The square picture is for icons, the wide ones with the title are…er…title screens. The pointy ones just show up for a second as the app opens.
Or something like that.
For those stumbling across this (retired) site, I’m at felicitybanks.wordpress.com
I think all the readers of this blog also follow my main blog at http://twittertales.wordpress.com. Since the twittertales blog now has Miscellaneous Mondays (as well as shiny new writing articles on Saturdays, and Steampunk stuff on Sundays), this blog no longer has any unique purpose (unless my realist novel is accepted for publication under the Felicity Bloomfield name, in which case I’ll grab the metaphorical paddles and revive this blog like I never left).
I will still see comments posted here, and will respond to them.
Here to say farewell is a selection of relaxed cats:
I don’t care how good your writing is – if you have a drug habit it’s stupid and needs to be stopped.
But I do understand the situation – a little.
A few weeks ago I began writing a steampunk novel. It’s loads of fun, but also requires about 100 times more research than anything else I’ve ever written. The character arrives at a house – is it brick or wood or sandstone or mud? What are the curtains made of? Does her gentleman companion remove his hat? Where does he put it?
Even worse, I’ve used several real buildings including the 1853 Governor’s residence in Melbourne (which you’d think would be the historic Government House – but it wasn’t built yet*). It’s incredibly daunting – more daunting than unwritten books already are, considering the failure statistics I know about.
Usually when I write a first draft I write it at lightning speed – generally within three weeks, and once in three days. I’m deliberately trying not to do that – although for me it’s psychologically devastating when I write nothing at all for a whole day.
Yesterday I was really struggling, and I bought booze to boost my mojo. It helped tremendously. I wrote a quite long and complicated escape sequence, and then today I wrote another important scene. I’m now over the 20,000 word mark, and feeling good again – it’s probably about a third of the first draft.
I’ve used booze (and, more usually, huge amounts of chocolate) a few times, and so far it works remarkably well. On the one hand, it’s a little worrying. On the other, it’s hardly a habit (and even if it was, all it takes is a single drink to get me going).
A couple of you are writers, and others are students (or public servants). Have you ever turned to drink, and how did it work out for you?
*In 1853, it was an Italianate building in Toorak, which is now a Swedish church. I heart google.
Last night I dreamt that God was going to kill me.
It opened comfortably enough – I was at a hospital chatting to two other people while the doctor took care of us (all at once; he was quite the multitasker). It was a pleasant new-person conversation, and it was nice to have the doctor fussing over us and flattering our minor injuries.
Then the girl went out of the room into the hospital foyer, and the doctor followed her. We heard suspicious noises and the boy and I went to see what was happening. The girl had gone crazy, shot knives from her fingertips, and was killing him. While I dragged the doctor towards the outside door, the boy distracted the girl.
As the doctor and I reached the doorway, I realised that the boy was in the process of transforming into a knife-handed crazy person as well – and they were both heading our way. I abandoned the nice doctor to his horrible fate and flew away.
As I hovered above the hospital, I felt awful for the choice I’d made (despite my lack of practical options for derring-do), and wondered if I could live with myself. At that point, God was flying nearby (no I didn’t see him, but his presence was unmistakeable – somewhat Old Testament-y and scary).
He offered to let me die.
I knew that if I said yes, my life would end immediately. It seemed like a fairly good idea at the time, but I was quite scared and asked if I could say goodbye to CJ first. I also had a feeling CJ had something important to say about my decision.
The sense of God’s immediate presence faded, but I knew I had to hurry to CJ or I’d die before I got there. Also, a lot of other people were starting to fly around me, and they were all extremely dangerous. Some were pure evil already, and others (refugees like me) had the vacant stare that indicated they were beginning to transform.
I flew over the high brick hospital wall and across streets and roads, with more flying refugees and knife-people all around. Fortunately, I was able to fly higher up than most, but I had to keep a careful lookout in all directions.
It transpired that I was in London and CJ was in Canberra. A long and terrifying chase scene ensued.
After flying across the channel to Queensland (yay for subconscious georgraphy – which also gave me a sign in England saying “427km to Australia”) and across long stretches of coastline and desert, I accidentally flew into a tall prison-like school. Several other refugees fluttered frantically against the windows. I wrenched an opaque window from its frame only to stare directly into the balding face of the principal on the other side. I evaded his grasp, but plunged into darkness.
After a moment I realised where I was and reached out one hand. My fingers brushed against CJ’s T-shirt (CJ’s real, physical T-shirt, warm with his body heat), and I knew I was home, and awake, and I didn’t want to die.
How. . . reassuring.
If you were to choose to be above average in one of these three ways, which would you be?
A good person
A talented person
A happy person
I grew up aiming for the first, and I really really wish I could support the hypothesis that I’m the second. The third just seems impossible.
But probably more pleasant than the other two combined.
Which would you choose, if you could have only one?
I think most people require the first or second (or both) to be happy. On the up side, being good is a choice and being talented is generally a matter of how much effort you put in. So maybe we really do have a choice.
When CJ and I married, it was like being Cinderella.
Before we married, I was living in a granny flat in which most of the appliances were broken (including the washing machine, oven and toilet), where there was a large area of fungus, and where the water was not safe to drink. It cost two-thirds of my income, and was my only real option of a place to live. I needed to live alone because my anxiety disorder didn’t let me live with anyone.
