Saturday, February 25, 2006


I took a phone call this week letting me know my desk had arrived. Yep, a full six weeks early. I did not jump for joy, nor did I panic. It was more of an 'oh, shit' moment. Why? I figured I had plenty of time to move things around before it arrived. Let's remember this is 1.77 metres wide, or nearly six feet; no small thing.

I'm looking at where the desk is supposed to go, and there is no way it's gonna fit; not unless I do some heavy work. My current desk is four feet wide; on one side is a four foot wide bookcase, filled with, well, books. On the other is a seven and a half foot wall unit. On the outside of the bookcase and the unit are power points. On the other side of the unit power point, is a doorway and another bookcase. Yeah, it's a long room. The facing wall has built in shelves along it's length and doors grace each end of the room leading to outside.

What to do?

The only thing I can: shift furniture. The easiest way is to replace the bookcase with one of my smaller ones - the three foot one. Of course, I've got to take out the books in each, shift the cases, then reload. Just looking at it all is depressing, but the desk, oh, the desk is worth it.

To add to all this is the delivery of thirteen more books I ordered. That leaves about four somewhere out there in Aussie Post land. I think I'm going to need another bookcase...

Friday, February 24, 2006

What price a country?

Most people in Australia believe in a fair go; that most immigrants are welcome as long as they don't bring their bad habits here. We love our ethnic foods, we love our multicultural festivals, we're friendly to our neighbours, no matter where they came from and we will help a local community no matter where the citizens were born.

Australians are known for a laidback lifestyle and laconic humour, our generosity of spirit and the indefinable ethic of 'mateship'.

But don't think we'll accept anybody. Australia, like every other nation has a right to chose who shall and shall not be allowed to come to the country; as a tourist, as a worker, as a new citizen.

So what's this all about, huh? Is there some reason why the Treasurer isn't allowed to express his opinion?

Is there some reason why new citizens shouldn't be loyal to this country? Why they can't respect what Australia is all about? Isn't that why they came here in the first place? For freedom, for democracy, for a better life?

Mr Costello said: "anyone not prepared to accept Australian values, and who had citizenship of another country, should not remain an Australian citizen."

As westerners, we are required to accept the cultural, social and legal values of any other country we move to, or, indeed, visit. Our country isn't any different.

Simply put: You don't like how we do things here, then go where you do like how things are done.

Australia is for Australians, and we come from here, the Americas, the Asias, Europe, the British Isles, Africa, the Pacific Islands, just about every nation you care to name. What we don't want is for radical bigots bringing their shit over here and causing a ruckus.

I don't care where you come from, you don't like your own country? Change it from the inside, don't come here and criticise us for not doing enough, for being culturally insensitive, for being intolerant. You don't like our own country? Go somewhere else, don't harass our women on the beach because bikinis offend your eyes, don't roam in vicious packs attacking lone people and blame it on the victim. Don't demand we understand your way when it is not our way - make the information available, and we will read it. Don't curse at our lack of attention when you won't even learn our language.

What really pisses me off is that anyone who expresses an opinion, an opposing opinion, on this topic is branded a racist. Sorry, but bullshit.

This country was built on certain values, is maintained by certain values, and is respected for those values. That is the Australia I live in. If you can't or won't accept those values, then fuck off.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hot books

While the typical argument goes on about what romance is and isn't, what erotica is and isn't, the genre continues to draw in readers.

If you're in any doubt as to it's popularity, check out Rendezvous Books. Yesterday, on the first day of their sale, the site crashed under the weight of customers. In the morning, within two hours of the sale being on. Not bad for a genre long derided.

I'm hoping to get in early on Wednesday to avoid another possible crash.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rights of the individual

Today, I watched the morning talk show. It's light entertainment that sometimes tackles the 'big' issues. One particular guest, though, has stuck his university's finger into a hornets nest.

He and his group, Resistence have put together and are selling flag burning kits. You get a miniature Australian flag, a fire starter and a box of matches. Why? To protest the governments policies on asylum seeker detention, our contribution to the Iraq war, treatment of the indigenous population and the way we are being governed. As spokesman for this group, Tim *** feels that it is a way to create debate in society on issues that concern the citizens.

