devi: (bookish)
The shortlist of winners for a story competition I entered has just come out. It is probably Bad and Wrong of me to be looking over the list of titles and thinking an awful lot of them are trite-sounding rubbish. I mean, "Somebody's Mother"! "The Summer's Day"! "Saturday's Kiss"! What is it with the 's thing? And "The Great Plains of Africa", ew. I really hope that's meant ironically. Though "The Happiest Mosquitoes in Breson" does sound quite interesting.

Fear Me, competition judges! Pass me over and I'll... I'll... mock your shortlist on my blog! Oh noes!

(Mine was called "We Wait In Joyful Hope". I like nicking chunks of prayers.)

Oh well. Insert standard grey-weather/stuckness/eye-strain grump here, then it'll be out of the way.
devi: (Default)
What a grim, ugly day, with hardly any light. I'm fighting it with fairy lights, candles, and work.

Right now I'm filling in the ISBN application form - which is pretty scary, requiring all sorts of precise details I don't know yet - and mailing [livejournal.com profile] hatmandu to ask him lots of dull questions about booksellers' pricing practices. [livejournal.com profile] puritybrown has half the manuscript and is editing it. This is closer and closer to being a real thing. The rest of the time my head is in China. It's brighter there.

I haven't much faith in the book today. But I press on regardless. I was saying to [livejournal.com profile] metame on Sunday that this is one way travel writing is easier than novel writing. When I'm writing novels and start to panic, I lose faith in the whole plot. Maybe the main character should change gender? Maybe two characters should merge, like the opposite of amoebas? Maybe the ending sucks? If this book was fiction, by now I'd be thinking it was lame and cliched to send the characters to Japan and it would all be so much better if they went to, say, Kamchatka instead.

But no. I know what the next bit is, because I was there when it happened, and I write it, and then I write the bit after that.
devi: (bookish)
ARGH AM INCAPABLE OF DOING ANY WORK WHATSOEVER.

I need help to get enthused about words. What's your current favourite word and why do you like it?
devi: (railway)
Hasty life-update: On Friday accidentally went clubbing, that is, went to gig at the Zodiac which turned out to be a club that just happened to have an hour or so of live band. Rather good club too. Though at first, when I thought people were just doing the 'stand around and wait for the band' thing, was surprised by the random strangers attempting to hug me. Band were Goth As F*ck despite playing breaks and other dancey stuff, I mean, they were called Devil's Gun and their first track was called Raising The Beast and they had a waily girl singer for that 'touched by the hand of Ofra Haza' effect. They should totally play Whitby. Danced myself sober, wheeled my bike up Cowley Road with others who were walking home, ringing in the ears and pleasantly tired in the legs.

On Saturday there was a pub lunch at Iffley Lock where I fed ducks and geese and then there was a murder mystery on a boat in Africa (aka Jo's flat) with no actual murder in it but plenty of intrigue and treachery ([livejournal.com profile] undyingking, my compliments, wasn't it one of yours?). I was a journalist who was Not All She Seemed and my accent flopped comically from bad posh-English to bad mishmash-American all night. It still fascinates me how in games like these people can put on completely different selves. It's kind of liberating.

Other than that, I've mostly been sitting in the red room working a lot on the travel book. I don't even mean sitting for hours hitting Refresh on my friends page and trying to psych myself up to work, I mean really working, without having to force myself, up to ten hours a day, because I want to. Ten thousand more words in this last week, either written from scratch, from brief notes, or patched together from longhand journals. Editing, formatting, making breakout boxes with information in them, investigating that Amazon Affiliates thing, fiddling with the cover. Also putting together a website on which to pimp self, though this makes me a bit uncomfortable. (Here are my reviews! Here is everywhere I've been published, which isn't really very many places! Buy my book! Go on! Oh dear.) Spent today finding bits of PHP on code websites and bashing them till they do what my site needs them to do. Feeling burnt-out now and nursing glass of wine.

[livejournal.com profile] carbonunit sent me twenty quid by Paypal before Christmas when I was panicking about money. [livejournal.com profile] carbonunit is a lovely and generous person, and perhaps might like to know that his money has just covered most of the cost of my domain registration and webhosting for the coming year.

But I still haven't got a job. My CV is out there, I've had a couple of interviews recently with schools who say they'll phone me when they have work for me to do, I have lots of potential work in March and April, but no job-as-such yet. I worry that all this book stuff is just an especially interesting-looking bucket of sand for me to stick my ostrich head in. But I only worry for periods of about five minutes at a time and then I get an idea for something I can add to the text or the site and back goes my head in the bucket again. Yeah.

