NaNoWriMo Day 25

I just reached the 50,438 words count so now it’s official – I have attained the title of NaNoWriMo Winner* for the fourth year in a row with my rambling, chronologically confused and in-desperate-need-of-editing sci-fi fantasy “Chloe’s War.” And quite frankly, I want to keep writing it. While I’m glad I finished it before the really busy season in the month before Christmas begins, part of me is not ready to lay this novel aside. With massive re-writing and tweaking, it might be something good. And in the meantime, NaNoWriMo is not over yet, so there are still five days in which I can add to my word count.

Once November and NaNo are over I intend to write a little retrospective. People who’ve been following me for a while will know that this was my fastest NaNoWriMo yet, and the first one for me that did not necessitate any all-nighters, last-minute deadline freakouts or bouts of “I suck so why even bother?!” I have a few thoughts on why I was more successful this time compared to previous years… but I think I need to take a writing breather to recover before I get back onto that.

On a different note, I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the other night with The Husband and kids. It was, well, fantastic. A wonderful, intriguing, fun, sad, clever, scary, compassionate kind of film – one definitely for people like me who love animals and imagine a world where people care about their creatures and each other. The characters are wonderfully diverse, well-developed and individual. It felt to me like an INFJ version of a superhero film. Even better, despite it being set in the same universe as Harry Potter, it didn’t in any way feel like just a rehashing of the original HP stories. It is very much its own story and while it obviously links to the originals, it doesn’t feel sameish at all. Basically, it’s everything that I hope Rogue One will be when that comes out next month – part of an established fictional universe yet carving out its own unique space within that universe, while not being just the same old story again. It’s been a good year for the sorts of movies I like and I think Fantastic Beasts is one that I will watch again. At the very least I now want to read the J.K. Rowling screenplay of the film!


Screenshot of my NaNoWriMo 2016 stats, 25 November 2016. [Source]

*Winner = any NaNoWriMo participant who reaches a validated word count of 50,000+ words. And not, as people in the past mistakenly believed, signifying that I am in any conventional way a successful novelist!

2016 – Update. A loooong overdue update.

Hello, both new and faithful blog readers!

It’s been a long time – I apologise for that. In Victoria, Australia the summer school holidays only came to an end a little under two weeks ago. I chose to spend the holidays as I so often do: grappling with pointless drama as Christmas throws us back in the deep end with some dysfunctional relationships we would normally avoid, followed by the process of trying to recover from the psychological trauma by booking extra visits to my mental health practitioners, and then a couple of weeks to relax with my kids. We spent the final two weeks of the holidays cramming in films – one per day. My kids got to watch the entire Harry Potter series for the first time and, as I hoped they would, they loved it. They are both now reading the books. As a book nerd parent, I always dreamed of the day I’d see my kids comfortably reading 600+ page books. Sadly, a few films into the marathon we heard the devastating news that Professor Snape actor Alan Rickman passed away and I’ll be honest – I spent that day in tears. I don’t normally cry at celebrity news but when I do, it’s at the passing of Alan Rickman and Leonard Nimoy… or the first time Rage Against the Machine split up, circa 2001. (more…)

On Star Wars, meme-based worldviews and critical thinking: A holiday rant from your friendly neighbourhood geek. Or, a thinly veiled ode to Kylo Ren. Contains spoilers.

A friendly reminder to readers: I write in Australian English. Hence the spelling. I will use “s” more often than “z,” and we pronounce that letter “zed.”

First up, I’m going to talk about Star Wars. In light of the new film (which is freaking amazing, if you ask me, and even if you don’t ask, I’m going to tell you), I wanted to write something about the impact of Star Wars on my own life. Then I’m going to connect it to some recent anti-Star Wars negativity I’ve encountered and how my personal working theory on this is that it’s representative of a deeper problem: the way that we use social media and memes to develop and inform our worldviews. I’m calling it “worldview by meme.” I don’t know if anyone else has coined that term or developed it as a fully-fleshed theory. I am using it as a shorthand reference to a set of ideas I am pondering based on the social media behaviours of acquaintances and total strangers alike. I have not done extensive research on it, as yet, but if time allows, I may try to develop the idea in the future.


The Force Awakens

Let’s talk about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for a moment. There are plot spoilers in this so if you’re a fan, and you haven’t yet seen the film, do yourself a favour and go into it with no preconceptions about who or where or what it will entail. If, like me, you’re one of those who devoured and more-or-less memorised the Expanded Universe Canon, I can say that while in a sense I “grieve” the alterations and dramatic changes that have taken place, I am so enamoured with the new story arcs that all is forgiven. Like so many fandoms that have gone before (I’m thinking of Batman and the Marvel Universe, for example), I am choosing to take the option of allowing the disparate universes to co-exist as alternate possibilities.


Vampire Films

I am not a huge movie buff – for reasons I’ve never quite understood it takes a lot of effort for me to sit and concentrate on a film. Conversely, hand me a Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy novel and I will sit for hours reading and even taking notes. I can’t explain why novels work for me in a way that films often don’t. However I recently saw three films I did enjoy and found riveting for various reasons. Upon reflection I realise that they all have a central vampire theme. I find vampire folklore and mythology fascinating. Discovering Anne Rice as a teenager in the 1990s was a revelation. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was one of the first really long books I read as an adolescent that instilled in me a love for 19th Century European classic literature.

These recent films that I really did enjoy and that have kept me thinking are:

1. Only Lovers Left Alive

An excellent soundtrack and the incredible Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are vampire lovers reunited with each other. It’s really fascinating to see how they cope with the continuation of their lives and relationships through the centuries, and the delight they take in human ideas and music and culture.

2. What We Do in the Shadows

A documentary about a group of vampire housemates living in New Zealand. I found it absolutely hilarious (and morbid!). Actors include Jemaine Clement and Rhys Darby from the Flight of the Conchords tv series. I think it deserved a lot more coverage than it received – to see it I had to go hunt it down at a tiny independent cinema just outside of Melbourne. I highly recommend it.

3. Dracula Untold

I really enjoyed this film. It was like if a number of the Dracula and vampire stories I’ve read over the years were mashed together and turned into a live action comic book. For me it had some elements that were reminiscent of Stoker’s Dracula, of course, but also Twelve by Jasper Kent, Vlad: The Last Confession by C. C. Humphries, and even some of the ancient Egyptian demonic elements of the origin of the Anne Rice vampires which I think were detailed in The Vampire Lestat (it’s been far too long since I read that wonderful novel).

In Dracula Untold Prince Vlad is performed by the same actor who is Bard the Bowman in The Hobbit films. It explores the origins of the vampire Dracula, a heroic leader whose love for his people will do anything it takes to save his family and his country from the invading armies.