Friday, October 31, 2008

From the mouth of babes:transformers vs Mr D

Mr D often comes out with classic comments and observations, but since I’ve developed in the past, a sense of apathy towards blogging (which I can say, thankfully, has changed) I miss sharing them with anyone. Truth be known, my memory is so bad, that I’ve often forgotten the exact string of words by dinner time. And you’ll agree with me, unless you remember the whole thing, it becomes like a joke with a forgotten punch line … conserve the oxygen!

Tuesday is DVD day for us. We go down in the afternoon and collect up our supply of DVDs for the week (they’re $2 on Tuesdays). Dylan cottoned on at an early age about movie and program classifications (another one of the light bulb moments where he made sense of it all) meaning we’ve avoided the worst of the nagging and explanations about why things are not appropriate to watch, and potential meltdowns that come from all that stuff.

If he wants something that is rated PG (Parental Guidance Recommended) he’ll come to me and we’ll negotiate it. The cartoons of The Ninja Turtles and Transformers are both rated PG, and as a consequence we’ve been able to stop him from watching them – holding him off with the ‘when your older’ or “I don’t want to watch this with you” (which is not a lie!) We have another trouble moderating his obsession with guns without introducing more of it.

So Tuesday, I was cruising for my weekly movie, when I heard his voice coming from the front counter.

“Excuse me,” this little-big voice says. “Why have you put G on Transformers. It’s got guns and violence in it and my Mum and I can’t watch it?” He knows what ‘G’ means and he knows that it’s never on Transformers.

I had to go and interpret for the video store manager, who looked a little perplexed and taken aback but the tongue lashing my four year old had just served him.

First I had to explain to Mr D, that the man behind the counter didn’t choose what ratings went on the DVDs – the manager explained that it’s the Board of Classification that did that. But that didn’t solve Mr D’s dilemma about Transformers being rated G. The best the manager could come up with was that it was ‘just a cartoon’ … like that was going to wash with Mr D. He frogmarched me off to show me the offending DVD, which was a spin off from the original Transformers, which obviously has less violence and I struggled to try and explain it all to the manager who watched on rather amused – or was it bemused?

What I loved about this episode was that a) Mr D discovered the anomaly, b) decided to do something about it and c) did something about it all by himself. He didn’t talk to me about it – he took it up with the person who he saw was responsible for the indiscretion.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sans Deux

As I write this I am recovering from surgery - that was about eight hours ago. My tongue, bottom lip and chin are still numb, but thankfully there is no pain at the site of the extractions (sounds so awfully clinical doesn't it?)

I've decided to go with limited pain relief. Because I am allergic to codeine, I'm taking of all bloody things - Naprogesic, which for those who aren't in the know, is marketed specifically for period pain and associated malaise. So I've given myself the goal of four tablets in the next 24 hours and that's it. The surgeon informed me that limited use of pain medication in the beginning actually meant that you used less in the long term, than holding off until the pain was unbearable!

I'm taking regular doses of arnica for the swelling and the bruising, and have been told that the swelling will peak in about two days time. The surgeon (the ever so lovely Dr Walker - and who EVER heard me say a nice thing about a doctor AND a surgeon!) also told me that there are people who get almost no swelling - I'm angling to be in that subsection of the population. As additional support - regular doses of collodial silica to aid with the healing (and perhaps save my hair and skin from the worst effects of the general anaesthetic) and also olive leaf extact to ward off the potential for any infections.

Dr Walker was incredibly supportive of my non use of pain medication antibiotics - giving me all the information that I needed to make informed decisions about their use and what signs to watch for that would indicate infection. I'm hoping to be looking bloody wonderful next Friday when I go back to him and give him the run down on all the natural remedies I've been using.

And no ... I'm not including a lovely photo of myself post op. You can use your own imaginations. I will however say that Annie should watch out should she ever need to be picked up from an operation ... the first thing she did was make me laugh, which is a weird and almost wrong facial function when you are totally numb. At least it made me feel better.

There's also movement (only in my head at the moment) towards one particular project, but I will hold off until the 1st to unveil it ... and I'm definitely, almost, positively sure that I will blog each day's work. I'm feeling as though I need the support of comments and feedback from folk to help me over the line this year in a totally foreign genre.

The Fantastical/Fanatical Dawkins

Paul’s latest blog post F-I-C-T-I-O-N is a reflection on Richard Dawkin’s latest attack. He writes: “If Dawkins wishes to examine whether bringing up children to believe in a religious explanation for the world affects their ability to think rationally about science is one thing, but the Telegraph reports that he wants to look at the effects of "bringing children up to believe in spells and wizards". Underlying that is the belief that when parents read fiction to their children, they are expecting them to believe these tales as unquestionable truth.”

Mr D is four years old and as an avid fan of Doctor Who he is fascinated by time travel, by sonic screwdrivers, aliens, monsters and The Tardis. At the end of the day though, he knows that it’s make believe. How so – well, we told him. That hasn’t stopped him enjoying watching Dr Who, nor has it quelled his passion for running around playing with anything that has a blinking light zapping, pretending he’s got his very own sonic screw driver. And it’s spawned a healthy curiosity for science, particularly in the manner in which the world functions.

