On Finishing

96310b6a9f48e71a3d47f7be9699d5cb

Hello people of the Internet! Remember me?

Probably not.

You see, I’ve been absent for a while. A good long while. I’ve been slack. You know it. I know it. We all know it. And the worst part? I have no better excuse than life and procrastination.

Truth is, the longer I left it, the harder it became to return to the blogosphere. Often I’d casually click on my dashboard, peruse over past posts, and feel strangely as if I was reading someone else’s words. The words of someone creative, peculiar, and sometimes even a little bit witty. The words of someone who wrote every day. And I felt a little bit sad that that person had gone away, and wasn’t quite sure how to find her again.

“Start a new blog!” I told myself. “There’s no hope left for this one. The dust on the shelves is too deep, the weeds in the garden too many.”

But I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. So I’d go away again and try to forget there was a little piece of the Internet waiting just for me.

This time last year I was living in Edinburgh and a few days away from submitting my final 20,000 word extract of my novel-in-progress. Since then, I have jumped the border and now live in a little town in England, am working at a castle where they filmed Harry Potter, and spend my days either dressed up as a medieval peasant, flying broomsticks*, or taking guided tours around a medieval fortress talking about very old things. Life is good. In fact, it’s bloody good. But there’s one thing missing…

…the writing.

And it occurs to me that since submitting my novel extract this time last year, I have spurned it the same way I have this blog. At first it was a case of a well-needed mental break after several months of intense writing. It felt as though I had sucked every last creative word out of my body and needed to replenish the supply. But then, like the blog, the longer I left it, the harder it was to return to it. The words already written became the words of a stranger and finding that voice again seemed like very hard work.

“Start a new story!” I said. “Shiny new characters, spectacular new places!”

But was I really prepared to let a full 50,000 words already written go to waste? Some of which scored me a place at last year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival?

Not likely.

And then, as if the stars were looking down on me and giving me a little extra nudge, I stumbled across a Neil Gaiman quote:

Most people can start a short story or a novel. If you’re a writer, you can finish them. Finish enough of them, and you may be good enough to be publishable.

It’s taken the better part of a year, but in the last month I’ve started jotting things down again. On scraps of paper, in my lunch break, when I hear something curious or interesting or lifechanging or funny or sad or odd. The creative bank is replenished and the words are beginning to trickle again. Slowly? Yes. The creative brain needs exercise like any other muscle, and mine is long out of shape.

This blog will never be finished. Such is the beauty of a medium with few expectations but those the author applies to it. Here flow my thoughts, my hopes, my ideas and my tribulations. These are constant, regardless of whether I write them down and publish them on the Internet or not. But I hope to do better, to write more, and to connect with the blogosphere like that girl I used to know. Because giving up is not an option.

I am a writer. And writer’s finish what they start.

Neil Gaiman said so.

* Just in case you didn’t believe me about the broomstick thing, I present photographic evidence:

10253958_511688437293_8086419315772964236_n

This is what having the best job in the world looks like.

Advertisements

Q is for Questions

So far A-P has been all about me. Now I want to hear from you!

Because polls and surveys are so much fun, why not have a go and fill out this one, just for kicks? I’m not doing any research or collecting personal data (all answers are anonymous), I’m just interested in hearing about you and your experiences with travel. Some questions are just for fun, and others I’m generally interested in hearing your thoughts on.

I’ll post the results on the Storytelling Nomad Facebook Page in the coming weeks, as well as some of the more creative answers, if you feel like getting inventive.

Silly answers welcome, but keep it clean, children.

Take the Storytelling Nomad Q is for Questions Online Survey now! (Fear not! This link will not bite or infect your computer. It will, however, open a new page)

A shaky start to 30 days and 30 nights of literary abandon

I got this dammit!

I have been waiting in high anticipation to embark on my very first NaNoWriMo, counting down the days until November 1st and jotting down potential ideas for my pantster approach to the 50,000 words in 30 days challenge.  The excitement was building, as were the nerves, and the thought of ending the month of November with 50,000 words was electrifying.

Of course it was bound to happen. You know that thing, where life falls apart right before something really important.

Rude.

As it turned out, November 1st came and passed sadly by as I wallowed in my sorrows and indulged in a mental health day involving lots of chocolate and reading and sleeping (and staring at walls), and not one word of writing goodness. Sigh.

So there I was this morning, November 2nd, 207 unread emails in my inbox, a suitcase to unpack and already behind on my daily wordcount.

But life goes on, and all that jazz, so today I read and responded to all those emails and soldiered through my first 1,712 words. JOY! My suitcase remains unpacked, but it’s at the very least placed neatly in the corner of my room. Who needs clean clothes to write anyway?

I realise I’m still behind, and obviously when such is the case it’s obligatory to procrastinate a great deal and instead write insignificant rambles on your blog rather than get on with the actual work, but hey, what can ya do?

So forwards and onwards with the task at hand. My fellow NaNo writing buddies have provided much inspiration with their impressive word counts so far; Stef at Dodging Commas has already reached 9,200 words. She is clearly a crazy person, but good to have around for motivational purposes.

How’s everyone else going after day 1?

My username is storytellingnomad, for the rest of you WriMos out there looking for writing buddies.  In the meantime, happy writing!

N.B. I pinched the accompanying image from a fellow blogger some weeks ago now but can’t for the life of me remember who it was. I sincerely thank you for the laughs though.

~storytelling nomad~

Top 10 Writing Distractions

We all have them.  Those little blighters who woo us away from the actual work, tricking us into thinking it needs to be done, like, now. Here are my top 10, in no particular order because let’s face it, procrastination has no standards.

