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.
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
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
- 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
- Keep up with the rockclimbing
- Keep running
- Attend Contact
- Embrace fun
- 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!
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.
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.
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!
I managed a little bit of art. And uni even gave me inspiration for mashups like the one below, hooray!
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.
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).
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.
He started drawing vaguely people-shaped things.
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.
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.
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.
My middle child turned 8. She started drum lessons, which she LOVES.
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).
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.
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.
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.
As promised in the previous blog post, I have started creating audio poems. I have a few underway but this is the first one I’ve completed, using my own flute playing, the loopy app, garageband and an original poem written in a kind of homage to my middle child’s fascination for collecting things.
The image is in the public domain and was found on wiki commons. I’ve modified it slightly in Photoshop and my intention is to replace it with my own artwork eventually, but I was super excited and wanted to share the poem!
While I’m on uni break I am supposed to be spending my spare time editing (and writing), and making visual art. Instead, a clean up of one of those areas that just accumulate crap (and never get cleaned because they’re not important) yielded a pile of sheet music I had been looking for but couldn’t find.
It’s not widely known outside the people I am friends with, but in my past I was a musician. I played the flute. And I was pretty good at it, so I went on to study it at university, which was actually a tremendously stupid thing for me to do. Why? Because I didn’t want to teach, and I didn’t have giant ambitions to become a professional flautist, either. But I was absolutely obsessed with playing, and practiced for hours at a time after school (generally instead of doing maths homework). And, with a bunch of other interests and abilities but nothing quite so consuming and obvious as music, that’s what I did.
University killed my passion. There were a few reasons for that, but the result was I spent my third year doing other arts subjects and gave up performance altogether. So the last time I regularly played my flute was at the beginning of 1999.
Over the years I’ve picked it up, played a few pieces, and put it away again. Over the years I noticed my sight-reading slowly degrade, my tone roughen, my embouchure weaken. For many years after having children I didn’t touch it at all. Playing it just reminded me of all that hard work gone to waste.
Recently I had an idea that I could combine flute sounds with poetry. I have been trying to set up a system for that to work, but I didn’t really need to practice my flute for that. My idea was, some nails-down-the-board kind of sounds, some harmonies, etc. Nothing fancy. But when I found that sheet music, I started to play.
And I have kept playing. I would go so far as to say I’m playing regularly. I’m practicing. I’m hearing my tone become clearer. My sight-reading is improving. I still have a way to go with rapid, intricate passages, but I’m getting better.
So my plans are expanding, but I’m not entirely sure what the end result will be. And I have no idea why I’ve rekindled my obsession, but it would be nice to round out my creative expressions with music, too… music, again.
I shall post here when I have something to show for it.
This one’s a collaboration between my partner-in-crime, Lloyd Barrett, and myself. I wrote the poem first, and I heard him messing around with a piece he’d created a little later. I asked if we could combine the two elements and here we are. It’s up at the Australian Poetry Journal if you want to purchase the entire issue or you can click below to hear the poem directly online.
You knew when it slipped
away, that moment
when the world ended
and your ammonite
heart tightly curled against
the winter winds bled
into a stranger’s arms
the weeping willow
of your hair away
bloom as clouds
burst and birth
and you are envious
of precipitous labour—
even the sky
what you do not.
As the snow thaws
and you accept his offering
clenched in sweaty palm:
a whorled fossil
to your left ventricle.
across your chest, tiny
fingerpaint smear marks