Friday, July 27, 2007

The Long Dark Night of the Scribe

Spent a bit of time the other night lying in bed and picking at holes in something I've written. Thing is, the piece in question away with the editor so it's far too late for any tinkering.

I've found this happens now and again, that midnight ambush by scribely insecurities that point out in microspcopic detail everything I did wrong in a piece I've submitted.

Before pointing them out again. Over and over for hours.

I can't guarantee other writers experience the same thing, but I'd bet a large number do. And the worst thing is that it's all bollocks. A lot of the time if there's something wrong with a piece it's rarely an unmitigated disaster. It's just that when you send something out there to be edited it's out of your hands. You're powerless to affect it. And doesn't your subconscious love to remind you of that ...

The flipside is the 4am Lightning. That wake-up-sitting-bolt-upright-with-the-solution moment that electrifies your sense of purpose.

Had that the very next night, albeit on a different project - the long-shelved script I've been working on. After lying fallow for weeks while I do that grafting-for-money thing, I finally found time to pick it up again yesterday. Not only that, I gave it a readthrough ... once everyone was out of the house and there was no one to see me prancing around the kitchen, doing silly voices.

The verdict: it's waaaay too long.

Fast forward to 4am, and cue The Lightning. If I moved this bit there and knocked out that bit completely, combining it with another part ... well, it all just clicked.

Now I've just got to find some quiet time to write the bloody thing.

Meanwhile the proofs are back for In Bad Dreams, and I'm happy to say there were no major crises. Fired them back to Mark this evening and that's probably the last I'll see of the story until it's all in print.

And for those harbouring deep and abiding curiosities about IBD, there's a chance to grill the editors, Mark and Sharyn, at a virtual convention taking place on the Net on August 4. Click the link for details!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Gold Mine

For a few years now I've taken part in a Fantasy Football league with some of my UK correspondents, with varying degrees of success. There are all kinds of fantasy leagues you can get involved with, and I'm a sucker for logging on to see how I'm doing against my mates.

Well a new league caught my eye today while I was looking something up on the IMDb: Fantasy Moguls.

The idea for this one is simple - you have a fantasy film studio and you 'acquire' films for your slate, each game period running for three months. Then you wait and see how the film you chose performs at the US box office. He who finishes with the most points wins.

The next season kicks off early August. Thing is, I don't much enjoy playing against strangers ... So knowing that more than a couple of my regulars here at the Tyranny like to think they know a bit about film, I thought it might be fun to give this a go, if enough people were interested.

If you're a regular reader (one of the ones who has my email address ...) and you fancy taking part, drop me a line. If I get enough replies I'll start a private league on the site.

Off you go then.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harsh Words

If you believe everything you read (as I do - those floods and all that in England? That's Voldemort, that is) you'll be interested to learn not only that the English accent has become debased to the point of extinction but that its corruption is all down to one thing.

That's right. From those of us who grew up in the '80s with Scott, Charlene and Paul Robinson, right through to today's youth who are glued to Susan, Karl and, um, Paul Robinson, we've all suffered a vile decline in Received Pronunciation.

Pity the poor BBC then, unable to find any children with the required plummy tones for their period dramas. Yes, the very same BBC that has refused to pick up any new series of Neighbours for financial reasons. Heh.

But really, how ludicrous is it to level the blame at one daytime TV show from Down Under? Surely the hundreds of US sitcoms, dramas and soaps that cross the Atlantic must also be having an effect? It's worse in Australia, where a stupifyingly high percentage of shows aired are from the States - only this morning I had to stop my daughter talking in an American accent.

So if people are pointing fingers for the collapse of proper spoken English, perhaps some should be aimed at programme exporters from across the pond.

The mu***f***rs.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

'We're Going to Need a Bigger Boat'

Far and away the biggest draw to this blog for random intenet punters is a post I once wrote that included the words 'how to kill a shark'. Seems there's more than a few people out there interested in the best way to dispatch the finny predators. Not that they'd find any help from that particular post, but that doesn't stop them dropping by ...

So when I saw this picture in the paper last week, I knew I was going to have to post it here too. This is the kind of thing that turns up in the water off WA every now and again.

The shark circled the fishermen for around half an hour before losing interest. It was around five metres long ... the boat was just six.

Taking no chances, coastguards put in a call for Roy Scheider but the shark swam off before he could get there.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Price You Pay

Three young children have died in WA in the last couple of weeks after contracting flu and then falling prey to a secondary infection. That's resulted in a stampede of anxious parents - myself included - trying to get any children under six vaccinated against the flu.

Our son had already had the jab, so it was just our daughter who needed a needle. As with many such inoculations, she got a little bit ill then bounced back swiftly.

A knock-on effect, however, was that the vaccination brought the flu bug into the house. More specifically into me. I'm now into my fourth day of feeling like I've been run down by an elephant on a steamroller, but I'm happy to say I'm through the worst of it.

It's obviously a small enough sacrifice to make for peace of mind concerning my children's health, but getting sick has meant I've had to let some things slide over the last few days. As a freelance writer no work means no pay, so what small amounts of coherent thought and energy I've been able to marshal have been channelled into earning a crust.

Unfortunately there are still several of you who've mailed me with sundry other tasks or queries and been utterly ignored - expect responses shortly!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Shock and Awe

Oh dear.

So much talent and such a dismal performance - had I been a) watching with a crowd and b) more drunk I'd have been singing 'Are You England In Disguise' ...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Aaagh! It's ...

Pete's Eye on the News brings you another, um, hot story.

You've really got to pity this Catholic Melbourne man who's desperately trying to get his child into a school dedicated to his religion, only to find his surname's something of a sticking point.

