Saturday, 31 May 2014

Episode 160: The Scorecard

I received a rejection letter from Aurealis Magazine for a short story today. It arrived in email format. It was a rejection email. It was my first. It was my first submission, and my first rejection.

The process of submission did something peculiar. In the two to three weeks leading up to the submission, my brain simply stopped processing any aspect of the story in any sort of a useful way. I would read through it, and it would tell me that the story wasn't done, and I would make changes, and the cycle would repeat. Within the first hour following the submission I started rewriting large sections of the story. I have no doubt that had I held onto the story for a a couple more days this would not have happened until after I submitted it anyway.

I suppose it isn't really that peculiar. That sort of thing happens a lot. Someone clever probably has a very clever term for it. It is a bit like coach wit, but not quite. They are related. I'm not sure where I got that from. It feels like something that would've been in The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Since receiving the rejection even more shortcomings have become apparent (partly due to the feedback included in the email). I realise now when I read through the story that the entire point of the story is submerged somewhere beneath the surface of a tedious narrative, and that large portions of it a written in a very functional style that makes no attempt to engage the reader.

I've added The Scorecard to the blog, which will keep track of the number of major rewrites, and rejections, and probably other things as time goes by of each of the stories that I submit.

I am doing this because I enjoy statistics, and it is something that I have wanted to see from other writers. I can't force other writers to keep a scorecard. That is not something that I can do. I hope that I do eventually get something published. Not just for the sake of the scorecard, but for other sakes.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

From Bricks of Plastic

A couple of years ago my wonderful housemates bought me a Lego set that can be three things. Well, there are many more things that it can be. It's Lego. That is the point of Lego. The possibilities aren't infinite, because there is a finite number of bricks, and only a finite number of different combinations in which the bricks can be arranged, but it is definitely a lot more versatile than most of the toys.

Lego make these 3 in 1 Creator sets, of which there are a few. One set of pieces, three sets of instructions. They are pretty sweet. My friends got me one that can be a seaside cafe or something, a boathouse, or a lighthouse with a little dock. There is a coastal theme on the scene. Theme on the scene. That's fun to say.

I left it boxed for a while, because I didn't really have the space to do it, and other made up reasons, but one night my anxiety remembered my full name, and used it as it whispered gently its opinions in the wee hours of the morning. I'm sure it grinned as it watched them stack up behind my eyes making it difficult for me to see out past them. It's always grinning. So pleased with itself. 'Silly Jacob, you're so gullible', it thinks to itself. Anxiety is so smug.

In a moment of lucidity I realised that this is what I had trained for for all these years. What is the point of building this underground base, and spending all this money on suits, and gadgets, and custom vehicles with a specific motif if now in this hour, I am to stand idle? I am the night! And at that I swooshed a great many things off my desk and onto the floor with reckless abandon, making sure to remove breakables and other valuables prior to the swooshing. Swoosh! Swoosh went my arms brushing side the pens and paper! Swoosh went a hat as it fell lifeless to the floor! Swoosh went a textbook that I hadn't noticed under some papers, so I quickly picked it up and placed it neatly in its spot amongst the others. Swoosh went some other things!

Now freed from the shackles of untidiness, which I had cast unto the floor, I placed the Lego set upon the desk, then with my own bare hands I rent each baggie asunder, mixing the pieces together, because I am a seeker of thrills. I'm not really a thrill seeker. I seek no thrills. If I were a thrill seeker, I would sprinkle the pieces on the floor and turn off the lights. I am more of a piece seeker, because I know that in the seeking of pieces one may find clarity.

I built all three sets before dawn, leaving the lighthouse for last. Did I know what I was making? Not consciously. I mean, look, I knew what I was making because I had the instructions, and it wasn't like the pictures isn't on the box. I knew it was a lighthouse, but there is more to it. You people are so literal.

I knew I was building a lighthouse, but did I know what it was that I was building symbolically in the building of that lighthouse? Not consciously. Is it more likely that in those desperate moments when you are emerging from a distraction back into the crippling fear of anxiety you are likely to grasp at hands in the darkness for guidance because you know soon that you will have to find your way impaired? Yes. That is probably it. Anxiety is scary. And I am prone to finding resolve and hope in symbolism and inanimate objects when I'm frightened. Regardless of the logic, the lighthouse sat there on my desk, and as I depressed the button and turned the crank, and watched the orange light moved throughout my room I thought, 'I really need a lighthouse, and now I have one.'

These days it sits on my shelf, positioned so that I can see it from nearly anywhere in my apartment. It reminds me that all of the scariest things in my life are things that my mind has built for me. Custom made to keep me awake, and keep me afraid. The lighthouse makes it easier to see what I am doing. It makes it easier to see the real landscape. It has its limits, because it's going up against a warping of the way I perceive the world around me, but it reminds me to look harder. I still get anxious, and I still get depressed, and I still get paranoid, and all the other fun stuff, but I remember that it isn't going to last forever.

Hello, Lighthouse!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

King of the Impossible

As I sit here drinking my pink milk drink thing and watching Flash Gordon, I'm thinking to myself that I would get a kick out of being a space hero. Actually I am thinking a few things, and I am also writing this blog post, so there are more things going on than I had originally stated.

The things I am thinking alongside the aforementioned thing are(in no particular order that I care to explain): Queen is awesome; 'they' shouldn't be allowed to call it 'strawberry' when it is very clearly just 'pink' flavoured; I can never get my powdered milk to water ratios right; I should really see if there is any more of that new Flash Gordon comic; I'm sitting on something uncomfortable; and I've forgotten what my point was.

I've often wished I was a space hero, because space is cool. This isn't my 'inner child' either. Space is awesome. Adults can like space too. How do you think they choose the astronauts? I've expressed a general affection for space heroes and space hero related things. It can be generally considered that I'm into that sort of thing.

Some years are better than others in the space hero scene. We are in the process of getting a new Flash Gordon comic this year. I've only read the first episode (issue), but I'm going to keep reading it. Not the first issue, but the others that come out. I don't know if there are currently more than one. I've only seen the one, and it is pretty Flash-Gordony.

I watched that Space Dandy thing that I talked about earlier. I watched it all the way until the end of where they are up to, and I was well aware of the completionist's compulsion burning aware within me. I can pretty much guarantee that it is not everyone's cup of tea. The main characters' obsessions with 'chicks' and 'boobies' definitely wears pretty thin before the end of the first episode. I know it's meant to be an indictment of 'that sort of stuff', but it gets boring. There is this trend now to just say that something is an indictment of a thing and let that be the end of it, but I feel like there must be some greater obligation than that. Visually it is pretty stunning, and I found some of the stories strangely engaging, but the the other stuff pretty much ruins it.

I've been slacking off in the blogosphere lately. I've had other things that needed doing. 'Grownup stuff' mainly. I've written parts of a few things, but I have to finish some other things off before I get back to The Glue in a more comprehensive manner. It's not really a time management thing, which you can tell because I am watching Flash Gordon.

For the time being I will leave you with this: