Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jumble sales, writing inspiration and Almodovar

Yesterday was my writer's group meeting and it turned into a jumble sale.

We all cleaned out our wardrobes and brought in the clothes that we didn't wear anymore. Each piece was a gold coin donation towards our Christmas party. We raised over $50 and the remaining clothes went to charity.

We still managed a writing exercise. Using a couple of funeral notices for inspiration, we each wrote a dialogue between the two women at any point in their lives (or afterlives). It was fun and as usual my cynicism shone through. Here's my piece:

'Thank God, that's over!' said Dottie.

'What do you mean, dear? I'm rather sad to leave my grandkids behind.' Alice replied as she admired the wildflowers perched on Dottie's coffin.

'70 years!' she said. 'Can you believe it? 70 years? Washing John's socks and underwear, running about after him, making sure tea was on the table. When they said till death do you part, I never imagined it would be that long.'

'Look at him - he looks lost. What's he going to do without you, Dottie?'

'Wash his own socks for a start.' Dottie grumbled, thinking of all the years she'd spent in the laundry.

'You got a lovely turn-up. Wonder how many will turn up to my funeral this afternoon?'

'I'm sure there'll be a crowd, Alice. You can't hang around this earth for 92 years and not gather a few friends.'

'They might just come to make sure I'm dead. Work out how much money I've left them.' Alice laughed. 'They'll be disappointed when they discover there's not much but some old furniture and some photo albums. Geez, I had a good time after Gerald passed on. He has such a tight reign on the purse strings. It was nice to think about myself for change.'

The two women bow their heads respectfully as they walk past the coffin.

'Bit weird being at the funeral.'

'You don't say!'

'Who's the handsome young man with the long blonde hair?' Alice nudges Dottie. 'Is that one of your grandkids?'

'No, never seen him before in my life. But he is nice looking.' Dottie beamed. 'That'll keep them talking about me.'

Some of our newer members commented on how much the older members can write in a ten minute exercise. But it's all practice. It's years of being able to slip in and out of that creative momentum at will, and it is due to writing almost every day.

After the meeting, I went to the supermarket and was surprised when I rounded a corner to see Lisa, another member who hadn't made it to the meeting, holding out a DVD for me: Pedro Almodovar's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. I love this movie. It's so funny, and has a very young and spunky Antonio Banderas. I haven't seen it for years but I'm looking forward to watching it again. Thanks Lisa!

I watched Volver a few weeks ago, and was pleased to see that Almodovar had returned to comedy. His dramas were just a bit too serious for me. I like his dark humour and silliness!

It also got me thinking. I don't watch a lot of foreign movies anymore. Not sure why. Maybe because I live in conservative regional Australia and we're just not exposed to them. But I have world movies on pay TV but that's no excuse. Maybe I've just frustrated with the quality of sub-titles. Maybe I just want to keep reading and movie watching as two distinct activities. Years ago, when I lived in Annandale, I used to spend Sunday afternoons at the double feature at the Stanmore Cinema. 2 movies for $6. You couldn't beat it. There would be a lot of foreign doubles. And they were great! Maybe I should surf over to World Movies more often.

4 days to the start of Nanowrimo....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thank God its Sunday!

Thank God It's Sunday!

I couldn't say it on Friday, because I knew I still had the day at work on Saturday to get through. But now it's Sunday so I can say Thank God!

I usually work around between 35 - 45 hours a week depending on which week it is, and if there's a rostered day off in there. This week I've worked over 60 hours! Yawn! And it's been go, go, go (at least mentally) all week. Exciting, challenging and draining.

So today, I'll be doing work of another kind - reading! The spare lounge is moving from the spare room onto the back verandah so that will be where I spend most of my day.

I've also been making a collage of Diary of the Future and found the perfect picture to include in a magazine on Friday, so that's got to go on the collage today. It depicts one of the scenes set at the cinema perfectly. I hopefully will have the collage complete by the time November rolls around and will post it on the blog.

In the meantime, LittleGreyDragon on the Nanowrimo forums has designed me this gorgeous banner to depict my Nanowrimo project. Very pretty and inspiring. Can't wait to tackle those fairytales. Roll on November. October is just a holding pattern!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Nightly Ritual

Spring is here and the weather is certainly starting to warm up. The magnolia tree is once again filled with leaves, and the white snowdrops of wisteria have also given way to greenery. But with the warmer weather comes the parasites which necessitates the ritual on the left.
I'm yet to find a weapon that beats these pesky little fellas although I'm sure Dorkus would like me to keep looking. We've swapped from Frontline to Revolution this month to see if it makes a difference but we still need to do a nightly comb through to remove the resilient ones.
At the same time, work has also heated up. And in fact, I never imagined we would be as busy as we are. Hard work, long days moving quickly into nights. Before I know it, it will be my birthday and then Christmas. Life is certainly not dull at the moment.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Laptop is back

The universe heard my plea for my laptop. They had phoned me at work that afternoon to say it was ready to be picked up but I'd already left for the day. I couldn't pick it up till Thursday but now I'm back on the laptop. There was nothing wrong with the computer brain. The screen was replaced instead. So I'm happy to say I did not have to reload any programs and I can get to work on my new t-shirt designs before Nanowrimo is upon me.

But when I started using it, it did some very odd things. I was hitting the letter keys on the right hand side of the keyboard and numbers were appearing. I could see it was a 'function' key thing but I couldn't work out how to turn it off. So not-so-tech-savvy me discovered the laptop num lock function that she didn't knew existed before and after about half an hour finally worked out how to turn it off. I guess those two keys had never been hit in combination before!