Would Dawkins approve of the fantastical Dr Who?

I have no idea – I don’t profess to know the man’s mind nor want to. Past experience has left me wanting to throw something heavy and blunt in his direction (and I’m not even vaguely religious!)

What gets up my nose most about Dawkins, and this is a similar argument I have had with my partner (who did his Masters Degree in Environmental Geochemistry) in the past, is that science is just another belief systems. Granted it is an ever evolving and questioned set of beliefs, and yes they are beliefs based in shifting sands of empirical evidence, but to me they are just beliefs, at best good theories in motion.

If you take medicine for instance, read text from any reputable anthropologist and they will posit that medicine, which likes to raise itself up on a rather high pedestal, is just a set of beliefs – some will go as far as saying that surgeons are culturally created, as much as they are educated and trained. I’ll go as far as saying that medical science has set itself up as the new religion and doctors as the new Gods (it’s pretty obvious my general loathing of the medical profession). How else could people have blind, unquestioning belief in the science of medicine? (And blind, unquestioning acceptance of science to me is just as great a sin as the same with religion!)

You only have to look at the centuries old battle between doctors/obstetricians and midwives. What brings the two to clash – their belief systems. They both want as many mothers and babies to live as possible – but the values and beliefs they overlay, mean they often feel differently about how to reach that outcome – all based on their belief system. Obstetricians are trained to do – midwives are trained to watch, to ‘be’. In maternity care there are so many procedures and interventions routinely used in hospitals despite research that cautions against their routine use - interventions that bring little benefit or no benefit and at the worst end of the scale, down right dangerous. Yet best practise is jettisoned because the way things are done have become habits, and beliefs have sprung up to support and perpetuate those habits. And there is more than one obstetrician who specialises in IVF and Caesarean sections who has referred to themselves as “God” because now they can not just cut the babies free, but they can make and implant embryos.

As an evolutionary scientist – Dawkins should be deeply disturbed and questioning the manner in which a growing proportion of the next generation are bypassing the experience of a natural birth and what this will mean for us as a species in the short, medium and long term.

Rather than be concerned if fairy tales are destroying or hampering the next generations ability to be rational and logical – how about we spend time nurturing and equipping them with the ability to think creatively and critically, empower them to have confidence and belief in decision making. That’s the most important aspect of rational thought for me.

Last year a friend of mine, who is a psychologist, came to stay with us. From a very early age I’ve fostered in Mr D aptitude for decision making. It starts simply – offering two t-shirts and allowing him to choose which one he would like to wear, getting him to set the table and making choices about who sits where. She looked sternly at me and told me point blank “Don’t give him choices. Just tell him what to do!” Why?

I’m not sure how much decision making opportunities we got as kids, but I don’t want Mr D to grow up like me - with no confidence in decision making. I don’t want him so caught up in the emotive aspects of the consequences of a decision that he’s unable to make good judgements based on the available evidence, a certain degree of detachment and a rational weighing up of the consequences – paralysed into inaction, or recklessly just deciding, regardless.

Obviously at four, Mr D isn’t faced with lots of earth shattering, life altering decisions, in the greater scheme of things, but I realised after a conversation we had yesterday that he has a definite ability to think rationally and logically about the things that do change in his life – especially the ones beyond his control. He will be having a second year at kindy next year and as his parents, we’ve been very cautious about the way we’ve gone about discussing this with him. On Friday we found out that he’s been accepted back for a second year and while we were ecstatic, the excitement and relief of the news was lost on Mr D. So we left it.

Yesterday he said to me: “I’m not old enough to go to school yet, you need to be five to go to school and I’m only four. I’m going to kindy next year and there’ll be new friends there.” You could have knocked me over with a feather. This came solely from his processing of the latest change in his life - with zero input from either his Dad or I, his Poppy who stayed over the weekend or his teacher. It’s come from observation and processing, to come to a logical conclusion. I hope he never loses this.

Rather than be worried about reading fantastical stories. I’m certain that there are many more things that Dawkins should be concerned with – such as including science education at all levels of schooling, as well as the fostering and encouraging creative and independent thought.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NaNoWriMo Dilemma

Last year I invested time and energy into convincing myself that I couldn’t possibly do NaNo. I’m sure that I can look back on my morning pages and give you direct quotes and the rather persuasive arguments that I ran with. But sense prevailed. With it being a last minute decision to participate and without a concrete story, I sat six days out from NaNo contemplating a character. That’s all I had – one character and something of a trajectory for that character. I guess at least I had that … there are other writers in more creatively challenged positions, poised on the brink of NaNo.

This year, I’ve had all year to invest time, energy, effort and vision into my NaNo preparation and participation. I began developing my story back in January (if you’re a regular, loyal reader you’ll remember back to the Adam and Eve short stories) … but I kept coming up against walls in extending the stories into a NaNo project. Walls that remained stubbornly in place, I’ll add, even after I’d done a World Building course and been given vital encouragement from Sonny Whitelaw that not only could I write Sci-Fi, and I write it well. My writing group encouraged me, told me that it was a worthy story, that they wanted to read more. What more would a writer need?

