Friday, February 29, 2008

A long weekend

Today is Leap Day, a bonus day for the year and the best thing is I don't have to be at work! Yes, it's a three day weekend for me and another weekend of solitude so I hope to achieve a lot.

One of the good things about today and the rest of the weekend is the ability to control my auditory environment. I haven't been kidding lately when I've told people I want to go to a convent so I can take a vow of silence. The day job has times when fifty voices or so just build up on top of each other and I feel like my head is going to explode with all the noise. The voices rise and fall, but when everything is talking at once, it can be absolutely pandemonium. At the moment, all I can hear is the clock ticking, the rush of the wind, the birds singing, the house creaking and the occasional car driving by. It is so peaceful. I can invite extra noise in when I want to - music, television, telephone - but for now I am revelling in the relative sounds of silence. And also enjoying not having to speak.

I've updated the blog for Nambucca Valley Writers Group, added a couple of slides shows, a section for our accolades (we're a talented bunch), and the previous winners of our writing competition.

I finished my short story and entered it in the Writers Group contest. The trophy spent the first year in my home, displayed proudly after I won the inaugural contest in 2006 with a collage poem. But then last year I had to give it back. I wonder if it will make its way home to me this time. (I know - the competition is tough!)

I'm still toying with the story about the mobile phones so I may end up with a collection of futuristic stories, nightmare scenarios of the future when we are taken over by technology.

I'm considering signing up for the RWA BIAW (Book in a Week) which commences on Monday, just to get my butt kicked a bit and finally finish the first draft of 'I'm with the Band'. I'm hoping that another 10,000 words will see the first draft complete. (Current word count is 89,597)

I am definitely signing up for 100 words for 100 days through my teenlit list. I really want to instill the writing every day habit. It's almost there but I do miss the occasional day. And I guess the days where I spend time processing ideas in my head but don't commit anything to paper don't count. But they should! Because sometimes it means that the story or scene will come out of my head and onto paper almost fully formed.

Shirt and other writer products available at my Chickollage store.

I've been neglecting my collage poetry and as I want to put together an anthology, I need to spend more time than that.

As they say, so many words, too little time! Now to make time stretch....

Saturday, February 23, 2008


I've been tagged by a writer friend so I guess I've got to do the following meme: (I'll get you back some time Sandie!)

The 'rules' are as follows :-

1/ you link back to the person who tagged you.

2/ post these rules on your blog.

3/ share six unimportant things about yourself.

4/ tag six random people at the end of your entry.

5/ let the tagged people know by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Six unimportant thing about me. (why unimportant? and by who's definition?)

1. I cut my neighbour's hair when I was six, ending any hope of being a hairdresser for a career. Got into a bit of trouble for that one.

2. I was born three months premmie.

3. I have a teddy bear named Bondage Bear, he learned this deviancy when I was at uni.

4. My best friend and I have been friends since 2nd grade, which was a long long time ago.

5. I wanted to be an actress until I auditioned for a few drama courses and flunked.

6. My first car was a volkswagon named Helga.

And the six random people are:



Five Second Dance Party

Stephanie Kuehnert

Jetting Through Life

J M Snyder

Have fun!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A weekend of solitude

I could be watching Tropfest tonight. I won tickets to the 'Sony Patch of Grass' after entering their short story competition. But as Tropfest screens on a Sunday evening, and I have to be back at work at 8am tomorrow morning, I'm still in Coffs Harbour and Tropfest is still at the domain.

But the tickets won't be going to waste. Robbie happened to be going to Sydney this weekend so he will be there with his little sister.

Instead, I have scored myself a weekend of solitude. This is absolutely delightful as I've been feeling lately that there is way much noise in my life, and people talking is the major percentage of noise. So I am enjoying the sounds of nature, the sounds of music and some talking when I switch on a movie. But the talking is contextual and its not a cacophony of noise as fifty people try to talk at once. Welcome to my dayjob!

Yesterday, I read a friend's manuscript which included a lot of short stories and now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed about finishing my short story because she's so good. But I will. I shall. The deadline is next Saturday.

I also watched Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown again. I haven't seen the film in years, but I still love it. Strong women, ensuing chaos. I still think it's one of Almodovar's best.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Flirting with short story ideas and heavy metal

Following on from last week's post where writing a short story is like having a fling, while a novel is like a marriage, it seems that I can't even decide who I want to have a fling with. The idea that had been flitting around my head like a manic moth bashing it's wings against the light globe is still there, but I'd also opened my computer file labelled 'ideas' and found 1. a love triangle between a man, a woman and a cat and 2) a file labelled 'Notes for a screenplay' about working in a call centre.

So I have been flirting with all three ideas during the week, committing at least to a date with the cat triangle and writing some more, and then a date with the call centre story- The film idea would have been very expensive as live action and I alway thought it would work as an animation - but as I don't's been on the backburner. But of course elements that could be very expensive in a film, don't cost anything in a short story because it's just narrative, description, action and dialogue. No actors demanding huge salaries needed. And no special effects. It's all in the words.

