Friday, 26 November 2010

Why I did not complete Nanowrimo this year, and other tall tales...

The dog ate my manuscript.

Just kidding. For a start, I didn't even print it.

Look, this blog post is not for me to justify what I am doing, and it's not really to explain it, but it's a simple way of letting you all know that my mind has been elsewhere this month. Namely, it's been in 1994, when Winston Keller is old and having a heart attack in his woodworking shed. (If that doesn't make any sense to you, don't worry, he's not a real person.)

I am inspired to continue work on my Magnum Opus as my primary goal for the moment, and Love this City has consequently been shelved.

Seriously though, cut me some slack, I got to 35000 words despite not being finished uni for the semester until yesterday, and I managed to get pretty great marks in my final assignments too so I wouldn't say I failed.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Pulling an All Nighter...

Have you ever been so caught up in a story that you will do anything to stay awake long enough to read it?

Last night I think I washed my face about six times because my skin was growing tight around my skull and my eyes were drooping painfully out of their sockets... but not literally of course. Fatigue had me in its grips. Its bony talons pulled my eyelids shut forcibly. I drank a tonne of water. I washed my face. I got up and did a little dance, jogged around the room, anything to stay awake.

I haven't had this stay-up-all-night feeling for a while. I think the last time I did I was reading... either Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey or Sustenance by Simone Lazaroo, but Sustenance doesn't really count because it was for school. Both great books though.

Last night, my victim... er... I mean choice of book... was The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, who I had the pleasure of meeting last Friday morning at a Dymocks Morning Tea event. Can I just say, the woman is an inspiration. She has my life. She's gorgeous, she dresses the way I like to think I dress when I try hard enough, she has a family, she's an amazing writer and she's smart and funny and... I think I have a girl crush. Hehe.

While we were at the event, mother said "I think you're got yourself a new idol" or something along those lines, and I had to explain to her that Kate was already my idol, but that it was nice Mum had picked up on it. (Mum also said "One day it will be you up there" and that gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. Thanks Mummy, I love you!) But yes, for a budding historical novelist, Kate is a dream idol and I learned a lot from her. I've emailed her once before, I think I mentioned this in my previous post, and she emailed back. Lovely, lovely woman.

And her book is lovely too. It's the kind of book that I dismiss when I write them myself because they are fanciful and unrealistic. But I realised last night that if I love them when Kate writes them, why can't I love them when I do?

The Distant Hours is a beautifully crafted book, much in the same vein as her other two novels, The Shifting Fog/ The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden. I recommend reading them in publishing order, so that you can have Kate grow in your estimation and you can watch her go from first novel to mega star.

It was well worth staying up until 3 am to finish, and now, even though I only had a little sleep before Mum woke me up to say goodbye before she went to work... (don't worry, I fell back asleep again, I've had my ten hours)... I'm plenty ready to take on the day. Exam study is needed before HARRY POTTER PREMIERE TONIGHT!!! And yes I am dressing up. As Ginny or Hermione, haven't decided yet. Yes, I am a geek.

Have a nice day.


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Since it's November and All...

I figured I'd save myself some time here and write a post so that everyone who wants to know how Nanowrimo is going can find out. I also have a recently attended author event to blog about.

It's the end of Week Two. People on the Nano site often talk about getting "Week Two'd", which I understand as being that feeling of complacency which comes from succeeding on riding the novelty of the project in Week One, and therefore deciding it is okay to rest on your laurels for a week because there are still two more to go after it.

Can I just say, that's a really bad idea? I've been told write every day a lot in my life, and while I'm not a religious follower of that, if you're trying to hash out 50 000 words a day, write every day already. Don't complain. Don't push yourself for that 1667 that's recommended. Don't even worry about plot. Just write something. Open the word document and write "man this character is starting to annoy me..." That's what I love about Nano. I could easily be writing a letter to myself (a 50 000 word letter) documenting how much I think I suck at writing this month. I'm not. But I could be, and I like that idea. Or I could be writing a really, really boring account of the things I think while I stare at that little blinking cursor. But that would probably go something like this: "My eyes hurt. I should get them tested. Nah, I got them tested in March. Maybe my glasses are dirty. Maybe I'm tired. I should have coffee. Nope, too late at night. Tea it is. I'll try the English Breakfast. Or just stick with Earl Grey, no point stirring the pot too much. (Bit of tea humour for you there.)" And while no one would want to read that, I would have gained the practical experience of sticking to a goal that I set out for myself.

Of course, it is much more satisfying to write an actual book. Now, let's put aside for a moment that the week after next, I have two exams to write, and that they both look really hard. Let's forget about those. Let's pretend they don't exist really hard, in case that might make it true...

And let's say I have limitless spare time, and I can get up every day, and write from 11 til 1... you may remember that's the time I do my writing if and when I try scheduling. I've got this whole plot set out. And I've got inspiration, and encouragement. Why shouldn't I actually try?

So, I've actually been giving it a fair go, although more often than not, I skip a few days and then spend one day a week madly catching up. So far, my characters clearly have ideas of their own.

On Friday, I went to a morning tea with author Kate Morton, who's newest book

The Distant Hours I am currently reading. I met lots of lovely people, encouraging, friendly people who genuinely pretended to be interested for at least a little while. Thanks to them, if they ever stumble across this blog, and it was lovely to meet you. I've actually emailed Kate before, all the way back in 2008, asking her for advice about sticking to strict historial accuracy. And she eventually got back to me, wrote me a lovely email.

