Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I'm craving...

I'm craving a good book to read, and the world around me is conspiring so that I get off my bottom and find one. 

First, I watched all of Castle Season 2 over the last couple of days.  And in one particular episode, a copy of Catcher in the Rye was stolen.  I love that book.

Then, some excellent book deals showed up in the latest Big W catalogue.  I spent some time today ticking some of the titles I lust after.

And then, I knew I needed a night with a good book or two when even Two and A Half Men (Sheen, not Kutcher) featured a book related plotline.  Jake was writing a book report on Lord of the Flies.  My sister had to read that in Year 12, she wondered why 10 year old Jake had to read it...  I wondered why I hadn't read it...

Winning!

Last night, at approximately 10.15, the word count on the novel known as The River limped over the 50 000 word mark.

To celebrate, I was given a shiny Winner's logo.  Check it out, it's under my profile there!

Here are a few things I learnt while writing a novel in a month:

1) You cannot resist the will of your characters.  Even if their will extends to semi-incest and kidnapping.

2) You cannot censor yourself just because your grandparents may be reading.

3) You must force yourself to write on the weekends.  You must force yourself to write at your Boyfriend's.  You must force yourself to write when drunk (a little...)  You must force yourself to write after lunch.  You must force yourself to write overseas.

4) You may have to swap writing time with reading time if you have a job in retail, as November is close to Christmas.  This also applies to exams.

5) Never put off until tomorrow what is coming to you in today's writing rant.


I am rewarding myself today with a Castle Season 2 Marathon, and I just ate my way through an entire box of Pocky.  Regular blogging will resume from tomorrow.  I'd love to do a Question and Answer blog...  Maybe you guys could ask me some questions in the comments section.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Nanowrimo 2011 Week Three

If you've read yesterday's post, you will know that this week, I spent five nights in Bali.  Let me tell you a little something about writing while on Holiday.  (It's a capital H because it's not just "oh, school's out, cool, let's have a Buffy marathon" it's, "hey, leave your mobile phone in a safe place because we're leaving the country.")  Writing on Holiday is HARD.  Here's why:

1) My beloved laptop Cedric has decided to chuck a few tantrums lately.  I switch him on.  He works for about 90 seconds and then switches himself off, swallowing any progress that I made.  Cedric was therefore NOT invited on Holiday.  I am currently working on my Dad's laptop, seeing as he now has an iPad and barely ever uses it.  Hooray for family!
2) When you go on Holiday with someone, you are expected to pay attention to them.
3) If you DON'T pay attention to said person, and instead write in the huge king size bed while said person is forced to watch Man vs. Wild repeats on a couch made of stone,  you feel a tad guilty.
4) You are a bit busy seeing the country you have paid to go to.

I actually did pack my compendium with THREE legal pads, and my journal.  I spent the days leading up to the trip catching up on words I didn't write while studying for my exam.  And I made a promise to myself that I would come home with enough new material to take me to 36000 words.

I did not do that.  Considering one of my characters hates it when people say they are going to do things and then don't, I'd say she's pretty mad at me.  My word count looks a little something like this now:

Bad, Elimy. BAD.
Now, No Plot? No Problem! by Nanowrimo creator Chris Baty says that you should never ever ever neglect your novel for more than a day, or you will lose momentum/ get addicted to a TV show/ pick up a bad habit that prevents you from getting near computers/ get a new hobby/ boyfriend/ pet or something else disastrous.  I thought that was silly.  I thought; No, if I don't write for a few days, I'll just pick up where I left off.  Now I'm back, I'm wondering where I left off.  I don't keep comprehensive notes, so I am wondering what I named my protagonist's father in law, what my protagonist's son's middle name is and I don't even really feel strongly about what characters to kill off anymore!  Plus, I am addicted to Castle.

To be fair, watching Castle does inspire me to write.  Watching other writers, even fictional ones, is always inspiring for me.  Another thing that inspires me is to find a book I hate by an author I think is ridiculous and then I get so mad that this person can be published and not me that I write for DAYS.  I won't name names. 

But seriously, I should have forced myself to write everyday.

Sorry novel!

That's all from me today; I'm only about a day and a half behind now, so I am off to rectify that.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Elimy in Bali

I've only ever read two novels about Bali.  The first was Sustenance, by Simone Lazaroo.  The second was Eat, Pray, Love.  Neither prepared me.

