Storybook Perfect

Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Tag: Xander

Revision and The Anti-Muse

I do have some proper content to provide you with, but first I just want to gush briefly about my son. While buttering our breakfast crumpets I wondered why on earth he was being so quiet in the living room, so peered around the corner to check, assuming Sesame Street would be filling his little eyes with wonder. Instead I found him on one of the chairs at the dining room table. He had prised open my laptop and grabbed what remained of my morning tea and was drinking the tea with one hand while bashing the keyboard with the other. This is exactly what he perceives my early morning to be ;p It was so cute, but I couldn’t grab the camera for fear he might spill the tea on my precious PC.

OK, on with the content my title promised.

I’m revising the recently finished first draft of (working title) Fanta’s Story – it has a temporary alternate title of ‘All The Stars’ but it’s fighting against ‘The Missing Stars’ and ‘The Dissidents and Stars’ all I know is stars are most definitely going to be involved in the title. More on titles in a later post.

Right now I’m wondering if I may have jumped into my revision a little too soon. There’s plenty of red pen to be found, rewrites scrawled on the back of the page it will belong to, but something still doesn’t seem right. I can’t pinpoint it right now and the work is still far too rough for me to show it to anyone just yet. Possibly my squirgly tummy is reacting simply to that roughness – Storybook Perfect was rewritten about eight times before it even made it to first draft stage NOT THE WAY TO DO THINGS, BELIEVE ME! – or maybe my brain is filled with the paranoia which comes along and plagues writers and other artists from time to time. You know what I mean, that ‘I’ll never be good enough’ attitude that pushes to the fore-front of our grey-matter on occasion to make us doubt our skill, our talent, our resolve, our very self-worth.

Writers often talk about ‘the Muse’ as the wonderful part of our mind that blesses us with the very best ideas. This beast that bursts forth I call the Anti-Muse. Creativity splutters to a halt, and the editor becomes even more perfection driven than usual, critical of everything without reserve. I’m even looking at my website – which long term readers will know took me three days to get to this stage due to a lack of knowledge of CSS code – and thinking it looks too kiddie, like my attempt at a Sailor Moon fan site when I was fifteen. It’s frustrating because I do not have the time to learn the code I need to make the site look more professional but neither do I have the money to pay someone to do it for me and the Anti-Muse sure as heck won’t let me leave it like this for much longer.

The Anti-Muse has some good ideas of things to add, like perhaps the blurb or pitch for my novels and a teaser or taste of the first chapter – I might leave that for when I have the books at a stage where they are ready or almost ready to sell – but she’s none to nice when she offers these ideas up.

A part of me wants to step back from the revision and give myself a little more time, but the other part of me tells me I might as well finish this run off and then come back again at a later date, after all, we all know I’ll never just do one revision anyway.

I think what I really need to do is take the Anti-Muse and go for a drive and leave her in some ditch on the side of the road between here and the highway (there’s a lovely, long stretch of road with not much but fields, trees and distant houses that runs for about 15 kilometres) but considering she’s a part of me (and has a few valid points) I think it might be better to weather the storm and keep reminding myself she’s just my anxieties given voice.

Do you have any good names for your Anti-Muse? Or can you think of any particularly heinous monsters whose name could be used? Let’s have a good laugh at the expense of our inner-critics.

Is It Worth It

I was asked this question yesterday by an old work friend in relation to having a child. He’s been with his lovely wife for most of the time I’ve known him – which is a good few years, easily five – and just like most couples the question has started to loom. As is often the case, she is ready, but he remains apprehensive.

This was the first time he had seen me since I gave birth. The last time he saw me I was a pregnant, water-retaining whale in a fancy dress at our company’s award ceremony for managers. It was kind of hard to miss what was happening, but I guess they hadn’t started talking about it at that point in time.

“Is it worth it?” He asked me, eyes attached to the child straddling my hip. It took me a few moments to realise precisely what he was asking me. I thought like most co-workers he meant was it worth it returning to work as a casual after being a manager for so long.

I can’t remember my response verbatim, but this would be pretty darn close.

“I won’t lie and say it’s easy, because it’s not. Late nights, early mornings, giving up things – but nothing, NOTHING, beats listening to him laugh and seeing his face as he learns new things and enjoys playing.”

He nodded along. Whether he was convinced by my words or not, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure he has no idea I even have a blog, but I’m going to write like I’m talking to him still. So Matt:

Sure, you give up things. For example the only reason I was there was because we had tried to go watch a movie, but after an hour Xander just couldn’t take it anymore so I left (luckily the tickets were free, so I really didn’t care). Having a child is more rewarding than the value of those lost or once common now rarely done things. It goes beyond just looking at that perfect face and laughing along with the most infectious giggle ever created. It even goes beyond the sense of accomplishment as you teach him how to talk, walk and play new games. You learn to value those precious little snippets of time and use them more productively, you enjoy those rare things far more now they are rare and you discover a whole new world through the eyes and actions of your offspring.

I waited to have children. T-J openly confessed he couldn’t wait to have kids very early on in our relationship and I was straight-forward in my reply that I did want them but it was going to be a while before I would be ready. I calmly explained I was too selfish and immature. I knew these things about myself. I could not have been the loving mother I am today six years ago when we first were married. Waiting until you are ready is important but there is also a line between wanting to wait and not wanting at all. What you need to assess is which option is you. Don’t rush to it. If your partner is the right person they are willing to wait (just ask T-J, he waited 7 years). But I’ll answer your question right now.

Is it worth it?

Hell yeah.

