Category Archives: Writing

Creature of Habit

I tried to turn my laptop on today and it wouldn’t come on. I pressed the button a couple of times and then sat there, looking at my blank machine, wondering how it could break down with no warning?

My laptop at work has the ‘on’ button on the right side, in almost the same place that my home laptop has its volume buttons. I think you can see the punchline here. It took a lot longer than it should have for me to investigate the faulty ‘on’ button to discover I was actually just playing with the volume.

The computer is on now (button on the left side did its trick), but it made me realise how much we function on habit. Don’t get me wrong, habit is handy, it lets you do things while freeing up your mind to wander elsewhere. But I wonder if sometimes we let it limit us, because we believe we are doing the right thing, but there is actually a better way.

I think I’ve got to the point in my writing where doing things the same way is not going to take me where I want to go, so I need to do something different. I need to start a new habit. I don’t know what that habit should be, but I’m going to try and look at each decision from all sides, and work out if there is a different way.

Just an aside; we had the hottest day on record on Thursday, and nearly every day this week has had an overnight minimum in the mid-twenties – so sleep deprivation might also have played a part.

Work and Play

I’ve recently started a new job and I have to admit I’m really struggling to manage the juggle with work and writing. My office is very tech-heavy, so they have covered all the windows to minimise reflections on people’s screens. The result is that it feels a bit like you are sitting in a cellar, and your eyes never get to focus further than the length of the room.

Now, I know I’m getting older, so I probably notice this more than others, but my eyes are exhausted at the end of the day. There are only so many walks you can take to the kitchen to look out the window there. As a result, in the nearly three months I’ve been working there I haven’t written a creative word on my work days.

This has been highlighted with the recent Christmas break, where I got right back into the swing of writing. I thought I was on a roll, but now that I’m back in the office, my attempts at writing during the week have turned into a quick game of solitaire, checking my emails and then closing down.

After my brief burst of productivity, I’ve realised I need to find a solution to this. I don’t want to limit my writing just to days that I’m not in the office. I’m a big believer in work-life-balance, so when I’m not at work I want to be doing what I want to do, and that’s writing.

I’ve started talking lunch time walks as well as the many sorties to the kitchen for peppermint tea, but I think I need to find something more, especially with nearly a week of over 35°C on the horizon. Any suggestions will be gladly welcomed!

Publication!

This one slipped past me because I wasn’t expecting it until 2019. It was published last Sunday, but I didn’t check my email soon enough. This story, Bleed, is quite dear to me. It has a very personal meaning and was inspired by something in my life. Anyone who has read the story will be a bit confused by that, I’m sure, because the story is set in a time and place that is clearly not our earth.

It is a horror story, but only insomuch as there is a bit of gore, and bad things happen to people. It actually feels a bit more magical realism to me, but there’s not quite enough ‘real’ to truly fit into that category.

I’m not going to tell you the meaning behind it because, firstly, it is a stand-alone story and the meaning is not required to enjoy the story, and secondly, because this twice got rejected, once with the comment ‘this is good, and it will get published, but unfortunately not with us’ – and I wonder if it was because I told them what inspired it, and maybe it hit a little too close to home? The third time I subbed it I left the inspiration story off and it got accepted, so I think there is a lesson in that.

It’s published in Midnight Echo Issue 13 (which I was desperate to get into) which is the magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association – of which I am a member. It includes some other great fiction, so you would do well to get yourself a copy.

I hope you enjoy Bleed, and if I see you face to face, I’ll tell you the story behind it.

Back on the wagon

A funny thing happened on Saturday. I was lounging about, stuffing my face with enough chocolate to make me wonder if it is possible to get diabetes in a single week of poor diet choices, and I suddenly got up, came into the study, and turned on the computer. More amazingly, I opened a writing project I last worked on in October and I started editing it.

This is was a very rough first draft, so I needed to write new words and everything. Within the first sentence I felt like I’d never been away. Next thing I knew nearly two hours had disappeared and I came up for air, leaving the world in my story behind and finding myself again in the study.

It was wonderful.

This is such a nice way to end the year. It gives me hope for a more productive 2019. I have my list of writing projects I want to complete, and now it seems I have found the motivation to get back to putting words on the page instead of just watching my own private movies.

I hope you all have a very safe, relaxing and fun New Year. I’ll see you all back here next year!

Time to plan

I love lists. I write a new list every week for what I want to achieve in the week. But I think the ultimate list is the one you get write at the end of the year about what you want to achieve in the following year.

I’ve got one week to come up with my list!

