Sunday, 25 December 2011

Sunday Sesh #17 - Five of the Best

So unfortunately, this is my second Sunday Sesh with no beer, since I am bogged down getting ready for Santa's arrival and a road-trip home. I will, however, do a double-beer Sunday Sesh next weekend, so keep an eye out for that one.

Last week I promised you something special, and I hope you agree that this one is exactly that.

Tomorrow is Boxing Day and marks the first day of the Boxing Day test in Melbourne against the Indians. It's no secret that Boxing Day is my favourite day of the year - closely followed by Christmas and then my birthday. Then there's End of Financial Year Day (for the accountants out there), but I digress.

Since as I write this, no cricket has yet been played, I thought I'd bring you some crickety goodness by rehashing some of my favourite classic catches. My top five in fact. These videos are all thanks to youtube (what did we ever do without it?).

So, counting down from...

Number 5

Paul Collingwood shows off his amazing reach against the Aussies in 2005 to dismiss Matt "The Bat" Hayden.

Collingwood was a great fieldsman, and this rates as one of his best.

Number 4

You can't have a classic catches reel without including one of our best ever gully fieldsman, Mike Hussey. He's pulled off some unbelievable catches and saves back there, but this one rates as one of his best. Reflex catches look pretty awesome, but judging a catch going over your head is deceptively hard. As usual, Hussey makes it look easy - but he does do it one-handed, just for kicks.

Number 3

This next one from Dinesh Kartick of India, to dismiss Graham Smith of South Africa. Smith can't believe his bad luck. As you'll hear the commentator say, Kartick is one of those frustrating players who can produce moments of brilliance out of his back-side, but drops the simplest of catches under no pressure. Again, catching a ball behind you isn't easy, but he makes it look like a piece of cake.

Number 2

We're travelling back in time to 1999 at the MCG for this one.

Mark Waugh - need I say more? Mark Waugh goes down as one of our best fieldsman of all time. He produced some brilliant catches in slip, but this one at short cover defies belief. The hand-eye co-ordination required to make a catch like this stick could only be pulled off by a soccer goalkeeper, which Junior was before he chose cricket.

Also, watch the way Shane Warne moves his field around. Not one player remains unchanged - this catch is equally down to Warne getting into the head of the batsman - in this case, Nick Knight of England.

Number 1

Paul "Fatty" Vautin, football legend, and hero to backyard cricketers everywhere, thanks to this screamer taken in the Allan Border Testimonial match in 1993. This is a bit of pure Queensland genius. Tim Horan, caught Vautin, bowled Langer.

Why does this rate as my number one, above the "real" cricket catches and against some that are arguably much better? Simply because this is the thing us backyard cricketers do every summer, without cameras and without the crowds. We're legends in our own minds and families, and catches like these in backyards, parks and cul de sacs all over Australia go down into family folk lore and legend, getting better and better with each retelling.

Incidentally, stick around after they replay the catch to hear Fatty's comments.

One thing before I wrap up - what ever happened to these testimonial matches? I think a charity match for the McGrath foundation or something similar each year, maybe to kick off the summer or to wrap it up would be brilliant. I love seeing all sorts of sports men and women have a go at cricket. It's a great equaliser, and nothing draws people from around the neighbourhood like the screams of "Howzat!" and the thump of a piece of wood on a tennis ball covered in electrical tape on one side.

What do you think? Any catches I've missed? And what do you think about bringing back testimonials or charity matches?

Finally, Merry Christmas everyone, and until next Sunday's Sesh,

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

You can't beat stupid.....

Here we go again. In an article in the News-Mail, Rob Messenger is spruiking the legislation he wants to introduce after the next election to repeal the Civil Partnerships Bill that was passed in November.

He states in the article that it will "give all elected representatives an opportunity to right a wrong".

Whose wrong are we talking about, Rob? I don't want to get personal, but clearly that's the way it has to be, because you know, we're talking about personal lives here. Lives of people you've never met, and haven't had the balls to actually talk to about this issue.

You want to preserve the sanctity of marriage, you say? How about out-lawing no-fault divorce? Wouldn't that serve to preserve the sanctity of marriage more than not allowing a small number of the population to access the same rights you have?

He also says "this reform is not about politics, it's about equality". Damn straight it is Rob. So explain, if you will, how repealing the Civil Partnership Bill will promote equality? The Bill allows for same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples to access it, so there's no discrimination there. In fact, you could access it if you didnt, oh, I don't know, want to do something silly like get married again, after getting divorced?

But enough about you, Rob, because what I really want to take to task is the comments that inevitably pop up on these types of articles. I truly thought I'd seen it all (and commented on it all as well), but no. Stupid has stooped to a new low.

This from kitwalker05:

"Homosexuals die at around the age of 40, with or without aids",

and this

"homosexuals have more health issues and therefore put a higher burden on the health system".

So very glad I was informed of this fact. I can now make sure I do everything on my bucket list over the next four years, since that's about all I have left on this earth. I mean, come on. You're shitting me, right? Where does this stuff even come from?

Also, by kitwalker05's logic, I've clearly been a bigger burden on the health system over my 36 years than any of my similar-aged heterosexual friends and family. Lucky, then, that I don't get the same tax concessions as those in heterosexual marriages to pay for my excess usage of the health system.

This from noelbowman:

"I do not give a stuff how anyone else chooses to live their PRIVATE LIFE but let it be PRIVATE" (his emphasis not mine), and then "this attempt to politically hijack the ceremony and its meaning is a bloody disgrace" however "I do not want to interfere with anyone else's life so get out of mine!" (again, his emphasis not mine)

Ummm.... ? So it's not ok that I be allowed to access rights and responsibilities that you have, because that would be impinging on your rights somehow, but you can stop me from accessing them, because, well YOU don't think I should. You're not interfering in my life at all, noelbowman, not one little bit.

I don't give a toss about your marriage. I give a toss about mine. Your relationship with your wife has nothing to do with my relationship with mine. 

You can't ask that I don't impinge on your rights without impinging on mine in the process. So how about this - I get the right to marry my partner, and you get to keep your right to stay married to your wife? Because that's how it would work, noelbowman. If I get to walk down the aisle with my partner and say I do and live happily ever after, it doesn't mean that you can't. You don't lose any of your rights by giving the same ones to me.

If the thought of two women, or two men, marrying each other makes you feel sick or icky then I have two things to say to you:

1. You're definitely not gay, and
2. You think way too much about those of us on the other side of the fence.

Rubyred is concerned about the children:

"Can you even imagine what it must be like as a child to not have a mother and a father but to live with two men or two women? What will happen to him or her at school?"

I applaud your concern, Rubyred, but I ask you, do you know what that situation's like? How about I give you an example of a young man who was brought up by two women?  Bullying, unfortunately, is a fact of life, particularly in childhood, and particularly at school. Kids don't understand that "different" doesn't necessarily mean "bad". It's up to us, as adults, to tell them and show them the difference.

Look, I could go on about a lot of other things here, but I've already dealt with them in other posts.

How about lets deal in some facts now?

Civil partnerships are open to any (eligible) couple who either can't or don't want to get married, so it's not a "gay" thing.

Civil partnerships give us a way to register our relationship from the start, rather than have to prove it existed after the fact.

Existing rights are not going to change. If you are currently married, you will not be required to register a civil partnership because the legislation clearly states that the Federal Marriage Act trumps the Qld Civil Partnerships Act. There are no further rights being conferred onto gay couples that heterosexual couples don't already have.

Gays and lesbians are already parents - have been for a long time. That's not going to change. There's not going to be an explosion of gays and lesbians becoming parents because we'd be able to get married, or enter into a civil partnership.

