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Someone just wrote to ask me what to do when the writing is not going well. Fortunately, Diana Peterfreund has just written on this because I have no useful answer.
I suspect my own struggles with sentences that crumble as I type, with plot and character and meaning twisting out of my control, are at least partly because I’m very early on in my career. Old timers are much smarter about this stuff. Fer instance, my parents heard Thomas Kenneally interviewed the other day and he said that the writing got easier as he got older. After having written for more than forty years and having produced a bazillion gazillion novels (or, you know, thirty odd) he knows his own process and what to expect.
Not really. I’ve only written six novels and the writing of each one was different. I’ve been a freelancer writer for four years. I still have no idea how long it takes me to write a book. I can tell you how long the last one took, but not how long the next one will.
When you’re starting out you don’t know what to expect. You don’t know what you’re capable of. When the crappy writing days hit you—it’s a shock and you don’t know how to handle them.
Even super disciplined writers, like my old man, have days of words dissolving into puddles of putresence, when they can’t focuss, and can barely squeeze out five words let alone a thousand.
What he does is keep writing. That’s where the discipline comes in. The act of getting yourself into the chair and typing—even if the words you’re producing make William McGonagall look like a genius—can be enough to get you past the crap and into the good.
Sometimes people just need a break.
And only the writer can figure out which it is.
Personally, I’m pretty much always convinced that I need a break. Preferably in a place where there’s plentiful cricket coverage (alas, poor England), the food is fabulous, and the wine even better.
Here's a new illustration just published in the May '07 issue of Cricket. It's done in the same "sketchy style" as TEA WITH MRS. ROSENBERG
I've had quite a few people lately telling me that they would like to learn to use Painter, but are too worried about a high learning curve.
While in reality Painter may be a complex program (there are a lot of things it can do using filters and brush building and "shapes"for example) In all the years I've used this software, I have been ignoring every tool but the few I actually need. I am only doing three basic things for each picture.
Setting a size (usually 300 DPI) for my image and choosing the canvas texture
Choosing a brush tool and color so I can actually sketch/draw/paint
Using layers to keep my pencil drawings separate from my watercolor layer while I work.
Then I just save it as a .tif if it's to be uploaded to my FTP site for the client to grab. If it's just a sketch, at a smaller resolution, I will just compress it and email it to the art director.
I don't recommend attending classes or sitting through tutorials or heaven forbid, reading the manual. I think the best way to learn Painter is to sit down and play with it. If you get stuck somewhere, Google your specific question. Even the most basic questions have been asked and answered on the internet. Or, you can just send your question to me and I'll try to help.
Australia just thrashed England in their Super Eight match. They barely broke a sweat doing it. Ha ha!
I discovered this lovely review of the Magic or Madness trilogy by a future librarian. It’s pretty spoiler free if you want a squizz. I really liked this bit:
The magical abilities are also not what one expects—Reason has an amazing aptitude for math and patterns. Her friend Tom can create magical clothing, and Jay-Tee’s magic is in movement—like running and dancing. (None of this, ooh-look-at-me-I can-fly-or-read-minds . . . etc.)
I did that on purpose! And someone noticed! Woo hoo!
Also Scott just read me the almost last bit of Extras and it is good! So. Very. Good.
And on Tuesday we fly to San Antonio where it is much much warmer than NYC and there are many cool librarians and young adult writers for us to hang with. Happiness!
For the record: yes, Scalzi should, and I hope he wins for all the reasons that have been described in great detail here, here and here. I’m also not comfortable with people telling other people that they are or aren’t “fans” or “geeks” or anything else. Those are the kind of labels you get to choose for yourself.
The geek half was inspired by my being asked to contribute a story to an anthology about geeks and geekery. My instant response was to say, “No.” Not just because I can’t write short stories, but because I couldn’t begin to think of a geeky story. (Plus no way am I biting the head off a chicken. Ewww.)
