WRITING ALONG, ALONG, ALONG THE HIGHWAY

This Monday I’ll be out at Mundijong Library running a writing workshop as part of this year’s Write Along the Highway program. Last year’s workshop was a barrel of fun, and I’ve got a mass of weird and wonderful exercises to push your boundaries all lined up. There are still places, so get on board and register on the WAtH website. Here’s a little taste– one I’ve dubbed The Princes in the Tower:

1. Describe an unusual interior space, one with lots of interesting appendages, gadgets, signs and/or features: an aircraft carrier; back room of a wunderkammer; boiler room of an apartment complex; restoration room of a museum, etc. The room must be a) real (no wizard towers, mines of Moria, etc) and b) innocent in purpose (no serial killer den or torture chambers)

2. Place two children in this space. Give them two possible reasons for being there– one perfectly logical, the other less apparent.

3. One of these children will now die, for one of the reasons you have outlined. Make it so.



For this and more light-hearted, frabjous fungasms of writing joy– check in, register, and join us!

NANO NANO NANO NANO NANO…. BATMAN! (I’M PRETTY SURE I MADE THAT JOKE LAST YEAR)

So Nanowrimo is upon us once again, (This is me: feel free to buddy up) and once again I’m using the month to concentrate on words and give myself permission to prioritise my writing over the distractions in my life.

Yeah, I know I’m a pro and writing is an important aspect of both my personality and my artistic career. But I’m also a man with a metric fucktonne of duties and responsibilities and sometimes I need the crutch to lean on. I’m happy for you if you don’t understand this, and good luck to ye’s. Me, I lie the feeling of having permission, so here I am.

This year’s project is Bear Hunt, and it’s starting out as a load of fun because, for the first time in a long time, it’s not remotely speculative. It’s a straight crime novel, and here’s the brief I’ve set myself:

Somebody dragged Bear back into the life. Somebody made him a criminal again. And now somebody’s spying on him. Doesn’t matter if it’s the cops or the crims. Somebody’s going to pay.

Sound fun? It’d better, because I’m probably going to bore you shitless with updates as the month progresses. So just to give you a little taster– and in the full spirit of understanding that this is a first draft, and for me, a loose one with no internal editor present– here’s a few lines to get us all started:


None of what went down would have happened if Bear hadn’t got himself banged up on a DUI charge. Bang to rights, too: point two over the limit, and the blood test confirmed it. So they took his car and stood him up in front of the magistrate in his only suit, and no amount of pleading that he needed his licence to ferry Mum back and forth to hospital and her therapist appointments were enough to save him, not with his record. Disqualified from driving, and his application for an extraordinary licence binned before it even started because extraordinaries are for work purposes only, Mister Burrage, as you well now. Then they spat him out, to stand blinking on the steps of the Mandurah courthouse, wondering how the hell he was going to explain it to Mum and trying to loosen his tie with thick, shaking fingers. Which was a bad time for a weaselly little prick like Gavin Sullivan to slide up from the shade of the nearby car park, but then, no time was ever a good time to have a weaselly little prick like him smiling his slimy smile at you.



Progress charts after day one are about as much use as publishing league tables after the first round of matches, but with a daily quota of 1667 words to make Nano’s target of 50 000 in the month, I’m mildly pleased to report that I’ve completed 2362. So here’s a progress pie chart.

Mmmmm, pie.

OOT AND ABOOT

One of the loveliest side-effects of reaching a certain credibility as an author (and clearly, as I seem to have reached it, the level ain’t that high) is the occasional opportunity to be sally forth and speak to groups of people without requiring your beloved partner-for-life having to follow along two steps behind you apologising to everyone.

Luscious, for those who have not met her, occasionally introduces us at social gathering with the phrase “This is my husband, Lee, and I’m the person who apologises for him”. She also occasionally waits until we’re in a shopping centre aisle full of old women before shouting “What do you mean I’m fat?” with no fucking provocation whatsoever.

