A fulfilling few days

The last few days have been odd. On the surface I’d say not much to report, but as always I’ll uncover an encylopaedic volume of tales out of apparent thin air. This blog is called Smoke and Mirrors for a reason. 😉

More accomplishments

The pre-Christmas/Clarion ‘to do’ list is becoming short. On top of my crossed out items is completing my writing course. So, tada! It’s done! I completed the very last assignment today (on Public Relations), following hot on the heels of yesterday’s completion of assignment 17 – Theatre (in that assignment, one of the tasks was to assign dramatic structure to a plot. I chose Star Wars. Why? ‘Cos it’s one of the few movies or books of which I can easily recall the plot. So now I’ve joined the worldwide ranks of smart-arse nerds who’ve broken Star Wars down into a three act structure).

What does all this mean? Well, it means I should (barring an ungenerous act of a God I don’t believe in) be awarded an Advanced Diploma of Arts (Writing and Editing). So yes, I actually do have a legitimate qualification. And this on top of my freshly completed Certificate IV in Information Technology (Website Design) – I actually feel a sense of accomplishment and learned-ned-ness.

Now my main concern is getting my academic statements sent to me in time to get them into universityu admissions so I can land a place in a funky looking Associate Degree in Writing. I have until 7/1/05. Let the countdown commence.

Other accomplishments include seeing all the family/friends Christmas cards bundled off (along with all the presents excepting immediate-in-the-same-house family), putting in a consistent effort to complete all household chores (avast! the Domestic God has been afoot!), and pulling out almost all the weeds on our humongous, multi-tiered block (I’m now down to the thousand or so tiny ones littering the front lawn – the huge ones with the nasty spikes have been defeated [with Ange’s help, in fact she did the lion’s share of it]).

The plumber (no, I must correct myself, the Tap DOCTOR), visited today, fixing the leak in the air-conditioner (a lingering problem, given the sweltering heat, that was decaying the bathroom ceiling), our ensuite toilet (one of my few handyman jobs, which apparently went well, but still ended up screwing up anyway) and a tap. The Tap Doctor, or should I say the toilet fairy, then installed a brand spanking new toilet (or half of one). It has dual flush! How cool is that!

Since then, Ange has worked like a woman possessed – scrubbing, scratching, cleaning. She’s still doing it as I type this, and it’s approaching midnight! She has a raft of cleaning products in there, perhaps they’re affecting her lucidity. She even has a knife in there… I’m not toooooo sure what that’s all about, but when she’s so… ummm… obsessed, it’s best to leave her be…

So, given all the accomplishment goodness, all I have left to seriously complete is: the oustanding Shadowed Realms submissions (they’re dwindling), publish Shadowed Realms issue 3 (shaping up with some fine stories), complete my horror movie article/editorial for the West Coast Times newspaper (the new online one coming out soon), and do a couple of critiques for the KSP SF group. Which brings me to…

KSP SF

There has been much to-ing and fro-ing on the KSP news group about the direction we’ll be taking next year. I’ve weighed in with some lengthy arguments (since when do I not weigh in with something lengthy?), but it seems there is a split between working towards an anthology, and organising a workshop or masterclass conducted by a well known writer. If both could be done, great, but I’m more in the anthology camp.

There’s also been talk of the level and quality of critiques. I name myself as one of the delinquents (at least in the ‘not doing them’ stakes – everything I do is lengthy remember?). There are a couple of specific critiques I have planned, but many of the interruptions (listed above) have precluded this. I hope to squeeze out a couple in the ensuing days.

On the flipside, I have submitted two major pieces for critiquing since I’ve joined – Genesis Six and Singing in Prague. Let’s not worry about the flash story I sent in. Genesis Six was absolutely mauled, but in hindsight, many of the comments were spot on. It was a wake up call to me. Lazy writing habits had snuck up on me during my isolation. I’ve fixed the story (and improved it greatly) and the habits have since been corrected (namely dangling participles). Perhaps that valuable, if painful, lesson has left an impression. I think I may be considered by some in the group as little more than an earnest beginner. Maybe I’m sensitive to it, but quite frankly, the notes of condescension that I’ve seen creep into critiques of my stories is galling. I’m open to many a criticism when it comes to a story, but comments like ‘you will, no doubt, make many corrections and improvements before showing it to us again.’, no matter how well-meaning the intention, smack of lecturing.

It’s odd, but I’ve recently come to a point in my writing where I confidently feel I know what I’m doing. I feel my writing has matured, and I am moving beyond formulaic structure to something of variance and sophistication. I could cite my burgeoning credits, or the praise I’ve received (from story-rejecting editors and other sources), but these things are mere sabre-rattling. I guess it does prove that imposing the idea of an ‘unpublished professional’ on your colleagues is an uncomfortable one.

Writing

On the matter of rejections/subs, my flash tale, The Snake of Ragnar Rock Canyon (coincidentally the flash story I had critiqued by the KSP SF group – I only modified it slightly post-critique) has been picked up by Antipodean SF. It’s my fourth acceptance there (out of four attempts – 100% record!) and is due for publication in April 2005 (issue 83).

I also penned (yesterday if I recall) a micro story (or more like a parable) called Apologenesis. I’ll finish here with a brief sample:

On the eighth day, as the War in Heaven ignited, and Adam fell to temptation and sin, God looked upon His Creation and whispered “What have I wrought?”

I don’t expect to achieve much in the way of writing before Clarion South, but I do hope (quietly) to surprise myself. Either way, I’ll make up for it with a vengeance at Clarion.

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