Also I was just curious about how you lot define those words. Part of what’s interesting in the great Is-Scalzi-a-Fan debate is that there were so many different definitions of what a “fan” is, which led to much talking at cross purposes. Seems the same is true of “geek”. Veronica defined it the way I would, but Cecil defined it the way I would define “fan”.
A number of people take “fan” to mean someone who loves something uncritically. I can’t help but laugh at that when I think of the number of letters I’ve had from self-proclaimed Magic or Madness fans who tell me in minute detail the stuff they don’t like about the trilogy, just as much as the stuff they do. Clearly, these are slippery, slippery terms.
Thanks everyone for such fascinating responses.
So why do I call myself a fan but not a geek?
Let’s take the word “fan” first. I’m not a fan of science fiction, which may sound odd for someone who did a Phd on it, which became a book. To be honest the whole PhD thing was never a passion. All I’ve ever wanted to do is be a writer, but as everyone knows there’s no money in that, so I went for an academic career to support my writing habit. The subject of my PhD was an accident. I’d read sf as a kid but I’d read lots of other things too and, honestly, I think the vast majority of sf (film, television or film) is on the nose. Many of the so-called classics of the genre like the work of Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke or Star Trek or Blade Runner leave me cold.
It’s the world building that does it for me with science fiction, being transported to somewhere that is not like the world I know. I get that just as readily from books about places I’m unfamiliar with: Japanese crime books fascinate me; Australian ones not so much. I also get that button pressed by books from the past (Jane Austen, Tale of Genji*, Elizabeth Gaskell, Miles Franklin et al) historicals, fantasy, westerns and so on. Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith and Jim Thompson create worlds that are almost completely alien to me. I adore their work.
I love the writings of Samuel R. Delany and Maureen McHugh and Ursula K. Le Guin. But I’m not convinced that it’s the science fictioness of their work that does it for me. I’m just as happy when they’re writing fantasy or memoirs or criticism or blogging or whatever else they choose to write. I love the way they string their words and sentences and paragraphs together. Yum.
If I were to be banned from reading one genre it would be less of a hardship for me if that genre were sf rather than fantasy or historicals. (Naturally, I exempt manga from all these categories.)
I’m also not a fan in the sense that Ulrika is talking about. That is I’m not a member of a community that came together around a love of science fiction in the late 1930s and is still going strong today. Or am I? I definitely feel like I’m a part of the WisCon community. For years I helped with the running of that particular science fiction convention. I was on the ConCom. Can you get much more fannish than that? And, like John Scalzi, I feel very much at home with many members of the science fiction community who definitely consider themselves to be fans.
However, I’ve never written fanfiction. So I’m not part of that thriving aspect of fandom. Nor do I read it. Though there are definitely books and stories I love, like The Wide Sargasso Sea, that are a kind of fanfiction—but the kind that plays around with out of copyright texts and thus gets to be published.
I’m happy to call myself a fan not just because of the WisCon thing, but because there are a lots of things I love. Elvis Presley’s voice. Cricket. Madeleine Vionnet and Hussein Chalayan’s clothes. The writing of way too many people to list here. I love Bring It On and Deadwood and Blue Murder and My Brilliant Career and ES and Nana and Osamu Tezuka and mangosteens and the food of countries like Spain and Mexico and Thailand and Japan and Italy and Ethiopia and the great wines of Australia and New Zealand and Argentina and South Africa and Italy and France and Spain and many other places.
I don’t think the word “fan” implies uncritical love. There are clothes of Vionnet and Chalayan’s that I think are naff, Cricket matches that bore me, Angela Carter books ditto, and Spanish food and French wine I’ve had to spit out.
So why aren’t I geek?
First up, the word is American and doesn’t have much resonance for me. I never heard it as a kid nor “nerd” neither. Not outside of a John Hughes movie. (That’s not true of younger Aussies.)
The people I know who are self-described nerds or geeks have passions for stuff that bores me. Video games, role-playing games, board games and the insides of computers. I have many friends who are into these things and, well, I am not like them in this regard. I do not know what “chaotic good” is, even though Scott’s explained it to me like a hundred times.
