Because if so, I am so not into it.
(I realise the time leading up to menopause is now called perimenopause, but I can’t be fucked with the extra letters, so I’m sticking with calling the whole damn thing menopause).
I’ve been crying a lot. Really down. Just fucking despondent. And I don’t know if it’s a natural reaction to writing genuinely not going well, or if it’s hormones. I mean, I’m hitting that time of life.
This is an article on those hormones, the little fuckers:
A woman in her forties can expect to cop a whole lot of shit from changing body chemistry. Just in case that’s happening, when I get back to Thailand — which will be soon — I’m going to head down to the gyno and talk to her about it. I know you don’t just have to take a fucking bubble bath and light some fucking candles, there are progesterone creams and things to try.
One common symptom that I don’t particularly seem to have is rage. Irritability, sure, but not real rage. Which is fine with me. This post is just cranky, not raging — really. But if anxiety and insomnia and feeling low are all related even partially to my stupid ovaries, maybe something can be done about it.
I think I’ve pointed out Badass of the Week before, but I want to mention it again — not just for general afficionados of badassery, but to anyone interested in women’s history and lives. The site’s archive features a fair few badass women — some fictional or legendary, but mostly real, including soldiers and revolutionaries, pirates, pilots, warrior queens, tyrants, doctors, frontierswomen, and ordinary women and girls who fought attackers or otherwise acted with awesome bravery. Lots of inspiring material, told in rip-roaring and salty style.
I think I’ve mentioned the house where the kangaroos hang out. I’ve seen small groups of them lolling on the verandah. The other day I went walking up that way and there was a mob of about 30 there — packing the verandah and overflowing down the steps and onto the lawn. There was washing on the line, too, so it looked even more like the roos had moved in. There’s also a lone male hanging around in our neighbour’s yard and sometimes ours — he’s been there a few weeks, lolling under trees like an odalisque. Things here on the town edge are less rural than they used to be — there are more houses — but the blocks are big and the roos seem to be coping fine. A while back Dad saw a wombat in the yard next door, but it was gone by the time I got out of the house. Another time, maybe…
Reluctantly, I’m putting Gunpowder Tea down. Haven’t touched it for a couple of weeks now. Too much about it isn’t working. Could be that too much of the plot is wrong for the theme, or the characters are wrong for the plot and/or theme; the genre mashup in it isn’t working for me, and crucially, it doesn’t feel like it has any kind of beating heart. There are bits in it that I really like — but only bits, and not enough of them.
I don’t think this is perfectionism talking. This is more of a “the engine doesn’t work” kind of judgement — not fiddling with the upholstery and the dashboard lights. Maybe I’ve only kept working on it so long because other things are daunting. But I really did want it to work — I just couldn’t do it. All the positive self-talk in the world can’t fix something with fundamental flaws.
It hasn’t been easy to admit defeat, but it’s only a novella, and I’ve already spent far too much time on it.
There might be a lesson here about using writing as comfort or escape. I have a tendency to be melancholy. I don’t want to call it depression — never had a diagnosis, and not sure I’d trust one. It’s never overwhelmed me for long periods like anxiety has. Maybe it’s just my personality, or that lovely tidal zone between personality and pathology. But writing in a certain way, about certain things, can lift me out of it into a better headspace. I used to use drawing for the same purpose, then I learned to use writing.
But that writing isn’t always good writing. It doesn’t always work as narrative, even as odd narrative. I’m afraid that’s what happened with Gunpowder Tea.
So it probably wasn’t so much that other things were daunting; it’s just that that writing had the right kind of medicine in it, for lack of any other word coming to mind, and other things that I should have been writing didn’t.
Get out of the dead car, stick my thumb out, hitch a ride.
Piccinini said: “My question is what if evolution went a different way and instead of going back into the sea, from which they came originally, they went into the air and we evolved a nature that could fly instead of swim. In fact coming from a place like Canberra where it’s a planned city that’s really tried to integrate and blend in with the natural environment, it makes a lot of sense to make this sort of huge, gigantic, but artificial and natural-looking creature”.
Thanks to my mother, for a long time I’ve known that the Brontës — Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell — collaborated on writing together as children. They wrote in tiny writing in tiny notebooks. What I didn’t know was that they wrote about an imaginary shared realm, the world of the Glass Town Federation. They initially invented the kingdom of Angria, after which the two younger siblings, Emily and Anne, discontent with being forced into lesser realms, created their own land of Gondal. (If you’re hearing echoes of Angmar and Gondor, you’re not the only one — but I haven’t been able to find the slightest hint of a connection).
The enterprise began with a set of toy soldiers that Branwell received. Charlotte chose the Duke of Wellington, Branwell chose Napoleon (which, as blogger Transient points out, was like “playing Superman and Lex Luthor”, and Emily and Anne chose the Arctic explorers Parry and Ross). Each character had his own kingdom, with the capital of each one called Glass Town.
From the British Library:
They became obsessive about their imaginary worlds, drawing maps and creating lives for their characters and featured themselves as the ‘gods’ (‘genii’) of their world. Their stories are in tiny micro-script, as if written by their miniature toy soldiers.
The Brontës wrote about their imaginary countries in the form of long sagas which were ‘published’ as hand-written books and magazines, reminiscent of the early fanzines created by science fiction fans from the 1930s, as well as the imaginary worlds made up by many writers such as JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis in their childhood and adolescence. Just like today’s writers of ‘fan-fiction’ who use characters and settings from their favourite television shows and books (from Star Trek to Harry Potter), the Brontës used both fictional and real-life characters, such as the Duke of Wellington.
