P-DAY

Well, the day has come: I have been published. Please wait a moment while I repress the urge to give a gushy acceptance speech…that should do it.

My short story, Remembering The Mimi, has been published in Aurealis #50. If my previous posts have whet your appetite and left your stomach gurgling for more, you can purchase the magazine here. The publication includes multiple reviews and short stories for a very reasonable price, that, in Australia, won’t even cause you to break a note.

This being the first time my fiction has been published, I can tell you, it feels good to see my name in print. Given that it’s an e-publication, I’m tempted to frame my laptop. It’s not very practical but helps the ego.

If you give the story a read, let me know what you think. Here’s hoping it sates your growling literary gut.

TRUDGING THE TUNDRA

Writing is a discipline. And a rather strange one. When you look at it objectively you have individuals who purposely exclude themselves from society to punch away at a keyboard creating people and conversations that exist purely within their own head. If you took away the computer there would be just cause to take these people to a mental health facility.

Of course, subjectively, it’s a discipline that expresses truth through imagination. At least this is what I tell myself. And my imaginary characters.

The frustrating part about the discipline is, regardless of the drive behind my writing, it doesn’t always come easily. Some days creativity pours from my fingertips. I sit as hours drop away, filling pages with perfect lines and creating apt analogies. Words gush from my head and I dance around trying to catch them all on paper. Figuratively speaking.

It’s on these days that I wonder why I don’t just do this all the time. Why aren’t I sitting and creating anthologies of novels to enjoy? It seems so reasonable.

Other days I stare at a screen and hate myself. I type the same three words, delete them, then try them again five minutes later. My brain becomes a wordless tundra. I dig at the cracked soil looking for inspiration and find only clichés and two-dimensional characters. On days such as this I wonder why I put myself through the torture. Why do I voluntarily spend my time writing?

It’s usually at this point that I retreat into a book, get absorbed into the pages, and come out inspired and ready to write. It’s a circle of life thing.

Writing, or any form of creativity, is a strange thing to put yourself through, but it’s because people trudge through the tundra and come out the other side that we get to enjoy the results. Whether it’s writing/television/movies/art/music, someone, somewhere, has sat and swore at a screen/page/script/canvas/instrument because the well has dried up. I just thank whatever god they sacrifice things to that they continued.

And it’s with that thought that I usually suck it up and write something, anything, to grease the wheel and get inspiration flowing again.

It’s a hard journey, but I hear there’s a good view at the end.

KILL YOUR DARLINGS

I recently had the joy of having my short story edited before being published. I say joy because from it I was able to learn ways to improve my writing, structure my sentences for greater effect, and generally trim away the fat. In some incidences I re-read what I had originally written and wondered how I missed such a writing blunder. I was embarrassed the editor had read the clumsy clauses that now, with the clarity of hindsight, blazed from the page like a toddler’s scribblings.

Having someone edit your work is a funny thing. When someone asks to read my writing I offer it up immediately. I slip it into their hands with a greedy smile and await their feedback with a tapping foot. I love hearing someone’s perspective on what I’ve written; part of this is the stroking of my ego, but more accurately it’s because I love to talk about writing. Hearing what people took from it, what was intentional, and more fascinating, what wasn’t, is a source of endless joy.

It’s when they tilt their head to the side and say, ‘This bit, though. I don’t know. I would have…’, that my shoulders tense.

I want their suggestions, I really do, but it seems an involuntary reaction to get defensive. A small part of me hisses and huddles around my work like protective mother cat.

This attitude, of course, is ridiculous. Feedback, providing it’s not the moronic grunting you find at the bottom of a youtube clip, is always helpful. A suggestion allows you to look at your writing from another perspective. As long as you’re able to maintain your work as a fluid, changing thing, alterations should be easy. Quite often the change is necessary. It doesn’t matter how cleverly you think you’ve worded a piece of writing, if a reader can’t understand what you’ve written, it has to go.

Of course, you won’t always agree with certain edits, but even this is beneficial. It forces you to reevaluate your work, twist it around in your head and see what it looks like from a different angle. If you don’t like the way it looks then it at least leaves you more confident in the way you originally wrote it.

By the end of the editing process, when you’ve crammed away the defensive little voice and actually considered the changes, more often than not you have a better piece of writing at the end. And that’s a good thing.

I guess the moral of this post is to be open to changes, to be nice to your editors, and, when necessary, kill your darlings.

It feels wrong, but in the long run it’s the right thing to do.

I hear it gets easier with time.

A SHORT PIECE

Given my latest post discussing the influence of nursing on my writing, I thought it appropriate to give an example.

I’ve uploaded a short story titled I’ll Look After You. To read, just wander across to the Writing tab. Or just click here.

As a nurse I’ve been told by at least ten different patients, “Don’t get old.” This story attempts to encapsulate that moment when a father and son’s relationship shifts. To show the scene when aged and debilitation becomes too big of a hurdle for someone to tackle alone.

SAMPLING

I figured the blog of an aspiring writer is rather hollow if said blog fails to include any actual writing. In the spirit of filling out this blog until it struggles to button up its pants, I’ve uploaded a taster of my work.

Please feel free to sashay over to the writing page where you can sample the prologue of my novel-in-progress. Or, just click here. Hopefully it inflames your literary taste buds and leaves you figuratively drooling for more.

Not literally. That wouldn’t be good for your keyboard.