  1. Food
    Argument: Because I need to eat to LIVE!  Right? I think that’s a pretty good argument, don’t you?
    Reality: Getting up for chocolate, or to open the fridge door and stare for five minutes only to find that it is still stocked with the same products that were there 20 minutes ago when you last looked and decided there was nothing in there you want, is not the same as eating your three meals a day so that you can, you know, live. Get in, do what you need to do, then back away. Also, if you are like me and convinced that chocolate is a plausible energy booster, keep it by your computer so that you don’t “need” to get up for it.
  2. Housework
    Argument: Because a clean house is a clean mind.
    Reality: The wardrobe that has needed cleaning out since 1982 can wait another day while you write your damn novel.
  3. Reading
    Argument: Because Stephen King said that “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”
    Reality: Reading is so very important to writing, but if you spend absolutely ALL your time reading then you won’t have any time to use all those new skills and words in your own writing. Balance your time between the two.
  4. Staring at Walls
    Argument: Because I can.
    Reality: They’re not going anywhere, look at them later.
  5. Sleeping
    Argument: Because I can’t write with my eyes closed…and I’m tired! And dreams make great fodder for stories.
    Reality: You slept the required seven hours last night and another nanna nap is just not necessary. Yes, bed looks so good right now and it’s cold and rainy outside, but hey, you can sleep when you’re a hundred and eighty and after you’ve published your 50th bestseller.
  6. DVDs
    Argument: Because eight day Buffy & Angel marathons are totally legitimate methods of studying the fantasy genre and excellent examples of brilliant writing (thanks Joss Whedon).
    Reality: Moderation is the key. Get creative inspiration and watch an episode (or four) but then get back to business.
  7. Blogging
    Argument: Because I’m totally honing my writing skills and getting constructive feedback from a wider audience.
    Reality: While you’re blogging about writing you’re novel, you’re not actually writing your novel. Do what you need to do, but don’t forget about the bigger picture.
  8. Social Media
    Argument: Because I have to connect with my readers and get my name out there.
    Reality: Twitter and Facebook and Google+ are your frenemies. They will help you get your name out there and act all nice to your face, but just when you least expect it, BAM! Those good intentions of yours to spend a mere half hour replying to tweets and promoting your blog, all of a sudden turn into the Black Hole of Evil Time-Sucking Badness. Before you know it five hours have gone by and you come to your senses only to find that you’ve been watching ninja cats and talking unicorns called Charlie on YouTube for an unspecified amount of time. How did you even get there? The Black hole of Evil Time-Sucking Badness has ways, and social media is its minion. Don’t be a sucker.
  9. Exercise
    Argument: Because keeping healthy and fit is important.
    Reality: Thinking about exercise, buying gym clothes and talking about exercise are not the same as actually doing exercise. Or so I’m told. 30 minutes a day is all it takes. Do it, then get back to the writing.
  10. Time
    Argument: He’s my arch nemesis and purposefully made it so there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything just to spite me.
    Reality: Time is an asshole. He always has and always will be an asshole. When you have two hours to finish an assignment, he thinks it’s funny to go at the speed of light just to keep you on your toes. When you’re at work with nothing to do he slows down so the minutes drag by and you end up death staring the clock. He ain’t gonna change, so your only choice is to work with what you have seeing as the bastard is not gonna budge.
What are your biggest distractions and time wasters?
~storytelling nomad~

Assholes, masterminds, and funny people in cyberspace

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 28

Last book you read

Well, I’m not going to mention the She-God of writing again, because that would just make me sound like a crazy stalker person…which I’m not, by the way.  If you want to check out the *actual* last book I read you can go to Day 24 of the book challenge, where I talked about my favourite scene in a book (watch out for the spoiler!).

Meanwhile, I’d like to mention the last book I read from today.  Fair?  I thought so.

Today, in a moment of sheer insanity and after several months of giving the WNIP (Work Not In Progress) the cold shoulder, I spent roughly half an hour writing up a plot summary with, believe it or not, actual plots (note: plural!). Hoorah! I’ve mentioned before that I had an idea for a novel but was struggling to begin without knowing where the story was heading and what the protagonist’s purpose was.  Some suggested to just start writing anyway, others insisted that some idea of the plot was necessary, others just told me to stop procrastinating and get on with it (hello again unfriendly but straightforward voice in my head!).

Try as I may, I could not face writing it without the plot to guide me and so, in frustration and disappointment at being unsuccessful in my plot making endeavors, I paralysed myself into a novel hating lull.  I didn’t want to think about it, look at it or talk about it with anyone.  Something just wasn’t working, and I didn’t know how to fix it.

Today, like a sign from the heavens, I received a well needed shove to get the motors going again (thank you She-God!).  I opened up Scrivener and started to write.  Half an hour and approximately 1000 words later I had an idea that I was excited about, with plot twists, drama and conflict! All the things I had been struggling to establish with my original idea, finally coming to life!

So what changed, you ask?  What changed, my friends, was the story.  Like, the whole thing.  About the only thing I kept was my character’s name.  I still love the original idea, but have come to the conclusion that it’s just not ready to be written yet.

So, back to the purpose of this post, that being the last book I read, or in this case, the last book I picked up.  In my plot writing frenzy, I started getting curious about how the big boys of epic fantasy built their worlds and created their creatures.  Who to look to in such a moment of need?  The master of fantasy himself, of course:  J R R Tolkien.

During my teenage years when I was obsessed with the LOTRs, my parents bought me Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia by David Day; a comprehensive guide to everything you’d ever want to know about Middle Earth, the Undying Lands, the creatures, the characters, the geography, the history.  This book is pretty spectacular.

Now, it has to be said that when I began flicking through the pages today, I started to panic.  That little voice in my head started having a go with his usual taunts; “Don’t be an idiot Katy.  You could never create anything as comprehensive as the world of Tolkien.  Look at all the research!  It’s far beyond your inferior intellect.”

