Monday, October 20, 2014

Eleven more sleeps

until NaNoWriMo. Who is going to be on my cheer squad? I really want to do this. I feel as though I've been stuck in a bit of a writing/not writing/writing/not writing rut and the impetus to finish NaNoWriMo would be good for me. But, as my daughter points out - rather too often - I need gold stars....
Recruiting my cheer squad now. No dancing required!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Quote for the day

Just write every day of your life. Read intensely.Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.

 —Ray Bradbury

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Fast Food/Slow Cooking

NaNoWriMo is coming up - are you in? I'm in - I'm going to use the month to write something quite new and I'm already excited. Here are some thoughts on fast writing - look out for my thoughts on slow writing coming soon!

“There's an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a
sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel
loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground.
Where it will likely require medical attention.”
Chris Baty

It’s October – the month where some writers thoughts turn to NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo was started by Chris Baty in 1999. Participants of NaNoWriMo (now an international internet-based programme) set out to write 50,000 words between 1st and the 30th November. You may, and many do, begin at midnight on the 1st and end just before midnight on the 30th. Although when it was started, there were only 21 participants, over 200,000 people sign up for now, a website is dedicated to it, and there are hundreds of NaNoWriMo events around the world.

These can include pre-NaNoWriMo picnics and parties, ‘plot-ins’, all-nighters and café writing. NaNoWriMo merchandise is available through the website and there’s a special programme for young writers. Municipal Liaisons help organise events in different regions.

What are the rules? Only that you submit 50,000 words by the 30th November – this can be done through the NaNoWriMo website – and the words can be scrambled or encrypted if you’re worried someone might steal your ideas/novel/novella. Everyone who submits that number of words is a ‘winner’. Winner of what, you might ask? The winners of NaNoWriMo receive a printable certificate, an icon they can display on their webpage and inclusion on the list of NaNoWriMo winners. Since 2011, CreateSpace, a self-publishing production company has offered winners 5 free paperback proof copies of their manuscripts.

This is all hardly the point, of course. The point is that NaNoWriMo offers established, new and emerging writers the opportunity to sign a contract with themselves that over the month of November they will work put their writing before all else, work to a tight deadline and produce. NaNoWriMo gives a writer the opportunity to say it’s all about the quantity, never mind the quality. It offers liberation from perfection. It also offers writers a sense of community – you are participating in a world-wide writing event. You can, if you wish, meet other writers in real life or in cyber-life. You can participate in forums, whinge to writing buddies at the various writing events or you can stay at home, emerging in December, rough draft in hand. Or at least the beginning of a rough draft.

You can scoff at NaNoWriMo. You can ask what novels are only 50,000 words anyway? (The Great Gatsby is one and many novels for younger readers rock in at under that count…but you can still ask!) However, many writers find that they work well under the kind of perceived peer pressure or personal contract that is NaNoWriMo. And, despite the emphasis on quantity, not quality, publishable books emerge.

“It worked I think because misery loves company, and I knew that thousands and thousands of other people were out there beating their heads on their desks at the same time,” Sara Gruen interviewed by Lindsey Rivait.

Gruen is the author of Water for Elephants which she began as a NaNoWriMo novel. She wrote only 40,000 words and was not, therefore a NaNoWriMo winner. However, the book hit number 1 on the New York bestseller list, has sold over 3 million copies worldwide and is now a movie.

FanGirl by Rainbow Powell, declared ‘absolutely capitivating’ in Kirkus Review, is another novel that started life during NaNoWriMo. Powell is the author of the bestselling young adult novel, Eleanor & Park, also headed towards the movies. In a NaNoWriMoPep Talk, Powell says this:

I was very skeptical about NaNoWriMo at first.

It seemed like something that amateur writers would do. Or young writers. People who needed to be tricked into finishing their books. I’d already written two books by October 2011, and sold them to publishers, and I couldn’t imagine writing either of them—or anything good—in a month.

That’s not writing, I thought, that’s just piling up words.

But then I thought about how wonderful it would be to have a pile of 50,000 words…

Maybe some writers enjoy the first draft—the part of the writing process when anything is possible, and you’re out there forging your own path. I hate that part. All I can think about when I’m starting a book are all the words I haven’t written yet. I actually feel them, hanging around my neck, tugging at me. First drafts always make me feel anxious and a little desperate—like, “Oh God, I just need to get all of this out and on paper, so that I have something to work with.”

I like having something to work with.

You can join NaNoWriMo simply by registering on their website (linked to this Session). It’s free – although donations are welcome and there is merchandise if you feel you’d participate more fully wearing a NaNoWriMo t-shirt or drinking from a special coffee cup. There are events happening already around Melbourne, including plot-ins at Knox Library and Melbourne Central. There is also a new region – Gippsland and Baw Baw Shire, so if anyone is interested and from around Gippsland – you have a Municipal Liaison of your very own.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Tuesday Poem - Thomas Hardy continued

Proud Songsters

The thrushes sing as the sun is going,
And the finches whistle in ones and pairs,
And as it gets dark loud nightinglates
        In bushes
Pipe, as they can when April wears,
   As if all Time where theirs.

