Thursday, 28 August 2014

#mwf14 Blog-to-book Update 2

In times of desperation, I’ve found myself in situations that on reflection seem too far fetched to have happened to the soon to be self-published blogger you see before you.

Scared, and running down the footpath with someone else’s house key in my mouth, desperate to get out of clear sight, I wondered what had possessed me to wear high heeled boots. The key in my mouth for safe keeping was an obvious measure to take, just as calling for a police escort had been the only solution several hours earlier that day.

I could hear others were being questioned while I'd stood safely surrounded. "Are they in a relationship?"

“N-oo…..they--re no-t….”

Beside me, all thumbs, the tallest police man flipped open his pad while he checked his two-way.

"Do you know if there are any weapons here?"

"No. Not inside. Um, actually, maybe. In the bathroom. Or…the ceiling."

Everything stopped. We all looked up in silence. I shuffled a little closer under the overhang of his chin.

Within seconds we were on the move. A foursome of police on full alert is unlike any other escort. Double stepping for each of theirs and following the expanse of shoulders that were blocking my view, all save for glimpses of startled faces, I completed my fastest checkout ever.
After studying over a hundred thousand words on my blog, I can see it was only revealing a thin slice of life, though it has taken up much of mine for two years.

Now two years into my social media experiment - and the unfiltered platform it provides for an alternative view not dominated by self-seeking soldiers of fortune, I’ll be sure to fill in some more of the gaps in my Blurb blog-to-book.
  • I’ve often wondered who’s job it is to clear up the obvious distortions around the Northern Territory Intervention.
  • And is there a fail safe remedy for the mange infection of racism.
  • Is there likely to be maturity in the Indigenous community around feminism or will violence experienced by the other sisters (Indigenous women) continue to be too awkward a conversation?
  • And how is Indigenous prosperity possible, when the only popular candidates for leadership would be unable to realistically find their way through the complex issues, and that they're likely to achieve the most approval when they have never been tested.
  •  And why is it easier to join them in ignorance rather than challenge oppressive regimes? 
  • And how about the shameful abusers, fooled into being fit to burst over gossip? 
  • And pointing out that there has been lessons learned from those who prefer race hate speech and smears - and not in a good way.

There is much more I’d like to talk about.
  • How I approach twitter fiction.
  • Self promotion and marketing on a shoestring.
  • How it is, that when you say you have done everything to find an audience, you most likely missed a few strategies. 

And now you will understand why my Blurb blog to book word count plays out like an accordion.

They say a writer will spend 70% of their time on the business that makes it possible that the remaining 30% of their time can be spent writing.

My blog is the cafĂ© that never closes. It is the repository of my ambitions, deeply disguised. It’s my laboratory and where you’ll find me.

Reflecting on two years of blogging, Twitter and writing commissions, I can see the more I wrote, the more opportunities came my way.

In order to write, puts me in need of other work, that pays for me to live, 
so that I can write.

Self promotion, tinkering with my blog, pulling tweetyarns out of thin air and working out how to maximise returns on social media are the life support for my writing. The more I pushed myself into pitching and submissions, the bigger the deadlines. And the writing just gets harder every time. 

And it will always come back to the writing.
How’s the writing going?  
Oh, fine. (It bleeds.)
I wrote so much in the past year, out of necessity I taught myself how to use a mouse with my left hand, as a spare for when I need it.

I never seem to have enough time to write. But I can’t stop chasing words. 
Words are the bait and the catch.

I’m 90% committed to the blog material I’ve pulled out for my blog book. 

My blog book formula involves breaking my blog down – into trends, traffic and themes – and then organizing these into a narrative, and cue cards have been the easiest means of achieving order. The blog book challenge has gotten me rethinking my approach to blogging, and I'm excited about what the blog will contain in the future (for Volume 2 down the track, perhaps).

Nine days into the 11 day #mwf14 Blurb challenge of transforming my blog in to a book – in between logistics for Melbourne and locking in a script pitch - I took a break and came across an old interview with Clive James. Purely by chance, my eye caught his account on writing.

"… I hit the chair running about 10 years ago, and ever since I have rarely had a moment even to lean back in it. I sit hunched forward, racing always against time. So the air of casual ease that the room conveys is entirely an illusion."
 More from Clive James in his own words [2009] here 
I think endless tight deadlines is my lot, but I’m satisfied that to-date, I’ve had ideas that are more pressing to write about than merely those presented by being on the run with a key in my mouth.


From the Melbourne Writers Festival Blurb Blog to book challenge blog ...
We will check back with Karys, Siv and Harry throughout the Festival to see how they’re going, and if you want to meet them to chat about their publishing journey, you can:
Blurb in the Festival Club, Saturday 30 August, 5.30pm, in the Festival Club at Optic, Fed Square.