That little voice is a real asshole sometimes.  As has happened many a time before, my confidence in my abilities started waning and I could almost see that small spark of creativity threatening to die a slow death in the depths of my brain.  Bummer, right?

Well, it would have been if I hadn’t come across what I can only guess was intended to be a funny look on how to write fantasy fiction.  It read:

Researching mythologies, legends, and history on your own is a complete waste of time — real authors don’t worry about that kind of thing. It’s fantasy; they just make stuff up off the tops of their heads!

Now, I realise research can be more than important when writing.  I for one can’t write without a fast internet connection for all the Googling I do while I’m ‘in the mode’.  And yet despite this, it sort of reminded me that my greatest tool is my imagination.  If I want to, I really can just ‘make it up off the top of my head’.  For some time I have been crippling myself with the idea that I simply don’t know enough to start, or continue, especially with world building.  But really I don’t need to ‘know’ anything.  I just need to create it.

Ideally, of course, I would like to have my world reflect a reality readers can relate to.  Power structures, heirarchy, economy and commerce are all things that make a world run, for better or worse.  They may not need to be identified, but the reader needs to know they’re there.

But I digress.  The point of the story is that today was a good day.  Tolkien both helped and scared me out of inertia and some funny person on the internet reminded me not to take it all so seriously, because my mind is quite capable of filling in the gaps.

As for the asshole in my head?  He’s still there, but he’s unlikely to resurface again today.

Katy 1 – Asshole 0

~storytelling nomad~

Your friendly Friday kick up the backside

Well I certainly needed this kick up the backside today.  Take heed fellow would-be-writers!

Would you have any words of advice for the would-be-writers out there?

Start today. Write. Finish what you start. Submit what you finish. Repeat. Don’t get caught up in the ‘someday I’m going to do that’ trap. Don’t blog and tell yourself that it puts you on the road to being a published fiction writer. It just makes you a blogger. Get your stories down on paper now. Don’t wait. The stories that you can and would write today are irreplaceable. The story you will write at 15 can’t wait until you are 30. It won’t be the same story. It will be gone. Don’t write a lot of stuff in other people’s worlds. You are not a cookie press pushing out dough into a pre-set shape. You’re a writer. If you don’t write your own characters and worlds now, today, no one ever will.

If you don’t write them now, your characters will shrivel up and die, unknown, unread, unmourned, and it will be ALL YOUR FAULT!

(Isn’t guilt a wonderful motivator?)

Robin Hobb in an interview at Grinding to Valhalla

~stoytelling nomad~

Facebook and Twitter’s shiny new lovechild

The result of a forbidden love

I recently had the pleasure of being invited by my blog buddy Kate, to trial the new social networking site Google+.

I have to say, when I got the invite I was fairly excited.  I don’t like to be behind with new technology and for a number of weeks previous to my royal invitation, it seemed that everyone was talking about their exclusive participation on Google+, with me behind the red carpet ropes, jumping up and down screaming “pick me! pick me!”

It wasn’t that I had heard anything particularly special  about Google+, with some people happy, others not and a decent amount of expected new technology confusion.  It was more the exclusivity of the whole thing.  By not offering it to everyone but leaking out enough information to set chins wagging, people (myself included) got curious.

Well played Google. Well played.

So, now that I’m a member of this cool new club, what do I think?

Well, at first I was confused.  It sort of looked like Facebook, but with more colours true to the Google logo style, so I felt slightly deceived when I tried desperately to communicate on someone’s wall, only to discover that walls don’t exist in Google+ land.

After much exploring, tinkering and many scratches of my head, I finally figured it out.

Facebook and Twitter defied the odds, fooled everyone into thinking they were arch enemies, grand rivals, wild adversaries!  When in fact, they were snogging in the back seat of the car, concealing their unrequited love, and stealing passionate embraces in the deep of the night.  One thing led to another and then it happened.

Facebook and Twitter had a baby, and they called it Google+.

As is customary with brand new celebrity babies, it was bestowed with a ‘unique’ name, following the likes of Sunday Rose and Suri, and hidden from the media spotlight until it could be all but guaranteed that its first public appearance would bring great profit, stardom and popularity to said VIPs.  I know you’re wondering how this is different to any other superstar couple popping out an overindulged lovechild, and I’m not sure that it is. I can say with confidence only that I’m neither overwhelmed or underwhelmed by this new celebrity rug rat.  I’m just, whelmed?

From the onset you can see that it’s all very sleek and pretty.  Like Facebook, you can update your profile information and provide more about yourself than twitter has ever consented to.  The design closely resembles Facebook, with a few tweaks and changes, such as the +1 button where Facebook instead has the like button.  But for the most part, it acts like Twitter.  You can post on your own ‘wall’ but not on others.  You can add friends to circles (the Google+ equivalent of ‘following’ people on Twitter), meaning you will follow their posts (the ones they make public or available to your circle, anyway), without their having to reciprocate the friendship.

There is a new feature called Circles, which essentially requires you to compartmentalise your friends into categories, which I’m still a little shady about.  I haven’t yet figured out if those people can see the name of the ‘Circle’ you place them in, so be wary about your labels (I’m thinking ‘enemies’, ‘boring’ or ‘losers’ are probably not appropriate).   Truth be told, I still don’t know much at all about the ins and outs of the Circles yet, unsure what happens when you have friends in more than one category and what exactly their purpose is, but I think it comes down to your posts and being able to easily manage what groups, or Circles, can see each of them.

As with any newborn, Google+ is experiencing the usual teething problems as he tries to make his mark on the world, but I haven’t found it too painful to deal with yet.