Gay parents do not have gay babies. Heterosexual parents have gay babies. How do I know? My parents are heterosexual and have been happily married for 36 years, and they had me. They also had two heterosexual daughters and a heterosexual son.

Finally, being gay is a trait we are born with. It's not a trait that dictates my life, and it's not something that should be a big deal. It's made into a big deal by people who choose to differentiate me from them because of it.

I'm proud of who I am - not as a lesbian, but as a person. It's disheartening to think that no matter how much I contribute to my family, community and society in general, all that good can be overlooked by people who can't see past the only thing that makes me different.

It's disappointing that no matter how good my relationship is with my partner, or how much I love her, it's not good enough to be recognised by my state or my country.

Would you like to hear any of your own comments said about your son or your daughter, your brother, sister or granchildren? Would you be happy for them to be excluded from accessing the same rights you have, simply because they're different from you?  

Next time you make comments such as the ones above, think about who you could be talking about and how it may affect them.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sunday Sesh #16 - Bee Sting

This Sunday's Sesh is brought to you by Bee Sting Honey Wheat beer, brewed by Barossa Valley Beer.

I've tried a honey-infused beer in the past - Beez Neez brewed by one of my favourite breweries, Matilda Bay - and I have to say, Beez Neez wins the battle of these two beers hands down.

Bee Sting by Barossa Valley Beer
If you like good head, this is the beer for you!

As you can see from the picture above, it poured like a soft-drink out of the bottle. Now I'm pretty gentle with my pour, but this foamed up like I was pouring it over ice-cream. The head was higher than the beer in the glass, so I had to wait until it settled a bit before I poured again. And when I poured the last of it, it foamed up again, the bubbles racing up the sides of the glass.

There's no real hint of the honey until you've almost finished, and the aftertaste lingers right off the bat. It starts to get better the more you drink, but the bitterness is quite a shock at first.

To be a little fair though, it suggests to drink this with spicey asian food or BBQ'd meats, and I can see how the bitterness would cut through something like a marinated steak, so I might give this another go next time we have a BBQ.

This Sesh marks the last Sunday before Christmas, which means Wifey and I have been busy doing odd jobs around the house (which is why this Sesh is late, again!).

Today, I played apprentice to Wifey's superior skills as a concreter/paver. That meant I did things like dropping globs of concrete onto bricks instead of in the cracks where it was meant to be, starting jobs and not finishing them, and not cleaning up properly when we were finished.

In return, Wifey sent me to Mitre 10 for a left-handed screw-driver and a long wait, gave me the shit jobs and cursed at me under her breath.

The girls supervised by finding the only shady spot under the wheelbarrow, and then dropping the ball at our feet wherever we walked.

Daisy supervises from the comfort of the wheelbarrow

We still have a million jobs to finish, but today we tackled some paving near our front gate. When we did the front fence, we ripped up the old concrete paving so we could grow grass, but that meant that we started to get a muddy patch where we came in at the gate.

We had a pile of bricks Wifey was hoarding from when she pulled down the back steps, so we thought we'd put our collective creativity in action (my brains and Wifey's brawn) and put in a pretty little entrance to our abode.

Wifey mixes the concrete
The division of jobs went like this -

  • Wifey dug the hole
  • I sorted the bricks
  • Wifey checked the bricks and sent me back for more
  • I got more bricks
  • Wifey checked the bricks and sent me back for "prettier" ones
  • I thought "stick it", but told Wifey we'd work with the bricks we had
  • Wifey set out the bricks
  • I re-set the bricks so they looked "rustic" rather then "linear"
  • Wifey rolled her eyes
  • Wifey mixed the concrete
  • I watched and played ball with Daisy and Rubes
  • Wifey showed me how to lay the concrete base and lay the bricks
  • I shovelled the concrete, dropping bits onto the bricks 
  • Wifey explained (patiently) why I shouldn't drop big globs of concrete on the bricks
  • I rolled my eyes
  • Wifey asked if I wanted to lay some bricks
  • I said no, I'm just the apprentice
  • Wifey asked could I mix some more concrete
  • I said, no, I'm just the apprentice, I don't know how to mix
  • I opened a bag of concrete and held the hose
  • Wifey mixed the concrete
  • I watched and played ball with Daisy and Rubes
Long story short, we managed to get the job done without too much drama, though Wifey tells me I started fading half-way through. It was hard though, coming up with the design, and after all my hard work I really did need a beer.

As you can see from the results below, we're pretty stoked with how we did. No more muddy entrance and one less job to do.

Our new front entrance

The finished product

So that's it from me for this Sunday. Next Sunday I'll be busy catching up with fifty or so of my closest rellies on Boxing Day at a BIG family reunion. I'll be prepared though and will have a special treat for you next Sunday, so keep an eye out for the next post.

Until next Sundays Sesh,

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Sunday Sesh #15 - Old Speckled Hen

This Sunday's Sesh brought to you by Old Speckled Hen, a UK brewed ale. This one was also a tip, by my mate in all things beer, Ang.
I bought a 6-pack of these, so I was hoping they were better than the last Pommy drop I had, Old Fart.

Old Speckled Hen Ale

This one is a dark golden colour, almost the colour of syrup. If you look closely at the bottle, you can see the gassy residue after the first pour.

It's thinness disguises it's heaviness. It's frothy in your mouth, kind of like when you drink softdrink after you've had ice-cream. The first mouthful has a distinct and immediate taste of toffee, and it has a lingering bitterness that changes to burnt toffee by the last mouthful.

It's not a bad ale this one for a Pommy beer, but it's not something I'd drink in a session. One or two of these would be enough - after that the bitterness would get too much. It's also one you could keep drinking even after it gets a little bit warm in the bottle or glass.

After finishing my first one, I switched to the Great Northern's I had in the fridge from last Sunday to enjoy the cricket with.

This third day of the second test marks fourteen more sleeps until Christmas, so I thought I would write about Christmas spirit this week. No, I'm not talking about the whiskey in the egg nog. I'm talking about the intangible stuff - the stuff we do for people just to make them feel good.

I was thinking back over Christmas's past in an effort to come up with something funny and witty to write this weekend, when a story basically fell into my lap.

Quiet literally, I was the subject of a little bit of Christmas spirit this last week.

To put the following story in context for you, I'm not a big fan of shopping or shopping centres at the best of times. Christmas just annoys the bejeesus out of me. Too many people walking too slowly, and kids on school holiays gravitate to shopping centres, milling around everywhere, being collective pains in the rear.

I sound a bit like the Grinch, but I really do love Christmas. I just don't like having to go out and shop amongst it.

Anyway, I was asked to run an errand for Wifey's Aunt, which meant heading into one of those painful shopping centres to pick up a book, and then pop it in the post. Simple really, unless you're me.

The girl who served me at the book store couldn’t find the book, until the lady I had spoken to on the phone came and served another customer and remembered me asking for it and where she put it.

Then for some inexplicable reason, I went onto autopilot and walked out the door and was half-way down the street when I realised that the post office was in the same building as the book shop. So, looking like a real goose I u-turned and went back inside and up to the post office.

I wanted to express post the package, but the post office only had HUGE express post bags and tiny document ones (very limited stock, annoys the heck out of me but it’s three blocks closer than the big PO). So I get a normal bag, fill out the addresses and go to stand in line (with the lunch rush of about thirty other people).

I've been suffering from sinus lately (thanks to the unseasonal crap cooler weather), so it wasn't surprising that I sniffled a little bit. The mix of perfume and deodorants in that small PO didn't help at all either. Anyway, my nose kept running a little so I fished around in my pockets but couldn’t grab the one and only tissue I had because it was underneath my phone - I have deep pockets.

