The End

When I hear about people dying in freak accidents like car crashes, or under fallen branches, I can't help wondering if that person had been secretly writing a novel.

It made me sad, thinking about of all those labours of love which would never be finished. An adventure that would never call; a relationship which would fail to ignite; a twisty mystery which would forever remain unsolved, frozen in the dusty notebooks and locked out hard drives of the dead.

But then I thought, perhaps it was a good thing. Maybe those secret worlds they created would be what they thought of as they left. Maybe they live on there now. Perhaps the nothingness that our imagination comes from is the same nothingness we return to when we go.


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My Mind

Three major projects, on top of normal work, and family, and a dog, and eating healthy and keeping fit, and injury rehab, holiday planning and home maintenance, and I decided to write a trilogy.

Weekend Sprints Retrospective

My publicly declared deadline to finish my second draft has come and gone. That, along with high temperatures and DNA destroying UV from 9 to 5 has seen me spend much of another weekend in front of the computer writing and editing.

I like writing, and most days of the year I'd be thrilled to have such long blocks of time dedicated to stories, but this book has taken a long time, and at this point I'm more keen to get to THE END than I am to savour the experience. This will necessitate plenty of effort on the third draft to turn it into 80,000 words of consistent pith and joy.

Anyway, despite the thousands of words that were typed or tweaked on Friday night and Saturday, I found myself feeling a bit unfulfilled and discouraged by the process, and not truly looking forward to Sunday's wordsmithing, nor certain what I could do differently.

I've mentioned before that I use a mini Kanban board at home to replicate the one in my office. On it I track home maintenance, holiday planning, and story writing. Last night I added a few house tasks I'd been putting off. Gardening, cleaning and plumbing.

The board at the end of the weekend.

The board at the end of the weekend.

Today I supersetted writing with small victories, and despite getting a smaller (yet still significant) amount of prose fashioned, I feel more satisfied today with my accomplishments. I think my words benefited from it too.

That's my writing tip for today.


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Spoiler Alert

If I have spoken to you in the past two months, I've probably mentioned that I'm on a mission to finish the second draft of my novel by the NBA All Star Break.

All writers will have different processes, but for me the first draft is written in hurried scribbles across multiple notebooks. The second draft is all typed up, moved into Scrivener, has all placeholders corrected, and what was once scribble is now written, pithy, and without plot hole.

This novel has been particularly challenging because I did not feel like the ending was strong enough, and in bolstering it I have had to rewrite the last 10-15% of the story. It's a much better tale for it, I think. And a lot more for me to type up, fill in placeholders, correct plot holes and add pith.

NBA All Star Break is this weekend.

image 1856 from bradism.com

Those Left Behind

My short story "Those Left Behind" is featured in a new anthology of stories about abandoned buildings and empty places. It's one I wrote a while ago, but it's good to find a home for it - even if that home might be deserted...


Why Be A Writer When You Could Be A Plumber?

In March last year I started the draft of A Fish Out Of Water, a short story about a cynical, children-hating superhero being forced to babysit her nephew whilst trying to save the world. It ended up being around 8,800 words and came out of my brain over the course of a couple of weeks. Maybe an hour of plotting, twelve hours of handwriting, another twelve hours of typing and editing, a few more hours of proofreading. Over the course of four visits to Writer’s Group in March/April I read the story, incorporated feedback. I submitted it to two Sci Fi magazines in the US in April, May 2018 and received swift rejections. On May 30 I submitted it to its eventual home, Andromeda Spaceways magazine, where it stayed on a slush pile (with several progress updates) until finally in November, it was confirmed they would like to publish it. I was extremely grateful! They even paid me $88 Australian for something I totally just made up (a little bit was inspired by Captain Planet). Three weeks later, it was available for purchase and my name was on the cover.

In March last year I noticed my shower was dripping a lot more and my strategy of changing the washer every few weeks and turning it off really tight was not working. In December I asked for plumber recommendations and in the second week of January a plumber arrived, re-faced my tap seats and “serviced” the hot and cold tap. This took him about fifteen minutes, and he charged me $104 Australian.

I know, there’s more to a plumber’s work than the fifteen minutes he spent in my house. He needs to pay for that drill, his van, his ice-coffees, his insurance for when he accidentally ruptures a valve and floods someone’s basement with sewage. I had a lot of fun writing A Fish Out of Water. Probably way more fun than he does fixing toilets, replacing pipes or using the drain snake robot. Actually the drain snake robots are pretty cool...

You might think there’s a moral to this story, which is to be a plumber and not a writer. Twist - actually, there’s not a twist. If you want to make money you should be a plumber. Surprise Twist - imagine if you made $104 for fifteen minutes of work, you could do an hour or two a day and that would leave you with a lot of spare time for... Writing! I think it’s a winning strategy. $408 an hour for plumbing, and $2.90 an hour for writing prose averages out to $210 an hour if you balance them. Once you get enough writing credits and a three book deal with a big four publisher maybe then you can stop sticking your hands down people’s toilets.
You don’t have to be a plumber, I guess. Any kind of occupation to keep your hands busy should ideally support and provide a way to engage your creative side. And nothing helps procrastination like knowing your creative time is limited to your work breaks. It works for me, at least. Aldous Huxley once said, “Perhaps it's good for one to suffer. Can an artist do anything if he's happy?” Perhaps it’s true, but can an artist do anything if their shower or toilet is broken and they can’t afford to fix it? I'm not sure.

Weekend Sprints

Not satiated by my hectic office life, I've decided to introduce agile into my home life and run two day sprints each weekend and over the Christmas break.

image 1836 from bradism.com

Blue is for the novel and pink is for our holiday next year. Vanessa is fulfilling the role of Product Owner, which I guess makes Nash the scrum master.

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