S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated 2-3 times a month.

Page 13 of 14

What are you afraid of?

True story – when I was about 17, I was up late studying when I decided to take a loo break. When I went to the bathroom, I discovered a HUGE (and I mean HUGE) huntsman spider above the toilet, just waiting to jump on me. I knew what he was thinking by the look in all those eyes. I knew better than to wake my dad, but I also knew he would probably be up soon enough, so I waited until he got up to get rid of it for me – about three hours later mind you, and I was fairly busting by that time. I would rather have peed outside on the lawn than go in the bathroom with that spider in there.

So anyway, I’ve just written 1,315 words (count’em!) this morning on one of my novels – the first 1,315 words I’ve written on any of my novels in about 2 months. Oh I’ve been plotting and characterising and brainstorming and house-working and real-job working…. So it’s not like I’ve been doing nothing. Right? Actually, I have been doing something – just nothing to do with writing. Procrastination – again.

I hear you – we’ve gone from a story about my borderline arachnophobia to not writing. What gives? Well, I realised this morning that I was afraid of something far worse than little fat black bodies with eight hairy legs. I realised I was afraid of (wait for it…) – failure. Oh it’s such a cop out I know. But it’s such a mind-numbing thing, worrying about how crap something’s going to turn out before you actually even do it. So why risk it? Why do it in the first place? Why put yourself through all that pain when it’s just going to turn out crap anyway? Why not just sit on your fat ass surfing the net, looking at stuff you’re not interested in, just so you can not fail at something you actually used to enjoy doing?

Honestly? I have no idea. But this morning when I sat down to write (after I checked emails 20 times in about 30 seconds, refreshed my favourite sites a few times to see if there was anything new I might otherwise have missed, and re-arranged the pantry so my food was in alphabetical order, which, incidentally, will need to be re-arranged back to the way it was before my wife gets home this Friday), I had the following conversation with myself (yes, this was before my first coffee):

Do you really think you write crap? Yes. Do you think I’d be having this conversation with myself if I didn’t? (Sheesh!)

What’s so bad about writing crap? It’s crap! C-R-A-P! Stuff that should never see the light of day. Stuff so bad that it burns holes in my retinas.

So then, why do you have to show it to anyone? Because I have a little something called an ego, and my ego needs stroking, and if I don’t show anything to anybody, I can’t get my ego stroked.

So show it to someone. Surely they’ll tell you if it’s crap or not? Duh! That’s the point! Why show my crap to someone just to confirm it’s crap?

How do you know what you’ve written is crap? What? You don’t think I know my own crap?

Have you read anything lately (by published writers) that you thought was crap? Maybe. I mean, it was published, so it’s probably not crap, right? Besides, I don’t write like that.

What? You don’t write crap? Is this a trick question?
So that stuff you read was either published crap, or published good writing? I don’t get what you’re saying.

One reader’s crap is another’s treasure? Oh ha ha. At least we’re not going around in circles anymore.

Just write the crap. Then the crap is out of the system.

So I did. And you know what? The crap wasn’t that bad. I mean, I cringed a little when I was writing some of it, but I made notes to change those cringe-worthy words to stronger ones, and put “more here” where I just couldn’t see that particular scene, but I just kept writing. I stopped after about 300 words, gasping for breath and thinking “damn this is harder than I remember”. But then, around the 500 word mark, when the scene really started to open up, I started to motor. So why have I stopped to tell you about this relatively small achievement in my word count? Because my ego needs stroking.

And my argumentative alter-ego says:

The Crap has left the building.

Things I could have said: Insults and sledges

Sport can be very highly competitive, especially at the amateur levels. Pushing the boundaries and bending the rules is not uncommon, and players will often go to any lengths to get one up on the opposition. One of the ways to put your opposition off is to get inside their heads, usually by sledging.

Cricket is probably the most famous for on-field sledging and banter, but it’s a common occurrence in most sports. Take soccer, for example, which is my sport of choice. I’m a goalkeeper, so I’m no stranger to a bit of “friendly” banter with opposition strikers. I’ve had some great rivalries over the years and I’d like to think I’ve given as good as I’ve gotten with regards to insults and sledges coming my way. Most of the time, it’s just a friendly comment after a save. Something to the effect of “you’ve gotta do better than that to get it past me.” I have also been known, after saving a penalty in a grand final shoot out, to take the ball back, give it to the striker who just missed and tell them to try again. Nothing too outlandish, but it does the job.

