Adulting

When you’re hungry for the whole three hour meeting, not much tastes as good afterwards as fruit and crushed Weet Bix mixed through yogurt. This is what adulthood is like, having to wait until nearly lunchtime before eating some cereal. And spending the last thirty minutes of meetings thinking about how to rinse blueberries.

Time is a more precious resource when you’re an adult. Not only are there more responsibilities and demands for attention, you’ve also got your own mortality constantly hanging over your head. You have to multitask, like drink your after work beer while emptying the dishwasher.

I’ve been trying to use tai chi to meditate and detach, which is good when I can fit it in. The routine takes ten minutes, but if I don’t breathe much I can run through all the poses in less than sixty seconds.

This is where adulthood has left me. Damn children, their lack of responsibilities, and their relaxed, drawn out tai chi sessions. But what else am I going to do? Not get old? Not really an option. Now time for me to drink some chocolate milk and go to bed.


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Waiting On The Summer

It's been at least five days since I've seen the sun. This is making it increasingly difficult to wear my sunglasses in public. Not only because I have to be more careful about walking into things. Today, an old woman at the bus stop asked me if I was an undercover cop. I told her, no, I simply have sensitive pupils.

...As in, sensitive to staring into the soul of another human being for a quarter second as we cross paths in this busy metropolis of a few thousand people. Oh God, I need more hand sanitiser. Winter is good for influenza and bad for introversion. I see a lot of people wearing scarves this week. I wonder if I could wear a scarf over my eyes, if that would be more socially acceptable, or if I should just suck it up until Spring.

Anyway, this gloomy weather reminded me I never finished/posted my Summer New Music Mixtape, which is called Waiting On The Summer. So here it is below. It's full of upbeat EDM and cruisy summer tunes to further compound the misery of the season.

I Just Bought

Two litres of hospital grade hand sanitiser online, to qualify for free shipping along with 10% cash back and Oh God I think I've hit Peak Brad.

Table

I fixed my kitchen table with a combination of liquid nails, turpentine, super-glue and acetone.
It counts as successfully returned to service because I've since eaten a meal on it. I'm feeling so confident that I'm going to move my fruit bowl back on before bed tonight.
Good to have you back, table. I was worried you were on your last legs.


Like my words? Want to buy one of my books? I think you'll like this one:

If you met yourself from the future, what would you ask your future self?
What if they wont tell you anything?

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Dog Entry

Weekends are fleeting, but welcome. I tried to fit a bunch of stuff into this last one. The first thing I had to do after work was meet my responsibility as a dog owner, and exercise my puppy. So I found myself, in the very first seconds of my weekend, driving my dog to the park.

As the sun set, my dog played to 100% of her jerk-dog potential. She stole other dogs balls, ran around in circles, was loud and smiling and friends with everyone whether they wanted to be friends back or not. She repeatedly fetched a ball, took it close to the thrower, sat down, then made some poor soccer mum chase her for a minute to get the ball back and repeat the process. Every time this happened, on her way back, she would glance at me with her expressive eyebrows as if to say, I am the LeBron James of being a jerk. You love it.

image 1694 from bradism.com

It's been a while since I laughed until I cried. Thanks dog. We listened to some tunes on our way back to the house, and in a complex world I re-appreciated simple things in life. Like puppies, and steel boxes that let you drive between places quickly, and being able to order chilled beer for pick up over the internet.

The rest of the weekend featured a lot more awesome dog action. I told Vanessa I was going to write a journal entry about it, and to not be upset about the lack of wifey focus. Saturday morning we looped the dog around the block, then left her to a sun patch for the afternoon. Before dinner we walked along the river, where Nash acquainted herself with horses and crows to our further amusement. It was a stunning evening.

image 1696 from bradism.com

Then, this morning after a smoothie, we took Nash to the beach where she darted between the shallow waves, and sniffed all kinds of seaweed, followed by a wash and condition, leaving me even happier with a dog that now smelt of shampoo instead of sand and mud. She retired to a fresh sun patch and ignored us until we walked to Bunnings later and she tried desperately to get the attention of the people running the sausage sizzle, while I bought super glue.