Whoops! I forgot the main point of this post!: I've been looking at author websites and general web-stuff for inspiration, but haven't found anything that's set my world on fire, and some of the really cool-looking blogs I used to read a few years ago have actually become much more boring. So. Plz recommend me a website that you saw recently and thought looked cool/interesting/unusual/"whoa-I've-never-seen-anything-like-that"/just nicely done? I won't poach their look wholesale. (I couldn't - my web design skills aren't up to it.) I'm just looking for ideas.
devi: (bookish)
Ho hum, two rejections in the past week. But never mind. Stephen King said in that book about writing that you haven't really earned your stripes or learned your craft if you haven't got... er, a certain thickness, some inches anyway... of rejection letters on a spike on your desk. But hold on! All my recent ones have come by email! They have no physical thickness! I will never fill up the spike on my desk and never succeed! King Has Said It So It Must Be True.
devi: (busy)
Sending off query letters to editors about articles gives me such a buzz. Not as big a buzz as actually submitting something, but a buzz all the same.

Bzzzz. Bzz bzz.
devi: (nano2005)
Woo yay! and other such exclamations of delight.

Goddamn I'm exhausted now. But that was a lot of fun, even with the sore shoulders. I must have more deadlines. Deadlines are my friend.

Aaargh!

Nov. 30th, 2005 05:01 pm
devi: (bookish)
Aaargh the first was bad enough: I have 4,500 words to write by midnight tonight. I was quite laid-back about it until I realised I can't sit up doing it till 3am as usual because November ends at midnight!

But then Aargh the Second hit: I have to send the manuscript in by midnight to be validated if I am to claim to be a Winner. The manuscript is on my laptop, which is not on the net!

Er, please can I come round someone's house where there's wireless internet, at about 11pm tonight? I won't need to stay long or distract you with socialising, just send the thing off, go 'yay' and go away again.

Ah. Edit: I am a muppet and have just noticed the large stack of recordable CDs near the computer. Wireless net not required after all. Phew.

Edit 2, 9pm: 2,250 words done. Halfway there...

Edit 3, 10.40: 1000 more to go argh shoulders hurt tired must drink more sherry argh
devi: (railway)
I'm in a cosy living-room in Dublin with [livejournal.com profile] inannajones, thesis-typing, and a cat, sleeping. And an open fire. And it is good. Would that it could stay that way. But it's back to the UK and the Real World (ie work-hunting) soon. Bah. I have no idea about anything and am waiting for the Heavens to Send Me a Sign or something.

Writing is going okay-ish; I'm about 6000 words behind, but I'll make it up (I will, I will). I am now thinking of Angels' Prey as Fish In The Sky until I think of something better, because it makes me laugh and think of Eddie Izzard trying to sing the US national anthem.

Last night we went to see Neil Gaiman being interviewed for RTE Radio. Now I'm not the swooning fangirl I was ten years ago when I started reading Sandman (= started reading comics) but I enjoyed it hugely all the same. He has great anecdotes, well told, and does a hilarious impression of Alan Moore, and there was something distinctly eldritch about him intoning a description of Destiny under a full moon. And his advice for aspiring writers has sent me into a frenzy of enthusiasm.

But back to the trip. Kyoto pictures will be next, but first I have to tell you about The Bit on the Boat between China and Japan...

*

4th-6th October

My brother and I are the only ones on the deck of the Su Zhou Hao, the ferry that runs between Shanghai and Osaka. We have the ship almost to ourselves. For hours now Japan has been creeping up on us and reaching out its islands to embrace us. The ship is sailing past the top of Kyushu, the southernmost island. We’ve been up here watching the scenery roll by, muffled up against the warm but damp and insistent wind. We can see mountains, with drifting threads of fog in their valleys, and the occasional house with its own little sea pier and a plume of smoke rising. Now the boat enters a narrow, wooded strait. Far away we can see a string of blinking red lights in the dusk. It grows gradually into a huge, graceful suspension bridge, hundreds of feet high, connecting two islands. We sail beneath it as traffic twinkles past above. “Well, hello, Japan,” Ivan says.

The voyage takes two days... )

In which we encounter heavy seas )

In which we partake of luncheon, sake and beer )

Being an account of the on-board entertainments )

Of the Particulars and Peculiarities of the Inland Sea )
devi: (Default)
Being a collection of disjointed bits. First:

Awww. She makes me want to re-blue my hair.
(You get these from TekTek.org. Click 'create your own')

And some tickyboxes:
[Poll #609650]

I never claimed to be good at titles. I did like The End of Words, though.

