New Short Story: Eternal Death

Eternal Death was a short story I wrote for a contest in 2014. I didn’t win but I ended up with a rather unique story that I quite like. In many ways it feels like the beginnings of a greater story. One day I may extend this into a full novel, as I quite like the world and its characters, but at the moment it remains a short story.

I hope you enjoy it.

Eternal Death ]

Australia Day: Yay or Nay?

FlagsAustralia Day is our national holiday. It’s a day to celebrate how awesome Straya is… at least it used to be. There’s a growing movement to move Australia Day, or even get rid of it all together. And, in my opinion, its all wrong. I’ll explain why in a moment, but first, a history lesson for my non-Aussie friends.

If you ask the average Australian why we celebrate Australia Day on January 26, they will say its the date the First Fleet arrived in Australia (the first fleet being the first 11 British ships to come here. It’s our ‘Mayflower’.) Except, it’s not. The First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay between January 18 – 20. Botany Bay, as it turned out, is not a very nice place and they quickly realised it would make for a horrible settlement. They spent about a week sailing up and down before they found Sydney Cove. January 26 is just the date a few guys got out in a little row boat and ‘claimed’ the country for the British Empire. It wasn’t even an official settlement until February 7.

Anyway, lets get back to reality. Over the last few years accusations of cultural insensitivity have marred the usual Australia Day celebrations, since it marks start he British Invasion, except… it doesn’t. January 18 is when the first ship arrived, and the first actual conflict wasn’t until May. So here’s my thoughts. I agree that we need to remember the past, but I don’t think we need to get rid of Australia Day to do that. Why can’t we have an Invasion Day as well as Australia Day, not instead of?

People seem to forget how multi-cultural Australia Day is. Most of my Aussie friends are from families that came here after the settlement of Australia. In fact, a hell of a lot of people have immigrated here in recent years. Australia Day is about them too. It’s not just about the history of blacks and whites in Australia, its about celebrating what an awesome country this has grown into. Yes, we started in a bad way, but Australia has turned out to be quite a cool little country and I think we deserve to celebrate that. I think it’s important to remind people of this. We tend to forget how good we have it here. Most of us take the country for granted, so I think it’s important to use Australia Day to remind Aussies of what an awesome country we have. Australia Day is for being grateful for the present and hopeful for the future.

As for the date itself… well if Australia Day was moved, I wouldn’t be too fussed. As long as we still have it, then its totally fine. But, excluding history for a moment, January 26 is a convenient day for a holiday. Its the end of the school holidays, near the end of Summer and the last time the entire family can conveniently get together for a celebration before the regular year starts. Having said that if it is moved I wouldn’t really care. I mean, there’s a severe lack of public holidays towards the end of the year. Make it October or September, we need a break around then anyway. Just don’t get rid of it all together. Australia Day is important.

I understand where the objectors are coming from. I do think an ‘Invasion Day’ is necessary, although if it were up to me I wouldn’t call it that. ‘Aboriginal Day’ sounds much better. I just worry that we’re in danger of being too negative. We shouldn’t send the message that white Australians should be guilty for what happened when none of us were alive when it happened. We shouldn’t send the message that Australia is bad and Australians should be ashamed of themselves.

I do think you can commemorate the past in a positive way. There are inspiration stories to tell that almost nobody knows about. And as an example, I’d like to introduce you all to Pemulwuy. Pemulwuy is a suburb of Sydney and is named after an Aboriginal warrior who started a resistance movement against the British settlement of Australia. Honestly, he was a god damned superhero. He could run faster than anyone, fight better than anyone, throw spear more accurately than anyone. You can read the Wikipedia page if you want to know his whole story, it’s too long to include it all here. There’s also the book “Pemulwuy: The Rainbow Warrior” by Eric Willmot. But here’s my favourite part of his story.

Governor Phillip ordered Lieutenant Tench to do something about this annoying Pemulwuy guy, so on December 14, 1790, Tench and some marines set out to track him down. Now first of all, there’s no way a bunch of white guys are going to track down an Aboriginal in their own land, so I feel like this expedition was doomed to fail from the start. Naturally they found no sign of him whatsoever. On December 22 they tried again, and at 2am in the morning they reached Wolli Creek. They tried to cross it, but got stuck in the mud. Lieutenant Tench himself was trapped waist-deep in mud and had to be pulled out to land with the end of a tree branch. Their weapons were damaged by the mud, so they were forced to trudge back to Sydney empty-handed, defeated by mud.