When CJ and I married*I had good company and massages permanently on tap, a nice house where everything worked, and I never had to decide whether to have meat or not based on the ebb and flow of my income. I also had the new brand-ability to plan my future with some degree of certainty, and for the first time I had a choice about whether or not to have children someday. Everything in every area got dramatically better on one day.
On the down side, if CJ dies I’ll lose everything. He has life insurance (I checked, believe me), but other than relative wealth I’d lose most of the goodness of my life.
The awareness of my dependence of CJ didn’t impair my ability to function and/or enjoy CJ – but it didn’t go away either. Which is why when I read this article – mainly about the five stages of grief, and how they’re overemphasised in modern counselling – it meant a lot to me.
The thing that really made me feel better is that, according to studies, most people are largely recovered from major life-changing grief in about. . . six months. They still miss whoever or whatever it was, but the human ability to revert to individual emotional averages is extremely effective.
As a writer, I’m constantly designing the other kind of grief – the rare kind that permanently damages the sufferer – because it makes interesting characters. It’s a huge relief to realise that the way I see grief is based on an entirely fictional world view.
If CJ dies, my life will never be the same – but the worst pain will be mostly done by six months. If I have to, I can survive that.
Morbid and optimistic is a lot better than just morbid.
*Evidently there is at least one person I can live with – and even share a room with.
A few nights ago I had a dream in which my wedding ring was on my right hand. I only noticed it was odd because when I woke up and later glanced at my right hand I was momentarily startled to see no ring there.
Does our unconscious flip us into a mirror image of ourselves in our dreams? What does this mean. . . for SCIENCE?
Not long ago, I wrote that I was planning to write a steampunk novel, but I wasn’t letting myself just dive straight in. Not this time.
First I had to:
1. Read at least twenty relevant history/technology books.
2. Write all my twittertales for 2011.
3. Write all my monthly short-short stories (there’s an email list – and yes, you can get on it) for 2011.
4. Take a break between the reading and the writing, so I don’t get overly excited and start lecturing readers on historical dates and/or how to build a steam engine (don’t you hate it when writers show off how much research they’ve done?)
About five seconds ago, I finished #3 with a murder mystery. Yay!!
#2 is one-quarter done, but I can do plenty more during #4.
I’m halfway through # 1.
These are the books I’ve read so far:
“Australian Bushrangers” by Bill Wannan – which also has a short but very useful section on guns.
“History’s Worst Inventions” by Eric Chaline
“Savage or Civilised” by Penny Russell
“Australian Lives” by Michael Bosworth -more on the 1900s than the 1800s, but still very good detail.
“Oxford Illustrated Dictionary of Australian History” by Jan Basset
“Black Kettle and Full Moon” by Geoffrey Blainey – again, focused on the everyday details that are so important for writing.
“A History of Victoria” by Geoffrey Blainey – good, but not as good as the above.
“The Most Powerful Idea in the World” by William Rosen – good, but the most useful bits were above my head.
“Commonwealth of Thieves: The Sydney Experiment” by Thomas Keneally – heartbreaking and enthralling reading.
“The Aeronauts” by Time/Life Books – SO much fun.
I’m also reading all the modern steampunk I can find that I haven’t already read, and I plan to read some 1800s fiction (which I have ready to go), but right now my non-fiction to-read pile is ridiculously big. So I’m going to stop procratinating and go start on “Technology in Australia 1788-1988”.
CJ and I have now been married over two years (the two that are meant to be the hardest – one of several reasons we haven’t tried for kids yet). Overall, it’s been a lot easier and nicer than I expected – and I know how unusual that is.
I think the secret to a happy home (other than picking someone kind) is knowing who should do what – and doing it (before the other person has to ask) plus a bit more for love (but not too much – the other person has to have a chance to show their love too).
CJ earns most of the money; I try my best. I do more chores than CJ, but when I’m freaking out I ask for help and he helps. I let CJ spend money on computer stuff and books; he lets me spend money on awesomenesses and writing things. I coordinate most things, especially money and running the household; CJ has less impact on day to day things but also less to remember and be responsible for. In all these areas, we’ve found what works best for both of us.
Chores are the most difficult thing. Before marriage, I expected chores to be the hardest thing (having seen CJ’s bedroom many a time), and they are (even now) – but they’re a million times better than I expected. We talked about chores plenty, both before and after the wedding. CJ lifted his standards, and I lowered mine.
A good marriage is built on mutual respect and love – which is exactly where chores come in.
I don’t think it’s possible for me as a woman to respect a man who is too immature to do the dishes without being told (that makes him a child, and I’m not attracted to children). I also don’t think it’s possible for me to feel loved if I’m constantly cleaning up after a man. I DO clean up after CJ, but I know he also cleans up after me.
We’ve now spend half our time together dating, and half married. The married half has been nicer, more peaceful, and has seen less disagreements (partly because we know each other better, and can predict the other person’s reactions with enormous accuracy).
The hardest part of being married is that I am forced to carry my mental illness with me. I hate feeling that CJ has only ever met the second-best version of me (not that that’s entirely true; I have plenty of good days). I often feel angry that he is so content and happy when I’m living in the dark. It’s pretty clear neither of those things are his fault – and if he wasn’t immune to my depression he would be pretty useless.
The nicest parts of marriage are being able to make plans together, knowing that we have each other to rely on and laugh with, and having a warm body next to me at night*.
*One that doesn’t only love me for my ability to open the cat food cans.