Tag Archives: Adelaide

Change

Like many people, I don’t like change that is forced upon me (as compared with change I instigate – which I relish). This can be as minor as delaying what time I go for my coffee in the morning up to the major things, like losing my job. I’m facing the latter at the moment as my workplace faces ‘significant redundancies’ –and they are not talking about the payouts with the significant bit.

I’ve pre-posted this blog, so there is a good chance that by the time you read this I will know if I’m out or not. I suspect I may take a little while to come to terms with the outcome no matter what way things turn out, so I may add a postscript to this, but I may not. Sorry.

The stupid thing is, what annoys me most about this change is the not knowing what is going to happen (or not happen). Do I have to prepare to look for work, or to take on the roles of others in my team, or manage the stress when I meet with other teams who have lost people in their team? I have no idea.

If there is one thing that getting to this age has taught me (and I believe there are actually quite a few things now) it is that going through the change is never as bad as you think it will be. It is once you know about the change that you get riled up. The anticipation of it gets under your skin. The doing, well that’s head down bum up stuff. You just get on with it and it happens.

So don’t be concerned for me, I’m not too worried, just be understanding if I’m a bit grumpy. I’m not good with change. Maybe that is my lesson to learn this year?

The risk of the wrong words

Last week I was sweltering in 40’C heat with my car packed, glued to the radio awaiting instructions for when I should evacuate from the out-of-control bushfire spreading across the hills. This week I’m rugged up against the 15’C temperature outside and I’m hoping my gutters can handle the deluge that has already been and more that is yet to come.

Perhaps one of the biggest blows to the environmental movement was the misnomers we used around climate change in the latter part of last century; first the greenhouse effect, then global warming. It is neither of these things, it is extreme weather phenomenon. We now see that nearly every day.

I think even the prime minister of Australia would have to acknowledge that there are more extreme weather phenomenon around the world now than when I was a kid, and the statistics back me up. I wonder if we had coined the phrase Climate Change instead of Global Warming back in the 80’s if there would have been more done about it.

But I guess as long as democratic governments only have to look 3 to 4 years into the future we can probably call it anything we like and there will not be any change in policy. What a mess we are leaving for the kids of our world, I really thought my generation would be different. What a disappointment.

Sorry, I’ll get back to writing posts next week, but perhaps you can see why environment is such a common theme in my stories.

Catalyst sums it up nicely if you have 19 minutes to spare;

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Fires

Yesterday I packed my car with the things that I considered most valuable. Once the photo albums (from the days before digital) and the multitudes of long-hand writing were packed, everything else looked disposable.

It certainly helps put your material life into perspective when you have to fit what is most precious into a car boot. All the things I thought I needed I realised I didn’t really need, they were wants. What I needed was a woollen jumper, I didn’t have that.

Perhaps it is a good exercise to look at all your stuff and ask yourself ‘what would you take?’ Then give thanks that you don’t have to evacuate, that you don’t have to wait to go back to your home to see if it is still there, to see if the animals you couldn’t take survived. Some of my friends and family are still facing this.

Thank you for all the good wishes people sent me yesterday, but an even bigger thank you to all the amazing people who help us in these incredibly stressful times; the CFS, the MFS the Dept of Environment, the team at 891AM who tell us what is happening and the multitudes of volunteers who step up to do anything and everything.

Thank you.

Funny little brains

My bus was stopped at the lights and my eye immediately landed upon a pigeon doggedly going after a scrap of food on the road. The only problem was the turn right arrow was green, so a stream of traffic kept running over the desired treat. While I watched, the pigeon must have made at least twenty aborted attempts to walk out on the road, each time getting cut off by a speeding machine of death.

I know this next part is anthropomorphising on my behalf, but I swear each time a car came past the pigeon looked surprised. How could it not learn that the road was a dangerous place to be, no matter how inviting a treat looked? Just for the record I couldn’t see a damn thing on the road, so no idea what was worth risking one’s life for.