He's right. Those issues do concern Australians. He's wrong, however, to take this approach. Tim came across as naive in the extreme and showed a distinct lack of knowledge on these issues. He, in fact, wasn't interested in any argument against his perceived ideas. His and his groups attitude is that the refugees should be released, that no war is ever justified and more money and resources should be given to the indigenous population. The rest is an amorphous generality.

I'll explain the other side. We have no refugees in detention. We have asylum seekers who are detained until their health, character and legitimacy can be established. It is Australia's sovereign right to decide who can and cannot come to this country, like any other nation on Earth.

The action in Iraq. This is a controversial topic. There are plenty of arguments for and against. For me, personally, the government acted to the best of its knowledge at the time. Who lied to whom when isn't the issue. And while we are there, our soldiers are doing the best they can to mitigate the disaster and make the Iraqi lives better. If all the Coalition of the Willing withdraw, the area will be plunged into civil war. So which is better? Staying to help after being told a lie or taking the huff, dropping the whole thing and leaving them to sort it out themselves? I might add that Tim said that no war was justified, and this on the day that commemorates the bombing of Darwin during the Second World War!

Indigenous affairs. As a whole, the group, who represent 2.5 per cent of the population, are given $AUS600 million a year to help. Representatives have demanded that they should control the finance. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission did an absolutely shitty job and wasted the majority of the money. Worse, some members of the local councils felt the money was their personal bank and built homes for themselves and friends, bought cars, went on trips and totally ignored health, education and community. Some lawyers also took their cut. Throwing money at them isn't the answer; teaching them to live like human beings is, teaching the rest of the population the cultural differences is.

And as for Tim's view on government policy, he seems to think that all governments, past and present, are corrupt, evil entities who ignore the population at large. Two of the above issues were introduced by the previous Labor government. Does he, or the group, actually know that or is this simply a way of gaining attention?

For me, they look like self-aggrandizing prats who will garner support from the lunatic fringe.

It is his right to burn the Australian flag, there is no law against it, but I wonder if there is a law against profiting from it. The kits are $5 each. Not much, but Tim was smug in saying they'd 'sold a few'.

In a time of social unrest throughout the world, this stunt is the last thing anyone needs, and the fuckwits of the country will rejoice at having 'a bit of fun', until it gets out of control and turn into significant protests on one subject or another.

If this is what they're allowing university students to get up to, then the whole system needs a desperate overhaul. Pills like this one need to be taught a better understanding of politics and sociology before they're allowed out. It's an embarrassment to this country. I, for one, would like to kick the tripe out this group and give them the appropriate lecture on understanding their topic, social and cultural awareness and, yes, political policy and how it's formed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


I've been working over at the Project Gutenberg site to boost my proofreading skills. For those who don't know, Project Gutenberg is a site that is digitizing Public Domain books into Project Gutenberg e-books.

It's an interesting exercise, and since I'm interested in history, military history at that, I chose the book, Integration of the Armed Services, 1945-1965 by Morris J. MacGregor. It's a fascinating exposition on how the Afro-American fought to fight for America during the Second World War and beyond.

The interest soon raised questions in my mind about how we deal with the Indigenous population here. Where the American Negro suffered from legal and enforceable segregration, and, in some respects, still does, our own indigenous peoples have been segregated too, except they volunteered for the segregation.

I live near such a group and they are adamant at excluding any white people or, in fact, any ethnicity not their own. I'm not being critical of their choices, I'm exploring this new found revelation; the diametrically opposed situations of two similar groups of people half a world apart.

Of course, various actions groups have long been casting evil glares at the the Commonwealth government for not 'apologising' for something that happened a century or more ago. I find it curious that, although the indigenous population were 'forceably' integrated - now called the 'stolen generation' - they now choose to form their own enclaves and distance themselves from forming a cohesive, multicultural society with the rest of Australia. This can also be applied to migrants: the South-East Asians of Cabramatta, the Middle East Arabs of Lakemba, the Greeks of Melbourne, and so on.