I think what I like and dislike the most about Nash is her independence. She'll come when I call her, but only if she feels like it. Which I think means, the times she does come, is that she actually thinks it's worth coming over for.

Nash probably had a bigger weekend than I did, relatively. Now she will spend the weekdays sleeping and eye-stalking people walking past our house while Vanessa and I drudge it out in the office for five days straight. I envy her lifestyle. She probably envies ours. I guess the moral is, enjoy what you've got while you've got it.

image 1695 from bradism.com

The Wife is also awesome.

Five Lessons from Speculate 18

Speculate was the inaugural Speculative Fiction Writers festival, held in South Melbourne on a clear, chilly autumn Saturday.

A great assortment of authors, scholars and others from the writing community shared their wisdom and experiences, too much for me to summarise in a review. Instead, I thought I'd share a single takeaway and challenge from each of the sessions:

Session 1 - The Once and Future Fantasy.

The opening session of the day spoke about the realm of fantasy, from origins to now.
On the topic of tropes, and Tolkien’s influence on the fantasy genre, the panel discussed how Tolkien’s races were inspired by his desire to create a mythology for England at the time of his writing.
Similarly, superheroes like Spiderman and Captain America were born out of cultural fears of their era, like radiation, and Nazis.
Challenge: If you feel like there are no original characters left, look at what's in the public consciousness now. What defines contemporary times? What are people afraid of? Leverage that.

 

Session 2 - The Language of Imagination.

Hair is 90% of your selfie, proclaimed a salon’s curbside chalkboard that I passed on the way to Speculate. It's also the first thing 90% of writers use to describe their characters, according to the second panel. Alison Arnold argued that the less you show of a character, the more the reader can invest with their own imagination.
Challenge: While there was debate about how much, or little, of a character's demographics and appearance should be described, the request was made to rely less on hair.

 

Session 3 - Science Fiction: The Past, the Present, and What's to Come.

image 1693 from bradism.com

The rapid pace of technological change (in contrast to the slow speed of the traditional publishing process) means speculative fiction at the time of writing might be out of date by the time it's written.
Aurealis co-editor Dirk Strasser listed some 2018 trends in the science fiction genre: Cli-Fi, social-issues space-opera, generation ships, and gender identity.
Before taking this as a challenge to cram all those plots into a single story, consider
Sean McMullen’s monologue about how all future trends had been done before, and even the ideas we think are modern were technically possible decades earlier.
Challenge: Go back to the past - the conflicts, struggles and characters of yesteryear - to find fresh inspiration for the future. Time is cyclical anyway.

 

Session 4 - Dungeons & Development: Character Under Pressure.

The post-lunch session gave me chills, because of the live string section who knew just the right moment of the roleplaying display to fade in with a long note from a violin.
The Dungeons and Dragons scenario was part narrative, part improv, and highlighted the importance of giving characters three dimensions, and the ability to make mistakes.
Challenge: Write characters strong and deep enough to mess up, and then recover. What the author knows is the wrong decision might seem like genius to the character, and stimulate new, unexpected conflict.

 

Session 5 - Setting: Colouring the Pages.

The final session. Four seated authors, illuminated under the warm spotlights of the dark theatre, spoke to setting and its importance.
Setting is non-negotiable, its the world the author delivers to the reader, and without it the tale loses its authenticness.
Alison Goodman spoke about aesthetic cohesion, that the setting should be in service of characters, to bring out the best in them, or test them in the most interesting ways.
Challenge: Identify in your work were setting and character are adjacent, but not touching. For example, instead of “It was cold,” it could be “The freezing air stung her cheeks.” Or, “the blizzard concealed her attackers from view, they circled each other, footsteps in the field disappearing under fresh powder as quick as they were spotted.”

Did I mention that Melbourne was chilly?