Then I was sitting with my cat and I had a heat pack on my eyes (long story, eye issues, fixing them, enough said). I sat there blindly patting her and then she moved so I had no idea where she was. She meowed because the patting stopped before she was ready. It then struck me that she had no idea what the implications were of me sitting there with my eyes covered. Even more striking was the idea that she probably had no idea that she even saw with her eyes.

This led my brain to the only place it could possibly go; if a superior being observed me, what insanely obvious thing would I be missing? It is hard enough to grasp the concept of not being able to put two and two together to make four, but what is even harder is to conceive that there would be connections and cause/effect relationships that we are missing that would probably be blatantly obvious to us if we had another 100+ IQ points.

I’m sure I’ll waste hours though trying to imagine what that would be like. That’s what writers do.

No more blogs?

I was watching a show on social media the other day and it said blogs are now passé. A vlog (video log) is still acceptable, but apparently blogs are on their way out. Naturally, this got me thinking about this blog.

When I started blogging I attended social media workshops and researched SEO tips to get the most out of it. I also started my Twitter account and ramped up my Facebook profile to back it up. Social media was going to be the key to my publication success.

I spent hours on my online profile, at least double the time I was spending on my actual writing. As all the articles said it would, I slowly increase my likes, followers and comments. I didn’t finish any stories.

Then I unexpectedly got moved to Adelaide and suddenly my focus changed (briefly) to removalists, breaking leases, finding homes for things etc. My online profile tanked the moment I looked away. In a very short time my three months of hard work disappeared. I got very disheartened and turned my focus back to my writing. I got some stories finished.

But I kept the blog up. Why? Because this blog represents something that I think is very important in writing; dedication. Even when I’m coughing up a lung and producing double my weight in snot I will still make sure I’ve got something to go up on Sunday. So it may have a readership of just six friends, three strangers who happened upon it by accident and a bunch of people who want to sell rip-off handbags, but it is here and that’s what is important to me.

I’m not slagging social media, I know it does work, but for me the commitment and accountability are a bigger appeal, and the blog provides that. Also I have a theory that sitting at my computer also inspires me to finish stories, which is what I think writers are really meant to do.

So for now the blog stays.

It’s an honour

The Australian Horror Writers Association Short Story winners have just been announced – and I’ve got an honourable mention for my short story ‘Glow’.  I am so excited that I’m almost shaking!

I started this story three times. I finally finished the first draft in March and two days later put it through my Adelaide writers group. There were problems with the story. I re-wrote it, re-wrote it and re-wrote it. Finally I subbed it to the competition nearly a whole week before the closing date (I was determined NOT to be the final entry as I normally am). By now I both loved and hated this story.

Then I got the news that there had been a record number of entries. There were nearly double the number of what they had received last year. My heart dropped. This story had been banging about inside my head for four years, why did I pick this year to give it life?

Of course you know the punch line, so I won’t labour the point, but I do have to give a massive thank you to Lilliana, Sam and Margot from my writers group for their fantastic feedback. I thought the story was finished and they all explained to me the many reasons why it wasn’t. It was a much better story after I added and cut what they suggested, and this honourable mention is proof of that.

For all of you out there who think a writers group will crush your creativity or box you into a style that is not yours, I want to say that’s rubbish. You have been going to the wrong writers groups. I’ve been a part of two so far and they have both taught me so much. I am a better writer because of them.

Thank you!

Strange looking bug

It’s not often we have genuine mysteries in our lives, even rarer still for us to go for weeks in the dark and finally solve it after a serendipitous insight. This is what happened to me recently over a strange looking bug.

Until the house I’m in now, my biggest garden (in my adult life) was only marginally larger than the desk I’m sitting at. So when I started digging around in real soil, planting some poor botanical specimen that was destined to die, I nearly had a heart attack when a 5cm long earwig-like creature crawled out of the dirt and nearly touched my hand. Before I could recover and investigate further a magpie came over and ate it! I was secretly grateful.

Since then I’ve had about six of these experiences (I now wear gloves so it seems a little less dangerous) and in all this time I’ve never been able to work out what the creature is. When my friend, who has a much better experience of gardening than I do, saw the thing on a visit to my house even she did not know what it was. I had a genuine mystery.

