Saturday, January 06, 2007

It's two years since I turned up in Brisbane for Clarion South 05. Sometime around about now there is a new batch of keen writers packing bags and laptops and wondering how they'll ever manage to write a short story a week for the next six weeks.

In thinking about Clarion and the speculative fiction genre in general I find myself wondering if we mightn't be better to fund places by selling the rights to television. I'm thinking a format which is half 'Big Brother' half 'Biggest Loser'.

Just think, 17 people put into a large building together. Living side by side, day by day. Constant heat and pressure to perform.

Each week our contestants could be called on to take part in special challenges. The one to write the most coherent words in 10 minutes (with penalties for mis-spellings and punctuation errors).

Sleep deprivation tasks where participants are told at 10pm that there's been a mistake in the schedule and they have to deliver their next story for critique tomorrow instead of Friday (and tomorrow is Tuesday!)

Penalties could include shopping and wash up duty and prizes could be trips to the Mall and air-conditioning for a night!

Perhaps letters from home could be read at regular intervals accompanied by tears and statements like "I just want to make Jill (or Jayne or John) proud" and writers could be evicted each week by the other contestants. Reasons could be "for poor prose", "for submitting 10,000 short stories three weeks in a row" or because "their protagonists in this week's story doesn't protag".

Perhaps the last man standing could be guarenteed publication. If it's Clarion South we're talking about then the carrot would have to be for that elusive American market.

Just think they could sell the rights. Viewers could call in on pay telephone lines to propose topics, suggest different story endings.

These unknown writers would be catapaulted into instant celebritydom AND think of what it would do for the genre!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Well I've done it. I've finally accepted my offer of a position in the Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing at Macquarie University.

I've been thinking about this for some years - but always had good reasons not too - mostly related to time and a fear of study.

About halfway through last year I started thinking about it again so I rang the convenor and had a nice chat. No essays. No mindless dissection of great poets of the 20th century - just writing about whatever you want and lots of it.

Well - that's what she's promised me. Even then I delayed. I need to get 12 credit points to do this thing and each of those credit points will cost me $300. So that's a bit of dosh to come up with - specially when we're running a mortgage and a car and a wardrobe and have a champagne habit....

In the end I'm signing up for 4 credit points (1 subject) for first semester. I'll worry about how to manage the money and the time for 8 credit points in semester two later.

I am somewhat nervous of returning to university - being old and wrinkled and many years out of study as I am. What happens if those smart young things are cleverer than I? More talented, prettier?

The next hurdle is enrolling... and working out when class starts!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Christmas came and went. I actually had a nice time. Yup it wasn't too bad. I'd better watch out, maybe I'm mellowing.

And old year went out, new year came in.

Resolutions are for a minimum 1,000 new words a week. Not a large target - but achievable with work and life. It also means any time I write more it's a win!

Oh and the chocolate has to go (but only once I've finished my Christmas stash!)

What did I achieve in 2006?

Novel manuscript - I completed the first draft of a young adult manuscript. I've spoken with Peter Bishop at Varuna and he's made some suggestions for improvements - so I aim to get a rewrite completed over the next few months and then start to think about submitting it.

Short Stories - I had 5 short stories published in 2006; Halflife (Antipodean SF), 'The Crying Chair' (F&R), Last Bulkhead (Shadowed Realms), Iron Shirt (Ticonderoga Online).

As yet I don't have any acceptances lined up for 2007 - so that will be part of my aim - to query a couple of places that are holding stories at the moment and see if I can't rack up a few notches for the publishing bio.

The last few days I've been doing a fair bit of writing. A new short story and the first chapter of a new novel. It's great, since I completed the first draft of my other manuscript back around October I have had a bit of a break from new words. Of course the down side is I'm not sleeping well - brain too active. I'll have to sort that out before Monday and return to work.