Monthly Archives of: February 2010

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To be fair, there’s probably not that many talking cats in a forest.

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Last week I signed up for a Goodreads account. Since I’d just finished it, I decided I’d slap up a review of The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan so it would look like I’m planning to do stuff with my account (spoiler: I’m probably not).

I was pretty much just intending to say YAY CHRISTOPHER IS MY BOYFRIEND YAY, but then I looked at other reviews and realised that other pretend-authors review, like, themes and crap. So I figured I’d better balance it out by commenting on something I liked less (excessive use of the word ‘darling’; over-protective actions of multiple males towards perfectly self-sufficient and kick-ass heroine, thus undermining her self-sufficiency and ass-kickery) + YAY CHRISTOPHER IS MY BOYFRIEND YAY (because he is. And you can’t have him. So there).

I felt kind of nervous doing so, but I didn’t want the other kids on Goodreads to think I was totally shallow (YAY CHRISTOPHER YAY) and vapid (BOYFRIEND! BOYFRIEND BOYFRIEND YAY!)… so that’s how that went. And then, because this is how life works, THE AUTHOR COMMENTED ON MY REVIEW. And I was crippled with guilt for saying something less-than-complimentary about her beautiful word-world just because I wanted to look cooler than I am (CALL ME, CHRISTOPHER!), and I felt bad for days. DAYS.

And then I was NEVER GOING TO DO THAT AGAIN.

But then I read the SEQUEL.

And God, guys, I have THOUGHTS. Like, real ones this time. Not just about how Christopher is super hot and NEEDS TO BE MY BOYFRIEND and how his damaged hands that keep him from his MUSIC make me want to… wait, yeesh, has my mother found this yet? (I doubt it, or she would have called me about all the KFC this blog consumes.)

Rarely have I wrestled so with a book. Partly this may be because I read a climactic chapter while soddenly drunk and eating frozen burger patties in bed, I’ll admit, but I think I have all sorts of thoughts about dropped threads and un-unpacked ideas (WHERE DID THE CATS GO? I LIKED the cats! Also WAIT WOLF WHAT WHERE? Machine who what?)… but I also LOVED it. It’s dense and chewy and everyone has valid motivations for their actions and I thought the various races and relationships were extremely well-handled, and I enjoyed all of it very much… but I often understood very little of what was happening in the wider sense. Partly because Wynter, the narrator, was kept in the dark so often that at points it felt like everyone else in the story knew more than she did (and could do more about it), and partly because topics or themes or HUGE REVELATIONS seemed to appear and then sink without trace pages later, never to return… and partly because sometimes I was VERY DRUNK.

BUT I REALLY DID LOVE IT.

(Especially Christopher.)

But I have learned my lesson, so my thoughts will die here with me. And you. And the world wide webosphere.

I have more on reviews for another time, re: reviewers on Amazon who make me cry and rage when they mark down YA books for nothing other than dodgy language or sexual content. I was tootling about wish-listing (I’m all up in technology lately, right?) Wake by Lisa McMann, which I am v. excited to get my peepers on in the near future, and I noticed that she has a whole slew of one star reviews, many for no other reason than because there’s a homosexual situation and bad language in her book. For teens. Teenagers. People of a teen age.

I have multiple problems with this, not the least of which is persecuting an author and her work for nothing other than affronting delicate sensibilities. I can understand parents wanting to protect their children from mature content, in which case DO NOT GIVE THEM THE BOOK! But posting a review flagging the writer and her work as terrible to all of planet internet just because you disagree with her word choices? Or because there are GAY CHARACTERS?

Well.

Christopher would flip you off. Er, you know — if he COULD.

But this is not another time, so!

(My mother would also tell me to stop being so opinionated in public. And I would agree with her, but be unable to help myself. Such is my curse.)

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Ch-ch-changes!

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Things might look a bit messy for a day or two while the delightful and attractive Gisele is in the process of putting up my shiny new layout. ADVANCE WARNING: it’s going to blow your mind all over your shirt.

Sometimes working in a hospital is really good for your perspective. I like getting to see freshly baked babies when I go for coffee, all scrunched up in their oversized hats with their teeny tiny fingernails and their fuzzy, fuddled newborn bewilderment. But sometimes, like just now, I go for lunch and have to pass families waiting outside the ICU; today, two little girls clinging to their mother while they waited for the world to unravel. The expressions on those faces stick with you. Something horrible happened to someone today — it’s startling and awful to walk into like that, but it’s an excellent wake-up call. Life — and our lives — are knitted up in such a fragile web, and we spend so much time worrying about things that don’t matter at the expense of enjoying the things that do. Crazy.

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I took The Walk. So there.

