Bear with me, folks. It’s been an odd period, these six months since we moved here to Paradise-By-Sea. Somehow, this shift in location has turned into the sea change I’ve been searching for over the last five years or so. It’s prompted changes at every level, from simple matters like the change of phone number through to re-evaluations of the way I conduct my life, my aims, my behaviours…. all in all, it’s keeping me busy.
Several friends have fallen by the wayside, either because of the increase in distance between us or the final stages of the natural atrophy that the relationships have been experiencing lately. Others have become more prominent. We’ve altered our finances. Our work situations have undergone drastic and fundamental change. We’re a family in evolution, and in many ways, I also am evolving into a different beast than the one who started the year.
Much of that evolution is artistic. Nanowrimo has proven to be a bust—I’ve managed 13000 words of the Cirque project, but my heart’s not been in it, and in the end it was too easy to put it down and not pick it up again. Perhaps in the New Year I’ll revisit it—it’s a decent enough idea, and I know where the story goes. But setting aside Corpse-Rat King to do it was a bad idea, especially with the first draft of that novel being so close to completion, and I’ve taken up the cudgels again with an aim to completing it by the end of the year.
I’ve rediscovered my interest in cartooning, and have filled a small bunch of notebooks with thumbnails and sketches that Luscious is currently prodding me to complete properly. I’m still reading for Midnight Echo #4, and looking forward to making some final decisions early in the New Year—if you’ve been meaning to submit, do so before you run out of time– the sub period finishes January 31st, but if I wasn’t a patient man I could probably be thinking about filling the magazine now. And there are more novel projects planned, but none so close to the Oz SF heartland that I expect to be flogging them off at a Swancon near you.
2009 has been a very quiet year for me, artistically speaking. I’m still popping up here and there—you can read a brand new story, , Rabbit, Run over at Dark Recesses this month (if you really want to drive an editor barmy, start your story’s title with a comma….) and The Claws of Native Ghosts has been chosen for the upcoming Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror Volume 4. Last weekend I joined the Queensland Writer’s Centre as a guest for their regular weekly writing race. I’ve also accepted a commission to provide the Centre with an article entitled Plot or Pants? on the differences between tight plotting and my own aimless methods. Compared to my relatively high profile in Australian small press SF circles over the past few years, however, I’ve been almost invisible, and things are likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. My literary interests are moving further and further away from the things I have produced in the past. Frankly, I like the distance, and I have aims and desires that are not simpatico with the Australian SF small press, so there’s no need to be in quite so severe a proximity.
By this time next year I’ll be 40, and if half the birthday cards at the newsagent are to be believed, I’ll have just started my life. So perhaps it’s just a mid-life crisis, or perhaps I’m just cleaning out my closet, but one phase of my life has most definitely ended, and the one that is beginning has different colours.
So bear with me while all this stuff gets flung about in the washing machine of my life. I’ll undoubtedly emerge one sock short, with a shirt that wasn’t the colour it was when it went in, but I’ll be clean and smelling slightly of lemon, and that won’t be a bad thing.
11 times 1667 equals 18 337.
Which is rather more than the 13 717 words I’ve completed so far this month. I’ve had a couple of days away from the computer here and there, so my targets are down, but I’ve always been quicker towards the end of a project than I am at the start, so I’m not that worried. Nano is, of course, just a guide as far as I’m concerned. My object is to complete a saleable novel, not to complete 50000 words. But it is a good way of getting your arse applied to the seat, and I’m in dire need of that.
I had 5 goals at the start of the year. Losing weight to 95 kilograms isn’t going to happen, but completing Corpse-Rat King and starting a second novel will be achieved, and a month ago I would not have said it was likely. It’s likely, in fact, that I’ll have completed Corpse-Rat King and completed a second novel.
And for that, you can colour me pleased.
Now, I know I’ve been rabbiting on about how brilliant life is in Mandurah, about the wonder of the foreshore, and the delights of seeing wild emus and kangaroos from the train on the way home, and the relaxed and happy lifestyle we’ve created for ourselves and the kids. So it’s perhaps only fair that I present an anecdote to prove that all is not perfect in this Paradise by the southern beaches.
