Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hit Me With Your Java Stick

I'm sitting in a cafe called Degraves Espresso with my Alphasmart and a coffee.

Interpretation: everything is very right with the world.

Not that everything even approximated right about an hour ago when I got into my car only to realise I'd left the window wound down all night, so that the rain I'd thought was so romantic tinkering on the roof had now thoroughly wet the seat and my best skirt. It's always fun going to a new job looking like you've had a nasty accident.

But wet skirt or no, Degraves Espresso is a little haven of bright and cosy, with its cherry red theatre seats and cluttered benches. Outside, the light is the cool grey of winter, but stupidly it's so humid (even at 7am) that I'm wishing the quaint theater seats were made of anything but leather.

I could look out of the window of this cafe all day. The short, old street is crowded with black umbrellas and the smell of freshly baked waffles and roasting coffee. It's almost enough to make me forget that I'm one of the office workers, that shuffle past with their umbrellas and briefcases.

Crap! How the heck did I become one of them?

It appears the only question left to answer is exactly *what* kind of shuffling office worker I am to become. All the options look decidedly bland when compared to writing another scene of my latest MS. God, I promised myself I wouldn't whine about it and LOOK at me.

Anyway, later buddies. I get another jave hit in before I sit behind that desk...

Friday, February 9, 2007

Kissing Sin

It's official -- Keri Arthur rocks :)

Her latest blockbuster book Kissing Sin was released the other day and as you can read on her blog, it has rocketed itself to N0. 18 on the NYT bestsellers list (see it up there after 18th Feb).

And really, this kind of success couldn't happen to a more deserving, hardworking and all around fabbo person who's generous with her time and knowledge.

I remember once, about three weeks after I'd joined our critique group. I was thinking of giving up (!) because I I had no clue how to write, no clue how to find a clue and everyone else seemed so effortlessly talented. I know if we hadn't had this small conversation, I'd still be floundering around at some wanky writers centre pretending I wasn't devouring romance novels fast enough to deforest the Amazon.

Me: "Thanks for everything, I'm not coming back to the group. I guess it just didn't work out."

Keri: "Don't be an idiot. You're coming along and you're bringing work and I don't want to hear another word about this."
or something along those lines along with a promise to show me her first manuscript to make me feel better.

I still smile when I think about it today because it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I feel constantly blessed to be on the other end of her unique blend of encouragement and no-nonsense attitude toward the writing life.

I'll stop now, because if she happens to be reading this she'll give me a hit on the head next time she sees me. But three cheers for you, Ms Kez, and may this success be followed by many more.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

What? You want me to make money? OUTRAGEOUS!

Last September with a few tears but a lot more barn dancing jubilation, I left my job of five years.

I had to leave. I was bored, burned out and run down to the point where I started actually hoping I’d get sick so I wouldn’t have to plant my butt on that dusty pink chair. There came a point where not even the lure of the secret stash of managerial TimTams couldn’t get me excited. And frankly that's unnatural and sad.

So without anything in mind except sleeping, I told hubby I was resigning and taking a four weeks break. It kind of turned into a four month break, but I swear I wasn’t eeeeeking it out. Really.


Have I mentioned that I adore not having a dayjob? That every day is just filled with this awesome fun of doing exactly what I want (writing and reading and going to movies) and that I’m the happiest I think I've ever been. Like ever?

I literally wake up in the morning bubbling with excitement to make this huge list of all the fun stuff I want to do like 'write ten pages, buy herbs and plant in window boxes, make banana cake, take dog for walk' etc. Now that's my kind of to-do list!

Well it’s good - and for a person who used to stress about money I’m surprisingly happy to doodle along on the smell of an oily rag if it means I don’t have to 9to5 my life away. Die-hard shopping and eating-out habits have been changed, people - CHANGED!

So it’s been a four wonderful months, but ***sadly*** it’s drawing to a close. Back to the office for me.


Wings clipped, suit on, and tram ticket purchased. But at least money will be deposited into the oily rag bank account. That’s something to be thankful for.

So in an effort to cheer myself up, these are some things I love about going back to the day job.

  • …um
  • good printers
  • errrr…
  • interaction with exciting people who stimulate my imagination by their sheer stupidity
  • …yeah, that!
  • lunch time
  • help me out here....
  • chain drinking coffee
  • biscuits (God give me strength to stay away from the bicci tin or at least bad navigational skills so I never find it)

ok, I’ve exhausted it.

But I find I can’t quite let go of my new found freedom. I’m contracting, which means I can build in little days of heaven here and there where I practice on that full time writer gig.

Bring on that gig and SOON.


And a big shout out to Melanie for taking a huge step in that direction by signing with a totally awesome agent :) You rock.