I then did a very bad thing and sneakily just wiped with my finger, only to discover I had a nosebleed. I rush out to go to the toilets but realised that I hadn’t paid for the parcel. I'm standing there in the doorway, hand over my nose, probably looking like an idiot, and thankfully my common sense kicks in - sort of. I race over to the desk, ask if I can leave the parcel there and go to the toilet. She says that's no problem.

As I rush back out the door I realise I've never actually been to the toilets in this centre, and I have no idea where they are, so as I run out the door, I'm scanning around for the signs. Thankfully, they're on the same floor and just up a bit from the post office. I race off towards them, and there's a woman, walking slowly, in front of me. The passage-way to the toilets isn't exactly very wide, and there are people coming out as we're going in, so I can't get past without pushing her over.

Her self-preservation instinct must kick in because she turns, very slowly, and sees me rushing towards her. She puts her hand on the toilet door, and she holds it open for me, eyes popping and mouth open. I say a muffled thanks and rush into an empty loo. I plant myself on the seat, pull off wads of toilet paper and push them to my face.

Now, my nosebleeds can last a couple of seconds, or they can last nearly half an hour. They can go away, or they can come back multiple times, with a few hours. I'm hoping that it's a short one, and I can get it under control at least in time to post the parcel and get back to work. It can bleed all it wants there.

So about this time when I'm listening to flushing and hand-washing going on around me, I remember the parcel, sitting all alone on the counter. I start admonishing myself. While I hadn't paid for the envelope, I HAD paid for the book. I should have taken the book out of the envelope before I left, just in case, but I was so worried about not bleeding all over the carpet, I just wasn't thinking straight.

Thankfully, my nosebleed doesn't last long. I wait until I think all the stalls are empty (only a minute or two more) and go out to clean myself up. There's one older lady at a sink pedantically washing her hands, and going through her handbag. I casually walk over to a sink, pull out some hand towels, wet them down and start dabbing at my nose. I can see the old lady in the mirror looking at me - she does that little furtive side-ways glance like she's really curious but doesn't want me to see that she's trying not to look.

There's something so B-grade-movie about cleaning blood off your face in a toilet. The child part of me wants to turn to the old lady and ask "What are you lookin' at", just to add to the atmosphere. 

I also have to be extremely careful not to set my nose off again - once it bleeds, it can be set off again without a moments' notice - I have a very sensitive nose.

So I clean myself up (and the lady doesn't quite back out of the toilets, but close enough) and I head back to the post office. When I get back the parcel is gone! My worst nightmare has just materialised.

So I’m thinking “That’s just great! It’s Christmas for goodness sakes!”. Actually, the language was a little worse than that but you get the picture. So anyway, I go up to the girl and I ask her what’s happened to it. Apparently, a lady who was standing in line saw me rush past her with my hands to my nose, and she asked the girl what happened when she got to the counter.

And she paid for it! She left the receipt though, so I could be sure it was paid for. How wonderful!!

It was then I thought “Wow! It really is Christmas”.

So thank you to the lady who made my crap day a little brighter and brought a bit of Christmas cheer last week.
Wifey says I now need to do something good for someone else, and I will certainly be looking for that opportunity should it present itself.

This little episode made me realise two things:

1. I'm too much of a pessimist this time of the year, and I need to start acknowledging the good instead of bleating on about the bad.

2. It's always the smallest things that seem to matter the most.

That's all for this Sunday's Sesh, but I am curious - does anyone else have a story like this? I'd love to hear them.

Until next Sunday's Sesh,

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sunday Sesh #14 - Great Northern Lager

This Sunday's Sesh brought to you by Great Northern Lager, brewed by CUB.

It's also brought to you by a hot tip from my cousin Tiff.

Great Northern Lager
The thing about a clear bottle is that you have an immediate expectation that the beer inside it's going to be quite light, and that's about right with this one. It's crisp and refreshing and went down well while watching the cricket. I normally prefer something heavier, but this one surprised me.

It's quite thin, though not watery, so I could easily have a couple of these (and I just might since I bought a six-pack). At 1.1 standard drinks, I think this may be my new pick for "away" BBQ's. And it would definitely be one I'd be happy to share with a few mates. Cheap enough too considering my taste for more expensive boutique beers.
After a huge response to my last post (I had two months' worth of visitors to this site in the space of 24hrs), thanks to a big rant, I've decided to take it down a notch this weekend. By the way, thanks to everyone who shared the post and commented. I'm happy for you to share anything on here you think is good, or crap for that matter. That is, afterall, why I blog.

Summer has well and truly started. The First Test between the Aussies and Kiwis was a cracker - I found the ABC online broadcast and listened to it while I was at work for the first two days - and today I was finally able to sit down and watch it on the telly with a few beverages.

I'm a bit disappointed that it's all over in under five days, since I planned today and tomorrow around watching the cricket (ie doing nothing except watching and having a few beers).

However, I'm very happy to see the young bowlers doing well. Our future is certainly looking bright if we can get these boys to maintain some consistency. We'll never find another combination like McGrath/Warne, but we now have a couple of young quicks who we'll be able to start building a strong attack around. Nathan Lyon is also a find in the spin department. I think he's the first young spinner we've had in the side that hasn't been hailed as the new Warney. He has his own style and he's shown he's a great thinker.

Pattinson scoring the man-of-the-match was well-deserved I thought, since he built his attack well after a jittery start. I thought he had some good change-ups and proved that bowling to a plan no matter what's happening with the batsmen produces results.

The Kiwis on the other hand were a bit disappointing. They did well to make it to 295 in the first innings, but they should have cleaned us up for just over 300 which should have left them in for a good finish. I'm glad we got stuck into them early on Day Four, but gees, they could've put up a bit of a fight at least. They have to stop leaving the heroics to Dan Vettori.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they can come up with in Hobart. I think the conditions will suit them more than the conditions at the Gabba did. I'll also be looking forward to who the Aussie selectors pick for that Test, considering neither Hughes nor Warner fired. I think Hughes is sailing very close to the wind at the moment and he may be in a bit of trouble if Warner gets going.

The other thing I was impressed by was Clarke's captaincy during the match. He made some great fielding decisions, produced a great captain's knock with the bat, and made some great bowling changes. I still think he's living a bit in Ricky Ponting's shadow, and I think once Punter retires we'll see the best of Clarke.

I've never been a fan of Clarke, since we really do like our captains to be stoic and a little bit cranky even, and Clarke really doesn't fit that mould. But I think with the youngsters coming through now, we need a different type of captain. I think having the top job has added a different dimension to his game, and I think we're yet to see his best.

That's it for another Sunday Sesh. I'm off to hook into this Great Northern six-pack in preparation for going to Carols by Candlelight tonight with Wifey (and watch Wifey mows the lawn).

Until next Sunday's Sesh,

Friday, 2 December 2011

My life but still your choice

On Wednesday night, Wifey and I watched as our state politicians debated the Civil Partnerships Bill, and eventually, passed it. There was a lot of swearing, tantrums and face-palming - and that was just in our lounge-room.

The new laws won't come into affect until at least the new year, and maybe not for another six months at least.

The biggest affect it will have on Wifey and I is that when we register our civil partnership, we will be automatically granted next of kin status in our home state. But I don't want to talk about the benefits of the Bill's passing in this post. I want to address the lies, myths and prejudices still doing the rounds, and I want to take them to task.

I'm angry. I'm angry and upset, and feel sick. Why? Because of the bile and rhetoric spewed forth in the name of debate.

Firstly, because of my sexual orientation, you:

- question my parenting abilities
- question my ability to do my job
- question the stability of my relationship
- tell me the love I have for my wife can never be the same as a heterosexual couple
- tell me I'm mentally ill, sick, depraved, a pedophile
- compare my relationship with that of a human and an animal
- tell me there are bigger issues to worry about
- want a referendum to decide what level of legal protections I should have with my wife on my behalf
- want to decide on my behalf what choices I should have for my relationship

and you expect me to not take that personally?