For one country, the black population tried desperately for equality in all areas and it took violence and a generation to achieve; for the other country, forced integration was rejected at every turn and has failed in virtually every aspect. We have successful indigenous people, but they remain in the minority, no matter what encouragement is given.

I'm not being racist in this, although such observations would, in more fundamental areas, give rise to outraged screeching, it's merely an interesting dichotomy. At least in my view. I'll have to read more on this subject, I think.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What the butler saw

Lots of things happening in our part of the world, and none of it good.

The others of the so called Bali Nine are up for sentencing today. Yesterday, Lawrence and Rush were sentenced to life for drug trafficking. Ringleaders Andrew Chan, 22, and Myuran Sukumaran, 24, could be sentenced to death for their involvement. It must be especially disappointing for Lawrence who expected 20 years, after co-operating with police and testifying against her fellow accused. They're best hope now is that the Federal Government get moving on the prisoner exchange program.

In associated news, Do Hyung Lee, 25, accused of recruiting drug mules for the Indonesia-Australia run, has been released on bail. It's alleged he has links to the Bali Nine. It would be nice if we could exchange this one for, say, Schapelle Corby.

Liberal MP Danna Vale has gone way, way out on a limb by suggesting that Australians are "aborting themselves out of existence" and run the risk of "becoming a Muslim nation in 50 years." The plan is to have authority for the use of abortion drug RU486 remain with parliament. Last week, the Senate voted to strip the Health Minister, Tony Abbott of the responsibility of RU486 and hand it to the Therapeutic Drugs Administration. If amendments are passed, it would mean parliament would ultimately be responsible for the drug and debate its veto or its use. Ms Vale has upset the Muslims with this call, and her colleagues have taken a swift side step. It's bad enough that the use of an abortion drug is a highly contentious issue, but assuming a result fifty years down the track is really out there. It's not as if we are allowing Muslims only to immigrate, for fuck's sake!
And using the current sensitivities surrounding Muslims is reprehensible!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, more allegations of interference in decisions at government level, this time with the Greenhouse policy. Former scientists at Australia’s premier research organisation, the Commonwealth Scientific and I Research Organisation (CSIRO) have stated publicly that they were censored in their comments about greenhouse emission if their views did not reflect government policy.

As with the scandal involving the Australian Wheat Board, I have to suggest cronyism and obsequiousness being the culprits. The government cannot comment on issues its’ senior public servants fail to inform them of. If managers are trying to protect their own turf by denying any knowledge of the situation, or leaking documents that they kept, but did not pass on, then the public service is as amoral and unethical as it has been accused of.

With the AWB, the organisation at the centre of payments to Hussein’s regime, the contracts under question were approved by the United Nations. Again, did the AWB know, before the contract was approved know that the Jordanian trucking company was a front for Hussein? If the United Nations thought it was okay, why doesn’t the Federal Opposition? It still comes down to what the Board was told by its on the ground representatives. And AWB aint talkin'.

I don't blame them. The media hype and Opposition accusations are outrageous. Nothing has been proven, no evidence presented; only heresay and verballing of the Board. They are, rightly, going to wait until the Cole inquiry is over before making any statement.

Anything else will undermine the company and the United Nations (conveniently forgotten in all this). No doubt when the results are released, there will be an 'outrcry' no matter the result from opposing factions.

Who knows what the butler saw? He aint talking either.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Christian charity?

I was going to ignore the current slanging match between various weblogs on authors who are happy to send books overseas at their own expense like PBW and Alison Kent and our own JanieR versus those who aren't like Brenda Coulter.

The upshot of the argument is that Brenda doesn't see it as worthwhile, but an expense she's not willing to undertake. That's within her right. Brenda writes so called Christian Inspirationals, an insipid, unrealistic genre currently enjoying a resurgence in middle America as a panacea to the increasingly erotic mainstream romance genre. Oy. I'm not going to condemn those who read such books, either overtly erotic or 'sweet' romances (although I probably have by calling CIs 'insipid and unrealistic).

