Writing Wednesday

To break with the stagnant, boring ritual Writing Wednesdays have become, today’s entry is mostly in the form of a question.

Why do good people write bad things?

I don’t mean, writing badly, although I’m sure that happens as well. I mean, why do we explore the deepest reaches of nasty human (and monstrous) behaviour?

I’m a nice girl, right? I’m cheerful and friendly and I would never deliberately hurt anyone. Why then do I feel the need to write horror stories? Why do I enjoy exploring the dark side so much?

In some way I think I’m expressing the darker side of my personality by writing (or indeed, roleplaying) nasty characters, or terrible things happening to good, ordinary people. Debbie suggested (jokingly, I’m sure) that I’m actually a serial killer inside my head and this is the way I let it out. Rather than actually going out and killing people. I think it goes deeper than that though, something to do with monsters being the mirror of human nature.

Amphigori once suggested that it’s easy to write horror when you are in a good place, emotionally, whereas if you are depressed or otherwise emotionally turbulent you want to write nice, cheerful things. Like you want to write about what you aren’t personally experiencing.

I also think it has to do with a certain yearning to ‘try out’ things in a safe way. I don’t mean murder here, but the negative emotions that may not want to express in real life. In Rain I had fun stretching the limits of her relationship with her best friend, having them tell each other nasty truths and really hurtful things. I would never do this kind of thing in real life, but in the book I got to write all kinds of horrible things and then eventually, have them make up and it be alright. It’s cathartic, I guess. You get to feel the emotions and then wrap it up, nicely or otherwise, depending on the story.

I’d be interested to hear your theories on this. Please, go mad with commenting.

Weirdo Tuesday

I spent the weekend in Auckland. It was awesome. The Langham is a ridiculously plush hotel that we got cheap rooms for on a ‘mystery hotel’ deal on wotif.co.nz. I really love hotel rooms, they just…so tidy, and so fancy and so many neat things. I dunno.

It was awesome to catch up with Fraser, we had a gigantic icecream at Giapo and a 3L can of Asahi at Tanuki’s Cave. We checked out some awesome op-shops on K Road and watched Alice in Wonderland on the imax 3D. On Sunday Lee and I went to Onehunga DressMart and I got new Chucks and it was awesome.

Since we’ve been back in Wellington I started writing a LARP with Paul and did a bunch of work on my Lime Chiffon costume for Armageddon. It will be done in time. It will be done in time.

Inspired by Amphigori and Nick, I made a facebook page for my roleplaying character Calvin. If you read the Fall actual play reports I put up, you should totally add him as a friend. Also Alex and Megan have joined now, so you should add them too.

….yes. I am that much of a geek.

Things I Love Thursday

Roleplaying! I’ve been doing so much of it lately and it’s all been awesome. Especially loving reading everyone’s experiences of Masquerade on Fleet St.

The Oh No They Didn’t Creepy community recently had an awesome post where people are sharing what creeped them out as a kid, in movies and TV. I’m pleased to see Charlie and The Chocolate Factory mentioned, plus The Brave Little Toaster, Return to Oz and certain parts of Neverending Story. I don’t know why I love this so much, but I do. Perhaps because it makes me feel more normal?

I’ve been enjoying various articles on Simple Marriage. It’s like low-key therapy for when you don’t even think you need it. If you’re in a long term relationship I would recommend you check it out (heavily biased towards het relationships by the way). I know I’ve learned lots.

How to be a positive person in 300 words or less . Good old Zen Habits. It always cheers me up.

Last week, after our Buffy game I woke up with a massive pain across my back. I figured I was going crazy and I’d got Calvin’s injury. It really felt like I’d been thrown into a coffee table. Telekinetically. I was OK through work, which indicates that my chair has good back support but in the evening on the couches I started to get really sore again. I finally did a few rounds of EFT on it, working on releasing the tension and the pain. I got my whole aching back down to one specific sore spot which I was able to put a wheat bag on. Magic. If you are into EFT or are curious to try it out I recommend EFTmagic the blog for inspiration.

Going to Auckland tomorrow for a weekend away! We booked a mystery five star hotel, so our digs should be pretty swanky. Plus catching up with Fraser and visiting $3 Japan and Tanuki’s Cave.

Bandit.fm. So, I don’t have an ipod, so I’ve not had access to itunes or anything. Bandit.fm is a revelation in which I can just find songs I want and then download them! And they’re like, $1.78 each, which is cheap for a file I’m going to play over and over and over. PLUS you can get free codes for it in chippie packets and pepsi bottles. Right now it’s two for one so if you get a pack of chippies you also get two free songs. It’s neat.

Honourable Mentions:
My slanket, cuddles, pork ribs with BBQ sauce, giving up on books that aren’t awesome, free ice-cream, socks and facebook.

And you, what are you thankful for?

Wednesday Writing

My own writing has been taking a bit of a break. After ostensibly finishing the type-up section of my edit of Rain I have given myself leeway to do other stuff.

I’m relieved to have my head back from Rain. I have a fear that I need to read through the draft again and give it one more whack but for the most part she’s letting me be. I like suddenly having ideas for short stories. I wrote half of one yesterday and I am gonna try and get that finished soon. I also wrote a fic for my Buffy game, but that doesn’t really count. And no, you can’t see it. So don’t ask.

I had a rejection this week for What’s the Worst That Could Happen? from an American agency. I was beginning to think it hadn’t got through, but the rejection indicates it did. I don’t mind it much, after all, that’s what it’s meant to be doing (getting rejections) but I did have the false hope when I saw the reply to my enquiry that it would be an acceptance. Ah well.


I really enjoy this article from Gabrielle Edits called writing invisibly, giving tips to ensure readers become immersed in your story. Plus some good basic things to watch out for, such as consistent tense, etc.

A little never give up reminder. (Although I cringe a little at the number of rewrites, I know that this can be true.)

I also liked this writer identity vs career article.

Someone new to follow on Twitter, especially if you write for the Young Adult market…@elizabethscraig, mystery author with her pulse on the awesome posts.

Speaking of which, check out this article on the five main characters in YA. I think Rain’s a Scarface. No, I mean, she definitely is. And Rachel (her best friend) is the Queen of Snark facet of the Comedian. Heh. Fun times.

Masquerade on Fleet St LARP

OK, so this entry is full of spoilers for the fantastic LARP by Anna K, Masquerade on Fleet St. I’m writing it up like an actual play report, but if you think you might ever play this game please don’t read it!

Mystery is everything in this game. Secrecy and intrigue. Set in 1900 at the prominent judge Rex Solomon’s house, the game is a masquerade ball to celebrate his daughter Bella’s 16th birthday and the reopening of the long closed opera house. We played it at Turnbull House on Saturday.

Sam and Sophie came over before hand and we got ready together. Sam made her dress, isn’t she talented? Mine is a hired skirt and cobbled together top from stuff I found on sale at Supre and Equip. I’m a big fan of Sophie’s mask. It’s epic.

Still with me? Don’t care about spoilers? Here we go: Continue reading

Readers + Writers week – Neil Gaiman town hall talk

Saturday night last week the town hall got packed with all sorts of geeks. Writing geeks, scifi geeks, roleplayers, hipsters, you name it. Everyone was there to see Neil Gaiman speak. Kate De Goldi was there to interview him and field questions from the audience.

Neil started with reading three poems. One was ‘locks’ which he said was the closest thing he has to a credo. Then he read us an unpublished poem about a kind of Gothic English seaside horror story and the third was about St Oran and had the refrain “God is not what you imagine”. He’d only written that one 10 days ago and it was first time he’d read it aloud.

There was some talk about influences, favourite books, and Neil mentioned C.K. Chesterton, especially The Man Who Was Thursday which of course, I want to read now. Hoping Penguin will put out a new orange bound version of it..Also ‘club stories’ which is a framework for telling a story: a number of people sitting around the fire, sharing stories. It’s a good frame, but it’s also a good way to explore unreliable storytellers, because of the nature of the event the narrator is likely to exaggerate.

Talking about how he writes so many stories ‘to order’, for anthologies and things. Neil replied that he’s the kind of writer who if you give him a bunch of money and tell him to write what he likes, whenever he likes, whatever length and to take as long as he wants with it….you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life for the story. On the other hand, if he receives an email asking him for a story for an anthology about cats who think they’re Shakespeare, he might initially think it’s silly and then in half a day, he’ll have an idea for a story. Art needs boundaries, he said. Especially boundaries and restrictions to chafe against. This kind of thing gives focus.

They talked briefly about word limits and what makes a novella as opposed to a novelette or a short story. He started a joke: A novel, a novella, a short story and a novelette walk into a bar…. (He didn’t give us a punchline, but I think there’s a good joke in there somewhere….)

Kate De Goldi asked about Shakespeare, since his stories come up so often in Neil’s work. Neil said he was given a set of Shakespeare’s plays as a kid and no one told him that he should read them because they were good for him, so he just read them. He mentioned that they weren’t all good, name checking Measure for Measure as one that he never went back to. He also said that he found it strange that people will go on about things like the long speeches for the amazingly deep meanings, forgetting that Shakespeare wrote for his actors.

“No, that speech exists because the guy who he was just talking to has to get changed!”

Neil described his ideal reader, the audience he writes for, as himself. He said “sometimes its me at 9, but mostly it’s just me”.

One of the questions he was asked was how does he feel about procrastination. “I am an awesome procrastinator,’ he said. ‘I can put things off ’til like, Thursday.” Kate said something about how even when you’re procrastinating you do work through things and you’re actually still writing but Neil said that wasn’t actually the case for him.

Another question is what are you reading? And he told us it was Journey to the West, which I really want to read now too.

Re: collaboration, he said that when it comes to working with Dave McKean he will give him the words and then Dave astonishes him. Neil says ‘that’s not how I imagined it’ and that’s how it works. He also talked about collaborating with the reader on all his novels.

A kid asked him what his favourite mythical creature was, and he replied Basilisk/cockatryce because they’re so bizarre and deadly and the only thing they’re vulnerable to is weasels. He said he likes to think that there’s someone, somewhere with a bag of weasels, just ready and waiting.

Then he read to us a passage from American Gods, and it was funny and awesome. He really transforms the words when he reads aloud, like he’s not just a writer, he’s a storyteller. It made me want to read American Gods again. It’s been a while after all. Then he did a three and a half hour signing and I was really glad that I’d taken things to be signed to the smaller Embassy reading the day before. Lee and I went to a wedding reception instead.

Here’s a link to a Scoop report on the talk.

Fall actual play report – “Icarus gets his wings”

Two weeks have passed. Two week montage: Alex hasn’t been turning up to school so much, she’s been killing lots of stuff and going to school and sleeping under the desks in the library. She has been getting Megan to hack the school system to give her lots of free periods and marks for assignments that she hasn’t handed in. Megan is feeling a bit guilty about it, but not enough to stop doing it.

Alex, the slayer.

Megan gives recodes the SIM cards of the others to digitally encode their messages to sound innocuous and to give them all free calls. The phones are all password protected just in case someone else picks up the phones. She has also completed work on her robot chess playing arm for the science fair. She was able to track down a database of Russian master brain waves, which really boosted the project.

Megan, ex-cheerleader hacker.

Darius, magic user and watcher wannabe

Darius helped Alex out with slaying, did lots of research and tried to track down Giles still. The kids at school are no longer intimidated by him at all, and everyone believes he’s gay.

Calvin is hanging out with Mason, going surfing, helping out with the slaying when he’s invited by Alex, and helping Gina to move out. It’s taking her a while because she doesn’t have any papers, passport or identification. Calvin doesn’t seem too happy about her leaving, but he’s helping out.

Calvin, the badass loner who plays by his own rules.

The gang is all at The Limit hanging out, it’s Saturday night and Alex is gyrating against some guy on the dance floor. Megan is trying not to look at Calvin, and quickly looks away when he glances over at her. Darius is sitting, having a drink. Darius has been trying on different looks. At the moment he’s wearing black jeans, a white T shirt and a tweed jacket. It’s a bit wrong.
Calvin and Darius are trying to figure out which of them is which character from Seinfeld. Continue reading

Things I Love Thursday

I am very rushed this week. So I love parents in law and their comfy guest beds and house far removed from the band at Mollie’s.

My costume for the Fleet St LARP on Saturday, I look so sparkly and fancy. Also excited about my character which is awesome and just generally looking forward to the LARP.

Buffy game tonight, should be angst and emo city.

My Giffy, her beau and their little bebe. It’s nice seeing them. Playing Katamari, sewing, just hanging out. All good.

It’s freezing cold in the mornings at the moment and this is making me thankful for my Trade Me icebreaker, blankets, warm socks, legwarmers, holiday in Fiji a couple of months ago and the general warmth of apartments.

3 Little Pigs by Green Jello, classic metal comedy song with an awesome claymation video:

and you? Even if you’re as busy as I am you can spare the time to comment with one or two things you’re happy about today….

Readers + Writers week – Audrey Niffenegger Talk

I haven’t read her new book Her Fearful Symmetry but The Time Traveller’s Wife is an amazing book and definitely one of my all time favourites. I was quite excited to hear that she would be in town and I bought my tickets a few weeks ago.

I wasn’t disappointed. Audrey is a funny, geeky, articulate woman who inspired me and seemed down to Earth as well. The woman interviewing her asked her if, as a visual artist, she found that she had a better idea of what her characters looked like. Audrey answered that she always knows exactly what her characters look like, but that when writing novels she will hold back some of the description so that the reader can bring something to it. She said she liked to imagine all the visual variations people must have for her characters, and if you were to see them altogether they would look different but you could tell that they were the same character. It was pretty neat.

She talked for a while on her research processes and said that often her concept for something will change dramatically as the project does on. The end product will often have little to do with the initial idea. This made me happy, since it can happen to me as well. She described her concepts as basic starting points, ideas with no reasons for anything. You get the story to grow by asking questions about the idea and the characters.

They talked some about the twins aspects of Her Fearful Symmetry and how Audrey had endeavoured to write a 21st Century take on a 19th Century novel, basically a story where the characters all get the ending that they deserve. I like this idea. I think I shall have to read this book.

Audrey mentioned that in fiction it’s fun because all the characters have the same amount of reality attributed to them. Basically a small kitten has the same amount of reality that the lead male does, for example. If you can make them alive on the page then they become real.

Moving onto The Time Traveller’s Wife, she talked about time travel. She chose the way Henry travels in the book to be a genetic disorder rather than a physical time machine so that it was involuntary. She described it as a way in which your body betrays you. When asked if she herself would like to travel through time Audrey phrased it “In the list of crazy experiences we’re not allowed to have…” time travel wouldn’t be her number one.

In relation to e-books and the new forms of publishing available she said that new technology always tries to act like the old technology. For example at the moment e-books are trying to be regular books, and they’re not doing it that well. When it becomes it’s own thing, and people start to make things just for that format then it will be awesome.

During the question and answers section she revealed that she wrote Time Traveller’s Wife out of order. The first things she wrote for it were the last two scenes and then she wrote the scene where Claire loses her virginity, then the scene where Henry is five years old and in the Natural History museum after closing time.

I was brave and asked if there was anything that she has edited out that she misses or regrets but it turns out she couldn’t make Time Traveller’s Wife any shorter. Her agent said she could take out 50 pages and then more pages were added, and then an editor took some stuff out and then more was added and it always stayed the same length.

Afterwards I bought a copy of TTW and got it signed. I told Audrey that I loved it and it had made me cry a lot. She said ‘aww’ and was friendly and just a bit geeky. You can see me in my purple maxi dress reading in the signing line.

The Revolt of the Mannequins

Well, the weirdness is over. The mannequins have all finished their stories.

On the final day almost all the mannequins were out of their windows and climbing up onto the buildings and the overhangs above the store windows. It reminded me of that Improv Everywhere thing where they encouraged everyone to ‘look up more’. In fact, a middle agey touristy couple saw me staring up at the baby and mother dangling from the corner of Kirks and asked what I was looking at. It was good to share it with someone.

Pursuit through Whitcoulls

The Sniper storyline with the dead mannequins and the police detective in pursuit was my favourite one, it wasn’t on the official map because it moved most days between shops. It was exciting trying to find the sniper, although I’m bummed I didn’t look up and behind me on the days the mannequins died, apparently he was in a higher window across the road.

The mannequins were weird, sometimes upsetting, disturbing and a bit scary. That said, I wanted to look at them every day. Even on the days when I came away feeling unsettled, I was overall happier for having looked at them. It’s not often that something so unusual happens in our storefronts, and it did make the ordinary shop windows look incredibly boring.

It made you think about the creepy nature of mannequins. They aren’t human, but they’re close enough. Imagine if they had thoughts and emotions. It made you think about how things are sold to you. Especially the little price labels visible on many of the displays. The French farmers growing and harvesting bottoms had a list of their clothes and prices, which didn’t change all week. The lovers in Stax window had changing price tickets that had her severed arm ‘price negotiable’ on Friday. It was high brow culture-jamming basically. People would stop and look again, try and make sense of what they were seeing. You don’t often get that in relation to shop windows.

Scoop put up some very nice photos from the middle of the week which you can see here. There was also a good article on stuff as well.

Stuff also have an article on why the story in David Lawrence was taken down before it ended.

If you didn’t make it in to see them, check out the project’s French website. It has photos for each day of each story, they played out a little differently in Wellington, due to the spaces. There are also two stories in there that we didn’t get. (Homeless woman and Grandfather’s birthday.)