Monday, January 30, 2012

I've Got An Idea.

And so I return from two weeks in Sri Lanka, relaxed, recharged and ready to face the year.

I didn't get any writing done on holiday - I was far too busy doing things to sit down and write, but that doesn't meant I didn't have ideas and make lots of notes.

One of the things I get asked (like most other writers) is where I get my ideas from, and the answer to that is everywhere. I saw the poster for a film, and made a presumption as to what the film would be about. When I discovered that wasn't the case, I realised I had a story idea. Same with a short story I was reading. The narrative didn't go where I'd expected it to go, and so I made my own notes on my own idea.

Visiting another culture is a goldmine. Legends, people you meet and places you visit all ignite ideas in my head. And these days I carry a small notebook to write those ideas down.

I've heard people say that any idea you forget wasn't that good anyway. For a while I fell for that mistruth, and forgot a few plots that I believe were great ideas. (Fortunately, one of them recently popped back into my brain. It's safely written in my notebook now!)

Write them down, revisit them, let them bounce around in your brain and formulate. Look for the flaws, the holes, the  missing elements and allow the stories to set.

Then start writing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


This year is going to be a year of learning for me.

Last year I commenced a post graduate course at Swinburne University that was related to my teaching. I've passed the first half of that course, and will complete the rest by June. And while I've no doubt some of it will be beneficial to my work, I must say I'll be glad when it's done and dusted. I'm not a very good on-line student. I'd much prefer to be in the classroom with real live teachers.

I've also been awarded (after an application and interview) a two-week study tour of China. I'll be heading off in a few months time with a bunch of colleagues from around the region to look at the Chinese education system in action. I must say I'm very excited about that trip and the implications it has for my own teaching. The National Curriculum, which is supposed to be hoisted upon English early next year, has Asia Literacy right at its heart. And so I intend to learn as much as I can while enjoying the people I meet and the food I am forced to eat.

Jack Dann is a name synonymous with science fiction here in Australia. A lively presence (how's that for tact?) at any convention or event of importance in Melbourne, Jack's a lot of fun to talk to and has a proven track record of published and edited work. And so I'm excited to have signed up for a five month course with Jack through Writers Victoria.

Anything else?

Well, there's always something more to learn, and I do have further plans for later in the year. But I guess those three will do for now.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I often have vivid dreams. Really clear ones that I remember easily. Colour, events and heaps of dialogue that I recall with little problem. And some of these dreams I've used in my writing. In fact I keep a notebook where I jot down ideas or thoughts, including dream thoughts, and draw upon later for stories.

Dreams, however, rarely make stories in and of themselves. They tend to lack a narrative, or a plot that will sustain a story. But they are excellent launching pads for ideas. Recently I had the experience of waking up with memories of a dream that was an almost fully formed story. It only needed a little tweaking to whip it into shape, and I'm finding it's a story I'm quite excited about.

A couple of years ago I started having lucid dreams - ones in which you realise you're dreaming. And then I took it that step further into lucid dreams that you can control. (Not all lucid dreams can be manipulated.) But it's fascinating when you are in a dream state and you start changing the  environs, or manipulating events, or introduce people into your 'world'.

One of the ideas I've had is to bring a writer, say Philip K. Dick, into my dream - and then discuss story ideas with him. Of course I recognise that this would simply be a projection of my subconscious, but what a fantastic way to access ideas from that level. Unfortunately, once you're in a lucid dream, you don't always remember what you were planning to do when you were awake. And so far, I haven't brought PKD in.

Still, I now know what it feels like to fly (I'd never had a flying dream until I created one), and I know what it feels like to play a guitar solo in a Deep Purple type band in front of 20,000 screaming fans.

One of these nights I may ask for trouble and try to bring in Hunter Thompson and PKD. Now that could be a nightmare.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Review.

Alan Baxter reviewed Anywhere But Earth, and had some kind words for my story:
"I think this book will go down as a must-read in modern science fiction. The scope of the stories and the talent of the contributing authors is astounding. It really is a fantastic array of ideas and style. If you’re a sci-fi fan, you’ll dig this book. If you’re not, it’s a great place to start. ..... Probably the standouts for me were Penelope Love’s SIBO, William R D Wood’s Deuteronomy, Robert Hood’s Desert Madonna, Damon Shaw’s Continuity, Brendan Duffy’s Space Girl Blues, Angela Ambroz’s Pyaar Kiya and Steve Cameron’s So Sad, The Lighthouse Keeper. Although the real star of that last story is a secondary character. In fact, a brick."

Alan, of course, did not mention his own excellent Unexpected Launch.
Thanks, Alan, for the kind words.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

WPS (Writer Positioning System).

Where am I?

Last week I mentioned my lack of firm resolutions and goals. By that I meant plans as specific as “I will sell x stories this year” and so on. They're great aims to have, but generally outside your control. 

That doesn’t mean I haven’t made plans for the year. And although I hate the term “journey” (as in “I’m on a journey”), I suppose if I switched on my WPS this is where I’d see myself at right now. 
  • I have a bunch of notes, scribbles, thoughts and half-baked (or quarter-baked) ideas in my notebook. None of these are ready to go anywhere.
  • I have seven or eight paragraphs written (from a couple of years ago) that need a fresh look. They are ready to be made into stories – maybe I’m just not quite ready to revisit them yet.
  • I have a couple of stories that need rewrites. I know what’s lacking, I just have to let them bounce around in my skull a while longer.
  • I have twelve fully formed ideas that just need to be written. All I need is to make the time to sit down and get into them. At least one of these I’m really excited about.
  • I have 7 stories out at markets at the moment. All I need is for those editors to like my stories enough to take them. At least two of those are on hold.
  • I have two stories already taken and patiently waiting for their publication in the middle of 2012.
  • I have made plans to further my writing this year. Steps have been taken, threats have been made.
Let’s see where the WPS shows me at the end of the year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


I'm not really one for making resolutions, although I can understand why some people find the beginning of a new year the right time to effect change. New beginnings and all that. I've just always figured if you want or need to change something, then do it.

And I could make promises about writing more regularly, but the truth is that life gets in the way and I write when I can.

Goals for 2012? Well, that's another matter. And yes, I have some goals. They're similar to last years goals, only further along the master plan, the big picture.

I was able to achieve last year's goals - even better them, and hopefully I can do that again this year.

Happy New Year.