I bring this up because I’ve just finished playing a soccer game, in which I was supposedly sledged. I didn’t hear the actual comment but one of my team-mates did. I’m actually pretty insulted that it wasn’t something better. I’m also a little upset that I didn’t hear it, as I wasn’t given a right of reply. Rule Number One in sledging – make sure your intended target actually hears what you say. Otherwise, it really is pointless.

What was the alleged sledge? “How old is your wife?” Now, for those of you who are new here, I’m an out and proud lesbian, and I do have a wife (though not legally of course). This comment, I am guessing, was an attempt to use the gay = bad thing. Though I’d be more offended if she’d meant that my wife was old enough to be my grandmother, but since I know this player doesn’t even know my wife, that’s probably not the case. And so this brings me to the second rule of sledging – make sure it’s actually insulting enough to get a reaction. Otherwise, again, pretty pointless.

The Third Rule of sledging is really a no-brainer – make sure you can back up your words with actions. If you go around telling opposition players how bad they are, and your team isn’t on top? You look like a bit of an idiot. The team we played is actually pretty good, and we’re pretty close when it comes to results, so it’s always a tough match when we meet them. They were on the back foot for most of the match tonight though, so it was probably a better time for them to be concentrating on getting their own game right rather than having a go at ours.

Last, but not least, Rule Number Four – keep it relevant. Like I said, I’m a goalkeeper. I had seven goals put past me last week against a different opposition. Surely bringing that up would have had more affect than asking how old my wife is? As a side note, comments about spouses/children/parents are usually a no-go zone. Just ask Marco Materazzi, the Italian defender who was headbutted by Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup Final after allegedly making a comment about Zidane’s wife.

So after careful consideration, and having had plenty of time to think on this, I’ve come up with a list of five Things I Could Have Said in reply, if I’d actually heard the comment.

“How old is your wife?”

  1. Why? You thinking of trading up?
  2. How old’s your sister again?
  3. Why? You wanna swap?
  4. Ask her yourself – she’s the one on the Harley
  5. Which one?

Admittedly, there’s not too much sting in my replies, but when all you have to work with is “how old is your wife?” there’s not really too much material you can use.

What do you think? What would you reply to that sledge? What’s been your favourite or funniest sledge – either to have given or received?

After all of that – how did the match end up? We won 2-0 and jumped into third spot on the ladder. Good job team!

Story time: Noni Hazlehurst reads "Go the F**k to Sleep"

Those of you who remember Noni Hazlehurst from Play School will love her rendition of the book “Go the F**k to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortes. Hard to imagine anyone else could read this book with such love and expression. Love your work, Noni.

And now a word from my sponsor, otherwise known as "My Real Job"

One of the things I have been struggling with of late is the work/write balance. My overall goal, as I guess it is for all writers and creative types, is to make enough money from my creative pursuit to be able to do it full time. At the moment, I am working part-time in a fantastic small accounting practice with bosses and colleagues who understand that accounting, alas, is not my first love. (Cue the collective intake of breath from accountants everywhere).

I am therefore very lucky that they allow me lee-way to work 3-4 days a week, depending on the tax “season” and overall workload, although I know that the offer to work full time is always available. I am also lucky enough to have a supportive wife who earns enough for me to not have to work full time, even though we are spending money hand-over-fist on renovating our first house.

I struggle with this at the moment because I feel like I am not able to give 100% to either pursuit, and feel like I am splitting myself in two – while I am at work, I am thinking about writing, and while I am researching or writing, I am thinking about work. It’s a delicate balance, and one that Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn talks about on her blog – Writing and the Mixed Blessing of a Day Job. (Fantastic site – I visit it weekly for inspiration and tips).

