Wednesday, July 20, 2011


It's kind of a given. If you write, you will be rejected. Over and over. I think a key part of writing life is to develop some kind of terminator-like quality in yourself so you never stop going, despite these obstacles. Unless you get crushed flat in a hydraulic press.

Naturally, there will be moments where the self pity is all-consuming and your friends have to nod along with you and say supportive things about how 'your book is very good'. and 'yes I know this sucks but it's the first place you've sent it, so maybe giving up is not the best plan?' All of this of course boils down to one simple fact: no Text prize for me, or even a shortlisting for it. Meh. It's pathetic when you get thrown by things like this, even if you are only in Pathetic Mode for a day of 30 Rock watching and chocolate consuming. If you believe you've done all you can for the work you've written, and re-written and edited and workshopped and had several people read and then re-edited again and then given it another edit for the hell of it. Why, then it's literary agent time.
In the small likelihood that people are a) reading or b) interested, here are some links.
Australian Literary Agents Association - lists several agents, with information on how to submit to them, the particular interests of each agent etc.
Justine Larbalestier's blog post about getting an agent - a nice reality check, and it's great to read this kind of thing by someone who's been there.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Collaborative writing

I can't be bothered writing about being unemployed or Borders being dead, because it's not really much fun. I'd rather talk to the people concerned than blog about it.

I have also avoided writing about a project I'm part of, mainly because I've been wrapping my head around it. I am working on a collaborative novel with a few other Melbourne writers. We are each writing chapters and developing characters, which will be interconnected and move together with a larger plot arc we all share. The process of it has been so different from how I've usually worked, that is has taken some getting used to. But it made me curious about the ins and outs and potential failures collaborative writing can bring. The plus sides are that there are so many more minds to draw from for creative ideas and directions, and as such the content can power along so much quicker with all those people working on it. The downsides are that all of the problems you face as a solo novelist are multiplied by the amount of people working on it. Writing something new, it can often be hard to both write blindly and also steer it into a certain direction. There is a lot of tentative feeling around and playing with what works, and those bits and pieces eventually become interconnected plot strands and a character revealing itself to an audience chapter by chapter. Adding another person to it, you have to be in sync with what they are doing. But if all of you are in that tentative, new stage of growing the story it can come out garbled or not quite connect. It can potentially be more work, especially if you are novices.

If sound like I am criticising it a lot, it's just because I am trying to process how it works and doesn't work as a way of creating new writing. I'd like to work collaboratively in the future, because a lot of professional writing can happen in groups - for example television scriptwriting.

In my travels - well, when I googled 'collaborative novels' - I found a lot of sites dedicated to it. Many, like Novelet and Storymash look like hideous monstrosities from the late 90's. Protagonize is pretty active, but when I had a poke around it felt like a less crazy version of (shudder). So I guess the best way is to learn by doing. And now I've gone full circle. The end.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Waiting for the Titanic to sink.

So, the place I work is closing in a week. I'd like to say that's the reason I have been bad at blogging, but sometimes you don't have things to say. So why blather on about nothing?

Those of us who work at Borders have a 'social media policy'. Which means we are not allowed to blog, tweet or facebook update about the goings on under administration. To me, it's a sad and hilarious policy. It's going down like Titanic guys. If I write about working during the book apocalypse, that's not going to cause the apocalypse. You can't out-apocalypse the apocalypse.

Maybe I haven't written here because this crap is sucking up my poor fragile mind, and when you think you can't be candid about something, it kind of shrivels up that part inside of you that wants to communicate. Don't get me wrong, I am writing fiction. But slowly. The pathetic thing is that most of the conversations I have these days will somehow always end up being about Borders. I am like one of those old people who can't stop talking about their menopausal leakings or prostate. Seriously, I am the crabbiest, most annoying person to be around right now, as I whinge about how shitty and depressing things are in Clearance Land. And though the staff rock like hell, it is depressing. You're seeing the former means of your financial independence being taken apart and sold piece by piece. You are answering stupid, inane questions. The same ones. Over and over like some kind of End Times robot.
1: Oh! Are you closing? But I thought you were staying open?
2. Do you have a new job yet?
3. Do you know what they're going to put in here? (means the giant emptying gulf of shop space being left behind like the soul-shattering void that once was my employment).
4. Do you have (name of book that we haven't had in six months/a month/ever)
5. I am so sad about this!!! (sadness that I am sure is genuine but I am tired of acting out these scenarios of sad with people I don't know.)

Repeat, with variations, until insane.

Though the other day I found out that Readers Feast was closing too, and the feelings of book-related grief were such that I felt like I had a window into the sadness of the customers who talk to me. And I know they probably do mean well.

Mostly, I am sick to death of talking about it, sick of going around in circles like a fish in a tank that will never be cleaned again. Tidying up the few things that are left. Making everything-must-go announcements. I will miss my friends there like crazy, but I am not going to lose them. I think the place I worked is no longer there. I am so ready for it to close. Then maybe my next update wont be another long pathetic retail whinge.

In other news, I am reading 'The Valley of Horses' by Jean Auel. And 'Beauty Queens' by Libba Bray. Both are very good.