For me it wasn’t enough … the momentum slowed and then finally stalled, to be replaced by Shet’s story (aka my little blue men story) which appeared about six weeks ago. And I was off and running again. You’d think I was sorted. But no!

Since chatting at the Brisbane Kick Off Party on the weekend, my Adam and Eve story has come back stronger and clearer than ever. I don’t need to build a world for this project … the story itself will build the world, how could I possibly know what the world will be if I haven’t had a chance to creatively explore, follow the story and the impact of this technological change on society. That was what was creating the block – rather than creating a block by forcing a character to do something they didn’t want to do, I was trying to force the setting. So I’m unblocked, excited, but perplexed.

Which story do I go for?

And then there is the consideration that regardless of what project I take on for the NaNo rollercoaster ride, half way through it will be the wrong project. What a bloody awful place to be in as a writer. The damn grey ox strikes again!

I could …

… flip a coin, roll a dice, pick a story from the hat - leave it to chance

… run a poll for all my non existent readers (I could just see it – a draw between Annie and Paul’s as they vote for different stories)

… or even worse, just surrender, sit down on the first day of NaNo and write. Let the story decide for itself what it will be. I’ve done this with characters before … after weeks of careful and profound daydreaming/contemplation, alternating between two differing versions of the character, just allowed the character to walk on the page and expose themselves (in the nicest possible way of course!)

I’d be game to try – after all I love the potential of both stories – but I’m not sure that I can trust my judgement or what might walk onto the page Saturday, given I’m having my wisdom teeth removed on Thursday (yes that’s tomorrow!) and I have no idea if I’ll need pain relief and what that might do to my creative processes.

I’ve got some scheduled posts for the next couple of days, to tide me through the worst of the post op haze … so I will keep to my ‘post a day’ promise, even if I won’t technically be writing them one a day. And I guess I’ll be back on Saturday to let you know what I decided … or what the story decided … and if there will be a blog dedicated to it!

Wordless Wednesday: Seeking

Cape Byron Light House.

Bay, NSW, Australia

(taken during the Byron Bay Writers Festival in July 2008)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On the dark dark moon

It's a dark moon energy, loitering about in Scorpio. For some reason the Scorpio vibe never gels well with me. It's a time when I sleep badly (especially when its a full moon) and seems to heighten my sensitivity to lots of things. I feel on edge, as if I can hear things that aren't there, and see things from the corner of my eye that don't exist.

While I haven't yet smudged the parts of the house that I want/need to (including my writing space) - I'm hoping I'll be up early enough to warrant setting my white sage alight and wafting it through the house, accompanied by a few well chosen words. I often wonder if the neighbours look at each other in bewilderment as to what I could possibly be smoking - as I normally smudge the house when Mr D's gone to kindy. Sadly no funny ciggies here - just bunches of cleansing sage.

Today, after the box having literally sat in the lounge room all year, I gathered up a collection of birthday presents and sent them. No I didn't sew the Red Riding Hood cape that was to go with it, nor the dinosaur tail. I thought all year was long enough to get motivated to do it - and seeings I haven't it was time for the presents, and the box that has literally been gathering dust to go. I also looked in the other box that's been sitting on the coffee table. It's got the odds and ends in it from the last make over of my creative space. It now has my unfinished curtains in there, the fairy lights and other bits and pieces that never made it back onto my desk. I think I'm resolved to hanging the curtains unhemmed and living with it. I always planned on sewing little silver bells to the bottom ... though Mr D will probably have grown up and left home (if the current rate of progress is anything to go by!) before that ever happens.

As NaNo begins on Saturday, my writing space could have a make over - not necessarily a functional one (ie. clean up all the stuff that hasn't quite been organised yet) but a beautifying one ... treat myself to the curtains - so the afternoon sun doesn't fry me, and put up the fairy lights, however impractial and ecologically nasty - it will remind me that there is something magical and special about writing!

And the desk and the present weren't the only parts of the house to get the treatment. I went through the fridge and felt embarrassed about all the biology experiments happening on various shelves and the composting project that appeared to be conducting itself in the vegie crisper. All clean and tidy now ... and Phil's back from Canada, so I started but didn't have to finished the dishes. Ahhh ....

And now I'm sitting here amusing myself, to be honest, distracting myself, while I wait for sleep to descend on me. I realise now that watching The Happenings, with this particular lunar energy, was probably not a terribly smart move. Even now I feel spooked, as I chant over and over again, it's just make believe, it's just make believe. But it got me thinking about time wasting and the plethora of distractions modern society has. What are we all escaping from. I'm OK with saying tonight that I'm escaping dark and scarey thoughts evoked from the movie ... but what are others out there distracting themselves from.

