Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Young Children Might Want to Turn Away

Last night I tried to carry too many things from the lounge-room to the study. One of them was my laptop, and it decided half-way through the journey that it was time to jump ship. I didn't think it fell too far or landed too heavily, and it was on the carpet. But this was the result.



Not pretty.

It's auspicious that I'm writing with a notebook and pen at the moment, otherwise things would have ground to a screeching halt. It's probably also a good thing that I back-up regularly, in case it's more than the screen that's been damaged.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Herbert Hits the Bright Lights


Here's the cover for the latest issue of ASIM, the one featuring the Hobbit Query Letter. I have to say, it feels strange to see my name on the cover of an actual published work. Bizarre is the word I'd use, like how I'd feel if I saw my name on a banner being dragged from the back of a bi-plane. But absolutely wonderful too. Particular thanks to Juliet Bathory for bringing it all together (oh, and picking the story too).

The issue isn't actually out yet, but it should only be a week or so if you feel like picking it up!

I have to say too, that is one seriously awesome cover....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Has Anyone Seen My Quill?

I've been trying something new these past few days. Instead of using my laptop to write the first draft of MMA1, I've been writing by hand in a notebook. It's the first time I've written a story with a pen since I was about 14. So far, my fingers are holding up, although I've noticed a long forgotten callus showing up once again on my index-finger. Welcome back, callus.

I've been thinking about trying this ever since I read a post by Garth Nix. He lists a lot of positives for writing by hand -- the main one being portability. For me, it's certainly been handy being able to take my notebook into the coffee shop at lunchtime and bang out 1000 words. Sure, I could take my laptop too, but then I have to worry about power supplies, getting it on my bike with all the other stuff I have to carry, and that self-consciousness I always seem to get when I'm working on my laptop in public (I think it must be some kind of new-writer neurosis).

But the main reason I'm trying it is a bit more subtle. I have a reasonably fast typing speed, courtesy of a course the government put me through when I worked as a clerk in my early 20's. That means I can easily type 1000 words in a very short space of time. You would have thought that's a good thing, but sometimes it's not. Speed rarely equals quality, and all too often I find myself writing whole chapters that will need serious rework, if not a total rewrite, in the second draft.

With hand-writing, I go a lot slower - my current rate being something like 1000 words in a solid hour. Because it's slow, it forces me to think more about what I'm writing, to plan more what the sentences will say before they spill out of my head and onto the page. Also, because it's written in ink on paper, rather than with 1's and 0's, it has a permanency to it -- it can't easily be wiped away with the delete key. Again, that drives me to think more carefully about what I want to write before I commit it to the page.

There's a possible negative too, which I'm keeping an eye out for. Sometimes, in particular scenes, my writing gets into a fast flow. This usually happens in action moments, like fights or pursuits, where lots of things are happening fast and there is little need for detailed description. I haven't reached one of those with the handwriting yet, but when I do, I wonder if I'll find it much harder than if it were being typed. I'll have to see.

Funny thing, this writing business. There's so much to learn, it sometimes feels completely overwhelming. But I think experimenting is a big part of coming to terms with it -- researching what others do, trying it out, and seeing if it fits. If it doesn't, move on to something else. If it does, stick with it, no matter what people tell you you "should" be doing.

It's definitely a fun ride!

1Yes, I've started again. No, don't ask.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Have Not Actually Fallen Off the Face of the Earth

Instead, I've been frantic with all sorts of other things, so the blog has taken a bit of a back-seat while I try and catch hold of my own tail. I also haven't had much to write about, other than the usual reports about book 2 turning into a slog, and the latest in my outline vs no-outline tug-of-war (currently outline is winning).

But! I have something to write about at last. It's been 10 months since I got the phone call from the publisher about the Ghost of Ping-Ling, and 5 months since I signed the contract. Since then, things have been awfully quiet, and even though I knew that would be the case, I did get the occasional worry that perhaps I'd dreamed the whole thing. But today the editor got in touch, and it looks like the editing process is set to start sometime around the end of November, with a tentative publication date in August next year, much earlier than I had expected. We also talked about possible artists for the cover design, though that's all in the earliest of stages.

So, things are slowly starting to move along. I suspect that when the editing gets started, I'll have even less time to blog, but I'll make every effort to pop in now and again and report how things are going.