Basically Pemulwuy was an awesome, inspirational man. He got shot in the head and continued fighting. Hell, his skull was cracked open and it didn’t kill him. He continued fighting for years after. But as an average Australian, I had never heard this story before. I feel like an Aboriginal Day would allow for positive stories like this to be told.

I guess what I’m saying is, it’s important to remember the past as well as celebrate the present and be hopeful for the future. And we can do it all in a positive way if we really want to. We can make everyone happy if we really try. As for Australia Day itself, well, its also my birthday so I may be a little bias. My personal preference would be to keep Australia Day the way it is and celebrate / commemorate Aboriginal History and Culture on a separate day. If it does get moved, so be it, but Let’s be happy about it. I don’t think positivity is too much to as for, is it?

New Short Story: Ted Was Dead

A long time ago I wrote a poem called Where Did All The Pencils Go?. I wrote it while I was at college studying programming. Marketing was one of those subjects they made you take, but nobody could see the relevance of (no offence to those of you who study marketing. Looking back on it, I wish I had paid more attention). At the time I found it so boring that during one lesson I wrote a poem instead. This poem became the previously presented Pencils prose. After giving it to a few friends, the feedback I got cited its similarity to Dr Seuss, which was completely unintentional.

Anyway, fast forward a few years to now. I fell into depression and stopped writing for a while, but if you read about my Positivity Month you’ll know I’m putting things back together and getting my life back on track again. To that end I’ve been writing a lot more lately than I ever have written before, and loving it.

This is where Ted was Dead comes in. Ted is a short story in which I intentionally tried to write in the Dr Seuss style. It turned out to be quite darker than regular Dr Seuss stories, but it makes me laugh and I love it a lot.

Ted was Dead is a short story about Jed, who tells his good friend Zed the news that Ted is dead. I absolutely love how this turned out so I hope you love it too.

SHORT STORY: TED WAS DEAD

My Writer’s Toolbox

I am currently in the middle of reading On Writing, by Stephen King. In it, he talks about his Writer’s Toolbox which contains all the skills, tools, tips, tricks and rules he’s learnt over the years. Everything he has accumulated to help him write is in his toolbox, so I thought I’d go over a few of the items in my Writer’s Toolbox. I feel like I am still very much deciding what should go into my box, but there are a few things I’ve found extremely useful.

SpreadsheetsSpreadsheets

https://www.libreoffice.org/

I’m somewhat addicted to spreadsheets. In the planning stages, before I even start the first draft, everything goes into a spreadsheet.

I start off with a basic spreadsheet. Down the first column goes Act 1, Act 2, Act 3 and Act 4 (if there is an Act 4). Across the first row goes Beginning, Middle and End. Then I fill each cell with a sentence or two about the story, and gradually I begin to learn the basic structure of the novel.

From there I can take a good guess at how long I want the novel to be, and guess at how many scenes it will have (based on my knowledge that when I write, I average about 1500 words per scene).

Then I begin to plan out each individual scene in a more complicated spreadsheet. Down the first column I simply number each scene (chapters can come later). Across the top I have Action/Reaction, Where, When, With (Characters), Beginning, Middle, End, Notes. I find I can’t write without a plan, so this spreadsheet is my road map. It gives me the confidence to go ahead and write, because I know exactly where I am going and I know its going to be good.

ScrivenerScrivener

https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

When it comes to the actual writing, Scrivener works well. You can divide your work up into as many parts as you like; chapters, scenes, etc. Having a long, blank word document staring at you can feel daunting, but in Scrivener all you have to do is write the current scene.

ScrivenerYou can move and rearrange the scenes as you see fit. If you set up project keywords then you can search for which scenes contain which characters. It makes writing a book extremely easy.

And when it comes to full-screen writing, one button lets you hide the main screen, get rid of all distractions and just write.

The only draw back to Scrivener is that the PC version isn’t kept as up-to-date as the iOS version, but its still very much usable and a great addition to any writer’s toolbox.

