Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

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I realised today that I hadn’t done a blog post to brag about my NaNoWriMo win this year! So here it is!

I finished my 50,027 word draft on 29 November. I took the next day off. I have not written any more since, it’s  been nearly a week.

I think I’m a bit over halfway through the story – I keep adding extra details and obstacles into my plot – so I think I have about 30,000 words left. I’m not great at guessing these things but that sounds right. I’ve given myself a deadline of 14 February, coz that’s romantic and stuff. And I work better with a deadline, arbitrary or otherwise.

About half way through the month I mocked up a cover image and title for the new manuscript because I was procrastinating writing a scene.

Behold My Mother’s Sectret:cover-jpg

I have a bunch of editing work that needs to be done on my third and my fourth NaNoWriMo manuscripts as well as possibly rewriting the first two to be more in line with genre conventions. I think I’ll have plenty of work to keep myself busy over the summer.

We also had a great gig for Hello Volume this Sunday at the Workers Club, so we hope to have a bunch more of those before the summer is over.

It’s a good thing I don’t work full-time or else I’d never have time to sleep. Keep motivated!

Everybody Knows

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for Leonard

They signed this agreement
That nobody else
had to die

Now what can I tell you, my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue

And I can’t believe that time’s
Gonna heal this wound I’m s
peaking of
There ain’t no cure for love

The last time I saw you, you looked so much older
The boat is leaking, the captain lied
Give me back my broken night

If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

 

 

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Image from Facebook

Ten days ago, we lost another musical legend. I listened to ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ on repeat and wept. This is my tribute, using only his words. He was a poet first, musician second. He touched my life in profound ways, I was introduced to his work by a lover and I was lucky enough to see him perform twice.

Thank you for letting us share your beauty.

Why do I do it?

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I’m in Sydney for a few days giving myself a little holiday, visiting a couple of cool people. I told my friend, a poet, that I was feeling a little anxious about starting NaNoWriMo without a plot, or any characters. She laughed, and asked “why do you do it?”

This year will be my fifth time. I couldn’t think of a good reason at the time, and after thinking it over I don’t really have one, except I do it because I can.

There is something that I get from forcing myself to do the marathon that I don’t get from writing on my own. Additional motivation that comes from the companionship of other people doing the same thing. I don’t think I’d achieve nearly as much without knowing hundreds of thousands of people around the world are doing it too. There’s also an element of competition against myself; chasing those daily word count goals. Without that I wouldn’t make time for writing.

I am aware I create quite a lot of content, and I do the most of it at the last minute, right on the deadline. I think, deep down, I’m lazy and having something external to push against really helps me. And knowing there is a time when it will be finished, has to be finished, really helps sustain my efforts. Having the end in sight makes it easier to just keep going that little bit longer. A preset time when you have to stop also helps to avoid perfection paralysis.

This morning, I sat in a coffee shop in Newtown, with a coffee and wrote 600 words of plot and character summaries. I think I probably have enough to start with. Probably my plot has holes in it I won’t notice until later, but I can fix that up later. I start writing tomorrow.

Expect a couple of updates before the month is over, and possibly a faux-cover reveal later in the month when I’m procrastinating doing my daily words.

Continuous Improvement

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The day job that I have at the moment is working in Quality. That means that I spend all day reviewing, rewording and proof reading policies, and doing what’s referred to as continuous improvement. It’s my first job in Quality and I don’t have a strong background in it, but I think continuous improvement comes from manufacturing.

My birthday was last week, I turned 32. I don’t know how to feel about it. One of my gifts, from my family, was to pay for a writing short course. My mum was worried that I would take the course as a criticism,  that’s not a helpful way to look at learning.

So we looked at a few options and I have enrolled in a course starting tomorrow. I’m hoping to get a few things out of it.

  1. New perspectives. The feedback that I’ve been getting from one of the writing groups I’m in has started to feel like the same stuff every time.
  2. New contacts. Writing can be a solitary pursuit and it’s always good to meet people who do the same thing you do. Networking is always good. People who share that passion and can help to reignite the fire.
  3. New techniques. I’ve done a couple of short courses in creative writing before, but this new course will be five hours a week for ten weeks. That’s 50 hours at least of concentrated writing time. I’m sure there will also be homework.
  4. Renewed enthusiasm. I’m probably still coming out of the post-Fringe slump, but I’m feeling a bit lacklustre. Hopefully fresh  faces will spur me on.

The course also runs over November, NaNoWriMo time. This year I am planning to do it again. Perhaps I’ll be able to workshop the structure and plot with the class. I think my plot and character development would probably benefit from a more structured approach.

I don’t have an idea or story yet, but perhaps I’ll try to stick more closely to a genre than I have in the past. I’m also kind of obsessed with crime at the moment, in TV and podcasts, and maybe I’ll bite the bullet (if you’ll pardon the pun) and write a crime novel.