In the The Artist Way one of the exercises is to go on a reading drought - that is you aren't allowed to read ANYTHING (remembering of course that the book was published before the internet explosion). Cameron says that people medicate themselves with words ... and that's probably a very apt, and rather uncomfortable evaluation of the internet.

Tomorrow's a new day (actually it's today given that we've just clicked over midnight) ... and a new moon. What a lovely energy to begin NaNo with - but more on that soon.

I have no idea who to attribute this eerily photograph - however it was found at Iris39

What's on your bedside table?

It's always quite telling what has collected on your bedside table. My bedside table becomes the repository of all kinds of things, but it is mainly books. With the dark moon upon us, I thought this morning was probably as good a time as any to shift the teetering mound from my bedside and back to where it belongs - before it knocked buried me in the middle of the night by a sudden seismic shift..

After removing a dozen kids books – among them a dinosaur book about going to bed (the message has been lost on Mr D), a couple of Lola & Charlies, an alphabet book and learning system … the picture beside is what I discovered. Fairly authentic respresentation of readine material present, present and future.

50 Great eBusiness and the Minds Behind - Emily Ross & Angus Holland comes with a particularly good story. About two months ago Dave and I took our date night to Kabuki, a rather high class tepanyaki bar in Brisbane. Realising that we were going to spend the night sitting on stools and that there was going to be no room for my go-every-where back pack - I took a brisk walk back to the car. When I got back 50 Great eBusiness and the Minds Behind was sitting on the bench at my seat. It took a bit to work out that a) it wasn't a surprise gift from Dave (to advance the progress of a business idea that I've been incubating with Paul for a good slab of the year) and b) it belonged to the gentlemen sitting to my left.

It turned out that the man sitting to my left was veteran Australian TV and radio broadcaster. We got to talking, as you do when your squashed sardine style at a tepanyaki bar (that's a story just in itself!). I mentioned to him the business idea that Paul and I have been brewing and he was greatly impressed. Upon leaving he decided to gift me the book. And what a fascinating read ... how started, the origins and urban myths related to Facebook, just to name two. I just have to get through it and return it to him, and perhaps talk some business as well!

Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham is a re-read in the wings and thus has an honoury position beside the bed. I must have been 12 or 13 when I read Day of the Triffids for the first time, during a school holiday stretch. Thankfully I remember little about it so it should be like reading a book for the very first time. This is more of my sci-fi reading in preparation for NaNo.

Around the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne should technically have fallen into the 'goobah pile' of books, since it was Mr D himself who found it and asked me to read it, until he worked out it was all words and no pictures. I read a children's abridged version when I was 10 or so. If it stays long enough on my bedside table I might just delve into it again and rediscover the adventures of Phelias Fogg (what an awsome name!) I remember the huge hot air balloon and wondering a year or two later if Tony Curtis in The Great Race had anything to do with this novel.

Floor Sample is the autobiography of Julia Cameron (author of The Artist Way) and named for the fact that anything that she has written about, or taught in regards to creativity recovery and writing, was first tried and tested on herself! It seemed a natural progression having done The Artist Way twice know more of her life and it's a no holds barred insight into her life. The most profound thing I took from reading it, was my deep gratitude to Cameron not just for creating The Artist Way, but resisting her then husband, Mark Bryan's, vision to make The Artist Way a franchised idea - something along the lines of the Tony Robbins phenomena of areana style self help. Cameron wanted the book to be available to anyone who wanted it, at a price that was affordable. It shows great integrity on her part, to put creativity recovery ahead of financial gain. My respect for only grows, especially considering the catalyst role Bryan had in the creation of The Artist Way.

Hippie Hippie Shake - Richard Neville is the memoirs of Neville (found of 60's pop cult magazine 'Oz') of the 60's, of Oz, of the people who moved and shook the era. My favourite anecdote was that John and Yoko were both huge fans and financial supporters of Oz. When Oz was taken to court on obsenity charges, they actually recorded and pressed a single about the plight of Oz with all proceeds going to the legal slush fund. There was also a story about the Rolling Stones who head lined a gig in support of Oz, but who had got 'too big and famous' and did a no show at the charity gig! What I found amazing was the Neville remained an abstainer from drugs for many years, while those around him dropped acid, rolled joints and shot up. At the moment Hippie Hippie Shake is the process of being adapted for the screen - something that Germaine Greer (who features prominently in the book) if fighting, in regards to her portrayal. Greer was one of five people that Neville sent a copy of the manuscript to OK, and Greer prompty returned it unread. I guess you reap what you sow!

The Godmakers - Frank Herbert ... this is what I am currently reading (you'll see the book mark in it and it is on the bottom because I moved the pile to get better light for the photographs!) It's the second 'old sci-fi' I've immersed myself in of late. Unlike Earthlight by Arthur C Clarke, I'm really enjoying Herbert's tiny little book, the micro chapter style and the quotations that begin each chapter. And it's a cracking good yarn - I can't want to see what transpires, and with less than 30 pages to go I dont have long to wait. It has definitely made me think about religion and what place, and space religion will hold in my NaNo world, because all civilisations have invested in some type of religious behaviour.

