DIGITAL MEDIA SAID YES

Once again I am reaching out after a period of long silence, and once again I can only plead sheer exhaustion and lack of available time as my excuse. My ten day working week has continued, sometimes stretching out to a fourteen day working week, and once (and only once as I learnt it was a very bad idea) into a twenty-one day working week.

But, ladies and gentleman, I am now an engaged man, and have a wedding to pay for.

That is correct, since we spoke (or since last I wrote and you read) I have procured myself a fiancé. I dropped to one knee, offered up a ring, and she deemed my offering acceptable and agreed to sticking around for the rest of my life. I am now a very happy man.

But that is a whole other blog. Or, in reality, a whole other novel. Despite neglecting this blog and you dear readers like kids now neglect the fidget-spinners they desperately needed six months ago, I have not been idle. In fact, I wrote a book. It was with this (along with said ring) that secured me a future wife.

The book detailed the rather exotic and epic journey my relationship with Alex has been on over the past four and a half years, beginning in Vietnam, over to Austria, interweaving through various European countries, to Australia and the hoard of family and friends Alex met, and finishing up in Greece, where I read Alex the last page of the story, finishing with the line, “Alexandra, will you marry me?” whereupon she said yes.

She didn’t really have a choice, I’d written her a book after all. (Note to any prospective proposers: Trap your partner with an act so kind they’d look terrible to refuse. Guaranteed future happiness).

Cover V2

(Book Cover: Designed by yours truly)

In addition to that book, I’ve also written a novella, which has gone through its alpha reader, Damian, and beta readers, Holly, Matt, and Alex, and is now almost ready for the public. I’m hoping to submit it to a publisher in the long-term, but more on that when it eventuates.

Because now we’ve reached the crux of this blog, and the reason I have revived, yet again, this faithful dog of a blog: I’ve also written another article. I metaphorically got down on one knee to the American Journal of Nursing and offering up a ring of my words, and they said yes. The article was published yesterday, not in their physical magazine as with my previous articles, but on their blog, which can be found here for your reading pleasure: https://ajnoffthecharts.com/unusual-privilege-patients-memorable-grace/

Thanks to all for reading, for also accepting my ring of words, you’re all fiancés to me. But just so we’re all clear, Alex is the actual fiance. That could have gotten messy.

More (hopefully) soon.

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P-DAY II

Years ago I wrote a post titled “P-Day” celebrating the face that I had been published for the first time (The P stands for published. Clever, right?). A short story of mine had been published in an Australian science-fiction and fantasy magazine, and I was pretty ecstatic about it. Someone had given me money just for writing some words down. And I like writing words down, it’s something I do even when I’m not getting paid for it.

At the time, the story was literally the first one I had ever submitted to a magazine. I had typed away during my off hours working as a nurse in my graduate year, and once it was done, I decided to try to get it published. First story sent off, and three months later they got back to me saying that they wanted to publish it. I thought this was pretty fantastic, that getting published wasn’t all that hard, and so after writing my cleverly titled post, I already anticipated the joy of writing the next post sharing with the world that another piece of writing had been published.

That day is today.

My first story was published four years ago.

In the intervening years I have submitted a plethora of stories to a plethora of magazines, and now have a plethora of rejection letters (I read through them when I’m in need of a good cry). It turns out that first one had been a fluke, and my presumption that published stories would come thick and fast was entirely incorrect.

Recently, I wrote a piece about the protection needed to work in the medical field, the process I had undergone in order to still function in an environment where you deal with sickness, disappointment, depression, and death. I thought it might be relevant enough to other nurses, and to really anyone who deals with stress in their job, and so submitted it to the American Journal of Nursing.

Four months ago they told me they wanted to publish it. A week ago they did just that.

If you’re interesting in reading it, you can find a link to the website here.

As the writer, I received a physical copy for free (swish), and am luxuriating in the first printed version of something I wrote (the first publication was an e-magazine, and so I never had the tactile pleasure of holding it in my hands. Or holding it tightly to my chest while I sleep. Leave me alone, I’m excited).

It took four years, and a lot of rejection, and even more persistence, but I am glad to finally share this post with you.

Thanks for sticking with me.

TWENTY-TWELVE

The ending of a year and the commencement of a new one always struck me as a strange event. A non-event. Humans determined how long it takes the earth to fully circle the sun, gave this orbit a starting point, then decided to celebrate the anniversary of this fictitious starting point. And for a long time I couldn’t figure out why we gave such an obviously invented holiday any weight.

I remember as a kid sitting on the beach and feeling an electricity as the count down began. The tension increased until the final digit fell away and everyone along the sand exploded with a tremendous “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Bracing hugs were shared, kisses given, and fireworks would launch into the air. But as those coloured lights faded quickly from the night sky and normal conversation resumed among the adults, I remember thinking, Is that it? I don’t feel any different. Why is everyone making such a big deal? And by all outward appearances nothing had changed. The new year looked and felt suspiciously like the last year.