Luscious is occasionally a sick sod 🙂

For the last 4 years I’ve been drawn back to my old stomping grounds at Curtin University to give a guest lecture on social media at the School of Internet Studies, an exercise designed to make me feel old, as not only was there no School of Internet Studies when I studied at Curtin there was no actual sodding internet. I made my annual pilgrimage there again this past week, and as always, absolutely loved it: it’s a chance to combine day job and writing career expertise as well as expose students to a free form way of thinking they may not get from a structured curriculum– I can’t imagine many courses compare social media to Russian tampon adverts, for a start– and you know you’re doing well when you receive Facebook friends requests halfway through the lecture from people in the room.

I’m also off to Churchlands Senior High School next week to talk about writing competitions and ideas generation. I’ve done a couple of school gigs in recent years, and they’re generally a lot of fun. It’s incredibly easy to see which students are there by choice and which are there because they have no other choice, and once you call them out on it you can function in a room full of good will and laughter. Teenagers may be moody buggers but those moods swing both ways: get them laughing and they’ll be your friend for life, at least as long as the workshop lasts, and story generation is genuinely the most enjoyable part of the process for me, so we get a lot of writing done, look at a lot of funny photographs, and generally have a fab and groovy time.

And, lastly, I’ll be heading along to Write Along the Highway twice in November as part of this year’s Nanowrimo: I’ll be the subject of an author talk and workshop at Mundijong Library on the 18th and a panellist at the big Write Night! event at the South Perth Community Hall on the evening of the 26th. Details are being finalised, and I’ll remind you as they’re released to the general public, but spaces for these types of events are limited, so if they sound like your thing, it might be worth contacting the organisation soon.

NANOTWOMO

Well, I’ve done it: I’ve signed on to Nanowrimo again for another year. This year’s project is officially Canals of Anguilar, the fantasy novel set in a city entirely populated by cowards I’ve mentioned earlier, but there’s likely to be some switching going on– I’ve just started a mainstream project with the alluring and sexy title of Killer Thing (pick the title in progress…) and I’ll be wanting to throw some words down on that one while the impetus is still fresh.

Working on two projects is allowed, right?

Anyway, come along and join me if you’re as novelling sort, and feel free to buddy me up. I’m not fussy: I’ll be friends with anyone who smiles at me the right way 🙂

(raises glass). Here’s to words.

N-OVER-EMBER

Agh, finally.

Yes, today is officially the second day of the following month, but for us, with the last of Erin’s friends having just left from her birthday sleepover, November is finally, finally over.

November means:

Nanowrimo. I acted as ML for my region for the third year, as well as working on Father Muerte & the Divine, for which I wrote a shade over 43 000 words, and completed. I topped up the other 6 000 and a bit words by beginning The Sin-Eater’s Lonely Children, working on the Muerte synopses, and various associated fiction tasks.

The Day Job’s Literary Month, involving organising and running a five hour writing marathon on a Saturday night complete with guest speakers and a metric fuckload of giveways; the awards presentation for the City’s short story competition on a Tuesday night; and a two hour seminar by Dr Helen Merrick on the following evening. All within a week of each other.

Three birthdays: mine, Connor’s, and Erin’s. Connor and Erin had a birthday party each. On the same day. At two different locations. Never. Bloody. Again.

Nnovvember. My first attempt at contributing to this mass Lego community initiative, to build a Vic Viper model to help commemorate the passing of popular builder and AFOL Nate ‘nnenn’ Neilson.

All this on top of the usual writing work, day job work, family commitments, swimming lessons, preparing the house for sale, blah blah etcetera and so forth.

I’m buggered.

BUT: I have a completed novel, two happy kids, new Lego for myself, no more work events for the rest of the year, and the first Lego MOC I’ve built that I think matches up to the rest of the Flickr stream, so we’ll call it a draw and now I’m going back to bed.

And because I promised, here are the pictures of the finished Viper.

From the top

Facing

From the rear, showing greebles and biplane wings

Side view, showing twin forward pods, and the connection between hull and engine, which…

…rotates.

And the underside, with all the transparent goodness and weapony-looking bits.

Comin’ atcha!