Billboards, Peaches, & WIP Excerpts

This morning I once again started the day with music and dancing, although I substituted PJ Harvey for Peaches The Teaches of Peaches album, which is a slightly different mood to start the day with and one that’s much more likely to irritate your neighbors.

Yesterday I had a phone call from my father which started along the lines of “yes, well, I can see how PJ Harvey would wake you up in the morning.” Apparently he googles bands when I mention them on my blog, just to get some idea of what I’m listening too.

So, for my dad and anyone else following my music taste online, I’m going to recommend *not* googling Peaches while at work. I mean, you can if you want, but I’m taking no responsibility when you find yourself singing Fuck the Pain Away beneath your breath while other people are in earshot.

Should you not wish to take my warning, I recommend Youtube. The clip for the song is awesome.


Every time I hear someone banging on about sexism being erradicated and feminism no longer being necessary, my first impulse is to turn and start ranting about billboards. I mean, being white and male and loaded with middle class privilige, I’m hardly the most astute feminist commentator around, and even I walk past billboards going “seriously, dude, WTF?”

Yesterday I came across one of the worst offenders I’ve seen in a long time. I was doing deliveries out in the southern suburbs of Brisbane, stuck at an intersection, and from a distance spotted something that looked like a billboard where the only thing that was visible from a distance were the silhouettes of three women who were in the oddly-contorted “sexy” poses I’ve come to associate with the billboards for one of Brisbane’s most over-promoted strip clubs.

Turned out it was a billboard for a local hardware store. The ad text, nigh invisible from the original distance, made it 100% obvious that the sexualised poses weren’t accidental. It read, basically, “can’t imagine these three together? We can.”

Twenty four hours later I’m still bothered by the billboard’s existence. I sincerely hope it’s losing them business, if only so people will one day stop saying “sex sells” when talking about advertising things that have nothing to do with sex (unless, of course, this is a sex shop for those with a hardware fetish, but somehow I doubt it).


I wrote a bunch of emails yesterday, largely just saying hello to a bunch of people I haven’t seen in a while. Most of them were people I knew pre-email and aren’t really email type people, but I figured there wasn’t much to lose and tried it anyway.

Afterwards I sat down and wrote. About a twelve hundred words on a story titled Waiting for the Steamer on the Docks of V—, which will probably not be the final title, but amuses me for the moment because I like it when older stories use an initial and an em-dash instead of an actual name, even if I’ve never precisely understood why it happens. I’m somewhat fond of this story, already, and I have not been fond of any story I’ve written in its nascent form for quite some time. Because of this, I shall engage in WIP excerptery:

Patrick chooses the café where we eat breakfast. We walk up a narrow flight of stairs and sit on a terrace balcony, looking down the long street filled with cyclists and porters and beggars clustered around the alleyways. The café has glass tabletops that are damp with morning condensation, the droplets of water still touched with the brown of the river. There are streaks of dirt on the red tile floor. The café was recommended by a friend of Patrick’s back in Brisbane. I wonder if we too will recommend it once the distance of hindsight banishes the horror of eating there.

Afterwards I wrote a beginning to Flotsam 6 which actually felt like a beginning, rather than an action sequence which didn’t quite fit, and then some more tinkering on Black Candy, whereupon I realised that one of my many beginnings would actually make a fine end to the first act if one of the random-characters-who-never-actually-appears-again becomes one of the important-characters-who-doesn’t-appear-enough. Once again I am the victim of novel-flail.

Honestly, I really would like to write books for a living, if I could but figure out how to write books instead of stories. I shall get there, I’m sure, but it takes so very long and there are so many foolish mistakes.

It wasn’t quite a full day’s quota of writing, but it was in the zone that I’m happy with between 2,000 and 2,500 words total, and I didn’t feel too guilty about packing Fritz the Laptop away and going to bed a little early.

I suspect there will be very little writing tonight. There are classes, and there are proofs to proof, and I don’t finish the classes until late. At some point in there I should make myself chili, for I shopped and bought real food, and it requires cooking.


There was something else I was going to mention, but I appear to have forgotten it.


I’m preparing to disappear into a writing bunker for the next few months, squirreling myself away behind a barricade of unread books and manuscript drafts with naught but Fritz the Laptop and the Spokesbear for company.

My plan is to read things and write things and emerge only for food, dayjobbery, roleplaying games and the occasional offer of coffee when the absence of real conversation becomes to much. Beyond that I shall practice the exquisite art of saying no to things. Preferably before people finish their invitations, lest I be tempted into whatever coolness they’re offering. I shall leave aside any plans for my career or thoughts of branding and professionalism in writing or pondering whether I should be doing the ebook thing (which I would, if I wrote faster, but I don’t at the moment), and I shall write. Like a demon. For ninety days.

And I shall do this because it’s fun, and everything else will take care of itself.


One of the most intriguing things about living in the future, such as we do, is that there are now writers who I love and admire that have been maintaining weblogs for a decade or more. And while it’s very easy to start thinking of the internet as a place where things happen now now now, it’s actually remarkably useful to go back and look through several years worth of journal entries or blog posts, noting the changes in style and the shift from being a writer who sells short stories to Asimov’s or Strange Horizons, into a writer who strides across the publishing world like a colossus.

Writers grow up in public now, the vagaries of their careers charted and commented on and posted for the world to see. And that stuff sticks around, for years at a time. It’s the sort of thing you only used to get by, say, reading a collected edition of a writer’s letters, or the occasional writer’s diary.

I say again, as I often do, fuck the flying cars. They may be the flashy side of the future, but the ease with which we can access the history of other people’s thoughts is a far more subtle and impressive feat.

  4 comments for “Billboards, Peaches, & WIP Excerpts

  1. 12/05/2011 at 10:51 PM

    There's an upmarket-ish sex shop(s) in Sydney called Toolshed. Which you may not have wanted to know.

  2. 12/05/2011 at 11:01 PM

    Actually, it sounds like exactly the sort of thing I enjoy knowing.

  3. 13/05/2011 at 7:48 AM

    I have been to the Toolshed on Oxford St. There is also a hardware store in Singleton called the Toolshed. My husband wondered whether they were open on public holidays and googled "Toolshed".


    Enjoy the time in the bunker, oh scary-high-wordcount-man. How is it that you make such high demands of yourself and do not already have many completed novels? I understand not.

  4. 13/05/2011 at 10:34 PM

    I keep writing novellas, and short stories.

    And there's a lot of redundancy in my drafting. About forty to fifty percent of my daily word count gets kept, most of the time, and the rest is excised when I start redrafting.

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