I’ve been looking into slip-cast porcelain as an alternative to bronze. It looks rather promising — something you can do at home, then take to a kiln to be fired. I don’t know where I could buy supplies in Bangkok — I’m sure there’s somewhere, I just don’t know where, or how easy it is to get to — so I might buy some here and take them back. I’ve got a couple of pieces to try making that I don’t think will be terribly difficult — fingers crossed!
The Aurealis Awards have been announced, and I’m honoured and delighted that That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote received the award for best collection. Many thanks to the judges and organisers of the awards for all their work, and congratulations to all the winners and finalists! I owe a lot to the beta readers whose comments and critique helped me so much to work up the stories for the book: Nick Tramdack, Kirby Crow, Gillian Polack, Laurie Bland and Andrew van der Stock. Huge appreciation, guys! My thanks also to Kyla Ward for kindly accepting the award on my behalf.
2012 Aurealis Awards (winners in bold):
CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)
Brotherband: The Hunters by John Flanagan (Random House Australia)
Princess Betony and the Unicorn by Pamela Freeman (Walker Books)
The Silver Door by Emily Rodda (Scholastic)
Irina the Wolf Queen by Leah Swann (Xoum Publishing)
CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)
Little Elephants by Graeme Base (author and illustrator) (Viking Penguin)
The Boy Who Grew Into a Tree by Gary Crew (author) and Ross Watkins (illustrator) (Penguin Group Australia)
In the Beech Forest by Gary Crew (author) and Den Scheer (illustrator) (Ford Street Publishing)
Inside the World of Tom Roberts by Mark Wilson (author and illustrator) (Lothian Children’s Books)
YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney (Allen & Unwin) – Joint winner
And All The Stars by Andrea K. Host (self-published)
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Amberlin Kwaymullina (Walker Books)
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin) – Joint winner
Into That Forest by Louis Nowra (Allen & Unwin)
YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY
“Stilled Lifes x11” by Justin D’Ath (Trust Me Too, Ford Street Publishing)
“The Wisdom of the Ants” by Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld)
“Rats” by Jack Heath (Trust Me Too, Ford Street Publishing)
“The Statues of Melbourne” by Jack Nicholls (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56)
“The Worry Man” by Adrienne Tam (self-published)
ILLUSTRATED BOOK / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Blue by Pat Grant (author and illustrator) (Top Shelf Comix)
It Shines and Shakes and Laughs by Tim Molloy (author and illustrator) (Milk Shadow Books)
Changing Ways #2 by Justin Randall (author and illustrator) (Gestalt Publishing)
That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote by K.J. Bishop (self‐published)
Metro Winds by Isobelle Carmody (Allen & Unwin)
Midnight and Moonshine by Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter (Ticonderoga Publications)
Living With the Dead by Martin Livings (Dark Prints Press)
Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren (Twelfth Planet Press)
The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011 edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)
Bloodstones edited by Amanda Pillar (Ticonderoga Publications)
The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume 6 edited by Jonathan Strahan (NightShade Books)
Under My Hat edited by Jonathan Strahan (Random House)
Edge of Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan (Solaris Books)
HORROR SHORT STORY
“Sanaa’s Army” by Joanne Anderton (Bloodstones, Ticonderoga Publications)
“Elyora” by Jodi Cleghorn (Rabbit Hole Special Issue, Review of Australian Fiction)
“To Wish Upon a Clockwork Heart” by Felicity Dowker (Bread and Circuses, Ticonderoga Publications)
“Escenade un Asesinato” by Robert Hood (Exotic Gothic 4, PS Publishing)
“Sky” by Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)
Bloody Waters by Jason Franks (Possible Press)
Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott (Xoum)
Blood and Dust by Jason Nahrung (Xoum)
Salvage by Jason Nahrung (Twelfth Planet Press)
FANTASY SHORT STORY
“Sanaa’s Army” by Joanne Anderton (Bloodstones, Ticonderoga Publications)
“The Stone Witch” by Isobelle Carmody (Under My Hat, RandomHouse)
“First They Came” by Deborah Kalin (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 55)
“Bajazzle” by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
“The Isles of the Sun” by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (Random House Australia)
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (Tor UK)
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier (PanMacmillan Australia)
Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier (HarperVoyager)
SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY
“Visitors” by James Bradley (Review of Australian Fiction)
“Significant Dust” by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
“Beyond Winter’s Shadow” by Greg Mellor (Wild Chrome, Ticonderoga Publications)
“The Trouble with Memes” by Greg Mellor (WildChrome, Ticonderoga Publications)
“The Lighthouse Keepers’ Club” by Kaaron Warren (Exotic Gothic 4, PS Publishing)
SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
Suited by Jo Anderton (Angry Robot)
The Last City by Nina D’Aleo (Momentum)
And All The Stars by Andrea K Host (self-published)
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina (Walker Books)
Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (HarperCollins)
PETER MCNAMARA CONVENORS’ AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
KRIS HEMBURY ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD
So Casanova’s talking about going to Fontainebleau palace, seeing Louis XV go to chapel with the royal family and ladies of the court, and then wandering through the apartments. Just, you know, having a sticky. He watches Marie Antoinette (ETA: oops, wrong queen. The Marie before her) having her dinner.
This surprised me — I assumed that in a place like that there’d be security everywhere, and that you’d only be able to hang out in the main reception rooms — but evidently not.