And: Do you lot want to see pictures of Kyoto? Or are you sick of travelogue by now? Is it needy of me to ask? Gah, I don't know.

this week

Aug. 19th, 2005 08:01 pm
devi: (Default)
Word count: 9,000 of the 20,000 I was hoping for
Number of Owen and Janet's books read: 18
(These two facts may be connected)

How lovely it is to lie in the sun and read all afternoon, watching microlight aircraft looping in and out of the clouds in the big Cambridge sky. You get so used to planes plodding along in businesslike straight lines that seeing them going round in circles for the sheer fun of it is strange and beautiful. And then writing till 5am and going to bed with head still abuzz.

Jon, I haven't had an email or a voicemail from you. Can you try the address in my userinfo? I'm leaving tomorrow anyway, though.

the hermit

Aug. 15th, 2005 06:18 pm
devi: (masked)
And so the Strange and Rootless Summer goes on. I'm house-sitting for [livejournal.com profile] addedentry and [livejournal.com profile] j4 in Cambridge right now. They have no internet yet. On the one hand, this is a bit weird. On the other hand, it means I'm getting lots and lots of writing done, and watching their videos, and magpieing my way through their fantastic poetry collection, reading Four Quartets over and over again and playing the Oysterband loudly. And the 24 Hour Party People soundtrack. If I ever have the study/library/workshop I dream of, I think I'll call it the Factory.

Now I'm in a lovely little netcafe/bookshop called CB1 on Mill Road. It has a bookcrossing shelf. I've adopted Mary Dorcey's Biography of Desire (apparently it's the first ever Irish erotic novel. Hmm. No I said no I won't no) and had a chat with the folkie proprietor about bookcrossing. I wonder what I have in my rucksack that I can leave in return?

Saturday was [livejournal.com profile] ghoti's wedding, which was beautiful and full of hymns and ceilidh dancing. It was weird to be singing things like Here I Am Lord (a Fanore classic) again, and some of the hymns were downright apocalyptic ("Come back suddenly, Lord, and fill your temples!" At least I can take consolation in the fact that they've been singing that hymn since the 1700s and He hasn't come back suddenly yet), but it still felt sort of right. And it seems I really like ceilidh dancing. I'd better not tell my mum or she'll make me accompany her to sessions in school halls to dance with sweating elderly farmers with one hand*.

This past week... I have no proper words, so I'm just going to mumble indistinctly about exploring territories real and imaginary, and books and ideas I needed just falling into my lap, and being amazed at my own brain (it's not as egotistical as it sounds, really, it could apply to anyone's brain), crazy random conversations, speaking things long unspoken, and stuff, and things. And stuff. Er...

Anyway, never mind the specifics; the result is I'm in a writing frenzy. I wonder if it's possible to write 20,000 words in a week? I'll be back online properly at the weekend, I hope, maybe. I'm sorry to anyone who tried to contact me these last few days who didn't get a reply. A couple of weeks ago I was all gregarious and now I've turned back into a recluse. I am a flake.


*This has actually happened before
devi: (Default)
In other news, I've pretty much given up on Nano. I've been working late most evenings of the week, but it's not just that. I seem to have lost the knack of fast writing. I'm planning every bit before I write it, especially with the Choose Your Own Adventure story (working title Traffic Lights). And planning doesn't count towards your word count, but I don't want to dive in and write confused, badly-thought-out stuff. I remember the sheer tooth-pulling agony of turning The End of Words from a Nano-novel into a proper final draft this summer, and I don't want to knowingly write stuff I can't use.

But I've got 27k of words I didn't have before. If I could do 30k a month, I'd be finished a draft of another book by February. Maybe I'll try to do that instead?

*

A man on the tube yesterday, wild-haired and unshaven and holding a can of strong cider, was addressing the whole carriage in a thick Northern Ireland accent, barely moving his lips so that I was looking around for a long time wondering where this Ian Paisley blare was coming from. He was saying 'No' a lot, which added to the Paisley impression, and 'I'm not running away. I'm facing up.' The girl opposite him fiddled with her water bottle and looked around and shielded herself with her pink handbag. Two others moved away. He said something indistinct ending in 'words', but it wasn't till he stood up to get off that I worked it out. He was saying 'You think I'm talking to you because I want something. I don't want anything from you, just words. Words, that's all."
devi: (Default)
Livejournal Choose Your Own Adventure: It's coming along. Hopefully I'll be able to post up the first few bits in maybe a week. I'd like some of the threads to be longer before we start, in case they improbably turn out to be the wildly popular ones.

