I have a love hate relationship with travel. On the one hand, I love seeing new things and soaking up new places. I love the way travelling makes you think and feel differently, if only for a little while. But I also hate travelling. I hate the organisation, the packing, the remembering of a billion little things and knowing I’ll inevitably forget something, the rushing to airports worrying about traffic and the sitting around waiting for delayed flights. I’m writing this from the departure lounge of Melbourne airport (I’ve been down here for a medievalism conference), waiting for a delayed flight, and contemplating the preparations for my trip to the UK in a couple of days. I do believe it’s my particular curse to experience excitement as a form of dread. As my friend Charlotte said, it’s like the blue wire gets hooked up to the red wire.
Thing is, I haven’t done a research trip since 2001, when I went to Germany, Norway, and Russia to research for my Europa suite (ie. The Autumn Castle, Giants of the Frost, Rosa and the Veil of Gold). Then I had children, and they kind of cramp your travel style unless you’re super-bold (which I am not). But my mad love for Anglo-Saxon stuff has a hold on me, and we’re off to see Sutton Hoo with our very own eyes. Kids love ancient burial grounds that look like big empty fields! Honest! They’re mad keen for them! And they’ll totally love that Santa won’t come to Oxford and will leave their presents at home instead. Kids and delayed gratification are practically synonymous!
But I need this fuel for my creative fire (sorry, should have issued a wankery alert before that sentence). I’m both dying to be in England and also dying from the anxiety of going to England. Either way I die, so I may as well go and take this damned book seriously.
Today the government rejected the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to scrap PIRs. In plain terms, this means:
Evil “coalition for cheaper books”: you have been owned
Barely disguised right-wing naysayers on limp blogs: you have been owned
Barely disguised right-wing media outlets: you have been owned
Dozens of people who can’t spell or punctuate who say provocative things in comments sections of newspaper articles: you have been owned
Authors: epic dropz for you
Thank you and good night.
Are you being a sook? Are you agonising over writing something when you should just be putting the words down?
The other night, I was asked to be “captain” at the Queensland Writers Centre‘s first real-life writing race. We all sat around with our laptops and wrote to a timer. Between us, this group of about 20 people wrote nearly 50 000 words over 90 minutes. I had a captain hat, as you can see, but only later did I realise that I didn’t take my duties as a quasi-military leader nearly seriously enough. We’re all terribly gentle with artists but, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo (where you try to write 50 000 words in the month of November) here are some words to pin up near your computer for when the writing is just too hard.
Cowboy the f*** up.
What, you think you’re curing cancer? You think people are going to die if the metaphor isn’t just perfect? You know what? If you don’t write your book, nobody will ever know. Nobody will ever miss it. But if you do write it, many many cool things could happen. Your family, friends, and crit group will read it: and they might love it. Or they might suggest a billion things to make it better. And it would grow and be better and come close to the original potential you imagined for it. Hey, it might even get published one day. As a rule, though, publishing houses aren’t putting out books full of blank pages. Any schmuck can come up with one of those.
So it’s hard to get to the time to write? I see: so from the moment you wake in the morning until the moment you go to bed at night, there’s not a single ten-minute block in which to get out your notebook and have a think about where your story’s going? You must live in a freakin’ gulag. Or when you say you don’t have time, do you actually mean “I don’t feel like it” (please imagine whiny voice). I’m so damned pleased that you don’t feel like it! God knows it’s a crowded market, and if you never write that novel then I don’t ever have to compete with you. Sweet as. Don’t write; I’ll celebrate.
Look, if you don’t want to do the work, then stop whining about it and go do something else. Or are you still battling those teenagey feelings that you were formed for greatness? Well, you know what, greatness is not inherent. It’s in actions. It’s in doing the freakin’ work.
So do the freakin’ work. And don’t come crying to me.
The QWC is a wonderful resource. They run virtual writing races via the Australian Writers Marketplace online every Tuesday (and I’m often there). Well worth joining the organisation and paying a little extra for the AWM subscription. Hope to see you at the races one night. No more QQ.