WIP report — 17 May 2022 with a teeny-weeny excerpt

Currently: 21,600/50,000 words

The first draft of CLAY is almost halfway, which is nice. This WIP is pushing me hard against the limitations of my writing ability and I’m having to learn new storytelling and composition techniques on the fly. It hurts my head a lot, and even just pulling a hundred or so words together leaves me quite spent.

But I’ve had a good couple of days. Every beat makes me feel a little more positive about this story, though I still procrastinate and lug around a rucksack of paranoia in between writing sessions.

Anyway, I’d like to share a wee sample with you. First draft, obviously, so it might not end up exactly like this in the final version, but I hope you like it:

Damian Chandrasekhar leans toward the security camera. He rakes a hand through his thick hair, giving it a zhuzh to the left, and knows exactly what he’s doing—or trying to do. He holds his wristlet to his pouty mouth and raises a manicured eyebrow at the lens.

“Half an hour before the drones arrive, Tan. Tick, tick, tick.”

“I said I’m coming, Damo.”

“Want me to head over there?” He grins suggestively. “Could help you come a little quicker.”

“Ha-ha, don’t be gross, dickhead. Now shut up and let me concentrate.”

This post will self-destruct on Tuesday May 16th, 2023.

Categorised as Diary

Losing face(book)

It’s done. My Facebook is gone.

Reactivating my account to download my data and let friends know how they could contact me off-platform was… uncomfortable. My heart rate went up, I got an icky feeling in my gut and, no, it wasn’t the stew I had for dinner last night.

Something’s tripping my instincts when it comes to that site/company/way of life, and even though I can’t point to any one thing and say this is the reason why, I am trusting my instincts and getting away.

So, here I am. I have deleted my Facebook account and it feels good.

Categorised as Diary

I am very cross(posted)

My blog is a self-hosted WordPress blog, however if my little experiment has worked, this post should also appear on WordPress.com.

For reference, I am using WordPress Crosspost to achieve this.

Beep boop, is it working?

Categorised as Diary

WIP report — 26 Apr 2022

Currently: 16,000/50,000 words

I look at this word count and where I had hoped to be on the Camp NaNo scale, and start to feel a little terrified about not finishing this book in time.

It’s ridiculous, though, because I’m on track with this WIP relative to my actual milestones beyond the April-specific constraint. What’s more, the approach I’m taking with this WIP is one I was longing to take for all my writing around this time last year.

So in the grand scheme of things, aligning with my career goal to stop rushing like a madcunt, to take things slow and think things through, I’m doing okay.

Why do we rush? I get that a little artificial pressure helps us get things done, but what then? There will always be more to do… and then we die. Even if I could manage to release a new book every three months, there’s no way a reader—even a superfan reader—would have the time and energy to just consume all my work.

And why should they? There are so many other books to read and movies to watch and podcasts to listen to—a life to live. This is an age of excess, which in some twisted way also means an age of scarcity of a different sort. The world simultaneously needs more stories and is also so full of stories. What are we to do?

I’m reading Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks at the moment and it’s got me thinking about all this. Right now, time well spent for me is time spent writing and yet even though the joy of it is coming back, I still feel this lingering anxiety over it.

But I’m still at the 16,000 word mark and it’s going well so far, so there’s no reason to feel too down. Not about this, anyway.

34k to go.

This post will self-destruct on Wednesday April 26th, 2023.

My right now in lists

What I’m working on lately

  • Project Clay
  • Satine
  • Email dark mode
  • Deadlifts (gotta keep those writerly glutes strong for the sitting)
  • Project H (still thinking, it’s been ages)

What I’ve enjoyed lately

  • Halt and Catch Fire
  • Letters and Numbers
  • Saving Suzy (still reeling) 💕
  • One-pot pilaf rice
  • Pink pilates socks that look like ballet shoes

What’s made me sad lately

  • War and violence ☹️
  • NFTs and Web 3.0
  • That Australia hasn’t embraced renewable energy fast enough
  • The monetisation of outrage and addiction
  • Ageism normalised in everyday communication

Questions I’d love answers for

  • What does optimistic dystopian fiction look like? (besides Ready Player One)
  • What would a social media platform’s culture look like if it wasn’t run by a profiteering corporation?
  • What does tech culture’s “planned obsolescence” approach do to accessibility, device fragmentation, and the environment? (is it silly to love the idea of the Framework laptop?)
  • Can fiction directly influence people away from toxic behaviours, and if so, how?
  • Is being “the least evil” good enough in the twenty-first century?

