Result!

It took me all day but I wrote 376 words which did not entirely suck.

Given that I haven’t been able to manage fiction at all for months, I am calling this a victory.

Also my motley lot of survivors have a completely reasonable reason for surviving the Mysterious Disappearance.

They’re all in prison.

As prisoners.

Or guards.

They’re all locked in together behind the sturdiest doors on the whole station.

Yes.

I like it.

Victory.

Advertisements

Powerless

The power in our street is getting cut today, so I won’t have time to write a full entry. Power outages are the household gods’ way of saying ‘hey, why don’t you go see that movie you wanted to see?’

So as soon as the ninja wakes up, we’re off!

 

Why Do I Do This To Myself?

So I’ve spent the last few days compulsively reading the English translation of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, or ‘When They Cry‘. It’s a jolly little Groundhog-Day-style repeating story with serial killings and insanity and people getting murdered in a thrilling variety of gruesome ways.

This was a bad decision, for the record.

It’s one I keep making. I watched Ghost Ship and had a pillow over my head for half of it. I watched The Ring and had nightmares for a week. I keep reading creepy urban legends and then not being able to sleep. I don’t know why, but scary stories have a terrible allure for me even though they freak me out and I couldn’t even watch Sweeney Todd without hiding my eyes during the bloody bits.

When They Cry kept me awake until two in the morning, way too creeped out to sleep. And I didn’t have all of it, so I’m going to read the other arcs and do this to myself again. I know it’s a bad idea, but I’ll do it anyway because I need to know what happens.

As far as I can tell, most people who enjoy horror stories don’t actually have nightmares and hide under pillows and find it impossible to sleep after finding out the latest horrifying twist (SHION WHY). I don’t even enjoy them most of the time. But every now and then I pick up a DVD case and read the back, or happen across a review online, and I get curious and think I’ll just take a peek and YOU WOULD THINK I WOULD KNOW BETTER BY NOW. Apparently I have sub-conscious self-destructive urges that express themselves by putting thoughts in my head like ‘I’m thirty-five, surely I am now sufficiently jaded to handle a horror comic meant for teenagers’.

I am not.

This is why I had nightmares about my baby being either a vampire or a zombie after she was born. Didn’t improve the post-natal freakout one bit.

I have very rarely tried to write creepy. This is probably my best attempt. I would actually really like to, but I have the little problem that I completely terrify myself and can’t finish and don’t want to think about it because scary. Like writing mystery, it’s something I really want to do but find myself fundamentally ill-equipped for. Do any of you have a genre you like reading and want to write but just can’t seem to get the knack of? (Or can’t do except during day-light with cartoons on and someone at hand to distract you at need?)

The Mystery Of The Self-Doubting Writer

Well, it’s not all that mysterious. Writers are a notoriously neurotic bunch. We were once presumed to be interestingly malnourished, probably drunken creatures holed up in an attic with a typewriter, now we’re popularly supposed to be uninterestingly malnourished, probably anxiety-ridden creatures holed up at a desk with a computer.

I will poke my pale, timidly quivering nose out from behind my computer to concede that yes, I am in fact anxiety-riddled and prone to holing up, although I do it with my three year old, the TV and a supply of fruit and healthy crackers, so only for a given level of ‘holed up’. And that’s probably why I’ll never write a mystery, as much as I’d like to.

Whoa, there, Salmon, that’s quite the leap you made there. How are those two connected again? (I’m sure you were wondering.)

I love murder mysteries. I adore Hamish Macbeth, Peter Wimsey, Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple, Tom Barnaby, Phryne Fisher, Detective Inspector Frost, Monk, and that strange little man Columbo. I love the puzzle-solving and the clever little clues and (as mentioned in my last post) the way the main characters are relatively safe.

The tension of mysteries comes from a very different place than the tension in most other genres. It’s not peril to the major characters – although some of them go with the perpetually-in-danger-of-losing-job semi-tension – it’s the mystery itself. And some peril. A bit.

Mysteries have to be a bit clever. I don’t know how mystery-writers do it. Whenever I try, it seems so painfully obvious and all the clues stick out a mile. How can you tell if a clue is subtle enough when you know it’s supposed to be there? Beta readers may be the answer – get a fresh pair of eyes on the story and see what they pick up. But I get so frustrated at not being able to come up with anything even remotely clever that it never really gets to the point where I can show it to someone else.