Yet when I call you a bigot, homophobe, ignorant, naive, and afraid of change, that's not OK?

If someone completely unknown to you were to walk up to you and tell you that your relationship with your partner or wife or husband was irrelevant, or not important enough for you to have any say over their well-being if anything were to happen to them, what would you say?

If you'd been with your wife, husband or partner for thirty years, and they ended up in hospital, only for you to be told their legal next of kin (ie their blood-related siblings, parents or children) would not allow you to see them or make any decisions on their behalf, how would you feel?

That is essentially what you are telling me. That no matter how much I love my wife, or how we live our lives together, that in one terrible moment, our life together could become irrelevant, simply because my relationship is not recognised by law.

The only thing I want for my relationship is the same legal standing as my married family and friends. No more, no less.

Why is that too much to ask for? Why is that so hard to understand?

And don't come at me with all that crap about being discriminated against because of your faith and beliefs if I get to be married. You don't know the half about being discriminated against.

Ever been out to dinner with your significant other and been stared at because you're holding hands across the table?

Ever had to pretend your wife or husband was just your friend so as not to offend someone else?

Ever lose family or friends over your choice of partner or even because you told them of your sexual preference?

Ever had to listen to people talk about others in hateful, hurtful ways and not say anything for fear of recrimination?

Ever been scared for your life simply because of who you are?

I understand that if you believe in God, you are offended by my life. Offence is not discrimination.

My being able to legally marry my wife in no way impinges on your marriage. It doesn't devalue it. You won't have any less rights than you already have if I get to access them too.

I am a good person. My wife is a good person. Together, we make a better whole than we would individuals. We want to protect that, just like you do.

I don't ask that you agree with me. All I ask is that you judge me on my character. All I ask is that you allow me the same choice as you have to marry the one person of your choosing.

Is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Nanowrimo: Extract

So I'm all worded out. At just over 27,000 words, I'm done for the month. Quite an achievement, obviously not as good as I hoped, but I'll deal with what went wrong, and what went right, in another post.

I thought, since you've come along for the ride, that I might give you a taste of what I was writing about. As I said in an earlier post, I changed my story within the first few days, and I'm pretty happy with what I have down for the new one.

I think it has the potential for a life after Nano, and I have most of the major scenes that I imagined written. The plan is to put it away until after Christmas and concentrate on something else. When I pick it up again, I'll go through with a red pen and get rid of anything that immediately doesn't fit, and then re-write it, filling in the gaps, and bulking it out to (hopefully) around 70,000 words in the first few months of the new year.

Until then though, here's a small extract from my Nano novel. (Note: this is unedited - it is exactly as originally written, so apologies for bad sentence structure and typos).

Just a bit of background - Quinn and Luke are best friends in their final year of high school. As the result of an accident, Quinn has ended up in Luke's body. This scene takes place when Quinn finally returns to her own body. Unfortunately, this means that Luke has to die. This is the scene that ensues.

Everything came flooding back to me last night. I woke in the early hours of this morning to a feeling of dread. I was sweating, my heart palpitating and my breathing ragged. The doctor was sitting at the foot of my bed.

“Welcome back, Quinn,” he’d said. I immediately knew who he was and why he was here.

“I’m me again?” I asked.

“You’re you again,” he replied. I smiled. And then I realised that meant that Luke was no longer alive.
“I have someone here who insisted on talking to you.” He nodded towards the door. I looked over to see Luke standing there, leaning on the door frame. He was smiling at me, but he didn’t look like the Luke I knew. He looked somehow lighter. Peaceful.


“Hey, Quinn.”

“Luke!” I tried to sit up. Luke walked over to my bed and sat down on the chair beside me. He helped me sit up and then took both my hands in his.

“I thought you were…”

“I am Quinn. John let me come back just to say goodbye. We never got to say goodbye Quinn, and I couldn’t bear leaving you like that.”

Tears started rolling down my cheeks. I knew. All these weeks, I knew Luke was gone, but somehow, living in his body, even for a little while made him feel like he was still really alive.

“You have to go?” I asked. Luke nodded.

“So, is this where you tell me to be true to myself and live long and prosper or something?”

Luke laughed. “Something like that,” he said. “Quinn, I really want you to know that it was me who needed you. Not the other way around. You’re the brave one, Quinn. You always have been.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said.

“Do you remember the day we met?” he asked.

“Sure. You beat up Andy Fitzgerald for picking on me. That’s why I started hanging around you,” I replied. Luke laughed.

“You were the one who stuck up for me, Quinn. I was playing in the sand pit with some new cars I’d gotten for my birthday. Andy came along and took them. I yelled at him, and you just walked up to him and told him to give them back. He called you a girl. Do you remember what you said to him?” Luke asked.


“You said ‘I am not a girl’,” Luke said and laughed. I laughed too. What a funny thing to say. “Anyway,” continued Luke, “just having you there standing up for me made me brave enough to stand up for myself. While he was focused on you, I snatched my cars back out of his hands. He was so surprised. He went to hit me, but I got in first. I guess I made his nose bleed because I still had the cars in my hand.”

“I don’t remember it like that,” I said.

“I know you don’t, but I’ve never forgotten that day Quinn.” Luke smiled at me.

John cleared his throat. “Time, Luke,” he said.

“Listen Quinn, I know you’re going to have a tough time over the next few months, but I will be watching over you, I promise. I believe in you, Quinn. I always did and I always will. Never forget that.” Luke leant in and hugged me. It felt like I was hugging air. When he kissed me on the forehead, it felt like the tickle of a feather. When he stood back to look at me, I saw a single tear streak down his cheek.

“I have to go Quinn. I love you,” he said.

“I love you too, Luke,” I said. I watched as he turned and walked through the door.

As per usual, comments are always welcome. I'll release a few more extracts over the next few weeks.

Sunday Sesh #20 - My Lesbian Story brought to you by Cascade Blonde

This Sunday Sesh is brought to you by Cascade Blonde. I've had it in the cupboard for awhile from when I bought a Cascade sample pack before Christmas, and since I didn't want to review all of the Cascades at once, I left this one til now. Plus, a friend of mine said I should give it a go, so this review's for you, Alicia.

Cascade Blonde
Firstly, apologies for no Sunday Sesh last weekend. My real job, house stuff, business stuff and a prior engagement all conspired to whittle away most of my time over the last couple of weeks so that I ran out of it, and didn't get a chance to post a blog.
However, I'm back to the beer-reviewing this week.

So, Cascade Blonde.
This one's very fruity and crisp, slightly cloudy in the glass with a frothy head that slides down the glass as you sip. It's another one that could almost be mistaken for a shandy because of it's slight bitterness and very little after taste. It's something you could drink easily in a session and not realise how many you've had. Good one for a hot day.

This post was inspired by a young'un I know who came out to all and sundry a little while ago, via facebook, no less. I've known her since she was a shy thirteen year-old, and to see her (and the rest of my former soccer team-mates from long times past) grow into the confident and crazy woman she is now is wonderful.

I was in my early twenties when I discovered I was a lesbian (still am, but that's another story...)

It was at that moment I decided I would be a cat-lady - living by myself with a house full of feral cats in a derelict but eccentric house, terrorising children with my wild hair and icy stare.

Why? Because I would rather be single than run the gauntlet of lesbian dating. When you're a lesbian, the field of potential partners is vastly smaller than if you're straight. Plus, there's always the danger of falling for a straight girl or getting mixed signals from the object of your desire who isn't entirely sure if she plays for your team, or if she even wants to. (Again, another story for another time).

