Not the right type of Fantasy

When I was much younger (in my teens, just starting my writing journey) I used to be down right terrified of agents and publishers. To me they were the great gods of the industry and I was a pimply, cubby little girl who had dreams far to big to ever achieve. Then, gradually, over the years, I actually got to interact with editors within the publishing industry and I found them to be so kind, so helpful, always willing to give me advice and cheer me along in my dream.
The two years I spent with my novel being considered by Penguin Australia was the best two years of my life. I learnt so much respect for the industry from just those two years and the editors I interacted with and while, in the end, my novel never made it through the acquisition stage I went away feeling like I had received the greatest gift of all:

Belief in myself.

I was about twenty at the time, I had very little self-esteem, and my illness was just beginning to take root, and for a girl who began her life being entirely unable to string words together because of her dyslexia, finding belief in herself was the solid foundation I needed to carry me forward.

I owe Penguin Australia and those editors so much for those few years. While I am sure I would have found my way eventually, just having words of encouragement from those I considered the greatest of the great rooted the oak tree I was growing into.

Years later, I am still trying to find my place within the publishing industry. If anything, I have watched the industry change rapidly around me into something that has terrified me even more than I was once terrified of agents and publishers. I now find myself in limbo. I neither know how to step forward, nor backward, I cannot got up, nor down, nor around. I am…just…here, a voice amongst many.

And that leads me to the interesting journey I have been taking over the past year and a half. Agents. Here in Australia we don’t have many agents, and they usually work side-by-side with publishers, so it can be quite difficult to actually find an agent. It’s a bit of a catch-twenty-two. You can’t submit a manuscript to an agent unless you’ve been accepted into a publishing company, and you can’t submit a manuscript to a publishing company unless you’ve been accepted by an agent. This greatly amused me. I spent quite awhile laughing in my office when I finally realised the little circle that had formed.

Its who you know. Or. You pay something like $900 for a pinch conference and I do not have that cash lying around anywhere. That’s a lot of money…

I’m not complaining, really I’m not – I’m amused. I don’t tend to get upset about these sorts of things and whine, I simply laugh how interesting the tight box I find myself in truly is. When I was a starry eyed little girl, dreaming of becoming the best science fiction and fantasy author EVER I never imagined I would be in my office wishing I had $900 for a five minute pinch. That would never have even crossed my mind!

So, I had to start looking outside of Australia and that has been…interesting…
Twitter is a great source for writers, its dangerous, Twitter, but once you learn how to navigate it and not get eaten alive it can be fascinating to discover what’s going on in the writing world. Thus I started searching for agents to submit to and that…is where…I found…my problem.

I don’t write the right type of fantasy.

Current count of rejections stands at fifteen. Some agents have been really lovely and told me why, which is really considerate of them – and the reasons, once more, have really amused me.

Some have told me that my writing style is to old-fashioned. My apologises, I actually speak a little old fashioned as well (just ask my family.)

Others have told me they don’t like the fact that I have a male protagonist. (Should have had my female protagonist open the novel…would that have worked?)

My biggest sin, apparently, is that said male protagonist *saves* female protagonist – and I will not even begin to rant about this issue. I could write an ENTIRE blog on this issue alone and how unfairly I feel, as someone who is chronically ill, the idea of being saved and being a damsel in distress is being demonised in society today. Because you know, right, you know it’s okay to ask for help, you know it’s okay to need help to get out of a situation that is out of your control?
Well, apparently not. 

I could go on, but I think the picture has been painted.
My fantasy is not the right type of fantasy.
It does not fit the populist ideals.

Perhaps I still live in another era where writing was an expression of just myself, and I did not have to pretend to write something to get published.
I will still write the fantasy I want to read. That was the whole reason I started writing when I was a teenager in the first place. I found myself craving a particular type of science fiction and fantasy, and I could not find it anywhere, so I started writing it for myself to fill the void.