To be honest, I’m not sure whether Google+ is heading for the bright lights of fame and fortune that it’s famous parents have been blessed with.  I love how clean it is, the simplicity, but as with anything, without the people there really isn’t much to look at.  Currently, I have five lonely Google+ buds, which makes for a pretty slow and dreary post feed as we all walk around aimlessly in circles, bumping into walls and occasionally each other, trying to figure it all out.  There is a distinct echo in the room.

There are a few other features, including the new group video chat ‘hangouts’, which I haven’t yet had the chance to experience, probably due to the aforementioned unremarkable number of Google+ buddies, but if you would like to know more about it, and other various features of Google+, you should definitely check out this very entertaining post at terribleminds.  Here is an excerpt:

I’m also afraid that if I somehow turn on my webcam, the first thing I’m going to see is someone masturbating at me. Which is why I am prepared instead to masturbate at somebody. Fight fire with fire. Fight Onanism with Onanism. I have a very clear “first strike” policy on webcam jerkoffery. Once again, the need for “Circle Jerk” to enter the Goo-Plus parlance is dire. Dire.

Continue reading here

Meanwhile, I’m feeling optimistic enough to stick it out for the time being, although I’m mildly aware that having three platforms to post on is somewhat absurd, and that somewhere along the line, something will have to give.

N.B.  I think it should be noted that I’m resolved on one thing further; at the slightest whiff of a Farmville, Zombieland, Vampire eating, sheep throwing, masterchef making, pirate ninja war battling piece of spam making game, I can safely say that I will lose all respect for this royal lovechild.  I’m hoping his parents will have the decency to teach him the error of their ways and save us all the spammy theatrics.

~storytelling nomad~

What brings you here, dearest bloggers?

I came across this great blog post yesterday, discussing the bizarre and wonderful search terms that had led readers to that particular blog.  Needless to say, it was not long before I was investigating the search engine referrals on my own blog and having a good old giggle and raising a few eyebrows at the search terms that were bringing people to storytelling nomad.

So, what brings you here, dearest bloggers?  Apparently Google logos are as interesting to you as they are to me, because that search comes in at number one, generating a number of hits every day.  Wallpaper background is another top hit, although I think I only mentioned it once and I don’t think I was very interesting about it.  Sorry about that.  A few people have actually searched for storytelling nomad which just brings a smile to my face.  I love you, anonymous internet fans!

But what have been some of the more peculiar searches.  Here I list the top 10, in no particular order:

  1. what does it take to make people go on quotes
    You would think this is pretty self explanatory.  A good quote makes people go on quotes.  Also, there are none on my blog so I’m sorry to have disappointed you.
  2. happy cowgirl
    I hope you, erm, found what you were looking for Woody.
  3. very old positive lady; my nanna; creepy old women; attractive old lady photo
    There are soooo many search terms about old women, presumably leading to my inner nanna post.  I picked out a few of the best.  Firstly, I’m glad that someone searched for a ‘positive’ old lady, as opposed to the negative, grouchy ones that so often plague us?  No, I’m pretty sure your nanna won’t turn up if you Google ‘my nanna’.  Creepy old women…plural?? And an attractive old lady photo.  Look mister, you need to get out more.  Seriously.
  4. if you came to 2 doors ,one is good other is bad and they look the same what question will you ask
    I would ask which one would lead you to better grammar and punctuation.  Or, depending on your preference towards good or evil, you could just ask which one is, you know, good or evil? Or for better signage?  Come on man, you Googled this?
  5. do u love me wallpaper
    No, wallpaper doesn’t love you.  Also, wallpaper is inanimate and incapable of love.
  6. ‘inception’ was masterpiece
    *Giggles*.  This person was probably unimpressed with my stance on this commonly thrown around statement.  Find out more here. #itreallywasnt
  7. spiritually connected to animals
    I’m sure you are, no really.
  8. hell of my own making text
    Please don’t hurt me.
  9. if i am a tree in autumn
    Then I am the sky in summer. Hippie love.
  10. if you tell the truth you don’t need a good memory
    I think you might be on to something here…  Those of us with bad memories, there is hope for us yet!

Okay, so your turn.  What’s the best/craziest/creepiest/weirdest most unrelated term that someone has searched for to get to your blog?

~storytelling nomad~

Busy being a nerd

Gone Fishing.  Not really.  But had I an office door of some description, that is the sign I’d have liked to have had hanging off it, just because that’s what all the cool kids seem to do these days, you know?

But I digress.

I have been absent from the blogosphere my pretties.  How many times have I set my eyes upon those blogs apologising for their absence, listing their feeble reasons for their lack of posts, cowering on their knees, praying for mercy as they beg forgiveness? Many a time have I witnessed such a sad state of affairs and scoffed at their insolence.  “Shame on you!” I have shouted with a lofty arrogance!  And yet today, my friends, followers, minions…today I yield myself as one of those sad, unworthy bloggers.  OH THE SHAME!

Before I ask of you your compassion, your mercy, your humanity, I must first follow suit and list three reasons for my unexpected leave:

  1. Work – At the snow.  You all knew this one, and frankly, with no electricity or reception I had little choice while this was happening.  Therefore, I refuse to apologise for this you evil fiends!
  2. Supanova – Ohhhh this is where it gets interesting and I start to weep with joy at the memory of my recent trip to Sydney where I joined my fellow nerds at the annual fantasy/sci fi convention.  More about this below.
  3. The Plague – Well that’s what it feels like okay?! Apparently it’s just ye ol influenza, but if the black death gets me don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Also, it has rendered me incapable of blogging, eating chocolate, being anything other than horizontal, and has brought on a severe need of Buffy reruns (potentially also due to aforementioned Supanova trip.  Unconfirmed).

