Friday, May 11, 2012

Oh Mr Bunny, how I have changed

Not another review or my usual blather, not even a rant. This time I simply have a small reflection on how we change, or at least how I have changed.

I'm originally a country boy. Not growing up on the farm as such but by my teens I knew how to shoot and as I grew older, I liked hunting mainly for rabbits and foxes. But that was more years ago now than I really care to recall.

A few minutes ago, here on campus at the University of Canberra, feeling like a change from my coffee brewed in the plunger I wandered over to the cafeteria to grab a refill before they closed the coffee machine off for the day. This was later afternoon. As I was walking back to the building housing the graduate research student office, I paused to watch some rabbits.

Now rabbits are an introduced species in Australia. They are officially feral. In the bad old days, we were in a state of seemingly perpetual rabbit plague and despite reductions in numbers due to introduced disease control, they are still not that hard to find. So it is not surprising that we have a few here and there on our quite ruralised sort of campus with all its open ground, shrubbery etc.

While watching the rabbits, it occurred to me just how much I have changed. The desire to grab the rifle and start letting rip a few head shots is long gone. After the hideously premature death of my better half in 2004, any such remaining desire to go and kill things just shrivelled away. My rifles had already disappeared during the guns buy-back scheme in Australia in the 1990s. Not that I had anything fancy, just repeater and semi-automatic 22s. The licence had long been allowed to lapse.

In all honesty, if I had still had a firearm of some description around the house back when I was cracking up badly, I probably would have blown my brains out. So Prime Minister John Howard actually did me a favour there (possibly depending on your point of view).

Once whenever I looked at rabbits, I assessed how old they probably were (the amount of reddish fur is a rough guide to increasing age) and how hard a shot it might be. Now, I was just watching them feed, admitting quietly to myself that yes, they're still strictly speaking vermin, but there was something peaceful about the sight of them quietly munching on the grass, not overly worried by the presence of a few students wandering around. Then a young kit (the correct name for young rabbit) dashed out. It seemed so harmless and vulnerable. Exactly what did I used to enjoy about giving these animals the lead pill treatment in the past - a .22 calibre lead pill injected with great velocity?

It seems that I have indeed changed.

Now if you have an opinion on what I'm blathering about or even just feel like saying hi, then don't be afraid to leave a comment or post something to me via Twitter or Facebook. I don't bite - at least not always.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

BOOK REVIEW - The Mancode: Exposed

One of the good things about the wonderful new world of e-books is that you can splurge on things that you may not have in the past. And there is no way I would have splashed out the spondoolicks for a harcopy version of The Mancode:Exposed, with the justification that it ain't my thing. And I would have missed out. But I can live with paying a princely sum of $2.99 for the e-book and having a bit of a read here and there on my Kindle emulator on the laptop - that's right, I don't have an e-reader. Actually I didn't pay $2.99 at all as there was a freebie release for a while and I got in there. But you will probably get the general idea.

In all honesty I cannot now remember just where I first came across this. I have a vague recollection of Rachel Thompson writing a guest blog post somewhere that lead to me grabbing a copy of The Mancode. I read a couple of pages, had a snigger and left it sitting to one side in the mass of electrons on my harddrive. I now wish I hadn't left it sitting there unattended for so long.

Rachel Thompson has a razorsharp wit with an edge so keen that she surely leaves trails of blood around behind her. I kept laughing while asking myself "did I really just read that?"

Some people will not like it, forgetting that this is satire, it is humour. The Mancode has a really biting edge to it that made me want to start writing the male response to it all. And yes, there are references to penis and vagina. And sometimes you are slapped in the face with all the subtlety of being thumped with a dead fish. You have been warned. But don't let that put you off grabbing a copy for a read.

Definitely worth clicking on the image or other link to get your own copy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekly Inspirations - Week 1

 Jessica Kristie, , is an author and poet in the US. Jess recently released a new book, Weekly Inspirations for Writers Creators. Having purchased this e-book and had a flick through the collection of 52 sets of thoughts on inspiration and motivation, I decided to work through them as best I can, sharing my thoughts etc in this blog.

So here we are, off and running.

 Week 1

Week 1 is about approval, approving of yourself, about reminding us whose opinion really counts. Jess asks us to reflect on things that have made us proud.

I have had a history that heads into the dark side of things at times, having fought depression and an alcohol problem. Perhaps not surprisingly, I don't always find it easy to identify things that I am necessarily proud of. But there are a few. I think.

Jess insists that the one whose opinion really counts is you. Of course there is a limit to how far that goes. But in a creative enterprise like writing, your opinion really is the one that counts. As people like Stephen King insist, as writers we are writing for ourselves. So there is my first thing to keep in mind - when it comes to my writing, the ultimate person to really be kept happy, is me.

So what things am I proud of?

A little while back, someone whose opinion I respect, was quite complimentary about two stories of mine in a hopefully-soon-to-be-released self-published collection, enthusing over how he was able to so easily see the stories I was telling. That meant I was making the sort of connection I was aiming for and I think is something to be quietly proud of.

In recent times I have submitted a couple of stories to monthly competitions run by Spinetinglers in the UK. One of these came second in a comp, then the next one came first. Both placements paid money, which is always nice, and I received some good feedback from readers, both on the site and fia social media. Making that sort of connection is also something to be quietly proud of.

In both cases above, I also have ask myself, could I have possibly done anything better with any of these stories? In brutal honesty, yes, I could have done better - a word here, a phrase there, more creativity in the way in which I structure my  narrative.

So there we have it - my week 1 reflection.