Parched

A short descriptive piece about my own surroundings.

 

Parched

High above you an eagle soars the thermals in a barren sky, wings outstretched, eyes to the parched paddock below where a mob of sheep march, laden with wool, mouths to dry stalk, against a summer wind that carries their dust trail far across the field and past the barbed wire to where a herd of cattle moan, sparrows on their backs, flies swarming, all crammed around a dam forgotten by rain. A windmill spins. The pump creaks. The rusted fence runs away into a distant salt lake, etched with memories of water, dead with skeletal trees, yet alive with pigweed, beard grass, samphire, and stonecrop.

The Australian sun pressed to your neck, sweat on the brow, sand across your legs, bitter dust in the mouth, and the scent of sun-baked earth. Feel it. Magpies warble to the click of cicadas. Wild oats rustle. Bull ants search and a bobtail stands its ground. A marri tree sighs beside you like a tired old man, sending cockatoos to flight, as shards of sunlight dance in the darkness beneath the canopy where kangaroos sleep. A crow caws, its talons in a wooden post cut a century ago, now brittle and fallen, like the land.

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DreamForge

Family and friends, here is my Xmas request.

I’ve recently become an Editorial Assistant at DreamForge Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. They are a new, professional print and electronic magazine, paying pro rates for authors. This means a lot to me on my writing path.

If you are an author, I urge you to submit qualifying stories when their submissions open again. An emerging magazine paying pro rates, and a likely future SFWA qualifying market. I’d love to see your names on submissions.

Please like their Facebook and Twitter accounts. They are about to break 2000 likes on FB.

Now, those dear to me, please make a token contribution to their Patreon account. For $1 per month, you can show your support to me, or $2.50 will get you a subscription.

https://www.patreon.com/DreamForgePress/overview

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There’s Magic in the World

It’s easy to suspend disbelief with kids – they love fantasy and will believe any magical story if fun is involved.

I’ve been taking my sons to this giant banyan tree to climb for ages, telling them there is an owl asleep at the top called Mr. Hoot, and to watch out for him if he awakens – despite the impossibility of an owl in this tree and during daylight.

Fantasy entered the real world this morning. Sitting atop the canopy was an owl, awake in daylight!

I believe we create our own world.

DreamForge

Very exciting gift in the mail! Thanks Scot M Noel and DreamForge – A Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. A gift for being their #1 (first) Patreon supporter. An ideologically-uplifting magazine I aspire to be included in. #dreamforge

Boz

Another day, another book in the mail!

I have a bucket list of classic books to read. ‘Boz’ is one of my favourite authors. I’m also currently reading a sixty-year-old edition of ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’

Red Wine and the Red Book

It’s time to celebrate! After months working on my short story, I finished it today, and started submitting (watch this space!)

Time to reward myself with a book. I don’t read novels while I’m writing (a form of procrastination), so this is a treat.

I’ve been working my way through the classics (bucket list), and today I’ve started a novel older than me by a factor of 1.5 – Catch-22.

I found the purrfect companion to this vintage red book – red wine!

Long night in!

The Long Road

I’ve just finished the handwritten version of what will be the eighth draft of my current short story.

It’s a long road trying to make it my best.

My short story writing process involves handwriting a draft with pencil and then typing it out (involving more changes). Then I go through a thorough editing process, and by about the forth draft I involve beta readers and/or paid editors. With each new draft I completely re-write the whole thing, starting with the pencil.

This story is a good 4,000 words, so once I’ve typed this again, considering my rub-outs and strikes of the delete button, I would have laid down a good 70-80,000 words. More than enough for a whole novel.

We all have our own processes that work for us individually, but this is mine – thoroughness and constant whole-re-writes. Using pencil and the repetition of re-writing helps me memorise the story, and I find pencil far more creative.

I won’t mention how long I’ve been working on this one, but it’s on the far side of solid few months.

And each time I finish a draft, I’m like, “Okay, it’s perfect now.” Then it comes back from the reviewers …

Mindfulness for Writers

Stuck on a plot point, today I took myself away from the keyboard, to a place where my mind would be more receptive to inspiration.

Landscaping for a garden at the little farm, with nothing to do but turn the soil whilst listening to hundreds of frogs croaking in the running brook behind me, my mind stilled. Yes, I was working hard physically, but in my mind I was writing. I was thinking clearly.

Ideas to answer my story question flowed into my mind and I had that ‘light-bulb’ moment, and I can now return to the keyboard.

There are two places we write, on the keyboard when we have some direction and in a place of solitude when we seek inspiration.

This is probably why I like to bring my keyboard outside under the trees!

Tomorrow’s Speculative Minds

It’s a significant night – I’ve started novel-reading to my six-year-old son. I’ve chosen The Hobbit. And the choice wasn’t made lightly.

I have a plan: I read a few pages and then he reads the last paragraph. Then he chooses a reward. Before long, I will lengthen his share of the load, remove the reward, and improve his reading. But that’s just the outer plan.

Of real significance is my inner plan. What I am subtlety doing here in exposing him to classic speculative fiction is developing him into a more creative, explorative, and questioning young man.

Where has the world been better questioned than in books such as Fahrenheit 451, 1984, and Animal Farm? Where has our imagination been more livened than in stories such as The Lord of the Rings? Where have more documented scientific predictions come true than in the works of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and George Orwell?

I want my son to be someone who will look at the world and have the ability to see differently, to look at something and see how else it can be, to tap into whatever artistic pursuits he desires and leave his own unique impression on our world.

That’s the beauty with speculative fiction in literature – it opens the doors to imagination, creativity, and questioning.

Where would we be without speculative fiction? Some Bradbury novel, probably.