So we’re back in lockdown. Not such a trial for us, as it’s pretty much same-old, same-old. I feel for those who can’t work, like the casual workers, and small businesses, especially without the safety net of JobKeeper. What’s scary is that it only took one person and an out-of-state quarantine muck-up, and suddenly 85 people are infected. This virus moves fast.
I have to say that JobKeeper was good for those who couldn’t work during the big lockdowns, but outside of that the Federal Government has been mostly missing in action for the whole pandemic. Sometimes I seriously can’t tell if they’re simply incompetent, or if it’s because our PM, who is waiting for the Rapture, thinks this pestilence is part of The End and is letting everything go as a result. So glad for the state governments right now.
Until the lockdown I had been going in to the office to work two days a week, and for the first time in a year I’ve taken the train. What is it with the younger men? It’s compulsory to wear a face mask on the train. All the women do, the older men do, but few of the youths and men up to their thirties. Is it a macho thing? Do they think they’re immune?
As soon as you think that another busy time comes along, but right now I’m feeling there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, we all know what that light signifies, don’t we? An oncoming train.
Had a really good weekend writing, at least. The best in months. Very happy with what we produced.
Work work (as opposed to writing work) is keeping me occupied right now, hence no updates on the blog last week. Hopefully, we’re getting to the end of the busy work. After I have slept three days straight–I think I’m going to need that much–I’ll get back to posting here. 🙂
I wake at 1:18am to a flash of blue and a bang. I check the house. Power in the back half is out but the rest is okay. The house isn’t burning down or anything. I’ll worry about it in the morning, I decide, and go back to bed.
Thirty minutes later I’m woken by a cacophony of beeps and other noises. All the bots and electrical devices are going crazy, as they do when their power supply goes off. We have so many of them, and each one makes a different noise. I get up again (the clock is off this time, I check time by the phone). The whole house is black. No lights, no power. Half the street is dark, too.
I go back to bed.
The power comes on at 2:44. Yes, all the bots and other devices tell me they’re starting up again. The radio clock, with its internal battery, comes back set on the right time. Hallelujah.
It used to be when the power went out all the clocks would go, too, and you’d spend time in the middle of the night trying to reset the alarm. Or wake up next morning having overslept–after all, you’d spent part of the night awake, hadn’t you.
“Such a simple thing,” I tell Sherylyn the next day. “But so smart. Batteries in clocks that store the time and alarm information. Inventions like that are amazing.”
I mean, sure, clock radios are great too, but someone (probably like me, who’d had to reset their clock in the middle of the night) came up the idea of putting a battery into that clock radio so that when the power went out, it retained all its settings. It’s so convenient.
So here’s a nod to those people who take great inventions and make them just that little bit better. Thank you.
On Friday, I checked the rain radar for the first time in 13 months.
Weather watching is something I do as a commuter, and at work. What’s the weather going to be like today? Do I need my umbrella? What about a coat? How hot will it be? What type of shoes should I wear?
Then, when I got to work, at lunchtime I’d look up the rain radar. Will I stay in the office? Go for a walk? If I walk to my favourite lunch place will I get wet? Have I got time before the rain holds off? Is it too hot to walk far?
I checked the temperature for the first month of lockdown, and then stopped. I never checked the rain radar at all? Why would I? We had a three kilometre limit on where we could go, and limited time to go anywhere. I wore similar clothes all year working from home. Loose, comfortable trousers, a loose, comfortable shirt. If it got cold I added socks and a cardigan, and if it got colder still, I turned the heater on (and sometimes even the other way around). It’s only now that I’m working back in the office two days a week that I’m thinking about weather again.
Hmm. Interesting statistic. I wonder if the hits on the Bureau of Meteorology website went down last year?
Lately I have binge read a few longer series and I’m noticing a trend.
The narrative is linear for the first three, maybe four, novels. That is, the reader knows everything that happens because they’re reading the books. Then suddenly there’s a jump. Between book, say, four and five, something important to the story happens off-scene. A new character integral to the story is introduced, or an important sub-plot that provides valuable information takes place off-scene. In the next series book there’s a fleeting reference to what happened off-scene and we go merrily along with the story.