In it she lists the upsides to having a “real” job. This post really got me thinking about how much I need to re-evaluate my feelings about my own day job. I guess the pros and cons depend on who you are and how you write. I tend to write in mad flourishes, and spend most of my other writing time either plotting or researching – often working on more than one idea, which amuses my by-the-numbers, oh-so-organised wife no end. She makes lists (oh does she make lists!) and follows them, mostly top to bottom. Sometimes she makes lists for me to do on my day off. I look at them, and cross of the stuff I don’t want to do rather than the stuff I’ve actually done. Defeats the point, I know, but I view lists as more of a suggestion box for things that I may or may not get around to. Which brings me back to my day job. I utilise lists there too – though I tend to “snooze” most of them for days on end until Outlook pokes me in the eye and yells “Just do the damn job already!” Or our fantastic admin staff threaten to tie me to my chair until I get my jobs done.

I’ve been lucky over the last 3 months or so that it’s been relatively quiet at work – out of tax season and further ahead of our work than we thought we’d be, so I was able to drop back to 3 days a week and spend an extra day at home. While I have managed to get a lot of work done, mostly on plotting and charcterisation (I am trying desperately to be more organised before I write so I don’t stop-start so much), I have still suffered from writus interruptus thanks to rebuilding our kitchen from the ground up and having to be available at any time of the day for tradesmen to traipse through the house to do their thing.

The ironic thing about all of this is the more I can’t write, the more I want to. This is the attitude I am hoping to carry over through the impending tax season. This week is my first week back to four days a week, and that will continue for the foreseeable future – at least until after Christmas, depending on my work load (and the generosity of my bosses). In one of my earlier posts, I cited my day job as a big obstacle to my goal of completing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. And that’s mostly because tax isn’t something you can switch off from after 5pm like some other professions. I’m hoping to come up with some way to switch modes from tax to writing after 5pm – alcohol maybe, but I’m open to suggestions.

In honour of going back to my day job four days a week, the top four Best Things About My Day Job are:

  1. Morning tea time – The 20(-ish) minute social interaction when we all stop work for coffee and to ponder over what everyone brought to snack on. This is especially interesting because of one of our accountant’s reactions to any type of food he has not seen before. And sometimes, someone will bring in biscuits or cakes to share. What’s not to love? 
  2. Getting paid – Writing does not pay my bills, and just so that burden is not left completely up to my wife, the dollars in the bank are much-appreciated. Though the way we’re going with our renovating budget, I may have to take that extra day at work as well as a second job.
  3. Political/climate change/conspiracy theory/football discussions – Yes, Mark, I’m talking about you! Love these discussions, honestly. They get me out of my funk and away from having to deal with painful clients and/or accounts for at least an hour. And last but not least…..
  4. The Charity Chocolate Box – Chocolates at my fingertips. They are way too tempting to be totally honest, and I should really try harder to resist, but hey. Who can resist the call of chocolate to cure that three-thirty-itis? Not I!

So as you can see, I do appreciate my day job. And yes, the people I work with are great too. And I know they won’t take offence when I say that no matter how much I like that working with tax pays my bills, I would still much rather be writing!

Renovation Relaxation

So this is the old kitchen that we ripped out last couple of weekends (The major reason for my latest procrastination). The cupboard in the left corner we assume was not original, as it came out in about 10 minutes. The cupboards on the right were made from tongue-and-groove and HUGE nails, so took about 2 hours to knock out. It was so worth it though. Because we went from this crappy old thing, to this…….

 And this….

It’s so much more functional than before, and we have so much more storage and bench space. In fact, we have so much space to put everything, we’re not entirely sure where everything should be going.

To finish it off, we now have to decide on the splash-backs. Tiles or zenolite? White or throw in some colour? Big tiles or little tiles? Stainless steel behind the stove? More decisions! Hopefully we’ll have it finished by Christmas….

What do you think? Should we go with tiles or something more fancy? Stay with neutrals or throw in some colour?

All Animals Are Equal (Some are more equal than others)

There’s been a huge hoohah on the net over the last few days about gay marriage being back on the agenda here in Australia thanks to New York passing their marriage laws. State Labor parties are also pushing Federal Labor to amend the Marriage Act to include gay marriage, or at least to change their policy regarding it at the next Federal Labor conference. A lot of articles have been written for and against gay marriage, and I’ve read a lot of them over the past few days, as well as the huge number of comments that these articles tend to attract.
I  have been equally saddened, angered, frustrated and dumb-founded at some of the blatant bigotry, naive indifference, and sheer ignorance at some of those comments. I have been heartened, though, at some of the comments made by people (not just gays) arguing for gay marriage. Basically, as I see it, these are the main arguments or concerns people against gay marriage have and make, along with my (hopefully brief) thoughts on each:

That’s the way it’s always been
(Also known as “That’s what the Marriage Act says, so ner” and “It’s our word, get your own”)

I really don’t care if it’s called “marriage” or “civil union”, as long as it confers the same rights to my wife (yes, wife) and I as my sister and her husband. But let’s be totally honest here. When a couple decides to take that extra step in their relationship and make that commitment in front of their family and friends, it’s called a “marriage” – a coming together of two people. No different to what my wife and I want to do, legally. Our friends and family call my wife exactly that, and when asked of our relationship status, they all refer to us as being married. It’s the socially accepted term for that relationship, so why change the term? Definitions change, especially when they’re legal or social, which is what we’re arguing about here. Besides, would you like to tell people you’re “civilly unioned”?

Homosexuals are a minority – why change the law for a minority?
(Also known as “There are more important issues to deal with” and “Let’s have a referendum and let the majority decide once and for all.” Sometimes disguises itself as “I know gay people and they don’t even want to get married”)

There is no doubt that the GLBTI community is a small one compared, say, to Christians, Muslims, and AFL supporters. In fact, there’s probably more people who watch synchronised swimming than are (openly) in the GLBTI community. Depending on which study you read, we range from .000001% of the population to around 10-15%. Let’s just split the difference and say we number around the 7% mark. It really is irrelevant. Laws are made for everyone, not just the majority. There are plenty of minority groups in society who have been discriminated against in the past, and who are no longer because laws were changed to stop this. When you restrict a group of people from accessing certain rights and responsibilities because of sex, age, race, religion or sexuality – or simply because they’re a minority – that’s discrimination. And it’s certainly no reason to NOT change the law.
As for the “I know gay people” line, I’d like to thank all those people for speaking on my behalf. I could also say I know lots of unemployed people and they all rort the system, but is that really true of all unemployed people? (On second thoughts, maybe a bad example…)
Just because I “know people” doesn’t make it true across the board, and it also doesn’t give me permission to speak on their behalf. I know heterosexual people who don’t want to get married – but guess what? They have that choice. I don’t. Don’t assume something just because you “know people”.

Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice
(Also known as “Homos are promiscuous and can’t maintain long-term relationships”)

I’m not really sure where this myth comes from – maybe people equate Mardi Gras with lots of sex and drugs, and therefore all gays must be like this all the time. I actually laugh when I see this one in a comment thread. My response? Glass houses and stones anyone? Promiscuity is not restricted to gays, and we’re not having any more one-night stands and non-relationship sex than your average heterosexual. Don’t believe me? Go out to a night club on a Friday or Saturday night and check out the number of straight people going home with someone different each night. This really is a mute point as far as I’m concerned, because someone (regardless of sexuality) who has a different sexual partner each night is hardly the type of person who would think marriage would be a great idea anyway.
There are plenty of people who, for whatever reason, can’t seem to find the “right one” and have trouble maintaining a long-term, healthy relationship, but this is not dependant on your sexuality.
A lifestyle choice is deciding to live on the coast, or to work from home, or to stop work completely and live a self-sustainable life on a hobby farm in a country town. Being gay is not a lifestyle choice. The only “choice”, if there is one, is whether to stay in the closet and live a lie, or be happy and confident in who you are, and live your truth. I could have married a man (I was engaged when I was much younger) but this would have been a huge mistake. I was never really happy until I met my current partner seven years ago. We are a normal couple, doing normal couple-y things. I really am no different to anyone else when it comes to my relationship, except my partner is a woman.

Religious reasons
(Also disguised as “The gay agenda is to convert innocent children and vulnerable adults to their cause”)

