Even in a little thing
The bad news today is that my students have started lobbying for continuation of their programmes. Apparently the new disability scheme didn't quite allow for mental illness as a disability.
The good news is that I have three books to read for the Aurealis awards. Three books in old-fashioned paper, with typefaces that make my eyes happy.
The mixed news is that I ache muchly, but this is just a continuation of earlier in the week and it will pass. Apparently there is a virus going round.
The good news (more of a relief than actually good) is that I ought to get through this year financially. It'll be tight, though, and nothing much income-wise to look forward to next year as yet. Much paddling under water is being done to generate income, but it takes its own sweet time, and, of course, programmes get cut and people decide to save money by not attending other courses. This is life in Abbott's Australia. I ought to be focussed on getting word of my book out and maybe travelling to bookshops and getting people talking, but the rest of the year is all about grocery money. I'm so grateful I got such an amazing time in Europe before life returned to the near-financial, and, who knows, maybe sales of various books will pick up and give me unexpected joy next royalty period. One thing this year has taught me is that good stuff *can* happen and that it's worthwhile living in hope.
The silly news is that it was my turn to educate my work experience student. She came round this afternoon and I felt not-up-to-much, so we snacked and watched 1960s children's TV with me.
I have to stop thinking of Gough Whitlam in a pink shirt. It's disrespectful. I didn't mind being disrespectful while he was alive (also, he was the very big bloke who chose to wear a pale pink shirt and no jacket, when I met him face to face) for Whitlam earned respect in other ways, but now that he has died, it seems just wrong.
Whitlam's years turned me towards politics. He opened the possibility of a country where it was OK to be erudite and to be culturally different. He also opened the door to fear of double dissolutions and blocked supply. Our pollies are still so scared of the latter that we're stuck with an abusive government. Whitlam wasn't scared, I suspect: but he did lose office because of it.
I met Whitlam in my activist years (of course), but I met him at a women's function because Mum went to university with the guy who announced Whitlam's dismissal. They joked that they dropped out at the same time but for different reasons. This meant that every time Smith was at an event (and he turned up at quite a few, for he is a seriously cool bloke) I exchanged greetings on behalf of my mother. One time we started chatting and Whitlam hove up in his pink shirt. It was a lovely pink. A gentle tea-rose pink. His face was also pink, but a darker shade. Whitlam loomed over me: tall and broad and very very pink.
He was such a mixed bag as a Prime Minister. The best one-liners; the most divisive tactics; the most tremendous vision. For many. many years I kept a copy of the paper where his dismissal was announced, because the man was so important to who I became as a politically-inclined adult. Whenever I was asked to join a political party, however, I thought of Whitlam. If he, with all his privilege and charm and height, could be shoved aside so abruptly, then I with all my differences was not going to get very far at all. The only party I would have changed that decision for (the Greens) not only never approached me, but discovered their inner antisemitism. As antisemitism goes, it's very mild, but it was enough to keep me away. Whitlam's party wooed me with a quiz night, for the record, and it was fun. It was also obvious that I was being wooed to be rank and file. Being the person who makes tea and copies papers wasn't my idea of my life: I wanted my voice heard. And my voice has been heard, just not in mainstream politics.
Without Whitlam, I'd not even have considered this route. I would have looked for social change in entirely different ways.
I think I'll treasure the memory of the pale pink shirt, after all. Whitlam wasn't scared to be different. And he was witty. Very, very witty. I like that combination. I like it most that he changed Australia and gave us the chance to be our more interesting and more educated selves. He helped us to grow into the wider world. He helped us see how much we cared for the needs of others and for a shared future. That we're shrinking now is testament that his time has past and that we have to reach for these things all over again.
Ave atque vale Edward Gough Whitlam. In your memory, your best-known one-liner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpJD0nSx
ETA: a quick list for those who are less familiar with Australian politics: http://www.buzzfeed.com/markdistefano/t
My biggest issue with self-publishing is that I keep encountering writers who haven't learned to assess what they know. They don't understand when their grammar is lacking or their adjectives are redundant or their choice of words is not quite sufficiently Malapropian to be funny.
This is true of most writers. We all go through many learning stages. One isn't born a complete writer: language must be learned and so must story-telling.
I've read some amazing self-published writers who have acute language sense and write adorable prose. What I wish was that the other writers, the ones with less adorable prose, would get advice before getting their work out there. Of the not-so-good self-published books that hit my desk, only one in ten is by someone who may not be sufficiently good at learning. All the others come from people who have just as much talent as many other writers. Most of them need to push harder, learn longer and not be in such a rush to be published.
