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There are a few updates I need to do but I’ll start with this one.

18 months ago Jodi Cleghorn pitched an idea for several writers to “reply” to her collection of vignettes, titled No Need to Reply. I put my hand up to write a response. The project stalled for quite some time, partly because Jodi had asked me to do the cover art, and I got completely overwhelmed with university work and just couldn’t do it. When I tried to create some art to what she had in mind it really didn’t work that well… so I asked if I could try doing it a bit differently.

Jodi let me have free rein creatively and I painted a map of the heart. She loved it, thankfully, and having a cover kicked things back into gear. I’m so happy she was patient enough to wait, and I’m super excited to have a cover art credit, finally!

THiaECcover

Here be heartache…

The chapbook is scheduled for release at the end of May. You can still read the original chapbook, No Need to Reply. I’ll post more details when The Heart is an Echo Chamber is released.

Contact 2016

I was hoping I’d be able to get back into study mode easily after the long weekend but seems not. So I shall write out my impressions of the weekend first and hopefully that will help me re-assimilate into everyday life.

Contact! I suck, because I barely took any photos. I think my anxiety got in the way there, and I also know I’m not in too many photos either. So sorry for the text-heavy post.

The main thing I got out of Contact is that I still love to write and I miss having the time-space to write and be writerly and all. I still have lots to say about writing (I really should have been on some panels, oops) and lots to learn. And I still have lots of stories to tell. This weekend has shown me that sacrificing my artistic pursuits so I can do well at uni is not really the answer to my crammed schedule. I don’t want to finish uni and be so out of the habit of writing and making art that I let go of it completely. So I need to find some way to fit it in, even though my brain melts down by the end of semester.

The other thing I learned is that I need to just go up and introduce myself to people more. There are so many people that I should have met by now, that I just hadn’t because I was afraid to put myself forward. I had some absolutely lovely, funny, fantastic and thoughtful conversations with people I wanted to meet and did, and people I wasn’t expecting to meet and did. I know I can’t just turn myself into an extravert but I can fake it pretty well and also writers are really good at knowing that people get peopled out so it was ok to say “yeah running out of social steam” because I wasn’t the only one!

There were things I thought would happen that didn’t, and things I didn’t expect that happened. It was a little hard having so many friends on the committee and volunteering, because I missed hanging out with them, but the benefit was it forced me to get out of my comfort zone and socialise with people I didn’t know as well.

My favourite panels were the Australian Gothic panel, Cosplay, and Access All Channels. Every panel I went to was entertaining and/or informative, those ones just stood out for me for different reasons. Dressing up for the banquet after the cosplay panel was excellent fun😉. I do wish more people had dressed up though!

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Attentive plant-human hybrid

 

I got some excellent loot from the trader’s room and have some new places to check out for birthday gifts now.

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Twas a fabulous long weekend.

This is what I came home to.

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Silly selfies

The end.

Audio poem: “White Pill”

Usually when I compose an audio poem I use the poem itself as the backbone and layer the musical sounds to support it. With this poem I wanted to layer sounds with my voice, and use a melodic line on the flute as a counterpoint to the poem. A little experimental and a very different sound to my other poems. I decided to use “Ave Maria” by Franz Schubert as the melody, because it’s recognisable and evokes a certain mood.

With thanks again to Lloyd for production work.

Words by me, flute performance by me, score by Franz Schubert.

Flyhorse

A little bit of painting fun has been had. I was inspired to paint the mushrooms by a photo posted by a fungus photographer on Facebook and then created little flyhorse to go with them. The painting is acrylic on canvas, only 5″ x 7″, and obviously I had a play in Photoshop.

I’ve been roughly composing the music for this in my head for about a week now (after my first attempt at recording lead to some hilarious background crashes, yells and wails from the 4yr old). I got some time alone today to lay down the tracks and experiment with different sounds.

Credits:

This poem was originally published at Apex magazine, and was inspired by Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts.

Words, flute, Tibetan bowl, and thunder drum by me, using Loopy and Garageband.

Lloyd helped me with editing the final track in Logic.

Image credit: pixabay

Intentions for 2016

I’m not going to repeat the mistake of writing a ridiculous list of goals for this year. I tend to get a bit carried away, and in previous (non-university) years my goals tended to be pretty attainable. Now I have more of an idea of how uni affects my life I can be more realistic.