Sunday night at the Silver Sands hotel drive through. The Liquorland down the road from us is closed.
No beers on display in the tiny, pokey, bottleshop.
Only a “staff only” sign on the freezer room door to indicate the presence of any beer in the building.
The following conversation ensues:
SALES BLOKE: Yeah, mate?
LEE: I’m after some beer.
LEE: Have you got anything a bit out of the ordinary? I’m in the mood for something a bit different, you know? A bit exotic.
Long pause while shoppie stares off into the distance, no doubt mentally trawling through the miles of freezer rooms shelves weighted down with beers from every corner of the globe, searching his prodigious memory for the perfect bottle of the most exotic brew available to man. After several seconds of contemplation–
SB: Carlton Cold?
One six pack of Heineken later………
I’m 39 today.
We’ve kept it low-key this year. Lyn’s faith is such that she’s uncomfortable with making a fuss about birthdays, and whilst I take up the baton and organise the kid birthdays (My Facebook friends can tell you about how sweary I became recently whilst organising Connor’s McDonald’s party last week…) for myself, I’m not so fussed. I picked out my own present a month or so ago– massive gag cartoon collections from Punch and The New Yorker– and a certain level of skintness has meant that, rather than head out to dinner as is our normal wont, I’m about to be fed a massive plate of home-made butter chicken, crack open a beer (in honour of the way I generally feel these days, we’re trying out something called ‘Fat Yak’ ale), and then trough my way past a bowl of amazing slow-cooked peach & apple cake with custard.
However, one tradition remains untouched, and that’s my moment of birthday morbidity. To whit, my annual list of far more famous and talented people who I have outlived. This year’s offering involves pirates, porn stars, junkies and suicides, which should tell you the sort of company I’m keeping these days 🙂
Ta, as they say in the classics, da:
- Charlotte Bronte
- Harry Chapin
- Dimebag Darryl
- Ted Demme
- Lolo Ferrari
- George Gershwin
- Florence Griffith Joyner
- John-John Kennedy
- Sam Kinnison
- Mario Lanza
- Sonny Liston
- Louis XVI
- Anna Malle
- Marie Prevost
- David Rappaport
- Charles Kingsford Smith
- Johnny Thunders
Day one of Nano completed, and a couple of hours down the foreshore with Lyn, her best friend Terri, and the sort of view out the cafe window that people in ludicrously large sunglasses who call themselves names like ‘Pip’ and ‘Biffie’ spend millions trying to find, and…. well, it’s a start anyway. After over a year working on Corpse-Rat King, especially when I’m so close to the end, shifting gears to starting a fresh work that’s so completely different is a wrench and a half, but I churned out some wordage, and, well, weeeeeeee.
Question: What do you get if you give the kids the camera to amuse themselves while you’re sitting in the car waiting for their Mum to come out of the house?
In honour of Mr. Campbell’s involvement, the competition’s deadline has been extended to the 13th of March, 2010.
Competition prizes include a $500 winner’s cheque, and a prize pool of horror goodies:
• A manuscript version of the story signed by as many of the writers involved as can be tracked down.
• A copy of The Australian Writer’s Marketplace 2009/2010.
• A copy of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 19th annual collection (edited by Datlow, Link & Grant.)
• Free 1-year membership, or 12-month renewal, to the Australian Horror Writers Association.
• Books: Signed limited editions – Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge; Wild Things by Douglas Clegg; Prodigal Blues by Gary A. Braunbeck.
• A boost to any personal horror library – Development Hell by Mick Garris; Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill; Infected by Scott Sigler; The Nature of Balance by Tim Lebbon; The Dark Descent edited by David G. Hartwell; a pre-loved copy of The Books of Blood (vols 1-3) from Marty Young’s own collection.
• A first edition of The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Paul Haines’ forthcoming collection of stories; published to impeccable standards by Brimstone Press, and slated for release in December 2009.
The six best endings will be featured at HorrorScope – The Australian Dark Fiction Weblog.
All proceeds from this competition go to award-winning author Paul Haines, to assist Paul and the Haines family, while Paul undergoes treatment for cancer.