That's a good note to put aside the book I was itching to edit (which I was supposed to be reading) and get on with something else entirely. I hate it when I really want to love a book but the writing is so full of bristles and thorns that it's easier to wait a hundred years than to try to get through it.
Now, where is my to-do list for today?
I'm unintentionally tracking childhood memories today. I'm also working. And I'm also sleeping. Some of those aches and pains were a virus, it seems. Of course I have a virus. Anyhow, now I'm treating it as a virus it's behaving much better and I feel more in control of things. Still viral, but I get moments of lucidity that remind me that I will be over it in a couple of days.
I also don't feel I have to edit my way into oblivion*. I still need to get enough done, but I can stop when it all gets too much, so 'enough' is a lot less than I had planned.
There was a wave of responses to my novel over the weekend. It seems I've written another novel that people have to tell me about. I think I should just get used to the fact that my novels get personal responses from my readers. More so, in some ways, than my blogposts. The first novel got "I want to have coffee with Rose." The second novel had people asking "What's Liz doing with her life now?" (and one writer actually wrote a bit of her life into a blogpost before realising that it was from my novel). This novel so far is eliciting dire "I have theories about what happened to so-and-so" but only some readers will tell me what those theories are. I also get writers wanting to play in my sandpit. If enough writers want to write stories that play with the ideas from Langue[dot]doc 1305, then I rather suspect my publisher would be up for an anthology, so I hope this trend continues.
And in other news, dinner's ready. After dinner, I get to rest a bit before doing much work.
*oblivion is my word of the day
Not unexpectedly, today is a mixture of marketing, editing and migraine. The migraine was the natural consequence of recent aches and weather, and the rest was not unexpected, either. I did some of my editing before market, but have taken a break since then just because I want to break this cycle. Most of the cycle is due to overwork, so a few hours of rest and relaxation and occasional naps should make a big difference.
If Aurealis has the same number of entries in the fantasy novel category as last year, then I'm halfway through. I'm almost out of books (as you know) and have a tremendous desire to do a state of field comment. My state of field comment today, though, would consist of the note that only a few of the major authors have had works submitted thus far and so the range of works I've read are not necessarily indicative of the field. This would not be a useful thing to tell you, so I won't.
The other news is that I was tidying and found a stray container of bubblemix (the sort that makes lasting bubbles) which is just what my flat needs right now. I shall go breathe bubbles for a bit, and maybe have a cuppa.
I didn't intend to be a delicate daisy today, but it appears I am one, anyhow. I firmly decided that it was all in my mind..and then I looked in the mirror. There is a particular tree that blooms in Spring that brings with it much fluff and causes me to fall apart in a genteel way. My eyes are shadowed and my skin is ragged and breathing is a bit of a challenge.
The rest of me is mostly annoyed, for I really don't need this. I don't need the wildly huge sinus headache or the muscle fatigue or the feeling of aggrievement*. What I don't like more than any other of the not likes, though, is that my eyes can't focus for more than a certain time. Getting through what must be done today is going to take a lot more time than it usually does.
This means that people should tread warily around me, but they won't. I suspect this means that I should refrain from answering non-urgent emails, for I'm likely to be fractious. I just received an email I would be a bit fractious about anyhow, for emails went unanswered for ages and I said "Next time I'll check that this is still happening before I send you anything" and lo, I checked and got a "Of course we do this" email. I get to be everyone's angry person who needs a gentle scolding at times like these, simply because I check systems when they've been fallible. (I admit, in this particular instance all it convinces me is that the organisation really doesn't want me round, which is a great shame, but means I can solve things for both sides by simply moving on. I just won't do it today, because today is informed by me being a delicate daisy and decisions like that are not likely to be done well.)
My biggest task today is editing. The stuff I've been working on needs to be finished today, quite simply. Editing is fine when I'm like this (except for the eye issues and the headaches) because grumpiness helps me reconsider approaches to a task. (Is it reassuring to know that I'm editing my own writing, not some poor innocent's who doesn't deserve my mood - and that it's mostly a "Check the tone and make sure it's not boring" edit for NF?)
Now that I've explained everything in excruciating detail, I'd better do some work.
*spellcheck doesn't like this word - I might have to use it more often.