ProWritingAidProWritingAid

https://prowritingaid.com/

There are several apps that can help highlight problems in your work but ProWritingAid is a pretty in-depth one. It highlights things like style, grammar, overused words, cliches and plenty of other things. I don’t think of these highlights as hard and fast rules, but its handy to see the points where your writing needs touching up. There are plenty of things I just don’t see until ProWritingAid points them out to me.

I urge every new writer to experiment, try different things and discover what works for you, but maybe this list can help someone take the first few steps in filling out their own Writer’s Toolbox.

Review: Glitch Season 1

Just watched this awesome Aussie supernatural show called Glitch.

I hadn’t heard of it before so it took me by surprise when I saw it on Netflix. Apparently it aired on regular TV a year ago here in Australia, but I must have missed it. I’m glad I found it though because it was truly awesome.

Okay, so the premise of the dead coming back to life seems to be the in-thing lately. There’s about three or four different versions of this kind of show, but this Aussie style really appealed to me. It seemed grounded in reality, which made it really appealing.

The writing and acting was awesome, and the moral implications were thought-provoking. If your wife dies and you remarry, then your dead wife comes back to life, who are you really married to?

Several questions were left unanswered, but they’re producing a second season and personally, I can’t wait.

Please check it out if you’re able to. I don’t know what regions it’s available in, but in my opinion this Aussie show deserves more recognition.

No Spiders Allowed

No Spiders AllowedI hate spiders. They’re so rude.

I put a sign in front of my house saying ‘No Spiders Allowed’ and they come in anyway. What’s up with that??

I’ve tried to be nice. I’ve tried politely asking them to leave. I get nothing. The silent treatment. Not even a hello.

I’m beginning to wonder if they can even speak English. I mean really, Australia is an English speaking country. I don’t think its too much to ask that a spider learn how to speak English. How else do they expect to get a job? How do they earn money to feed their spider-babies if they can’t even speak our language?

Just rude.

Positivity Month

A while ago I reached a dark time in my life. Nothing was going right for me. It seemed like my life had become a series of disasters. My father died, my ceiling collapsed, I hated my job. I couldn’t cope with everything life was throwing at me.

Then I was reminded of that phrase, ‘The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.’ That was me. I hated everything but I wasn’t making any changes in my life. I was doing nothing to improve the situation.
So I began an experiment. I wanted to be more positive, so I challenged myself to tweet out one positive thing each day for a month. I figured if I did it on Twitter, in public, then I’m more likely to finish the month.

Here’s how my Positivity Month came out.

Day 1: My writing is going quite well lately. Slow, but good. I’m excited about it again.
There was a period where I stopped writing. Stress and depression had taken its toll, but I’m back into it again and it feels good.

This little bird kept me company during lunchDay 2: This little guy kept me company during lunch.
Because you’ve got to appreciate the little things in life. Normally I wouldn’t have paid any attention to tiny birds, but being in the ‘positivity’ frame of mind made me sit up and take notice.

Day 3: I like my apartment. It’s pretty cool and I have plenty of space.
This is the first place I’ve lived in by myself and I love it. I’m very happy here.

Day 4: I saw a rainbow today and it was a good one. All the way. I don’t remember the last time I saw a proper rainbow.
Old-Craig wouldn’t have even noticed something like a rainbow. New-Craig noticed it and it really put me in a good mood that day.

 

Day 5: I’m Alive. This song is an inspiration for me.
Considering the obstacles fate had thrown my way, I should be celebrating the fact that I’m alive. It’s an achievement I’m proud of.

Day 6: Dinner with the family at Hog’s Breath.
My family is pretty cool and its great that I, A. Have a family; and 2. Have the ability to spend time with them.

Day 7: A nice relaxing Sunday doing nothing much at all. No worries. I love my days off.
Doing nothing is freakin’ awesome. I love nothing! If I have nothing to do then I have nothing to worry about. Nothing to stress over. Nothing is great.

Day 8: I actually have some awesome friends.
Add my friends to the list of things I used to take for granted. My friends are awesome. My friend Fritz bought me the awesome phone I have now for my birthday last year.

Day 9: Technology. I carry a device around in my pocket that is more advanced than some of the things in Star Trek.
I am really glad that I was born when I was, because it means I’ve been able to see technology advance before my eyes. Something like my smartphone, if you really think about it, is amazing. When I was a kid I would never have imagined I’d have technology like that. It’s awesome.