That void might have become larger.
I might be shouting into something so huge, so vast it now engulfs me entirely that I will never be heard but I at least still have a voice in which to shout. To that I am grateful.
I still believe in myself.

Write on.

 

Goodbye Long Hair

Last year I dropped my external hard-drive.
It broke. I died. I could get the contents on it recovered…for a high price…
For now, I’m just waiting until I have the funds to recover what was lost.
Sadly, what was lost was a lot of family photos – all I have left are photos from 2013 onward. I lost a LOT of photos. It breaks my heart still thinking about it.

So I can’t show you the progression of my hair adventure, but it has gone from long to short, to long, to short again…
And I’ve gone a bit shorter once again.
It just seems to be a back and forth I have.

This morning I started my day with long hair.
Pretty much the longest I have actually managed to get it.
But it was starting to get very difficult for me to brush, in the shower it was tangling up to the point that I was near tearing out chunks when I brushed it out and doing so was getting exhausting since I haven’t got much strength due to my fibro.
It’s nice having long hair — but I don’t really do much with it. I don’t know what to do with it. I have never learnt girl-y things for hair. I barely know how to braid. So…
I decided…
It was time for a bit of a change.
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So, an hour and a half later…this was the result.

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Now. I just have to use a hair straighter so that it doesn’t do this weird curly thing that I loath, that my hair does whenever it gets layered and was the whole reason why I shopped getting it layered in the first place. So, it will take some work, but that’s okay.
All in the name of beauty.

Spare Change

Today while out doing my usual weekly shop I was cornered by a well-meaning environmentalist seeking charity for their organisation. Usually I am able to walk right past them, but I made eye-contact…
Ahhh…bother…
I showed weakness…
I had to talk to her.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Australia, and I love our wildlife, but I’m very strapped for cash and the one charity I give to every month holds a special place in my heart. It always will.

What amused me, or…perhaps…what annoyed me, perplexed me, frustrated me…about this particular conversation with this lovely young lady, who really did mean well, was the same thing that gets to me every time I am cornered by the pop-up table charity booths in the malls and shopping centres.
Its their language, their use of particular words…

“It’s just a dollar a day…”

“Its just a dollar thirty a day!

“It’s just spare change.”

“It’s less then the price of a coffee!”

“You won’t miss a dollar, will you?!”

Just spare change…
You won’t miss spare change, will you?
Well. That’s interesting you should say that…
I have never considered the coins in my purse spare change. Nor my dollar coins something I toss away without very serious consideration. My family might this is amusing, considering I am someone who is a collector, who spends money on things that they would deem to be ‘useless’, but truthfully, I have not been able to afford an item to collect in a long, long time. I simply enjoy admiring the ones I have and rewatch the shows I do own. There are far, far more important things to spend money on…
Like…
Living for example.
Or saving up for a wardrobe.

I recall when I was around six, or maybe seven…around that age at least, we had not yet moved to Adelaide so it was before I was ten…
We came down to Adelaide and we brought a Nintendo Sixty-Four. This was a HUGE BIG DEAL for us. My older brother and I had saved up for our Nintendo Sixty-Four, we were SO proud. I carried my giant jar of five cent coins with me into the shop, and I just recall the utter thrill that I was buying something with my money, that I have saved up, all by myself.
When we reached the counter, the checkout girl scanned the Nintendo and looked to my mother, who presented my brother and I to her. My brother dumped his coin box on the counter and I gave my giant jar of five cent coins to him to slid on over as well. She smiled at us both, likely thinking us as adorable and cute as we must have been, I’m sure, and I have to give her credit…she counted all those five cent coins. Every-single-one-of-them.
Twenty dollars. I had twenty dollars in five cent coins.
Yeah. I was rich.
No idea how much my brother had (more then me, for sure.)
I can’t even recall how much a Nintendo Sixty-Four cost back then, but I am sure it was a lot more than twenty bucks, so likely Mum paid for most of it. (Thanks Mum, many hours of Bowser slaying was spent on that Nintendo…)
However, the lesson I had learnt very early on, was the worth behind spare change.

