DIPS TOE BACK IN WATER……

It’s been a long year and a bit.

After the emotional battering and non-stop workplace bullying I experienced in my last couple of years at The Job That Soured, I was without mojo. All my mojoes had gone. No mojoes for me. Then we moved Very Far Away ™, and settled into A Very New Way of Life ™…

And there was a new industry to work in…… and a new role within the family…… and, well, a whole bunch of various things and thangs and otherthangs…… and long story short, my writing career took a Titanic pill and sank without trace.

Last year I completed a novel, sent it to the publisher who had been nagging me for it, and had it bounced back to me in less than a fortnight. At which point I pretty much quietly packed away my pens to no public outcry or notice whatsoever, and that was all, folks.

But it’s officially up-to-a-bit later, now. I’m six months into a regular teaching gig, and while I’m new in the role, I’m also experienced in an awful lot of the skills required to fill it, so I’ve adjusted. For the most part. And we’ve settled into life here in What Used to Be Far Away But Now Feels Like We’re Here and You’re All Far Away rather nicely. For the most part. And something quite seismic occurred to me while we were traipsing around Perth and Fremantle on our recent trip back for the school holiday– my first since we’ve come up here.

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ON THE SUBJECT OF REAL LIFE……

Writing remains dead. Teaching eats everything; I spend most of my spare time creating resources, marking, or just plain dealing with the steepness of the learning curve that comes from being out of a game for twenty-five years. There’s a writing group in town: Luscious and I went to it a few times, but haven’t been in something like 9 months. We’re talking about going back, just to get in touch with the joy of words. Watch this space. Or, if you care about the outcome, maybe don’t…

Weight loss has tapered off in a major way. See above for the reasons why. I’m still under 100kgs, which is a good thing, and trying to fit workouts into the gaps. Call it maintenance rather than loss, perhaps. I have still lost centimetres, which is positive, and my chest has gained half a centimetre of muscle where there was once only fat. It’s a long haul. I’m still hauling.

The Lego remains in the cupboard. Time, community, opportunity to display are all lacking. But Luscious and I have just swapped offices because reasons, and mine now has a Great Big Giant Table ™, so possiblymaybeperhaps I’ll have a chance to get it all out and noodle around with some pieces just for fun. We’ll see.

Life decisions have been decisioned. We like it here. There are opportunities for us. We’ll be staying for at least another three years.

Have I missed anything?

G’WAN TO YER POPE, UNIVERSE. YOU’RE ELEPHANT’S

Sometimes I really don’t like the way the Universe pretends to be conscious. Exampley-poo:

I started writing The Boy from GOBLIN three weeks ago. In the very first session, I needed to name the woman who runs the Home my protagonist, Daniel, runs away from. I call her Miss Fitch: it’s a nice, harsh sounding name, a name you can hiss as much as pronounce. Sorted. One passing mention, move on.

Today, a whole bunch of scenes later, she comes up in conversation between Daniel and his new friend, Gygax: a Grotesque, and total wide boy, from the East End of London. I look up the Cockney rhyming slang for ‘bitch’………

I don’t like you, Universe.

THE BOY FROM G.O.B.L.I.N

“Don’t move.”

The voice at his shoulder was deep, and filled with gravel. Daniel started in shock. His legs tensed, pushed off from the roof. The bag of liquorice fell as his arms rose. He dove away from the intruder…… and made it as far as half a centimetre before something heavy and enormous fell upon his shoulder, pinning him to his place.

“You deaf, or summat?” the voice whispered in his ear. “I said don’t move.”

Daniel froze.

“I’m not afraid of you,” he managed to croak.

“You ain’t seen me, yet.”

Daniel’s voice gave up. His mind watched it leave, and joined it. Millimetre by millimetre, he risked shifting his gaze towards the hand gripping his shoulder. What he saw turned control of his body over to his bowels. The hand wasn’t a hand. For one thing, it was grey. Dark grey, like stone that had been left out in the elements for too many years without being cleaned. For another it, was stone. Actual stone, heavy and unforgiving. And it was huge, easily twice the size of a normal hand, more a paw than a human appendage. Long, thick fingers ended in curved claws that hung down Daniel’s chest, their tips resting gently across the base of his pectorals.