I scoured the internet, but my educated keywords brought back nothing. I decided there was nothing for it but to catch one to take to the university and start thinking up how best to represent myself in its name when it turned out to be a new species (natbug, pottus buggus).

With my jar always at the ready, I wasn’t running into them again. I was getting frustrated. Finally I turned back to Google and typed in ‘strange looking bug’. While the first couple of image lines looked something like this;

Strange looking bug

There, on about the fifth line of images, was my strange looking bug. It is a relatively common Mole Cricket.

Mystery solved.

P.S. Once I manage to take a photo of it I’ll come back and attach it to the post sans-googly eyes.

Writers’ week wrap-up

As predicted, Adelaide Writers’ Week was as inspirational as always. I have over 3,000 words written as proof that the writing monster has finally awoken, so I hope I can keep leveraging off that motivation.

It was interesting to hear how others approach their craft. Alexander McCall Smith told us all that he wrote 5,000 words a day, no wonder he can manage to publish four books a year! Others seemed to hit on the golden 1,000 words a day, which certainly makes my 300 word goal seem pretty sad in comparison. I do wonder if maybe setting the bar too low leads to less than ideal results.

Again it was interesting to hear how others get their novels written. I’m always amazed to hear how some writers just write the bits they see and then collect it into what they think will be the order of the book, and then they finish off by writing all the joining bits. Hannah Kent even had a folder with dividers marked up for her (at the time estimated) 13 chapters. She just put the bits she had written behind the chapter tab that she thought it might end up in.

Many were write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writers, which I’m starting to believe is the most common approach, where you just sit back and see how the story unfolds as you are writing it from start to finish. This does lead to some serious editing work though, so while these writers tend to push out their novels in 3-6 months, they also spend nearly twice as long fixing up the second draft.

Finally it was nice to hear from many authors who did not get published until later in life. I’m sure it is just my own paranoia and selective hearing, but many of the authors I’ve listened to in previous years either got published on their first attempt after they had decided to write a novel, or they were first published under the age of 25. This year there were at least two authors who had started seriously writing in their thirties, but not found success until their forties. So there is hope for me yet.

Adelaide Writers’ Week is so good in that you get to see so many authors from so many backgrounds and writing in forms you may never have read, let alone attempted to write. And it is all free. It is such an injection of inspiration for readers and writers alike and I hope the festival continues long into the future.

Adelaide Writers’ Week 2014

Well it is on again, and I’m sure Adelaide Writers’ Week 2014 will be just as informative, inspirational and relaxing as it usually is. Now an annual event, the writers festival is nearly all free (only a few evening events have small cover charges) and it has attracted writers from all over the world, in all sorts of genres and forms.

If you are in Adelaide I’d highly recommend going along, even if you don’t know the authors. You not only get to hear from the authors and sample their work, but if you pay attention you’ll notice that they may be sitting in the audience next to you at the next session as well!

So keep an eye out for me, I’ll be popping in most days and soaking up as much as possible. Can’t wait!

Some like it hot

On Thursday Adelaide was the hottest city on the planet. Fortunately I wasn’t there, I was in Melbourne where it was only 43.9’C (111.02’F). Gee I’m glad I brought all those jumpers over, such a good use of limited bag space.

There were some interesting discoveries this weather led me to… Firstly, the air conditioning in my car doesn’t seem to work as soon as the ambient temperature goes over 35, and secondly, I go such an alarming shade of red when I get hot that people stop and watch me to see if I’m going to fall over dead, or just melt into a pool of flesh and hair.

It is not the way a woman wants to stand out in a crowd.

This was meant to be my week off where (between social engagements) I was going to write up a storm. Instead I’m barely able to stay awake the moment I go into any air conditioned space (including the supermarket) and I can’t even focus well enough to move my eyes down to the next sentence when I’m reading a book, let alone trying to write one.

So this week has certainly answered my oft ruminated query; is hot or cold weather worse for writing? There is no doubt in my mind (and any that may have been there has certainly melted out and been flushed away in an ocean of sweat), hot weather dries up the creative juices far more efficiently than the cold weather can freeze them.

Bring on Autumn!