So, as you can see, the past week and a half has had moments of pleasure and pain, joy and sadness, heaven and hell…but mostly, just a lot of no blogging.  Please accept my sincerest apologies.  Are we done?  Good.  Because now I demand you share in all I have to tell you about the nerd fest that was Supanova.  If you are at all confused about this awesome event, I suggest you mosy on over to their website www.supanova.com.au and educate yourself before someone discovers your nerdy ignorance.

But before I go on, I cannot contain it any longer.  I met, talked to, and touched with my bare hands two amazing celebrities.  James Marsters aka Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (SQUEEEEEEEAAALLL!), and Tom Felton aka Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies, who, without the beach blonde hair that so befits some men/vampires – cough Spike cough – is quite the hotty.

My world is complete!

Oh James, you naughty boy!

Moving along.  It was a bit touch and go there for a while with that damn Chilean ash cloud that continues to stuff around domestic and international flights here in Aus.  Come on Chileans, can’t you keep your volcanoes under control like the rest of us?  As it turns out, last Thursday I was on one of the first flights allowed out of Tassie after a week of flight troubles…phew.  Made it to Sydney and got ready for the 3 day Supanova bonanza.

Adz and I having a few train troubles

I went with my super awesome friend Adz, who is a big nerd also.  After one train hiccup (see right), we made it to the showgrounds where the event began on Friday night.  We spent 2 hours standing in line to purchase our photo and autograph tickets for the Sat and Sun, knowing from previous experiences that this line would get much, much longer over the weekend.

On the Saturday and Sunday we spent our time meeting the celebs (Cue more SQUEALING!), scouring the merchandise stalls and staring in amazement at the as always high standard of cosplayers.  For those of you unfamiliar with cosplay, the faithful wiki dictionary defines it as:

The practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, esp. one from the Japanese genres of manga or anime.

Captain Jack Sparrow Cosplay

In other words, absolute awesomeness.  There were characters from Star Wars, Firefly, The Disney Movies, Superman, Pirates of the Caribbean, Iron Man and so many I didn’t recognise that even I at times felt an unworthy nerd…and that happens rarely.  One of my faves was a certain Captain Jack Sparrow, who looked the spitting image of Johnny Depp.  Sensational.

On the Saturday evening we had the pleasure of watching James Marsters in concert.  Yes ladies, the man can sing! My best friends Mel and Aly joined us, and we couldn’t help but start sighing and giggling every time he looked our way with a cheeky smile.  What a hunny.

On the Sunday evening, Adz and I had the added pleasure of attending a small after party with James and Gareth David Lloyd from Torchwood.  I’ve never watched Torchwood, so can safely say I know zip about the show, its characters and actors.  And yet, as eight of us sat at a table with this actor, everyone seemed relatively star struck.  Except me of course.  I was saving that for James, and well, like I said, I didn’t really know who Gareth was.  Soooo I tried to make conversation, and of course I put my foot in it when I asked “Where in England are you from”….to the WELSHMAN.  Okay okay, so I know being English and all I’m supposed to know this stuff, but I don’t.  It all sounds pommy to me! Thankfully he was most gracious about it, and after receiving many daggers from the Torchwood lovers around the table we managed to steer conversation back to safe topics such as the weather and food.  Boring!

And James, well James was just James.  Buffy is my all time favourite show so it was an amazing experience to meet and talk with him.  He is a big charmer and so interesting, and has the same laugh as Spike…by which I suppose I mean Spike has the same laugh as James? Regardless…I don’t really know how to describe the experience in words.  It was amazing, and yet also strange.  I can see how some fans could get ‘overzealous’ with their admiration (in fact, I think there was one potential stalker at our table), but even so, I find that meeting these ‘celebrities’ further strengthens the reality that differentiates the characters from their performers.  I love Spike and his character, and I ‘know’ him pretty well.  James was awesome and I could see bits of Spike in him, but he isn’t Spike.  Plus, he doesn’t have an English accent…I know, right!?  The actors were interesting, kind and gracious with us, but at the end of the day, this is their job, and meeting us is part of how they market themselves.  It was a wonderful experience, as it always is at these events, but it again reminded me how we can enjoy the shows and the characters in them, but meeting the actors isn’t meeting the characters, because sadly, they don’t exist…sob!

In any case, the night ended on an unexpected note with a lovely girl we met, Susannah, reading my Tarot cards for me after the celebs had left.  It was uncannily accurate!  I have always been interested in this sort of ‘supernatural’ thing; tarot cards and clairvoyants etc, but have never considered it seriously enough to actually try out, my inner sceptic telling me not waste my money on what might be a load of crap.  I’d love to do it again though because it really was amazing what she told me of my past, present and future.  She had me when she pulled out the card with the words: ‘THE HERMIT’.  She was in my head I tell you!

The festivities ended with me, the plague, and a terrifying few hours as the Chilean ash cloud threatened my return flight home.  Thankfully I was on one of the last flights out of Sydney before they went into shut down mode again.  Fate anyone?

Well, I think this account of my absence is long enough for now.  I shall leave you with some photographic evidence of me and my recent squeeze, James.  Here’s to the next post not taking as long as this one.  Of course, if I die of the plague then I can only apologise further and ask that you say kind, but funny things about me when I’m gone.

Me and Spike (My boyfriend, obviously)

~storytelling nomad~

Have you been tagged?

The lovely Angela Wallace has just tagged me on her blog in what’s called a meme.  As far as I can gather, it’s like a chain letter for bloggers.  Here we go…

Do you think you’re hot? I have a pretty attractive brain…I can’t prove it to you, but trust me, it’s smokin’.

Upload a picture or wallpaper that you’re using at the moment. I switch between dreamy scenery and fantasy scenes for my desktop wallpaper.