So, what's on your bed side table? And what stories do these books have to tell, other than the one written within the cover?

I tag Annie (because she wants to procrastinate from writing her NaNo) and Paul (though I imagine it's a rather minimal list seeings he's travelling through the US at the moment) I think I need to go and find some more blog friends :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

November on my Mind

Is it just me, or is there something special about November? There are so many really cool things that go on in the month of November. I am certain this is not a exhaustive list and that any of you who happen by, will be able to add your own, but these are the things that I know of.

NaNoWriMo - The National Novel Writing Month
run by the Office of Letters and Light

50,000 words in 30 days ... it the ultra marathon for writers. I participated in it last year, writing a novel called Finding Aphrodite (that will one day again see the light of day) and stumbled over the finish line on the final day. It was what sealed my decision to pursue the life of a writer last year, after two decades of just tossing the idea around and making no firm committment to it. I was helped along by the lovely crew from WriteStuff (now WriteAnything). This year I've made contact (and it does sound a little like first contact!) with those Brisbane writers participating in NaNo. Today was the Kick Off Party and while it was daunting to come on a huge group of strangers in the Roma Street Parklands - whose catch cry was "Are you a writer?" every time a person came into view vaguely heading in their direction - it was a wonderful validating experience to stand up and share your story, and meet other nutters!

NaBloPoMo - The National Blog Posting Month
Technically you can do it any month you like - the idea that you do a post a day for a month to get into the habit of blogging, but I first saw it last year in November. Some of my NaNoWriMo buddies were also NaBloPoMoers as well. Nothing like being a sucker for punishment. I'll probably given NaBloPoMo a crack this November - it will provide necessary procrastination from NaNo and help me establish healthy blogging habits.

Movember (the month formerly known as November)
Movember is a moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men's health. It is now officially held in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, The United Kingdom, Ireland & Spain. As I'm quite obviously a chick - this will be something I'll be unable to participate in, but already the word has gone out and on email this morning there was word from Melbourne writer Max Barry that he'll be growing a Mo for Movember. In Australia all funds raised go toward research and support for depression and prostate cancer.

AusMusic Month
"Triple j is the world’s biggest supporter of Australian music. We love it because you love it and every November, we hold a massive party to celebrate all the great sounds happening at home. " Without Triple J's involvement and support of Australian artists and Australian music we would be without the likes of Missy Higgins, Wolf Mother, Xavier Rudd & Josh Pyke. Every day during Ausmusic Month Triple J focuses on one new act. Acts from last year included Little Red (whose debut album came out this year ). It will remind me to keep the radio turned on!

What will you be doing this November?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Google Top 10

Our website Reclaim Sex After Birth has made it into the Goggle Top 10 - that is, we've made the first page of Google - finally! No we didn't pay anyone to move up the list ... there was many hours given over to writing answers on yahooanswers (Annie is the queen!) and also commenting on various blogs, utilising Facebook and other social networking and bookmarking sites to channel the traffic to us. And it's all paid off.

However ...

If I run a Google search from my Internet Explorer brower - we hit the first page, BUT, if I run the exact same search from Firefox, we're down to the bottom of page four? I'm stumped?!! You'd think that it would be the same - that would be the logical conclusion would it not? Perhaps someone with more nouse than me can answer what seems to be impossible.

Any how - barring the Firefox issue ... it's time to do a celebratory dance! Let's talk about sex bay-bee!

Photo: from Flickr Raumoberbayern's "10 - Zehn"

Blogging Drought

Last year I wrote that if I stopped blogging it would mean that I stopped loving writing. Blogging was such a revelation for me last year ... not only could I write, but there was the possiblity that by putting it out there, someone might actually read it. What a thrill. And I do still love writing - perhaps not the crazy head over hills love that it was last year ... writing and I are a little more comfortable and cosey this year. Maybe blogging got lost in transit?

To be honest the thrill hasn't gone it's just that blogging has become more of a challenge and I've only got the tiniest of insights as to why I'm in a blog drought.

Like writing fiction, at various times over the year, I've felt a disconnection to blogging ... and the longer I take between blog post, the harder it it to get back into the swing of it (a little like the much maligned morning walk that has been shelved for the past six months) Sadly I think about blogging lots, but I haven't really made it a priority in the last six months - you only have to look at my blog entries to know that I'm not lying in that regard. I miss cruising around reading other blogs, the manner in which ideas can be taken and grown, manipulated and reborn from one blog to another and I miss the comraderie of commenting. And once I get on a roll - I post three times in a day and dont come back for a month. Hmmm - I thinking scheduling and I need to become the next best of friends?

It cannot be possible that I got so busy that I couldn't find time to blog? It's not like I've been leading a boring life and had no inspiration to blog. I had an awesome dream last weekend that I wanted to share, plus a run down from my first public speaking engagement (with Annie). I wanted to write about the relief and the excitement that Mr D will be returning for a second year at kindy giving us some breathing room to negotiate big school in 2010 for him. There's my passionfruit vine that's taken off in leaps and bounds, strawberry bushes that are doubling in size every few days and beans that are rivalling Jack and his. And finally being approached to be part of the book version of We Feel Fine (do check it out - it's wonderful and amazing)
So from this point forth ... I pledge to make an effort to blog - even if it is for 15 minutes a day to get back into the groove. You can hold me to that!