Now I'm looking forward to getting the router so that I don't have to be chained to the modem/phone outlet to be on the net.

I suspect that today is the only day I'll have at home this weekend (I'm expecting that I'll be called in to work tomorrow) so I need to make the most of it and get a lot done. Which includes my father's BAS statement, the newsletter for the writers group, the new designs and watch at least one DVD from Quickflix (Safety in Numbers, Ten Canoes, or The Kingdom - Lars Von Trier). No surfing for me today. It's back to work.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Novelled out

There have been strange noises coming out of the study lately (or the cave as I like to refer to it.) Sirens, screeching tyres - Holy Batman - you'd think there was a whole city in there. And then the swearing! My partner has discovered computer games! At least it will keep him out of my hair while my mind is occupied with Nanowrimo.

I want my laptop back! Still no news and it's been more than two weeks. They had to send it away for repairs. I'm sick of this huge monster sitting on my desk. It does not make me inspired to write or edit. And although I've had a heap of ideas for 'writing' t-shirts to add to my Chickollage store, I need software that is not on this computer to create the designs. We're also looking at going wireless for our internet connection (not roaming wireless but within the house wireless). That way once I have my laptop back, I can make use of my 'idle' time watching TV by updating my Cafepress store.

I've been thinking about fairytales again and fracturing some more for this year's Nanowrimo. I had such fun writing Beyond Happily Ever After and discovering what happened to Cinderella and Snow White after they found their princes, I would like to explore some other modern fairy tales with a chick lit twist. Well, that's this week's idea! I've pulled out a book that my parents gave me in 1975 called World's Best Fairy Tales and will be reading that for inspiration. (This must be the only book I still have from my childhood). But it's only Oct 9. Much can change between now and the start of Nanowrimo. And if I do write 50,000 words of themed short stories, maybe I'm really doing NaShoStoWriMo.

All I know is that I'm novelled out. I can't keep writing reams of first draft, without committing to the second and third draft, and however many more it takes to polish it up for submission. Yes, I can say I've completed a novel. At least until 1st or 2nd draft stage. But not to the point where I'm ready to send my babies out on the street to find a home. And that's what I have to do. I've managed the gestation and the giving birth part. I just haven't quite brought them up right yet.

So it's a very conscious decision not to add to the work in progress pile but also not to let the opportunity of the Nano community pass me by. Bring on the short stories.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Nanowrimo again

It's that time of the year again. Time for sign-ups to the Nanowrimo challenge. Write 50,000 words in the month of November.

What? Are you out of your mind? I can hear you thinking it now. Especially if you haven't heard of Nanowrimo before.

But I'm throwing down the gauntlet! If you've always thought you could be a writer, here's your chance to see what amazing things lie in your subconscious. Plot and plan before November 1st hits, or just wait till the beginning of the month, trust your muse and dive right in.

It's exhilirating, stressful and fantastic. Some of what you write is absolute drivel but some of it is truly wonderful, and comes from a place you barely knew existed.

Year 1, I wrote 25,000 words. Year 2 - 38,000. Year 3 - more than 50,000. Year 4 - made it to the finish line with a complete first draft.

Let your muse free. She's bored. She needs Nanowrimo!

Need some more encouragement? Read No Plot, No Problem by Nanowrimo founder Chris Baty.

Okay, so I'm still looking for a plot. And it would be lovely if I could scan old notebooks and hard drives, and come up with something as offbeat as Jenny Crusie's discovery. I'll dip in but I can't promise anything. Although last year's manuscript Diary of the Future was based on an idea I had around 7 years ago. And I'll hang out in the Plot Doctoring forum on the Nanowrimo website. I may just find the catalyst to my whole unwritten novel in the Adopt a Plot, Adopt an Opening Line or The Dares thread.

So are you in it? Or not? Leave me a comment!

Monday, October 01, 2007

My long weekend

Something shifted today and instead of spending the public holiday glued to the keyboard, I went out to the Buskers Festival at Woolgoolga and soaked up the sun. Now I am not a sun baby, I've always preferred to get a moon tan rather than a sun tan, but a couple of hours of vitamin D should have done me good. Well, I had a great time watching the acts even if my legs had gone to sleep and it was great to be amongst an enthusiastic crowd watching grown men humiliate themselves in public.

I paid for my time in the sun this afternoon with the beginning of a migraine, but once I'd taken a couple of tablets and eaten a decent meal with vegies, I was alright again.

I didn't quite achieve all the writing goals I wanted to. I allowed myself some time off this weekend which was enjoyable. The time off included the Festival, and watching 8 episodes of the second series of Dead Like Me. I love that show and I cannot understand why it wasn't shown on free to air TV in Australia. Actually, I do understand - the TV stations are run by morons who think reality TV is the answer to everything and show quality drama such as The Sopranos and Six Feet Under at midnight. So now, I'll print out a coy of my work in progress and take it to work to edit during breaks.

When I went to Byron Bay Writers Festival, I saw Richard Flanagan speaking about Research for Fiction Writers. He was very funny, so I borrowed his latest book The Unknown Terrorist from the library.

Wow! This is an amazing but scary story when a pole dancer is implicated by a chain of events and the whole nation believes she is a terrorist. In today's climate of fear-mongering and security alerts, the premise of the novel was all too realistic. Richard Flanagan twists the plot with some incredible metaphors that capture contemporary Sydney.
Although this copy will be returned to the library tomorrow, I will be purchasing a 'keeper' copy soon. The book is that powerful.