So if you write mysteries, well, I salute you. You are braver and more devious than I.

Don’t Break My Heart

An acquaintance on tumblr recently asked for recommendations for a tv-show to watch that won’t ‘break my heart right away’.

I gave some thought to this. Avatar? No. Firefly? God, no. Sherlock? Ever so much no. Battlestar Galactica? Frak, no. Supernatural? HELL, no. Most shows, especially if you’re inclined to get emotionally invested in the characters, will break your heart sooner or later.

So I suggested one from what is, bizarrely, one of  the emotionally safest genres – murder mysteries.

No, really. Someone dies in every episode, sure, but it’s quite rarely someone you actually know! The drama comes from the murder of unknown characters, while the known characters – police, detectives, what have you – are completely safe. They might seem threatened now and then, undergo a bit of trauma, but you know they’re going to be okay in the end. I’d never thought about it before, but when I’m feeling shattered I tend to watch either murder mysteries/cop shows or a nice medical, where the doctors are likewise pretty safe. I don’t mind people dying right and left, as long as it’s no-one I’m personally attached to. (My attitude to blood is much the same – I don’t care about anyone else’s, but come over all queasy if I see too much of my own)

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, especially if an actor wants to leave a show. But emotionally speaking, the shows where someone dies every episode are often easier than the ones where it comes as a horrible surprise. So if Supernatural or Sherlock have broken your heart, why not pay a little visit to Midsomer? The deaths won’t be surprising at all!

For the record, the show I recommended was ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’. I haven’t seen all of it, so heart-breakage is still a possibility, but it features a sassy lady detective in 1920s Sydney, who’s gloriously self-assertive and witty and there are also grumpy cabbies, charming policemen and sexy bits. I recommend it.

Time Off

So I figured I’d take a couple of days off to deal with offline stuff and then I turn around and it’s been a full week. I don’t even know how that happened. But I’m going to stop taking time off now, because I don’t want to give up on this blog. It’s fun and people are actually reading it and I love that, so I’m back!

Real post to follow!

Narrative Reality

Things have not been going well for me lately, what with one thing and another. Bills, medication adjustments, and the like.

And some higher power is trying to comfort me with sales.

The seat of the ninja’s pram is giving out? HERE MASSIVE CLOSING DOWN SALE AND WHEN YOU GO THERE’S A NEARLY BRAND NEW REPLACEMENT SEAT FOR YOUR PRAM FOR A QUARTER OF THE USUAL PRICE FOR YOU.

You want a new couch? HERE IT’S LESS THAN HALF PRICE BECAUSE IT HAS A LITTLE HOLE IT JUST WENT OUT ON THE FLOOR IT’S FOR YOU.

New desk? EIGHTY DOLLARS OFF FOR A FEW SCUFF MARKS HAS TO GO TODAY FOR YOU.

Now that I’ve gone into debt to buy a couple of reasonably necessary pieces of furniture (we didn’t have enough seating for everyone in the lounge-room and my desk is developing a serious wobble), though, the sales keep coming.

That pizza you like? Super sale!

Computer games on sale for you.

Five dollars off your next book purchase because we love you.

Shoes!

Clothes!

Household items!

A TV that’s less than twenty years old!

And I have no money left, and yet I keep being offered things I love – and things I need – at vastly reduced prices. Which is kind of helpful, because it means I can buy some things I couldn’t otherwise have, but is also frustrating. It’s sweet that you want to make me happy with my very favourite thing, higher power, and I do love shopping for bargains, but it would be so much better if they were spaced out a little!

….

So I drafted this the other day and left it half-finished because it was kind of personal and boring and I just did the thing about the new desk instead.

So guess what?

A Daiso Japan store opened in Brisbane. Full of all sorts of things that I want, like rice molds and cheap but sturdy plastic containers and useful things like that.

And everything in it is AU$2.80. Prices even the unemployed can afford.

And it’s open just in time for me to go there when I go out for Free Comic Book Day and the Buddha Birthday Celebrations, so I can do it all on one train fare.

If I wrote my life as it stands now, it would be ridiculously unrealistic. Magical Sales coming to comfort the suffering and impoverished? And it may, of course, all be coincidence. But it’s a very nice coincidence, and one that’s making me feel a lot less overwhelmed. It’s as if someone’s coming to my rescue in the nick of time.