Saturday, October 31, 2009

Falling in idea-love

I'm in the lucky position at the moment of being on the cusp of wrapping up my next book: I got the final MSS of Daywards back from the copy-editor the other day, and apart from a few tweaks to fill in some small gaps - probably less than half a day's work - it's pretty much done and dusted. This is one of my favourite times in the whole writing process, not because it's near the end of a job well done, but rather because the job in question finally gets the hell out of my head, making space for me to even contemplate new projects.

And oh, the projects I've got in mind!

I don't know how it is for other writers, but with me, by the time I finish a book like Daywards, which is the better part of 100,000 words long, 350+ pages of TNR 12 point font, and has taken most of the last 2 years to get done, I'm usually not in a particularly positive headspace about the whole writing thing. Cynical, I guess you'd call it. "This is the last one." I usually tell myself at least a couple of times.

But then, at about this point, the magic happens - with the book about to be put to bed, new projects and ideas start presenting themselves: the horizons which, just a month or two ago seemed impossibly clouded with obligations to the current book are suddenly clear for miles. And then an idea - possibly two - make that little writer chip in my brain go 'click' and I start to get excited!  I mean, really, utterly excited! Not just about the idea, but about what I can *do* with it. Excited about the actual writing of it.

And this is one of my favourite parts of the whole process. Just contemplating the possibilities.  The endless ocean of possible stories out there for me to dig into.

At the moment, three ideas are vying for supremacy. They're all very, very different from one another, and I'm equally excited about all three. I won't go into too much detail, but suffice to say that one is a really fun sort of action thriller for younger readers, the second a kinda cool YA idea, and the final one would probably be adult or crossover fiction. At this point, I've got journals for all three, and I'm sketching down ideas every chance I get. I'll probably write the action one over christmas, because it's the most fully realised of the three already.

Right after I finish all my marking.

In December.

Which is a pain, but at least it means I've got something to look forward to.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gainful Employment...

I got the job!

Woot.

A proper, grown up, full time job, nonetheless...

This makes me an assistant professor of creative writing. Which sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is. Actually, it's pretty much the same thing I've been doing this year, which is good, because I love my job.

And, thanks to Lili Wilkinson (who suggested tweed), Margo Lanagan (Who threw a goatee into the mix), Leonie Tyle (wire rim glasses) and bad photoshopping (on my part...) , here's what I expect to look like in a couple of years time...

Who said style was dead?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Introducing: Romcom Reviews...

From time to time, I thought I might stick up a review of a film, here. Not too often, though because:

a) This isn't a film review blog and
b) Since Toby came along we get to watch on
average one film per year. And even then we generally fall asleep for the last half of it.

But it occurred to me this morning that I haven't really read enough reviews, by guys, of romantic comedies. Possibly because this is a particularly dicky film genre, or because romcoms are generally horribly contrived and commercial, or possibly just because nobody cares. But I care. A few disclaimers, though:
  • Even though I care, I don't care all that much, so don't go expecting insightful research or anything.
  • It's possible that I'll be reviewing a film I slept through most of. This won't stop me reviewing it, though, which gives you some sort of idea of the ethical stance I'm taking with regard to this whole exercise.
  • In my opinion, the best romcom ever made was When Harry Met Sally which I first saw in 1990, when I was in first year uni, during a particularly awkward evening in which I thought I was on my first ever date, but my date didn't. That's beside the point, however. The point is that WHMS is the benchmark against which all other romcoms I review will be assesed - on the basis that WHMS is romcom perfection, and therefore would score a 1.0 on the WHMS scale. Other films will be unlikely to surpass this. A really good romcom, for example, might score 0.8 WHMS.
With me? Okay, let's begin...