As Daniel stared at it in terror, a head slowly slid into view. Massive, monstrous, the size of a bear’s skull. A vicious hooked beak came first, like the prow of some predatory ship. Fangs peeked out from under its upper lip. A heavy, leonine head followed, sleek carved feathers coating it in an obscene, terrifying, rippling, head dress. Predator’s eye peeked out from beneath a heavy brow. As Daniel watched, the beast blinked. A stone lid closed with an audible click, then slid back upwards with snake-like grace. The eye rotated towards him. He could see the stone iris widen, then narrow again as the best focussed on him. The beak opened. A grey, marbled tongue protruded, ran along the line of fangs, then slipped back inside. The beast leaned closer.

“What about now?” it said.

 

Writing again, writing again, jiggety-jig. First project of the year is The Boy from G.O.B.L.I.N., a humorous kids novel about a boy recruited into a secret organisation of monsters. Four days in, and I’ve got 3500 words down. There’s some urgency to this project: 4 weeks from now, I’ll be working part-time at the local high-school, teaching two English classes a day, which will cramp my writing time substantially unless I become a master of time management. Which, as I haven’t managed it in 48 years so far, requires me to get as many words down as I can beforehand.

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2018: BUY ONE YEAR, GET THREE FOR FREE

Or, at least, that’s how it feels.

Let’s recap, shall we?

At the start of the year, I was a month away from being released from a job that had turned sour and toxic. I was vastly overweight, crippled by stress, and deeply unhappy. I hadn’t completed a full piece of writing in well over 2 years, and hadn’t completed a novel in closer to four (and that one had been stillborn: a melange of bad writing and awkward choices that simply refused to come to life and be sellable).

Then, of course, we moved to Karratha. Luscious took up a position teaching at the High School. I tra-la-la’d out of the job with nary a look back (How well was I respected? My going away gift was a book of art from the Kimberleys (I was going to the Pilbara, several hundreds of kilometres away), and my Director, who knew me since my first day, could only comment on the fact that I occasionally swore when asked to make a speech about my achievements over the 8 years of my time there). I started teaching relief at Luscious’ school a day or two a week, sat down to write, and opened up my recipe books and my copy of House Husbanding for Dummies.

How’s that worked out for me? Wouldn’t you like to know?

Continue reading “2018: BUY ONE YEAR, GET THREE FOR FREE”

CURIOUS FICTIONS

An experiment: thanks to Sean Williams pointing the way, I’m reprinting a large selection of my short stories over at Curious Fictions— a resource website for authors who have a decent back catalogue. Readers who are looking for a wide range of works can access tonnes of content for a micro-payment or two, and you can subscribe to my feed for additional monthly content– I’ll be posting exclusive stories, WIP snippets and so on on a monthly basis.

So if you’ve missed some of my stories along the way, or have been waiting to catch up with some of my rarer and more out-of-the-way tales, here’s a chance to get hold of them. I’ve posted three and a subscriber-exclusive to begin with, and there will be more to come.

HARLAN ELLISON: A STORY ABOUT BEING FREE

ellison

Photo via tributes.com

 

Harlan Ellison died yesterday, at the age of 84. If you’re a fan of SF, or film criticism, or have a passing knowledge of American TV, then you know what that means: we’re down one giant, and about to enter an intense period of arguing over the legacy of one of the most complex and problematic human beings ever to work in the SF field. Certainly, my Facebook feed is awash with memorials, reminiscences, and as is the way with Facebook, denunciations, already. But then, that’s the crowd I run with. At the heart of it, no matter our differences, just about everyone on my feed loves speculative fiction. We’re all true believers, and if anything, Ellison was a true believer.

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