Reflections on Tentacle by Rita Indiana

I find it comforting to immerse myself in stories that bear some resemblance to the reality we’re living in. I wonder if I might be the type of person who struggles with the inconceivable—which is also why I played a lot of Plague, Inc. in the early days of COVID-19. If you can conceive of something, you give it shape.

That means it you give it limitations. You know just how awful it gets. It won’t be better, but it certainly won’t be worse. This is all in abstract, of course. In truth, things could always be better, and things could always be worse.

But a little bit of quasi-certainty is, at an emotional level, more soothing that a complete lack of certainty. It’s why sometimes journalists at emergency press conferences ask the most ridiculous questions about things no one can predict. And why humans often jump to conclusions without gathering all the facts first. Our psyches are fragile, particularly in stressful circumstances beyond our control. We need that comfort to survive this moment long enough to make it to the next.

So even with a setting as god-awful as an ecologically ravaged Dominican Republic—rife with toxic waters, dystopian technology, and too often a blatant disregard for humanity—I still found some comfort in Tentacle by Rita Indiana (translated by Achy Obejas).

Tentacle is queerpunk sci-fi that at first seems like culturally vivid escapist fiction, but later turns out to be a breathtakingly interwoven non-linear narrative. It centres primarily around Acilde, a trans man who must go back in time to save the ocean with the help of an ancient Yoruba god. It raises questions of desire and destiny, and asks whether humanity really can be saved, or will the darker sides of human nature prevail?

I like it when a book makes me think. And it has taken me a long time to process my feelings about this one enough to be able to reflect on it. I don’t want to live in a world with toxic oceans. I don’t want the power to kill someone in need if they ring my doorbell at the wrong time. I don’t want to hold the future of the world in the palm of my hand. But the more I ponder this story, the more it looks like some bizarre allegory for how things are today.

I mean, okay, it’s probably not the smartest book to pick up right now, while the world is in such a weird place. But then, maybe it also is…?

The problems plaguing us right now aren’t going to disappear on their own. Even if it’s depressing af, there are conversations we need to have about climate and pollution, and how these are ultimately affected by how we behave and regard each other. We are, after all, stuck together in this space and time.

WIP report — 8 Apr 2022

Currently: 10,484/50,000 words

So, it’s day 8 of Camp NaNoWriMo and even with a two-week headstart, my progress is abysmal 😂 Hitting the 10k mark on PROJECT CLAY means I’ve only put in 6000 words over a fortnight.

Y’know what else I did? I cut my April goal down to just “reaching Act 3” instead of trying to finish the whole 50k manuscript. But life is giving me not just lemons but a whole fruit salad this month, so it’s dicey as to whether I’ll even hit this lower target.

I will, however, make all sorts of fruit-ade instead of hating myself for not making word count. Pandemic effects, stepping back from social media, thinking about all the shit going on in the world, and waking up to the offline not-book-related goals I’d neglected for too long has done weird things to my perspective and sense of priorities. It’s pulling me away from writing, and yet I don’t mind too much.

But is it really pulling me away from writing, though? When I do sit down to write, I start to feel hints of leisure again. I feel the same sense of comfort and craftsmanship and driven optimism like when I first started drafting You and I and Chasing Sisyphus. It’s fun, it’s playful, and while I did feel echoes of it later during O, swear not by the moon and Iteration Eleven, there was a tightness in my head and heart that kept me from expanding into it.

That tightness is less pronounced right now. I don’t mind that at all.

This post will self-destruct on Saturday April 8th, 2023.

