Basking in Reflected Glory

September 17, 2010 at 4:08 am (Uncategorized)

I can’t very well leave you floating in the Tales of Turd Town, can I – a bum note if ever I’ve heard one (okay, I’ll stop now) – so I thought I’d have a Darkling Brag instead. Remember when Darkling JB took out the Josephine Ulrick Short Story Award earlier this year for her story ‘The Geometry Lesson’? Well, the award is administered through Queensland’s Griffith University, and the university’s very highly regarded literary quarterly, The Griffith Review, has accepted JB’s story for inclusion in its second annual fiction edition – that’s right, baby! Bring on the dancing girls!

While the collection will be on sale in November, the launch party for this special edition of TGR is the last Saturday night of October, at the Readings store in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton. JB and Jenny, the Victorian Darklings, will spend the evening rubbing shoulders with publishing luminaries as well as some of the other contributing authors – schmoozing, in other words, hopefully with a white wine in JB’s hand and a red one in Jenny’s. Go get ‘em, ladies – the countdown is ON!

It’s all very exciting – a piece of Darkling fiction is officially making it into print (Jenny’s novel Wasp Season was published B.D., you see) – and the name is Barrile, people, Jewelene Barrile.

Much less thrilling was yesterday’s peculiar experience of realising I had been unceremoniously “unfriended” on Facebook (although it is deeply disturbing that neither Word nor WordPress has reacted with an angry red line beneath what has to be one of the most atrocious linguistic skid marks of modern English). At first I almost laughed, because it just seemed so extraordinarily childish, and then I felt enormously sad for the friend who’s unfriended me, and finally I did start to feel a little offended. I wish it were a juicy story worth repeating, but it’s really not. In fact, I don’t even know what the hell I did wrong, except to tell this friend – whom I’ve known for 21 years – that I was worried about him, and thought there had to be a reason for the huge mood-swing Llew and I witnessed when last we were all together, after which our friend was really rude to both of us. As well as expressing concern for him, I did say I wasn’t accustomed to being treated in such a manner, and that I wasn’t interested in becoming accustomed to it, either, so no doubt that’s where I’ve come unstuck, even though I emphasised my sense that it meant something else was going on, and could we help in any way? Apparently not.

As for a blogging break over the babymoon, well, I think I’ll take one. I’d like to come back to the keyboard feeling inspired and revivified, and I don’t think that’ll happen if I continue blogging throughout the fortnight we’re taking off. The thing is, despite declarations and intentions to the contrary, I really haven’t had the heart to face my MS since not making the Varuna Penguin shortlist. Yes, still. I haven’t felt all the really horrible, depressing feelings about it since the very first days of the announcement – that all dims pretty briskly these days, thank Christ – but I have been left with a residual… um… I don’t even know what to call it. I suppose it’s an aversion of sorts, but I’m not so averse as to avoid thinking about it or writing notes about it, both of which I’ve done since without breaking into hives. I don’t know… I just feel really… flat. Yes, that’s probably closest. I think that rejection, at this point, genuinely deflated me, and I’ve felt flat as a tack about the MS ever since. I haven’t managed to reinflate my enthusiasm to the point of actually going in there again. I’ve taken the run up to it several times now, only to skid to an abrupt and inelegant halt. So how does one put the stuffing back in…? Well, I don’t know. I’ve tried, I’m trying, because I need stuffing, I can’t move without it, but it’s proving difficult to plump myself up again.

I think the worst aspect from a production point of view is the unfortunate side effect of not feeling well stuffed enough for any fiction writing at all (with the exception of that 2,000-word burst a few weeks back, during which I threw down a new character and a new scenario like a woman possessed). So not only have I not had the confidence to return to my full draft, I also haven’t had the confidence required to shrug my shoulders, leave it, and turn my attention to the incomplete one or the barely begun one instead. I just haven’t had any confidence for anything at all.

Not that confidence is the right word either. Even when the writing is going well, confidence is not what I feel. There can be enthusiasm, happiness, excitement, curiosity, a sense of wonder about where writing comes from – plenty of positive, propulsive sensations – but confidence is never one of them. So to say I’ve ‘lost confidence,’ well, that’s incorrect. I think it’s much more accurate to admit I’ve simply lost heart. And I don’t feel terrible about it, or really anything at all. I think that’s part of the problem. When I think about my fiction writing, I just feel a bit empty, unstuffed as well as ‘unfriended,’ and I haven’t managed to top myself up. That’s all (shrugs). I’ll get there eventually. I’ve been busy in the meantime, busy with freelance work, busy with the Varuna Monthly Feature, busy with matters on the home front in preparation for Baby J… as long as I’m still reading and writing, and I’m always doing that, I don’t think there’s any real cause for alarm. But in the interests of restuffing myself, I hereby declare a Babymoon Blogging Break. I hope you all have a wonderful fortnight-and-a-half, and I’ll be back in business (or bidniz, which my NZ friend C says and which makes me laugh) Wednesday 6 October. See you then!

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20 Comments

  1. litlove said,

    Perhaps its better to say there’s no creative energy surrounding the ms at the moment? You gotta go where the energy is in writing, or it just doesn’t work at all. So I wouldn’t worry, when the time is right you’ll return to those projects, or maybe to new ones. I’ve always found lying fallow on the writing front from time to time has proved very productive in the long run. And as for the facebook friend, well, clearly he’s the one with problems and pulling up the drawbridge is something he’s doing right now in order not to have to discuss them. Not about you at all, and again, there has to be energy on his side to sort his life out or it’s never going to happen. Life is long and relationships are elastic – I’m sure a point will come when you can pick up the threads in the future, if you want to.