And I go, “Huh? What happened there? Where did that come from?”
As the series continues, we get more and more jumps like this.
If I do my research, I can find these missing stories. They are available, usually as novellas or short stories, separate to the main series. Often with different protagonists.
I confess, as a technique, I find it annoying. I don’t want to have to go hunting for the whole story. Sure, I like my sideline stories to give me new insights into main characters in the series. Acquard’s War, for example, will certainly give you a different insight into Jordan Rossi, but it doesn’t tell the story of what happens in the Linesman books, (hmm. Better make sure of that, hadn’t we) and it won’t tell the story of what happens next to Ean Lambert.
If you’re an author who does this why do you do it?
Is it because in a long series you get tired of writing about the protagonists in the main story? I mean, eight plus books straight and I’d be getting tired of it too. (We’ve always said we’d like to do it like Robin Hobb does. Three books, then write something else and come back to that series—in our case Linesman—refreshed and ready to go. By the end of three novels you need a break.)
Is it a marketing tool? Most of the series I have read that do this are in Kindle Direct. Is writing the shorter stories a way of keeping readers interested while you write the next book in the series?
As of Friday night, 6pm, Victorians are fee to go about their business unmasked (except for on public transport, in hospitals and in aged-care facilities). We can go anywhere, do what we used to do (except we still, in many cases, have to sign into venues), and the government is free to call a state of emergency and put us into lockdown at any time.
I’m happy with this.
It’s been a long road, but I feel it has been worth it, with a relatively small number of people lost to Covid-19, or even waiting for the long-Covid to hit.
It’s a fragile peace, all the more precious because it can be pulled away so quickly by a single person not being careful.
As a writer, this past twelve months have felt as if we’re living in a science fiction future. A somewhat dystopic one, admittedly, but it’s there, and we’ve watched, real-time, how different governments have handled various crises, along with how people behave in emergencies. Not to mention how we get information from the traditional media, social media, and a whole host of other information suppliers. If we can’t get ideas out of all that, then we’re not looking.
I must say, as a writer, I’m looking forward to not having to put 2020 (and 2021) into our books.
Science fiction and fantasy writers don’t have to stick to a set date or place. They can set their books whenever and wherever they feel like setting them. Not like the poor contemporary writer who now has to wonder, ‘Do I ignore the pandemic or don’t I? Do I ignore the politics, or don’t I? If I do, the book becomes potentially becomes dated very quickly. If I don’t, I’ll be accused of being unrealistic.”
It’s an interesting dilemma, and the trouble is, contemporary writers won’t know which way to jump (write) until the pandemic bottoms out. It will be interesting to see what comes out in contemporary fiction over the next couple of years.
Here in Victoria, Australia, it feels as if the pandemic has already bottomed out. A month with no cases, a vaccine coming. We’ll see, and not everyone in the world is as lucky as we are.
When I was a child we had an illustrated copy of Noman Lindsay’s The Magic Pudding, which is a story about a koala, Bunyip Bluegum, who while on on his travels meets up with Bill Barnacle (a sailor) and Sam Sawnoff (a penguin). Bill and Sam have a pudding with them. Albert. But Albert’s not just any pudding. No, he’s a magic pudding.
The pudding gets stolen a number of times, and our friends continue to rescue it. The book was written back in 1918, and I’m not sure how well it stands up to modern days, but as a kid I loved it.
I especially loved Albert, the grumpy pudding, and I loved the way he could change the type of pudding he was. All you had to do was whistle twice and turn the pudding around.
Different stories have an impact on readers at different ages. I don’t know how old I was when I realised that Bluegum and his friends were eating Albert. I mean, I knew they were, but one day I had an epiphany. Cannibalism. Albert’s friends were eating him!
I haven’t touched the book since.
Get a reader at the right age and a book can really make an impression.