I am gobsmacked. Simply amazed that a writer would stoop to personal insults over a perfectly legitimate discussion, just because some people disagree. It gets worse:

These people love to hate, and I am one of their favorite targets. That they think I'm actually trying to annoy them in order to get attention shows exactly how little they understand about me and this blog. And every time one of them posts something about That Horrible Brenda Coulter, her blogging sisters pick up the cry.

Brenda, sweetie you're just not that important.

If you want to be a successful author, you do what you must, even sending copies of your books to overseas readers, no matter what you think of them. An expense in the short term will reap rewards in the long term. And I'm not talking about warm fuzzies and buying your way into heaven. It's a business, not a clique where you can exclude those who don't agree.

What Brenda has done now is to call into question respondents intelligence and personalities. To quote:

For the past several days, their fangirls have been rushing over here as eagerly as if they'd just been offered tickets to a Maury Povich show on transsexuals who steal their granddaughters' boyfriends.* Yes, I have received hundreds of extra visitors in the past few days. No, I am not grateful for the increased traffic, because I haven't been terribly impressed by the intelligence and the personalities of the individuals who have attempted to rail at me here on the blog (I delete all comments containing profanity) and who have sent me virulent e-mails (which I won't stoop to answer).

A weblog is public; keep private thoughts private otherwise you do open yourself to criticism and flaming. There are so many more important things to be discussing out there without resorting to personal insults or condeming people for having an opinion. This post, for example, is mine. I don't expect everyone to agree, that would be foolish of me.

For those of us overseas, we're thrilled that our favourite authors are willing to take the time to pay us attention; we are not so thrilled to be dumped on for being a 'promotional' exercise. There are more of us out there than within the borders of the US, and that means, by publically sneering at us, Ms Coulter will find a less than welcome reception should she ever decide to publish overseas.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Interest or Profit?

It was only a matter of time before those cartoons turned up here and it's typical of the Queenslanders to do it. The Courier Mail, a newspaper in Brisbane printed one as did the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin.

I have to wonder at the thinking of the editors. Did the fact that there have been riots world-wide over this issue enter into their thinking? It doesn't appear so.

There has been much debate on whether it is in the so called 'public interest' to show these cartoons, or whether it's simply a measure of gaining increased profit because there's been a backlash and everyone wants to know what the fuss is about.

We in the western world think nothing of satirical comment on events and politicians. If you are a public figure, you're going to be a target of comment - good and bad. This, I feel is different. The issue is different.

Any depiction of the prophet is blasphemous. If a similar blasphemous image of Jesus Christ was published, there would be a reaction and rightly so. It's bad enough that the Danes thought it amusing; the Moslems thought it insulting.

There is no doubt in my mind that those cartoons, twelve in all, should never been published. It is a special kind of bullshit when an editor sits on his/her high horse and suggests it's all in the name of 'freedom of the press' or the 'public has a right to know'. An editors job is to decide whether it is 'ethical' to print such a thing; whether the public should be informed. Ethics went out the window; the public's right to know was no such thing. One cartoonist's twisted thinking and an editor's funny bone has created a storm of controversy. What did they think would happen? That Moslems would chuckle, like they did? Did they not consider the insulting nature? The offensiveness?

It's a controversy that should have remained 'in country' except for the Imams who cut the cartoon out and went to the Middle East to show everyone! This is where the violence was let loose.

I'm calling both sides stupid: stupid for creating the cartoons, stupid for publishing them, stupid for spreading the malice and stupid for inciting the riots. This isn't the first time something offensive has been published, nor will it be the last and I have no hope that editors will consider the consequences of future actions while they sit wrapped in 'freedom of the press' or 'the public's right to know'.

Both phrases can cover all sorts of morally reprehensible actions and with this issue, it has only served to further alienate Islam from the West and provoke more unnecessary violence.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I'm dropping a bucket on the Opposition and others for the outrageous proliferation of lies and conjecture as truth.

I know that Kim Beazley is an unhappy man - he was a disaster as Defence Minister and copped two floggings at elections. Described as not having the 'ticker' to be Prime Minister, he was the most unpopular Opposition leader... ever.