I’ve had flirtations with various computer games over the years, but my attention span for them is microscopic, and ulimately I’d much rather be reading a book.
Once I got into Go for about a year, to the extent that I was playing it with a bunch of Go fanatics on servers in Korea, and reading books on it. But it was largely research for a novel I was writing. When I finished writing the book my interest in playing Go lapsed. It’s still by far the best game I’ve ever played, but I doubt I’d even remember how anymore. I haven’t played since 1999.
Many of my geeky friends are also collectors.
I hate stuff. I spend a large chunk of my life recycling and throwing stuff out. I hate things that sit on the mantlepiece and serve no purpose other than to collect dust. I see no point in them. Nor in stuffed animals, or dolls, or collectable cards, or any of that. I love cricket but I have no desire for cricket stuff cluttering up my house and am endlessly giving away the cricket tat people give me (clothes excluded).
If I collect anything, it’s books, but I cull them ruthlessly and often. If I’m not going to reread it, or I’ve had it for more than a year without even cracking the spine and there seems little likelihood that I will, then out the book goes.
Also I have a terrible memory. Always have had. I can’t tell you what year Bring it On came out, or who directed it, or who all the actors are without looking it up. I have to read a book a billion times before I can remember any details about it and even then I’m pretty crap. I just did a test on Pride and Prejudice I don’t think I’ve read any book more times than that one. I got 5 out of 10. I would not be able to tell an original Vionnet gown from a knock off. I do not have the trainspotting gene.
So, yes to “fan” and to “enthusiast” (thanks, Bennett), no to “geek” or “nerd”. I’m also quite happy to be called a “dag”. Yes, I am also a “spaz”. (Though, Christopher, I say to you: Know thyself!) And “dilettante”? Oh, yes, that’s me. I have the attention span of a gnat**.
*I confess I have never finished The Tale of Genji despite repeated attempts. The bits I’ve read have been fabulous. It’s just that the book is so damned heavy and hard to read in bed. I know, I know . . . dilettante.
**Except for blogging, apparently. Bugger but this was a long post . . . Sorry!
I was going to rant all over my blog today about the bloody ICC’s idiotic decision to demand that youtube take down all footage from the World Cup. But then I found this excellent rant that says everything I want to say. Here’s a taste of Andrew Miller’s wrath:
Only three days ago it was suggested on this website that the events of the past week might serve as a wake-up call for cricket’s fiscally obsessed powerbrokers. Fat chance. A game run increasingly by lawyers for lawyers, has deemed it necessary to go to war on the very online enthusiasts who can spread the word of a game whose reputation has been dragged through the mincer.
It is an astoundingly short-sighted decision by a ruling body that has once again shown it is completely lacking in a sense of priorities. God knows that cricket could do with some good publicity at present. Only 24 hours ago, the ICC’s Lawyer-in-Chief, Malcolm Speed, was telling Cricinfo how wonderful the match between Australia and South Africa at St Kitts was turning out to be. “Let’s all just watch the cricket,” he suggested when queried about the latest murmurings about Bob Woolmer’s death. Mal, we’d love to. But 75% of your global audience have no means of tuning in.
Yes, that’s right the ICC is so money-grubbing that they sold off the TV rights to cable channels which the majority of cricket lovers in the UK and Australia can’t afford. Cable in those countries is crazy overpriced and—other than covering the cricket—crap. Trust me, I pony up the dosh specifically to watch the cricket. And the cricket is the beginning and the end of what’s good on cable. For most cricket fans youtube is the only way to catch glimpses—and it is only glimpses—of the World Cup.
When will all those moronic beaurocrats wake the hell up? I am so sick of copyright insanity. Colour me extremely bloody ropeable.
Shashi Tharoor has written a wry op ed piece for the New York Times on the World Cup and how Americans are oblivious to what is preoccupying a billion plus folks at the moment. It ends thus:
In any event, nothing about cricket seems suited to the American national character: its rich complexity, the infinite possibilities that could occur with each delivery of the ball, the dozen different ways of getting out, are all patterned for a society of endless forms and varieties, not of a homogenized McWorld. They are rather like Indian classical music, in which the basic laws are laid down but the performer then improvises gloriously, unshackled by anything so mundane as a written score.