Cartoon found at the

Saturday, October 11, 2008

[Fiction] Friday: Don't Tell, Alice

[Fiction] Friday
Challenge for October 10, 2008

Start your story with this line: Alice tried to remember who had given her the key.

Alice tried to remember who had given her the key. She really did. And she tried to remember who and what the page of numbers was all about, but it had got too complex for her.

“Tell us. Who gave you the key?” The voice tried to sound authorative – to scare her, and she was scared, but trying hard not to show it. She was going to be tough. They wanted her to be tough. She wanted to tough. If only they had not blind folded her, she might have been able to sit there and look fiercely at them, to try and make a show of not being scared. She was good at looking fierce.

“The numbers. Are they coordinates … a code?”
“I don’t know,” and it came out of Alice as a whimper.
“If you don’t tell us what we want to know, we’ll be sending you to room one-oh-one.”
“What’s room one-oh-one?”
“Yeah … what’s room one-oh-one?”

Alice could hear the two of them whispering, ending with a snigger.
“Yeah we’ll be sending you to room one-oh-one Alice … and you wont like that.”

Alice didn’t know what Room 101 was, or what it meant other than it made her feel like she was going to wet her pants. If she peed herself it would be the end, there would be no going back from that. She bit the bottom of her lip and willed herself not to pee and not to think of Room 101. She’d think of something else – something .... she would, she would ...

“There’s my locker key,” boomed a third voice, a familiar voice and Alice smiled. She was saved. “And my stats homework sheet. I’ve told you two to stay the hell out of my room.”

The light hurt Alice’s eyes as the blindfold was roughly pulled off her. She squinted and saw Peter and Paul kicking at the grass with the toes of their shoes, identical evil pouts on their faces, glaring at her as if it was all her fault, because no matter what they did, it somehow was always blamed back onto her when she joined in. Meg, her big sister looked like a giant and for a moment she wished that Meg would crush both of them for being mean to her – like Veronica in the Archie DVD the twins loved.

They’d said she could be a Princess. Peter and Paul said they’d come and rescue her, they’d be super heroes. But they tied her up and started yelling at her about the key and the piece of paper, calling her a spy. She looked down at her bare feet. And they’d stolen her favourite Princess shoes from her feet.

“Where’s my Princess slippers?” She felt braver now Meg was here, even though she still couldn’t move off the chair. The twins laughed and ran off.

“Alice you have to promise me you won’t let the twins tie you up.” Alice looked down at her wrists that Meg had freed. They were red and sore from where Peter and Paul had tied her hands up with an old pair of panty hose from the rag bag in their Dad’s garage. “I’m going to have to tell Mum about this.”

“Please don’t.” Alice was the youngest and she just wanted her big brothers to let her play with them. She didn’t like being all by herself. “There’s no one else to play with.”
“You’d be better off playing alone, than playing with them.” Maybe so – but she didn't really understand. Meg all those nice friends who in black like her

Meg picked Alice up, letting her carry the locker key and the homework sheet upstairs. Sitting Alice on the bed, Meg pulled out at piece of paper and a large black marker pen. She drew three numbers on the paper, big and black.

“Do you know what numbers these are Alice?”
Alice nodded, a sunny smile brightening her face.
“One … zero … one. What does 1-oh-1 mean?”
“It means keep out or else. How about you stick this up on the door for me?”

A while later, as Meg was reading Alice her favourite book, Alice in Wonderland, Peter and Paul crept back up the hallway, the half hour time-out in their room already a forgotten piece of the past. Peter looked up at the sign on the door.
“I don’t think we should go in.”
“Meg’s rooms fair game. You’re not scared of her – all that goth stuff?"
Paul looked up and saw the sign, his smooth forehead crinkling.
“It’s only a sign.”
“But you told me bad things happen in Room one-oh-one.”
“I was just saying that to scare Alice.”
“But you said …”
Paul looked up at the sign, knowing it really was only Meg’s room behind the door – but?

Peter turned and walked away and Paul followed. Some adventures were just weren’t worth risking – even for them.

Dedicated to Miss Lilly-Lou for all the crap that she puts up with!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Random Book Title Generator

While trolling through the NaNo forums (because it seems to be a new form of procrastination, er hem, I mean research) I came across the Random Book Title Generator and as I still don't have a working title for my NaNo project, I thought I would give it a go.

If you are writing sci-fi/fantasy or perhaps romance there seems to be lots of good titles along that line. You may like to pop on over and generate a few titles for yourself for a bit of fun - after all they are mostly quite silly.

These were some of my favourites:

Ice in the Wife - makes me think of Basic Instinct but that was the Ice Pick in the boyfriend

The Storm of the Female - this could almost work for my project if it didn't conjure up images of some B-Grade 50's horror with abnormally tall and pissed off women destroying the world ... perhaps all cloned from Germaine Greer!