It was a couple years ago that I started collecting the change in my purse, at the end of each week, and putting it all aside into a ‘piggy bank’ when that piggy bank filled up I would take it down to the bank and have them sort it and file it into my account. I collected 100 dollar coins once.
(Hopefully I’ll have enough for a wardrobe soon.)

I suppose my issue is, when I am asked to hand over my credit card details and then told that I won’t miss a dollar a day, I almost laugh.
Do they think I’m that stupid? That naive? — or do they think I’m that rich? One dollar a day turns into thirty a month, add that to the rest of the bills you are required to pay every month, it adds up and it KEEPS adding up.
So, yes…frankly…I will miss my spare change, because I no longer have change to spare.

I collect every penny.

Victor Harbor Half-Marathon

Out of bed I leapt as my alarm blared loud, 5:15 in the morning. Scrambling into my office I clambered for my mobile, turning off my alarm. Down the passage, my blurry-eyed sister wandered, poking her head into my office.

“That’s a really loud alarm.”

I chuckled. “Yeah.”

Loud alarm, so that I can hear it from my office, where my mobile phone lies charging overnight, otherwise I doubt I would ever clamber myself out of bed.

Our early morning wake up call was for the eventful day ahead, the Victor Harbor Half-Marathon. My little sister, Melissa, did not want to be late, and therefore, we were leaving at 6:00am, as her 10km race started at 7:30am. She had been training for this important day, being late was not an option. ( If you want, you can learn all about her jogging adventures at her blog 365 Days of Running.)

Last year I walked the Pichi Richi half-marathon, 21km, and busted my knee (again) and it hasn’t quite recovered from my second operation. In attempting to jog 200-meters I strained my LCL two weeks ago, and was unsure if I was even going to be able to walk my 5km but I strapped my knee up and figured on giving it my all anyway.

Our father had been hoping to also jog the 10km with my sister, but alas, he had also injured his knee a few weeks back. It was disappointing for him, however, he came as driver, camera man and supportive father.

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Before the race. Yay!!

There is an incredible electric hum in the air at marathon events. When you gather a group of people together who all enjoy the thrill of exercise, the joy of movement, of propelling yourself along by the power of your own body, the conversations around you are interestingly focused:

I heard one young man discussing how he was preparing for the Olympics. He was standing right next to me, he was perhaps eighteen. I’m sorry…DID YOU SAY THE OLYMPICS.

The atmosphere is something I love. Not only that. I love that through walking I can go distances. After having walked 21km, 5km doesn’t feel very far at all, but when I reached the 2.5km mark and turned around and looked back the way I had come that feeling of distance came over me. I had walked it, with my own feet, and nothing else.
I love that feeling. I love the sensation of having carried myself over a distance and looking backward, it is such an incredible feeling – it is worth the pain.

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Starting the race. Fresh. Happy. Not red in the face. ^_^

So, how did I do? I did okay.
As usual in these events, my whole body tensed up and I couldn’t relax it. However I did the 5km in 51 minutes, which is about what I expected.

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Finished! *phew*

My little sister did fabulously. I am, as always, in awe in awe of her. She did her 10km in 1:01:01 — that’s a lot of one’s Mel. ^.^

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Here she is being amazing. Go Mel! 

 

After the race we sat down at the kiosk, delighting in a vanilla slice, and while thunderstorms had been forecast, they had not yet rolled through. We were given a chance to enjoy the peace and bask in the moment. Days, months and years are all made up of precious tiny moments that can so easily be forgotten. Oddly enough for me, it is not the race, nor the thrill of being amongst fellow runners of walkers that I enjoyed the most – it was sitting in the car driving to Victor Harbor, watching the sunrise, listening to my sister and father talk and feeling the comfort of their presence after a lonely week. Nothing was as precious and special as that moment.