These are brand-new birds of twelve months' growing,
Which a year ago, or less than twain,
No finches were, nor nightingales,
          Nor thrushes,
But only particles of grain,
   And earth, and air, and rain.

Thomas Hardy, The Complete Poems, Macmillan, 1976, p. 835-36

I love watching birds and the only thing I regret about changing my office from it's old room is that no birds yet use the bird bath. In my old office, I could look out the window and see different birds throughout the day - magpies, currawongs, little wrens and honey-eaters and the occasional rosella. Despite The Accountant putting together a decent bird bath on the other side of the house - and despite sightings from my window of a very attractive larger honey-eater and rosella, not to mention little wrens, they have yet to bathe. But what I love about this Hardy poem is those last two wonderful lines.

After contemplating the long and prolific career of Hardy, hop over to the Tuesday Poem blog and sample this week's featured poem. Tuesday poems are freshly baked each Tuesday and you can read a delicious selection by clicking on the blog roll. Bon appétit!

Sunday, October 05, 2014


A while ago I made myself a promise that Sundays would be pretty much work-free zones of relaxed time. This does not always happen, but mostly I try very hard to clear one day of the weekend from duty work and use it for fun things. Yesterday was Kallista market day and I was determined to start my Christmas shopping. Big fail - but I bought two pottery mugs, organic potatoes and four dwarf tomato plants for the Cornucopia of Plenty (aka the Mothership's garden). Yes, yes, I know you don't plant tomatoes until Melbourne Cup Day. But these went in a big pot. I think they'll be fine.

Then on Saturday night The Accountant and I went out to dinner at the Wild Oak to celebrate his birthday. I won't reveal the number, but he has been eligible for all things Senior for the last little while. Dinner was delicious - the best risotto! Actually, everything was really good and it was a delight. As a full disclaimer I should say that we were mainly waited on by Mlle Marron (aka Mlle Rouge, when she still had vibrant red hair). It is always interesting to witness your children in their work situations. But this was a real win/win as she knew the menu and our tastes and what she thought we should try.

Today Mlle Marron and I went to Camberwell Market, arriving a scant hour before they shut down trading. Nonetheless, I managed to buy quite a bit of lovely stuff before the traders packed their suitcases up. Chief among the bargains were these little Denby handled ramekins or egg shirrers.

They are from two separate patterns - the popular 'Greenwheat' by Albert Colledge and the other is 'Spring', a design by Glyn Colledge. Quite lovely. I was chuffed.

I also baked bread - two baguettes and a small rectangular loaf. I have a feeling I oiled only one side of my double-baguette pan as one stuck badly and had to be forced out with a plastic lettuce knife. Not the idea way to handle bread - although I'm glad I thought of the lettuce knife and didn't resort to steelier solutions!

It feels good to have been away from the desk for most of this weekend and I can welcome the week ahead with sincerity.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

When you've been working on a novel...

which seems to take forever, it's good to have a break and write something smaller. Which I did earlier this year. 'A Literary Love Story' has been published in Australian Love Stories, edited by Cate Kennedy and published by Inkerman & Blunt. My copy arrived about a week ago and I'm still dipping in and out of it - dips that have been somewhat curtailed by my forays into Thomas Hardy.

Apparently there were over four hundred submissions to this anthology, so I'm feeling particularly blessed to have a piece published in it. Doubly blessed by this review. It's a handsome looking volume as well - ideal Christmas present material. I think I shall be buying some and spreading the love!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Poem - and we're still Hardying on...

Seeing the Moon Rise

We used to go to Froom-hill Barrow
    To see the round moon rise
    Into the heath-rimmed skies,
Trudging thither by plough and harrow
Up the pathway, steep and narrow,
    Singing a song.
Now we do not go there. Why?
   Zest burns not so high!

Latterly we've only conned her
    With a passing glance
    From wondow or door by chance,
Hoping to go again, high yonder,
As we used, and gaze, and ponder,
    Singing a song.
Thitherward we do not go:
    Feet once quick are slow!

August, 1927.

Thomas Hardy, The Complete Poems,  Macmillan, 1976.

One of the exercises recommended as you age, is to make a list of those things you used to do which you no longer do - and think why you've given them up. At the age of 87 as Hardy was when he wrote this poem, his trudging days were over, but it's heartwarming to think of him still examining his life and still moon-watching, even if only by chance.

Moon-watchers, star-gazers and poem-hunters - it's Tuesday! Over at the Tuesday poetry blog you can read Pascale Petit's haunting poem, brought to you this week by Kathleen James. From the hub you can travel to other cities and other poems on the cyber-pathway, neither narrow nor steep. Have a lyrical week!