Thursday, December 30, 2010

Summing up the year and three more reviews

What have I accomplished this year? Well... I had a disappointing fragment from a short story published in a student magazine that, given the opportunity, I'd probably remove, although I'm sure no one even noticed it in the first place. Now, I guess I sound like I'm being an ungrateful shit, and I know at one point, I would have thought, a publication's a publication, that's an accomplishment in itself. I guess from last year I've made more of an endeavour to send my writing out to more magazines, to more competitions, I've just had no results that I'm actually proud of. I'm still waiting to hear back from a couple more things, but it's been a while and I have serious doubts as to whether they will go anywhere. I would probably say that I'm a writer who hates compromise, yet I love the challenge to be quirky and unusual and different. That's something I'm not sure your stock standard literary magazine caters for. However, I'm still waiting to get feedback on my latest reject from a couple of months ago, so I'm just guessing. But I think it feels better to think that I've been rejected based on personal tastes, rather than general incompetence/lack of talent, however bitter it is, still, to be rejected over matters as trivial as personal taste. But I guess I should just buck up and move on.

As this year comes to a close, I think I've got a lot to boast about in terms of my academic accomplishments. If I continue studying like I have this year, over the course of the next year and a half, I'll be right on target for graduating with honours a year after that. And the creative writing classes I've taken this year have really allowed me to open up my writing into media I wouldn't usually write in. In addition to the short stories I've written this year, I've written a small collection of poetry, toyed around with some theatre scripts, and fucked around with zines, spoken word poetry, novel writing, novella writing and the bones to a short film script. Some of my more ambitious projects will (hopefully) push onward into 2011, where the stuff I've completed will potentially work their way onto submission piles belonging to various magazines. And, of course, everything works as a learning curve. I'm always looking for new ideas, new perspectives, interesting new techniques and styles to mess about with and just create. I'll probably keep up the spoken word poetry here and there. The Perth Poetry Slam competition is on in February and I'll probably put my name down for that.

So I guess I've got a pretty clear picture for what I want 2011 to hold for me. First semester at uni should be a breeze. I know it's not ideal to adopt that mentality, but I'll be in my third year, and my first semester consists of two first year courses and two third year courses, one of the latter is external, so there'll be a lot of self-taught material, which I'm more than ok with. But on the same page, I'm also looking forward to plunging right into the heavy stuff in the second semester. I've got my creative writing supervised project then, as well as three other third year units. But I guess my two main goals for the year are to get my first book published and to make my film. Both are not easy tasks. I've been sitting on both ideas for a while now, and I've taken tentative steps forward with both of them. I've had a brief word with the publisher I'm looking to go with, and my next step there is coming up with a workable 25k word draft. The film is a little more involved. More collaborative, I mean. The more I think about it, the more difficult it seems, especially since I'm one of those people who likes to aim high and either produce something top quality, or not do anything at all. I often get caught half way between, so I guess that's not really an accurate depiction of my creative juices at play, more so a mentality than anything else.

But anyway, so many things, so easy to get bogged under. I'm glad that I've been able to read as much as I have over the past few months. I think over the past six months I've read about 23 books. Maybe more. Short books, but books, nonetheless. I've ordered a few more that should hopefully be arriving shortly into the new year, but for now I should probably catch up to date with my reviews.

Fishy Fleshed, by Carlton Mellick III:

I read this in a couple of days. By now, I've read a few of Carlton's books. I can see four on my bookshelf. This one grabbed me with the immediacy of Satan Burger. It's got a strong narrative style. It's narrated by a simple, yet complex minded individual. In a vastly different society in the future, a group of scientists try to go back in time to find Jesus. It's weird and crazy, and while I would use those two words to describe the last Mellick book I read (and probably most, if not all of his books), this book really comes into its own with its written style. The narrator is someone to really connect with. His illustrations are utterly incomprehensible, but it builds up a sense of otherworldliness that the main character is most definitely not in sync with our society. And he's not in sync with his society either. I would say that Mellick has crafted something genuinely unique and special with this book. It's not as crude or violent as some of his other books. It's still got that bizarro vulgarity to it, but it's a bit more... sophisticated. Like a bizarro sci-fi version of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time'.

Shatnerquake, by Jeff Burk

This book, at about 80 pages, is a bit of an afternoon read. It's not ground breaking or thought provoking stuff. It's a fast paced action about William Shatner fighting a bunch of characters he's played. It's short, it's energetic, it's a fun read. There's not really much more I can say about it other than it's not a bad book. It's something you might read to kill an afternoon. It's got some really killer moments and the plot is unusual and compelling, and when I finished it, I wasn't sure if I wanted more or if I was all Shatnered out. But yes. It's an entertaining read.

Jack & Mr. Grin, by Andersen Prunty

This book took me a while to read. Considering it's only about 170 pages long, it took me a while to read. I think it was the cover that disturbed me most. It was either that or the fact that it's the first bizarro horror story I've read and I wasn't sure of what I was getting into. I should mention now that the cover on my book is different to the cover pictured. I was a little disappointed to be honest. But after I got into it I just felt even more disturbed. This Mr. Grin guy is one pretty sadistic son of a bitch. It took me a while to decide whether I liked this book or not.

It wasn't until I could see a feeble light towards the end of this dark and tortuous tunnel that I picked up my reading pace. I found that, yes, I did like this book. It was sick and twisted, sure, and it made me feel uncomfortable. But I think that sometimes that really makes a book work. Goosebumps is child's play, this stuff is not for the squeamish. It's also wild and surreal, yet oddly logical. And it didn't have a cop-out cliffhanger ending that a lot of horror  books/films do, so I feel like Mr Prunty was offering me his heartfelt congratulations by the end of the book, and I felt that, despite the torment (well, mild discomfort) he put me through, I really quite enjoyed this book. It was a bit touch and go for a while, but when things got rollin, there was no turning back.

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