Well, because I'm a nerd, I saved the email, and I printed a copy to take with me to the talk. I queued up for 40 minutes to get all my Kate Morton books signed, and I proudly presented her with the email and asked her if she remembered sending it to me. And she said she did, which was so so so lovely. I hope she knows that the reason I asked was because it meant a lot to me to receive it. Asking people you admire for help is incredibly inspiring, especially if they write back. (Oh and during question time, I also asked her what her views are on literary agents. She's pro them, if you're interested.) So she signed all my books, told me to keep at it, and when I asked her if she would like to keep the copy of the email, she said yes.

Simple pleasures. That night I wrote a lot. I was feeling pretty motivated. But I'm still behind on my Nano stats.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Thoughts on: Neuromancer (William Gibson)

Hmmm did I tell a fib yesterday when I said it was my last thoughts on... I think I did. Oopsy.

Bear with me for one last post on my uni books? Pretty please? I'll be your friend.

And I'll keep it short and sweet.

First of all, I really liked Neuromancer. It was edgy and it was young and fresh, and minus all the high teck jacking in and stuff, it was sort of what I want my Nano novel to be this year, although I have already given up on making it work the way I want, seeing as the scene in which Dean discovers The Shakespeare has already turned into something of a Magical Realist scene. If you have no idea what I am talking about, but would like to, click here.

Henry Dorsett Case is a really good example of an antihero. He likes drugs. He likes them a lot. He's not all abstinence-guy, "oh no, I couldn't possibly, my body is a temple." And that makes him likeable. I think if anyone is doing research on Anti-heroes, look at Case, because it's really difficult to put your finger on the reason you acutally do like him. I think for me, it was because he was actually a really soft, caring person even though he couldn't admit it. I mean he was tender, emotional, loyal, that sort of stuff. He couldn't admit his own grief about Linda Lee to himself, and he couldn't admit that he was sad when Molly left but it was no secret to me. Trust me to find the romance in Cyberpunk, hey?

And how cool is that genre name? Cyberpunk. Cybernetics and the Punk aesthetic. Love it.

Seriously, are any of you as freaked out as I am that I am saying I really liked a Sci Fi book? No? Still with me? Good.

All that being said, I can't say I really understood a lot of it. Especially towards the end. This is a bit of a spoiler, but in the epilogue where they explain that they failed in their mission, I was thinking "really???" because I'd been so confused by the climax that I'd just assumed their plan had worked.

But that's just me. As Molly would say "that's just the way I'm wired."

Actually had a look for the second one, Count Zero, in the library today but couldn't find it. If anyone has read it, I'd love to hear if it's any good.

AND MURDOCH STUDENTS! Take Popular Literature, Science Fiction and Cyberculture with Prof. Frodsham, you WILL NOT regret it. The man is a legend. He tells amazing stories, gives writing tips, and has obviously had an amazing life. Well worth it. Loved the course, and if you have happened to stumble across this post, Professor, thank you very very very much.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Thoughts on: The Left Hand of Darkness (Ursula K. LeGuin)

Hey again.

There are just a few little things I have to say about this book, and it is my last thoughts on for a while because the semester is over, so it's writing time... and then Barcelona time, which will be amazing!

The Left Hand of Darkness is one of those books that even if you DO NOT like Science Fiction and Fantasy, you have at least heard of it. I think I'd probably seen it for the first time in the library at my primary school because for a while people were constantly telling me to read LeGuin but I was never into it. And aside from a few favourites like Tamora Pierce, I never really jumped on the Speculative Fiction bandwagon. I've always been a realist novel kinda girl.

So needless to say, The Left Hand of Darkness kind of knocked me for six. First of all, it completely wrecked my reading schedule for the semester. I didn't finish it in time for the lecture OR in time for the tutorial the day after, which is just not me. I'm queen of the nerds usually, particularly when it comes to reading. But the theoretical side of the book was so intense. I struggled with the idea that the people on the planet Winter had no sexual characteristics at all. I kept imagining them as like people in morphsuits, or like people in bald caps painted as alien, but basically essentially male. It didn't help that the main character, Genly Ai, constantly referred to other characters by the pronouns "he" and "his". It's hard not to picture something masculine when the description is saying His face, His hands. And as a sometimes very outspoken young woman (ha! sometimes.) the fact that I couldn't imagine a world without gender was quite unsettling for me.

Maybe that was the point of the book. Maybe LeGuin wanted her readers to think about how much of the way they think about their identities is based on gender. Maybe she wanted to show us the way our world is split into all these binary oppositions. Dark, Light. Male, Female. Rich, Poor. Because at the end of the book, when Ai's own people come down in the rocket ship, he realises that he sees them as the ones who are not human, and the Gethenians who are both sides of the human binary at once, as the true humans. And I like that idea. I like it a lot. But even LeGuin has said she copped a bit of flack for the use of he, and the not completely realised notion of ambisexuality. Still, a lovely effort.

And speaking of *ahem* lovely efforts, this is me trying to draw a Karhidian... but I realise that it looks like a cross between a monk and the Last Airbender.... it was an exercise purely to see if i could draw someone neither male nor female. What do you reckon?