The Year My Magic Broke REVISION
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11,250 / 49,250

Devil's Delight
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4,569 / 90,000

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Yes I would LOVE to make Fairy Floss

You know you’re doing something right when an eight-year-old says to you “Aunty Robyn, you’re like a kid in a grown ups body.”

For me, feeling like an kid in an adult's body is standard fare ; I’ve always been young at heart, always ready for a laugh and often felt so full of joy I thought it would bubble over. I skipped a lot, jumped a lot, regularly rode the trolley down supermarket aisles like a bob cart. But lately it's felt like happiness and finding joy is something I have to choose rather than just experience.

Like tonight when my niece asked me to make fairy floss with her. Maybe two years ago the answer would have been ‘hell yes!’, because let’s face it – making fairy floss sounds like a hoot. But instead I paused, thinking it might get messy. Huh? Since when have I been afraid of a little mess? I'm the original mess maker. I kicked myself, picked her up and spun her around and said said ‘absolutely’.

But the pause made me pause. And while I was on my walk around the river tonight, I realized I’ve been gradually losing my inner girl. Even the walk itself was proof - my inner girl was the type who'd skip and run for the joy of it and would never think of walking like there was some freaky pole up her ass just because it might help her shed a few pounds.

It was a beautiful night, one of those rare twilights where fiery orange hues meet flawless blue sky and the moon shed a pearly glow across the water. The crappy pic from my mobile below doesn't do it any justice. Something inside me started feeling sick that I was racing around the walking path without taking it in. What would my girl do?

She’d stop.

She’d stare and the beauty before her in awe and she’d let all the other joggers and health-nuts pass her by.

And then she’d look around and see there was a magnificent swing set just over to the right and it was calling her name.

So I stopped jogging and got on that swing. I was a little bit rusty but it came back really fast. The wind whipped through my hair and it seemed like I could see for miles across the treetops. I swung until it got dark and that pearly moon, suspended in the sky like a Christmas bauble, got brighter and brighter. When I finally slowed down, I heard a whisper from my inner girl - "I'm glad you're listening," she said.


REVISION of YA 48/190 = 25%

Plotting my way out of a paper bag

If you look over at my word-count-widget thing on the right - things are looking grim. In fact, it's looking like I couldn't string a thousand words together to save myself. It's looking like I refused to get out of bed and instead spent all of January reading novel after novel instead of writing my own (me? read in bed all day? NEVER!).

But no! That little 3654 word count is all character development and plot -- yes, PLOT because this month I've been working with First Draft in Thirty Days by Karen Wiesner. Now, as the author admits, the title is misleading. What you're aiming for is a heavily detailed outline in 30 days rather than a first draft. But that's fine by me. I never wanted a first draft anyway, just a direction and a road map. Or so I keep telling myself.

It goes like this:
Days 1-6: Preliminary outlines and sketches
Days 7-13: Research
Days 14-15: Story evolution (ideas for beginning, middle, end)
Days 16-24: Formatted outline
Days 25-28: Evaluating the strength of the outline
Days 29-30: Revising outline - and on Day 30, you're to put this outline "on a shelf for at least two weeks to several months". I guess while you let it all sink in. That makes sense, because I'll always put a draft away for a month or so and always find everything is clearer when I go back to it.

But of course, I didn't really end up with a heavily detailed outline either because by Day 15 my my muse went and hid under a rock and no amount of timtams could coax her out. "You're making it boring!" she said, followed by "I just want to write it!".

She started making me dream about the story at 1am and waking me up so I could get my trusty torch pen out to write it all down.So of course I listened to her (she's normally quite sage) and started working on a synopsis based on what I've got. You can take the girl out of the Pantzer, but you can't take the Pantzer out of the girl. Apparently.

But, the good news is that I have a rough frame work rather than flying blind into the mist which always freaks me out and makes me write too fast so that I can figure out what the book is about. The other news is that I learned that I'm not ready and maybe never will be ready for a detailed plot way of working. I'm somewhere in between Plotting and Pantzing.


Writing Theory No. 1 - no one else can teach you what your process is (even a kick ass book like First Draft in Thirty Days), you have to do that work and it takes a LONG TIME. But hey, what's a few years when you're going to be writing for the rest of your life? Exactly.

And Writing Theory No.2 - finding that process, which unfortunately changes over time, is some of the most important work a writer can do. And you have to be gentle with yourself, and just take it on the chin and move on when something doesn't work out. Easier said than done.

In other news, I've finally run out of the 1kg bag (I'm probably exaggerating, but it just seemed to last and last) of Daim I bought at Ikea a month or so back. Now, there are many things to be
thankful about Ikea for: my wardrobes, the beautiful kitchen I built with hubby and maybe even the pull out keyboard that makes my old kitchen table such a great desk. But since I've found these little chocolate covered almond toffees, so slim you can crunch them in one bite - I couldn't give a rat's ass about the furniture. JUST GIVE ME THE CHOCOLATE!!

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