Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Stars Align.

 I love it when a good plan comes together, and my current plan to move to the UK in July is certainly doing that.

Everything, it seems, is simply falling into place. Selling our house here, finding a rental in England, flights for us, relocating our beloved dogs and shipping our possessions. And then last night one of the largest puzzle pieces eased into position.

After a telephone interview I was offered a teaching post at a school quite close to where we will be living. Not only is it fantastic to know I will have some income and job security upon arrival, but this is a school that was on my shortlist of places I would love to work. And this was a very short list of only two.

I submitted three job applications last week. Two were to schools near my future home that weren't on my shortlist, although I have no doubt I'd have been very happy working at either of them. But I am excited I was successful so early. Having employment already organised will certainly make our transition easier and less worrying.

There are other events occurring. Wheels are turning, cogs are moving, planets are aligning and signs are written in the stars. Strange things are indeed afoot at the Circle K. I won't go into details, except that even sceptical friends are shaking their head and saying this move is meant to be.

I feel energised, not only about teaching, but about my writing. A couple of rejections in the past week - personal rejections that were encouraging yet caused me to sigh with an "oooh, so close." I've been so busy with the move for the past few months that my writing (and this page) have been neglected. This, of course, will improve shortly. Before the big move even, as I start to wind down my life here.

But not this week. I still have too much to do before I can afford to relax too much.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mediocrity rules. OK.

Waleed Aly won the Gold Logie last night for best Australian TV personality. And he deserves it. Indeed, if I voted in such things, I'd have voted for him. Congratulations, Waleed.

But Aly is a lighthouse in the current ocean of televised mediocrity. Even the awards ceremony was awful. I lasted about five minutes before I shut the door. And I wasn't even watching them - only listening. My wife switched them off two minutes later.

So much of the so-called "talent" on TV these days have had their fifteen minutes. And many of them shouldn't have had that much. Where are the quality actors, writers, directors and producers? And not every person on television is a "star". Even fewer are "superstars".

But this acceptance - nay, encouragement and reward of mediocrity extends well beyond the world of television. I've picked up books by people who can't write, edited by people who can't edit. Not everyone is a writer. Not every person who writes deserves to be published. And not everything we write should be shared with the world.

Which is why I've chosen not to self-publish. It certainly has its place, but I believe new writers need to achieve a level of recognition and validation (through editors and established publishers) before heading down that track. And there's a wonderful need for a trunk - for all those stories that have been rejected everywhere.

In a discussion like this someone usually mentions Andy Weir at this point, or Hugh Howey. Of course there are exceptions. There always are. But naming a few successful self-published writers out of the millions and millions means little. The e-world is drowning in self-published mediocrity (or plain awfulness) and we simply don't need any more.

I admit it. I don't read self-published work. I tried with a couple of pieces that were recommended to me, and they simply weren't very good. I might pick one up again if someone I trust were to rave about something they'd found. That raving endorsement has never happened to me yet.

Let's be clear. This isn't an attack on self-publishing. I know some writers who swear by it, and I know some who have had great success through it. It's not for me, though, and I suspect it's not for the majority of writers who out every word they write up online.

There's too much whitenoise. Too much crap. It's difficult to sort the chaff from the wheat without a recognised imprint. But its our fault. We reward mediocrity. We tell our friends, our kids, our colleagues that they are outstanding, no matter what they do. We accept and watch film and television that is average, we read books that are average, and we give them four stars on IMDB or Goodreads.

It's time to start being honest. Not hurtful, not attacking, but to stop rewarding work that is just not very good. Don't give five stars because you know the author. Don't give five stars because it has a character/theme/storyline that doesn't get enough "airtime". Don't give four stars because it's comedy SF from Australia, or because really we don't get enough of either and want to encourage it. Give it the two stars it deserves and explain your reasoning in the comments.

Save the five stars for work that moves you, makes you think, work that pops into your mind a month later.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Countdown Continues.

I only have a few short months left before I make the big move over to the UK.

When my wife and I first decided to go, it all seemed so far away. As usual, however, time passes very quickly when there are deadlines and much to do. But we are progressing well, right on schedule in fact, and we'll be ready when the time comes.

There was a lot of culling - furniture, clothes and even books. There will be more items that need to go, but not until the last minute.

Our flights are booked, as are the flights for our dogs. They're getting used to sleeping in their crates and seem to quite enjoy them.

A lot of people have asked whether I have found employment in the UK. Not yet. It's still a bit early for that as their school year doesn't commence until September. But we have found a place to live, and I have made initial contact with a few schools in the area.

I will be at Continuum in June, for those who want to catch up and buy me a drink. I guess my next convention will be somewhere in the UK.

I'm excited by the prospect of the move. New life, new experiences, new people to annoy. And, I must add, a little nervous by venturing into the unknown. But I figure that if I can live in Japan for six years, I can manage a few years in my homeland.