Monday, August 28, 2006

Shh

it's raining.

Roads are slippery and shiny and treacherous with it.

Even though B is a city, indisputably a city, it feels more like a city when it is raining. The rain obscures and clarifies, gives everything a cinematic quality. The effect is particularly marked at night. In the rain, neon becomes a kind of holy fire, an iconography of possibilities. In some streets, as the rain plays over everything, you may feel as though you have become part of the mise-en-scene for a movie all noirish and significant. And you can pull the collar of your jacket up and walk in the rain like you're going somewhere important; like you are someone important; someone with grand passions and grander pains; someone deserving of the scrutiny of the camera lens.

It's raining.

The roof is mumbling with it.

I've nearly finished a story that concerns itself with a reoccuring dream that a character has, but only when it's raining. It's a story that has been long in the writing, but one that I keep coming back to. The city it's set in is Brisbane, when I first started it, it rained frequently, now that element is almost the most fantastical part of the story.

Tonight it's raining, and I know my character will be dreaming.

It's not a very pleasant dream.

Poor guy.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

What it used to be

My life has been dull of late.

Very, very dull. I mean, read this blog - not that I'd blame you if you didn't.

Not that interesting, is it?

Today I went to the shops, drank some coffee read the papers, came home, did a whole bunch of housework, watched a DVD, didn't think anything particularly profound, didn't come across anything particularly profound in the news, and then I sat down to write this.

Dull, very, very dull.

I am actually approaching a state of almost zen-like dullness.

I have entered my mid thirties and found it to be a place with mildly(but only mildly) offensively coloured carpet, a couple of dog-eared (and eaten) paperbacks, and an increasing nostalgia for things "the way they used to be". I'm even finding that I watch more television, Christ, I'm even blogging about it.

Dull.

If this continues, I'm going to start blogging about the amusing antics of my cat. At least he's out there doing stuff, eating small animals, annoying my dog. Well, appearing to annoy him, if I know my cartoons, and I do, then they're probably trading wisecracks, and scheming schemes that end up in everyone being taught a nice lesson about something or other, usually involving self esteem or the need to follow your dreams.

Shit, even my animals are dull.

I know that people think that science fiction short story writers lead thrilling lives filled with motorsports, and opportunities to wear leather jackets and rather fetching pants, and that when they're not writing, which only takes up about half an hour of their day, they're out researching quantum physics with their sexy companions, or solving crimes involving quantum physics and grammar and more sexy twists and turns than an episode of Melrose, and even sexier companions.

But it just isn't true.

It used to be, back in the Seventies. Christ, there's that nostalgia again. These days we're all too busy blogging, and what crimes we solve never seem to make it into the papers. Writing just isn't what it used to be.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

In the Blogosilence I...

wrote a lot, delivered my shim manuscript, got extremely rolling drunk -and extremely swiftly and projectiley regretful – caught up with my family, wrote some more, returned to work, launched a book – a wonderful book, which sold out at the launch so I feel that I didn't suck too much at the launching, and, hey, the lads at Pulp Fiction did a fine job too.

I also invented gravity, read more Stross, defined three nouns (and found that they could also be used as verbs, which is handy, it's like have a word with handles or a little pouch you can put your snuff in), and realised that you can never have enough commas in a sentence, but it was something that, I think, I knew already, deep down. I'm still thinking about the shininess of 1950's writing, but grew too enamoured of my own shiny prose*, to blog about it.

The Stross is still fun, onto the second book, it's keeping me company in my lunchbreaks


*And was too worn out by inventing gravity, do you know how hard it was to invent gravity, I mean that just doesn't make any sense, how do you invent gravity anyway? Well, I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you, and there's not enough good burying space left in the backyard.**

**it's where I buried all the nouns that have crossed me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Echo Echo

It's sure been quiet around here. I've been writing. Finishing things.

Oh, and the Shim are coming. Slowly, but definitely surely, they're on their way.



Thursday, August 10, 2006

Holiday. Holiday

Well I’m on holidays for the first time in a long time. It’s not exactly a real holiday, that’s in October – I’m going to New Zealand for a couple of weeks.

This is what folks call a writing holiday - kind of like a fishing holiday, but with stories and whatnot to finish, and not as much fish, it’s one of those middle-class luxuries*. I’ll be writing and such, may be even blogging some sensible blog entries – like something I’ve wanted to write about fiction in the New Yorker in the Fifties and its general shininess - certainly reading, oh, yes, there will be reading, and coffee, `cause I need those caffeine induced heart palpitations.

Tonight, though, I cracked open the Chartreuse**: after a bottle of red, not such a good idea. Tonight doesn’t count as my writing holiday” alcohol and writing doesn’t mix – it might have worked for Dylan Thomas, and, maybe, Fritz Leiber, but it sure as hell doesn’t work for me.