I’ve been reluctant to do crime because of the research involved, but maybe I can get most of it out without needing to get deep into research mode. Otherwise I’ll probably go back to romance, which is where most of my other stories have been. I’d also like to do young adult some time. So many possibilities!

I hope this course be an opportunity to consolidate the things I already know, and to learn some new things. I hope to meet some cool new people and get inspired by them. But I also hope that prioritising my writing, setting aside time specifically to work on it, will provide the motivation and stamina I’ll need to get through NaNoWriMo one more time!

I want this journey to be one of continuous improvement: always learning, always curious. A journey where I can learn from, and be inspired by others and where I can also teach and inspire others.

Back to Reality

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My fringe show is finished. We finished packing up the venue today. Now I have to deal with the flatness that comes with having finished a project. Something that I’ve poured so much energy and emotion and time into is all over. I don’t think we’ll revive the show, which is a little weird in itself. We have some photos coming soon, and then the whole thing will just be a memory.

I feel like I have all this space in front of me and it’s sort of overwhelming – mental space and space in my calendar for getting back into other writing projects and to get back to social obligations (and sleep) that I’ve been shirking in favour of the show.

Pre-show selfie – Fleur (r) and Alexandra (l) preparing to save the world.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped with the show, Alex my co-star and co-writer, Chris for production assistance, Leisa for technical assistance, Chris (the other one) for prop design, and Stuart for bump in and bump out.

I want to thank all of my friends and family who never doubted me for a moment and who never once told me it was a bad idea. I want to thank every single person who came along and made the show the success it was. Thank you for coming to see me, and for braving the wilds of Collingwood to find the venue (which was not easy, I know).

Every night we had a different challenge to overcome – whether it be black outs, or doors not locking, or my computer having a little attack right before show time. Doing a fringe festival show has been an exercise in creativity, ingenuity, abstract problem solving and treading the fine line between excitement and stress.

I certainly feel like I have the performance bug now, so I’m going to channel that into the band, and get my writing mojo back on track. Gotta keep this momentum going baby! NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, I don’t have any ideas yet, but I have time right?

We’re halfway there!

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Tonight we start the second week of my first ever Melbourne Fringe Festival show and it’s raining again. I know that Spring is supposed to be rainy, and I know that we need the rain, but it still puts me in a kinda flat mood, especially after all the sunshine yesterday.

I’ve been still struggling with the roller coaster ride of emotions that seem to come with performing. Agitation, tension, that sick feeling I get in the five minutes before show time. Then I come off the stage and I’m buzzed and bouncing, and then exhausted but can’t sleep for hours. I don’t know whether it gets better, or more likely, you get used to the crazy ride.

I question why I’m doing this in those moments, but when I’m up on the stage and people are laughing at stuff I wrote, it’s the best feeling. And afterward, when people give my amazing feedback like ‘you’re a natural performer’, ‘the chemistry between you two is great’,  ‘I can’t believe it’s taken you so long to do this!’ and ‘you have such a lovely stage presence’ I feel such pride and relief. I feel like I can dismiss all those little voices in my head telling me that I shouldn’t do this, or I’m fooling myself.

I think creative people will always have those little niggling doubts. That sick feeling will always come the moment before you go on stage. The worry that I have made something terrible, and people won’t like it.

I know that I shouldn’t be worrying about whether people like my art, I should just do it because I want to, because I need to create. But I do want people to like it. I want people to like me because they like my art.

In summary I’m having both an amazing and a terrible time doing this show. I’m so proud of it. So come see it y’all!

Fleur and Alexandra Save the World

7:30pm, Sept 21-24. $20 ($16 concession) on the door.

Collingwood Underground Car Park, 44 Harmsworth St, Collingwood, VIC 3066

 

The things you learn

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We’re less than three weeks away from the opening night of my first ever Melbourne Fringe Festival show: Fleur and Alexandra Save the World.

I am approximately equal parts terrified and exhilarated. We still have a lot of props, sets, and costumes to finish, but the script is solid, we have a venue and most of the other important stuff is set up and ready to go.

I’ve learned while preparing for the show that I know more of my lines than I thought I did, which is a massive relief. On the other hand the terror of performance will probably mean I forget them all. So we’ll have to wait any see.

I’ve also learned a lot about making foam puppets, which is pretty cool. I’ve also learned that they totally look like fake boobs for the first little while! Until you put eyes and mouths and stuff on them.

Fringe Poster v2 final

Someone asked Alexandra, my Fringe partner, why she did it. It seemed like such an odd question! As with a lot of creative impulses, you don’t really know why, you just know you have to. You know that if you don’t, you’ll get sad. You know that it brings you joy, and hopefully, brings joy to others too.

Come be joyful with us! Opening night is 14 September,  tickets are available on the door and through the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Write, edit, write – now what?

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Since my last post I’ve done a fair bit of stuff you guys! It’s been great!