Pennydreadfuls: So I've quixotically decided to do four new PD chapters *along with* the CYOA novel. I've been switching between them, it makes my head sore, but I've got one done and should finish the second chapter tonight. I might start posting them up in December, so I'll always be four weeks ahead. Or that's the theory.

Random acts of Wodehouseness: Several more letters dropped since the last Great Big Table. Proper update on that to come. I need to sit down and write to about another dozen of you. But - and this made my day - [livejournal.com profile] kasku got her letter, replied with one of her own left on the W3 bus, and I got it this morning!

The postmark seems to say "Greenford". Hmm. Those of you who got yours, and who have them to hand - can you make out the postmark on them?

Mix CD: Stalled while the iMac's been offline in the spodhole. But I've got Thursday off, so I can haul it back into the livingroom and download some mp3s. Those of you who kindly offered to put some up for me, I'll give you a mail to arrange - thanks. And thanks very much also to the people who said they'd send me a mix.

Oof. I am far too busy.
devi: (Default)
So I was making a CD of songs to inspire people, to get them doing something, and I'd tentatively agreed with [livejournal.com profile] trishna to have it done for the Nano kick-off meeting. Trouble is, that's today, and I haven't got enough songs yet. I need maybe four or five more to make it a good full CD - and the bar's just been raised by [livejournal.com profile] miss_newham's John Peel tribute mix tape, which arrived this morning and looks fantastic. I can't give out a measly 45 minutes of music now.

Can anyone point me at mp3s of Lose Yourself? Or Dream On?

I'm still going to try and get it done, and give some out at the next meeting - but for those who don't want to wait that long, or aren't in London or aren't Nanoing, you can take advantage of my new-found ability to use the post office. I will send you the compilation, and all I ask in return is that you send me a mix of your own, no constraints, just anything you think I ought to hear. Who's interested?
devi: (Default)
Anyone who's been to a Zokutou meet will know the Opposites Game, where each player tries to write the opposite of the previous phrase, and then we all have a giggle at how this drifts over time. We had a big opposites game going on our airing-cupboard door at the party this weekend, and this is what resulted:

Red, The Blood of Angry Men! Black, The Dark of Ages Past!
Blue, the flesh of peaceful ladies, white, the light of the future!
Busted! Your Skellington of War-Bastard, Dusky, The Deeply Serious History!
Fixed! My Body of Hippy Bright, The Flimsy Future
Loose - your spirit fascist, dull, the solid past
unfasten thy ghostly totalitarian kdiko kosta jedno nocenje?
Tighten my fleshy communist, sharpen a runny future
Undo your bony capitalist, blunt many static pasts
assemble my voluptuous anarchist, keen few mobile futures.
Scatter thine skinny Thatcherites, loathing many stable flashbax!
Gather my fat Commies, loving some volatile premonitions
Scatter your [illegible] Capitalists, hating [?] from stable events in the past.
Collect my fat commies, loving together to wobbly tedium outside no future.
Buy all the records of McCarthy, and get married!
Steal no Skrewdrivers, lest ye take refuge in the Guardian's "Soul Mates" section 4EVAH!
People who get the cocktails in will never be lonely hearts.
Animals who give henheads out won't ever not be coupled.
Rocks that take pigbutts in shall sometimes die single.
Water gives head and won't always combine together.
Frigid liquid mixes
Barry solid straight
I am [?] of accusations of straight - [?] aka Barry
Okay - he's a raging queer
Abysmal - she's quiescent normals
Stratospheric male is effervescent extreme...
Earthed girls are easy...
Electrified weasels aren't too hot at doing difficult sums eg LONG DIVISION 362 by 521467 ect ect
Earthed buzzards love maths
Solar silence hates english
The lunar noise rather obstructs the lovely French countryside.
Dean Wareham's ex-girlfriend loves the civilised City Life magazine.
ANTONYM
Synonymousness
Virtueless elephant
Evil Pixie - Shamus.
Spong-monkey bitch-arsed humping heinous hellcats from Mars
"Officers teach soldiers, soldiers teach officers, and soldiers teach soldiers" - Chairman Mao
I went to Sixth Form, you know.
I was home-schooled
You went to state school and you loved it!
I GIVE ME AMORPHOUS LOCAL COUNTY COUNCIL [?] WITH HATE
We take shapely general federal government with LOVE.
You give amorphous specific state anarchy without HATE
I love inde[?????]
HATE LEGIBILITY
The sentence adverb
[some illegible kanji]
[some stick men]
innit.


FIN.

(It's better than regretting)

(scribbled around this was "bums bums bums bums bums", and "I'm glad I crashed the wedding", and "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?")

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