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So, on my interweb dating profile, I have Hanson listed as one of my favourite bands. This does a stellar and immediate job of exposing the pretentious twatwads, as they’re the ones whose e-forays open with ‘YOU SEEMED COOL UNTIL YOU MENTIONED HANSON HAR HAR’ — and then, delightfully, continue on with whatever drivel they were spouting about themselves, which generally boils down to ‘I like stuff, and sometimes things, but also, like, whatever’, which I hope causes at least some of them concern as regards their lifestyles, but probably doesn’t. Which depresses me greatly, but isn’t my point.

I never know quite what to do with these people. Do they really think that insulting something I like is going to endear them to me? Is it a Barney Stinson imply-she’s-ugly-to-keep-her-needy thing? I love NPH like birthdays love cake, but mocking my taste in music before you know my name doesn’t bode well for our future road trips, Potential Date. Which is also not my point.

So here it is: humanity, your preconceptions and narrow-minded views are lame.

And, in this case, don’t even make SENSE. Would it not be reasonable to assume that if someone, as a child, was talented enough to write and perform a very catchy pop song, that perhaps – just perhaps! – they would GET BETTER as they got older? That there have been 13 WHOLE YEARS between Mmmbop and now, and perhaps Hanson used that time to grow up? To further develop as musicians and as people? To GO THROUGH PUBERTY?

Look, I get the stigma with the JoBros and associated Disney commodities, who (I understand) are essentially shiny-haired puppets in tight jeans, but Hanson weren’t manufactured. They’re not cracked out or cracking up. They’ve been writing and performing solid pop songs for a VERY LONG TIME and they’re pretty gosh darn good at it! Time passes at pretty much the same rate everywhere, as is its wont, so they’re adults now, with wives and children and silly facial hair — and yet the world is still collectively certain that their voices never broke. I’d bet a non-essential organ that none of these e-guys have even HEARD a Hanson song since 1997, but they’re all perfectly comfortable in judging me for enjoying them.

And sure, you either like upbeat pop with big choruses and clap tracks and gospelicious harmonies and sweeping, extravagant bridges or you don’t — but I do. I love all of those things, and I love them done by Hanson, so if you actually want to get to know me, maybe you should consider BACKING OFF MY SHIT! I’ve seen them perform three times, in three different countries, and they’re wonderful live. And nice. And approachable and passionate and have very nice skin, and take being told they’re fucking amazing by drunk, grabby Kiwi girls with truly exceptional aplomb.

(Look, it was 2004. Tequila had been taken.)

I’m not actually intending to try and convince the internet to listen to Hanson — just questioning why NEGATIVE has to be our species’ default setting. DIFFERENT doesn’t have to be BAD! You don’t have to like what I like, or do what I do — in fact, I don’t recommend it. The writing part is, like, HARD, and I freely admit to also enjoying The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, and Cicadas, and pulling the tufts of fur between cats’ toes, and chocolate sauce on pizza — but why you gotta KNOCK IT BEFORE YOU’VE TRIED IT, Y’ALL?

I’d like to hope that if a nice internet profile told me he enjoyed Tuvan throat singing or playing the didgeridoo, I’d be willing to keep an open mind despite my lack of experience in such matters. It might turn out not to be my bag — let’s face it, it’s PROBABLY not my bag — but that doesn’t mean it’s not a valid bag. Why can’t we all just let everyone do whatever it is that makes them happy (as long as that’s not drowning kittens or pushing old ladies down stairs) without feeling the need to pass judgement or get all up in each others’ business? If I was feeling more ambitious (or crazy!) I would go so far as to attempt to make some kind of comparison between the way humanity loves to snap-judge and put down and draw lines with the current position of organised religion on certain key issues (also, the ratings of Supernatural), specifically as regards what Jesus INTENDED with the do-unto-others-ing, and what history has chosen to take from it.

YES, THAT JUST HAPPENED. Dislike of Hanson = oppression of the masses. SNAP, WORLD. YOU’RE MAKING ME CRAZY.

Kelly emailed me just before all WHY CAN’T PEOPLE ALL JUST BE NICE, AND GET OUT OF MY FACE? Which just about sums it up, globally.

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EDIT! Now with audio visual aids!

Change in my life – yes, a cover, but a VERY PRETTY COVER. In person this gave me chills. CHILLS, I TELL YOU.

And the video for Great Divide, from ’07 album The Walk. It’s fun! And it has a MESSAGE! Hanson are not only super duper grade A auditory awesome, have their own label and NEVER FAIL to brighten my mood, but do some truly delicious charity work as well.

They’re way cooler than you, that’s all I’m saying.

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Equilibriated!

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Just over a year ago, the thought of having 320+ pages of semi-coherent sentences all of my very own seemed like a ridiculous pipe dream. A novel? Like, a WHOLE one? With characters? Who do STUFF? In PLACES? SERIOUSLY?

