National Novel Writing Month: a hint for finishing

I’m around six thousand words behind the daily count and only have seven days to complete the total fifty thousand words. In my case, that’s another twenty thousand words in one week.

And being that I have work and family that consume most of my daily time, I really am having to find those gaps, like pouring sand into a jar full of stones.

Which brings me to the key realisation I’ve had this past month. If I want to be a writer and earn a living off writing, then I need to be physically fit. After all of the physical energy that work and a toddler demands, I don’t want to then sit at a desk and fall asleep.

If I want to pull out all the stops and actually complete the 50,000 this week, here’s my biggest hint to myself. Don’t drink. Not one drop of alcohol until 50,000 is done and dusted.

So if there are any other NaNoWriMos who are a bit behind, let’s lay off the drink together and finish this thing.

30,440 words and counting.

National Novel Writing Month: Some observations

Observation the first:  Writing 50,000 words in a month is hard.

(Corollary the first: Made harder if you have a full time job and family…)

Observation the second:  Breaking the task down into 1,000 word bites makes it much easier

(After just a week of this, I found I could tear through one thousand words fairly easily, withing thirty to forty minutes.  And I didn’t have to resort to characters reading slabs of the dictionary.)

Observation the third:  50,000 words eats ideas like a super massive black hole.

(My dad has recently been getting strange phone calls from me picking his brain for stories from the abattoir and what sort of gun you’d take to go spotlighting for rabbits.)

Observation the fourth: Instead of 50,000 words, write fifty thousand words.  It’s more words.

Right now I’m 26,000 or so and have about 9 days to go.  I feel some late nights coming on.

My NaNoWriMo page.

National Novel Writing Month: Reason.

National Novel Writing Month is happening in November, so I’m going to write a novel.

Well, no, not exactly.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 in a month, which is precisely what I’m going to shoot for. No more. No less.

And if in bleeding over the keyboard I happen to have 50,000 words form itself into a novel; fabulous! The best I can hope for on that front is probably something pretty Dada-esk.

Instead, I’m using NaNoWriMo as an exercise for two reasons: setting the personal challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month; and using that to entrench a writing habit at home.

Currently my day involves getting out of bed; helping the family out the door; doing my day job; helping my family have dinner and get ready for bed; collapsing in a heap in bed via the couch.

The act of writing 2,000 to 3,000 words a day will expose the wasted parts of the day, as well as the little nooks of time I didn’t know I had, much like pouring sand into a container of marbles. Or how liquid gets into chalk.

You can keep abreast of my progress on my page at

Good Game: Bye Junglist

The first time I saw an episode of Good Game was late last year when I finally replaced the clunky analogy TV with a computer tuning card.

I quickly found myself turning over at the end of Top Gear on a Monday to watch Good Game on ABC2. It’s well made; slick and silly without being (too) corny, and presented actual reviews of computer games without becoming advertorial pieces like other electronic entertainment shows on some commercial channels I could name.

(The one review that got me hooked was a preview for Gears of War 2. The team were not allowed to film their own in-game footage, and rather than use the provided PR footage, Bajo and Junglist decided to make their own.)

Fast-forward to last Monday when I tune in and find the duo of Junglist and Bajo has been replace by the new duo of Bajo and Hex.

(And I recognised Hex; a few months ago the Me On 3 competition was on, and of all the videos uploaded to YouTube, Steph’s was the first that I saw that was actually, well, good. And I commented as such at the time to no one around me who will remember.)

During the episode, I kept half an eye on the Twitter #ggtv tag, and read various comments along the vein of “Who is the blonde girl?” This was both expected and disappointing as people use the pseudo-anonymity of Twitter to vent their spleen and be mean.

As the episode went on I felt another disappointment: not not the fact that Hex replaced Junglist, but that he’d been replaced at all. I liked Junglist, and I liked the Junglist/Bajo team. Junglist was the Yin to Bago’s Yang; Junglist’s dry wit juxtaposed Bajo’s bouncy “someone’s setting fire to my foot” delivery. The team made it something to tune in for, in the same way we watch Top Gear for Clarkson, Hammond and May doing something stupid, rather than reviews of cars we’ll never drive.

So with Junglist being replaced without warning, and probably against his will, I’m feel a funny sense of loss. I’m not going to rage, pound my fists bloody, write strongly worded letters to the ABC (PO Box 9994 in your capital city, BTW.) But I sincerely hop this isn’t the end of him on the ABC.

Having said all that…

It’s written in the Hagakure: “It is said that was is called ‘the spirit of an age’ is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world’s coming to an end. In the same way, a single year does not have just spring or summer. A single day, too, is the same…For this reason, although one would like to change today’s world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation.”

The old Good Game, for good or bad, is gone. Possibly by ABC management looking for a different slice of the demographic pie, and I doubt online petitions are going to change things. The point is, the show is still here, and we can still the get best out of it. Once Bajo and Hex find their groove.

