HOSPITALS AND HORROR STORIES

Writing this entry with some relief today: Luscious Lyn went in for her operation yesterday, and came out okay. Both of us have some awful memories regarding hospitals: the last time either of us attended one everything went pear-shaped in life-altering ways, so we had a lot of personal history on both sides to get past. Thankfully, albeit with quite a bit of post-op pain, she seems to have got through everything fine. The night before the operation was one of the worst I’ve ever experienced for stress. Today has been a great relief.

One of the benefits of today was that I managed to finish the story that had grown out of that rotten writing exercise I mentioned earlier. Father Renoir’s Hands is a truly nasty piece of work, a result of the stress leading up to the operation, some opinions I have on religion, and my deep underlying need never to write a remotely happy ending. I got 3/4 of the way in before stalling on Tuesday night, but finished the last 400 words in about 15 minutes today. Where the hell it’ll go is anybody’s guess at the moment, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be Catholic Reader’s Monthly… 🙂

A COUPLE OF HOURS WITH TERRY

Just returned from the Festival of Perth workshop with Terry Dowling. A mixed result: the other attendees were not as advanced in their careers as Luscious Lyn and I, so much time was taken up with ‘Writing 101’ stuff. However, Terry is such an engaging speaker, and carries such a wealth of information, that it’s impossible to walk away empty-notebooked. There were enough tasty tidbits flowing hither and yon that we left happy. As important as learning new tips and tricks for me was getting affirmation, from a guy who does it for a living, that yes, I am heading along the correct path for a satisfying career. The tools are all there: it’s up to me to make sure I stick to the vision.

That’s why I keep going to these things: I can see the gulf that exists between writers at my level and those at Terry’s. Anything that will help me to bridge that gap is something I want to investigate. I’ve been a part of a number of artistic communities over the years, and SF writers are the only group I know who will gladly reach a hand out and help you up to their level. The more time I spend with writers who treat me like a peer when they have every right to view my humble achievements with scorn, the more I see my career arc progressing over the years to come. “There’s always room for one more” seems to be the creed in this industry.

And the really great thing, of course, is that you come away from a session like today’s refreshed and with a renewed desire to write. With 7 stories in various stages of drafting, and another 3 in first-draft, that’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to getting back into it tonight once Erin has gone to bed.

13 OF THE BEST

Okay dokey, a few people have actually asked which 13 magazines I’ve chosen for the list I’ve mentioned (I can only assume that these people have such sad lives that even writing slash is too much for them… >:) Hi to all my slash writing friends. Please put those knives away…) So, for the edification of those of you who have lost the will to live, my list of 13 is below. Those in italics have already received a story from me this year.

The Fat Fella’s List of Mintox Markets

1. Well-known porn magazine Asimov’s (For those of you who don’t get the joke, here’s the link, and here’s the reply)
2. Brutarian
3. Chiaruscuro
4. F&SF
5. Gothic.net
6. Interzone
7. Leading Edge
8. Oceans Of The Mind
9. Sci-Fiction
10. Strange Horizons
11. The Strand
12. The Third Alternative
13. Weird Tales

So there you go. If you think I’ve made any glaring omissions, and my laughingly-called-a-career will wither and die if I don’t send to this magazine or that magazine, let me know. F’rinstance, I’m aware I’ve left Analog off my list, but if you’d read any of my hard SF stuff you’d know why 🙂

TERRY DOWLING

I’m an unabashed fan of Terry Dowling’s writing, and I dare you to disagree with me once you read the likes of The Lagan Fishers or Stitch. Terry’s in town as part of the Perth Writer’s Festival, and Luscious Lyn and I have scored some of the few tickets to a writing workshop with him tomorrow. It should be fun: the last time we caught up with Terry, he and I sat at opposite ends of a coffee table trying to out-dirty joke each other while the Luscious One sat above us both laughing her ass off and slapping us both down 🙂

NOTHING TO DO WITH WRITING AT ALL, BUT IT MADE ME SMILE

Went to pick my long-awaited and long-ordered copy of Trophy Night: The Best of Weddings, Parties, Anything this afternoon. $19.95 for the best Australian band I never saw (A long story best summarised along the lines of- every time they were here I somehow managed to be there…). Even better, when I walked out of the shop I saw the price ticket: $24.95. Then I stopped into the chemist to pick up some medication for Erin. Cost: $25.40. I give the girl $50.40. And get $40 change. Happy-fat-man-dance-of-joy!

