Thursday, 24 December 2009

2009 in words

I set writing goals every year and while I usually go crazy about now trying to find them, I won't bother this year. I don't remember exactly what they were, but I remember the general gist and know I did not achieve them. Not exactly, and for that, I am celebrating. Kind of.

Not celebrating because I didn't achieve them, but because I took off in different directions. Directions I might not have had the foresight to plan so far in advance. And hence never set goals for.

This year, I achieved so much more than whatever that list of goals might suggest I'd aimed for.

I had pieces in the publications pictured, as well as other journals, including of course, my first audio poem 'Solitaire' in the recent Cordite 31.0: EPIC.

On the topic of firsts, my pieces in The Reader and an earlier issue of Victorian Writer were sort of my first non-fiction pieces. (This is not technically
true, but as far as intentions go, first.) I'd always been too afraid to set goals for writing non-fiction, so this is one major achievement, and I hope to continue. Actually, I have another non-fiction piece coming out in a February publication. It's fair to say that old fear has found a new home.

Another first was as a feature poet, at the fortnightly Passionate Tongues gig in Brunswick. Special thanks to convenor, Michael Reynolds for inviting me. This, as well as a decision to get to more poetry nights, helped spark an interest in writing for the stage. I attended several regular gigs for the first time, generally performing in the open section, and ended up recording my poems for the first time. I slammed for the first time, and recited/performed without paper for the first time. I have three feature spots lines up for 2010, and will be sure to let you know more about them closer to the time.

I was involved in a few festivals, including the Newstead Short Story Tattoo, the Emerging Writers' Festival, and spoke about page seventeen at the Melbourne Writers' Festival as part of the SPUNC Spectacular. I attended other festivals and came away inspired. I also went to author talks at local libraries, and too many book launches to count.

I wrote 50,000 words of a novel during National Novel Writing Month and met new writers at an organised write-in.

I wrote a couple of guest posts for the SPUNC blog, SPLOG. I also wrote my first blurb, for a book due in early 2010.

I may have done more, that I can't recall right now. Not all of these things were firsts, but there are quite a few. And this is why I'm not interested in finding that list of 2009 goals. Many of these achievements were not planned for, but I went with the flow. If I find that list, it will be hard to not focus on the things I didn't achieve, and Blind Freddy could see I've had a year to be proud of. And I am.

I'm also a little tentative about setting my 2010 goals, as it's impossible to imagine at this stage that I could top this year as far as writing achievements go. Not that I'll let myself get caught up in worrying about that. One thing I do know about goal-setting for 2010 though, is that I'm not going to make one long list of goals for the 12 month period. Too much can change in that time. Instead, I'll be making a 6 month list, or maybe a 3 month list, or maybe, being a list person, a list that's a combination of all of the above.

I'll let even that idea stew in the back of my brain until it's time to actually make said list, sometime in the first days of January.

I'd love to hear about your 2009 successes and hope you can focus on those instead of the things you might not have done. And, of course,
I hope you have a lovely Christmas.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Publishing NaNoWriMo novels

I'm talking about the possibility of publishers taking on NaNoWriMo novels over at the SPUNC blog, SPLOG, so go and check it out and add your two bits.

Doing NaNo this year, I found there was an eclectic mix of people making the commitment, including people who never wanted more from their novel than the satisfaction of having achieved a goal, as well as established writers, and everyone in between. Regardless of where everyone was at though, I definitely found it to be a supportive and encouraging community. Not to mention friendly.

Anyway, while I'm here, I thought I'd share a few of the things I learnt about myself.

1. If I'm going to write a sex scene, I should play a Chris Isaak CD.
2. I write in chunks of one scene at a time.
3. Using cake to motivate me to achieve small goals doesn't work so well.
4. If Chris Issak is playing, I should expect unexpected sex scenes.
5. I can regularly write about 1200 words an hour.
6. Setting goals in hourly chunks works well.
7. The most I can write in one hour is about 1600 words, which is probably equivalent to my typing ability in consideration of the next point.
8. I cannot go longer than one paragraph without correcting typos.
9. It is worth continuing even when I no longer feel the 'need' to write the story. This feeling comes back.
And, although it isn't really something I didn't already know
10. Once I write a sentence, any sentence, words keep coming, whether I knew what I was going to write or not.

Monday, 14 December 2009

What about the baby?

When it comes to shopping, I don't even come close to being a stereotypical woman. Most of the time the only thing I find enjoyable about shopping is that I usually meet a friend, which means I not only have good company, but an excuse to eat cake.

Last Friday I did all of these things. I dropped Hamish at school and headed straight to the shopping centre. I didn't get home until 4pm, and there were more positives than just the company and cake (which was lemon meringue in case you need to know).

Christmas shopping offers the bonus of ticking things off a list, and I actually did this at each register as I waited for the credit card receipt to print. While there were many such receipts that I have no intention of adding, I was glad to have just three things left on the list, all of which I can, and prefer, to buy locally. So all up, it was a good day.

But... as is also usual for this time of the year, it turns out I didn't have as comprehensive a list as I thought, and there are more things to get. Most of which will cause no major problem.