Books like those ones want you to think that Bali is a deeply spiritual place, full of rich culture and beautiful sunsets.  And maybe it is, if you are Balinese.  But if you are Australian, Bali is about three things: Crude souvenirs, semi-nudity and bintang singlets. 

Going to Bali made me a little bit ashamed to be an Australian.  And so, for a while, I wasn't.  But every now and then, a little bit of the Australian Bali DID sneak its way into my citizenship-less Balinese experience.

Let me show you the highlights reel.

We arrived late Thursday night.  And I mean late.  I don't just mean the plane was a late flight, I mean WE GOT DIVERTED TO A WHOLE DIFFERENT ISLAND OF INDONESIA BECAUSE OBAMA WANTED TO TAKE UP THE WHOLE OF DENPASAR AIRPORT.  We're talking something like more than an extra hour circling in the air above Bali, and then being sent to Surubaya before we ran out of petrol.  At least the lady sitting next to History Boy and I was nice.  She lent us trashy magazines.  Score.

Just FYI, Obama, you're totally off the woman behind us's Facebook likes.  Ouch.
We arrived at our VERY OWN PRIVATE VILLA late Thursday night, smelling just lovely, I can assure you.

The next eight hours were spent sleeping.

Friday we went out and explored Bali.  i.e. We were introduced to the trifecter of Aussie behaviour in Bali. As we walked around Kuta, near Matahari's department store, we discovered two things.  1) If an Indonesian hears you are from Australia, they automatically assume you are from Sydney, even though  I am pretty sure the majority of Australian tourists who go to Bali are from Perth.  2) If you walk around in a couple, people offer you "good price for honeymoon couple."  I wanted to exploit this misconception.  History Boy was not so keen.

Of course, this was the day we ate the obligatory MacDonald's.  The Fast Food Gods were pleased. 

And then, we came back... to this....

You can be jealous.  It's okay.
The whole trip was pretty much punctuated by swims in this pool.  Everyday we would wake up, swim, eat, go out come back, swim, eat, go out come back swim, go out, eat, swim, sleep.  There was also a lot of showering and bubble baths.  It was nice not to have the water run out on me for once!!!  I've never been so clean as I was for those five minutes after each shower in Bali.  But do you know what we missed?  Being able to open our mouths.  Hooray for safe water!

The best part of the trip was DEFINITELY the Saturday because we went to the Safari Park.  You know.  The Safari Park.  Oh, what's that?  You haven't heard of it?  Well it's pretty much the most awesome zoo ever.  It's on about 45 hectares of land, and driving around it in the safari tour was very similar to driving around Jurassic Park with Sam Neill that one time except there were no dinosaurs.

But there were Leopards.

And owls.

And elephants....

...that sprayed everyone in the crowd at bathtime!

TIGERS...

A cheetah named Sabrina...

Mufasa...there was a Simba too and I got to cuddle him!!  Yes, I still have all my fingers.
It was VEEEEEERY hot that day, so we didn't stay a long time at the Safari Park, just long enough for some lions to make us tasty burgers for lunch and me to buy yet another stuffed animal for my collection of stuffed animals from zoos and aquariums world wide!  Can you guess what I bought???  I'll give you a hint; it has a trunk.

As for writing... well.  I DID intend to write in Bali.  I took over my compendium and my journal but aside from chronicling the day's events....

I did get my nails done though!

Are you distracted by the pretty??
Anyway, schoolies starts this week, and luckily we only overlapped with all them for about a day.  It's okay, because it is easy to spot a schoolie.  The difficult part is crossing the road to get away from them.  If you've ever seen a Bali street between two and three pm, you'll know what I mean.

Travelling tips from me?  If you take taxi's in Bali, take the light blue Bluebird taxis... we had a couple of drivers do loops of the city to get more money off of us.  Wear sunscreen.  Don't bother with lots of make up, it just melts anyway.

That's all for now folks.  I've left a lot out but you probably don't care about me walking around looking at stuff.