Cricket is better suited to a country like India, where a majority of the population still consults astrologers and believes in the capricious influence of the planets — so they can well appreciate a sport in which, even more than in baseball, an ill-timed cloudburst, a badly prepared pitch, a lost toss of the coin at the start of a match or the sun in the eyes of a fielder can transform the outcome of a game. Even the possibility that five tense, hotly contested, occasionally meandering days of cricketing could still end in a draw seems derived from ancient Indian philosophy, which accepts profoundly that in life the journey is as important as the destination. Not exactly the American Dream.
Ha ha! That makes me giggle. Though to be honest I’m not convinced. Cricket’s popularity in India and elsewhere is an historical accident. If in the early days of cricket in America they’d had some home-grown cricketing heroes demolishing visiting English players and some ambitious entrepreneurs touring the game around the country and bringing in the dosh I reckon things woulda turned out differently.
Cricket’s also bloody popular back home. I’m pretty sure the majority of Australians don’t consult astrologers or believe in the capricious influence of planets (of pollies? yes, but planets? not so much). Or certainly we don’t do it any more than Americans do.
I’m always suspicious of sketches of “national character”. I’m not saying there aren’t difference between nations. I’m often amazed by the extraordinary confidence of the middle and upper classes in the US, especially the white folk. So many of them seem to have this sense of the inevitability of their own success (whether it’s happened yet or not). I’ve never met so many people who are just waiting for their first million, their first broadway show, big movie role, bestselling novel. No question in their mind that it will happen. Even if they’ve never acted or ever written anything longer than a limerick.
But I’ve also met enough Americans who are not like that, and Australians who are, to be wary of typing a whole people. People are complicated and large groups of them even more so and you can never discount regional and class and racial and gender differences.
I also wonder how much of that disturbing confidence is real and how much of it is people saying what they think they’re supposed to be saying.
Back home you’re emphatically not supposed to say stuff like that. If you do you’re a wanker who writes tickets on yourself. Being up yourself is one of the worst things anyone can say about you.
Here that attitude doesn’t seem nearly so wide spread. For instance American English has no home-grown synonyms (that I’ve heard) for “writing tickets” “being stuck up”, “getting above yourself”, “being up yourself”, or “being a wanker”. Mostly because they almost never accuse anyone of that kind of behaviour. Nor do they have the terms “tall poppies” or “cultural cringe”.
So while it might be true that on the whole Americans=confident and Australians=not confident. It could also be that we just know what we are and aren’t allowed to say out loud. If an Aussie says “I’m a genius!” odds are they’re being sarcastic. If a Usian says it not so much. But does the Aussie secretly think they are a genius while the Usian secretly fears they are not?
There are, of course, lots of exceptions to all of this. And things are changing in both countries. I even know Americans who adorecricket.
And, um, did I mention that I have a new book out, Magic’s Child? And, er, it’s not too foul. Really. Well, um, other people think it’s okay. Sorry. Don’t mind me. I’ll get out of your way now . . .
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For the next month, there’s an ad for Magic’s Child up on Locus online. Tis my very first one and I’m dead excited. Ordinarily, I can’t stand ads but somehow it’s different when it’s an ad for one of my books. That makes me want to pat it and sing it songs. Lovely, lovely ad. Designed by the fabulous Courtney Wood who also made those beautiful screensavers which you can now download from the links in the sidebar.
There is now a cover for the Science Fiction Book Club’s 3-in-1 version of my trilogy. It’s called The Magic or of Reason.
In other vainglorious news, the Hathor Legacy likesDaughters of Earth, describing it as the “perfect marriage of fantastic stories and excellent critical analysis”. Yay! That’s what I was going for.
And to stop skiting for a second, wouldn’t it be great if this happened? An ODI series between India and Australia right here in NYC? I could bring all my USian friends what want to learn about the noble game and convert them to the glories of cricket in their own country. Bliss!
