Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm on the Write track baby, Twixt was Born This Way.

"Twixt" has been picked up by the fantastic M-Brane SF, to appear in their July issue. I am so stoked and excited and so very proud of this story.

I can think of no more appropriate celebration for this story and moment than Mother Monster:

The book stack never diminishes

An update on what I'm reading and what I've picked up of late. My book stack is teetering! Nom nom book lists!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Writing: Green Heads and Spam

When thunking thoughts about writing today,
I thought thoughts about writing in the nicest of ways.
I looked at the sunshine, and got it into my head,
That the best place to write would be snuggled up in bed.

So I broke out the laptop and snuggly I got,
And with warm toes and bum I wrote really a lot.
I had a cup of tea and petted the cat,
And wrote more words about science fiction this and that.

It got me thinking more thoughts about this writing malarky,
And working for yourself can be really quite sparkly.
No no, not sparkly of the vampire kind,
I'd quite happily dropkick them vamps in their shiny behinds.

I could write while on holiday, while cruising on a boat,
I could write in a car, or riding on a goat.
Well maybe not a goat, because they're bumpy and small,
And lappy's are expensive to replace if they happen to fall.

The point is, that I've found I do care,
That I can write just about here there and everywhere!
I'll sit on a mountain, and tappity tap tap,
Or I'll sit by the sea with words and wine in my lap.

This isn't to say the writers life is carefree,
It's hard to make a buck as a bard, you'll agree.
But if I come out of the day feeling happy and keen,
I'll know a waste of a day it really hasn't been.

Today is a good day...even the sunshine smells good.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Writing: The funny things stress do to your head

I've spoken before about how different writers handle stress. I recall Jay Lake talking about writing during a bout of cancer, and a friend of mine post February 22 finished and submitted a novel to a publisher.

Unfortunately, what the last four months has proved to me that when it comes to the crunch I find it very difficult to write, especially fiction, during times of stress. My blogging has dropped off too. My fiction writing has taken another hit in productivity in the last couple of weeks. I hate myself for it, and I hate myself for facing up to it and blogging about it because it sounds like just another massive whine.

But it's not. I have to remind myself that this time in my personal and Christchurch history is the toughest thing I've ever had to go through in my life. I know I'm being hard on myself, but I can't help it. I've always had high expectations. I promised myself to be accountable for my word count, and I'm failing at it.

Two weeks ago I thought things were starting to get a little better. While some big changes were happening personally and around the city, I was beginning to feel more optimistic and really happy that my writing was getting back on track. I'd finally got that holiday I'd been promising myself for almost six months, and I was starting to feel refreshed. I'd even written something that excited and invigorated me.

Then June 13 happened. Two large aftershocks in one day, within 90 minutes of each other, that worsened the damage around the city and set back recovery efforts (one of them was a 6.3, the equivalent magnitude of February 22). The only thing I can be grateful for on that day is that I wasn't at work. I believe if I had been at work in town I would have been triggered with flashbacks and sent right back to square one (apparently equipment fell down in my office this time which people agree would have set me off). I don't talk about the Day Job here, but I am making vague references here just to illustrate where my writing head is at.

And it's not great. I have a 'deadline': a competition I want to enter closes mid August and I'm really struggling with the story I want to write for it. I don't want to give up on it because I love the venue that it's going to. But at what point do I admit defeat? I have the Big Idea of the story, but every time I sit down to get it out, it's coming out all wrong. If I don't believe in the story, I'll half arse it, and it will show. I believe in only submitting my best.

Amongst all this writerly angst I can see the lessons. I am learning that I don't do deadlines well, and that's a first step towards figuring out how to deal with them. I imagine I will have more of them if I ever get serious about writing The Novel. I am learning how far I can push myself into the writing habit depending on the state of my headspace, and I believe I'm getting better at partitioning the stress. I can write when I really BELIEVE in what I'm writing - the story that excited my so much in the last couple of weeks I completed on June 14, when I was feeling pretty weird from the day before. Perhaps the distraction is good - sometimes getting into my worlds is helpful for taking my mind off things.

The one thing that is sustaining me is the amount of stories I have out there on slushpiles. There are many. I'm not caring if I'm getting rejections. Oddly enough, not much communication of any sort from anywhere, but that's OK - having them out there is the thing.

Keep Calm...Keep struggling your way through, and carry on writing.

Admit it: you are jealous (of relaxo-cat)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Girl Cootie Science Fiction Zeitgeist Links 16/06/2011

The discussion about the invisibility of women science fiction writers continues, and there's been some great contributions and discussions around the blocks.
Why have we forgotten these women? Partly feminism is to blame. The eager young feminists of the 1970s were keen to throw off the perceived shackles of their mothers, and rejected many of their predecessors as too “domestic” in their subject matter. But also we would have remembered these women more had their work been discussed more at the time, and had they won awards. 

  • Ian Sales has begun the SF Mistressworks blog, where SF by women writers is reviewed. The blog only began in the last few weeks and it already has an impressive list of books reviewed!
  • At Ambling Along the Aqueduct (the blog of Aqueduct Press), the discussion has been kept moving with a variety of posts.  L. Timmel Duchamp wrote about "Differences conceptualizing feminist SF":

    For a US feminist, at least, this formulation of feminism might apply to 1970s cultural and liberal feminisms, but it never applied to, say, socialist feminism. Granted, for all of the 1970s socialist feminists struggled mightily in their efforts to fit two dualistic systems of political thought together (in what was commonly called "the marriage of feminism and socialism"), so that they would not have to choose between socialism and feminism, but by the late 1970s and early 1980s, when black feminists' theorizations of intersectionality began to gain traction with white feminists like me, the "battle of the sexes" orientation of feminism pretty much went the way of the dodo.
    Gwynyth Jones (of whom I am reading 'White Queen' at the moment) responded with her own "Conceptualizing Feminist SF":
    Mary Gentle, long ago, coined the idea (maybe other people have expressed the same position, I don’t know) that she was a feminist writing science fiction, rather than a writer of feminist science fiction. This is what I think about everything I’ve written since Life. Which was and is, as I have always maintained, my farewell to the investigative, active work of feminist science fiction. I haven’t stopped being a feminist, I haven’t stopped writing like a feminist, but the Battle of the Sexes is no longer my exclusive topic.

    And it’s a shame if all sf books that feature a few female characters, having female lifes, are labelled feminist, & therefore marked as unreadable by large swathes of the general sf reading public. I have been worried about being part of that effect.
  • Juliet E. McKenna had her say in "Women being published in SF - an issue for all genre readers":
    And, you know what, echoing Pat Cadigan, I don’t want to be congratulated/rewarded for being a good writer, for a woman. I want to be considered a good writer who happens to be a woman.
  • Over at SFSignal, this week's Mind Meld is "What's the importance of the Russ Pledge for Science Fiction today?" Watch out for the usual derailing and mansplaining in the comments! Farah Mendlesohn puts it pretty succinctly:
    I am more interested in hearing why male writers think the Russ Pledge is important for science fiction, and then watching them act it out, than I am in writing yet one more exhausted rant stating the obvious.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

There, I Fixed It For You: Christchurch Earthquake Bingo Edition

Want to be a condescending jerk? Thinking that you lack the opportunity to tell Christchurch people how they really should feel? Or do you simply want to drum up page views with a little controversy? Just rock (see my pun there?) on into any open commentary thread about Christchurch and let the unempathetic, uninformed bullshit fly!

To help you wade through the tidal wave of bile, I've created for you a commenting Bingo Card. Fill it up and you win a free trip* to the shaky city where you can hang out with all us lucky whingers and bathe in the liquefaction and sewerage, enjoy driving on broken roads, and try to salvage your home/job/life/humanity here!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Things you are after a day of two major aftershocks

Tired. Getting stuck into a bottle of wine. Glad the cat came back (without a hat). Wondering what the hell you're doing. On a downer when you were so damn happy earlier in the day. Back on the coping treadmill. Thinking 5.5 plus 6 equals turning it way past 11. Sad. Wondering when it will ever end.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Rejection 2: The Rejectioner 12/06/2011

To keep my ego in check after the RNZ National interview, the rejections have been coming thick and fast this week. Some of these gave me whiplash!

"Through The Open Door" rejected by Apex Magazine via form letter.

"Polly Ticks" rejected by Mind Flights with feedback. Hat tip and bow Mind Flights, much appreciated.

"Talk To Your Universe" rejected by The Absent Willow Review via form letter, and then from Neon via form letter (in now what stands as my quickest rejection evah! Woo! Eight hours!).

"The City of Sand and Knives" rejected by Fantasy Magazine via form letter, and then Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine with feedback. If I'd thought harder about it, I should have sent this to Lightspeed, not Fantasy - so I call that a rejection of my own dumbness.

I'm not playin wit you guys no mores!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Writerly First: Baby's First Promotional Interview!

I am being interviewed for Radio New Zealand National's "Arts On Sunday" program tomorrow along with Matt Cowen (I believe) about "Tales For Canterbury". I'll post up the date and time the interview will air once I find out. Could possibly be this coming Sunday. This is pretty awesome, because it's not very often that specfic gets promotion on New Zealand radio.

I will be doing the interview in person at RNZ House in Wellington, since this weekend is WELLINGTONPALOOZA 2011 baby!

How exciting!

ETA: The interview will air this Sunday June 11 at approximately 2.30pm. If you miss it, it will be available for download after airing from the Arts on Sunday subsite as linked above.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An audience with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

Today I heard the Dalai Lama speak, and it was beautiful.

So what was a nice atheist like me doing in a place like this? His Holiness said it himself: "it doesn't matter whether you are religious or not, we all deserve care and compassion."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Things I want to do as a writer

  1. Be published in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. I would die happy then.
  2. Go to WisCon.
  3. Go to Clarion South.
It's not much. But it's a lot.

Sweet Dreamz, I haz dem

Friday, June 3, 2011

Out, damn Rejections! OUT! 03/06/2011

"Me Myself I" rejected by Digital Science Fiction via form letter (though an incredibly cute one).

"Polly Ticks" rejected by Mind Flights with informative feedback. Thanks Mind Flights!

"The Woman With Flowers In Her Hair" rejected by Fantastique Unfettered via form letter; then from Linger Fiction with feedback.

"Team Work" rejected by Daily Science Fiction via form letter.

And you think your job sucks

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lookit! The paperback edition of "Tales For Canterbury" is available!

The cover of Tales For Canterbury, a bent over tree with two white doves

A table of contents listing the stories in Tales For Canterbury, with My Dad The Tuatara prominent
Double Squee!

The author peeks over the top of a book, open to the first page of her story
Squee ice cream, eaten with a squee spoon, with squee sauce and a squee cherry on top!
 If you'd like your own copy of "Tales for Canterbury" (paperback or e-book) and to help out fundraising for Red Cross Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, order your copy now through Random Static.

Feminist Science Fiction: It's Too Soon For Joanna Russ To Be Spinning In Her Grave Already

I'm beginning to think my expectations for human beings to evolve their thinking may be a little too high. But that's me, the eternal optimist. I'd like to think that one day, eventually, within my own lifetime would be nice, people would get it...

That women writers aren't as invisible as people have been lead to believe.