Look, I’m the first to admit that I tend to deviate from the list sometime around February, so it is clearly not set in stone. But when I have those moments during the year when I have no idea what to do next, I can always go back to the list. Chances are that I won’t do what is on it, but it prompts me to come up with an alternative.

This is an exciting time for me, and if I could find a way to incorporate a spreadsheet, I’d do that too. For now, I’m going to focus on the list. Or should I say lists. I like to categorise so they’ll be broken down into roughly;

  • Personal
  • Writing
  • Home and Garden

If you don’t normally write a list, I would highly recommend trying it, because it’s not actually the ticking-off of the list that is so great (I often lose it during the year anyway) it’s all about imagining what it would be like to have done all those things, and that’s what fires up the inspiration to do it.

Happy planning!

The story machine

I haven’t had a lot of time to myself over the past few weeks. Even on the bus I’ve been bumping into people I know and chatting, or reading books. Today I sat alone on the couch with the TV turned off, the 90’s hits playing in the background, and I let my mind wander.

It amazes me how my mind can go from one subject to another, completely unrelated subject, and somehow find a story. I generally start out by ruminating over something I’ve recently seen, read or watched and then my imagination kicks in. Imagine if this happened? Then that! Then…. Ahh, I think we have a story.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been a little worried that the stories were drying up. I’d heard some other writers say that with age fewer stories come, but I think the truth is that with age more responsibilities and demands on our time come. Give yourself the time and a bit of quiet and your imagination is still there in abundance.

Now if I could just start making the time to write some of these stories without upsetting family, friends, work and the rapidly dying hot water service!

How we see

I was talking to a friend about how we look at the world. This isn’t a conversation people tend to have. Perhaps it is a bit like our perception of colours – we assume everyone sees things more-or-less the same.

Turns out this isn’t the case.

He talked about going down the freeway and how he looks at the stratum of the rocks and thinks about the geology of the land. He considered how the folds and faults got there.

I look at the same folds and wonder what bizarre creatures might have wandered the earth when those lines were the top layer. Better yet, could some long-trapped virus caught in a blister of (something – research needed here) be scraped open and unleashed upon the world?

I know that not everyone has pondered the question of ‘would we be sent home from work if aliens landed somewhere in the world,’ but I did assume everyone makes up their own stories. I guess that’s sort of true, but the stories are not always fiction.

We look at the world through our eyes; the lenses of which have been shaped by a lifetime of fascination – and we are not all fascinated by the same thing.

Thousands of people go down that freeway every day, and every one of them has a different narrative running through their head. And I’m so glad that the world is like that.

Publication!

My story ‘Jackie‘ has come out in Antipodean SF!

This story was inspired by watching too many documentaries on SBS about robots. It is uncanny how human they are becoming. This got me thinking…

Truth be told this could have been a much longer story, but given I had two other robot stories knocking about in my head, I thought I’d go for Flash Fiction to get this one out. So it’s a quick read.

I hope you enjoy Jackie, and no, it is not lost on my how funny it is that at a point when I’m not writing anything, one of my stories gets published.

I think it is time to start writing again.

Officially off the wagon

Not a word was written this week. I know I often say I’ve done no writing, but that usually means no *real* writing. Just a few bits and pieces around the place, maybe a dabble with editing something. This week there was officially nothing.

In fairness it was a busy week, and I always knew it would be. It was why I didn’t try NaNoWriMo this year. But even so, I thought I’d do more than I have.

And now I have a choice; I don’t have anything booked for the rest of Sunday, so I could try and get some writing done… Or I could call up my bus buddies and see if they want to have a drink at the pub.

The sun is out. The birds are singing.

I think we all know which option I’m going to pick.

Na-Sto-Id-Mo Week 2

Yeah, not a great idea. I think previously when I’ve done a story brainstorming stint, I’ve limited myself to 3 or 5 a week (I can’t remember which, but it would have been an odd number). Coming up with a new story idea every day is translating into a lot of rubbish ideas.

The one major exception was when I was in bed thinking of an idea, and I came up with the PERFECT story… just before I fell asleep. Of course in the morning I could remember none of it, other than the unflappable knowledge that it was a fantastic idea.

I won’t stop NaStoIdMo though. I think it is good to get my head in a story kind of a place, and for every three or four terrible ideas I have, one idea is good. The only problem this is leading to is that I’ve already got a heap of stories I want to write that I haven’t written, so I am just adding to the pile. But I think this is a good problem to have.

I’ll keep plugging away, and I will ensure I’ve come up with my story idea BEFORE I go to bed. Some days are easier than others, but then that’s true of everything in the writing process.