changeling: (writing)
So this thing that I suffer from in my novel writing, historically speaking, is my desire to not commit to too many specificities. It's a safe thing to do when you're writing about a city you don't know well (London from the first iteration of the Fantasy Noir, my current project, back when it was called Mad Gods and Englishmen; although I've been to London and wandered around it I was 16 and it was only for a few days) or if you're not sure where you want your book to take place**.

But the thing is, it's not a *good* thing to do. The reader can tell that you're keeping things misty and vague, and so the place never seems very real. And once you ground a place properly, the location shapes the story.

I'm still secretly a play-writer, and I'm not sure how much I realised that location affects the story and/or characters, as obvious as it seems. But I'm doing some work on the Fantasy Noir, picking up the threads again after a week and a half of having (another) chest infection. This iteration of the book, this complete rewrite without referring to any previous version of the book at all, is set in Melbourne. I wrote that our main character, Alex, catches the tram into work in the mornings because, hey, it's the transport mode of choice when you're just dealing with the CBD in Melbourne. But I'm increasingly getting the sense that trams are going to be important. I'm not sure how important, yet. I don't think the main confrontation with the villain is going to be on a tram in peak hour. I'm not sure they're going to be plot-related important, but I do think they're going to be grounding-the-story-in-a-concrete-environment important.

It hadn't occurred to me before beginning the project, but I guess you can't write a noir in Melbourne without trams. And I'm finding it odd and pleasant that when I'm writing about Melbourne trams in a book set a bit after WWII I'll be writing about W-Class trams (my favourite!), which were very much my earliest memories of trams, and which were the cornerstone of my years at my Second High School. Oh man, and I'll have to remember to include conductors. Which were also part of the first year or two of my life at high school. The conductors were about the only thing keeping the grammar school kids in check.

And, of course, because this isn't just a noir novel but also an urban fantasy (ah, those days before I knew Jim Butcher and Harry Dresden when I thought this was unique), I may also need to work out whether and how the magic system interacts with something like the tram network.

Come to that, I need to work out how the magic system works.

* Really true. I came out of Blues dancing with a Floridian and another Melbourne friend one evening. The Floridian couldn't work out what this woman was doing, standing in the street but not trying to wave down a car. Juz, the other Melburnian, and I worked it out almost immediately: she was trying to peer down the road to see how far away the tram was.

** I kept vacillating between English-seaside-town and Australian-seaside-town for Shadow Boys; in the end I went with the latter, patchworking together bits from different towns I spent summer holidays in. But it's mostly Airlie Beach and Port Macquarie, really, with a large chunk of Proserpine, which is not a seaside town, and the St Kilda pier is stuck in the middle of the strand. It's Proserpine's sugarcane mill that overhangs the town and becomes the Doctor's castle in the other world. And the whole is stuck in New South Wales, somewhere north of Sydney. And, to continue this air of disclosure, it's my grandmother who lives in Proserpine who I had in mind when writing Lesley's family there. Although none of the family dynamics really resemble that branch of my family, Grandma is the undisputed head of it, just like Lesley's barely mentioned grandmother.

Technically, if I were setting this in Sydney or Brisbane at the close of the Second World War, Wikipedia shows me that I'd have to include trams in that, too, as odd as it seems to me in the next century. Quote from a Radio National special on trams:
Robert Lee: At their height, Sydney was much bigger. Usage peaked at over 400-million in 1945, petrol rationing helped with that of course, so that was peak. 400-million is enormous. Just by way of comparison, Cityrail today moves around 200-million a year; in Melbourne the trains and trams each move around 100-million a year, so a total of 200-million, a bit more, for the trams and trains in Melbourne. Sydney moved 400-million by tram in 1945, Brisbane in the same year moved 160-million. So the Brisbane trams, a relatively small network, about 80 miles, moved almost as many people in 1945 as Melbourne's combined tram and train system does today. So huge numbers.

Although since I was first writing this book in 2001 and (according to Wikipedia) the first two Dresden books were published in 2000 and 2001, that's kind of forgivable.
changeling: (writing)
And since Tumblr is (in some ways) as fleeting as a newspaper, I'm going to put them here.

Also, I like journalling. And I like that I've been doing it recently, without struggle or effort.

In response to this gif. The text reads: "Talent is a pursued interest. In other words, anything that you're willing to practice, you can do."

