Thursday, December 31, 2009

Not Another Noughties Review Post

No really, it isn't. The past decade has been - on balance - a bit of a shit, so I'm not going to dissect the whole thing year by year. Undeniable highlights of 2000-2008 include getting married, having not one but two great kids and getting my stories published for the first time. Aside from that ... well, let's move on, shall we?

While I'm not going to inflict ten years of analysis on you, however, I'm happy to examine 2009 in isolation. I took a big kicking from the global financial crisis, what with freelancers being the first against the wall when the money runs out, but if I ignore the money side of things I've actually achieved a reasonable amount in terms of my writing this year. Maybe that's because of the proper paying work drying up ... hmmm.

Anyway as 2009 wraps I've had just the one story published (Rights of Passage in the Grants Pass anthology), but have nailed four more stories for release in the next twelve months, with one more still waiting for a yay or nay and another on the boil for a project that should be given the go-ahead in early January. Meanwhile my story Just Us made the cut for next year's Best-Of anthology Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror Volume 4, and let's not forget I finished the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel. It's rough as guts, but with rewrites, who knows ...

That doesn't sound like a whole hell of a lot, but there's been another side to the work that's crept in this year: editing. One or two proof-reading favours for the bods at Morrigan Books grew into my being asked to co-edit next year's Scenes From The Second Storey with Amanda Pillar. We've been on the case since August, coralling stories and working closely with the writers to get them ready for publication, and we're now within a whisker of a complete manuscript to farm out to readers. Add to that my decision to join the Australian Horror Writers Association critique group and I've spent a lot of time in the last twelve months pulling stories apart, seeing how they work and putting them back together again. Not only good fun (and hugely satisfying if it leads to better stories), but also very instructive when it comes to my own writing ... (Must. Avoid. Adverbs.)

Unfortunately I've not a great deal to report from the last couple of weeks. Like a car, I stop working if I overheat and that inevitably means sporadic writing at best during December and January. Instead I've caught up on my reading (six months' backlog of 2000AD, The Amazing Spider-man and the Fables comics, along with a decent-sized pile of books) and reacquainted myself with the concept of the siesta.

I've been idly tinkering with the idea of resolutions ... last year's (get fit, blog more often) were partial successes. I got fit in the summer, piled it on in the winter, and as for posting on here ... well it's been sporadic, hasn't it?

So for 2010, something achievable, perhaps ... how about 12 short stories or equivalent by the end of the year? Sound do-able?

Just have to wait and see ...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Little Black Book

Took a couple of days off after NaNoWriMo, at which point my back seized up - unused to not sitting at a keyboard, see? But it wasn't long before I was back into it, and over the last week I've been ripping through projects like a good 'un.

With the kids chucking out of school in about a week, it's been all about shoring up for the month and a half where my work rate will slow to almost nothing. I've binge-viewed movies, finishing all but one of the films I have to review between now and the second week of January. I've rewritten and submitted a short story for an anthology with an imminent deadline. I've proofed a book of short stories and critiqued a number of tales for friends and colleagues. And I've edited a sizeable wodge of the outstanding pieces for Scenes From the Second Storey. But the best thing to happen in the last week has been for my Little Black Book to prove itself.

Like a lot of writers I have a notebook, in which I scribble random ideas, details of interesting things I've read or seen in the news. You know ... raw material. And last week the book finally came good. Asked by a publisher to pitch a short story in double-quick time, and with not a single idea to work with, I dusted off the notes and started reading.

Straight away, there they were - two words I'd written down well over eighteen months ago that fit the brief perfectly. Within 12 hours I'd researched and written a loose synopsis that was tentatively accepted 12 hours after that. Fastest story I've ever plotted. And reason enough to keep scribbling in that notebook ...