To kick things off, here are my thoughts on an odd little thing we watched last night called:


Okay, basics first - I don't remember this film coming out at the cinemas, but it's a 2009 film, so it could well have slipped under my radar (see point (b), above). Either that or it's gone straight to DVD. You can tell its a romcom, because it has Matthew McConaughy (henceforth to be known in these reviews as ROMCOM GUY) in it, which by default sticks it straight into the romantic comedy genre, and at the same time loses it 0.2 WHMS's. It also has Jennifer Garner, and the girl who was the little kid on Party of Five, which I never watched and so don't know her name.

The plot is simple. ROMCOM GUY plays a prick, who is a famous fashion photographer who idolises his dead uncle (a Hugh Hefner-esque creation played by Michael Douglas, who looks increasingly like his father except without the charm...) and as a result treats women like objects. (Boo...hiss...) It's finely nuanced and subtle characterisation, the same as you'd expect to find in a Rob Schneider film (I'm fishing for a nasty letter to Variety with that one...) ROMCOM GUY's character is opposed to the whole concept of marriage.

Vehemently so. And so he destroys his little brother's wedding. In my opinion, this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as the little brother in question was getting married to the neurotic, insipid and frankly annoying character played by Pary-of-five girl. (Though later in the movie, ROMCOM GUY does punch her father unconscious, and thereby saves the wedding, so that's okay...)

During the course of the wedding weekend, (Here's where it gets a little odd...) ROMCOM GUY is haunted by (In a bizarre Dickensian twist) His uncle and the ghosts of his past, present and future girlfriends. This involves a long and convoluted subplot involving Jennifer Garner, and which I really can't be arsed repeating, but suffice to say that at the end of the film, ROMCOM GUY has seen the error of his ways, saved the wedding through violence and the wanton destruction of his dead uncle's car, and hooked up with Jennifer Garner.

So it's sort of Mills and Boon meets A Christmas Carol meets Ghost

Here's the weird thing, though - even though the various elements of this film have train-wreck written all over them, when all is said and done I actually kinda liked it. It kept me awake until the end, for one thing. It drew a couple of laughs, for another. It was also (I'm fairly certain) shot for the most part in the same mansion that they used for the awesome Cruel Intentions. Basically this is good brain in neutral on a saturday night material.

MY RATING: 0.65 WHMS

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oh, what a beautiful morning...


So, I'm awake. Imogen is still asleep, but - more to the point - Toby is still in bed, fast asleep and it's 7.45 in the morning! This is unheard of; generally he starts crying at around 6.00. In fact, I got up because when I woke up at 7.30, I looked at the clock and my first thought was 'Oh crap, something must have happened to the baby!'

But no. He's just asleep. And as a result (shock, horror) I feel almost well rested.

Of course, while I've been writing this, he's just fired up,

Probably becuse some stupid idiot went into his room with a camera and flashgun...


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Excuses, Excuses...

Okay, I know I've been even more lax than normal this week. In my defence, by November 24 I need to have read, processed, marked and provided detailed feedback for:

1 x 100,000 word Doctoral Thesis
3 x 30,000 word honours thesis
66 x 3-5000 word creative writing portfolios
66 x 1500 (ish) word reflective discussion posts.

Plus, any day now, the final revisions for Daywards are going to land in my letterbox, and these need to be back no later than two weeks from now in order to actually get the book out on time.

So yes, I'm a bad blogger.

For what it's worth, here's what's been on my mind lately:
  • Picturebooks. I like these. I have a MSS for one tucked away on my hard drive where it's been sitting for the last six years. I really should do something with it. It's called Brightwing. It's about a bird.

  • Parenting. I'll be honest and admit that the entire Jessica Watson sailing around the world thing has been bothering me a little. Not that I don't believe she's capable of doing it, or that 16 year olds aren't capable of turning their hand to pretty much anything - hell, just look at what Steph Bowe's achieving at the moment - she's just doing awsomely. And I know a lot of other teens who are just as brave, adventurous, talented and skilled, that's not an issue for me, either. I'm just not sold on the whole concept of parents sending their little girl out into what (and I know this from personal experience) is a shit-scarey and very dangerous ocean, for the most part completely out of reach of assistance (Both physical and emotional). It doesn't sit well with me for a number of reasons, which I won't go in to. I hope she acheives everything she set out to, though - don't get me wrong about that - and that she comes home safely.