Also this could be the day Magic’s Child is released into the wild. i await reports. Remember there is a prize for the first person to send me photographic evidence that my latest book exists and it may not be as crappy as I said.
Every world cup it seems there’s a debate about whether allowing in the so-called minnows of the game is a good idea or not. Because every world cup there are 200-plus run victories as Bermuda or Scotland or whoever are bowled out for less than a hundred by Australia or India or whoever.
It’s happened again this year. Herschelle Gibbs even smashed a world record 36 off an over against the Netherlands. For those whose maths is as poor as mine that’s a six off every single ball. No one had ever it done it internationally before, not in ODIs and not in test cricket.
The argument against the inclusion of minnows is that they help create crazy world records like that cause they’re just not up to snuff. “What’s the point of such an uneven competition?” they ask. And blah blah blah.
To which my response is, “Please!” One of the best ways to improve at anything is to learn from people who are better and more experienced than you are. Letting the minnows play with the top cricketing nations means that they will get oodles of practice against the best players in the world. As they improve they’ll create more interest in cricket back home and more potential cricket players and thus the game will grow and prosper throughout the world.
And they do get better.
As evidence I present Exhibits A & B: Bangladesh and Ireland.
The minnows sometimes upset the giants. Bangladesh just beat India in the first round. In the past few years they’ve racked up victories against a number of top teams including Australia. They are no longer as minnowy as they once were. I don’t think they’re a shot at the world cup (though how cool would that be?) but they’re certainly going to give a number of teams a testing time. Yay, Bangladesh!
First Ireland tied with Zimbabwe in their opening match and then in their second they beat Pakistan! Bowling them out for a pathetic 132 in the 45th over and following that up with a gritty batting display against some awesome bowling (and even better appealing—give Mr Sami an Oscar! He’s up there with Our Shane). And I’m so relieved the bad light and rain did not reduce things to a Duckworth-Lewis decision. Bravo to Ireland. They have several players I reckon England* would love to have on their side.
Back in the olden days Sri Lanka and New Zealand were minnows; now they are not. They got that way by being included in world-class competition. I really don’t understand how anyone could argue against minnow inclusion. Me, I’m hoping a US of A team will qualify for the next world cup.
The superhero character will be known as “Sachin The Master Blaster” for comic books, animation and games.
Excuse me? Sachin is one of the finest, but there is only one Master Blaster and his name is Viv Richards.
The article also claims that Sachin is the second greatest batsman of all time. Nuh uh. Not on his own he isn’t. I don’t care what Wisden says. There are a lot of other very fine batsmen in the running for that spot. Other than Sir Viv, there’s Brian Lara, Garfield Sobers, Sunil Gavaskar, and Ricky Ponting. But don’t ask me to pick a best out of that lot. I can’t. They’re all amazing. And besides comparisons are odious.
1. I have been accused in certain circles (okay, in certain emails) of deliberately not mentioning the English win in the recent ODIs against Australia in New Zealand. So here you go, you whingeing poms:
Yay, England for finally stringing three wins in a row! Way to peak at the right time. Yes, you are now contenders for the World Cup next month. Go forth and be happy!
It’s still only One-day cricket, but.
2. I’ve also been meaning to remonstrate with one Maureen Johnson who has let down her fellow pro writers by revealing one of the most closely guarded secrets of our trade. First it was Matthew Cheney, and now Maureen. When is this going to stop, people? Are you going to start selling your secret decoder rings to the punters? I hope you remember the sacred oathes you swore. Don’t forget that there will be repercussions!
3. I’ve also been asked why I think it’s okay to hurt Maureen Dowd’s feelings when I’m so precious about novelists’ feelings. To which I can only respond: Well, der. I am a novelist. Of course I’m more worried about our feelings. Besides it’s well known that columnists are made of much sterner stuff than thin-skinned novelists. They are mocked all the time and are well used to it. But every time a novelist is mocked a little piece of the world’s communal imagination disappears in a tiny puff of smoke. It’s on your own heads if you mock us.
