PeterMBall

What I did on my birthday…

Just dropping past to say a very public thank you to all the folks who wished me a happy birthday via the internets yesterday (and to say a big happy birthday to Ben Francisco, with whom I share the birthday).

Sadly, I wasn’t much for the interwebs on the day itself. I did something wonky to my shoulder sometime on Tuesday (probably a pulled muscle while lugging two bags of hardcover text books back to the library) and circumstances conspired to ensure that things to progressively worse over the following 48 hours. I spent most of yesterday propped up at a 45% degree angle watching Life on Mars & My So-Called Life and going through the supply of ibuprofen.

Be back on schedule tomorrow. See you all then.

The Tangled Bank

A very cool open-call for a fiction anthology, put together by clarion-peep Chris Lynch:

This year marks 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin, and 150 years since the publication of The Origin of Species. To mark the anniversaries, submissions are invited for The Tangled Bank, an e-anthology of speculative fiction, artwork, poetry, and comics exploring the legacy of Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution.

Illuminate — or obscure — the line between the real and the fantastic. The fiction may be of any speculative genre or cross-genre; demand to be included by the quality of your submission. Artwork and poetry need not be strictly speculative in nature, but must engage with Charles Darwin or evolution.

Submissions for The Tangled Bank open May 1st and close June 30th, 2009. The Tangled Bank will be published by Tangled Bank Press in late 2009, and an advance on royalties of 20 per cent will be paid to all contributors. For submission guidelines and more information, visit

Not a writer? Then allow me to distract you with the view of yesterday’s brewing storm from my study window, around sunset:

Storm, around sunset

You know, for a person that doesn’t really like photographs (whether I’m in them or not), I’m starting to dig having a digital camera handy.

Morning

There is something about getting up early and writing that always makes me feel virtuous. I like the way it gets the guilt of not-writing out of the way early, the way it sets the tone for the rest of the day (in which I think about writing in moderation, rather than obsessing about the fact that I’m not writing to the exclusion of all else), and the excuse to drink inhuman amounts of coffee.

If only I didn’t have to pay for these early starts later (say, around 3:30 when I crash out and need a nap) or actually wrote productively (this week, getting up at six and working for two and a half hours has netted me a paragraph of thesis work a day) it’d be an awesome habit to get into; sadly, I am not built for mornings and it’ll fall by the wayside once I have absolved myself of my latest bout of writer-guilt. Which I’m slowly starting to do in relation to the thesis – today I got past the big mental block that stopped me finishing chapter two – but there’s plenty more hiding up the back of the novel/novella/short-story slacker variety.

And now I dance off, clad in my green shoes and least-salacious unicorn shirt, to collect first-year assignments and start marking them. Will probably spend tonight kicking around the Gold Coast and being a slacker, so I’ll catch you all tomorrow.

It still feels weird when people mention stuff like this…

Jack Dann gets interviewed for Flycon and says a bunch of useful things about being a writer. He also names a list of writers to watch in 2009 which includes such oft-mentioned to peeps as Angela Slatter and Jason Fischer as well as, well, me. Which is both cool and moderately terrifying and a great reminder about how much of this year is being swallowed up by things that are not writing.

One of these days I’ll get around to writing a full post about how odd it is to think that stuff I’ve written is read by strangers (or distant acquaintances, or even people I only know through writer-type activities), but suffice to say that it’s still something that comes as a nice surprise when stuff like this happens.

In which I overcomplicate the notion of furniture.

Allow me to introduce you to the great redundancy in my flat:

Couch Redundancy

The redundancy, for the curious, comes in couch form (and possibly the desk in the lower foreground since I’ve already got two others, but the desk is awesome and thus excused from such considerations). My lounge room can seat six or seven people, yet it’s rare that I’ll ever have that many people in my place. I’m a little weird about letting people into my space at the best of times, and I’ve filled all three couches only twice in a two-year period (and that was for gaming purposes, the one exception to my I don’t invite people around weirdness). Therefore the primary purpose of having three couches is so I can do horrible things to my back while falling asleep in front of the TV – swapping between the two-seat couch and the three-seat couch on a daily basis keeps the kinks from settling in one part.