Blown Away

It stuns me to realise this but since February 14th I have taken my current work in progress (working title is Fanta’s Story, but I can assure you that won’t be the final title) from a story outline I transferred into Scrivener to 55,000 words. I have six scene cards – yes you read right only six scenes – until I have completed my first rough draft.

It doesn’t feel real.

I’m dead serious here. It doesn’t. I started writing Storybook Perfect (back when it was called Yui’s Tale, are you sensing a similarity with my WIP titles?) when I was sixteen. I finished it in 2009, when I was 27 and off work for two months with a (still undiagnosed) vertigo disorder. It was only a rough draft finish of course and it has gone through easily eight full edits since, but to go from the first book taking 11 years to the next taking not even two whole months… it blows my mind!

Admittedly I always have had the habit of getting distracted by something shiny and new. I would start Yui’s Tale and after a chapter or a scene or two I’d get excited about ‘the Children of Tejemanya’ or ‘Evannah’ and do some writing in them and the cycle would continue with new books starting, ideas being plotted and then distraction! I’m even the same with games. I start a game, get approximately two thirds through and then something new comes out and I just can’t help but play with it. I can count the number of games I have actually watched the ending credits roll in on one hand. Ok, I lie, I need both hands, but I’ve played easily more than triple that count, keeping my success rate at under 30%. As a quick aside, oddly enough those I’ve finished I often go back and complete AGAIN. My re-completion rate is 60%. What’s wrong with me? I don’t know.

Getting back to my point now, I am easily distracted – as I just proved in multiple ways. What I think has helped me with my current work in progress is having a child.

Whaaaaaaaaat?!

Yep, having a child. I have so little time that I no longer waste it watching TV or just lying around. I have to use every precious minute. It keeps me focused, makes me determined. Even though I have other projects (this blog and my other secret WIP I will reveal soon) I have been able to maintain focus and tear through this. I never had that until now.

So I want to thank my precious baby, Xander, not just for being the light of my life but for helping me write like a real author. I love you.

Evil Genius’ First Day

Xander experienced his first day of day-care today. He’s stayed at home with my husband many times before, and he’s spent afternoons with my mother while I’ve had three or four hour shifts but today he experienced care given not by blood relatives and was there for a full day. Typically, he took it better than we, the parents, did.

In the morning as we dropped him off we were both down on bended knee, waving and saying nice and clearly: “Bye-bye Xander, mummy and Daddy are going to work now.” But he didn’t care, he was trying to race over to the slide or the plastic ‘Flinstones’ style cars. Even when we walked out of view all he wanted to do was run around and play with the other kids, there was no backward glance to see if we were lingering behind him like we normally would.

My husband and I consoled ourselves with the thought in a few hours when the novelty wore off he would notice our absence and become distraught. We took great pains to let the centre staff know they could contact either or both of us if he was too distressed.

Of course neither of us received a call. Blessedly I was extremely busy at work trying to ensure there would be nothing left for my boss to worry about when he returns from his leave so the day went by quite quickly for my first eight hour work day in a year and a half. I rushed back to the day-care centre as soon as possible, running a little late because (as always) a customer came in with a long and complicated sale mere minutes before closing. Everyone who has ever worked in retail knows exactly what I am talking about. Naughtily I was speeding just a little but by an incredible stroke of luck someone was speeding much worse than I and they caught the attention of the unmarked police car and not me – and of course I was scared straight by my brush with the law and maintained the correct speed limit the rest of the way to the centre.

When I arrived I found my son happily scribbling on some paper with a girl a little older than he. He looked up, looked back down and scribbled a bit more before doing a double take. He wasn’t particularly upset, but he wasn’t bursting with joy at the sight of me either. Normally when cared for at home he is ecstatic at my return so it was a little knife to my heart.

The carers told me he had been generally happy all day – he had trouble sleeping, but he has trouble sleeping even with his father and nanna so that wasn’t a surprise. I’m glad to hear his first day went so well, but can’t help feeling disheartened that he didn’t miss me more. Or maybe he is an evil genius and this is a ploy to have his vengeance for abandoning him…

Eight Ball

For those interested/concerned Xander has almost fully recovered now. He took a turn for the worse after my last post, but has bounced back now.

As I catch up on all the posts that I missed over the last few days I curse all the book review blogs I follow. Every single one of them had a review for a book I now desperately want to read. Damn you all stop making me want to spend more money! I would threaten to unfollow them but we all know I’m not capable of that. In fact I should be reviewing more books myself, I haven’t even put up half of my collection on Goodreads yet. There is so much I need to get my rear in gear over. I feel like I’m behind the eight-ball at the moment and I have to remind myself that I’m not under any real pressure because my main job is Xander and that’s going beautifully and everything else is just side projects, but when you don’t get anything done on those side projects for a while it can ruin a good mood fast.

Hope everyone else is feeling a little more accomplished than I am right now.

So I don’t finish this post on a dreary note if anyone out there is on Goodreads let me know so I can befriend you.

Fever

Xander is in the throes of his first fever. When he was four months he had a mild cold but no fever, and now ten months has passed without a single illness plaguing my poor boy, but late last night he got hot and clingy.

The doctor this morning was HELL. We have a great doctor’s clinic nearby where you don’t have to make an appointment, just show up and wait. Most of the time you’re only waiting 10-15 minutes which you usually wait at a doctor’s office even when you have an appointment anyway. Today was an hour and a half in a packed waiting room with a baby who just wanted to cling and cry.

It’s not an ear or throat infection, his nose isn’t running and he doesn’t have diarrhea so it’s just a random fever. Even though I know it isn’t something to panic about he’s just so sleepy and clingy and sad that it breaks my heart.

Get well soon my little prince!

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