The one exception is John Scalzi who has managed to maintain the thick hide of a columnist despite becoming a novelist. You can mock him as much as you want. He loves it!
4. Over in the magical land of livejournal, there’s some reallyfascinatingdiscussions going on about urban fantasy and the demonisation of “normal”. I have much to say on this subject and am struggling to get them together in a way that makes sense to anyone but me. But they involve lots of thoughts about Pan’s Labyrinth and fairy tales.
5. I have discovered a good thing about the cold. When you fall over in the street, you’re so padded with gloves and coats and scarves and etc etc, that it doesn’t hurt!
6. Feel free to share some matters you consider important.
Scott just sent me this because we both love cricket and monkeys*. It is the personification of our love. It makes me so happy!
Though I gotta say that’s a pretty suspicious looking bowling action. And why is the umpire lying on the ground? Because the monkey is totally using body line? Check it: the monkey’s aiming at their heads! Or perhaps because the monkey has used six different balls? That’s gotta be worse than ball tampering, right? Bad cheating monkey!
For ages people have been telling me that I have to see Lagaan. Well, now I have. And everyone’s right. It is the best movie of all time. No contest.
It has everything that should be in a movie: cricket, the British are the baddies, more cricket, dancing, singing, a love triangle, and more cricket. Lagaan is perfect. (Well, it could have been longer with a wee bit more cricket and a few more songs, but other than that—perfect.)
At least seventy minutes of the movie is a cricket match. How did that make any sense to American viewers? Cause most of the folks who’ve recommended it have been yanquis who know nothing about the noble game. How did you keep track of the balls and overs? How did you even realise
that Bhuvan wasn’t out at the end cause the evil bastard captain had stepped over the boundary when he took the catch?
Also what was it like not getting all the cool little cricket history references?
I mean the actor cast as the big baddie captain even looks like Douglas Jardine (or at least he looks like Hugo Weaving playing Douglas Jardine in Bodyline—same thing). And he certainly behaves like Douglas Jardine. Right down to stretching the ethical limits of the game to breaking point. And then there was the fabulous homage to Baloo Palwankar with the untouchable spinner. Fabulous stuff.
“The way I look at cricket, you do everything possible to win. Some people like the verbal side of the game, some don’t, but you just get one with what your job. I take what Vincent is saying as a backhanded compliment.”
Hayden, Clark’s Australian teammate, was equally indignant.
“If he considers that to be the case, I’m not unhappy about it, to be honest,” Hayden said. “It’s a great clash between New Zealand and Australia and long may it continue. It doesn’t matter what sport — we could be playing kick a cockroach from here to the wall and we’d want to be competitive.”
You know last time I looked “indignant” meant “cranky”, “pissed off”, “ropeable”. It did not mean “bemused”.
Talk about sloppy journalism of the Let’s-try-to-manufacture-controversy-even-if-the-quotes-don’t-fit variety. That or the journo truly doesn’t know what “indignant” means. Well, whoever wrote that, I am indignant at your use of the word indignant.
Though maybe they were just being a smartarse? Cause Hayden is just as indignant as Clarke, i.e. not at all.
It is completely wonderful in every way and you should all read her!
Jenny D also ask that I detail
some of your more unfortunate past fashion choices–with pictures!
And I refuse and threaten dire consequences to anyone who posts such photos of me ever.
Chris McLaren asks for
Convention horror stories and other juicy gossip.
This too I refuse. What happens at a convention stays at the convention.
Simon Sherlock would
like to see you write about why the England cricket team is far, far better than the Australian one (even though they choose not to show it)
I did say I would lie for you all, but it turns out that this I just can’t do. Especially after yesterday’s performance against New Zealand.
All I can say is that I’m sure they’re much better at enduring cold wet weather than the Australian cricket team and that is not a skill to be sniffed at.
A lurker wants to know
Your thoughts on harry potter. and jkrowling. just curious.
I really enjoy the books though have found the last few a tad too long. I wish they’d been a bit tighter edited. Am really looking forward to the next one.