Granted, being a lesbian on the dating scene is probably easier than being a gay man on the dating scene. You're far more likely, as a lesbian, to get a positive response from the object of your desire should they be straight, than if you're a gay guy. Though the response of the object of your affection is in direct proportion with the size of the boyfriend, if she has one.

The other thing I realised early on was that it's pretty hard to come out when you're single. Quite simply, people tend not to believe you. They think it's a phase (though this can happen even if you are with partner), or that you just haven't met the right bloke yet. I realised pretty early on then, that it's far easier to just not say anything, unless asked.

Funny thing about these types of decisions when you're that age - something always happens to turn them upside down.

For me, that was meeting my wife. As she tells it, it was definitely not love at first sight. Me though? Well, she hid my beer (flirty little thing) and then after I cracked open a fresh one, the old one mysteriously reappeared. Kind of like when you're in primary school and the boy who likes you pulls your hair, not because he hates you, but because he wants you to be his girlfriend.

I figured she wanted me to be her girlfriend, so I pursued her relentlessly. Meaning: I rang her for a ride home at various times in the wee hours when I was blind drunk, and skirted around the issue of my feelings for her. Apparently, as often happens, all our friends knew we liked each other, but we were both too, well, immature I suppose, to admit it. One night, at the pub, we just kind of started holding hands, and it spiralled from there.

Since then it's been a whirlwind of big moves and overseas trips, a couple of false-start marriage proposals, a wedding, acquiring two gorgeous puppies and making a home together.

Turns out, my lesbian life is a lot different from the one I imagined when I was just coming to terms with my sexuality. Turns out, my relationship isn't really anything different from my sisters' relationships with their other halves, or my brother's with his girlfriend. All that angst early on about not being "normal" was wasted energy.

Now I have bills to pay, a bank to keep happy with regular house payments, and a wife to keep happy with my baking. Not to mention two dogs who act out like spoiled children when we don't spend time with them. How much more normal can you get?

I guess the lesson here is that if life throws you lemons, you can still have the white picket fence (if that's what you want).

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sunday Sesh #13 - Cascade Pale Ale

Today's Sunday Sesh is brought to you by Cascade Pale Ale.

This one was a light golden colour, and a little cloudy in the glass. Smells crisp and fresh, and went down well. Perfect for a stinking hot day on the Ridge. There was a slightly bitter aftertaste, but not too strong, and it didn't stick around.

I wouldn't say no to this one if someone offered me one.

So much to write about this week what with interesting happenings in Aussie cricket, as well as politics. But I want to start off with a rant - just a short one, I promise.

Does this tool make my butt look big? (Photo courtesy the Toowoomba Chronicle)

Every Saturday, there's a little section in our local paper called "Tradie". And every bloody weekend there's a chick holding a tool. This isn't just a gratuitous shot - it's an ad for a tool they do a little speil on. They tell you what it is, what it's used for, and who should use it.

For example, this one's called a "nibbler" (Hmm, on second thoughts, maybe the model is a good choice...) Tradies that could use it include "shed builders, roofers and sheet fabricators." Does she look like a shed builder? Or a metal fabricator?

So why does this annoy me so much? Well, I thought we'd grown out of this crap. It's not Zoo magazine afterall.

Besides, does it really make you take any more interest in the tool she's holding? Does it make you go "Oooh, I wonder what that tool does"? Do you even notice there's a tool there somewhere? (Yes, I'm talking about you Lisa.)

I'd be more impressed if they got a real tradie chick to show off the tools. At least she'd actually know how to use it.

I mean, there's no way she'd be able to use that tool with her nails. Plus, she's holding it wrong. And she doesn't even have any other tools in her tool belt.

Look, I know blokes dig chicks holding tools provocatively, but seriously? In a little regional newspaper? The only thing missing here is a little bit more cleavage to get the boys salivating over their morning coffee.

At least she's got protection though I suppose. Those big tools can cause serious injuries if you're not careful.

Ok, rant over.

Big news from Aussie cricket - we finally have a coach in South African Mickey Arthur.

Lots of people are up in arms at the thought of a non-Aussie taking the reins, but you know what? That just tells me that our stocks of home-grown coaches are very, very low. Besides, Mickey Arthur plotted our downfall as the South African coach last time the Proteas were out here. He's done some good things with WA, so I'm interested to see how he goes with rebuilding our team.

I'm hoping he starts leaning on the older players to maybe drop back to state cricket to mentor the younger generation and elevate some of the younger players that have been toiling hard and waiting in the wings for someone to die.

Thanks to a bag full of injuries from the tour of South Africa, we might get to see some of those young guns taking central stage against the Kiwis. Dave Warner looks to finally have his chance to prove he's not just a 20-over wonder-boy (and put some pressure on Phil Hughes), and we have some new quicks looking to make their mark with Ben Cutting, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson.

It's good to finally have some talent in our pace bowling stocks, but the big problem that still haunts us is injuries. And if the new coach can't work out some way to keep our best on the park when they're needed most, it's going to be a long time before we can climb back up to No. 1.

There is one burning question I have though - does having a South African coach mean that whenever the Proteas are playing we should respectfully cheer for them over their opposition, as long as it's not the Aussies? And does that mean that the South Africans should be doing the same, except in reverse?

What do you think? Happy for a South African to take the top job in Australian sport or not? And the other burning question - should Ricky Ponting call it a day and bow out gracefully in the second test in Hobart?

That's it from me for this Sunday's Sesh.

Until next Sunday,

Monday, 21 November 2011

Nanowrimo: Day 21 - Help!

So, here's the deal. Three days off has meant no more words added to my Nano novel, and I'm finding it hard to connect with the story again.
I've also realised I've been focussing too much on trying to make this story "good" and "readable" rather than just writing the damn thing and having fun. While I think this story has a chance at life after Nano, I've reverted to "pre-Nano writer" and been giving the story too much reverence. I need to get back to Super Writer mode, and fast!

What am I doing to fix this? I'm glad you asked. I'm going to throw my characters out of their comfort-zone.
Remember back when I made my random generator? I knew it would eventually come in handy some day (for something other than procrastination).

I've picked out a couple of traits from the "specials" box, and I want you to help me choose what I'm going to throw into my Nano novel, just to mix things up abit.

I'll give you a little bit of background, hopefully without giving too much away.

Quinn (17) and Luke (18) are BFF's in their final year of high-school. Quinn has just come out to Luke (who incidentally always knew Quinn was a lesbian, but for some reason, never told Quinn). He, of course, pays out on Quinn for her crushes, and makes bad lesbian jokes, as a BFF should do.

As a result of an accident, Quinn's soul ends up in Luke's body, so she gets to do things she wouldn't normally get to do. Things like peeing standing up, crash-tackling her arch-nemesis Josh who plays on Luke's football team (and who also happens to be the boyfriend of Quinn's biggest crush), and cracking onto girls without fear of getting slapped - or laughed at.

It stands to reason that while she's Luke, she discovers a secret Luke has kept hidden even from her.

My problem is - what is Luke's secret?

That's where you come in. I've put up a snap-poll to help me decide what Luke's big secret is. Feel free to offer up any other suggestions, or longer reasonings or comments, in the comments section.

I'll leave the poll up for 24hrs, and then start work on the next part of my Nano novel - tentatively titled "Luke's Secret" - tomorrow night.

The poll's up on the left, and closes at 7pm tomorrow night.

So get voting! And don't forget to tell your friends!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Sunday Sesh #12 - Cascade Stout

This Sunday Sesh brought to you by Cascade Stout.

I've cheated a little this week and also in order to get ahead over the next few weeks - I bought a gift pack from Cascade with four of their beers in, so I'll be reviewing them all over the next month. I've heard they make a good brew down in the southern-most state (something to do with the pureness of the water they reckon), and I wasn't disappointed with this week's choice.

"Hints of coffee and chocolate"

I'm joined in today's Sunday's Sesh with the Little Sister and the Bro-in-law, visiting from the Sunny Coast. They both had a taste of this. Bro-in-law isn't a beer drinker but thought this one was alright. Little Sis enjoyed this one. She said she couldn't taste the chocolate but it smelled like it had something in there. And she liked that the aftertaste wasn't overpowering.

(Caveat: Bro-in-law said Little Sis would like anything with alcohol in it - I'm not sure what the problem is.)

I say this is a pretty good stout. It pours well in the glass with a creamy head, but not too much. It smells a little of chocolate and if you swirl it around in your mouth you can get a hint of the coffee.

This is a pretty heavy one at 1.7 standard drinks - and it feels like it. It goes down well, but probably would be suited more to winter rather than summer. Very much an after dinner beer this one I think.

Having said that, I will be getting this one again.

I was reading over my first couple of Sunday Sesh's and thought I should do a quick update on the weather front, since the whole point was to bring on Summer.

I think it's worked. The temps have been climbing pretty steadily the last few weeks, and it's been perfect beer-drinking weather up here on the Ridge. We have a half-done deck which will be great once it's finished to enjoy a few cold ones with friends, and I've been getting a few tips for beers to review from friends - stay tuned - they'll be coming up soon.

The rising temps mean that Christmas will soon be upon us. And that means more beer-drinking, water slides, and catching up with rellies and friends.

Which we've been doing this weekend, which is why this Sunday Sesh is so short.

It's also why there's been no improvement on the word count for my Nano novel since Thursday. Plus, I had another migraine on Friday night - oh the pressure of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.

I was planning on being as close to 35k as I could by tonight, but that's just gone right out the window. I have another busy couple of weeks coming up so getting 50k is looking further and further away. I do like my story though, and I will get it finished regardless of whether I hit that 50k by the end of the month, so I will still be giving it a good crack. There might have to be some long nights if I want to score some more wagon wheels.

And Wifey has a secret reward planned if I crack the 50k mark so I do really want to get there to see what that is.

Until next Sunday's Sesh,

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Nanowrimo: Half Way

I've been a little bit lax the last couple of days with the Nano thing. We had a big weekend and I tried to find some time to write but it didn't turn out that way. Usually, I'd beat myself up for it and spend the next few days depressed because I couldn't be disciplined enough to get words down, but I tried something different this time around.

This time, I promised myself more treats.

And it seems to have worked. Rather than concentrating on hitting my 1,667 words/day goal, I decided that every time I cranked out another 1,000 words, I'd give myself a Wagon Wheel. It also helps that whenever I call out to Wifey that I've cracked another 1,000 words she calls back "Here comes the Wagon Wheels!" with great enthusiasm.

I've cranked out some pretty good numbers but haven't bested my current one-day high score of 2,680.

I think I'll give that a run though this weekend, but we'll see how we go.

I've just clicked over the 18k mark, which feels great. Especially when I realised that I still have so much of the story left to tell.

I'm still writing in scenes, and jumping around a bit and it still seems to be working for me. The last few days I've surprised myself by cranking out over 1,000 words each session even though I didn't think I had anything to write.

I've also been plotting (sort of) during the day - thinking about other things the characters might get up to and what other situations would logically (and sometimes illogically) follow from previous ones.

I have some great scenes coming up that I'm looking forward to writing, but I've been holding off on them so I can get started on them leading into week four. I think I have at least 20k in them alone, so the closer I can get to 30k by the end of this weekend the better.

Ideally, I want to be around 35k - not impossible but quite an ask considering I have to write as much as I have done already, but only over the next couple of days.

Reading the forums on the Nanowrimo site has been a great source of inspiration. I think it's the whole community feel of Nano that keeps me going. Writing can be pretty lonely sometimes, so when you jump onto a website and you're able to lament your lack of enthusiasm for your characters (or your very real threat of knocking them off and continuing on with another more interesting character), and you hear how others are coping, it makes you feel a little less alone in this crazy quest.

On that note, I'm off to recharge my vocabulary muscles and dream about what the cover of my nano novel will look like when it's published to great acclaim.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sunday Sesh #11 - Old Fart

So this week's Sunday Sesh is brought to you by Merriman's Old Fart english ale. (I can't actually find a website for this one, so this is the closest you get).

This is kind of a burnt amber colour, no head, and if you look closely there's a little bit of sediment. Tastes abit like burnt toast and smells like a country pub on a busy Saturday night.

Not a favourite and I struggled to get through this one. Too "roasted malt" taste for me, and the bitter after taste lingered longer than it should.

So this week in Nanoland saw me soar past the 15k word count, mainly thanks to a (as yet unfinished) funeral scene and my main character starting to speak her mind a bit more.

Without giving away too many details, one of my characters gets themselves killed. But they get a short-lived, high-action second chance, and my main character gets to discover a few things she never would have otherwise about this other character.

Anyway, it got me to thinking - if the people I've lost over the years had a second chance, what are all the things I would ask them now that I didn't get a chance to ask them before they died.

This is what I came up with.

What I would ask my Nanna:
  • How do you brew the perfect cup of tea (in a teapot and not using tea bags)?
  • Are you glad Richie Benaud is finally retired?
  • Would you have married Slim Dusty if you'd been given the chance?

What I would ask my Grandma:
  • Can I have your ginger nut biscuit recipe? (She'd probably say no, but no harm in asking).
  • Are you still watching the cricket with your eyes closed, stretched out on a recliner? (I know most of us have been watching cricket with our eyes closed lately).
  • Do I really suffer from the affliction known as "Kelly Nose"? (Those in the Silcox family know what I'm talking about).
  • Did you really stop at 7 kids because my dad was born - and therefore you didn't need to "try again" for another boy? Or because he gave you such grief you just couldn't handle another one?

What I would ask my cat Spook:
  • Did you really hate my sister that much?
  • Were you "catching" pieces of vinyl in my dad's shed for our amusement, or because you really thought they were lizards?

The things I will make sure I will pass on before I die:
  • The internet banking and email passwords to my wife.
  • My favourite baking recipes to my nieces. This does NOT include my potato bake recipe - sorry.
  • My unwritten story ideas to anyone who wants them - I can guarantee there'll be lots.
  • My unpublished memoirs - oh wait, I'll probably get them published just before I croak it, so you'll have to buy it (See kids? You will get something from my estate).

Things I won't tell people even if they beg:
  • The secret of my potato bake.
  • Where I hide my diaries.

So that's it for another Sunday Sesh. Short and sweet this one since we have a tupperware party today (yay!) and a friend's going away party this afternoon (boo!).

How about you though - if you could ask anyone who has died one question what would it be? And what is the one thing you would take to your grave?

Until next Sunday's Sesh,

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sunday Sesh #10 - Cricketer's Arms Lager

Today is a celebration Sunday Sesh, and I'm doing the honours with a Cricketers Arms Lager, brewed in Melbourne.

This one is light and crisp. If you look closely at the photo you'll see there's lots of bubbles. It's very light for a lager, and it smells sweet and fruity.

It goes down a little bit like a shandy, which isn't a bad thing on a hot day. The sweetness in this brew takes the edge off the bitterness.

If you like Bare Cove Radlers, you'll like this drop.

So, why the celebration?

In the last 24 hours, I've managed to write more words in one novel than I've written across 4 of them in the last 6 months. And it felt bloody good to finally get a good run on for once.

I guess the beauty of Nano is that it frees you from the constraints you normally find yourself under when sitting at the computer banging away on the keys, hoping that the words you form make some sort of sense.

I know I said the Sunday Sesh's during November would be writing-free since all my other posts would be full of my Nano-neurosis, but I stumbled across something last night that made me fly through my writing, and I wanted to share it with you.

Of all the things suggested to help get you through Nano, the one thing I struggled with was finding the right tunes. Most of the time I write with nothing but the sounds of cars going past, ambulances with sirens blasting, and the dogs barking incessantly at people walking too close to the fence. (You can see why I get so much work done under those circumstances). On the odd occasion I do have some music on while I attempt to get words on the page, it's normally something like Enya. I have a bad habit of actually listening to the music and singing along to it, bopping away at the keyboard and not actually typing anything, so any music without words, or with words I can't understand is good.

However, last night a song jumped out at me while I was writing and it made me sit up and think. I stopped typing and listened to the song a few times over, and I realised that it embodied the essence of my story. The feeling I got when I listened to that song and thought about where my plot was heading was just magic.

I got goosebumps, and new plot points began forming in my brain. My words came more easily and my characters jumped to life. No longer were they skimming along on the edges, blurry in my mind and doing meaningless things in an attempt to move the plot forward. They were taking on lives of their own. I could see the settings as clearly as if the characters were me. Instead of sounding like they were talking under water, their voices became much clearer.

I began to dig deeper and started asking them some hard questions.

That's all well and good for my plot, but the thing I'm really happy about is that I am much more excited about writing than I have been in a long time. Regardless of whether I hit the 50k at the end of this month or not, the one thing I will take away from Nano (even at this early stage) is that I need to make sure I stay connected with my characters, and I need to make sure that they're following their true paths, and not the ones I think they should be following.

And finding a theme song early on should be a priority.

Having said all of that, I should be writing. I still have a huge amount of words to get down to reach 15k - not likely but I'll give it a good shake.

And for everyone wondering, my Nano-novel's theme song is "I Will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan. If you listen to it, you'll discover what type of novel I'm writing. I just hope I can do the story, and my characters, justice.

Until next Sunday's Sesh,

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Nanowrimo: Day Five - 10%

Word Count: 5,772

Day five and I'm still struggling, but it's getting easier. I spent most of today procrastinating - grocery shopping, helping Wifey out with some small renos and house-hunting.

I did get in an hour of good writing time though, and got just over 1,400 words down. My goal of 15k by COE tomorrow night is a long way away to say the least, but if I can get somewhere close I'll be happy.

I'm measuring my successes in small steps at the moment - just sitting down at the keyboard and making my characters do something (anything!) is a success at this point. I've also been reading the Nano forums and pep talks and doing little bits of reading in between to keep me in the right frame of mind.

I'm not ashamed to admit that more than once last night I wanted to walk away from the keyboard and throw it in completely. Instead, I went and made myself a coffee, ate a piece of chocolate from my treat stash, and asked myself what is the story that I really want to be writing.

Turns out it wasn't the same one I'd started on Tuesday night. Go figure! Half the words I've written so far belong to that story, and I'm still counting them in my tally since they're still words on a page I didn't have at the start. If I manage to get past the 50,000 words though, I'll totally discard them at the end.

So what happened when I came back in, re-caffeinated and more determined? I thought about the essence of the story I started and what I wanted to say. I have some great scenes written that will hopefully end up in another book some day, but they're just not right for this one. And they're just not right for the theme of the story I really wanted to write.

So, I put all my characters in a line-up. I threw some darts and picked a couple, and then did some what-ifs. I ended up changing my main character to a girl, her best friend to a boy, and tossed in a few elements from the original plot just to make things interesting.

So far, in the roughly 3,000 words I've written in the new improved Nano-novel, I've managed to pull out no less than six different extra plot points and discovered some things about these characters I never knew before. There's skeletons in closets and secrets galore.

And yes, someone is still going to die. At the moment, it's a roll of the dice who it's going to be, and not even my characters know at this point. Which is probably a good thing - they'd react differently if they knew they were going to cark it.

I'm heading back to it to see if I can hit 7-8,000 words by COE tonight.

Before I go though, a big shout out to everyone who's seen me pop up on facebook or in person, or had texts from me the last few days and asked "Shouldn't you be writing?" Thanks guys.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Nanowrimo: Day Three - Small Successes

After a slow start on Day One, I finally managed to get in over a full daily quota of 1,684 words. That brings my total word count on Day Three to 3,426. (Day Twos' count was 1,207). Still short of the 5,000-ish I should be, but I'm happy to be gradually building up the word count each night.

I struggled early last night to make any sort of headway, so I decided to change tact a little bit and just let one of the characters tell me the story from their point of view. It turned out to be the right thing to do. Changing from third person ("he/she") to first ("I") also made a huge difference. Sam, (my character), turns out to be a bit of a loser, but he tells a great story.

So I decided to let him keep going tonight and he didn't disappoint. I'm not sure how many words I can drag out of him, but I'm happy to let him prattle on. I discovered a couple of little plot points I didn't know existed that I'll be happy to incorporate somewhere along the line. All in all, it seems to be setting things up nicely, and Sam keeps throwing up questions that need to be answered further down the track. Hopefully, (and this is a bit of a spoiler), he doesn't get himself killed before he tells me what happens.

The next big goal for my word count is to hit 15,000 words by C.O.E (close of eyes ie bed-time) Sunday night, which means getting in close to 4,000 words each for the next three days. Not impossible, but I have a lot of time on my hands this weekend, and I'm primed to pull an all-nighter tomorrow night with the assistance of some strong, hot coffee.

Until then, I'm off to bed. Some of us have a real job to go to in the morning.

Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Nanowrimo: Day One

Goal: 2,000
Word count: 535

Not as good as I'd hoped, but better than no words. I only got time to write at about 8pm, and had to shut myself away in the bedroom since our visitors are still here. I hate being unsociable.
Very aware that wifey needs to go to bed, so wasn't able to concentrate well at all and ended up only getting in an hour.

I made two different starts, which will probably translate into two separate chapters and fleshed out some early ideas.

I'm hoping with some more time tomorrow night I'll get more done. I have a goal to be at or around 10,000 words by Sunday night which will put me slightly ahead, so I'm going to shut myself away for a few hours at a time, and maybe have a late one Friday night.

I've realised that I'm really going to have take advantage of my weekends and Mondays in order to hit 50k words by the end of the month.

No word count widgets available yet, but will stick one up as soon as they do.

Time for some rest, and hopefully a better count tomorrow.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Sunday Sesh #9 - The Sesh With No Beer

Sorry about no Sunday Sesh this week. I'm still not overly good at this pre-planning thing. I'm blaming Nanowrimo, since you're not supposed to plan too far ahead in order to get the best experience possible.


Unplanned visitors + planned visitors + housework + reno's = Full house and no time for blogging.

The simplest solution would have been for me to do the post early, and then just add the beer review before I posted. Not for me this business though. What if what I wrote on (say) Wednesday for the post was no longer relevant on Sunday? I'd have to completely re-write the post anyway.

I thought I could sneak in a quick post, review my beer and just write some crap about whatever was happening that interested me and then go be sociable.

It certainly did not work out that way.

Plus, it's the day before Nanowrimo starts, my work week starts tomorrow and I'll have visitors until Wednesday. I am NOT going to get my head-start I was hoping for.

On top of that, we have the tupperware party and a going away party for friends in two weeks that wipes out almost a full day. I have the next weekend free, and then we're in Brisbane both weekends after that.

So I was wondering how this month was going to work with such an unproductive start and so much other stuff on. For a few days I tossed around just dropping Nano until next year, and I also tossed around dropping absolutely everything else except my real job.

I've decided that even though this month is one of the most hectic we've had all year, I'm still doing Nano because no matter how much I could have tried to get a fully free month, something would have come up to throw a spanner in the works.