  • UFO's. This is another shameless plug for Imogen's Blog

  • Christmas. We've booked a house for the week of Christmas at my current favourite-place-on-the-entire-planet: Tathra and I am just *hanging out* to get down there, surf for a couple of hours every day, read all the books that I'm not getting read at the moment, and (hopefully) start writing my next project, about which I'm rather excited, but won't say any more about at the moment.
All right. That's that. Now I have to go and teach my final class for the year, and then I'm going home.

Have a nice day everyone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Cover Story

In keeping with my weekly posting routine, this is my first post in a little under a week. But you know that already, don't you? Truth is, at the moment (and just for something completely different) I'm horribly behind in just about every aspect of my life. This wasn't helped by last week which included:

a) The aforementioned job interview (no word on that, yet. Fingers still crossed, and cramping slightly...)

b) Me delivering my first ever academic 'Work-in-progress' paper to the rest of the faculty (or at least those who turned up). This was almost as nerve wracking as the interview, though I managed to avoid any Monty Python moments. I talked about the stuff I've been doing with current directions in YA fiction. I've blogged a lot of this already, so won't repeat myself here.

c) An all day symposium on friday on the topic of creative practice led research. I'm thinking of putting together a paper on this, too, so I won't bore you with the details quite yet. It was an awesome day, though.

In the middle of all that, I received something I probably should have posted here. It's sort of proof that I actually *have* done the final Darklands book. (Which, by the way, I finished editing and sent back to UQP about a week ago - only eight days late, which is something of a record for this particular work...)

It's this:Yep. That's right. An actual cover! And a damn awesome one, too (even if I do say so myself) Greg Bridges, the artist involved, has done his usual stellar job of this. I was absolutely blown away by his work on the first two books in the trilogy, but this one just takes the cake. I cannot wait to see it wrapped around a book. And John and Stella Danalis have done (as always) a brilliant job of the design. It looks fantastic alongside the other two covers, too.

So on that cheerful note, I'm going home.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Possibly the best, most irritating song ever...

Our American friends introduced us to this. It's a children's book by writer and illustrator Sandra Boynton. It's also a song - as are a lot of her books. Actually it's a pretty neat exercise in cross-marketing; the books are gorgeous, the songs quirky and sung by a vast array of interesting people, but that's all beside the point.

This song, however Personal Penguin has seriously got into my head. Toby loves it - he dances - so it's on high rotation in our house at the moment. It's fun, cute, and sung by Davey Jones (of the Monkees fame). Also, for what it's worth, it's something of a tribute to that perennial piano duet Blue Moon.

It's also possibly the most effective earworm I've ever come across. It's been going around in my head for days. (Displacing Elton John's Benny and the Jets, the previous resident...)

So be careful when (if!) you decide to hit play. I'll leave the decision up to you...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

This morning I sat for my first job interview since 1994. (Which, co-incidentally, is why I haven't managed to get much up in the blogging department during the last week or so...)

I have no idea how it went.

But I can share some advice on how not to kick off an interview:

***

Interviewer A: So, Tony, thanks for coming in. Can you start by telling us why you're interested in this position?

Me: Three reasons - firstly, because I feel I'm uniquely qualified for... actually four reasons, come to think of it. Firstly because... Oh God, this just turned into the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition thing, didn't it? I'm sorry...

(Then ramble for the next two to three minutes, covering god knows how many peripheral and only vaguely related issues before wrapping up with:)

Interviewer A: So, did you cover all four reasons? I can't remember.

Me: Me either.

***
Okay, so I was nervous. I wish I could say this didn't happen, or that I was exaggerating. On the bright side, the interview only improved from there...

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