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I can be a cranky old cow, and more so when it comes to bad journalism

I’m at an age where I can barely tolerate any form of social injustice.

I  can’t stand ratbags who litter our planet with takeaway coffee cups, plastic straws and other garbage… (don’t get me started on smokers and fishermen/women who drop their filthy cigarette butts, fishing lines and empty plastic bait bags without a thought for the local wildlife and environment).

I would like to see low life who dump rubbish in rivers and bush reserves hurled in the can.

Nor can I handle arseholes who think it’s reasonable to drive their ridiculous 4WD/SUVs (what the f…. is the difference? Don’t bother telling me, I don’t care) right onto the beach or nature strip because they can get away with it.

And then there’s the climate-change deniers, fossil-fuel supporters, corrupt politicians and radio shock jocks.

*TAKES DEEP BREATH*

But now I have a new addition to my list – it is the vacuous journalist who should, under no circumstances, be given column space.

I won’t name the culprit who set me off but her article caused me to shake my head in dismay that such utter crap could get an airing in a Sunday newspaper lifestyle magazine.

The 40-something “journalist” revealed all about her devastating experience at a function she attended in the role of guest speaker.

Wearing a Zimmerman frock she’d snapped up for half the retail price ($350 rather than $700), she entered a room full of women to find they were wearing Gucci and Valentino.

But worse than this, they weren’t interested in what she had to say because they were too busy chatting to each other about Aspen and au pairs.

It knocked the journalist for six. Poor baby. She felt so out of place.

In her own words, she went into a “spiral of self doubt”.

“In this room full of women so seemingly at ease with themselves and their surrounds” the journalist realised she didn’t fit in.

I kept reading because I thought the journalist would have something to say about the egregious behaviour of these women – about how empty and delusional their lives must be as they are forever scrabbling over each other on the one-upmanship ladder and terrified that their husbands are screwing the au pair.

But instead of creating a social commentary piece, the journalist moaned about her surprise at having hurt feelings at the age 40.

She had suffered a debilitating crisis of confidence.

To address this mid-life trauma, the journalist did four things:

She 1. got a meditation app 2. bought a tent (from Aldi) 3. read a book written by a contemporary self-help/self-love guru and 4. started journalling.

For me, the article revealed more about the journalist’s self absorption and lack of personal awareness –  missing a far more interesting angle that wasn’t all about her.

I would have been on-board if she’d listed 1. bought tent and gave it to Vinnies 2. donated Zimmerman frock to Salvos 3. read good fiction 4. started writing about things that matter.

It is an indictment of this relatively new enlightened movement where self love/self care has taken precedence over giving back to the community.

The real story is about those people who are so up their own behinds that they have no time for the big picture stuff. They’re the ones who park on the sand and throw their takeaway skinny cap cups out the window.

Selfish and disengaged from the real world, real people and real issues.

It is disappointing to see what passes for journalism in 2018.

If this is it, we’re all doomed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RWA Little Gems Jade

What I like about a novel or short story might not appeal to you.

Say I read a book and love it so I recommend it to you.

It changed my life, I tell you. You are convinced it will change your life too.

But you are sorely disappointed. You think, What was she thinking? This book is rubbish! 

My point is, like with everything – food, drink, movies, comedy, music, exercise, dogs and cats, etc – what I like might not be your cup of tea.

I have had the experience of people either loving my writing or finding fault with it – they don’t like my heroine (she’s too selfish), my hero is too soft (no alpha males in my stories!), my style irks them, they don’t get my humour.

In 2017, I entered the Romance Writers of Australia short story contest, Little Gems.

Every year the RWA names a gem that must be included in the story.

Last year’s gem was Onyx.

I loved my story and hoped it would get into the top 14 stories that make up the annual Little Gems anthology.

But it flunked. I can’t remember the scores I received from the three judges who read it – I received one perfect score of 60 and maybe another of 58. But the third judge’s score dragged my story out of contention for the top 14.

She thought it wasn’t romantic enough and that it focussed more on the relationship between the mother (heroine) and daughter characters rather than that of the mother and the hero love interest.

I was shattered. I knew my story was good. Quite a few of my writer friends read it and helped me edit it. I had it polished to perfection. But obviously not enough.

That’s how it is. If you enter these contests, you have to take the good feedback with the bad and be aware it is a totally subjective assessment of your story by a judge chosen from a pool of generous volunteers.

This year I tweaked the story to fit the gem Jade. Other than that, I made no changes.

There were 67 entries. Only 14 get make it, all reliant on the scores allocated by their three judges.

This year I had better luck with my judges. I received a “perfect, there is nothing I would change in this story”, then a 59 and a 58.

It wasn’t enough to get me into a top 3 but my story made 5th place and the anthology.

I was pretty happy with the outcome.

I wasn’t so lucky with another story I entered, albeit at the last minute. Written in a rush, it was quickly subbed by a good friend on the last day/night for entries to be submitted.