Now though, he's back, and with a vengeance. He's shrouded himself in 'moral outrage' over a number of topics, but none more so than the AWB scandal. Not content with accusing the Australian Wheat Board of paying kickbacks to the Hussein regime, he now says he has evidence that the payments to a Jordanian trucking company that transported Australian wheat, was used to fund arms buying and the so-called weapons of mass destruction.

I'm sorry, but... what? This was the guy who accused the government of going to war for a lie, that there weren't WMDs. Now he's saying there were, and he has evidence? Please, Kim, share this with us; not just your party, but the United Nations - who found no evidence - with the whole world - who are a little embarrassed that they were wrong. Are you now saying Hussein did have WMDs? And that we paid for them?

For a politician, he's being remarkably naive if he thinks the Australians were the only ones to pay for the transportation of products. It's custom in middle east and eastern countries to pay 'that little bit extra' to clear the way. Call it a bribe, a kickback, whatever, but that is the way these countries do business.

And because Kim is pissed off that we went to war - against his wishes - he's spouting all sorts of bile. The Cole inquiry has yet to hand down it's findings, but Kim has made up his mind on this.

Nationals leader, Mark Vaile, has come out and said he was aware of concerns with the AWB some four years ago, but the lack of evidence had him dismissing those concerns.

The inquiry itself has come about because an American senator wanted to further his, and his country's, ambition in the Iraq region. Given that Australia exports more wheat to Iraq than America does, and they want an in, we became the logical target. Ban Australian wheat and the way is open for American wheat. If a 'scandal' ensues, well, that's politics and it's becoming dirty.

I have to say that the US Wheat Association was a little late in it's howling for blood. Did they not know about this? Or is it a case that for American companies, this is the way business is done: that payments are made in the same way? Whatever.

What pisses me off is a politician making outlandish and unsubstantiated claims that the AWB financed weapons to kill our own troops. Bull. Shit. If you're going that route, then the French, Germans, Russians and yes, the British and Americans are guilty too; after all, it was western countries who financed the war against Iran. That's where the weapons came from.

Mr Beazley should present the evidence, or shut the hell up before he's considered more than just a posturing idiot.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sport, sport and... more sport

For the past fifteen years or so, I've set aside this day to watch the American Superbowl. We call it Gridiron here. First, yay! to both sides, the Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Second, boo! to the umpires. Boo, boo, boo. What an amateurish effort in the first half! Yes, the umps have a difficult job, but jeez, they sure as hell should have been more professional in their decisions. I've seen some poor decisions in the game, but never so many so consistantly. I was beginning to think the umps were determined for the Seahawks not to win anything. And before you jump all over me, my team is the Dallas Cowboys who... ahem... didn't make it. Third, woot! I love the game and regardless of the... dubious decisions, I enjoyed it... mostly. Both teams had their opportunities and the Steelers came out on top. Congrats to them.

The Aussies apparently 'monstered' the Proteas in the one day cricket international yesterday. Australia scored a massive 6-344 from 50 overs; the South Africans scored 6-287 after 50. Yes, it was a great score by us, but kudos to the Proteas for not giving up. On another day, that would have been a winning total. The Aussies just had more Vegemite than the Proteas, and exposed their mean streak. It doesn't matter who Australia comes up against in the finals starting Friday, the way they are playing they're virtually unbeatable. And having said that, the game comes down to who plays the best on the day and we know that it is easy to fall into a heap. Go us!

The National Swimming trials are over and the team has been selected for the Commonwealth Game. There is much controversy about the exclusion of Craig Stevens who won the 400 metres but was excluded from the team because his time was only the 21st fastest in the world. That is, it was not a fast enough qualifying time. Some swimmers who came in third in their races have been selected. I don't have a problem with this. It was always my understanding that races, including athletics, had a qualifying time. Stevens wasn't fast enough; it's a simple as that.

The Winter Olympics begin tonight and we're hoping for a couple of medals. It doesn't matter what colour, this country is not known for it's winter sports. Just getting there is an accomplishment in my book. Good luck to them all. And let's remember that it was luck that lead Stephen Bradbury to the first gold medal in speed racing when the rest of the field fell metres from the finish line. He freely admits it was luck, but that's the sport.