I understand where people of and with faith are coming from here. Honestly, I do. But the point is, I don’t go around expecting you to change your life to fit in with my ideals, so why should you expect me to do the same? And before anyone howls me down and says this is exactly what allowing gay marriage would do, think about it this way. Have you ever seen a gay group going from door-to-door, handing out rainbow-coloured pamphlets asking you to come to their gay club, Mardi Gras or Pride event? No? What about gay groups “teaching” in schools? No? Look, I have nothing against religious groups knocking on doors or teaching RE/RI in schools. In fact, more power to them – it takes a lot of guts. But please don’t confuse the “gay agenda” with “conversion”. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one particular group of people doing the converting and it certainly ain’t me and my rainbow friends.
The other myth being circulated is that churches will have to perform gay marriage ceremonies. This is a total nonsense. Churches and religions already have leeway set within the law to actively discriminate against things that go against their teachings. And that’s ok. I don’t expect them to change. What I would like, though, is instead of those of faith thinking that this is going to affect them, realise that most of us have nothing against you – we just don’t have the same beliefs as you, that’s all. Nothing more, nothing less.
I don’t want recognition of my relationship from God, just the government who is happy to take my taxes, but not give me the same rights as my hetero friends and family.

What happens in the event of a relationship breakdown?
(Also known as “Won’t somebody think of the children” and “Children have no choice to be born/brought up in these relationships”)

Firstly, thanks to the change in de facto laws, we now have access to the family court. So there’s nothing different between the breakdown of a hetero relationship and a gay relationship – except there may be more arguments over who gets the soft furnishings.
As for children and their choices – tell me what child gets the choice (ever!) to be born into ANY relationship or family – whether that be heterosexual or homosexual? Do children get the choice to be born to wealthy parents as opposed to those on skid row? What about those kids who much prefer parents who are more interested in sport rather than academia? See how silly this one is?
I understand concerns about children growing up with two mums or two dads, and perhaps there not being enough influence of the other sex, but this one depends entirely on your view of family. My wife and I are not having children, but if we did, those kids would have plenty of male role models. They’d have two grandfathers, 4 uncles and plenty of extended family and friends to boot. As for teasing and bullying, well that’s going to happen anyway, and often is borne of kids not understanding that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. It’s up to us, as the adults, to teach our kids this point. Bullying is always going to be around, and that’s a sad fact. The only thing we can do is equip our kids with enough confidence in who they are to overcome it.

It will invalidate or de-value heterosexual marriage

Does the guy up the street who beats his wife invalidate your marriage? What about the woman at work who’s getting married for the third time? The only ones who can add value to your marriage are you and your wife/husband. And the only ones who can de-value it are you and your wife/husband. Someone completely unknown to you cheating on their wife/husband in no way affects your marriage – unless of course you’re the one doing the cheating or being cheated on. That’s a whole different story. My point is, when you walk down the street and see a couple holding hands, you have no idea whether they’re married or not, whether they have children or not, or whether they’re friends with benefits. And it has nothing to do with you either. None of those scenarios have any impact on how you see your marriage.
The real truth of the matter is, “we” gays want marriage because of the stability it represents, both to us as couples and to our friends and families. My wife and I had our “Big C” (commitment ceremony or non-legal marriage) two years ago. My wife didn’t think she’d feel any different, as she knew it wouldn’t overly change the strong relationship we already have. However, even though it wasn’t legal, we did feel different – stronger, two parts of something bigger than ourselves individually. Now if only the government would recognise that too.

Overall, I can understand some of the points against gay marriage – though truthfully, really only the religious arguments. And while I do think it will be inevitable that the laws will get changed to allow us the priviledge of legally walking down the aisle, I think there is still a long way to go.
We are all human, and we all have the same wants and needs. Some of us are just that little bit different. That doesn’t make us bad – it just makes us different, that’s all. I love my wife, and she loves me. As far as we’re concerned, we’re married, whether it’s legal or not. And we will do it all again when it does become legal, even if that means we’re both old and decrepit and can only manage to rustle up our witnesses from off the street because all our friends and family are gone. Until then, I will continue to love my wife, and honour her as I promised in my “Big C” vows in front of our friends and family (even if that is out of threat of harm from her friends – just kidding guys – really!)
My big hope is that one day, people will no longer look at my wife and I holding hands when we walk down the street and see us as a curiosity, but as the sweet, loving, committed couple we are.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts. This is a big issue for so many people. “Yes” or “no”? “Marriage” or “civil union”? Share your thoughts below.

Procrastination #2

I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled on this site – most likely when I was “researching” – but it’s a doozy. And because it had me in absolute stitches, laughing out loud like a mad woman when I was trying to be quiet while the kitchen guys were installing my new kitchen, I wanted to share it with you, so you too can enjoy being looked at like you’re nuts while laughing hysterically at a computer screen.