I worship J. K. Rowling. Without her my career wouldn’t be possible. All children’s and YA writers owe her hugely. Thank you for everything, J. K.!
Robyn Hook would
like to hear about your jeans shopping expedition with Ron!
Twas fabulous. All things done with Ron are a million times more fabulous than they otherwise would be. Ron is a goddess. I can no longer go shopping with anyone else. This is a bit of a problem given that I only see him once or twice a year . . . I’m reduced to wearing rags!
I’ve been just a few days away from finishing the first draft of the great Australian Elvis mangosteen monkey knife-fighting cricket fairy novel for weeks and weeks. What is it with that? I feel like there’s someone up ahead with my ending, who every time I get close enough to touch it, madly sprints away.
Bloody bastard!* Stop it!
I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to finishing this draft. I have such plans for the rewrites! Rewriting is so much funner. You can’t really get the monkey-knife-fighting scenes right until you’ve gone over them many times adding zeppelins and fireworks.
I’m also a bit cranky cause this was going to be my shortest novel ever, but it keeps growing. Grrr.
Do any of youse ever have the receding-into-the-distance ending problem? What do you do about it?
*Just rewatched Bodyline. My favourite bit is when Douglas Jardine (evil captain of the English team) goes to the Australian dressing room to demand an apology for being called a bastard. The captain turns to his men and asks, “Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?” Jardine stalks off in high Pommy dugeon. Tee hee!
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The last day of this year’s Ashes series didn’t even amount to two hours of play, but it sure did sum up the series. Australia bowled well; England crumbled. Didn’t run except when Andrew Symonds was holding the ball ready to run them out. Then Langer and Hayden got the handful of runs necessary for the 5-0 sweep. It took five overs longer than I thought it would on account of Harmison finally decided to bowl some scorchers. But then it was done.
And for years I will have fun telling folks that I was there to see Langer, McGrath and Warne say goodbye to cricket. The way I’ve already been able to skite about being there to watch Steve Waugh get his in-your-eyes-selectors century off the last ball of the third day back in 2003.
Five-nil. Only the second time in the history of the more century-old contest. Oops.
I don’t see England recovering any time soon. But it would be nice if they did. I’ve said it many times before but we need at least five strong test sides: Australia, England, India, South Africa, and the West Indies. And I would love for it to be eight with New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But right now not one of them is even close to being able to beat Australia.
Maybe the next ten years will show improvements all over. That would be lovely. I’m hopeful that enough Australian talent has been poached to help build up sides all over the world. Yep, that’s right cricket is now our Imperial export. In your eye, Douglas Jardine.
Maybe the next Warne will be from Kenya or Zimbabwe and they’ll have support from the rest of the team and from their bureaucrat and they’ll reshape the face of cricket, not just in their country, but throughout the world. Why not, eh?
Today I will share with you one of the many reasons I love cricket. This is more for me than for you, because I am currently very cranky with cricket—specifically with the Australian and English cricket teams—and I need to remind myself of the love.
Australia because they got out way too early: Warne? Gilchrist? I’m looking at you! Where were your centuries?
And England because they crumbled and lost five wickets. Yet a-bloody-gain.
I would like to remind you both that I have tickets for tomorrow’s play and right now I’m not seeing it go past lunch. A pox on both your houses.
I am also pretty dirty on the weather. What? You can rain all night? But barely disturb the cricket? Curse you!
Stygian gloom: “The middle half of this game, and the end, was played out in gloom so Stygian Dickie Bird would have been reaching for the smelling-salts and a handy flashlight.” A topos for reporting on bad light at Headingley and in Hades.
shite fielding: Look at Australia in the field and then look at England. The Poms with a few exceptions (Collingwood, Panesar, Pietersen) have no intensity. They don’t run down every single ball, turning fours into threes, twos into ones, and saving singles. They look lethargic and bored.
