agony of delete. I didn’t want to use that line, but I know Jason Fischer will read this and if I don’t preempt the pun it will open up a world of opportunity for him.

So, I went home. I had my hard copy notes for the first 5 pages and I sat down and re-created those. The worst thing is the nagging sensation that what you’re doing now just isn’t as good. You’re not working with the same spark you had when you were rewriting the first time around, when your brain was floating and free and you were shifting words and paragraphs and new ideas were being generated like a universe forming and wheeling. Oh, no. This, this thing you’re doing now feels workman-like … it has all the finesse of a bad builder slopping cement between the bricks of a shaky wall. It feels like you let your pet monkey go play out on the road and it got squished.

It feels awful.

And I have tried all the little tricksy bits to recover the file, to suck those lost and abandoned words back onto the page. And nothing works. And so all I can do is this: howl into the void and excoriate myself. And, of course, pick myself up, put salve on my grazed literary knees, pull up my frill-topped socks and shine my lil black Mary-Janes, and just start over again. Pen to paper, fingers to keys, brain to ideas, no crying. Suck it up or go home, solider.

To keep it all in perspective, I watched this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoBTsMJ4jNk to remind me that some days, nothing goes write [sic] for anyone. ‘It’s a Mr Grim about the reaping …’ – there’s something special about Terry Jones in a dress.

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Peter Ball’s novella Horn, from punching-above-its-weight indie Twelfth Planet Press, got reviewed by the uber-redoutable (yes, ‘redoubtable’ is my word’o’th’month) Jeff VanderMeer over at Ecstatic Days http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2009/06/24/first-and-short-horn-by-peter-m-ball/#more-5059.

 Twelfth Planet Press http://twelfthplanetpress.wordpress.com/

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