One last sporting event and that's the Super 14 Rugby Union. The Game they play in Heaven kicks off this weekend. While I'd like to see the Brumbies up there at the end of the season, my thinking is that the teams still to beat is the Crusaders. They are an astonishing talent and I love to watch them play, even though their from New Zealand. (Of course, I'll go for any team who wups the asses of the South African thugs... um... teams.)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Distant shores, close magic

I've finally sorted out my connection to Skype, the online telephone service. When my brother first suggested it, I thought it a nifty idea. No more long distance phone charges, able to talk as if he was standing right there...

Then I figured, nuh, I have dial up, not broadband. A few months later, I'd forgotten about Skype and I kind of got shanghaied into having broadband. I thought it just a chat on the telephone with the provider, but a few days later, the modem turned up. Huh. Okay, I thought, why not? And duly went through the destructions to connect. Great! Faster connection, faster downloads, the werld is my oy-stahhh!

Cue now. The bills makes me wince a little, but I can manage that by not having such a cavalier attitude to where I go, and not overuse the 'net - if there is such a thing.

With the post-Christmas sales, I had the opportunity to visit a new computer gaming store and lo, headphones with microphones half-price! Woo-hoo! I've been looking for voice recognition software for manuscript feedback and all I had to do now was find the software.

My brother sent me an e-mail, the kind that chats about family news. He again suggested Skype. Why not give it another go. So I went to the site, had to fool around with the microphone levels, sort out how I was going to go about contacting him, sent an email back that I was up and running. All I had to do was wait.

While I did that I went to CNET, the freeware and shareware site and downloaded some voice recognition.

I happened to be enunciating very carefully as I went through the tutorial when, bugger me if the icon didn't flash and it was brother on the line, all the way from Qatar where he is a senior engineer!

We chatted for half an hour and I watched my broadband usage rise. Never mind about that - he and I can chat whenever now, rather than using a sometimes scratchy telephone line. The only difficulty will be the time difference. When he gets back to Denmark, where he lives now with his family, he'll set up another account there and I can talk to my niece and nephew.

I have to say that it's a marvellous invention, this Skype - or should I say development. Corporations here in the Land of Aus are moving towards this technology now because it cuts down the telephony bills significantly. No need to answer the phone the traditional way, just press the mouse button and you're away.

Magic works in mysterious ways, I think. Sometimes it's inescapable as it gently guides you to where you should be going. A metaphysical kick in the rear end if you will.

I'll be posting more on real magic in future posts. And if you think it doesn't happen to you... you're wrong.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Traveller of the mind

I start back at work in less than ten days; real life work, stuff I'm actually paid for even though it's not what I want.

This is a twelve month contract, a whole year of busting my butt for others, being nice and courteous to the public. I'm fortunate in that my job is in a beautiful area and in a national park. Of course, the money's good too.

Away from that reality is what I can do with the money, and my plan is to go overseas again. It's been ten years since my last jaunt. I find that too long. I love travelling; love the different cultures, different personalities, different landscapes.

But I'm not a tourist. I'm a traveller. The journey is just as important as the destination. Each journey teaches me about myself, and my fellow travellers. Not for me the phrase 'we have a bigger/better one in our own country', or bitching about the service, the food, the transportation, the accomodation. I like to study the differences, not criticise them.

The same can be said of the books we read: Whether one author is better than another, whether the story is intriguing or not, whether we'll read more from that author.

Each book is a unique experience, we imagine the story, the characters, the worlds created for us. The book's imagery settles into our mind like a memory, and when we see the title years down the track, we remember what it was about, or the blurb prompts that memory.

Whether we are travelling in fact, or travelling in mind, the memories build up to create a patterned quilt of our lives. The good, the bad, the dangerous and the downright ugly all come together to give us experiences we might not have otherwise had.

The difference, of course, is that books open up new worlds to us. Nothing limits us other than the quality of our imaginations.