So, to my university goals:

  • Complete 6 subjects, to the best of my ability
  • Do at least half of my fieldwork
  • Apply for mentor program

Creative goals:

  • Submit EOI for QPF (and if accepted, perform at QPF in August)
  • Record more audio poems
  • Finish art poem (“Crow Speaks”)
  • Edit “The Forgotten Children of Zurat”
  • Sell 2 stories

Self goals:

  • Keep up with the rockclimbing
  • Keep running
  • Attend Contact
  • Embrace fun

Family goals:

  • Find therapists for Goo boy
  • Find a high school for Eldest and a primary school for Goo boy (OMG)
  • Encourage the budding drummer
  • More board game sessions

That all seems much more reasonable!

LakeManchester20157

Contemplating 2016 with Goo

2015 in Review

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Me and my girls at the start of 2015

This year was gargantuan. Just not for my writing. I went into the year expecting very little in the way of writing progress but I think I’m still a little shocked by it. I look back at my year’s list of things to do and laugh at how bloody naive and optimistic I was:

  • Finish “The Forgotten Children of Zurat”, edit and submit (novella length); Well, first draft is finished, but I didn’t edit it. Or submit obviously.
  • Edit at least two of the short stories I started last year that I think have a lot of promise, and submit; I think I managed this one.
  • Finish and submit the two collaborative short stories I’m involved in; One yes, the other is still a WIP.
  • Attend GenreCon in October; Nah, just floated around the edges thanks to being disorganised.
  • Submit an Expression of Interest for the QLD Poetry Festival; Nope.
  • Attend QPF and BWF; I attended one QPF event.
  • Ensure Furious Writer Drinks remains a “thing”; Hmmm. It is *something*.
  • Do more beta reads / critiques; Not really.
  • Daily journalling; Hahaha nope.
  • Learn how to create linocut art; Nope.
  • Explore the idea of an art exhibition. With what time???

I also have some non-creative goals:

  • Do that pesky obstacle course race; Nope.
  • Increase my unbroken run distance to 8km; All the nope.
  • Camping with all the children; Dear gods was I insane?
  • Nurturing new and existing connections. This one, I was good at.

Honestly, I aimed way too high. What I should have written was “survive first year of uni without breaking too many things”. That said, I am hoping to edit Zurat over the summer break.

So! I started my Masters of Information Science (Library and Information Practice) and there was a very steep learning curve to fit in study with family and other commitments. At the start of the uni year we had a death in the family. I dropped from 4 subjects to 3. And I started to find my feet.

Family support

Family support

I wrote a couple of stories during semester one. Semester break let me breathe but before I knew it I was right back to it. And semester two was even more intense (still 3 subjects). I did no writing at all.

I had planned to do summer semester to make up for the lost ground but I knew I needed to take a break over the summer. I’d been functioning at such a high level most of the year that I suspected I would crash and burn spectacularly at some point if I didn’t pause. And it was definitely a good decision. In the couple of months since semester 2 finished I’ve been getting through my to-do list, cleaning up and submitting stories, and rekindling old passions.

I ended up with four high distinctions and one distinction (the other subject is ongoing). Extremely happy with that! My GPA is currently 6.8. In addition, I have some idea of my career direction now and have far more ambition than I did at the beginning of my degree.

Creatively, the year was difficult. I had 2 poems published and 3 original stories. I also had several reprints selected for Year’s Best and Best Of anthologies. Compared to the previous year, it feels a little like maybe I could have tried harder. But my focus was on doing well at uni, not neglecting my children completely, and not imploding. So, I had to make sacrifices.

2015-running

Obviously running was one of those sacrifices. Look at my running nosedive. Sigh. I’m restarting and the fitness is coming back quicker than I could have hoped so I’m relieved about that. I’ve taken up rock-climbing, and I’m actually pretty good at it!

Climbing walls

Climbing walls

I managed a little bit of art. And uni even gave me inspiration for mashups like the one below, hooray!

