I might be crazy

A couple of days ago, I had an epiphany.

I was about 50k into this draft of Shaede, and finding myself frustrated, though I couldn’t really figure out why.  I was doing some reading and it hit me – the damn thing was in the wrong point of view.

I tend to always write in third person for novels.  I don’t know why.  I just do.  And I think, for this series, third just doesn’t work.  So I sat down and hammered out a rough rewrite of the first chapter in first person, asked for a few opinions.

Yeah.  It needs to be in first person.

This is going to add on rewriting of what I already have, and probably at least another draft or two to really get Sy’s voice right.  But it’s been flowing really well, and I’ve been seriously looking forward to sitting down and writing every day.

Most days lately I’ve been struggling to get to 1k words, checking and rechecking my word count as I meandered up to my daily word count goal of 2k.  These days three days, working in first person, I blink and I’m at 2k.

Today has been a bit harder, because I’m randomly fatigued (probably weather changes, since there’s a cyclone bearing down up north) and pain levels are higher than lately, but I still got to 2.6k in a session and may come back to finish off the 4k chapter later on today.

I might be crazy, but this is working and it’s right.

AWW2013: And All the Stars by Andrea K Host

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Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings.

None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind.

Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.

 

I was drawn to this book initially because of the cover, which is dead set gorgeous. Also, because the dystopia/post-apocalyptic genre is still one that draws me, despite the market in YA being somewhat saturated.

There is a lot to praise about this book. The sense of setting is very well grounded – even in the midst of the world falling apart after an alien invasion, it’s very recognisably Australian. Sexuality and gender are presented in all of their facets and without ever being an “issue”. The protagonist, Madeleine, is well-rounded and feels very real from the moment she steps onto the page.

I did have some issues, however. There are a handful of scenes that feel very rushed – many of the action scenes, in particular – and could have benefited from clearer editing. At times, I didn’t quite feel the emotional impact of the events – it felt as though the teens were taking things far too easily, when most people would have been melting down.

I did like the juxtaposition of some of the normal teenage feelings and activities with the apocalyptic scenario – it made total sense to me that teens would be fighting for their world, while still doing the normal things like developing crushes and navigating their first relationships.

I did feel like the book ended far too quickly, and honestly found that the epilogue was extraneous. I would have preferred for everything to be left hanging a bit, rather than everyone essentially getting their happily ever afters.

Definitely worth a read, especially if you’re interested in what’s happening in self publishing.

AWW2013: My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

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This classic Australian novel was written by Miles Franklin, and details her life being born of the bush in Australia. A fantastic, well-written book with lively descriptions of a girl’s life that can’t be passed up by anybody who is drawn by good stories with captivating details. This novel should be required reading by anyone interested in Australia or important female writers and novelists in history.

 

 

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book.

For its time, and the fact that it was written by Franklin when she was a teenager (!), it is a brilliant novel. The writing ability that Franklin had so young is amazing – she manages to capture so much of Australia, and her protagonist, Sybylla, lives and breathes from the first moment she steps onto the page.

I did find Sybylla to be a frustrating protagonist, due to her general inability to decide on what she wants (or who she wants), but that frustrating nature is part of what makes her feel real. Even when she was annoying me with her indecision and mood swings, I found myself wishing fervently that she would get what she wanted (if she could only decide what it was!).

I’m really glad that I picked this up as part of the Australian Women’s Writer’s Challenge, since I’d shamefully not read any of Franklin’s work before. I find myself awed by her talent, and deeply impressed with how much she worked to change the face of Australian literature.

I bring you your ink

Writing shrine

New grotto/shrine for Thoth from The Fable Tribe.

I’ve kind of fallen off the bandwagon of the photo-a-day thing for this year.  I always like the idea of doing it, and take photos happily for a few weeks and then end up just standing and staring at the same things in the house, thinking that they’re boring.

I think it mostly just reflects how much of a hermit I am, really.  I will keep on taking occasional photos, I think, but not hold myself to taking one every day.

It’s been an interesting last few weeks.  Went through some medical testing last week (which has, pending some other tests, revealed nothing dire, which is something).  I have my first chest infection of the year right now, which is just *awesome*.  I’m hoping that it’ll pass quickly, but possibly not, since I’m immunosuppressed right now, and will probably need antibiotics.  Autoimmune diseases suck.

I have been writing, and holding to achieving 10,000 words per week.  Still working on Shaede, and feeling really happy with it.  I think it may end up being a bit longer than I’d planned, but we’ll see.  I am going to need to hunt up some new beta readers once this draft is done, I think, since everyone who’s betaed for me in the past is probably sick of reading this one (though you’re all welcome to beta again if you like!).

AWW2013: Madness by Kate Richards

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“The thing with psychosis is that when I’m sick I believe the delusional stuff to the same degree that you might know the sky is above and the earth below. And if someone were to say to me that the delusional thinking is, in fact, delusional, well that’s the same as if I assure you now that we walk on the sky. Of course you wouldn’t believe me, and that’s why it’s sometimes so hard for people who are sick like this to know that they need treatment. Psychosis and severe depression have a huge effect on how you relate to other people and how you see the world. It’s a bit like being in a vacuum, or behind a wall of really thick glass . . . you lose any sense of connectedness. You’re cast adrift from everyone and everything that matters.

I’ve lived with acute psychosis and depression for the best part of twenty years. This is the story of my journey from chaos to balance, and from limbo to meaning.”

Kate Richards is a trained medical doctor who works in medical research. She is also, to paraphrase her in this book, “mad”.

This book takes the reader on a journey through her episodes of psychosis and self harm, through mania and a quest to find a useful psychologist and psychiatrist, as well as the medication and skills Richards needs in order to manage her illness.

This is one of the most beautiful, heart wrenching and painful memoirs of mental illness I have read.

Richards is a beautiful writer, and uses her skill to describe her illness in sometimes gut churning detail, especially in regards to the periods of self harm she goes through (the book, for example, opens as she tries to amputate her own arm in a period of psychosis).

My main thoughts upon finishing this book are these:

As a society, we are not looking after those who are mentally ill the way we should. Richards describes mentally ill people being refused treatment at a hospital after they have self injured (or sub-standard care being provided as “punishment” by emergency room doctors). There is help there, but the patient almost needs to be an advocate for themselves to get it, which many people in the depths of psychosis are unable to do.

How much difference a good psychologist or psychiatrist can make to a patient. I think it takes a very particular type of person to be able to work well in these fields, and it’s clear that if Richards hadn’t found a psychologist she could work well with (which seems to basically be a matter of chancing upon the right one, after going through the wrong ones, who can be damaging), she very likely wouldn’t be alive today.

I don’t know if there are answers to these issues, and Richards herself doesn’t begin to try to find any. But the issues are there, and it makes me wonder how many people are suffering in silence with mental illness, or are made sicker by medical professionals.

Truly an amazing book. I’d recommend anyone who has an interest in mental health to give it a read.