The Sleeping Memory - makes me think of Paul's podcasts 'Salvage the Good Times?' - he will probably disagree and remind me that I got the title wrong because I'm too lazy to go back and check.

Game in Scent - this could have been the working title of Paul Susskind's novel Perfume

The Slithering Person - seriously - I'm not going here as it makes me think of too many creepy ex boyfriends

The Door of Voyages - something HG Wells may have written?

Eyes in the Hunter - what!!??

Silk of the Door - an Arabian Harem novel?

Petals in the Past - sounds like a hybrid Virginia Andrews book that would be authored by VC Andrews!

The Dying Boyfriend - The sequel of Ice in the Wife - he possibly ran foul of her?

Courage in the Illusion - a self help book? ... no that would be courage in the disillusion?

The Theft of Someone - a complex choose your own adventure novel where you choose who is theived and what happens to them?

Feel free to take my titles and imagine what they could be - or generate and post your own. Hell let's call it a meme. After all it seems to be all about procrastination this week. Consider yourself tagged Annie and Paul!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Eight Ways to Procrastinate from World Building

I’ve been blog tagged – as you do, by Annie who has asked: “What are the 8 things you do to avoid writing?” Today was set aside as ‘World Building’ day for Annie and I, in anticipation of NaNo, so I have chosen to write the eight things you can do to avoid world building.” Sadly – this post is in fact not fiction.

1 Call it world building
In doing so it sensitises all those ‘world building’ antennae that then fire off into all the synaptics connections that will set up the path of most resistance to actually begin this exercise.

2 Go around to a friend’s house
In doing so you are deluding yourself to the fact that you are actually going out to do ‘said task’ and removing yourself from all possible modes of procrastination at home – such as cleaning the toilet, doing dusting and folding Mt Washmore down to the carpet.

3 Go out for coffee
Quite honestly this should not have been an issue, after all I am meant to be coffee free (see just look at my perfectly still hands and how they don’t shake and tic!) so discovering there was no coffee in Annie’s freezer should in reality have just moved us on to the next cupboard, along with the question “Which tea would you like.” But no! Out I went for Rainforest Organic coffee (only the best!) which meant also browsing through the bakery section, the gourmet cheese section, the chocolate and confectionary isle and stopping by the fresh flowers on the way out, consumed with the indecision of whether flowers would assist in the process. I obviously made the wrong decision and should have bought the marked down flowers.

4 Beg visitors to stay – in a subtle and non pathetic way
When I got home from the supermarket, sans flowers but laden down with coffee (how special is it to arrive back from the shops with the actual item you went out to get?), savoury biscuits for the kids and some chocolate Annie was entertaining a friend who had dropped in quickly, to drop something off. Some how we all ended up at the table, coffee in hand, strudel cut up and conversations floating about as to what we had all been doing. An hour later …. it was definitely time to start world building again. At which point, Annie went out to find the hand out we’d given at Sonny Whitelaw’s workshop back in June … because we were getting organised about NaNo back then and world building.

5 Check your stats
This did not include getting out the tape measure to see if my bust was bigger and my butt and waist smaller. This is my favourite means of procrastination, so while Annie was finding the handouts, I dropped by Reclaim Sex After Birth to see what the click through rate is, how many people are on the website, what pages are attracting the most traffic. Just paranoid stuff like that. It wasn’t really meant to be a diversion, as we’d been sitting around talking about the Reclaim project. I off handedly asked Annie about the traffic arriving at one of her other sites Birth Orgasmically and she had no idea where the stats package was on cpanel. Not missing an opportunity to learn something, it was off to cpanel to explain the intricacies of AwStats, what they mean and how you can use them to create changes in your website … and keep yourself safely distanced from world building.

6 Get involved with a good cause
I didn’t have to look far. With cpanel open and Annie composing an email to a friend about Orgasmic Birth we started on discussions, which ultimately led me to sit and write an extensive email to the film maker Debra Pascali-Bonaro about some thoughts I had to do with marketing and protecting the branding integrity. Because suddenly I am an expert on this topic. An hour later …..

7 Search the internet for a good name for a new planet
Annie having completed her email and having foofed around on the internet a bit decided it was time to get the kids into the car, pick up her fruit and veggies and her eldest son. This was going to give me time to begin world building. “I’ll put you to shame,” I called out and she reversed out the drive way. I did put her to shame … I typed one question and put the word “Earth” below it. I realised that before I could continue to describe the familiarity of my planets, I had to actually name the other planet. I knew what I was looking for – something to do with bees, hymen, melissae (spurred on the Dr Who reference in the final episodes). Searching for anything on the internet invariably leads you away from where you started, on all sorts of tangents …

8 Download a big persons colouring in book of ancient Greek Muses
Yes this was the tangent that I ended up on. I sadly am a huge fan of colouring in (because as a kid I guess I substituted great colouring-in for a perceived lack of creative talent)

It seems regardless of how far you try to run or hide from you Muse … all roads lead back to her. I don’t imagine she’s got the Mother-style hands on the hips and the tut-tut going on .. I imagine a cheeky smile on her face, perhaps a little charged from far too much caffine, a half eaten packet of Rollo’s in her creased white linen pants and an optimistic desire to do it all over again tomorrow.