Like I said: nothing to do with writing…

DRAGGING THEM OUT SCREAMING

Another horrible day at the depression salt mines. Not as bad as the last two, but I still ended up by mid-afternoon feeling very low and grinchy, and frustrated at my utter inability to get a single word onto paper. The Luscious One managed to get me to sit down and work on my piece for Consensual a Trois, and I dragged 500 words out of myself. LL got her entire 2200 word story onto the page in the same time, mind, but at least it feels like I’m coming out the other side of the trough.

Bought a bunch of flowers and a candle to say thanks. Not much, I know, but she liked it.

WRITING EXERCISE THE TWAIN

Went to the Word-Thirst writing group at KSP this morning. Was given a writing exercise by this week’s moderator (we take turns) which I honestly thought wasn’t going to amount to anything: too general, too aimless, too much room for error. To whit:

Describe someone. Describe a setting. Have the character move from that setting to another, describing two emotions along the journey.

Good writing exercises exist, like good physical exercises, to pinpoint, isolate, and develop one skill (or muscle). This exercise didn’t do that, and I set about it expecting nothing more than to fill the 15 minutes in order to be polite to a fellow attendee.

Of course, it’s led to a damn good story idea, hasn’t it? Typical- even when I’m trying not to, I attract the exceptions that prove the rule.

BOOK SALE STORY PROGRESS

I’ve found out what the elephants are doing when they paint. Now I just have to find out why…

NOVEL PROGRESS

Two days of heavy research are behind me. Copious note-taking, covering the Botany Bay Colony, prostitute ships, and Napoleon’s years in Corsica. It’s all coming together, in my best Monty Burns voice. I’ve set myself a target of 31st March to have the spine of the book laid out (This happens, then this, then this…), and a rough shape is beginning to coalesce out of the ether. Should be well on the way by the end of next month. May even have a few words squeezed out: the first line is already decided upon…

HOW DO I LOVE THEE, LET ME COUNT THE WAYS: ONE- ONE THOUSAND, TWO-ONE THOUSAND…

I hate depression, I really do. It can cripple you, making each and every effort seem beyond trying, whether it be getting out of bed, walking your daily fitness walk, or even staying alive. It’s all too much, too hard, and not only are you a failure because you can’t do it, you’re a fool to think anybody would care. At least, that’s what you’re thinking. Depression is a horrible, terrible affliction. For the last 2 and a bit years I’ve suffered it in varying degrees. I’m very good at coping. I have a strong personality, a solid sense of what is right and wrong about myself, and a hard-won set of coping mechanisms that have seen me through more than one Black Dog Day. Sometimes, though, it hits hard, and heavy, and the journey back seems too long to be bothered with.

Luscious Lyn copped a fiance-eye’s view of it last night and this morning, and she brought me through it with such love, strength, and affection that I was not only recovered by the time we left the writer’s group (To which I didn’t want to go, and which she made me, knowing exactly what an uplifting effect it would have), I was happy and perky and my usual annoying self.

Everyone should find themselves a partner like The Luscious One. More fool those who have one and let them go, or drive them away, not knowing what harm it is they do themselves.

Love you, babe.

IN THE MAIL

3 stories sent out today, to Interzone, Aurealis, and Argosy. That makes 4 for the week, including the one I emailed to All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories the other day.

I’ve set myself a list of 13 magazines in the US and Europe that I will send stories to this year: I’m desperate to make the jump from solid Australian sales to making a mark on the larger scale, and the only way to do that is to start selling regularly to larger markets. Interzone is on that list, and I consider Aurealis to be the top Australian market, as no other local magazine currently has its mix of reputation, editorial quality, and distribution. Argosy and ASZAS weren’t on the list when I drew it up, but that’s an advantage: both look to be high-quality markets, and if it leaves me still needing to send to 12 off my list then it forces me to produce quality work.

Along with some fun and funky markets like Robert Hood and Robin Penn’s Daikaiju anthology; Nigel Read’s Superluminal project; and ConSensual A Trois, the year is shaping up as both challenging and enjoyable. Of course, if I don’t sell them, you might have to look for a “Weird Shit I Can’t Find A 2nd Market For” collection sometime next year 🙂

RESEARCH

Got down and dirty with a couple of research books for the novel today. If I was working for the man, lying around on a couch all day reading books would be lazy, but when you’re a writer… 🙂 Hello workers, hope you enjoyed your day!

One of the biggest frustrations I have at the moment is finding good sources to tell me about Napoleon Bonaparte’s youth. As much stuff as I could possibly want about Napoleon the man, the General, the Emperor, the ice-cream salesman… the square root of bugger all about Napoleon the teenager. Which is, as I’m setting the story between the ages of 16 and somewhere around 21, a bit of a bugger.

So if anybody’s found anything useful talking about this period of the little fella’s life, there’s a place in the novel’s acknowledgements page if you contact me and tell me.