Warning: only click on the following link when you have time to procrastinate. You could lose hours on this (hours I say!).

Damn You Autocorrect

What’s your favourite? And have you suffered from autocorrect syndrome yourself? Just quietly, my favourites are the ones where the other person tries to pay out the original gaff, but the words don’t come out right either, making it one all-round confusing but funny-as-hell conversation. Enjoy!

Finally, my craziness makes sense…

Every now and then I feel like my brain is empty (see my previous post for details of that awful affliction). But most of the time, I feel like my brain is in compete chaos. Ideas, stories and characters jostle to be heard and sometimes it’s a fight to the death. I have been feeling pretty bad about not being able to concentrate on just one thing – feeling a little scatterbrained to be honest, starting work on one idea in the morning, only to be working on something completely different by the end of the day. Then I read this post over at the Kill Zone blog about Isaac Asimov, and it all made perfect sense. The story says that he worked on multiple projects at a time, and had several typewriters on the go at once, each with a different story in them, so he could work on whatever it was that took his fancy. When he was stuck on one, he got up, sat down at another typewriter and kept going on something different.
This appeals to me for a few reasons, but not least of which because it sounds just like me. I have several stories on the go at once, all in different stages of production. I find I can focus on finishing one WIP only once I am past the half-way-ish mark of the manuscript. Before that though, the plot is still percolating in my brain, and sometimes, when I’ve been working on, say, my children’s fantasy for a few hours, my main character for my new YA novel will pop into my head with a new scene, so I must write it down before my brain gets a chance to filter it out. If I get on a roll with that one I just keep going with it until it peters out, and I go on to something else. I try not to jump around too much though, and try to spend a few hours or few thousand words on each project before skipping out and cheating with something different.
Several of my Support Crew think I’m totally crazy for working like this, and tell me that perhaps the reason I struggle with finishing any of my WIP is because I have too much on my plate. But the truth is, I am slowly working my way to the finish line with each of my WIPs, and as long as I’m going forward with something, I’m not treading water with anything.
It also allows me to not put too much pressure on myself to get something done, and so far I have managed to stave off writer’s block pretty well using the Asimov method. I think writing is kind of like cooking – once you know the basics you work by feel. So once I get to the stage where I feel like a ms is starting to take off, I run with it. I know when I get on that roll and I can be cooped up for hours, days even, taking advantage of it. But I can just as easily be sitting on the lounge listening to music or watching a movie with a notepad beside me writing down plot-points or character traits or other notes about totally random WIP as I they pop into my head.
Sometimes, I feel like I have so many ideas running around in my brain, that if I don’t get them down onto paper, they’ll be lost forever – or they’ve annoyed me so much that I’ll feel guilty working on my current WIP while trying to both ignore the new idea and not forget it. Sometimes I just think “hang it” and don’t work on anything at all. I like to take a break from it all every now and then, especially when some distractions are just oo hard to get away from – like getting in a brand new kitchen, as is happening right this minute.
I like working like that though. I enjoy working like that. And it’s probably the reason why doing NaNoWriMo this year will be such a big test for me. I’m not sure how I will go trying to concentrate on just one story for a whole 30 days. I guess I will just work around my preferred style, and keep a notebook by my side to dip in and out of other WIP if I feel I’m getting a little stale on my NaNo novel. And maybe only take notes on other WIP instead of getting in too deep with scenes and only after a set word count.
I think the lesson is that no matter what anyone tells you, you eventually find your own way. Writing has been such a solitary, secret and personal thing for so long now that I need to just trust my instincts – even when people with the best of intentions tell me I’m stark raving mad for trying to concentrate on more than one thing at a time.

