Back in the saddle

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Good news on the writing (procrastination) front! My 40,000-word MPhil dissertation was submitted on 19 March, with two external markers currently assessing it. I should hear back in late May as to what, if any (but likely), changes are required before the dissertation can be finalised and the degree awarded. I am so super-pleased to not have the draft hanging over my head any more, I can tell you! I am hopeful the revisions will be minor so that I can celebrate and move on with my life.

What this means is that, finally, my self-imposed fiction writing ban of the last two years is now ended. I am free to write creatively again, which now means I have to fend of writing paralysis! I have so many story ideas buzzing around in my head I am unsure really where to start. There is one story I really want to write (and it’s a screenplay), but I am a little afraid of starting as I don’t want to bugger it up! In order to avoid the buggering part, I have been researching screenwriting and screencraft. I’ve read (and mostly absorbed) Robert McKee’s ‘Story’, John Schimmel’s ‘Screenwriting Behind Enemy Lines: Lessons from Inside the Studio Gates’, and I’m about to read Blake Snyder’s ‘Save the Cat’. Let me know if there’s something else I should read!

Film a fascinating form and I find the idea of writing a screenplay incredibly appealing. It’s also quite daunting as, just like in the world of literature, it is an incredibly competitive and challenging world to try to break into. Therefore, I will keep my focus on the writing and the story, rather than on trying to sell a product, as I truly believe that unless you have the most amazing work you can produce you’re pretty much wasting your time. Therefore, I am avoiding any deadlines (such as competition) or other pressures, as writing takes as long as it takes with me. What I do need to do, however, is start outlining my idea in terms of acts, scenes and beats to make sure I actually have a filmable story; it will need to be marketed at some stage!

Inspiration through images

This makes me happy: http://www.withpaintedwords.com/view_submission.php?news_id=522

An image I submitted to Painted With Words provided the inspiration for four very short pieces of fiction (you can argue about whether it’s “Flash” or not in the comments). The photograph was taken in 2011 during a family excursion to the Canberra Glassworks.

The happiness extends not only from having one of my images published, but that four writers created new things out of their brains after seeing this picture (click on the above link to read the four very different stories).

Photography by Lily Mulholland

Photography by Lily Mulholland

And the reason this brings so much happiness is that I totally bummed out in an ACT Writers’ Centre workshop a few years ago when we had a very arty farty short story writer thrust postcard images at us and tell us to ‘write, just write’. Well, I wrote crap (not to put too fine a point on things) and the experience was a little scarring :)

Oh, you wanted to know about how my writing’s going? Well, if you count non-fiction, it’s going great! I’ve written more than 50,000 words in the past six months. If you don’t count academic writing, then, not so good. But the good news is, my longtime-coming MPhil dissertation is five weeks away from being submitted. And then, OMG I am SO ready to start writing creative fiction again. Bring it!

Panaseeya rocking the national capital!

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Well blow me down, our band, Panaseeya, has made it to the ACT finals for ABC TV’s Exhumed competition! The play-off is happening on Thursday 8 August 2013 at the Southern Cross Club in Canberra.

You can get your (free) tickets to the ACT finals here: http://www.cscc.com.au/live-shows/exhumed/

Come along and watch us battle it out with the four other bands selected from the Canberra region. It will be lots of fun and I hope to see you there.

And now for some fun stuff…Panaseeya!

Panaseeya band photoIt’s not all doom and gloom right now. Although my writing is currently on hold, I have been doing some creating. I’ve joined with six of my classmates from college to form a band, which we’ve called Panaseeya. The course we’re doing is on strategic studies and the band name is tongue-in-cheek, as some people would like there to be a panacea for all national and international conflict. The band has so far played only one gig, but our second is planned for 24 August in Canberra, where we’ll be playing two sets. Our band is incredibly diverse: we have five guys and two girls, we have band members from Australia, Germany and Brunei, we play rock and pop and we have a great range of instruments, including sax and bagpipes!!

You can follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Panaseeya/205173236304422?fref=ts

And on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Panaseeya

We’ve entered the Triple J ‘Exhumed’ competition for ‘mature’ musicians, so wish us luck!

Disaster strikes…or, first world problems undo best laid plans

http://pdphoto.org/PictureDetail.php?mat=pdef&pg=7897Argh, an academic I am not meant to be. My long-suffering MPhil thesis will remain in my life for a little longer: my annual progress review did not go according to plan and I am now about 6,000 words in the hole. New submission deadline is 31 March 2014. This means I’ll have a much better thesis, but that my fiction writing is on hold for the duration. Le sigh. #firstworldproblemsofmyownmaking

Word counts don’t mean shit

581px-Word_Count_22000_svgIt’s a good thing word counts are excellent motivators for so many writers I know, but I have to confess I hate them! And it might not be for the reason you think. Some writers live by their word counts; seeing those figures tick up must give them a sense of achievement – good on ‘em I say. But they don’t work for me. I’ll tell you why: I’ve written 32,500 words this year but I didn’t enjoy one of them. Why? Because they were all non-fiction/academic – for the two masters degrees I’m doing concurrently (yes, this is a self-inflicted wound). So, while I’ve chalked up the equivalent of a novella this year, my lovely stories remain in subconscious incubation and I remain completely frustrated as a writer!

On the upside (and fortunately I can always find one), I only have 24,000 words to go and both masters will be finished. Come the end of July, I’ll only 11,000 words left so can start getting some fiction downloaded from my brain. Given it’s the end of May, that’s not so far away, is it?

You still won’t find me posting about word counts. But you will find me happier and more satisfied!

Conflux 9

Well, Conflux 9, which was also this year’s Australian speculative fiction writiIMG_0943ng convention (NATCON), has been and gone! Held last week from Thursday 25 April through to Sunday 28 April, the Con was a fabulous event that drew around 250 writers, publishers, editors and fans from around Australia and around the world.

As one of the organising committee, I was a busy little bee, running around and trying to take some of the load off the shoulders of the wunderkind co-chairs, Donna Hanson and Nicole Murphy, and to do the SLJs (shitty little jobs) the registration team would have otherwise been lumped with. Having run several large international conferences, I had a good idea of what I was getting into and, not having written any stories lately, was happy to be of use. I even managed to get into a few panels for a little bit of inspiration – storing up all that information for the second half of this year when I’ll finally be able to get to the list of stories I compiled at the beginning of this year. I am on a story ban until I finish my Master of Philosophy thesis, which is due in late July. I have written 20,000 of the required 40,000 words, so I’m making good progress (given I only had about 5000 words at the beginning of the year!).

IMG_0940Highlights of the Con for me were the social events, the Steampunk High Tea (where I dressed up as ‘steampunk girl’), the Regency Banquet, and the Masquerade Junkyard Disco, where we all danced up a storm to the memories of our younger days (and I have the blisters to prove it). The reason these were highlights was because that’s where you get to chat with and get to know the best people in the entire universe. I don’t think it’s a stretch to claim that the Conflux membership comprises some of the most supportive, friendly and generous writers found anywhere on the planet. This Con drew several guests of honour, publishers and agents I’d not met before and they were all so encouraging! Not to mention fabulous human beings (Alex Adsett, I’m particularly looking at you and your crazy lobster dancing!).

I also got to hang with my Brisbane writing buddy, Jodi Cleghorn, even though I did turn into a pumpkin at midnight each night and abandoned her to room parties. I just can’t do late nights anymore!!

IMG_0994What a fabulous Con. A huge well done to Nicole and Donna and the entire Conflux team. It was great and I look forward to Conflux 10 in 2014.

I am also inspired to head up to Genrecon in Brisbane in October. Who else is going?

 

 

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