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

#mwf14 Blog-to-book Update 1.

After blogging on every thing that caught my fancy over the past two years - from arts and culture, to social media, politics, and back in time to a shared history and the stories that keep my family alive - a secret wish has come true.

Looking back now at my occasional brain snaps that were never posted, I know now how the final three Survivors feel when they walk down memory lane to read the spikes named for fallen cast members. I'm glad they never made it. (And if you are not a fan of the best mind game show on tv, please note, the players face elimination, not extermination.)

#MWF14 Blurb blog-to-book challenge

Day 1 – Receive the news. Ask Garry to repeat it, just in case I had misheard that I am a Joint Winner of the Melbourne Writers Festival ~ Blurb Blog-to-book challenge.

Day 2 – Tell everyone and bask in their congratulations as we all get our head around what it actually means. Make up a list of people I can count on for honest feedback and ask them ‘what do you want to see in my blog book?’ Pull out all the posts that were popular. Work on an 'Introduction'.

Day 3 – Remember Germaine Greer’s keynote speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival 2012, and wonder were I sit on the 'vanity self publishing scale'. Decide to be even more ruthless in culling dodgy blog posts. Decide on a book size, and imagine how it feels in the hands. Study the price lists, decide I've missed my calling as a romance writer, and snuff out the idea of an author’s photo on the back cover.

Day 4 – Take some me time to take screen shot pictures of myself from the Melbourne Writers Festival website. Tally a collection of blog posts and realize I have 30,000 words more than I need. Play around with a structure for the book - chronological or by subject matter? Write some connectors and watch the word count blow out again.

Day 5 – Reread my blog post selection for the fifth day in a row and ask myself repeatedly, ‘but what is the book about?’ Choices are stripped back, tight and snappy, or a swampy ramble.  Have a test run at the 'Blurb make your own blog book'. Perk up, till I realize I’m going to need a bigger book. Pull out half a dozen books from my shelves and compare layouts, fonts and chapter headings and decide the less frippery the better.

Day 6 – Wonder why I have a blog in the first place. Talk it over with my mentor. Watch Q&A and note that half of the Melbourne Writers Festival panel have a book. Wonder again, ‘what am I trying to say?’ Doggedly continue writing the all encompassing narrative, deep into the night. Fall asleep under a brick sized edition of Hitch-22, in the hope my humble blog will be magically transformed over night.

Day 7 – Wake up thinking about Huckleberry Finn, not the character but the book version I once owned, with large print and black ink sketches. Think how happy I would be on a raft. Wonder how many pages I would need for my blog book to support me in a flood. Realise if I match the expense in making the book, with what went in to producing the blog, I could have had a large colour photo of myself front and back, and impregnated the pages with more gold leaf than the Book of Kells.

I wonder if it is possible to take it too far, when you sit down to kill your darlings.

I knew why I wanted to start blogging two years ago, but somewhere about half way, my reasons changed.

I’ve always been the kid playing in the corner by myself, the one who roamed to find a better place.

Once you start putting work out there, and people actually read you – not pretend to read you, or murmur they’ve been busy but they will get to it on the weekend – but actually read and respond to your work, something happens.

You want to do better. You want people to get you. You tell yourself it’s the spontaneous feedback that you can trust. If they tell you they laughed, or cried you learn about yourself, because you write of darkness and decay and they tell you it’s funny. You write what makes you laugh and they cry. In a deceitful world, they become the only ones you can trust.

A blog about nothing, or something or everything, is still just words on the internet amongst millions of other words. A person could be lost in there. Quite happily for me, of course, floating in the nothingness with my darlings. It saves me from thinking about how many years I could have been writing, but never got the chance. 

For many writers, who spend most of our time alone, dreaming of how we can touch down from time to time, our darlings are all we have. They may have been the combination of words and time and emotions that once felt so right together, but now they don’t fit in.

Parts of the writer don’t fit in to the world they created.

It’s not advisable to edit your own work but self publishers with limited means don’t have many other options. I can ask a favour and have my apostrophes checked for accuracy, but when it comes to content, I need to trust my instincts.

Going by page hits, I’m relieved to see that my fiction has always received the highest volume of traffic. With my eye on completing my first manuscript, I take that as a positive sign.

Positive? I am fiercely relieved!

Of the remainder, less so but still popular, comment on writing, social media, racial discrimination, and my travels across Aboriginal communities are neck and neck for page hits.

Writers write about writing about writing about writing.

Social media changes constantly and comparing two years ago to today, makes the subtle increments now appear quite obvious.
Aboriginal people are 2.7% of the population and it would be an even smaller representation on Twitter and in the blogosphere.

That’s a few people who need to cast a mighty, big shadow.

There used to be a heap of hoops and hurdles to circumvent in order to talk in public. Now anything goes. 

We had beauty once.

