Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Rollercoaster

I have a lot on at the moment and I'm feeling quite excited this morning. For the past six weeks I've struggled for motivation and clarity of thought. My focus has been on myself and my personal problems and it has been exhausting. With many things to do now: writing, studying and working, I am hopeful that concentrating on these matters will allow me to finally break free of this emotionally intense and debilitating phase of my life. I don't want to get off the rollercoaster. I just need a breather. Call me a sucker for punishment, but I like the ups and downs, and the twists and turns.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Few Irons

The good news about the offer of a publishing contract for A Muddy Red River, is still being diluted by ongoing struggles in my personal life. I'm also supposed to resume my studies this semester but I have no appetite for further dull academic instruction. I should begin my next novel, after deciding to shelve the one I had already begun, but I can't seem to find my way to that particular door. At least I know where the room is, and I know what's in there. I wish there was a much certainty in my life as there is in my writing. If only it was as easy to do as it was to know.

A Muddy Red River chapter 1

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Toot Yourself Mate


My daughter is learning to drive. In New South Wales, learner drivers have to log 120 hours of supervised driving. Earlier today, we went for a drive, principally to work on car park manoeuvring and perpendicular parking. I directed her to a suitable car park, and I worked her over for twenty minutes. Park on the left. Pull out. Park on the right. Park beside the red car. Park beside the silver car. Reverse back into that spot etcetera.

On the drive home, she stopped at a  roundabout through which traffic is directed by traffic signals during peak times. We had to wait. She waited a fraction too long, and the driver behind tooted her, suggesting impolitely via his car horn that she should have entered the roundabout. I was incensed, and fired my death stare at the offending driver. I talked to him politely and calmly, with seething anger, despite the fact he could not hear me.

I noticed the man's wife appeared to be angry with him, and I surmised that she may have been remonstrating with him for tooting a learner. Believing that to be the case, I lauded the woman's actions and although she couldn't prevent his actions, perhaps he won't repeat them. 

Afterwards, I pondered the significance of restraining forces in our lives. As this is a blog post, and not a book, I shan't go into details, but I simply wish to pose the question: when have you been restrained by a wiser, cooler head? When has the voice of reason saved you from an act of madness?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Delightful Deliberations

I'm a creative and passionate person. I've been called a dreamer but I know, with apologies to John Lennon, that I am not the only one. I have tended to make things hard for myself throughout my life while simultaneously wishing for and espousing the virtues of simplicity. I may complain about problems, rail against the onslaught of various tribulations, but that is life, and I love life.

I'm on the verge of signing a contract for the publication of my fourth novel, A Muddy Red River. I don't like details and fine print because I'm a big picture kind of person but am I unhappy about having to go over the fine print of a publishing contract? Hell no!

Preview A Muddy Red River here

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Pleasing Dilemma

Square Pegs will from now on feature much more regular updates. I plan to post new content every day, but apart from the usual big Sunday post, the entries will be small. As a writer, much of my life is consumed with writing related activities. Most, though not all of my daily updates will be writing related. I will essentially write about whatever I want to because it's my blog.

I have received a contract offer with a traditional small press publisher. I have also received five offers from subsidy publishers. My manuscript, A Muddy Red River, will be my fourth published novel. I am still unknown and have not been able to break through yet, despite my best efforts. The attraction of the subsidy, or joint venture publishers, is the increased exposure through marketing and various listings. The downside is the risk. I may lose money for no discernible benefit in terms of exposure.

Any thoughts on which way I should go?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Grumpy Old Racist

In the superb drama, Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood's character, Walt Kowalski, is not at all a likeable man. This retired auto worker has a gruff disposition, a snarling visage and a narrow mind. He's a grumpy old racist. He also carries deep scars from his time as a front line soldier in the Korean War. At the beginning of the film we see him at his wife's funeral. She was possibly the only softening agent to have had any effect on him.