So I'm pondering on where I shall go: The Pacific Northwest and New England? Or do I go the other way to Europe and the British Isles to hunt down my ancestors? One is an adventure novel, the other is a mystery novel. Both will be exciting and create more experiences in my library of memories.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I was asked by a friend of mine for the manuscript of A Soldier's Ghost. He had read another of my novels, enjoyed it and wanted to read something else. My reaction was to smile, "Sure, I'll send it off to you in a couple of days".

I had stuff to do, you know real life stuff, so I couldn't do it immediately. What a relief! Not his asking, the real life stuff, because now I'm looking at the book thinking "Oh, shit, I did the mark-ups but didn't change the copy!"

I never actually thought anyone would want to read it. It is the second book I wrote. The first, The Saracen's Alchemist is, needless to say, terrible. Oh, the idea is great, it's the execution that's sadly lacking. This one isn't going to win any awards either. It's a better book, yes, but needs much work before anyone else sees it.

Yes, I gave it to my niece to read, she's twelve and thought it fabulous. She loves me, warts and all, and in her eyes, I can do no wrong. That's scary in itself. But for adults to read? No. Nuh-uh. No way. Not until I think it's ready for viewing and commenting.

It's a shorter piece, about 300 pages, and going to get shorter once I've put through the edits. Some of it will need re-writing, characters are going to need the smugness wiped off, there will be more description, better dialogue, the emotional impacts are going to be beefed up. I'll find a lot more to do to it.

I'm not going to apologise for the lateness of the work, he's a friend, not an editor and his request came out of the blue. I'd expected him to chose something else, or nothing at all if he didn't like the first one I gave to him.

Why am I not treating this as if an editor has asked to see my work? It's the lack of pressure. A friend won't mind, an editor would and before I send stuff to the professionals, I want input from friends, critiquers and a re-read myself to make sure it is the best it can possibly be. Hell, I need the practice. Yes, this book.

I can make it better, smarter and smoother and there is no reason why it can't be a professional book, even if it is the second one I wrote. It's not automatically excluded because it might be poorly written, or not as good as my later work.

The ideas are solid, the characters will be more engaging, it will be interesting. I am bringing what I've learned since this book was written to bear on a story I like. I want them all to be up to standard, and what better way to do that than to practice on what I first accomplished?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Work avoidance

We all do it. We know we have to do something, whether it is housework, letter writing, blog posting, shopping, whatever...

I'm avoiding work right now. I have a miserable assignment on 'contrasting meditative and descriptive styles' and 'the effectiveness of onomatopoeia'. Then there's the effects of verb usage. Oy...

Then there's the editing I've neglected. Yeah, I've had plenty of time and I've got plenty of excuses. I even know it's unprofessional of me. The worst of the excuses is that I've got 'plenty of time'. Say what? Plenty of time? I don't think so. Sure, I can write a book and a half in a month, Nano is good for getting off the butt to create. But edit the damn thing? I had fun writing, but editing means looking closer. Studying every word, every sentence, every paragraph, following the plot, the characters, dissecting what I've written. I don't think writers like to do that.

Oh, for the ability to write the perfect novel straight up. Unfortunately, I'd be permanently wearing smug.

Editing takes time. It takes focus. It takes a good grounding in language skills. It can sometimes suck the joy right out of writing.

On the other hand, it can surprise. After you've rested your great work (and you know it's great because of the feeling of satisfaction you had when you wrote 'the end') you'll go back and read it. I'll bet you've come across something you've written you don't remember typing, and thinking 'wow, that's great'. It's that something special that keeps us going, even if it's only us who know about it.

I have to remember that. When I look at the ream of paper I've put through the printer and think 'omg, that's a lot', I have to remind myself that, while I'm by no means a brilliant author, I've always come across passages that just work so well, I'm astonished. We all have those moments, and if you don't admit that, even to yourself, you're in denial.

The reason I've posted this is because I've had a request from a friend to read more of my work and I know damn well the book he wants has a sucky beginning - I can't seem to get beginnings right - and I have to do something about it.

So. Enough work avoidance. I'll just keep telling myself: I have no right to keep my imagination to myself... I have no right...