On the Eve

Tomorrow I deliver my first writing workshop. I’m presenting “Will you look at my story: Critiquing the writing of others” at the Hyperdome Library at Shailer Park. It’s part of the raft of wonderful workshops, talks and panels associated with the inaugral Logan Writers Week. And all across Queensland its Queensland Writers Week.

When I walked in to check our the space this afternoon was confronted by my face on a poster along with the other posters for Logan Writers Week. It was rather bizarre… and I pocketed a couple to bring home and stick in a scrap book.

At this point – there are 19 people booked to attend, some I know, most I don’t. Holy cow! It’s about three times as many people as I expected. It’s going to make the interactive and  practical parts rather interesting given I’ve only got 90 minutes (though the library people told me today ther isn’t another group in the space until 1pm!)

I’m lucky enough to have written lots of articles online on the topic, and well… yes I do make my living as an editor (in part) from critiquing work so I’m hoping it will all go smoothly. I’m already horrendously nervous but sure it will settle after I’ve been talking for five minutes or so.

Attire for tomorrow is my funky black NaNo t-shirt from last year. I didn’t get around to getting my eMergent t-shirt done up which would have said, “I was in the shower this morning, and I was thinking about your character…”

So riding the crest of the wave of yesterday’s very successful Yin and Yang Book launch into tomorrow… and beyond!

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The Agony, The Expectation and The Release

Lily Mulholland likened publishing to giving birth and I have to agree. Right now I’m in the post birth glow of the release of The Yin and Yang Books… but I’m also bone-tired and know there is still work to do.

We started writing back in February 14th to coincide with the New Year and we kept to the schedule of writing (that alone should get a ‘shock-horror’ gasp). We lost one writer along the way (compared to six last year) but in a serendipitous moment picked up Lily Mulholland who’s story “Double Talk” tied in with Paul Servini’s story ‘Three Monkeys”, and my Prologue and laid the groundwork for Paul to write the Epilogue (which I continually type in as Prologue). While you can read the two anthologies singularly… they were meant to be read together. The fit, the symmetry between first Yang story and last Yin story, the uncommon view of characters already seen or about to be seen… beauty in literary motion. Yet I should caution… the stories are anything but sweet, lovely and beautiful. There are many… but it seems the book I worked on, The Yang Book, is rather dark… full of people being fucked over by others with a few sprinkles of the best of humanity as well.

The highlights for me have been:

  • testing the sliding doors formulae and seeing it work. My one regret last year was that the writers weren’t a little more gungho in winding their stories together. The Yin and Yang Book/s certainly do not suffer in this regard.
  • working with a group of ten amazing, talented male writers who have allowed me to grow and mature as an editor. I’ve been given all-access passes into worlds and characters I could never have dreamed of creating. And no one thought I was too much of a loon when I said, “This morning I was in the shower and thinking about your character…” I’ve learnt editing is so much than I ever thought it was and there is no one editing style.
  • seeing stories within stories, and subtext where I hadn’t originally thought there was.
  • Watching characters intergrate themselves into stories as if they’d always been there – while a lot of it looks organic (and it is) there is also a lot of narrative interaction which is retro-fitted. Dan and Tony for one knew their characters met along the line, but it took a while to work out where that was. And there’s also the case of the man in the cobalt blue suit. I can’t wait for people to start speculating just who he is!
  • Being privvy to the work of Lucas Clevenger creating the book covers in such a short space of time. And as always the love, care and support of Carrie Clevenger. It is more proof that the people who need to be part of any project will be the people who are there.  Carrie’s friendship throughout has reinforced this time and time again (for those who don’t realise, Carrie was referred to us by Jodi Macarthur who we initially approached. Jodi said she’d love to part of the project but the demands on her time made it unrealistic to accept the invite… and introduced us to Carrie!) Thank you Jodi!

It’s never easy and this year I had to sacrifice a large chunk of time with my family to keep the project ticking over and my own writing, as I discovered writing and editing cannot co-exist. I’ve loved being in the unnamed Europen airport with the cast of hundreds, but I’m so ready to collect my recently issued boarding pass with an airline unlikely to be grounded by the perversity and scheming of a certain family. You could say this is good-bye to Pangaean Airlines and but not farewell to the supportive family of writers who are not just ‘writers’ for Chinese Whisperings’ but are part of a larger social and professional structure which will live on beyond this anthology.

And after another tough year, Paul and I have come out of it together.  Not that I ever imagine we won’t, it is always just a bit of a surprise because its not all fun and games behind the scenes and Paul has had a particularly rough year which means he’s not always able to be around. And it would be easy to begrudge him for that, but I never do. I know regardless, he’s always there when its most important. We’ve worked like dogs the last two weeks to get the project to completion and its just a shame we’re not in the same space together to go out together to celebrate. As I type this Paul’s recovering from running a half marathon!

On an entirely different note… there were four questions offered up during the week for me to answer and I will get around to them. I’m only just realising now how mentally exhausted I am. So keep an eye out… I think I might just babble on audioBoo for five minutes a piece and hope at least 10 seconds of it is gold and vaguely relevant to the question.

Until then… check into the check-out and purchase the Yin and Yang Books. I assure you, you will not be disappointed!