Monday, January 25, 2010

Why I did very little writing this week 3(3)

Hi all,

Well another week of dramas has just passed. I have left out a lot of detail in what has been going on with my father, his behaviour is so out of character and strange that I feel if I describe it on this blog it will just take away any dignity he has left. Anyway, this blog is supposed to be about writing, not an excuse for why I am not writing, which is why I changed its title to Why I did Very Little Writing This Week. So, all up, I did a couple of hours of editing of Stalking Tigers spread over the week.

I did finish reading a book, my first for the year, Year Million, edited by Damien Broderick. It's a non-fiction book filled with essays about what humanity and civilisation might be like during the next million years. The authors are scientists, some of whom, like Gregory Benford, also write science fiction. I suspect many of them played a role in Damien's research for his two non-fiction books, The Spike, and The Last Mortal Generation (both of which I have read), because much of their speculation was not new to me. But there were some interesting thoughts. I will review it properly later this week.

On twitter, Aussie Science Fiction author Graham Storrs pointed out another interesting article on ebooks, this one on the Idea Logical blog, a blog concentrating on the future of publishing. The blog entry: Are Free ebooks a Good Idea? points out that in the future every wannabe writer will probably have a free ebook of some or all of a novel available for download on the web in an attempt to market it. As a result, a number of websites will probably be set up with links to these free ebooks. Eventually there will be so many free ebooks available that consumers won't feel the need to pay for them and they will probably be so upset when asked to pay for an ebook, that they just download an illegal copy.

It seems to have already started, with eight of Amazon's top selling ebook downloads in a recent week being in fact free ebooks and not sales. So much for making a living out of writing. In related news, from The Age, Australia is currently in discussion with the US and a number of other countries to try a create web copyright laws that are enforceable. I hope they are successful, but don't think they will be. It doesn't look good at the moment for authors who want to earn some money from the thousands of hours they put into writing a novel.

I have just learnt that my father is being very unresponsive at the nursing home and they have called a doctor. He has been very unresponsive with us, like yesterday when we visited. I don't think there is much point in going to see him, so we will wait and see what the doctor says. Ain't life great.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My writing week 3 (2)

Hi all,

I'm feeling tired, but that ain't unusual. I went for a slow swim this morning, thought I was making an effort to swim fast, but my time was lousy. Maybe I miscounted the number of laps as I abused God for not looking after one of his devotees, my father. So much for being an atheist.

My father's rapid dementia decline continues to dominate my thoughts. We had a little stab of hope last Friday when he communicated a bit, but the two trips since then have been very painful. I don't think he even recognised my mother or me yesterday. (big sigh) I now think his quality of life is so diminished that he might as well be dead. Sad way to think of a man who I used to take great pride in being his son.

I subsequently did very little writing last week again. (another sigh) I did a bit of reading, often falling asleep at night with the book on my chest. There were a few interesting book related articles in the newspapers (which I am still two weeks behind in reading). Stephanie Meyer had seven of the top ten selling books in Australia last year, selling over two million copies of her vampire series. Dan Brown had the number four book, Mathew Reilly the number nine and Stieg Larson the number ten.

A well know left leaning journalist said that intellectual property rights are dead, let's wait and see about that comrade. I will be interested to see how long many websites will survive if they no longer have the ability to steal off sources like newspapers who fail due to lack of respect by others for their intellectual property rights. If novelists no longer write because it doesn't pay, what will they put on Kindle that is relevant in a few decades.

In the same article it mentioned Amazon's Kindle book downloads out did their paper books sales for the first time during Christmas. So a lot of people brought kindles and had to put something on them. Most of which, would have been free downloads from ancient authors. Are these techno geeks really gonna sit there and read more then the first paragraph, if that, written by some bore who died years ago.

Oh yeah, and I deliberately did not mention the author of the articles name, because that is what it will be like when their are no intellectual property rights.

Perhaps I should have said I was tired and narky at the start of this post.


Monday, January 11, 2010

My writing week year 3 week 1

Hi all,

Last week was a very hectic week that finished with a heat wave, giving me good reasons for doing very little writing. Our attempts to get my father out of hospital and into a nursery home took up a lot of time. We finally succeeded yesterday. I have no idea what my father thought of the whole idea because the hospital had drugged him up to the eyeballs. All he did was wander around, showing very little interest in the room in which he is probably going to spend the rest of his life.

To illustrate how drugged he was, he turned up to the nursing home with his jumper on backwards and no shirt on, he also, for reasons unknown to everyone, had put a pair of latex gloves on his feet and then two pairs of socks. Not impressed with the way the hospital let him dress. It wasn't a great day for a transfer, with the temperature hitting 42.

To top all that stress off, or maybe because of it, my left eye, which has had cataract surgery performed on it, developed a twitch every time I forced a blink. I don't think I am blinking enough at the moment. I did read a bit last week so it could just be eye strain caused by wearing glasses whose lenses are more suited to the right eye. I swapped down to weaker glasses.

