Say you happen to be writing an Australian crime/black comedy to rival ‘Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels’ or ‘Snatch’? Funnily enough I just happen to be. Well, I’ve been doing that on and off for nearly a decade and lately one of the best ways I’ve found to ‘set the mood’ is through music.
What captures the era your story is set in? What sort of music would your characters listen to? And while we’re answering rhetorical questions… how awesome was Aussie rock in the 90’s?
To help me stay in the zone, I’ve slap together this awesome 90’s playlist of local alternative rock:
- Better Get A Lawyer – The Cruel Sea
- Black Friday – Grinspoon
- Buy Me A Pony – Spiderbait
- Calypso – Spiderbait
- Captain (Million Miles An Hour) – Something For Kate
- Cry – The Mavis’s
- Dirty Jeans – Magic Dirt
- Dog’s Are The Best People – The Fauves
- Don’t YouKnow Who I Am? – Happyland
- Down Again – The Superjesus
- Enter, Space Capsule – Gerling
- Exerciser – Rhubarb
- Frontier Psychiatrist – The Avalanches
- Girls Like That (Don’t Go For Guys Like Us) – Custard
- Greg! The Stop Sign!! – TISM
- (He’ll Never Be An) Old Man River – TISM
- Home – Skunkhour
- I Sucked A Lot Of Cock To Get Where I Am – Regurgitator
- Israel’s Son – Silverchair
- Just Ace – Grinspoon
- Kung Foo Sing – Regurgitator
- Leaving Home – Jebadiah
- Naughty Boy – The Mavis’s
- Never Had So Much Fun – Frenzy Rhomb
- One More Time (Sunshine Song) – Groove Terminator
- Passenger – Powderfinger
- Prisoner Of Society – The Living End
- Pulse – Front End Loader
- Punch In The Face – Frenzal Rhomb
- Pure Massacre – Silverchair
- Second Solution – The Living End
- Shut My Eyes – The Superjesus
- Sweater – Eskimo Joe
- Theophilus Thistler (An Exercise In Vowels) – Sonic Animation
- Tomorrow – Silverchair
- Turn That Shit Up – The Testeagles
- Turn Up Your Stereo – Eskimo Joe
- Vinegar Stroke – Sunk Loto
- You Shit Me To Tears – The Tenants
If that doesn’t sum up Australia in the late-nineties and early naughties (urg – I hate that term ‘naughties’) then I don’t know what does. Okay, I left out ‘You Am I’ and ‘The Whitlams’… well, because they kind of shit me.
But you get the idea.
Okay, you’ve got me. I’ve been a bit neglectful of this little website over the last couple of years. In an effort to save a few bucks I moved my hosting over to a new provider, so I figured I may as well give this site a bit of a freshen-up at the same time.
I’m going to do my best to at least post something here once a year… at least until I can get this damn novel finished or I eventually write another short story.
There’s a lot of excellent advice from established authors floating around the Internet, however acclaimed crime novelist Elmore Leonard’s ten rules of writing really resonate with me:
Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing
- Never open a book with weather.
- Avoid prologues.
- Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
- Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.
- Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
- Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
- Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
- Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
- Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
- Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
Sounds like pretty solid advice if you ask me?
What can I say? 2013 has been an interesting year in terms of writing… not necessarily a prolific one as far as published work goes but interesting nonetheless. For the first time in nearly six years, I haven’t published anything in either print or electronic format… and despite breaking the streak, I can’t say that I’m bothered. I haven’t actively pursued publication, let’s put it that way. Instead, I’ve spent the last year concentrating on trying to finish off the damn novel that I’ve had kicking around in various stages for more years than I care to remember.
There are a lot of motivations for taking up ‘the craft’ (as wanky people tend to refer to it)… for me it’s mostly about getting fragments of ideas out of my head before they begin to rattle around and do some serious damage. Plucking an idea out of your noggin and capturing it on paper, or a computer hard drive, or wherever medium you choose, creates one less distraction in life. Let’s be real: the majority of writers will never be fortunate enough to see their passion pay the bills, myself included. Sure it’s a dream that we all aspire to but most of us regular Joe’s have day jobs and families. And when it comes to those two very important aspects of life – unrestrained ideas can be an incredible distraction.
That’s the man reasons I write: it’s a kind of therapy. That and the fact I love telling those stories. So yeah, becoming less active in terms of short story writing has made for an interesting period of adjustment. Basically I’ve spent the last eight or nine months working on the novel. I tried tinkering with an old work-in-progress short story that I’ve had sitting here for a while but even that got shelved. It’s all about the novel at the moment. Hell, I’ve had these characters stuck in my head on and off for the last decade and it’s time to either send them out into the world with a bang or a whimper. There’s no more locking my manuscript in the drawer and hoping it will go away – as any writer knows, eventually you’ll hear your characters muffled cries for freedom. They’ll want out. And the only way to get some closure for those little fellas is to give them that freedom. Cast them off into the world and hope that somewhere out there someone enjoys your novel as much as you enjoyed writing it.
That’s the plan. It’s getting that final draft that’s the killer.
I spend my lunch breaks writing. I steal an hour here and there when I’m alone. I’ve even resorted to taking annual leave in order to pump out the words. Sadly it’s all going a little slower than expected. So far I’m seven chapters through the final draft. ‘Final’ in terms of the fact that I never want to touch the damn thing again unless it’s on the request of someone who might actually be able to get the thing into print. That and the fact my loved ones would disown me if I dared to rewrite it for a fifth time without a really good reason. It’s that sort of final draft. Seven chapters down… about fourteen to go. So basically one third through.
Yeah, I’m looking at another year at this rate.
Obviously I’ve missed a few self-imposed deadlines, namely trying to get my manuscript in front of some agents and publishers at a local writers festival. Another opportunity missed… however I’m still content to plug away. I will get there in the end. And hopefully it will have all been worthwhile.
We can all chase our dreams, can’t we?
Have an excellent and productive 2014…
I’m still plugging-away on the novel. Progress hasn’t been anywhere near as fast I would have liked, however some progress is better than no progress. Currently I’ve finished rewriting the first six or so chapters and once I knock-out a couple more then I’ll look at passing these on to a couple of trusted readers to get some feedback. The first chapter is somewhat mercurial… I can’t quite seem to nail the tone I’m looking for but that’s the nature of first chapters. I’ll get there eventually.
When I get tired of working on the novel I have been rewriting and polishing some of my old unpublished short stories in the hopes of getting them out there sometime next year. There’s no point having them sit in my WIP folder for eternity, right?