It received a 58, 57 and a 44. As usual, a huge thumbs down from one judge.

I have to cop that. Obviously, the judge who gave me the low score doesn’t enjoy my style of writing.

There’s always next year!

 

 

 

Pandemonium in my brain: why I need a beta reader and better time management

SOME would say I live a safe life.

I have a stressful day job, a stressed-out family life and a very old dog (she will die soon so expect grief-stricken post).

What’s more, I live in the suburbs and head to the coast for the holidays.

But when it comes to writing for contests, I have inadvertently become a risk taker by leaving ABSOLUTELY everything to the last minute.

I don’t know what it is inside my weird head that puts me into go-slow mode the second I commit to entering a competition (expect a post on procrastination).

But the end result is pandemonium in my brain, which led me (too late) to the conclusion that I should have consulted a beta reader right from the start.

I started my short story for the Romance Writers of Australia Little Gems 2018 contest about a week out from the deadline.

The day before entries were due I set about writing the last 1000 words of my 3000-word story. I bashed it out in true pantser style, making it up as I went along.

On deadline day, which fell on a Monday so I had to go to work, I sent a missive to a writerly friend to inform her of my utter stupidity.

My mistake. She offered to beta read my story.

I got the story to her that night after work and she sent back her edits in two lots.

I started on the edits around 9.30pm, thinking I would cruise to the midnight deadline.

At 11.45pm, I was frantically attempting to format the hastily finished product and in a haze of exhaustion I whizzed it off with payment, signed forms, etc, by 11.56pm.

I don’t know why I do this to myself. Bonkers.

My beta reader’s keen eye picked up heaps of silly little mistakes and problems around structure.

If I had started to write the story earlier and given myself and my beta reader the time to iron out all the issues, the result would have been a more refined product.

*Shakes Head*

 

 

 

 

The importance of bum glue

Writing can be a tortuous process.

I always hate it when authors talk about the words flowing from their fingers for 12 hours straight or the muse that moved them to pen 12 novels in 12 months.

I don’t see how that can be possible without mediocrity joining the party.

Don’t get me wrong, I love writing.

But a lot of the time it’s hard yakka.

My muse can be more like a spectre – she lurks in a dark corner so I can barely see her in my peripheral vision.

And what is that in her hand? An idea with a supernatural glow that is impossible to reach.

Then there are those euphoric moments when the writing gods shine on me and inspired ideas pop into my head and fizz with potential. It’s a pleasant feeling.

This usually happens while I’m out walking for exercise or in the shower for daily ablutions!

I know the best advice is to write no matter what.

Even if you are a desert where ideas perish in droves it is important to get something down on the page/computer screen before the day is over.

And do that every day.

I once heard the late author Bryce Courtenay offer words of wisdom.

Mr Courtenay talked about “bum glue”. He said you need to get that bum glue on the chair and then get your bum on it quick smart and start writing, and keep writing until it’s done.

Even if it is rubbish.

 

 

Three books in the drawer

And maybe even more.

I am embarrassed to admit I have at least three books in the drawer – metaphorically speaking, that is.

At over 100,000 words, my most recent novel was my most ambitious.

I finished writing it at the end of 2015.

It had been a huge feat for me to craft a story that wasn’t solely focused on the relationship between the hero and heroine. After years of mucking about, I had finally tippy-toed away from the romance genre into ‘popular women’s fiction with romantic elements’.

On completion of a first draft, I followed the recommendations of many successful authors – I put my novel “in the drawer” so I could return to it in a couple of months with a fresh perspective.

And there it stayed for a couple of months… and another couple of months, etc.

Gah!

When I dragged myself to the computer to edit it, my mojo had dwindled to a flickering candle with only a couple of hours burning time left.

As I traipsed through it, helped by some useful input from a writer friend, my attitude to my book changed.

  • I didn’t like my heroine anymore where once I loved her
  • I decided the story was flim flam, a crock, dog’s breakfast, all over the shop, total rubbish
  • I resented the input from my friend who had suggested I make big changes to whole chapters towards the end of the story. You’ve got to be kidding?

All in all, I suffered an attack of ennui and self-loathing whenever I went into edit mode (this wasn’t helped by my lack of organisational skills – yes, I am using Scrivener but I can even mess that up).

I also became caught up in the drudgery (ya gotta earn a living) and occasional dramas and tragedy that punctuated my other life in the real world in 2016 and 2017.

My very first grown up/big girl novel was put on the backburner.

As we all know it is now 2018. You might think I’m daft (and you wouldn’t be the first) but I rather like the sound of “2018”. Call me superstitious but I have always loved the number 8, even before I knew about the Chinese fixation with its simple infinity flow.

*And so dear reader (that’s you Lisa C), this year I resolve to get the bloody thing out there. Like, published. Like…

*Disclaimer: this is my first real blog on my big/grown up girl website so I am over-excited and keen to get cracking. So bear with me if book stays in drawer for another couple of months… etc.

Gouge my eyes out with pointy winged pencils!