Mashup I did for one of my subjects

Mashup I did for one of my subjects

So, to my achievements for the year:

  • “He Dreams of Salt and Sea” published at Apex magazine;
  • “An Ending, A Beginning” published at Australian Poetry Journal online;
  • “Caesura” published in the Lane of Unusual Traders;
  • “Three Trophies” published in SQ Mag;
  • “Going Home Sideways” published in Dimension6;
  • “Chasing the Storm” mentioned in Ellen Datlow’s recommended reading list for Best Horror of the Year Volume 7;
  • “Kneaded” selected for reprint in both Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction and Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2014;
  • “Chasing the Storm” selected for inclusion in SQ Mag’s 2014 anthology Star Quake 3;
  • “The Minotaur’s Tale” selected for inclusion in The Best of Luna Station Quarterly The First Five Years;
  • I did a feature set at Speedpoets in April;
  • Sold another story TBA in due course;
  • Sold a reprint poem (“Heat, Flies and Cane Toads”) to the Poetry and Place anthology;
  • Recorded my first solo audio poem.

My feature set at SpeedPoets in April was one highlight of the year. I had an absolute ball.

Me doing interpretive dance poetry

Me doing interpretive dance poetry

I was also thrilled by some of my publications this year (well, all of them, of course, but there is a certain squee factor to some).

2015covers

Personally the year was mostly good. My son finally received a diagnosis of ASD (autism spectrum disorder). The older he gets the more noticeable his challenges become, so for us it wasn’t a surprise, and is instead a positive step toward getting him the therapy and support he needs.

Goo "blows" out the candles.

Goo “blows” out the candle.

He started drawing vaguely people-shaped things.

Dude on rock.

Dude on rock.

He’s learned to count to 10, can somewhat sing the alphabet, and other nursery rhymes, thanks to youtube. Ah youtube, the bane of our existence.

Boy and shark

Boy and shark

My eldest turned 11 this year. She took part in a drama competition called OptiMinds, in a group of kids from her school. The challenge was to come up with a play and props without any adult help. The group won the Spirit of Minds award.

2015-07-Kira-1

She also did amazingly in the end of year school play, as a character with a huge speaking role (which she learned with no problems). One of her artworks received a highly commended in her grade level at the Brookfield Art Show.

Ms11 reading on the bus

Ms11 reading on the bus

My middle child turned 8. She started drum lessons, which she LOVES.

Teeny Ms8 with drumkit.

Teeny Ms8 with drumkit.

Her report card stated “she is one tiny girl with a huge amount of drive and determination”. And yes, I would absolutely agree with that. Don’t underestimate this one based on size! She co-starred as Puss in Boots in her school play (the part was shared because it was the biggest speaking part. She worked super hard to memorise her lines and performed fantastically).

Ms8 disapproves of my doubtingness

Ms8 disapproves of my doubtingness

Her reading has picked up to the point where she is now reading chapter books. A massive breakthrough and I am so happy that she was given the space to develop her skills in her own time.

I got a semester contract working at my university library. That was a huge boost and taught me some valuable skills. And yes, I can get a job even with dreadlocks!!

Made a lot of progress in the school library. I’m only a volunteer but I basically run the library, and with the help of some of the other fabulous parents we managed to do a lot.

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The view from the circulation desk

I certainly didn’t feel as much a part of the Brisbane SFF writing scene as I have in previous years. That’s a result of my focus on uni, I know, but as I take stock of the year I do have some regrets. I did have a big fear that I would have to let my writing go for a time and I think this has come to pass. While I am still writing (kind of) and being published I have other things to occupy me, and I wonder if I have already peaked and will now slowly drift out of the scene and people will forget about me. It’s on me not to let that happen, I know.

I’m not going to write much about other people. The ones who have had my back this year know who they are. From sanity-saving emails, to coffee dates, to critiques, to cheer-leading, to Facebook message check-ins, to drinks, to lengthy chats, to sleep ins, to hugs, to putting up with incoherent rambles. Thanks, you lot, you’re all awesome!

It’s difficult to pick a favourite pic from this year. My hard work resulted in good grades, rather than a triumphant beach selfie. While I could post a screenshot of my academic history, that feels a little silly. There were so many good parts to this year. But maybe my birthday marked a bit of a turning point. For the first time in many years I enjoyed the crap out of my birthday. I had no fears of turning 37, and it was marked by little fuss and a lot of fun. I feel, finally, like I have a positive future to look forward to. And for someone who less than 3 years ago was facing some very dark demons, that’s a massive thing to be able to say.

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First family dinner outing since Goo was born. Chaos monsters!

So, 2015’s photo is my 37th birthday photo. Because 37 feels pretty good. And 2015 was the best year I’ve had in a very long time.

Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me!

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