Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Writing Opportunity

Having my internet slowed for the Christmas and New Year period and then catch a respiratory infection floating about, was a great opportunity for me to write lots, and free flow at that.

No way could I concentrate, in between fits of respiratory distress, on any of the edits I had going. Or think of starting a new section chapter story based in the main universe.

I just started. Thinking while I went. Pecking words out slower than a praying mantis. I wasn’t going anywhere. I started with a character. Eleven-year-old girl. Earnest. Just coming into her adult teeth and with a swag of unkempt raven black hair.

If she were an ordinary fantasy child you’d say to put Harry Potter specs on her.  She doesn’t need any. You only thought you knew the sort of girl I’ll be talking about.

I just wrote her, what she did, her brothers, one older and one younger and sister, who they are, how they relate with one another. Plenty of sibling rivalry, I can tell you.

I expect this will mean the young adult category. I haven’t found my ouvre yet, if that is the right term. Maybe this one will be it. Though I populate my stories not just with young characters. Old ones are common, as are all the ones in between.

She lives in a castle. She does projects; she is the perfect narrator because she thinks about, explains to herself, or tells someone everything she learns. Earnestly. Castle words. Facts. About her mystery mother. Mystery sister. Brothers. Everyone else.

Once I got over the feverish parts of my malady, I wanted structure. That’s where I’ve been the last couple of days. Plotting. Coughing. Planning. Coughing. Mapping. Sneezing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crows on my Mind

I read an article about the origin of different species of birds, recently. I discovered that all seven species of crows are thought by some crow experts to originate in Australia, something like 6-8 million years ago.

Probably the only species of animal from here that's gone world wide, I thought. It is like they flew against the prevailing inflow of other animals. Should be a story in that. They are such a maligned animal. Yet so smart.

They can certainly tell the difference, at the distance of at least 500 metres, between a man stepping outside his door carrying a rifle and a man carrying a stick or a man carrying a rolled up umbrella. I've been a witness more than once to them stopping their talk long enough to study the said man, fly off if it was a gun and continue their conversation after making sure it was an umbrella.

Crows are in my mind. They are waiting for a story, waiting until I find out more about their tribe. I do seem to remember them in fables. That'd be right. I guess because they are so elemental. I keep picturing a bunch of them like black holes cut out of the hot red landscape.

In the Outback there is a myth about crows, that they gather near a place where there has been a death and where a wake is being held. When I was still a city slicker, I scoffed over that story.

Then I lived in the northwest of Western Australia for a short time. A couple of dozen crows gathering in the trees next to a house where an unfortunate stepped early off his mortal coil. Many more birds were present in one place than the land thereabouts, even with the offal thrown out by the human population, could support.

Things I know about crows, facts and stories, are starting to shoulder their way into my awareness. Claiming a place on the front of the stove. I keep putting them onto the bench, to wait. I don't want to start any new research, however tentative, until I've finished at least the two short stories on the front of the writing stove.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Writing Practice as Cooking

Metaphor is using words and ideas to describe things that they do not literally refer to. That's according to my dictionary, the Concise Oxford, 1964. Me comparing my writing practice to cooking on a stove is me living one of my metaphors. Cooking up stories is about the only sort of serious cooking I do these days.

Right now, I have my novel Lodestar (working title) simmering on a back burner. It's only halfway through its structural edit but I have a couple of short stories that needed work in time for being sent out by various deadlines. The second draft of Catching the So-Called Moogerah Monster is finished. It also sits on a back burner, to keep warm in preparation for the final proof read.

The Red Carpet Welcome is on the front of the stove. It is having a new ending being confabulated. I'm going with the notes made on it way back at the beginning of the year by my writing group. Two out of the three who commented weren't happy with the original end so it's back to the stove for me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bring Back 'Stonkered'

Stonkered. I love that word. And how amazing to see it quoted in WQ, the Queensland Writers Centre Magazine in an article about recommendations for books, in the same week that I used it in the short story I was writing. I thought I was the only one in Australia with an affection for it. I'll definitely be putting Words Fail Me by Hugh Lunn on my Christmas list.

The lines in my story using 'stonkered':

Ushen shrugged. “He collects them. On the surface of a planet they live. Some are his support system.”

Tardi was stonkered. He heard at least four words he had no understandings for in the context. He looked at her. More closely. “Who are you?”

“Daughter of the support system. Young and angry when I ran away. They need me now.”

I use it in the sense of being totally and utterly flabbergasted. Can't you just see the feelings of being stunned and stumped in it?

The Oxford Pocket Australian Dictionary (1996) also still believes in it.
stonkered adj colloq 1. utterly exhausted. 2. utterly confounded or defeated as in this one has got me utterly stonkered. 3. very drunk (origin unknown)

Bring back stonkered.