Oh, only 27 days to go until Okkervil River hit the Zoo, and 36 until the Dresden Dolls play the Arena. Bring on September.

Bought the new Crystal Skulls album "Outgoing Behaviour" on the weekend, I'm not warming to it as quickly as their first album "Blocked Numbers" it's, perhaps, a little too smooth, but it's still good, and the title track is a corker***.

*not that bookstore wages are middle-class, you can't really afford a middle-class lifestyle and work in a bookstore. But who earns real money these days anyway, what with wars and rates and petrol and bananas and such?

**and surely that green drink is the nectar of the gods - well, the alcoholic ones anyway.

***listening to it now, and, after the chartreuse, it's all rather good.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Well, I'm back - after all, who doesn't like to pretend that they're a hobbit back from a long journey in which they farewelled their closest bud?

Back from the Byron Bay Writers Festival. Like to say I was down there plugging my writing, or, even better, enjoying the beach, but I was working selling other people's books. The weather was terrible, but, from all accounts, the Festival was a success.

I only worked yesterday, did a couple of school events, let me tell you there is nothing more terrifying than three hundred kids bearing down on your little table of books, all anxious to buy their books, so that Andy Griffiths - a master of stand up for the under-eights - can sign them. All in all, though, it's great to see so many kids so enthusiastic about books.

The most exciting part of the whole thing was the storm that ripped through Byron in the middle of one of the events. Nearly blew the marquee we were in all the way to Kansas*.


*Which makes sense, because we’re already in Oz, see?**

**Okay, that’s rather lame, but I’m tired.***

***I am enjoying all these astericks though****

****which leads one to wonder, at what point do they become ridiculous.*****

*****probably about now.******

******yeah, I think so.*******

*******so when do you think they'll call a state election in Qld?********

********ooh, gone all political have you? Going to mention the water crisis again, eh? *********

*********shut up.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

She fell from the sky, she fell very far and Kansas, she says, is the name of the star.

We bought a copy of the Wizard of Oz on DVD today, which is odd: odd that we hadn’t bought it earlier*. The Wizard of Oz is cool, I like it a lot, but it's my wife’s favourite film, Diana can quote the entire film; I’m not kidding.

Some nights, when Diana is having trouble sleeping, she’ll start quoting the film, and I’ll only know that she’s fallen asleep when the dialogue stops – we’ve gotten to “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My” but never “Poppies will put them to sleep”** which is a great comfort because I like my sleep, and I don’t keep a supply of poppies in the house.

I can’t quote anything. I have a terrible memory for quotes, absolutely terrible, which is why my favourite poem is William Blake’s “Sick Rose” one stanza, easy.

The thing is, having a wife who absolutely adores the Wizard of Oz can be mighty helpful. I wouldn’t have written Slow & Ache*** or Porcelain Salli without that love, and I don’t think I would dig David Lynch movies as much either.

Anyways we’re about to get to the Cowardly Lion.

I'm offline for the next couple of days****, have yourselves a lovely weekend.




*Well, we’ve always had a copy on video.
** any incorrect quotes are mine, Diana is too busy watching the movie and pre-empting the dialogue as I type.
*** even though I cut out the Wizard of Oz references in the published version.

****'cause I know you'll miss me, these entries are so exciting, what with the writing and the rambling and such.

Friday, August 04, 2006

It's been a Quiet Week

I'm working my way through a draft of my kid's novel "The City & the Stony Stars". It's been fun. The writing is stripped back and more action focussed than what I usually write. It has also revealed a lot my flaws as a writer - weird logic jumps, a tendency to sentence fragments, and run on sentences. This is all good, it never hurts to be aware of these things, nouns and verbs, people.

Also been ticking along on what I think is my new novel. Not sure if it’s working, but it’s keeping me interested, and that's the most important thing, at least at this stage.

Tonight though, I'm just wasting time, and wishing I was in Melbourne. Happy launches to Paul Haines, Grace Dugan, the Eidolon folk, and anyone else I may have forgotten.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Okkervil River - only 36 Days to Go

Okkervil River play at the Zoo in just 36 days. I bought my tickets today. If you get a chance to see them, do it. They're very cool. Yeah, I know I go on about this band far too much, but their range of themes from Carveresque landscapes and raw Fairytale kingdoms, pretty much aligns itself to my obsessions*.

"Bigger, blacker things go following them into a patch of forest somebody once planted for this song."

Black Sheep Boy Appendix - Missing Children

Lead singer, Will Sheff is a master storyteller, with a perfectly-strained-vocal talent to match, not to mention a wonderfully dark turn of phrase.

I keep grasping for musical points of comparison (not to mention appropriate musical verbs). They fit well between, say, REM and Radiohead, but that's selling them short, and it's really not that accurate a comparison.

Anyway, enough clumsily phrased proselytising, I’ve got my tickets. I’m going to see them. And I’m very excited.


*Not that my obsessions are that unique, but this band provides a very close match.