This is something that all artists need to learn. Particularly those that have an ‘innate gift’ for whatever (I tend to find writing and learning music tends to be easier than other people find it). Because your ‘innate gift’ will produce diddly-squat if you DON’T LEARN HOW TO USE IT. All your gift does is accelerate the learning process somewhat; IT DOESN’T REPLACE IT. Your early art will still be terrible, it will just be a bit less terrible than that of someone who finds Your Thing to be hard.

But you know what? If you sit on your well-formed derriere and do not practice your art, that compadre of yours who finds art harder than you do WILL OVERTAKE YOU.

The only way to get better is to practice.
In response to a comic written, using some of Neil Gaiman's words from a recent speech:

Always truth. And if the trauma you’ve been through means that you can’t make good art about it, make good art about something else instead. It took me ages to deal with my last breakup, and the last thing I wanted to do was to make art about it instead of grieving.

So I wrote about other things. And one day the grief I had about that breakup will fuel other art. It’s the way things work.

I have another rant coming about why I'm involved in fandom, but it's turning into this Big Long Thing (hurr hurr), so I'm going home now & will finish it later.
changeling: (Default)
I'm trying to prepare my characters with the tools and weapons they will need to defeat the Evil That Stalks the Book, and I keep running dry on what to prepare them with. Some dark corner of my mind keeps going FLAMETHROWER!!, but I'm not sure that's so wise in an enclosed space. And in a YA novel.
changeling: (Default)
As I was reading [ profile] alfrecht's summation of PantheaCon, I couldn't help but feel that Australia should have one.

Seriously. We have the Australian Wiccan Conference, but loads of the people who attend that aren't Wiccan. We might not have heaps of the Big Name Pagan Authors (like America does), but surely there are quite a few people who could give workshops. Maybe we could bring a couple of BN Americans over.

I know we have Kemetic Orthodoxists (what is the correct term there??). There's at least a couple of other Australians on the Neos Alexandria list. There are bunches and bunches of people on Witches of Melbourne who aren't Wiccan – and no-one said that Wiccans couldn't come anyway. There are thousands of people who attend the (hem, hem) Mind Body Spirit festival. Hell, you might be able to get *some* morris dancers to open the event (i.e., not the ones in our side who are strict Christians). Maybe you could manage to get Wendy (when she's not off gallivanting across America or Europe).

It'd be awesome. Unfortunately, since I am more-or-less completely disconnected from the local Pagan scene, and have no brain space to devote so such a thing, it's not going to happen. Be awesome if it did, though. It would be so nice to connect to some locals for a change.
changeling: (Default)
The reason the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in the city on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes "Boots" theory of socioeconomic unfairness.
Men at Arms, Terry Pratchett.

I've been reminded of this quote again this morning, and it's not just because my first pair of Doc Martens – which illustrated this point so well through my final year of high school – really are giving out (the gaping hole in the side is your first clue). The LJ Permanent Account sale went on today.

I've been on LJ for six and a half years now. I've been a paid account holder for about five of those years. This means that, were a permanent account purchased at the beginning of that time, it would have very nearly paid for itself already.

I had been planning on buying a permanent account. I use LJ a fair bit. I'm probably likely to still be here in six years' time; it would certainly be useful not to have to renew my paid account in a year, and the exchange rate is pretty good at the moment. The thing is ...

The thing is, my last car service cost me over $800. We're thinking about getting rid of said car, but before we do, we're going to have to get the side panel beaten out, and the last few repairs made. I dread to think what that will cost. And the $800 was all of my savings of the time. If I had that money in reserve, I'd buy one without a second thought. But I have about half of that, now, carefully built up over the last while. And I owe the house about as much money as I have in savings. I am going to be working for my mum next Tuesday, which will help, as I get paid well there.

I only make $240 per week. I was supposed to be supplementing this with freelance editing, but Mark hasn't given me another editing job since I finished the puberty book. So: $240. With the exchange rate, a permanent account would cost me $180.

Dammit, I really, really want one. And if I had a better paying job, I'd snap one up. Oh, well, I have a few more days to twist myself up about this. But for the moment, no perm account for me. At least I have a roof over my head, food, a fridge to keep it in, and internet access. This still makes me one of the richest people in the world.


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