My brain is mush…

So I was going to post on something totally mundane, like how I hate when people who are obviously friends or family or, shock horror, the author posing to be someone else, give 5-star reviews to a book that sucks. And I mean really sucks. But I don’t want to whinge today.
Plus, I’m struggling at the moment with my writing, so what better way to sort out my shit than to tell the world about it (or the 5 people who actually follow this blog).
My last blog was on procrastinating, and while I have been doing some more of that over the last week or so, I’ve actually been so bad that I’ve been procrastinating on my procrastination. Sitting down to my laptop, opening up my web browser, and then shutting it back down again because I couldn’t even be bothered to do any research.
To be honest, I feel like I’m all out of ideas. My brain is so full at the moment, I feel like it’s empty. Like I went to bed with stuff in my head, and it all leaked out while I was sleeping.
I’ve read over all the stuff I’ve evr started, even going back to stuff I wrote nearly ten years ago – that was really painful to read let me tell you. I mean, I’ve been avoiding it for so long because I knew it was crap, but man, I had no idea how bad it was! On the flip-side, at least I know I’ve improved. So, that made me a little happier. But even going over everything I have ever written in order to try to spark some sort of idea, any idea, I still came up blank.
Now, some Well-Meaning People would tell me to suck it up and just write – write something, anything, just to get over this little speed bump, and then once your brain is back in gear, pick something you actually want to be working on again and get stuck in.
Well, Well-Meaning People, I don’t mean to be rude, but you suck it up this time, cos I have a better idea. One that is far more fun, at least a little productive (though not necessarily for my writing, but meh), and is oh so destructive.
My wife and I have been slowly renovating our little house, and we have finally come to the point when we get our brand spanking new kitchen. Therefore, the old green and orange shocker needs to go – this weekend. My plan then, to work out my shit, is complete and utter destruction. Well, maybe not complete, but possibly utter. Anyway, this old kitchen needs to go, and I have a sledge-hammer with my name on it. And every time I swing that baby at that old crappy kitchen, I’ll be imagining it’s one of my neurotic characters who won’t do as they’re told or those who have fallen blindly into one of my gaping plot holes, never to be seen again. And I’ll be cursing my dead-ends and loose-ends, and when I’m finished with them, I’m going to kick my muse’s butt good and proper. Skip out on me at short notice, will she!
Then, after the old kitchen is gone and the space in the kitchen is a totally blank canvas, and the decks of my over-taxed brain are cleared, I’ll have a break – albeit a very brief one. I’m taking a week’s holiday (starting tomorrow), so after the kitchen is in mid-week, I’ll sit back down at my laptop, and hopefully coax my muse back with some quiet self-reflection and maybe a little chocolate (she’s a sucker for Smarties). As for the characters, well, if they’ve managed to survive my rampage, then they’ll be stronger for it, and I may, may, find a part for them in one of my novels.

Happy long weekend everyone.

Procrastination: Things I do to avoid writing #1

What I tell my wife – “I’m plot-planning” or “I’m doing some characterisation”
What I’m actually doing – hitting the Seventh Sanctum site and other random generators, generating names for taverns, pirate ships and magical artifacts.

Actually, there are some really cool generators on there that have turned out some great things I’ve modified to fit some of my plots and characters. It’s so easy to lose time randomly generating names and things, and also great fun. Try it for yourself – but only when you have time to procrastinate.

I went one whole step better today in my procrastination, and made my own manual random generator. I printed out a whole bunch of different character traits on paper, cut them out, folded them up and put them in a shoe box. The idea is that I come up with a character name (probably from an online generator or randomly picking a page in my baby name book), and then pick three traits for my new character and go from there. I have a couple of wild cards in the box called “Specials”. If I get that trait, I get to pick from the Special Traits box, which includes such things as has super powers, has an addiction, is famous, is pregnant, is dead among others. I’ll add to it as I come up with more interesting things with which to terrorise my unsuspecting characters with.

So today I was randomly generating some test characters, just to grease the wheels, and came up with the following:

  • Jenny, accountant, 36 – innocent, attentive, (special) has super powers – sounds like she works for H&R Block
  • Henry, waiter, 22 – determined, impolite, (special) gay – like most of the waiters I’ve encountered
  • Manuel, truck driver, 46 – mischievous, imaginative, (special) dead – being mischievous and imaginative may be the reason he ended up dead   
  • Clementine, student, 16 – decisive, sullen, (special) engaged – teenagers, huh?
  • Delores, star ship captain, 48 – charming, restless, (special) invisible – great to spy on your crew and make sure no-one mutinies

Can’t say I’d find a use for any of these characters in my novels as yet, but you never know. Enough procrastinating for one day. I’m off to randomly generate a Ninja for the YA novel I’m working on. Then maybe a pub for my underage characters to get busted in.

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