shite captaincy: Flintoff looks lost. He’s not leading by example given his poor batting displays and erratic bowling and he’s not leading on the paddock. His field placings have been all over the place. He elects to bat when the wicket is iffy. He doesn’t seem to know whether he’s playing test cricket or Sunday arvo mah jong. And way to not show any confidence in your new bowlers Panesar and Mahmoud. Give ‘em three overs here, then pull ‘em off, and never let ‘em get their rhythm going.
shite field placings: What’s with the defensiveness? What’s with giving Monty fields that allow the batsmen to score at will? What’s with no consistent plan of attack?
shite batting: You’ve got ten blokes with bats. Surely you can get two or three of them not to throw their wickets away? And do none of you know how to shepherd the tail?
shite selections: Monty Panesar a very promising spin bowler. Chris Read is a million times the keeper that Geraint Jones is and Sajid Mahmoud’s got promise and all. Why were they kept out of the side by way less promising and performing players?
shite protection of your top secret bowling plans: I mean, honestly! Did you really have to make the farce farcier?
Your boat is listing, England, fix it. World cricket needs you. And I need you to get your shit together so there’ll be a fourth day in Sydney. I’ve got tickets! C’mon, people!
Meanwhile Australia is doing just fine. Every single player has more than proved their worth during this series. Andrew Symonds has finally shown what he can do at test level, Brett Lee has got his groove back, Stuart Clark is fabulous and Warne has proven once again what a gobsmackingly incredible cricketer he is. Oh, how I will miss him!
Did anyone else get a tad teary as he walked off the MCG with McGrath?
It’s been another good year for me professionally and I will now skite about it: My second and third books, Magic Lessons and Daughters of Earth, were both published to some very nice reviews and reader responses. The whole Magic or Madness trilogy sold to Editora Record in Brazil, Magic or Madness and Magic Lessons sold to Mondadori in Italy, while Magic Lessons and Magic’s Chld sold to Amarin in Thailand. And then there was the recent sale of the trilogy to the Science Fiction Book Club for a 3-in-1. Not to mention Magic Lessons being on the shortlist for the Aurealis.
It was a great year for Scott who hit the New York Times bestseller list not once, not twice, but three times! Woo hoo! Twice for Specials and once for Pretties. Also my friends Yvette Christiansë (Unconfessed), Kate Crawford (Adult Themes), Ellen Kushner (Privilege of the Sword), Julie Phillips (James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon) and Delia Sherman (Changeling) all published wonderful books that were well-received. If you haven’t already read them—do so immediately!
Other dear friends also published fabby books, but these are the ones that I saw through gestation. In the same way I’m very excited to see how Holly Black’s Ironside and Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones fare next year. Do yourself a favour and get hold of copies as soon as you can!
Next year I have three English lanaguage publications on the horizon:
Magic Lessons will appear in paperback in February
The final book of the trilogy, Magic’s Child, will be out in hardcover in March.
Also in March—the SFBC’s 3-in-1 edition of the trilogy.
As you can imagine I’m dead excited to find out what my readers think of the complete trilogy. Do not hold back! (Unless what you have to say might harm a writer’s delicate sensibilities. Praise is good!)
This year has also been a great one for me blog. Readers way more than doubled this year, which is just lovely. I’m particularly excited to have picked up so many more readers here in Australia. Especially the ones I don’t know and am not related to. (Not that there’s anything wrong with my friends and relatives, mind. Well, not that much wrong.) Thank you so much everyone for hanging out and commenting. Your comments are more than half the fun. Without you there wouldn’t be much point. Much appreciated.
I’m aiming to write two books (both of which I’ve already started) in 2006 and sell one (two would be nice, but I don’t want to jinx myself). I also plan to spend the majority of the year in Sydney, cause now that I’m home I just want to stay. And I really, really, really want to get tickets for the Sydney Ashes test. Ideally for every day of play.
How did that work out?
I finished one book: Magic’s Child, but it wasn’t one of the books I was talking about above. So I didn’t finish either of the books I aimed to. Though I got awfully close to finishing the first draft of the great Australian feminist monkey knife-fighting mangosteen cricket fairy young adult novel. (So close I can smell it! Oh the frustration!)
This year I have the same goal: to finish two novels. My odds ar