So, yes I was being fickle, unable to decide which idea I wanted to commit to, and playing around a bit with at least two of them, as I got to know them better! A convesation there, a look here, trying to start a fling in the wrong place....I still wasn't sure what to do. False starts, deleting, backspacing. In my imagination, I even believed that maybe just maybe I could write all three short stories in three weeks. It's still possible ...there are now two weeks left to go before the competition deadline.

Rollerball, Devil's Kitchen, 9 Feb 2008

I had a false start on the call centre story. I wrote quite a bit of it, but it seemed to start too late in the story and didn't show enough of the evolution of the call centre worker from human to machine. It has been inspired by my many customer's who ask me if I'm a real person.

My Left Boot, Devil's Kitchen, 9 Feb 2008

Then Saturday night, Robbie and I went to a music event. He was filming and I was taking some photos. Well, it was heavy metal and I'm not a fan of that type of music. Yes, I saw Black Sabbath when I was 13 but that did not light a pathway for my future music taste.

Monkey Butt Wrench, Devil's Kitchen, 9 Feb 2008

The night was interesting but long and so very very loud. Five different heavy metal bands performed (as pictured). I took many photos using both my film SLR camera and my digital and got some interesting shots, but really could not get into the music. I think the sound quality had a lot to do with this: I can't really see the point of having a vocalist if the instruments are going to be revved up to the max, to drown out any possiblity of hearing the vocals.

I'm not going to attempt any kind of review, because I'm not the band's audient. I don't listen to this kind of music as a rule. And I never really got the head-banging stuff.

Boozehag, Devil's Kitchen, 9 Feb 2008

Between bands, I recommenced writing the call centre story. The next band would come on and I'd get up and take some photos and return to my chair to find it missing. (Guys from the first band -Monkey Butt Wrench - kept nicking it when I vacated it). And then I'd keep writing during the next break. I wrote the whole first draft of the story. There's some more to add as I need to ensure I cover everything in Maislow's Hierarchy of Needs, but I'm pretty happy with it.

The Black Stars, Devil's Kitchen, 9 Feb 2008

And I've discovered that I can write anytime I wish. Mind you, if it had've been at a blues gig, then I quite possibly would not have had the same outcome. Or I would've been writing something completely different.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A fling or a marriage: the writer's choice

At lunchtime on Friday, a woman walked past me, arguing on her mobile phone. I started thinking about how we're all supposed to be in instant contact with each other now, at the end of a text message, if not at the end of a conversation. I watch my call centre colleagues walk out the door and immediately turn on their mobile phone and I wonder why. My mobile phone stays in my bag usually switched off. I spend enough time on the phone at work, I don't want to spend my lunch time on the phone. I I don't want to be so easily reached. Doesn't anyone appreciate solitude anymore?

My brain started buzzing and the idea for a short story started to flit around my head. I could feel those endorphins being released as the idea became stronger, and I'm allowing it to keep flitting around like a moth trapped in a jar, until it's ready to appear as a short story. I'm thinking it will be sci-fi, which will be a completely new experience for me. I haven't written a sci fi story since I was 12.

I have less than 3 weeks to write this story. Nambucca Valley Writers Group's annual writing competition is on again and the deadline is screaming towards me.

I don't write short stories very often. I wrote Beyond Happily Ever After twelve months ago which won 2nd prize in the Mid North Coast Writers short story comp, but have not written any shorts since then. There's a big difference between writing short stories and novels. The writing is much more precise, there is no time for ramble and there is not much character development. A short story is almost a moment in time. A slice of life. It doesn't explore a character over a period of time.

But I think writing a short story is like having a fling. You can flirt with different possibilities, you can try things that you would never commit to in a longer piece because - 'we're only going to be together for 3000 words' and you can fall in love and live in those lustful, first stages of love.

There is no commitment because you're in and out of there in 3000 words. Writing is fast, editing is fast. A couple of weeks (or less) and you can move onto the next idea.

Writing a novel is like getting married. It's a big commitment. You not only have to be in lust with your characters, you have to have a deeper love for them, a love that will sustain you through the ups and downs of the author-character relationship while they laugh with you, talk with you and often betray you. You've got to be in it for the long haul and prepared to live with these people for a long time.

I never used to be into commitment. More than a decade ago, I would have described myself as a serial monogamist. In love with being in love. Chasing the thrill of the first passion. But that changed when I met my partner.

So it is interesting that in my writing I choose the commitment. I choose situations that are going to hang around for a long time and characters that I want to spend a lot of time with. And when I reach the end of a novel, I find it hard to let go. Because they've become like friends. And why not? I've spent so much time with them.

So my question to you is:

As a reader or a writer, what is your preference?
Novels or short stories?