Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The 'Gong Show. Plus July News.

Okay. Blog post. It's long now? Crap! More than two weeks! You could change a government (or at least a PM) in that time. Okay. Sitting comfortably. Email switched off. Phone on silent. Actually no... left my mobile at home today, so phone back on noisy, just in case.


Time to post.

Here we go.

I spent a good chunk of last week at the biennial ACLAR conference in Wollongong. (Australasian Children's Literature Association for Research, just in case you're wondering). Listened to papers by some of the world's luminary scholars in the field of children's literature studies. A lot of it was inspiring stuff, from a critical and academic perspective. I delivered my own paper too, entitled The Politics of Prizes - Selling and Redefining 'Young Adulthood. It seemed to go over okay, in as much as nobody threw anything, and during the ten minute question time at the end, nobody told me that I'd gotten it all wrong.

The funny thing about the conference, though, was being there as a nobody. Having spent the last few years regularly attending literary festivals and children's literature conferences where I'm known as 'an author', and where other people attending generally have at least a bit of context for me, it was unexpectedly weird to walk into a conference where -as an early career academic - I was a complete unknown.

Does that sound horribly egotistical? It's not supposed to. It was really good, actually. It meant I had to open my mind up to a whole different perspective on 'children's literature', and view what I do through a new lens. I heard people deliver papers which unpacked books I know and love in such remarkably unexpected, challenging and different ways, that I came away with a whole new attitude to both my own creative writing, but also my academic research.

So now I'm back, writing again for the first time in six months (I had a great writing day yesterday, and am having a really crappy one today, which is often the way of things with me)

I'm also setting myself a challenge, a bit of a biggie. Tomorrow is the start of July, and for the entire month, I'm going to attempt to post something here every single day.

There, I've said it. Can't promise that I'll actually manage it, but we'll give it a bash and see what happens. I suspect that by the end of the month I'll probably be reduced to posting Haiku about how little I've written that morning.

Still, it's can't hurt to try, can it? How hard can it be...

See you all tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Bacon = 4

So last month, while swanning around at the Sydney Writer's Festival I found myself going on stage for the school days immediately before UK writer Charlie Higson, who does a very nice line in young secret agent books, but has more recently tangled with Zombies.

Now, despite me giving him possibly the nastiest introduction ever on our first day, he was a very nice bloke, and a good deal of fun to listen to. He also had a finely nuanced appreciation for the more confronting aspects of zombie-ism, so much so that at one point during his talk, one entire row of year nine girls in the audience were holding their fingers in their ears so as not to hear the gory details during Charlie's reading.

But most of this is beside the point, really.

My point is this:

According to Charlie's Wikipedia Page (So it must be true), in a previous life he worked as a plasterer, (as in he put plaster on houses, not got plastered...) in which capacity he plastered, among other houses, the home of then flatmates Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (you might be beginning to see where I'm leading with this - steps one and two as below...)

Charlie Higson (above) and Hugh Laurie (below, as House M.D on a bad day...)

Laurie, in 2009, voiced over the role of Doctor Cockroach PhD in Monsters VS Aliens, which also featured, in a role sadly overlooked by the academy that year, Renee Zellweger (that would be step three)

And Renee, also in 2009, starred in My One and Only (I'll be honest and admit that I had to look that one up) with ...

(Tah Dah!)

See, four degrees from Kevin Bacon! I always knew I'd amount to something one day...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Now, I've got nothing against Vampires...

... apart from the fact that they're monstrous, undead, blood sucking fiends.

Speaking of which, I was in Borders a few days ago, and snapped this little pic:

That, it would appear, is all that the 'Young Adult' category has to offer at the moment. Stephanie Meyer and more Stephanie Meyer. And what the photo doesn't show are the adjacent shelves with about 30 variants on the Twilight theme, all with titles like; Vampire Academy, My Vampire Boyfriend, Dead - But Still Sexy (okay, so two of those are made-up, but you get the general idea)

Of course, on the other side of that shelf was all the 'other' YA fiction. You know, the stuff which isn't about vampires. Of course, most of that was in single copies only, all of it tucked away next to the children's section, and none of it was shelved face-out. If you weren't deliberately looking for it, you wouldn't know it was there.


Still, no point complaining about it, is there? I might as well just get back to writing my new vampire novel...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Right, so I've been busy...

You're all getting sick of these excuses by now, aren't you. I know it. So I won't offer any. Just this enigmatic post after three weeks of nothingness.

I've finally got the semester all wrapped up, now. Marking done, grades submitted, all signed off and officially behind me. It's been a rather flat out experience, but a good one. My next big task is to prepare two papers for presentation at a couple of conferences I've got coming up in a fortnight; a symposium paper on the topic of 'making to unmask' - which will be a creative-practice led paper looking at the writing and response to Into White Silence, and the degree to which as a writer I 'unmasked' myself in that book. (I'd provide you with a few more details except that (a) I don't have them yet and (b) I'm not sure whether I actually did any unmasking in that book...)

The other paper is for a conference at Woolongong on The Power of Prizes - this one is going to be an update and expansion on some of my PhD research and so (touch wood) should be okay to write.

Then (finally!) WRITING TIME! Six glorious weeks put aside through July and the start of August where I can write. I'm going to hurl myself into the long-stalled Orion and see if I can get a draft of that done before the start of semester two. It should be achievable, I think, given that I've already got about 15000 words written, the planning done, and the pace of the book is much higher than my usual stuff. Once it's done, I might be looking for a few beta-testers, so keep an eye on this blog if you think you might be interested.

I've got another interesting research project coming up, too, which will also involve a little crowd-sourcing, but it's early days on that one at the moment, so you'll just have to wait for details. For now, it'd be a good idea to start working out who you think are the ten most significant Australian children's writers. Ever. Only ten, possibly fewer... Give it some thought.

There's also a re-deign of my website in the pipeline, but that's a few weeks off, too. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I've been watching Masterchef, and enjoying it almost as much as last year, though I do wish Matt Preston would stop washing his reds with his whites. It's quite disconcerting when he shows up there in pink pants. This might just be me, though...

Yesterday, during a workshop here at the uni, we had to do a quiz to determine our procrastination habits. I put off doing mine until later, which I found funny. It did make a point though, and so on that note, I'm going to stop rambling away here, and get onto my symposium paper.

Cheers everyone,



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