I'm off to catch up about 8000 words for Nanowrimo by the end of the day.  Have a good one.  Any questions, hit me up in the comments.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Nanowrimo 2011 Week Two


"There are some things (like first love and one's first reviews) at which a woman in her middle years does not care to look too closely." - Stella Gibbons
This morning, I dropped a pile of books on my face.  I was trying to decide what to read, and I sometimes find rearranging my massive (but ever smaller) to read piles helpful in that kind of pursuit.  As I moved one pile, standing on tip toes and reaching for it precariously as it would happen, several books decided that they did not want to live anymore, and took a swan dive to the floor.  Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for me, my face broke the fall.  I fear I shall have a black eye.  I fear I am being overly dramatic.  For those of you who care, the books were P.D. James' Talking about Detective Fiction and Gift of the Gob by that woman who used to be on Can We Help? on ABC, whatever her name is.  I would go and look at the book to find out, except presently we aren't speaking.

Last night I came down with a bad case of novellus unputdownabilitas which was brought on by Kathryn Stockett's The Help, as well as the fact that I have a history exam tomorrow.  I read until well after midnight.  I shan't apologise.  If anyone was thinking of reading that book and couldn't decide, let me decide for you.  Read it. 

But despite all this reading and clumsiness that is going on, you may be surprised to hear that YES, I am still working on my Nanowrimo Novel for 2011, entitled The River.  The novel has taken some rather strange twists.  Last night, one character threw an orange at her sister. 

Other things which have happened this week include:

* The beginnings of a Buffy the Vampire slayer marathon
* Lychee martini's... which for the record, have proven to me once and for all that I could never be the functioning alcoholic type of writer.  At least not when History Boy is making the cocktails.
* The repeated deaths and reincarnation of my beloved laptop, Cedric, who is currently banished to the top of my writing paraphernalia box, under my desk.  Not because I am mad at him, but because I fear for his health.  IT Guy Brother may have have to rip his brains out so I can put them in a new body.  Which means I need to think of a new laptop name. 
* I got made over for Jade Goes with Everything.
* I saw a fantastic student production of As You Like It at Murdoch University.  If you didn't go and see that, you really missed out.  If you were in that, I salute you.
* I found a floppy hat!  It's rust coloured and I never want to take it off.

Seriously, you're thinking.  When did she have time to write???

I did, trust me. 

Word count currently at 26 500 words.  Aiming to be at 30 000 by tonight... in which case, why am I still talking to all of you???

Wish me luck.  And take my books away.  (Don't really, I'll cry.)

Elimy

P.S. Comet November went live today.  If you're missing me at all, head over tomorrow because I have a fictional piece going up at midnight.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Nanowrimo Sneak Peak

Hey all. Just a quick note before I put up a little something of what I am working on. This exerpt contains some crass language, and I was conflicted as to whether or not I should put it up. I don't know if I mention this often but I have a two person grandparent fanbase who support me every step of the way and read my blog. I love my Grandma and Grandpa very much. They believe in me so much and that is very touching. Out of deference to them, I usually make sure I keep my language PG on this blog. But I don't always in my writing. Because I am so proud of last night's segment, I am going to bend that little rule of mine today. If I apologise profusely, perhaps I will be forgiven.

On that note, FOR THE LOVE OF CHERRY RED LIPSTICK, never ever ever censor yourself. Don't ever feel like you can't write something because it might offend someone. Writing is for yourself. And if you turn the muse away when she knocks on your window, she might try the house next door.

If you're reading this, Grandma and Grandpa, I love you! :)