Theories are wonderful, but my plans for keeping up with Aurealis reading without causing myself any discomfort or interfering with work keep getting turned upside down. The problem this time is how very slow publishers are in sending entries in. I could read the two books a day I planned for this weekend, or I could save some books for next week's reading time: I can't do both! This is only a problem if we get lots more entries - I don't have a problem with being nearly up-to-date in my reading.
What I shall do this weekend in Aurealis time, I think, is write up all my books on our spreadsheet (I'm behind on that right now) and I shall save at least two of those last four books for next week. I shall see if I can get a good draft of an academic paper instead, and maybe catch up on some other academic stuff.
This is not instead of my work on the Beast - it's just instead of Aurealis reading. This was always going to be a busy weekend.
For my next trick, I shall finish with my ANU proposals for next year. We've all agreed on what I'm doing and when, first semester, but there is a whole new system of forms that need filling out, so i shall spend an hour copying and pasting so that all the PR can be produced with less work. Eventually, this will all be straightforward, but this year we're switching systems and it's labour intensive at my end. Labour intensive and urgent - the usual combo.
I might have some new meetings next week or the week after. I asked the university if I could grow my teaching skills a little and they've agreed to let me mentor other staff who need to get basic teaching accreditation. I have four mentees.
I'm one of a group doing this and it's just what my own teaching needs. So much of the time I teach from within my own background and what I have learned from my various teaching quals. Now I'm going to find out how other teachers learn and how they approach their own teaching from a much closer place. I gravely doubt that this will count towards any kind of employment, but I'm always happier when I'm learning, so this is my little bit of extra happiness for this year-end. For those who wanted to know what I'm doing with my volunteer time at this moment, this is about 1/3 of it (I'm putting conferences and SF stuff partly on hold for a while) - my skills and knowledge are needed more elsewhere right now.
In other news, my GUFF report has a complete first draft and it has been checked by Claire. It just needs my own trimming and copy-editing (and occasional expansion to explain things) and it will be ready for formatting.
Today I'm taking a deep breath and slowing down. Not for long. Just for today, in fact. I slowed down this morning and am already feeling better for it. I'm hoping it mean that the things that feel impossible will be less so. Some of them are genuinely impossible (don't get me started on the effects of current government policies on my various income streams) while some of them just feel difficult because I'm so very tired and have done an extraordinary amount this year.
For the rest of the year, I plan to have one day a week when I stop and breathe. I will still work on these days, but I'll rest and not push to finish everything: I'll genuinely take time out in between tasks. If I can do this on other days, I shall, but (to be honest) I won't often have time on other days.
Tonight's talk was interesting. I don't know if it was interesting to hear, but it was fascinating to watch everyone's faces. CSFG meets in a small room, so I was up close and personal, which I don't get as often as I used to.
I thought you might like my notes (without any explanations, of course, for that would mean doing a half hour of talk all over again and bed beckons and besides, I can't see any faces so how can I adapt the talk to meet your needs?) - the subject is on research for writers of novels:
1. Shape of text (specific to writer, specific to text)
2. Shape of subject (including scholarly interpretation)
3. Shape of available sources (primary, secondary, tertiary, note that languages used help shape perceived sources)
4. Obtaining understanding, shaping the text alongside the development of world-for-novel
5. Presenting it to readers: telling detail, world of novel, using genre conventions
I have absolutely no idea if the notes make sense without my many-minutes of explanation, but the talk made enough sense so that we had a half hour of solid (and even impassioned) discussion afterwards.
Tomorrow I have no meetings, no teaching and will use the hours saved to spend time-out with friends. I have editing to do in the interstices again, though. And a re-envisioning of footnotes. If I come across anything exciting, I'll let you know. Don't try to follow me, though, for I'll be in the Middle Ages and it could get dangerous.
If you buy a copy of Langue[dot]doc 1305 from Amazon and get sent an uncorrected proof, this is Amazon's mistake. They have tangled their files and printed you out the wrong book. It's not my publisher's fault. I would appreciate it if you could grump at Amazon, so that they send you the book you ordered. The final not only has the prettier cover, but it also is corrected ie more fun to read.
The only bookshop that has new uncorrected proofs (unless people have sold theirs, in which case they are second-hand books) is Porcupine Books in London and the number of them is limited and there will be no more when they're gone and they're ALL SIGNED. So if you actually want a new uncorrected proof, Porcupine Books has them, properly, and everyone else is either selling second hand or producing new books after the final has been supplied unto them (which is a file control issue).
PS Thanks, shewhomust, for letting me know about the problem!