When was the last time you ate chicken meat? Yesterday…home made chicken soup nom nom

What were you thinking as you were doing this? That somebody probably should’ve thought up a better question than “when was the last time you ate chicken meat”.  In fact, I’m going to ask TWO new questions to make up for this travesty:

If you had to make a choice between never being able to read again, or never being able to write again, which would you choose? I think I’d have to go with never writing again.  I found a loophole you see…If I could read and still find inspiration to create stories…then I could just tell them and get someone else to write them.  I’m pretty clever like that.

If you could domesticate any wild animal, what would it be? A lion.  Because they’re like giant dogs, but cats.  If you haven’t heard of Christian the Lion watch this video:

Do you have nicknames? What are they? Not really. Can’t really do much with Katy.  I’ve had someone call me Kitty Kat Katy, while others just don’t understand the whole Katy with a ‘y’ thing as it’s not a common spelling in Australia, so they call me Kathy – no I didn’t forget how to spell my name douchebag, there’s no ‘h’ there for a reason!  One friend calls me Kat-why to emphasise the ‘odd’ spelling of my name.

Tag 8 blogging friends…

  1. Stef
  2. Angela
  3. Kate
  4. Danielle
  5. Charlotte
  6. Gabriellan
  7. Gajjex
  8. Andrew G. Cooper

Who’s listed as No. 1? Stef.  Our inner nannas have proclaimed us kindred spirits!  She also has a great blog over at dodging commas with some excellent writing tips amongst other great reads.

Say something about No. 5. I enjoy reading Charlotte’s posts, particularly what she had to say about females in fantasy.

How did you get to know No. 3? My NaNoWriMo writing buddy! We ‘met’ blogging through WordPress and we’ll be keeping each other motivated when we participate in NaNoWrMo this year.

How about No. 4. Again, through blogging.  Danielle is a 23 year old from Ireland and I love her accent. I’ve never actually heard it, but I love all Irish accents.

Leave a message for No. 6. Very impressed with the quality of your writing at such a young age.

Leave a lovey dovey message for No. 2. Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m sending blog love, right back at you.

Do No. 7 and No. 8 have any similarities? They are both very encouraging and supportive of my blog, and both have impressive blogs of their own.  They are also both male, which I think is worth mentioning, for no other reason than this list is 75% female.

20 ways in which I channel my inner nanna

This is an accurate representation of my inner nanna

I may be in my mid 20s but I’m under the firm belief that deep down I’m channelling my inner nanna.  These are the top 20 reasons why:

  1. Nanna naps – My friends will attest to this one.  If I don’t get at least a solid 7 hours of decent sleep then I will need a nanna nap.  If I don’t get my nanna nap then I usually go very quiet and wear a sour look on my face.  It’s most unbecoming.
  2. Knitting and lawn bowls – Both sound like very reasonable extra curricular activities worth pursuing.
  3. I have many senior moments – Oft mistaken for ‘blonde’ moments.
  4. I would rather spend a night at the theatre than a night at the pub – I’m just cultured that way, you know?
  5. My eyesight – Is pretty bad.
  6. I have an unreasonable fondness for cardigans – [intentionally left blank]
  7. I don’t do fast mode – I don’t exactly dawdle, but I won’t run to the crossing to catch the flashing green man.  Honestly, I don’t think the red man gets enough credit.
  8. I look down on those who use too many acronyms when texting – Shakespeare wouldn’t approve either.
  9. I like receiving actual letters by actual mail – Preferably with a wax seal.
  10. Handwriting – I appreciate good penmanship.  This stems from my Primary School days when I spent much time and effort working towards getting my pen license and refining my cursive.  It was an exciting time in my life.
  11. My memory – My long term memory, heck my short term memory, is pretty unreliable.
  12. I have friends with seniors cards – They’re my entourage, my possy, my crew…my kindred spirits!
  13. I refer to close friends as kindred spirits – see above.
  14. I get nostalgic – A lot.
  15. My vocabulary – I regularly say things like “good grief!” “Oh dear!” and “knickers”
  16. I enjoy classical music – Bach, Tchaikovsky, Mozart.  They knew their shit.
  17. Fashion – I would like to see a return of the top hat.  And the dresses from Pride and Prejudice, the BBC version, naturally.  In fact, send me back in time to Jane Austen’s day and surround me by soldiers in uniform, men in top hats and lots of ladylike activities such as reading and knitting (see point #2) and I will be most content.
  18. Comfort – I take my pillow EVERYWHERE.  This is sometimes awkward and leads to concerned stares, but I’m the one having the last laugh after a terrific night’s sleep.
  19. The Queen – I think she’s pretty hip.
  20. Technology – I have a pretty clued-on inner nanna when it comes to technology, but she comes on quite aggressive when it comes to remote controls.  There are simply far too many buttons on that thing.  See here for further evidence of abuse against the elderly via the remote control.

On non-existent plots and an ill-fated writing goal

Day 8 of National Young Writers’ Month and I thought one week in is as good as any for an update.  My 3 goals, as detailed in my earlier post, Go Go Gadget, Write!, were to: Blog every day, join a writers’ group and outline the plot for my novel in preparation for this year’s NaNoWriMo.  Blogging every day: Check.  Join a writers’ group: First meeting tonight – Check.  Outline plot: Big fat FAIL.  I’m struggling something chronic with this goal, and although I’ve made ‘progress’, in a sense, it’s just not turning out how I’d like, which is ultimately discouraging and therefore counter-productive.

My problem is this.  I have an idea.  I think it’s a pretty good idea. I have my character, a special ‘ability’ and a world to create around her.  But I have no plot.  No rising action.  No climax.  No falling action.  No conflict.  I can see my character in this world and the things around her, I know she’s special, but I don’t know what she’s fighting for.  Is this a sign I should give up now? Let it go? Start afresh with something new?