I’ve finished the first edit of my Choose Your Own Adventure. I’m pleased to say that. mostly, it was consistent and made sense. I’ve done small scale edits mostly, not big structural ones, and sent it out to a few people for reader feedback. There are a couple of endings that I could expand on, and possibly flesh out a couple of sections. We’ll see what the readers think.

When I get it back, I’ll look into possibly putting it up online. I know there are a couple of websites which are designed to host Choose Your Own Adventure type pieces. I’ve heard Twine is good for that. Realistically, I doubt I’ll get a big publisher interested in it, so I may as well just put it up on the internets for you lovely people to enjoy.

The Melbourne Fringe festival is now only seven weeks away! I got a little freaked out about it, so I made a spreadsheet with a timeline on it. It made me feel much better, but there’s a lot of stuff to do! We’ve finished the first draft of the script, which is pretty great if I do say so myself! The next task is to make up some marketing collateral – posters and pamphlets! That and, y’know, learn the script.

I’ve been working at a new grown-up part-time office job. It was a bit of a struggle at first because it was in an area I hadn’t really worked in before. Now, a couple of weeks in, I’m getting the hang of the routine tasks and a better understanding of the big project type tasks. It’s so much easier when you have vague idea of what you’re doing!

I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but I’ve been giving thought to my next long form prose project. I’m planning to do NaNoWriMo again in November, but I feel like that’s an awfully long way away. I’ve been enjoying writing stuff with a pretty strong structure, and I think I like writing genre fiction. I’m never going to be a high literature writer, and that’s okay.

I’m thinking of maybe trying a horror story. I would have to put at least one romance subplot, obviously, because I really like writing sexy scenes. It’s something that can sit in the back of my mind and bubble away for a little while. I may not have any time to sit and write before the Fringe show, but it will be nice to have something ready to go once that’s finished. Plus I’m pretty sure you can use NaNoWriMo to add to an existing project (you just can’t count your previously written words).

All in all I’m feeling pretty pumped! I’ve got a bunch of stuff on the go, I’m motivated to do more, and I’m feeling excited about life. And you all have to come to our Fringe Show. WOO!

Winter is here

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I left my job about a month ago and almost immediately I got really sick, because of course I did. I had a cold, then it was a chest infection, then antibiotics did nothing (clearly it was viral), then I had to take asthma medication to get the inflammation in my lungs down. I think I’m coming good now, I even ventured back to the gym. And although I lost 5kg I do not recommend the chest infection diet!

I managed to do a bit of creative work while I was sick though. I’ve finished a round of redrafting for the novel manuscript I did at the end of 2014, and I’ve sent it to a few friends for their thoughts. I hope to be able to send it off to some publishers or book agents in the next month or so. I’ll need to write up a synopsis etc, but I think I’m ready for people to see it. It depends on the feedback from the beta readers though.

I’ve also got the manuscript from the Choose Your Own Adventure from last year to go through. I’ve started an initial read for typoes and other obvious errors, and then I’ll have to go back through and check that each of the endings is logical. I think that might take a little while because even though the manuscript is only relatively short there are over twenty endings.

The script for the fringe show is coming along. I’m starting to get a little worried though as September is approaching really fast. Part of me is wondering why I would agree to do a show, but it has been on my to do list for a while, so I’m looking forward to it as well.

Over the next few months, during the hibernation period, I’m hoping to get some stuff done creatively. I want to be a bit stricter with myself about achieving goals as I feel like the first half of the year has passed by without much really happening. My writing partner assures me that it’ll all be alright on the night.

The Coordinator for my writing group has had to go overseas for several months and I have volunteered to take on that role too. It shouldn’t require too much work, but I’ll have to put my project/event management hat on for the 20th anniversary lunch in July and the getting the anthology reader for production in early September.

It’s cold and dreary in Melbourne at the moment and we’re only a month into winter. I feel like my blog has become more of a place where I sporadically post updates and less of a place for actual creative output. Maybe that’s because the creative stuff is going into other projects, but sometimes I worry that the blog is neglected. Ah well, even if it is, I guess that’s okay too.

Changes (again)

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Sometimes I think I have set myself up and I’ll be able to have a nice stable life for a little while.

I think ‘oh good, I can get on with being alive now that everything is set up’.

But that doesn’t seem to be how life works, at least not for me. I had a boss once who used to say that maybe our job isn’t being interrupted by constantly responding to and putting out fires, maybe putting out fires is our job. It sort of helps to stop you from dismissing stuff as in the way.

I know I’ve heard it before and I’m sure I’ll forget and have to remind myself. Life doesn’t start when everything is ready and settled and under control. All that stuff is life.

Things will always be unsettled. There will always be stuff that is out of your control.

Life doesn’t have a satisfying narrative arc. It’s a bunch of scribbles and chaos that we have to try to fumble our way through.

So as I head into another portion of my life without a stable income, at least for the moment, I’m trying to tell myself that it’s all good and that the opportunities that will come from being available will totally be worth it.

Plus, I have some money hidden away, I won’t starve. Adventures ahoy!