Saturday, November 29, 2014

You don't scare me, December....

My cold is gone, the assignments marked and returned, fabo judged, and paid work completed. I have set the wheels in motion for where to send my returned manuscripts next. Possibilities are by no means exhausted. I aim to straddle that wobbly fence-line that marks where the paddock of realism meets the field of optimism. It is precarious but not impossible. And new work needs creating. If the earlier works don't grab the publishers then I will require other work to submit. Not indie publishing, I hear you muse? Not with picture books. I cannot produce the kind of end product I would want. It is important to keep faith with my own aims and intentions. (Tip#1. Decide on the goal and then make sure subsequent decisions support this goal). It is important to acknowledge the skills I don't have, along with the ones I do. So, onward ... (Tip #2. Always make a plan for what to do next. Staring for too long at the result you didn't want is unhealthy. And Tip #3. If the commas you add to your sentence for meaning look awkward, it means you should reorder/rewrite the sentence).

And with the Christmas/Holiday season wind-down about to crank into high gear it is time to give thanks for the year that is drawing to a close and consider the possibilities of 2015. (Tip#4. Always celebrate the good stuff, irrespective of the size or shape of it).

For a change I don't have a university paper I am planning to enrol for next year, which is simultaneously a relief and somewhat horrifying. Sure stretching my brain around assignment questions has made it hurt sometimes, but finding answers is exciting and satisfying. Fact is I have completed my Diploma in Children's Literature so I should probably stop with the papers. I guess if nothing else the bank balance will be the cost of a paper better off next year (Tip#5 - there is often a silver lining - always check for one, and if you see it, acknowledge and enjoy it).

After the thrilling whirlwind of the residency, the festivals, workshops and school visits of this year, the anticipated relative quiet of next year is welcome and scary. The old ego will have to rein it in a bit but that will be offset by a leisurely pace that will allow more time for navel gazing (Tip#6 don't underestimate the importance of navel gazing for writers. Our navels are often where we find our best ideas - please note this is not to be confused with novel gazing which is something else entirely). The freedom to read whatever I want is deliciously appealing. And the idea of finishing off a few writing projects in 2015 is also a satisfying one. I love writing the End. Right, well, I think that's 2015 sussed. Okay December, I think I am ready for you.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How NOT to write a blog post...

How not to write a blog post:

1) Have final university assignments to complete

2) Have paid work with a deadline

3) Run the last story writing competition for Fabo 2014 (with heartfelt thanks to Tania Hutley) at (entries are closed, and I am now judging the winners)

4) Get a cold

5) Start reading books from the enormous tbr pile beside your bed as soon as 1) is posted away to your course controller (so far I've read Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater and Every Breath by Ellie Marney)

6) Watch movies (I recommend Mud) and all 7 series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to avoid/get you through doing 1) and 2)

7) Be down about the state of publishing, which seems to be turning in ever decreasing circles these days. Lists have got shorter, publishers fewer, and competition fiercer. Publishers are looking for safe bets, blockbusters-in-waiting, the next big thing. I've recently had a couple of accepted projects subsequently declined. And I'm not the only one to whom this has happened.

8) Spend time looking for the silver lining to 7)

9) Stare at the looming prospect of Christmas that sucks the air out of everything else from now until January 1st

10) Read other peoples blog posts about what you should put in a blog post

11) Think a lot about writing (rather than doing any)

12) Listen to/watch your writing heroes say amazing things about the art of writing

See what I did there? :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Head down...

Here is a little something something while I complete my final university assignment (which looks like it'll be about 10,000 words long at the rate I'm going). It includes a bit of a look at how Margaret Mahy uses and subverts fairy tales in her fiction. Which reminded me of this poem I wrote and posted some time back.

I have made some changes.

Sometimes words escape me
I think it's because I pinch them
As if I'm Hansel and Gretel's witch.
Sometimes I squeeze them
so hard
Cut them to make them fit
Like the feet of step-sisters
In Cinderella's dainty shoes
That they bleed
upon the paper
Leaving a stain upon the page
That reads between the lines
Like the truth of ‘happy ever after’
In old fairy tales