Some will tell you it’s a failing to chase a media presence, until they concede they want to do exactly that, themselves.
And I wouldn’t be the first to notice the difference between ethical journalism and the other kind. Or that Aboriginal youth are still forced into roles and servitude by the determination of the repressed to project a confected state of Aboriginal life.

If there was a Treaty movement, there would be a Treaty movement.

If you didn’t know what to look for, there’s much that would go under the radar, beyond the more frequent public promotions of accounts of ‘my life living with racism’ and social justice issues.

And just like that a person is dragged back into the Twitter world.

The blog to book project is an opportunity to put in to practice everything that I told myself I needed to read – on writing, editing and publishing - over two years on Twitter. And I’ve been so well schooled in killing my darlings, I feel a blood lust coming on.

What will be left? I trust it will be similar to the sheep found recently wandering the countryside in Tasmania, having evaded the shearing shed for six years. A good trim will clear the vision and have it be far more sprightly on it’s feet.

Stay tuned...more to come.

And feedback is always welcome - in fact if you ever had the urge, now is the time!


Friday, 22 August 2014

Hold the front page!

I interrupt this blog-trip back in time, spanning two years since I began my foray into social media,  to announce some exciting news....

... my blog is being published!

Do you dream of taking your blog beyond the cloud and committing it to paper? Melbourne Writers Festival in partnership with Blurb is pleased to announce the Blurb Blog-to-Book Challenge, and invites bloggers from all over Australia to submit. 
Three lucky bloggers will have the opportunity to create and publish a book based on their own blog ... during the eleven days of the Festival from 21 to 31 August.
Successful authors will attend the Meet the Blurb Blog-to-Book Authors event. 
Blurb blog to book challenge here
Melbourne Writers Festival 21-31 August 2014 here

I am so pleased to announce I'm one of the three lucky winners! 

Now I’m busily deciding what’s in and what’s best left out of my first volume of an OnDusk blog-to-book.

As per my reflection a few days ago...I spotted an opportunity on Monday, submitted a book proposal, and now the fruit is mine.
Two years ago, I thought the greatest reward from social media was a foot in the door to publishing. Turned out, I was doing it wrong. Anyone who is serious about writing knows publishing is not low hanging fruit. 
It takes research and a carefully thought out plan to be published - where you find them, and not the other way around. That, and there was one thing else. 
From days spent writing and juggling commissions, and planning more, and scheming even larger projects, I'm suddenly immersed in the need to commit to a book layout, and fonts and page settings, and the big one: the cover. A front cover is a big enough undertaking, and then it occurred to me...the book has a back cover as well. Double joy! 

I am a black writer, I am attached and outside, I am free...  [Satellite June 2014]

Oh no, why am I not an illustrator as well? 
Do I have time to do a course? Is there some as yet unexplored talent I can unearth between now and ….what is merely days away? Doubtful. 

But I will have plenty of words. I've been fortunate to have received feedback on my writing via social media so I have some ideas over which pieces to consider including in my OnDusk blog-book.

There are 52 posts in the 2013 archive vault, plus what is 'alive' for 2014.

As part of my Melbourne Writers’ Festival adventure, I will be blogging regularly and there will a tweet yarn or several.

Link to rolling blogs 
2014 Melbourne Emerging Writers Festivahere

Saturday ~ 2014 Byron Bay Writers' Festival here

And my thanks and gratitude to Robyne Young for featuring me in an artist profile for Regional Arts NSW:

I especially like the headline on the home page!

Collection of tweetyarns 'An Outsider: Tales from the Fringe' here

Robyne Young ‏@Robyne7
Regional Arts NSW @RegionalArtsNSW


And may I ask… do you like social media + music?

Who doesn’t?!

I recommend @We_Love_Aural
It is a rotation curation account for lovers of music.
All enquiries through @destroy_robots

I’ve been hosting this week and I’ve loved the musical interlude.


Monday, 4 August 2014

#bbwf2014 Scrapbook

How lucky we were - a spontaneous decision to go to this year's Byron Bay Writers' Festival for a Saturday treat, happened just in time.

Shortly after purchasing our tickets, the #bbwf2014 sold out!

B-Y-R-O-N   B-A-Y
W-R-I-T-E-R-S  F-E-S-T-I-V-A-L
It was a hard choice. 

After carefully poring over the program we decided on which panels to attend:
Indigenous literacy; crime fiction; writing true crime; Indigenous leadership; ex-Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser in conversation with Kerry O'Brien; a report card from five writer's and their roadtrip; and to finish the day we worked out how to arrive early to secure a good seat for what we knew would be a packed out session with a lively ensemble of media heavy weights.

Welfare’s share of total spending has fallen over the past decade and Australians are less welfare-dependent, not more.
Read more here
[The Guardian Aus 4 August]