I have started writing a story where the main character suffers form a particular trait. Can you guess? I will tell you at the end of the post. I also did a bit of editing of Stalking Tigers. I am currently editing chapter 10, which used to be chapter 14 before I cut chapters 11-13.

This information is a few weeks old as I am still yet to catch up my newspaper reading: a University of Melbourne book industry study says in the year 2007-08 there were 994 genuine commercial publishers in Australia who published 9910 new titles and sold 175-200 million books. The top 10 publishers accounted for 60 percent of sales. Now for those who are trying to get published comes the bad news, ninety per cent of publishers sold fewer than 120 copies of new titles, and fifty per cent sold less than five. No wonder publishers seem reluctant to take on new authors.

The main character in my short story suffers from dementia. For those who guessed cataracts, he might also end up with them.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Graham's best science fiction of 2009

Hi all,

I wasn't going to do a best of list for 2009 because I felt like a bit of a fraud with my lack of reading last year, but I did watch a few science-fiction movies and a lot of television so, in the hope of creating some sort of tradition, here is my belated list.

I read a whole four novels last year, pathetic really, but eye problems severely restricted my reading. I am envious of facebook friends like Patty Jansen who read 39 novels and Satima Flavell who read too many to count. Three of the novels I read where science-fiction, and Time Machines Repaired While U Wait by KA Bedford would have been the best of them. It would probably have ended up near the top of a list during a normal year's reading as I have always loved a good time-travel story. I reviewed it here.

I saw at least half a dozen science fiction movies this year and two stood out: District 9 and Star Trek. District 9 had an original story of aliens being refugees rather than invaders, told in an original documentary style, with a message about racism, and filmed in the unfamiliar environment of South Africa. It was unpredictable, at least for me, and had wonderfully realistic special effects. The makers of Avatar should go and watch it, as I found Avatar to be totally predictable, unoriginal, boring in places, it had unrealistic special effects and big plot holes. I thought Star Trek was a great rebooting of what had become a very tired, at least in movies, format.

Most of my science fiction TV viewing was of Austar (Foxtel) as I am fed up with disappearing and the erratic scheduling of commercial television. I watched three stand out series last year, Battlestar Galactica (series 3 and I am up to episode 15 of series 4), The Chronicles of Sarah Connor (series 2) and Torchwood: Children of Earth. I have thought Battlestar Galactica up with the X-files and Doctor Who as the best science fiction ever, it is a more adult, emotional, character driven drama with a twisting story. I still have no idea how it will finish. The Chronicles of Sarah Connor has a plot that grows in complexity as more and more characters with their own agendas are introduced from the future. It also helps that the lead actress is easy to watch. And Torchwood, in the absence of a series of Doctor Who, is the fun show to watch.

So there you have it, hopefully this year I will do more reading and less television watching.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

My writing week 52

Hi all,

I have just buried the ashes of 2009 after bashing it with a Tony Abbott puppet, dousing it with petrol and setting it on fire. What a woeful year. I achieved very little in writing, hardly read a book, only got my eyes half fixed, was sick all the time, lost my job and my father's dementia took on a whole new meaning. What a pathetic waste of a year.

It's way too early to tell if 2010 is gonna be any better. At the moment my father is waiting in hospital, after collapsing for the third time in a fortnight, to be reassessed this Thursday. If he is assessed as high-level care, which we think he should be, then he will be placed in a nursing home where he can receive appropriate care and my mother can start digging her way out of a landslide of stress.

On a personal level, I have to wait until the 9th of February to get the cataract on my right eye removed, which, if successful, will hopefully stop me suffering from tired eyes much of the time. I am also hopeful that by stopping taking the immune suppressant Imuran I won't be as sick this year. Last year I had eight weeks off work due to the flu, ulcerative colitis, conjunctivitis, bronchitis, cataract surgery and asthma. The ulcerative colitis seems to be under control but you can never tell with the lousy illness. I hope that the removal of Imuran from my system doesn't lead to it flaring up again.

I regards to getting a job, I live in country Victoria and find myself either unqualified or over-qualified for 90% of positions. There is not a lot of point looking for work at the moment if I then have to ask to take a week, or more, off work in a month's time to get my eyes done. Having said that I have just applied for a job. At least, without a job, I might have more time to write and read.

So with my health, eyes, father and unemployment, I am making no new year's resolutions about my writing this year except to try and do some every day, like I did last week.

I hope everyone else is successful with their resolutions of writing more, getting a novel published, receiving 100 rejections in 2010, doing more exercise, reading a novel a week, winning the Booker/Hugo/bad sex scene award, losing weight, drinking less, giving up smoking, marrying an agent/editor, being less abusive to publishers/critiquers/any idiot who doesn't see the brilliance in your writing, and fixing climate change.