***********

Bundles of joy.
There was something growing inside Catherine that made her hungry and tired and fat. It was like a little tumour, except she wasn’t allowed to think that. Every time she thought that, she felt bad. She hadn’t told Peter yet, but surely he had noticed that her belly was thickening, or that her skin was worse, or perhaps he’d just noticed that her breasts were bigger. That she had breasts, for once. Maybe she wouldn’t ever have to tell him. Weren’t babies the desired outcome of a coupling? Wasn’t it more appropriate for wives who had not conceived to be the ones breaking news to their husbands?
Catherine took to walking about the house and jiggling, hoping that the thing might slide out of her. It wasn’t that she wanted to harm the baby. If she’d wanted to do that, she might have done something more excessive. She’d read that there were certain things expectant mothers could eat to bring on miscarriages. Or she could drink excessively. At a stretch, she could try falling abdomen first down the front steps.
The foetus in her made her crazy. There were always bags under her eyes. She kept on working, like a zombie. By night she cleaned and cooked. By day, she worked at the post office, selling stamps. At one point, a customer asked her opinion on two different books of stamps. One set had Queen Elizabeth on them, with various coloured backgrounds. The other set had pictures of buildings in Perth.
“Excuse me,” said the man. He was wearing a neat grey hat, and Catherine noted irritably that it didn’t cover his bald testicle of a head. She blushed. She’d never said the word testicle out loud before, and this was the first time she’d thought it. Then the image of Peter naked came to her mind, and the blush cleared from her face with clinical precision. She adjusted her pony tail.
“Yes?”
“Which book of stamps do you like better? I’ve had the Elizabeth’s before, but they’re classic, aren’t they?”
“Certainly sir. And she is a lovely looking woman.”
The man sniffed, and scratched the hollow of his nose. She could tell he desperately wanted to pick inside his nostril, but refrained out of deference to her.
“But the ones with the Perth buildings on are better for sending to my friends in England, who’ve never been here before. They’ve seen the Queen lots of times.”
“Sound logic.”
Catherine leaned forwards on her little white counter to see the stamps closer. She saw so many stamps a day that they’d ceased to be something that registered in her thinking. To Catherine, a stamp was a stamp.
“But then again, I don’t know if he collects stamps you see, and then the effort would be wasted.”
“It’s up to you. Which ones do you prefer?”
The man took off his hat. There was not a hair to be seen under it, but there was a little sunburnt patch. Catherine pinched at the pressure point between her thumb and forefinger. She had a headache. Her ankles were hurting too. She was only three months pregnant, and under her red Australia Post smock, no one could tell anyway. But the foetus wouldn’t let her forget.
“Oh. Well. They’re just stamps, really, aren’t they?”
Catherine sighed. She opened her little white gate and came out from behind the counter. Smartly, she walked over to the customer, her neat little court shoes going clack clack clack. He smiled at her brightly, expecting her to do something that solved his problems. Instead, she reached out and took the books of stamps off him, first snatching the Queen Elizabeths, and then snatching the City of Perths. She dropped them in the pocket of her smock. Then, she went back behind the counter, and opened the drawer, her face like a thundercloud. In the drawer was another book of stamps. This one with tropical fish. She pulled it out, rang it up on her little cash register and then slipped it into an envelope.
“Five pounds, sir.”
“But I don’t know what you even put in there. Which one was it?”
“You’ll see when you get home and open it.”
He frowned. “This is highly unusual.”
“So is wasting energy deciding which book of stamps to buy. This is a lucky dip. Like in school. It’s fun, sir.” Catherine said all this with a bleak look on her face and a droll note in her voice. Bottom lip jutted out in a sulk, the man fished a handful of coins out of his wallet and dropped them on the table. He snatched up the envelope and put it into his pocket.
“Keep the change,” he said.
A few moments later, the phone rang. Catherine waited the obligatory three rings, and then picked up.
“Post office,” she said.
“Hello,” said a male voice. “I was just in your store a moment ago. Could I speak to the manager please?”

Peter was waiting for her when she got home. He hadn’t taken his mackintosh off yet. He was sitting on the arm of the couch. She hated when he sat on the arm of the couch.
“Cathy,” he said, the end of her name with a downward inflection. There was a hint of disapproval in that. “Cathy. You should have told me you were pregnant.”
The foetus made her want to say something absurd. She took her shoes off and kicked them into the middle of her room. The carpet felt luscious through her stockings. She smiled and closed her eyes.
“You must be tired, Love. Come, sit down, and tell me how long you’ve known,” he said. He didn’t sound excited. Wasn’t he supposed to be excited that he would be a father?
“I suppose I’ve known two months.” She didn’t go into details of why. Men hated it when women talked about their monthlies. Women hated it when men talked about their ailments, but it didn’t usually stop them. Catherine smirked at the thought. She was becoming cynical in her pregnancy.
“You could have come to me. We have some money saved. You didn’t have to keep working.”
“I like my job,” she said. Then she coughed as the taste of cigarettes filled her mouth, like it always did when she lied. What she meant was, I need something in my life that is not here and is not you and is not my depressing, invalid father-child.
“It’s no place for a woman in your condition.”
She smirked and crossed one leg over the other. “In my condition,” she repeated.
Peter put his hands on her shoulders. “Cathy, you’re exhausted.”
“Exhausted.”
“I think we should hire a maid.”
“A maid.”
The words were going into her ears but coming straight back out through her mouth. Peter used his thumb and forefinger to swivel her face towards him. “Cathy? Cathy are you alright?”
Catherine went to stand up. There was something she was supposed to be doing. Laundry to be put in the oven. Dusting to be mended. A roast to be ironed. But it was like someone had found her switch and flicked it off. She felt the steady power down of her body, and then her eyes closed like shop shutters, and Catherine fell back into Peter’s arms, unconscious. Her body had forced her to sleep. The foetus had made its presence felt.

As Catherine got more and more pregnant, Don called her Jane more and more often. Every time he did it, Catherine felt a little sick. She started to feel as if she needed to hide from him. When they walked together, she would walk behind him. Even needing such a wide berth herself, it annoyed her how slowly he walked. His back was like a big, heavy upside-down U shape, and his legs were skinny and too weak to move his body forward any faster than the speed of someone learning to waltz. She took to counting as he moved. One two three, left foot, one two three right foot. Eventually, she would breathe to this rhythm too. When her child was born, she would breathe to this rhythm without thinking twice about it.
Things that it was okay to get Peter to do— taking in cups of tea, waking Don when he fell asleep by the radio— she delegated. Catherine still did all the heavy labour. She was the one who had to help him when Don was too dazed to shower himself. But Peter picked out his clothes. Catherine dressed him, but Peter sat with him and ate breakfast over the morning paper. It was like shift work.
Catherine found that she missed her father, but spending time with him when he thought she was someone else did not really count as spending time with him. So she continued to miss him for six more months, and pretended that she was practicing for when she had her baby.

It always seemed like the washing grew exponentially. The mound that was her stomach prevented her from lifting up for very long, because her back muscles all folded up on themselves like an accordion when she tried. Peter bought her a little washing line that folded out like a trestle table. It was only for sock and underwear, but she sat on a lawn chair next to it and pegged out one load at a time. The washing took five times as long but at least she was in no pain.
While she pegged, she’d devised a little game to pass the time. It was called The Alphabet Name Game and in it, she listed a strange and vaguely erudite name for her baby, one for every letter of the alphabet. Albert, Bertoldt, Chester, D’Artagnon, Emil, Franz, Gunther, Harold, Isaiah, Jenevieve, Kingsley, Langford, Maynard, Nathaniel, Oliver, Prudence, Quentin, Ramsdale (which she wasn’t even sure was a name, but it sounded nice), Scarlett, Tobias, Umberto, Victoria, Wallace, Xanthia, Yorrick, Zachariah. From the percentage of names that were male to those that were female, Catherine could tell that the foetus was mostly sure it was going to be male. It was usually the same list of names, and after a while, it became a remembering game rather than a creating one. When she couldn’t sleep one night, she got up and wrote them all down on the back of a receipt. The next morning Peter found it and thought that she had become clucky. She told him it was a poem.

© E.P. 2011

Monday, 7 November 2011

Nanowrimo 2011 Week 1

Been a very busy girl this week.

For those who don't know, Nanowrimo is National Novel Writing Month. I've challenged myself yet again to write 50 000 words in a month, and by now I am one fifth of the way there.

Things that have gone into this week's nano effort:

Monday: Attempted to stay up until midnight. Was disgruntled once I realised that I cannot merely stay up til midnight, I must actually write once that time comes.




Tuesday: Writing club. Took my first couple of pages and my friends very kindly pretended to like them. Also, I was interviewed by my friend JH for his radio assignment. It was fun to pretend I was an important part of the local writing community.

Wednesday: It was really hot but really overcast. Promised myself I would work on my homework. Did a solid day's effort, culminating in studying with a friend at uni...but got my official Honour's Acceptance Email (capitalised to stress importance) and gave myself the night off to celebrate.

Thursday: Worked. Studied. Wrote.

Friday: Not one but TWOOOOO in class tests. Then Tav with a whole bunch of neat people. Spent the night writing. Got to 10 000 words!!!

Saturday: ...did not write as was being Batgirl at a belated Halloween party.

Sunday: Tried to write but sleepy. Managed 300 words.

If you're doing Nanowrimo too, you can find me listed under Elimy. I don't really know what my novel IS yet but...