Tonight’s a moment of respite, I think, amid the pell-mell rush of the last few weeks. And for all that it’s been a good kind of rush, full of new jobs and new words and ticking things off the metaphorical to-do list, I’m kind of glad to be easing off the accelerator a little. I’m currently sitting my study with a snifter of port, my belly full of well-roasted vegetables, and my head full of stories that I’d really like to write in the near future.
It’s a pleasant kind of feeling, one that’s been all too scarce over the last eight months, and it’s rather nice to be looking at things I could do instead of panicking about the things I haven’t yet done.
So, yes, an update. Where shall we begin.
As I mentioned in my last post, I disappeared down the Rabbit Hole over the weekend just gone. It was a deranged and foolhardy exercise, conceived by my new boss, where a group of writers gathered together for three days and tried to write 30,000 words each. I wrote no-where near that many, nor did I expect to, but I still emerged from the weekend with 16,000 words under my belt and a substantial head-start on the next few installments of Flotsam. I’ll be off to continue work on the draft once this blog post is done, forging ahead into this brave new world where I do not have to live in fear of deadlines.
I’ve discovered magical things happen when you do not fear your deadlines. That Douglas Adams quote about deadlines making pleasant noises as they whisk past isn’t all its cracked up to be, largely because missing deadlines just makes you stupid and slightly worthless, regardless of how nice the editor is about things. And writing isn’t one of those activities that gets better with misery and late-night cram sessions. Getting things done ahead of a deadline means the story you turn is much more likely to resemble the story you thought you were writing, for example, and you’re actually permitted to email your editor without starting using the phrase look, I’m really sorry about this, but…
There are other things being written too, quietly and in the short cracks of free time created by the new job. Catching the train to work means I can scribble down a page or two before work, and getting a lunch break is good for another couple of hundred words. I started a new short story today, something that may be a strange kind of love story, and I suspect it may be the first love story I’ve written that actually has a happy ending. My plan is to write the entire thing on my morning commute, in one of the moleskins I was given for Christmas and never really got around to using because they were too nice for scribbled notes, and there shall be trains and people who think they know better than they do and murdered donuts who suffer excruciating deaths.
(Of course, someone at worked asked about the third Miriam Aster novella today, to which the only answer is look, I’m really sorry about this, but…)
Which brings us, I suppose, to the new job.
I’ve been somewhat coy about mentioning this online, largely because the sensation of having a regular day job that I like and enjoy is a remarkably foreign experience. The short version goes something like this: three days a week I work as a project manager for a community arts project run by the Queensland Writer’s Centre, which is this very odd cross between working a meaningful, engaging, rewarding job that I really enjoy and getting to catch up with a bunch of writer-type people I usually only encounter at writers festivals, workshops, and conventions. That I get to work in offices located at the State Library, above a cafe with decent coffee and a non-mallspawn bookstore is icing on the cake.
I’m three weeks into the contract, and I’ll admit to being slightly nervous about going in this morning. I love the job dearly thus far, but i’d just spent three days in the QWC offices belting out words for the rabbit hole. Surely, I thought, this will be the day I resent the fact that I can’t just stay home and write.
Turns out, no, it wasn’t. Not even a little. And man, I tell you, that realisation was very unsettling.
Okay, some random things.
Kathleen Jennings draws strange and curious things with surprising regularity, and if you’re not following her blog then you’re really missing out. The Dalek Game, in particular, has been one of the highlights of my year. Last week Alan Baxter and I used the medium of twitter to produce this startling rendition of Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, and the Fourteen Ducks who can Save the Earth. Go and check it out – odds are, if you’re reading this blog, you’re going to enjoy the experience. Personally, I think the image answers any questions I ever had about why twitter was a worthwhile place to spend time.
Stephen Dedman’s The Art of Arrowcutting is a remarkable novel, one that’s done a remarkable disservice by it’s cover-blurb given the way the urban-fantasy/noir genre has shifted since the book was first released. I suspect it’s not a book I’d recommend to everyone, but also suspect that those I would recommended it to would come to love it with a kind of fierce and unholy joy. It is, however, almost certainly a book for writers to read – it was recommended to me as a book with phenomenal, Wuxia-influenced action sequences in prose form and it utterly delivered on that recommendation. It also makes me wonder why in hell it’s been five years since someone last published a Stephen Dedman novel, because there really should be more of them floating around in the world.
And: Apex Publications, a company I have a great deal of affection for, have recently had interest Diamond Distributors about carry the Apex range of books and short story anthologies in stores across the USA and the UK. Taking advantage of the opportunity means Apex needs to shift their business model away from short print runs, so they’re currently crowd-sourcing the funds they need on peer-backer.