Day 10: I don’t work Wednesdays. Day off!
More doing nothing!

Day 11: Time moves forward no matter what’s happening to me, and everything changes with time.
I have a clock that ticks quite loudly in my bedroom and I find it comforting, because it reminds me that time always moves forward. So if things are bad, I know that they will get better with time. And if things are good then I am reminded to be grateful for what I have now because its not going to last forever.

Day 12: I actually like my boss. She’s friendly and well organised, and we get along well.
Although I didn’t really like my job, the woman I worked for was nice, so that’s something.

Day 13: I decided to go into the city. It’s great to get out of the apartment and get some fresh air.
Sometimes when I’m feeling sort of ~off~, I like heading into the city. I live in the suburbs of Sydney so going into the heart of the city gives my brain some new stimulus. It’s refreshing.

Day 14: All of Star Trek is on Netflix!
I have the ability to watch almost any show I want, when I want. It’s quite awesome really.

Day 15: I was really nervous about training that I had to do today, but its turned out quite good.
For boring work-related reasons I had to so some training. I was nervous about it, but it was fun. I learnt a lot and the people there were nice.

Day 16: Free Lunch!
They gave us free lunch at training. Can’t complain about that!

Day 17: Chocolate exists!
This is self-explanatory, right?

Day 18: The customers have been pretty nice today.
I work in retail, which is a see-saw job. It’s very up and down. (get it?) Some days I hate everyone… but not everyday. I have good days in which everyone is pretty nice, so I need to remind myself of that.

Day 19: I’m not horribly ugly. I sort of look like a normal person.
I would never describe myself as good looking… but I’ve gone through periods where I hate everything about myself. Now, however, I’ve improved my attitude enough that I feel comfortable describing myself as normal-looking. I’m quite average, really. But I’m not ugly, and that’s a good thing.

Day 20: Weekends are awesome!
I don’t know what I would do without weekends. Seriously.

Day 21: I live in a place where I can go out and get almost any food I want within about 30-60 minutes. That’s pretty cool.
This is another thing I used to take for granted. The choice of food around here is awesome. It’s amazing that I can get whatever I want without too much trouble.

 

Day 22: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in specific, and words all together in general. What can I say… I like words.
Okay, I feel like this one deserves a little more explanation. On this day I was struggling to stay positive. It was hard work. So I knew I had to think of something that would take me out of that funk and cheer me up. I decided to see if I could remember how to spell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and considering I just typed that from memory, I think I succeeded. And honestly, singing that song in my head all day was hilarious. I still do it when I feel a little depressed. You can’t be sad when you’re singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in your head.

Day 23: I have the power to change my life if I choose to.
The fact that the positivity month was working and I was feeling better is amazing. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut, and I forget that I have the power to change things. The power to change your life is amazing.

Day 24: I’m fairly smart. Well I mean, I’m not dumb.
I don’t like to sound arrogant, but I’m quite smart really, and I like that.

Day 25: I got a free rubbish bin!
My boss at work gave me a bin at a gift. I love free gifts!

Day 26: RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2 starts today!
RPDR is one of my favourite shows. I love it. #TeamKatya!

Day 27: Australia is a pretty cool country to live in. It’s not perfect, but I’m happy with it.
I’m glad I live in Australia. It’s nice and we have relatively few problems compared to the rest of the world.

Day 28: I’m relatively able-bodied. If I wanted to do something I could probably just do it, and that’s pretty cool.
I would never describe myself as fit, but I’m not disabled either. All my parts work and I can do most things I want to do.

Day 29: Frozen pizza!
Food is awesome. Frozen pizza is awesomer.

 

Day 30: ASMR. It’s nice to come home from a long day at work and have something to relax me.
ASMR has really helped lower my stress levels. I get that its not for everyone, but if you haven’t tried it you should. Personally I love it.

Day 31: The fact that this experiment actually worked. I feel so much better now than I did at the start of the month.
Seriously, on a scale of one to ten I feel like I started the month on a 1 and I ended on a 7. I’m not at 10 yet, I still have a ways to go before I’m honestly, truly happy, but I’m so much better than I was before.

This positivity thing really worked. I’m going to try to keep it up. I want to be a happy, positive person. I like that Craig better.