Categorised as Diary

Stuff to share: Apr 2022

The Close-Up is Sarah Smith’s hot and hilarious new friends-to-lovers contemporary rom-com, and it releases this week!

Sonia Palermo’s sweet and sexy Brit-rom Hot Girl Summer is out now. Here’s an interview with the author about what inspired this book.

This #SciFiRomance Book Fair on StoryOrigin runs from now until the end of May.

Willie Handler’s brand new novel Deep Into The Weeds comes out next month. Preorders are now open.

Sensual Dimensions is a steamy sci-fi shapeshifter romance by Rianne Burnett, available on Kindle Unlimited.

What’s better than a rude read? A whole shower of them. Get drenched in this giveaway bundle available until 1st May.

Lisabet Sarai’s latest sexy book is Exposure, an urban erotic noir available in a range of formats through Smashwords.

In Ella Shawn’s steamy The Organic Paradox, the alien-human triad is for breeding purposes only, but you know hearts have a mind of their own.

This steamy multi-genre book sale on StoryOrigin ends 1st May.

For anyone paying less attention to the largest internet-based retailer in the world these days, here’s a book fair featuring steamy titles available across a range of different ebook retail platforms.

Categorised as Diary

WIP report — 22 Mar 2022

Currently: 4,000/50,000 words

PROJECT CLAY is underway and currently sitting at 4k words. I was dubious about this novel at first, because the concept seemed (even to me) so far-fetched and it combines several elements I wouldn’t instinctively call my strengths.

But “who dares wins”, right? Or at least it couldn’t hurt to have a go. One thing I think I do reasonably well is finding ways to connect things that don’t conventionally go together. Plus, there are a lot of things I’d like, as a reader, for there to be more of in the world that’s perhaps too weird or too niche to produce en masse. So here I am, attempting to produce this odd story myself in my small corner of existence.

I wish I could tell you more at this stage, but for the sake of my sanity, I’ll not blog it just yet, as I’d hate to paint myself into a corner while the first draft is still in progress.

One thing I can tell you is that this book will be coming out in 2023, because that’s when I promised some people I would have it ready by on the proviso that they’d tell me when in 2023 that would be. Which they haven’t yet, so all I can do is hope it’s not 1st January 😅

This post will self-destruct on Monday March 13th, 2023.

Categorised as Diary

Okay, so that didn’t go as planned

All right, never mind what I said on Tuesday. I have struggled to write much this past week.

Putin’s unjust war in Ukraine, the devastating floods in the Queensland and New South Wales, the disappointing Kumanjayi Walker verdict, and all this talk of Japanese Encephalitis in Australia has my heart in a very heavy way. As if the pandemic, climate change, Afghanistan, pre-existing social injustice, and this country’s asylum seeker situation weren’t already depressing enough.

I keep thinking of something a friend said to me a couple years ago—that we’re already living in the dystopian future. His comment was more to do with the fact that today’s society resembles cyberpunk economies sans the AI revolution, but I think the “life imitating art” sentiment could cover a broad concept of dystopia. (And if I ever turn this blog post into a proper essay, I’ll make more of an effort to qualify that statement.)

Thing is, I don’t think all is lost. But in terms of humanity’s story arc, we’re probably approaching an All Is Lost Moment, which every reader and writer knows will be over once we can shake off our distractions and find a way to work together.

I’ve sought solace in small wins like painting my nails, completing boring life admin tasks, doing a little hobby coding, watering my plants, and working towards my daily 2L water intake. Oh, and donating to relief funds when pay comes in, which is something I think everyone who can afford to should consider doing. Making a contribution, even if it’s not much, can make a person feel less helpless in the face of all this.

Two things I haven’t done are scrolling social media feeds and writing. The former is probably for the best, especially since there are far less incendiary ways to consume news and converse with people. The latter, however, is probably just me developing a bad habit of anxious avoidance and procrastination. I need to do something about that.

Actually, I will do something about that. Tomorrow, I’m starting Camp NaNo early. If the camp counsellors won’t let me in, then I’ll sit in the forest and yell at clouds. Stay tuned for the odd update on Project Clay between now and the end of April.