Fortune in Formulas: Toilet Vinegars (1)

(If you try the following and it leaves you with less fingers, a chronic skin condition, or really embarrassed, then it’s your own damn fault.)

“Beauty Water.”–
Fresh egg albumen … 500 parts
Glycerine …………….. 50 parts
50% Alcohol ………… 25 parts
Lemon oil …………….  2 parts
Lavender oil ………….  2 parts
Oil of thyme ………….  2 parts
Mix the ingredients well together.  When first mixed the liquid becomes flocculent, but after standing for 2 or 3 days clears up–sometimes becomes perfectly clear, and may be decanted.  It forms a light, amber-colored liquid that remains clear for months.
At night, before retiring, pour about a teaspoonful of the water in the palm of the hand, and rub it over the face and neck, letting it dry on.  In the morning, about an hour before the bath, repeat the operation, also letting the liquid dry on the skin.  The regular use of this preparation for 4 weeks will give the skin an extraordinary fineness, clearness, and freshness.

Fortunes in Formulas – Biting Iron

(If you try the following and it leaves you with less fingers, a chronic skin condition, or really embarrassed, then it’s your own damn fault.)

Magic from Hiscox and Sloan:

Biting Off Red-Hot Iron.–Take a piece of hoop iron about 2 feet long, place it in a vise and bend it backwards and forwards, about an inch from the end, until it is nearly broken off.  Put this in a furnace until it becomes red hot, then take it in your right hand, grasp the broken end in your teeth, being careful not to let it touch your lips or your tongue, make a “face” as though it was terribly hard to bite off, and let the broken end drop from between your teeth into a pail of water (which your should always have at hand in case of fire), when the hissing will induce the belief that the portion bitten off is still “red hot” – it way be, for that matter, if the iron be nearly broken off in the first place and if you have good teeth and are not afraid to injure them.

Resolution: The Photographic Images of NASA

Earthrise - Apollo 8

As part of the upcoming Light Years – Photography and Space exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, my brilliant partner Colleen Boyle will be giving a talk on the Photographic Images of NASA.  Specifically, the ones taken by NASA Astronauts when they should have been keeping to mission timetables.

Short Talks Afternoon: Nothing’s Gonna Change My World
Sat 8 Aug, 2.30–3.30pm

  • Resolution: The Photographic Images of NASA
    Speaker Colleen Boyle, Vocational Education Officer, Museum Victoria
  • Cost $18 Adult / $12 NGV Member / $14 Concession / $10 Student

More information and booking through the NGV.

Meet a NASA Astronaut

Megan McArthurHere’s a free Science Week event in Melbourne to not miss:

At only 38 years of age, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur has already ventured on her first mission into space. Clocking 12 days and 21 hours, travelling 8,489,084 kilometres in 197 Earth orbits, in May this year Megan embarked on the fifth and final servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope.

On the mission, Megan was responsible for the delicate operation of the robotic arm to capture the Hubble Space Telescope and then release it again once the repairs were complete.

Join us at RMIT to hear about life as an astronaut and NASA’s plans for the future.

Tuesday 18 August, 6.30pm
Kaleide Theatre – RMIT
360 Swanston Street, Melbourne
FREE (seats limited, call 03 9252 6472 to book a seat)

Also check out for more events.

Fortunes in Formulas

Fortunes in Formulas

In my last expedition to a second-hand bookstore I came across a moldering book with yellow-to-brown pages called “Fortunes in Formulas for Home, Farm and Workshop.”  First published in 1907, the edition I found is from 1937, and contains 10,000 formulas for ACID PROOFING to YELLOW (CHROME), TEST FOR.

It’s the sort of book that every handyman would have had in their shed, though the copy I found automatically falls open to the CONDIMENTS section.  (The more I look through it, the more I’m sure a future reader will find it falling open on PYROTECHNICS.)

A friend of mind flicking through it was saddened by the thought that a text like this no longer exists, and the book in his hand amounted to lost knowledge.  On the other hand, it could be argued that as some of the formulas contain ingredients or procedure that today are questionable if not downright dangerous it might be best out of the hands of Joe Bloggs, Esq.

But as you and I are are above the crowd (admit it, you clever sausage) I’m going to post the odd formula from Hiscox and Sloane.  But I hasten to add that, for safety to yourself and the world at large, I don’t recommend trying out said formula.  Basically: if you do and it leaves you with less fingers, a chronic skin condition, or really embarrassed, then it’s your own damn fault.

This week, something titillating.  Strangely, nowhere in the book are there instructions for how to apply the mixture.

50 grams Lanolin
50 grams Vaseline
20 drop Tincture of Benzoin
Mixed with water in which 10 grams of iodide of potassium has been dissolved.