The real problem is what to get the baby (if I should even be calling him that at 15 months). So far, I've organised a present for him from his siblings (a book), one from my family, who all put in and leave me to get the gift (with the favour returned for their kids) (another truck, this time a fire engine), and I'm sure Santa will help out with cars, a ball and clothes, as per the list/letter Hamish generously helped him write. But that still leaves him without a present from us.

I'm not sure if it's his age that makes it hard or just the fact that he's a third child in a house of plenty. But, I'm definitely open to suggestions, hint hint.

Meanwhile, I hope your shopping is going to plan (and not breaking the budget).

Monday, 7 December 2009

Anthology of blog writing

Now that December is upon us, there's not much time left to submit to Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing 2009.

This will be the first issue of the anthology by Miscellaneous Press, which aims to prove that good blog writers come from all walks of life and that 'blogging produces strong and dynamic talent'.

Submit up to three blog posts you made between January 1st and December 31st, although I warn against waiting until the last minute to submit. I have missed many closing dates that way. Too many. And December would have to be the easiest month to temporarily forget something like that so, you know what to do.

Good luck.

PS. You have to be an Aussie.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

not quite the car mechanic

I find it odd that a funeral can offer such a variety of experiences and emotions, not that I'm an expert with just three under my belt. Dad's funeral was last Thursday, and aside from the obvious emotions, it was really nice to see so many people, both the friends and family I keep in touch with regularly, and those I may not see so often or have not seen in many years. Including some of his friends I have probably not seen since I was a teenager.

We knew in advance the chapel would seat 70 people, and while we expected there to be quite a few more standing, I think we were all blown away with the number that actually came. People were crammed up the back, and then into the foyer where they could see and hear what was going on inside, via two large screens. There must have been more than 200 people.

Anyway, I wanted to share what I wrote for him and read on the day. Not an example of my finest writing, but I'm sure it says what I want it to.

I may never know whether I would have developed an interest in car mechanics if it hadn’t been for Dad nagging me when I was a teenager. It’s true we didn’t get along so well back then, but I’m not sure this is any different to the majority of teenagers, and it certainly didn’t seem like a big deal at the time.

I only saw him once a week, so when he’d say ‘You should learn how to do an oil change,’ or ‘I’ll show you what this part does’ again, I’d shake my head and wish he’d want to do something that I wanted to do. I didn’t even have my learners permit.

But he did show an interest in something I wanted to do. In fact, he showed an interest most weeks as he came to swim meets, cheered us on, entered parent/child races, joined committees, took on one or more of the roles shared amongst the parents at the swimming club.

And still managed to make sure we got to know our nana, aunties, uncles and cousins through frequent trips. Sure, he spent much of this time resting on the couch, but let’s just pretend that was so we could get to know everyone else.

Perhaps he accepted I wasn’t cut out for motor mechanics, or perhaps it was just that he had a new interest and thought I should learn to use his fancy new camera. Or be on the other side as he tested lighting, angles and how long it took for me to lose my patience before he’d just take the damn shot.

I could tell you about the way he demanded I move in with him after I moved out of Mum’s. How he tracked me down at a friend’s grandparent’s house on the other side of town because he couldn’t wait until the next day.

I could tell you about my weekly visits to friends’ houses and Mum’s for nutritious meals, because he gave me $50 a week to get enough food for the dog, the cat, his pasta-bowl breakfasts and all his other favourite items. And still wanted change.

I could tell you about the fight we had over how to cook plain rice.

Or I could tell you that I still take crap photos. With the easy-to-use camera.

Maybe you’d like to hear about the many conversations we had about the Big Bang and the first moments in time.

As I grew older and set about finding myself as a writer, I started to develop a new relationship with Dad. He was supportive from the outset, and while everyone else was too, Dad’s support was different. He got it, even though he wasn’t a writer himself. But as a photographer and a musician, I guess, he knew that for me, writing is something I just have to do. I can’t not write.
From the very first acceptance all those years ago, Dad was someone I could share my writerly news with. Including when I had urges to try new forms, new styles.

Most recently, after practicing my poems at regular gigs and open mic nights, I thought I’d like to try recording a few to see how they’d fare in the big wide audio-poetry world. But I don’t know the first thing about music, let alone recording. So, I called Dad.

He agreed, half heartedly, although I later realised that was more about him not quite understanding what I had in mind.

The first time we met to record my poems, we spent the first few hours finding our feet, and by the end of the day, we’d recorded four tracks and although they were drafts, we knew what to do and we’d had a blast. We met again to record final versions a few weeks later, in time for me to submit them to a journal, and when one was accepted, Dad was the first person I called.
I’m not sure right now if I’ll pursue audio poetry or even where I’d begin to start on the learning journey ahead of me if I do. But I do know that regardless of my decision, it will be something we had together and I’ll take that with me on my journey. And I’m sure too, that it’s got to be easier than learning how to tune the car.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

one new beginning

I knew it would happen early in December, but not that it would happen on the first, within the first hour even.

Yes, Cordite has gone live with their EPIC issue, and my audio poem 'Solitaire' is ready for your listening pleasure. What a thrill to share space with two of my favourite spoken wordsters, Sean M Whelan and Maxine Clarke.

But this is a first that is special for reasons that go well beyond who may or may not also be included in the issue. When I first decided I wanted to have a go at recording poetry, I called Dad, and we fumbled our way through it together until we worked out what we were doing. So, Dad, this one's for you.

Although I hope you all enjoy it.