I understand the conventions of a good fantasy – characters going from ordinary to extraordinary, good vs evil, the anti hero, destinies, prophecies, isolation.  And the fantasies I love most are the ones with multi layered plots, a universal theme, an underlying task to achieve as well as smaller tasks to carry the protagonist through, individual character agendas, secrets and surprises.  I love endings, god how I love good endings.  So, naturally, this is what I want my book to read like too.   Did J.K. Rowling, she who ties everything together superbly over a massive seven books, did she work out these things before she began writing or just start with a boy finding out he’s a wizard, and work out the rest as she went?

Perhaps I could just start by writing my character in a scene and see where she takes me.  Or do I need to have some resemblance of the nitty gritty figured out before I dive in?  Do I need to know the evil, need to know my Voldemort before I can start writing?  I’ve read that people will often scrap a large majority of their drafts before they get to the final masterpiece.  Is this the reason why? Because they are fleshing out the story as they go and don’t really know where it will end up when they begin?

These are the questions I ask myself today.  Perhaps they are also questions that I will ask at the writers’ group tonight.  In the meantime, I’m going to sit here and panic, possibly bang my head against the wall a few times, and hope that my good idea will not be stuck inside my head forever without the plot to let it shine.

~storytelling nomad~

Scrivener – The Writer’s Tool

So in a further attempt to move the novel along, or more accurately, get it started, I purchased the well reviewed Scrivener program today.  I had heard many good things and after watching a few video tutorials on the Scrivener website and seeing some of the nifty things I could do with it, I was sold.  I was also pleasantly surprised at the $AUD38.04 education price tag … which for any program, not to mention one so highly regarded, is pretty amazing.

Check out the video below to see all the basic fun things Scrivener does.  Obviously I’ve had only a little time to play with it yet, but I especially like the split screen editing tool, being able to have your research all in one program i.e. not having to click on multiple browsers/windows to access all your information, and the ability to create ebooks (check out that video tutorial here), which seems very cool to me.

As a writer’s organisational tool, this program seems invaluable.  I was only today reading an interesting blog discussing the different organisational and methodical approaches writers use when they are drafting their stories, whether it be freestyle or intense plotting.  Either way, I figure it would be more a help than a hindrance with an 80,000+ word novel to have a program that helps organise, streamline and keep everything neatly together.

Most importantly, however, is that so far it’s all been very simple to pick up and use.  There’s nothing worse than a program that offers to clean the car, do the washing and write your story for you, only to discover that the damn thing is so hard to operate that any person with an ordinary sized brain never gets to utilise any of those functions.  Scrivener doesn’t seem at all pretentious in that way, which is good news to my cerebrum.

~storytelling nomad~

“Blackout” writing exercise

This exercise is loads of fun.  As part of National Young Writers’ Month, an email was sent around today to those signed up, encouraging us to get in the writer’s headspace and check out the Friday Writing Workshop: Blackouts! on their blog.  The gist is this:

All you need is a writing device (sharpies work pretty well) and a newspaper, book or something along those lines. Then start circling words or letters you want and crossing out the ones you don’t to make something new and, hopefully, awesome.

Here’s my first attempt, although I’m sure there are opportunities out there to do much, much better – and I know you’re a creative crowd worthy of the task! Anyone care to share their Blackouts?

~storytelling nomad~

I talk to animals

Jack not eating my face off

I talk to animals.  Maybe I should be more specific.  You see, I don’t go around to any old worm, ant or cockroach asking them how their day is going.  No, I’m much more selective with my Doctor Dolittle tendencies.  My dog, Jack, for example.  <—-That’s him, over there to the left. The one with the crazyman eyes looking like he’s about to eat my face off (It’s not his best angle).  Yep, he’s worthy of the kind of Homo sapien to beast exchange I might participate in.  And in case you were wondering, yes, he does on occasion talk back.

You see, I’m that person who walks into a pet store and believes that every cute, little non-toilet-trained ball of fur is looking at me, and only me, begging to be taken home.  I’m fairly sure I was the nightmare child that begged and begged for a puppy, a kitten or a hamster.  One time I believe I actually hid my auntie’s new puppy down my jacket and hid in the back seat of the car for a reasonable amount of time thinking my ploy a great success.  Which, of course, it wasn’t.  Ahh, my days as a 7 year old dog snatcher now long passed, and yet I still have not grown out of my animal talking ways.

Jack and I have some good ol’ yarns.  He usually monopolises the conversation, telling me how much he needs a scratch behind the ears, shouting at me for not paying him enough attention for the last hour, telling me how happy he is to see me in the morning after 7 or 8 hours of no play.  Yep, Jack and I, we are quite the intellectual conversationalists.

Anyway, there is a point to this animal talking admission.  I realise that together with my post about talking trees you may be starting to wonder if I’m actually a bit of a loony, escaped from the crazy house, slightly ‘unhinged’. Yes?  Well, rest assured I’m about to defend my stark raving madness.  The fantasy fiction buff that I am, I’ve always noticed how many writers in this genre incorporate some affinity for animals in their stories.  Whether it be an ability to understand and talk to animals, or where the animals are spiritually connected to their human protagonists, or simply conveying a love and caring for animals as pets or companions.

I know that one prevalent convention of the fantasy genre is that the main character is often isolated or cut off from society in some way.  Harry Potter had his friends but they couldn’t always be with him or go through the trials he undertook.  And so there was his owl, Hedwig, to keep him company.  In the Farseer Trilogy series that I’m reading at the moment (see my previous post) some people have the ability to talk and bond to animals.  The main character, Fitz, is one of these people, and again, is in many ways detached from society.  His animal bonds offer him the companionship and friendship that he cannot find in the human company he keeps.  In Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials every human has a daemon, which is essentially a person’s soul in the shape of an animal.  Isobelle Carmody is another animal lover, advocating, in her Obernewtyn Chonicles, for animals in such a way that a horse must agree and be willing to carry a rider.  Where animals are not owned or considered pets, but exist as equals amongst humans.