Hard as nails Kowalski, who uses abusive language for sport, remains alone in his house after his wife's death and battles on in the torpor of his grief and loneliness. He busies himself with the maintenance of the house and is devoted to his 1972 Ford Gran Torino which he helped to build, and his labrador, Daisy.

An unlikely friendship with two young Hmong people who live next door provides an opportunity for Walt to change, to open his mind, and to eventually have an epiphany which leads to him making the ultimate sacrifice. Sorry for the spoiler if you haven't seen the film, but if you haven't....may I ask why not? It's a must see film. Don't miss it.

I showed this film to my class of adult migrants, and it was interesting to see their reaction to the clash of cultures, and the power of common humanity to smash preconceptions and facilitate beautiful relationships. Sometimes it takes catastrophe to jolt us out of delusion, or to snatch us from the dark path which leads to nowhere. The catalyst for Kowalski's revelation that violence only begets violence was the brutal treatment delivered to his young friend as payback for his own actions.

Walt felt that his death was the only way to right the wrong. He was not to be a part of the new brighter future that he would help create for his two young friends. He would no longer share their triumphs, no longer provide guidance or comfort. He would never know what became of them, but he gave his life trusting that his sacrifice was worth the cost.
Members of the public and pro-Russian separatists have been able to access the crash site without restrictions, raising fears the site has been contaminated.

Two hundred and ninety eight people were murdered on Malaysia Airways MH17. My sincere condolences go to the family and friends of the dead. Grief will torture them, and they will ask questions which have no answers. Their lives have been forever changed by this act of terrorism. Death is the ultimate reminder of our fragility.

Have you ever experienced a life changing epiphany? Ever realized suddenly, by virtue of some disaster or tragedy, that you were totally on the wrong track? Please share you story with us.

Photograph sources:
http://www.smh.com.au/world/mh17-crash-site-freelance-journalist-filip-warwick-reveals-grim-first-views-20140719-zurxu.html
http://thegrumpysociologist.blogspot.com.au/2009/06/hegemonic-masculinity-run-amok-in-gran.html

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Opaque Soul

Rarely do I receive inspiration for these weekly blog posts. Usually, I fumble through the filing cabinet of my mind until something presents itself, until some notion or theme demands to be written. Sometimes, I hear something or see something, or am struck without warning by a pre ponderous idea from which I am unable to disentangle myself, and I write about that, but mostly it is more laborious and much less romantic than that. Writing is sometimes an act of discipline rather than desire.

Today, I feel vague and fuzzy. 

I've been watching Star Trek Enterprise and now well into season three, am amazed at how good it has become. I find the current ongoing storyline gripping and fascinating. Enterprise's mission to stop an alien race called the Xindi from building a weapon to destroy the earth is compelling. The Xindi themselves are intriguing, comprising five distinct dominant species, who do not get on well, and who in fact waged a hundred year war which resulted in the complete destruction of their home world and the annihilation of a sixth Xindi species.

If you're not into science fiction, and I find that thought both baffling and repulsive, then I have just lost your interest. Assuming of course that I had it in the first place.

My soccer team outdid Germany's performance in the FIFA World Cup against Brazil, by winning 9-0 against our opponents. It was a huge boost for team morale after a heartbreaking draw the previous week. The team I follow in the National Rugby League, the Bulldogs, had an outstanding win against highly rated opponents last night in an awesome defensive display. These results have puffed my sails, but if you're not into sport, then no doubt you are injuring your jaw with excessive yawning.

I have now sent off 61 submissions packages for my new novel, A Muddy Red River. I have had 5 rejections so far, and one acceptance which I subsequently rejected. I need to start writing my next novel, and I am going to have to start from scratch because I have decided to shelve the one I had already started. I don't feel able to continue with it due to personal reasons.

Still here? Bless your heart. Not a coherent post but perhaps sufficiently engaging to elicit a sagacious, humourous or even nonsensical comment from you, treasured reader. And thus to the prompt: what has puffed your sails this week?