The anti-climax of new years turned me off the event. It seemed to me a desperate excuse to party, to drink, and generally do stuff you wouldn’t normally do. Creating an excuse to celebrate is no bad thing, but new years always came away as shallow because so much hung on it. We were closing the door to the problems of last year. We were resolving to be different and better people come the new year. But those pesky problems always seemed to find their way into the new year regardless of the closed door, and the new people we were meant to be had a lot of the flaws of the old.

There was too much pressure on this invented holiday that it ultimately failed to live up to the hype.

But as I’ve moved into adulthood and garnered adult pressures and responsibilities, the value of new years has started to emerge.

The first value: An excuse to party.

This didn’t carry much weight for a child who came home and read books and watched television, and whose major concern was a three-hour shift behind a supermarket register. The excuse to party was every weekend, and the chance to unwind wasn’t essential. I was pretty unwound to begin with.

But as an adult the chance to gather with friends, to turn off the train of thoughts linked to job, career, and finances, is like an oasis in a storm. And in that oasis you feel like resolutions are a good thing, and are accomplishable. Which leads us to…

The second value: Resolve.

New years is traditionally a time to make resolutions. An opportunity to improve. As a child I found this pointless; why wait for a made up date on a made up calendar? If you want to change, change. And why there is some truth to this, there’s also truth to the fact that after working a stressful eight and a half hour shift without a lunch break, the resolution of not eating junk and exercising is almost laughable. High fat foods and doing nothing when you get home are compulsory.

New years gives you an opportunity to reflect away from the exhaustion of work on what it is you really want to be achieving. Because while financial stability is an accomplishment, it’s not always satisfying. It’s not all you want to be doing. The fugue of endless work days makes this hard to remember, but new years is a marked point in time to stop, think, and resolve yourself to the person you really want to be. It doesn’t matter if you don’t stick to the goals word for word, only that you remember what you’re doing and why, and bit by bit, work towards them. This action is usually accompanied by reflection. Which leads us to…

The third value: Reflect.

The idea that the problems of last year will magically evaporate in the face of a new year is still a stupid one. Young me got that one right. But what new years does offer is the opportunity to reflect on those problems, to weigh them against the successes of a year, and realise that you may have done better than you thought you did. It’s a moment to summarise what’s not working, to appreciate what you accomplished, and to take those wins and losses and decide what you’ll do with them from that point onwards. And there is definitely value in this.

For me, 2012 was a big one. A year may only be a fictitious span of man-made time, but mine was an eventful fictitious span of man-made time. 2012 saw my first published work, my first purchased home, my first published illustrations, my first promotion, and my first hospitalisation. Phew. And I only really appreciated this list when I stopped to reflect, calculate, and appreciate what I had accomplished in a year.

Here’s hoping it only gets better.

Happy new year everyone, and all the best for 2013.

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.

BEING PUBLISHED

As an aspiring writer who has yet to be published, nothing is more enticing, more gut-twisting, more giddy-inducing than the idea of being published. Seeing your own words in print, and more importantly the knowledge that someone else is seeing your words in print, is some sort of golden nirvana, a place where Gods such as Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Steven Erikson, and a multitude of other deities lounge, spouting great words which are immediately converted into print.

In other words, it’s a big deal.

One of the reasons I finally cracked my knuckles and got around to creating this blog is because I am getting published. I still grin when I say that out loud. The Gods in their infinite wisdom, in this case the editors at Aurealis magazine, are publishing one of my short stories.

When I read the acceptance email I didn’t stop smiling for two hours. I was home alone and grinning like a madman. It’s how I imagine a man feels when a woman accepts his proposal. Only bigger. I rapidly replied agreeing to the contract, trying to hold back the multitude of thanks my fingers were itching to include.

Let me try to explain why being published is such a big deal. Being a writer is a solitary job. You sit like a Neanderthal, bent over a laptop, and disappear into a world that exists in your head. You spend hours and hours agonising over word choice, dialogue and similes. You perfect your world late into the night until you collapse exhausted into bed. When you finish you crane your neck up from the glowing screen and look around for someone to share the victory with. Invariably you’re alone. So you show your story to someone. Usually a family member or a partner or some unfortunate who once said they’d like to read your writing. You get compliments and a flush of warm satisfaction. If you’re lucky the sentiments are sincere. But here’s the catch; they’re your family. They’re polite.

For me being published is someone who doesn’t need to be nice to me saying they like my work. It is a professional in the industry saying all those lonely hours were worthwhile. It is confirmation that I can actually write, than I’m not just a kid whose mum puts his drawings on the fridge despite the complete lack of technique and form.

And, biggest of all, it is a spark of hope that the dream of being a writer might actually exist. A spark, but one that burns hot and bright.

My story, Remembering the Mimi, will be published in the May edition of Aurealis.

I’m still grinning like a madman