So this is how it's all going to go down this month. Bear in mind these are your rules as much as they are mine, and I apologise in advance for dropping off the radar for the next 30 days.

Things I am NOT doing (or restricting to next to nothing) for the next month:

Answering the phone - I'm giving Wifey my mobile phone when I'm at home. From tomorrow, Wifey will be my secretary after 5pm. All texts and phone calls will go through her. I can call and text to my heart's content between 8.30am and 5pm, and because I'm at my real job between those hours, it means not very much at all. So unless you or someone else is dying, you're going to have to get through my secretary first.

Facebooking and blog-reading - I'm restricting my facebooking and blog-reading, and will only allow myself to jump on if I reach my word counts for each day. If I'm behind from the previous day, I'll need to catch up on those words as well as do that day's word count before I can access the net. I will, however, post a link to the blog whenever I post. If you catch me on facebook, and there's no post on the blog, flick me a message and ask what I'm doing on there. Alternatively, poke me and tell me to "GET WRITING DAMMIT!"

Watching TV - No TV. Not even the news in the afternoon. I'll be setting the timers tonight to tape everything I would normally watch. There are no if's or but's on this rule. Even if I hit my word counts every day, I won't be watching anything on the idiot box. Sitting down in front of the TV in December, catching up on all my shows, will be my reward for getting through the next 30 days, regardless of whether I hit that 50k or not.

Restricted Twitter - Why restricted and not just banned? Because I want to see how the other #nanowrimo's are doing since it's my first year. They've been getting pretty excited lately, and so far I've just watched and not tweeted too much. I may get in on the conversation as the month progresses though. I'll see how things go.

Staying off the internet - This one's a tricky one. I want to get onto the Nano forums, but I will only allow myself to do that after I've hit my word counts. I will only get online for that though. Any research I think I may have to do for the novel I'll keep track of in a notebook, and if the Nano novel turns out to be ok, I'll sort it out then. I can get a bit of an online fix to read newspapers etc at work before I get started and at lunch-time, so this won't feel too restrictive.

There are probably other things I'll be giving up or restricting over the next 30 days, but those are the major ones.

Since this post is quite long enough, I'll leave over the things I will be doing during Nano for the next post, when I give my first report from the trenches.

Until then, I'm going to try to relax and not think about what lies ahead.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

One small step for Gays....

On Tuesday night, Wifey and I watched a live telecast of Qld Treasurer Andrew Fraser introducing a private members' bill called the "Civil Partnership Bill."

While this in no way provides what marriage would provide at the federal level, it is a small step forward to having our relationships recognised in some form, and also shows that our state government is serious about ending discrimination.

What I admire most about Andrew Fraser, and the other MPs who have come out in support of this bill, is that finally, someone is standing up and saying  they are just doing "what's right."

As a result of the introduction of this bill, and watching a youtube video released by Gus Johnston (you can see that here: Gus Johnston: The reality of homophobia in sport), Wifey and I had a discussion about what the Civil Partnership Bill means to us.

We've already had our Big C (commitment ceremony) in front of family and friends, fully aware that it in no way conferred anything legal onto our relationship. The fact that we could soon be able to have our relationship legally recognised by our own state means a lot more to us than we first thought.
I think Wifey said it best. She said "it's personal". When people say they don't understand the obsession "us" gays have with marriage, it's because they don't understand what it's like to grow up being gay.

They don't understand how lonely it can get trying to hide a part of you that shouldn't really matter.

They don't know how it feels to be closeted, and to not be brave enough to stand up to people when they use derogatory terms to make other people feel bad, all the while not realising they're actually talking about you.

They don't get how much courage it takes to tell the people you love and care about that you're just that little bit different to them, and risk losing them in the process.

Or how every day of your life, you have to make assessments on the fly of people you meet to decide whether you tell them that your partner is of the same sex because you're thinking of their feelings and not your own. Or to not mention anything at all that might let on that you're gay for fear of ridicule or condescension.

To hear people you don't know make judgements about your character, based only on stereotypes and ignorance, and about such a small part of your being, and then expect you to not take their opinion personally.

All of these things combine to make you feel like you're less of a person than your straight sisters, brothers, parents and friends. It makes you feel that no matter how good you are as a person, how much you contribute to your family, community and society, that you are not as worthy as a heterosexual simply because of the person you fall in love with.

Wifey and I discovered something very important today. We discovered it's apathy from people like us, who stand by waiting for those people who have the power to change things to do what's right, that is the reason for nothing getting done.

We are not activists. We are two people in a community who are discriminated against. And I am saddened to think that it is partly my fault for not calling people on the things they say and do that hurt me deeply. I have never had the courage to stand up and fight, because I really didn't understand that I should, or could.

So what are we doing about it? We are going to see our local member to let him know that we are proud of him for standing with Andrew Fraser, and for doing what is right. We are going to ask him what it is we need to do to make people realise how this one piece of legislation will have such a positive effect on so many peoples' lives. We are going to stand up and say that it's not ok to treat us any differently, and that we are the same as any other couple in this state and in this country. We are a loving, committed couple and we want the same things as every other loving, committed couple, which includes the legal protections that relationship recognition affords.

I have never asked anything of my family and friends except for love and acceptance. However, if you do want to help this change come about, and if you do want Wifey and I to be treated no differently to you and your wife/husband, you can do one simple thing, and that is to go to your local MP, write, email, whatever, and let them know that this legislation is important to you and let them know why.

The simple act of Wifey and I being able to register our relationship as a legally married couple can, will mean the world to us.

And for those of you who are wondering, yes, there will most likely be another Big C to celebrate.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Nanowrimo: The Panic Begins

Nanowrimo starts in a week, and up until yesterday, I wasn't overly excited. Why? Because after re-thinking the 50,000 words in 30 days pledge, I realised just how bloody crazy that is.

What the hell was I thinking?

I have my Nano novel idea ready to go. I've deliberately been not researching and not doing character profiles (not too indepth anyway) and not overthinking the plot. I am basing my Nano novel on four basic plot points. I have the start and end points, and a rough idea (if only in my head) of what could happen in between.

And yet to be able to write all of that, in at least 50,000 words and in 30 days whilst still working four days a week, and trying to maintain some semblance of a life?

I started hyperventilating. My chest began to tighten, and I thought I was going to have some sort of panic-induced attack of writer-self-doubt. Wifey would come home from work to see me balled up in the corner of my study, rocking back and forth, muttering incoherantly.

So what did I do? I made myself a strong coffee in a big mug, and sat outside in the sunshine on the deck. Then, in a caffeine-induced haze of bravado, I came back inside, cleaned off my white-board, wrote down the bare bones of my Nano plot, and then started writing in my Nano diary.

I wrote down all the crap that my self-doubt was trying to sabotage me with, and made myself some pretty easy goals. I thought about my long-term writing goals and wrote them down too. I realised that there are two possible scenarios that could happen by the end of November:

1. I could end up with a crap-load of dross in 50,000 words


2. I could end up with no novel

And the worst case for me would be to end up with nothing. It is afterall what I've started with. If I manage to do this, regardless of what happens at the end of it, I will be 50,000 words closer to having a publishable novel.

So the decision is made - at least for today - that I will forge ahead, and in seven days time be sitting eagerly at my keyboard, typing out the first word of my 50,000 word Nano masterpiece.

I hope you can come along for the ride.

Now, I'm off to work out what treats I want to fill my study with as an incentive to write. At the end of November, my head will be 50,000 words lighter, but my body may well be 50,000 words worth of treats heavier.

This is the first in a number of posts over the next 37 days about Nano. If you couldn't give a flying frog about my Nano journey, I'm totally happy for you to come back after it's all over. I still intend on doing my Sunday Sesh posts though, and promise to make them a Nano-free zone.