So condolences to poor Mr Hell, who would otherwise be known as Mr Bright were he not of Austrian descent.

Perhaps a future in animation school for the young chap?
Well it's that or young Max is getting packed off to the Blofeld Academy of Advanced Villainy.

Oh, Man

A big night in football (or as they call it here ... well, you know, the 'S' word) last night.

Finally, having transfered out of the dead-end Oceania group in the wake of the World Cup, the Australian national side got to play its first ever game in the Asian Cup. Not only that, the boys in green and gold got to start the tournament as favourites to win the whole damn thing.

So then - bring on the minnows! Bring on Oman!

Imagine the shock when the lowly opposition frustrated the Australians throughout the first half, capping it off by knocking in a priceless goal after 32 minutes.

Now I'll always be an England man, and the part of me that's tired of Australians dominating every sport under the sun found the scoreline a little amusing. That much is undeniable. But it shows how far I've come in the last ten years that as time ticked away I became ever more desperate for the equaliser.

Maybe it was because Oman played a very cynical game, its players diving like a fleet of U-Boats at the slightest hint of physical contact to run down the clock and prevent Australia finding the goal. Maybe it's because I've taken the Australian national team to heart, after its struggle for acceptance in the face of AFL and rugby league's unassailable popularity Down Under.

Either way, I still jumped up in the air and heckled the opposition when Tim Cahill stuck the ball in the net one minute into stoppage time, saving the game.

But what you've really got to love is the irony - if the players from Oman hadn't kept falling over and feigning injury, there wouldn't have been any stoppage time ...

Ha ha!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ratted Out

Had the pest inspectors round today for the regular termite check on our rental property. Such assessments are an essential element of home maintenance in 'Straya, where termites thrive - we lived in a place in Sydney once where I could actually hear the little buggers chewing through the door frames. By the time the exterminators got there, all that was left was the paint, covering over an empty space.

Luckily this place came up clear. Of termites ...

Seems our roof space has more rats than every mafia movie made in the last forty years combined. Pest Guy estimated the rodent population to be sizeable enough to warrant laying fifty traps up there. Fifty!

Which makes me glad it's winter here in Perth ... because the extermination service doesn't extend to coming back to remove the bodies once they're dead. Pest Guy will only return to clean up, he says, if we start to notice any strange smells.


Sub Runs Silent

Latest news from my brother is that the poor sub-editor responsible for yesterday's comedy classic is keeping his (I'm assuming it's a he) head right down ...

... because the powers-that-be on his newspaper haven't spotted it yet.

So should he 'fess up, face the music and get it out of the way, or resign himself to a weekend of paranoid cowering, waiting for the oncoming storm?

Well, what would you do?

I hear there are some fun activities on at the local sports college, might take his mind off it.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Sub Standard Work

I've spent many a year sub-editing on magazines, and a large number of my friends here in Australia are either currently subs or have been in the past. All of us know only too well that a momentary slip in concentration can have the most dire of consequences - it would therefore be wrong for any of us to take pleasure in the misfortunes of our brethren.

That's why none of us - none of us - will be laughing at this story, printed yesterday in a local newspaper in the UK:

Oh, all right. I may have had a quick howl of amusement.

Many thanks to my brother for emailing me the clipping of the story, and deepest condolences to his acquaintance, who'll even now be carrying the can for it ...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

One Year Later

July 1 was the one-year anniversary of my moving from Sydney to Perth and joining my family, who'd been living here for three months. It's a decision that's only just starting to come right for us after an epic series of missteps, which got me thinking about what's been achieved (or not) in the last year.
  • PLUS: Technically Old Friends was written before I moved across, but in the last year it's been polished and released and met with a reasonably good response.

  • MINUS: The well-paying job my wife took on - and the reason for us all moving here - fell through within a few months.

  • MINUS: Perth has a very limited publishing industry for me to work in. The one avenue that looked really promising has since closed off, following a couple of jobs that turned out to be highly frustrating both for me and the editors. Bah.

  • PLUS: My magazine contacts in Sydney are keeping me in enough work to pay the bills - thanks, guys!

  • MINUS: After getting messed around for almost a month, a local radio station that dangled a film review spot for me decided they wanted someone off the telly to do it instead. Grrr!

  • PLUS: Mark and Sharyn at Eneit Press commissioned me to write for their horror anthology In Bad Dreams, out in September. I trust I can rely on you all to buy multiple copies ...

  • PLUS: My wife's just been given the nod to teach Strategic Marketing at the University of Western Australia, ending a lengthy term of unemployment. Woo-hoo!

  • MINUS: It's going to take a while to pay off the bills that've accumulated in the meantime. Sigh.

  • PLUS: Hooked up with fellow scribe Ian Mond over east to work on an audio script.

  • MINUS: An avalanche of bill-paying work has meant I've not had a chance to work on it for weeks.

  • PLUS: My son's allergies have cleared up since moving from the smoke. Both he and my daughter have settled extremely well in their new schools and the simple fact that they're thriving is possibly the single biggest Plus on the list.

  • PLUS: Got asked recently to pitch for another short story for Big Finish. Whether that ends up a Plus or a Minus in the long term depends on whether or not it turns into a commission. But after a long period of not even being asked, it's just good to make it onto the pitch list!

  • PLUS: Mark at Eneit has been emailing me to discuss an intriguing project. Embryonic still, and subject to feasibility assessment, but still exciting ... And the ideas for it are coming thick and fast.
So that's eight Plus to five Minus. Hooray!

By next July let's get that five down to none ...