PS: as an aside – writing this blog post rates as the 9th way of avoiding World Building – but I guess I didn’t need to tell you that.

PS: I can tick the following items from Annie’s list of ways to avoid writing

  • I created a new folder called world building (sadly this took about one second)
  • I tried to do research – and landed at the colouring book site
  • Worried about the amount of traffic but did stay away from Facebook!
  • I did go out to the shops – though my family wont stave off starving with the coffee that was bought
  • As for pantries, bathrooms, shop etc … Annie did that yesterday :)

Picture of the Collaged 8's from Claudecf on Flickr

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


It's hard to believe that it's been almost three weeks since I last published a blog post. It's time to reclaim this space for my writing and my voice.

Anyone would think that I'd been off having a nice quiet holiday, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. While it was school holidays for the past two weeks, it didn't mean a break for me (even when you take out of the equation the fact there is no downtime from small persons!) I have been writing, but it hasn't been for public consumption. I completed my section of the Chapter Seven story that Write Anything is hosting. It was my first effort at really having a go at sci-fi and I felt very challenged by it - however I was pleased with the outcome. And the last blog post - with all the reminscing, I actually did conceptualise a story, but it refused to come out. It turns out it will be back story for my NaNo project

I haven't been hitting my three pages a day goal but I will be soon with NaNo looming in the foreground - getting closer with each passing day. There's also some Captain Juan to get cleaned up and scheduled. Reclaiming my writing space- that three pages every day is such a challenge. I still maintain my practise of writing my morning pages, as per The Artist Way, so even if I dont get around to writing three pages of fiction or

In the past week, on the back of Annie designing and refitting a new template for the Reclaim Sex After Birth site, I've configured all the navigation for the site and rebuilt it from scratch from the exisiting information and articles we had. It's meant getting my head around all manner of linking protocols that I thought I would never have to know and being back in the driving seat of layout and design - which for me is a wonderful, though at times, infuriating, creative outlet. While the site isn't entirely finished, there is still information to be bought over, the majority of it is there. It feels good to see it alive and brilliant - easy to navigate and all our information there at the click of a button.

I asked the Universe a few weeks back if it would send us a webdesigner to help out ... and it did send help, in the most unexpected way. It sent Annie and I the ability to say 'we can do this' ... and then just do it. I may never be able to totally get my head around a style sheet - I'm thankful that I do now have the ability to put a navigation framework in place. Who says that women can't read maps!

Just as I think that I am getting closer to the bottom of my 'to do list' the list keeps growing - I'm certain now that the tasks at the bottom of the list are breeding, or I'm falling back into old habits of being unable to say now. I'm in the process of writing two articles for Down to Birth on women's experiences of their post birth body which is challenging and liberating at the same time. I've never written up an article from an interview so this is a first for me. And of course it's not just one interview, because that would just be too easy. The transcript is of four women talking and then there are the 10+ experiences that women sent me via email. I thought it would be a matter of just weaving them into an old article and updating it, but it seems to have become more than that. Yes - I am such a grey ox. It seems that I can't help myself.

The liberating part of being shackled to this writing project is that I have cleared the space below our home and Friday I help my first women's circle. We got together to talk about our post birth bodies. It felt good to be connected, holding the space for my women folk and to be in their company and wisdom. How blessed I am. The crisis of connection that I realised I was having with my writing was probably a far wider crisis .. and crisis of connection with my community. This year has almost been like a Saturn Returns year for me - moving away from those friends and support structures that have supported me over the past few years. It's been like going to a dark place, of being Innana making her descent through the seven gateways of hell, and at each point having to shed some part of her regalia. I'd like to think (hope) that I've hung on the meat hooks for three days and now it's time to go above again. I always feel though for Innana's love who comes to take her place in hell. Perhaps it is a reminder to us, that even when we're on top, there are often those we love and hold dear that are in a darker, harder place than us.

Out of Friday and knowing I need to remain grounded and in connection with my women folk, I've organised to host three more circles in the coming months. It is a side project that piggy backs off the Reclaim project - and is something that's always been at the periphery of my creative consciousness but now it is a reality. It's been (what I think) aptly named Women's Wisdom Circles and it's just that - about reclaiming the lost traditions of sitting in circle and talking - sharing experiences and wisdom. The next three will have do with reclaiming your personal space and reconnecting with yourself (which is part of the topc that we're talking about a the All About You Expo on the 19th October), sex after birth (because everyone was itching to talk about it last week) and back to women's experiences of their post birth body. December is undecided with birthdays, christmas and general holiday madness.

Having just purged that - it's time to go swimming. It may be a little chilly before 10am, but you haven't lived unless you've been purple.

IMAGE BY EVAH FAN found at Wired Magazine