    • doctordi said,

      Darling, I’m sure you’re right, and that’s a much better thing to say, but it’s not actually true in this case. The MS’s own creative energy is verily crackling – I can see it fizzing and snapping to my left hand side, it’s been doing it for weeks now like a faulty socket – no, I’m afraid it’s *ME* who’s not generating a charge right now.

      This isn’t the context in which he used it, but I know I’ve recently mentioned to you my granddad’s saying about “charging the batteries,” and I’m hoping that’s mainly what I need to do.

      Oh yes, I definitely agree my unfriendly friend is pulling up the drawbridge, this is how he always deals with things, which is unfortunate because it hasn’t worked in the past and I don’t believe it’ll work now or in the future. It worries and pains me because it’s so obvious he’s unhappy, and angry, and I would like to do something to help him even while knowing that really it’s not something anyone can assist him with. Anyway, I hope he works through it all and emerges triumphant.

  2. litlove said,

    Oh and i meant to add (pressed send too quick!) have a wonderful, relaxing break and see you when you get back!

    • doctordi said,

      Thank you!! I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to it – and to thoroughly monopolising the company of my partner in crime for two whole weeks!

  3. Fiona Wood said,

    Have a wonderful babymoon. I’m insulted on your behalf that you’ve been unfriended – I agree with Litlove: it reflects on him, not you. Congratulations to your darkling – that is very exciting. And you might just need a longer break from your ms.

    • doctordi said,

      Thanks, Fiona – just the thought of it is relaxing!!

      Yeah, it is insulting, actually, and hurtful, puzzling, the whole thing. But yes, it is very much about his issues, I just never want to fail to ask myself what my own part in this kind of extreme and sudden breakdown may be. We have to be alive to our own faults, don’t we, and he definitely did not appreciate something I said or did. But again, he was looking to be unhappy, he always is, which is… part of the problem.

      I just might. It’s been a while, so we’ll see what happens after the break.

      And yes, we are very proud of her!

  4. charlotteotter said,

    Have a wonderful break. Hope you return with the creative energies turned on again. As for the FB defriender, damn him! Be MY friend instead.

  5. Grad said,

    First, I have to say I guffawed out loud reading the post just before this one. I think I snorted coffee out of my nose, as well, and am still suffering a sinus headache from it. Maybe it was the agave sweetener that gave the coffee such a punch. But even through my pain, I am still laughing. I know that blah feeling. Let’s face it, when all I have to write about is my lawn mower, the well has run dry. I shall miss you, dear heart. And “this” to the cad who unfriended you (I just made a very naugty gesture). Unfriended. What a bummer. It happened to me once as well. Only it took six months for me to find out because I’m never on Facebook. And by then, the whole world could have unfriended me and I would never have been the wiser. Letter will be on the way tomorrow.

    • doctordi said,

      There is no greater compliment in the world than a sincere coffee snort.

      I love that it took you six months to notice being unfriended, Grad. It’s the perfect response – blissful oblivion. There was a rapprochement last night, so hopefully it’s all behind us.

  6. Lilian Nattel said,

    Have a wonderful break! It sounds like your friend isn’t ready to face up to what’s behind his mood swings. I’m sorry he unfriended you, but you were a good friend and I hope he realizes that eventually. I hope that R&R is just what you need to bring the zest back to your writerly self.

    • doctordi said,

      I think we’ve just turned a corner – and I hope that means things are improving elsewhere in his life too.

      Truthfully? I’d like to drag Llew to the airport and hop a plane to a land far, far away…

  7. bookgazing said,

    How passive agressive to unfriend someone online after a physical world misunderstanding. Hope your friend works himself out, so you can go back to having fun together.

    Have a lovely time over your babymoon, which is a cute as way to descibe it and I’m not in general a finding babies cute kind of person. I’m just imagining a tiny baby shape appearing in the moon, possibly with a cuddly rabbit for company.

    • doctordi said,

      I’m probably to blame for that, Bookgazing, because I emailed him in the first place, although only because he wouldn’t speak to us in person. I absolutely ADORE your image of the baby in the moon – how gorgeous!

  8. Pete said,

    I’m happy to see that I can still read blogs (at least while I’m in SA) so will be able to read yours for a good while yet. I hope you and Llew have a lovely babymoon. And as for your friend who unfriended you, I hate it when that happens (has happened to me once or twice). Nothing you can do except be there when and if he wants to be your friend again. In the meantime I would echo Charlotte and say be my friend instead.

    • doctordi said,

      Yep, I agree – the door has remained open the whole time, and as of last night he elected to walk through it, so even if he hasn’t ‘refriended’ me on FB, we’re friends again where it really counts: the real world.

  9. plumbean said,

    ooh, unfriending is terrible. you are right, there is such a playground meanness to it. nevermind and have a lovely, lovely break!

    • doctordi said,

      Ghastly business, Priya – it really played on my mind!!! But thank you, I did have a lovely break, and it’s good to be back.

  10. Norwichrocks said,

    Unfriending is just the digital equivalent of sulking. Ignore him. He’ll either come round or he won’t and either way, “least said, soonest mended”.

    • doctordi said,

      That’s it exactly, Woo. A virtual sulk. Not a hanging offence, just a split second decision he may not have made even twenty minutes later. Sulking is like that.

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