I’ve spent a large portion of today wandering around my flat and wondering why I really have things. Realistically I could move my TV into the bedroom and replace the couches with a nice dining room table without any real loss of functionability (in fact, the dining room table would see more use, being more convenient for eating and table-top gaming than the couch/coffee table combo).

And yet I remain oddly attached to the couches. It’d feel odd not to have them around.

But the other part of me wants to embrace the simplicity and pay attention to the things that I actually use.

On Getting My Groove Back & The Clarion South Donation Drive

I’ve sent off three four submissions in the past 48 hours. I’ve done a rewrite of an old story that I’ve kinda figured out how to finish. I’ve cooked meals. I’ve washed up. I’ve forced myself to query some submissions where responses have obviously gone awry (I hate querying; it makes me feel needlessly pushy). I’ve done pro-active things on a bunch of little projects. I’ve cleaned out my e-mail backlog until there’s only a handful of things left to answer. There are the beginnings of new stories. Tomorrow, if the small change in my bag blesses me with enough space to hit the laundromat, there will even be wishing.

There is a groove, and I’ve almost got it back. Let’s see how I’m doing by this time tomorrow.

Of course, in cleaning out the backlog I was reminded, yet again, that I hadn’t posted this all public-like. With that in mind:

Due to a run of really bad luck, Clarion South Writers Workshop has hit
some rocky financial times (not unlike the rest of the world!) For the
month of March, we are running a fundraising appeal to help set us
straight again and ensure future workshops continue. We hope to get to
$4000by 31 March 2009.

There are a few ways you can help…

1. Donate to our Fundraising Appeal
Simply go to http://www.clarionsouth.org/donate.htm to make a PayPal
donation directly to Clarion South.

We really do appreciate even tiny donations, and if you are not in a
position to give, that is perfectly okay. We know it’s grim out there
for everyone right now.

2. Spread the word
Even if you can’t donate to the Appeal we would love your support to
spread the word about our fundraising drive. By the end of March we are
hoping to raise $4,000 for Clarion South. If you know any friends who
are sympathetic to the aims and activities of Clarion South, please let
them know – via Facebook, MySpace, your blog or any other means. We’ll
have a Facebook group up shortly, but in the meantime, please feel
free to direct people to our website at http://www.clarionsouth.org

And if you’re just wondering what the heck Clarion South even is,
meander on over to our website at http://www.clarionsouth.org

Thank you in advance for your love and support. We’re incredibly
passionate about Clarion South and would like to see it thrive and
continue into the future. Your contribution can help make this a
reality.

At time of posting I’d heard that they were a third of the way to their goal, which is good new to the future spec-fic writers of Australia (and the world, as my American peeps who flew south for Clarion continue to prove).

Black Dragon, White Dragon Review

I have been an unproductive sloth since finishing classes on Monday, so there’s little to report but the review of Black Dragon, White Dragon anthology over on The Fix. I give you the excerpt in which its all about me:

Peter M. Ball’s “The Dragonkeeper’s Wife” is ostensibly about the dragon, but it is really the story of two people pulled apart by their beliefs. Anyone who has ever dated or been married to someone diametrically opposed to them philosophically or politically will feel the import of this tale. “The Dragonkeeper’s Wife” is sad, but it ends on a note of hope, and is well-wrought in a Gene Wolfe, Peter Beagle fashion.

No, I’m not sure why Gene Wolf’s name is highlighted and Peter Beagle’s isn’t. I just nod and link and mention once again that the books available now in print and e-book.

I would post more, but I slept through yesterday and that means I need to get stuff done. See you all tomorrow after I’ve done, well,  something at least vaguely more productive 🙂

The things you forget

First real day of classes today, which basically meant I spent seven hours running around like a mad rabbit trying to explain things without a break. Am now thoroughly exhausted and good for nothing, but feeling that warm accomplished glow that comes from returning to work.

But, oh god, I forgot exactly how tiring first year classes are.

I shall do very little tonight that is not television, reading, and picking up a meal from Subway.