I’m sure there are many more examples, but I wonder at this manifestation of animal equality and the many stories whereby the humans have the ability to speak to animals.  Does it stem from some guilt at the maltreatment of animals over the centuries? Or is it some inner, subconscious response to a desire to realise such a possibility?  Perhaps I’m just looking to substantiate my predisposition to talking to animals.  Who knows?  What I do hope, is that in the very least it results in an awareness of animals – not so much as to offer them a seat at the dining table perhaps, but as living things just as worthy of the respect and decency that we expect for ourselves.

Jack says it’s time to play.  The beast has spoken.

~storytelling nomad~

My fictitious confrontation in hell

Today I received a text from a good friend which read as follows: Random Question for the Day – If you’re in hell and someone pisses you off, where do you tell them to go? My first reaction, was oh sh*t, what have I done? Followed quickly by the recollection of her telling me recently that she had begun each day asking people a random question, with the simple hope of being entertained by creative responses due to the nature of the questions.  So, in the hope of providing maximum entertainment to her well thought out question, I started thinking about where I would tell my arch nemesis to go if we were both in hell together.

Firstly, I tried to picture the subject of my planned fictitious torment. My mind drew a blank. I’m lucky enough to say that there’s no one I would wish anything truly evil on, having always lived by the philosophy that if someone is a negative influence on your life, then remove them.  Not in the hire an assassin/late night alleyway/exchange of paper bags filled with money kind of way.  Just, you know, distance yourself from them before they can do any real damage.  Result: sunshine and rainbows!

So, that was the unfortunate beginning to my life as a misery inflicting tormenter.  In an endeavour to create an evil fiend worthy of such disdain, I tried to imagine why said fiend would be in hell in the first place.  What gets you to hell these days? I’m guessing the ol’ lying, cheating, stealing, not being good to thy neighbour rules still apply in this century, yes? So far, I think I have just sent every interesting person on Earth to hell.  Doesn’t seem so bad.  Okay, so maybe the puppy haters will narrow it down a bit.  Yeah, that’s more like it, you monsters! What about a puppy hating, brussel sprout eating (I don’t care how good they are for you), planet polluting, illiterate half wit? Voila, one evil fiend ready to go.

So here we are, me and my evil fiend, hanging out in hell, and he happens to piss me off…he is evil after all.  I can’t say “go to hell”, for obvious reasons, which brings me back to the primary purpose of this rambling: what contemptible, but witty, response do I give him?  Now, I’ve thought about this a great deal since receiving that text earlier today, and I’ve come to the conclusion that no words in this reality could probably do the puppy hating, brussel sprout eating (again, I don’t care how good they are for you), planet polluting, illiterate half wit any real justice or the harm that he deserves.  Maybe I’m just too nice to think up an appropriate quip to measure up to his dark demonic ways.  Maybe I need to read some more in the way of crime and horror stories.  Maybe I am just smart enough to realise that being a jerk was probably what got him there in the first place, and in assuming hell is a pretty big place with all the sinners up here, I could probably stick with my current passive aggressive tendencies and just find some other hot flaming corner to hang out in.

Or…

I could impale him with a hot burning rod of fire screaming “die, jerk, die!” and see what he has to say about that?  I didn’t, after all, have to account for my own presence in hell…

~storytelling nomad~

“F*ck you Autumn!”

"f*ck you Autumn!"

I’m pretty sure, to the point of being certain, that this tree is saying “F*ck you Autumn”.  Not that I often go around assuming the private conversations or filthy language of inanimate objects, but, well, this one really seemed to be trying to say something.  While the other trees are fighting Autumn with their still lush greens, and others embracing it with their warm reds and golds, this one right here, this one is not having any of it.  I believe it transpired as follows:

***

Mr. Tree: What’s this?  I seem to be changing colour.  My leaves are drying up and I’m getting quite the draft up my lower trunk.

Fellow Tree: But of course!  The sunny season is withdrawing and we now prepare for the big white. Welcome to what the tiny two leggers call Autumn! It seems you are an early bloomer Mr. Tree.

Mr. Tree: It gets worse?!

Fellow Tree: Oh yes, but look how handsome you are.  You wouldn’t happen to be free for a sway in the breeze later would you?

Mr. Tree: Huh? Look, I’m really freaking out about this big white, slash, Autumn business you’ve just dumped on me.  What use am I like this?! How can I shade the tiny two leggers, or house the little flying animals that sing, or filter the air? This is really inconvenient you know.

Fellow Tree: Just go with it Mr. Tree.  You look hot.

Mr. Tree.  I’m not hot.  I’m bloody cold, and now you’re telling me it’s going to get worse.  Well, F*ck you Autumn.  I’m not interested in any of this in between nonsense.  I want to be at my best dammit! [Cue shedding of leaves]

Fellow Tree: *gasp* But Mr. Tree! What have you without your looks?!

Mr. Tree: My dignity!

***

I sympathise with Mr. Tree, I really do.  I often feel that if I can’t be my best, show my worth and exhibit my finest leaves, then well, I’d rather not show anything at all.  I think this often makes me try harder, and attempt to better myself and my writing, because I only want to be my best.  But what I often forget, like Mr. Tree, is that sometimes, even when you’re not at the top of your game, someone out there like Fellow Tree, might appreciate it and even on occasion like it more for what it is.  So, even though I respect Mr. Tree for wanting to be his best, for defending his dignity, I do believe it’s just as important to embrace the ‘flaws’, the bits in between greatness and defeat. After all, someone out there might just love you for it.

N.B. No trees were harmed in the making of this story.

~storytelling nomad~