Six In Six

Weedy TypewriterI momentarily crawled out of my sick bed Friday to chase up what I hoped was not a rejection. Alas – another one. And with that it occurred to me I haven’t had a single short story accepted for publication all year. If I’m honest, I haven’t written anything that’s seen the light of day since 2012, given the year I had last year, my focus on longer forms and then this year my unexpected turn back toward shorter forms of the short and realism. It’s enough to sink you down into the deepest mire of despair.

And it did – for about an hour.

I decided to spend the next six weeks writing six new stories, because nothing blows away the cobwebs of submission doom better than new stories for submission (yes, there is a definite hint of masochism to it all that I am well aware of).

Making myself accountable, I went onto Facebook and declared my intention. This is when the surprising thing happened. Someone said they’d join me, then another and another. At the moment there are 11 of us hiding out in a closed group on Facebook ready to put pen to paper.

If you’d like to leak new blood onto the page, feel free to join us. It doesn’t have to be short stories – perhaps you have six chapters that you need to write or edit, six poems that have been aching to be released. I think we’ll be trading war stories on Twitter under #6in6 and on Facebook. If you are not inclined to join us, please feel free to bring your pom poms.

Kissed by the Sun Redux

White Peaks
My vampire story for Ticonderoga’s Dead Red Heart anthology is back on the chopping block. I got an email from the editor , Russell B Farr,  this morning saying “Kissed by the Sun” couldn’t be used in its present form but I could resubmit a rewrite. Better than a rejection any day!

Again I feel like the Universe was looking out for me. We went to Burleigh Heads on the weekend and I got a chance to experience the feel of the water and sand, wishing I’d had it a few weeks earlier so I could rewrite the sections at the beach… especially the sensation of the sand being sucked out from under the feet and the rapid sink… what a great metaphor for Anke descent!

The story is currently at 5580 words and I need to chop it down to 4500… condense the story, cut some of the dialogue, actualise the relationship between Anke and Isolda. The good news though, is the gritty location of Brisbane and the Gold Coast got the thumbs up and there’s nothing askew in the narrative. And the wonderful Chris Chartrand has offered to cast a razorsharp eye over it also.

So picking up my beautiful razorblade to start chopping. The litmus test will be: ‘does this progress the story?’ If not – out it goes.

Kudos to Russell who took the time out to talk to me on the phone, in between my phone service to drop in and out, and visitors arriving earlier than expected.

Image By: Cyron / www.flickr.com
License: Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

Bridging the Gulf

On Year Nine school camp, at Apollo Bay we divided our week away between the beach (and residence at a convent!) and camping by a river in the Ottway Ranges (my girlfriends from MacAuley and Connell houses will remember this trip well!) We did a two hour hike into the Ottway Ranges to our camp site, with ruck sacks etc as a prelimary ‘rough it’ for Outward Bound the following year. By sunset it was obvious we were lost, the PE teacher deciding to go a different route to usual. Just before the sun went down we came to the edge of a massive cliff and below, the mouth of the river we were meant to be camping on.

We spent the night on top of the escarpment, looking down on the lights lit on the beach for us,  in a creepy adventure (which earned us front page on the Colac Times the next day!). The entire episode was made all the more bizarre by the lack of food and water, but George Michael blaring out into the wilderness from my friend’s hot pink tape deck (which she’d carried all the way in!)The next morning we turned around and started back, met half way by the local SES who loaded our rucksacks into their utes, passed around the water and shared lots of smiles amid rather grim faced 14 year olds.

The failed bushwalk and the sinking moment of realisation, seeing the huge valley below and knowing we couldn’t get there easily without turning back, came to mind last week when I sat down to do the fourth draft of ‘Kissed by the Sun’ – very aptly renamed by the wonderful Lily Mulholland. It felt like being caught on one side of the creative divide knowing I had to be on the other… and wondering how the hell I was going to get there. I should have played some George Michael simply to lighten the mood!

And yes, there was a moment of turning back when I got to the edge, realising I couldn’t get to the otherside with what I had. Sadly no creative SES volunteers arrived to help shoulder the burden. Instead lovely, writing mates kept my spirits up, especially Carrie Clevenger who gave me thumbs up on the first two sections I rewrote, giving me the confidence to keep on going.

And I got there… I ploughed through the massive rewrite to get me to a cohesive POV, mourning the loss of the male POV in the story, to end up with a solid fourth draft of around 5,500. And it has all been pretty much plain sailing from there, with minimal line edits, and then minimal proof reading corrections. Thanks to Paul Anderson and  Lily Mulholland for the line edits, as well as Stacey Larner and my own darling, Dave, who did the proofreading. Also my heartfelt thanks to the original beta reading team who helped me see the light, Jason Coggins, Carrie Clevenger, Dan Powell and Rebecca Dobbie. Again, this adventure in writing has proven to me, writing is a team effort.

‘Kissed by the Sun’ went into Ticonderoga Publication’s submission machine at 9am this morning. An auspicious way to celebrate the Sagittarian new moon and hopefully a fruitful month of submissions else where.