I remember so clearly how I felt, staring at a book of notes and a blinking cursor and thinking THIS ISN’T POSSIBLE. I CANNOT DO THIS. I cannot write a story that has pacing and themes and tension and relationships and clues and boys and trees and feelings ALL AT THE SAME TIME. NOBODY CAN DO THAT. IT’S WIZARDRY. DEVILRY. CHICANERY.

But I could write a sentence and a scene and a funny exchange, and a beginning and a middle and an end, and I could write kissing and fighting and swearing. And I did. And I have a book.

And it has many, many flaws.

But it exists. And I did that.

In the dark, when I’ve been staring at a single sentence for a week straight and wondering why it won’t fix the tension in a scene 60 pages later, and I’m convinced I’m a failure and a time-waster and an all-around mouth-breather, and I’d suck at Glee SingStar (I’d OWN Glee Singstar), and I’ve wasted 13 months of my life and I should burn all my pens and stop shaving my legs, and even extra-depressing epsiodes of Supernatural can’t make me feel better because my mind is dripping slowly down the front of my shirt, I sometimes forget that. I spend so much time not looking up, putting one foot in front of another — this verb, this sentence, this scene — that I forget how far I’ve already come. And I forget how much I already know.

Thank god for Kelly and Donna and Rach, who are always there to coax me down and talk me up — and sit me quietly in a corner with a tub of icecream and a spoon until I can make words again.

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Where is my off switch?

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This weekend I had my first ‘I have an awesome story I need told and since you said you were a writer…’ experience. It was quite exciting, since it was my first time, but HUMANITY, WHY SO FUNNY! Even funnier, it was from the Ridiculously Eager Gym Consultant, who is clearly not reading my blog, since she has left me a further four — FOUR! — messages in the last three days.

Dear lady: please don’t make me have a conversation with you wherein no matter HOW awesome your story is, it is not having a year of my life. Also, I doubt it’s as awesome as you think it is! Also also, I very much enjoyed my first yoga class this weekend (discoveries: not bendy! Am hurty! Enjoy the laying quietly and listening to tinkling hippie music v. v. much, even if brain not capable of shutting down. See also sleeping, as in: am not), so please do not make me loathe your establishment just because you have an addiction to hearing my voicemail greeting. It’s bordering on stalking. Seek help.

So, it’s becoming obvious that this whole working on two novels (while working) thing is exponentially more difficult than working on one (while working). I’m having what I’m calling a sanity-free interlude. Others might use different words. I’ve invited myself to Rach’s tonight to prevent me chewing off my own fingers and dancing naked in the blood — although this is still entirely likely, since when I get home I will have the exact same amount of work to do and much, much less evening to do it in. I’m all fragile and out of hand and find myself sending desperately pathetic emails at unfortunate hours, in between bouts of weeping (after a certain point, frustration is expelled as snot (I don’t know why. Ask a scientist)) and maudlin self-pity (WHY DIDN’T THAT ONE BOY LIKE ME THAT ONE TIME WHEN I WAS AT THAT ONE PARTY IN 1996) and frantic non-writing activity (YOGA. GOTTA DO YOGA. GOTTA MAKE MY OWN HUMMUS. THERE CAN BE NO MORE PRE-PACKAGED HUMMUS).

Why isn’t this in the books on writing? Set aside time each day to write. Also, expect periodically to go BARKING FUCKING MAD. This is just your tiny brain unraveling. Lose sight of the big picture and remember to wear pants in public. It’ll pass.

I keep reminding myself that this has to be sustainable, because I don’t know how long I’ll have to keep it up. But the part of me that accepts that is in direct competition with the part that thinks that the harder I work, the faster things will come together. They’re both right, but only one of them ends with being institutionalised. Probably after I set my manuscript on fire and/or cut a bitch, which is likely to happen any day now. I’m sort of looking forward to it.

Things that are probably a good idea:

  1. Sleeping.
  2. SLOWING MY FREAKING ROLL.
  3. Socialising. Spending entire weekends alone to ‘catch up’ leads to manic, jittery, finger-chewing craziness. Up is not caught. Much hummus is made. I cannot eat this much hummus.

I need some tinkly hippie music. YOGA. GOTTA DO MORE YOGA.

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A further thought!

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Why don’t we look at perfectly toned people with rock-hard abs and think a) you must be really insecure to try that hard, and b) man, you must hate fun. I hope your lack of body fat keeps you warm at night, because I bet everyone hates making dinner plans with you.

Also, I am OBSESSED with this house. OB. SESSED. Everyone who reads this blog actually knows that already, since I’ve emailed them all about it individually in order to have opportunities to talk about it on the maximum possible number of occasions. But still. I’m gonna mention it again, in the vague hope that some mysterious benefactor will give me a million dollars in the next week or so. This house is CONSTRUCTED FROM MY DREAMS, AND BOUND TOGETHER WITH RAINBOWS. I want it, mysterious benefactor. I WANT IT SO BAD.