Motivation and refreshing the well

I spent this past weekend at GenreCon. You can see my previous post for some photos of that fantastic event. As part of his opening speech, con organiser Peter M Ball said the following incredibly true thing:


He later blogged with the follow-up half of that truism:


I cannot emphasise just how true these things are. You mix with other writers and you learn all you can. You help other writers, with no view to a reward, but you’ll be rewarded anyway with other writers helping you in turn. You will benefit from friendly and open socialising with your peers, whether they’re streets ahead of you in their career or just starting out. But apart from that, the reason to hang out with other writers is because it is just so fucking motivating.

You talk about writing and publishing, you share successes and failures, you learn things you didn’t know before or you’re reminded of things you’d somehow sort of forgotten. You come away from these events with such a burning desire to work harder and be better and chase success that it makes all the struggle and the default position of rejection so much easier to bear. It reminds you why you do what you do. Other than the old truth that we writers simply couldn’t not write, by going to events like GenreCon we’re reminded that there are so many other people out there who share our particular brand of insanity and that’s incredibly empowering.

It’s also important, however, to remember that you need time and space. Creativity is born in boredom. Brains need downtime, when they’re certainly not switched off, but they’re actively resting. It’s a necessary part of being a writer to get out and do nothing. Since GenreCon, which was only a couple of days ago, I’ve written about 5,000 new words, pitched a non-fiction article to a pro venue, polished a short story and sent it to a wonderful beta reader and more. This is alongside running the kung fu academy and having a two year old son. But that’s my normal. It’s great and I love it.

This morning I woke up with a virtual iron spike through my eye, quivering on the verge of a migraine. I don’t get them often, but when I do they’re utterly debilitating. They happen when I’m too stressed/busy and too tired. The busy-ness or the tiredness on their own are no big deal. When the two line up in force, BOOM! It’s migraine time. Usually I can tell it’s coming and head it off. Today I almost couldn’t.

Wednesday mornings are one of my dedicated writing times, before I go out to teach classes through the afternoon and evening. But with the head I had this morning, I knew I needed some self-care. So I took my dog to the beach and walked in the rain. It was beautiful. Then I went into town with him, got a coffee and just sat on a bench under an awning and watched the world go by for an hour.

Now I’m home, recharged, my potential migraine reduced to a dull ache that will continue to fade. I feel refreshed and enlivened. And the best bit? All that stuff I did this morning is still writing. My brain was actively resting, turning over plot and story in my hindmind. Watching people in town gave me insights into characters. Nothing conscious, no note taking, but it all feeds the beast. It refreshes the creative wells. So now I’m back at my desk, writing up this post about it, then I’ll get back to the novel for an hour or two before I have to go to work. I might only add 1,000 new words, where most Wednesdays I might write up to 5,000, but that doesn’t matter. It’s healthy forward progress, it’s sustainable and enjoyable.

So mix with your peers, online all the time and in person when you can. Be inspired, be motivated, but remember to look after yourself too. There’s an old proverb: Fear not moving slowly. Fear only standing still.

Be well and if you make half a page of progress one week, congratulate yourself. Aim to do more next week. If you don’t, so what? Do more the week after. Just keep going and stay healthy. And yes, in some ways this is a thinly veiled NaNoWriMo post, but it’s more than that. It’s about the importance of interaction and isolation, and recognising when you need both. It applies to everything, not just the writing life. It’s about all of life.

Be well!

A photo from my walk today - Kiama headland from Bombo Beach.
A photo from my walk today – Kiama headland from Bombo Beach.

GenreCon 2015

I went up to Brisbane this weekend for GenreCon. It’s the third (I think) time GenreCon has happened, the second one in Brisbane. It’s run by the Australian Writers’ Marketplace and expertly managed by Peter Ball. Honestly, Peter and his ninjas deserve medals, as it’s a truly professional convention. You can learn more about it here.

I did my Write The Fight Right workshop up there and that seemed to go down very well. Otherwise there was a fantastic selection of panels and keynotes from incredibly talented and interesting writers. GenreCon is every two years, so get yourself organised for 2017.

I uploaded a bunch of photos to my Facebook page here. I wish I’d taken more, but I was too busy hanging with awesome people and having fun.



And Then… Big book of awesome on its way

So this is quite exciting. I’ve been sitting on this one for ages and it’s finally being officially announced.

Clan Destine Press are crowd funding a giant anthology of cross-genre buddy-adventure sff stories by the likes of Jack Dann, Narrelle Harris, Jason Nahrung, Dan Rabarts, Tor Roxburgh, Amanda Pillar, Mary Borsellino, Jason Franks… and many more excellent writers of genre fiction. And me. I have a historical fantasy story in there that includes kung fu, Chinese spirit magic, the Australian gold rush and all kinds of heroic fun. Sounds great, right?

It’s going to be huge. Check it out here:

There’s an indiegogo campaign to get involved too, from as simple as a couple of bucks in support, to paying now to pre-order the book, right up to some very sweet rewards, including critiques of your fight scenes by me and loads of other stuff. Check out all that goodness here:–2#/

The fact that this commissioned anthology grew from one into two books, just because all the contributors turned in such great, and long, stories, is pretty exciting. My own yarn ran right up to the word limit and even tumbled over just a fraction. It’s a different story to anything I’ve written before and I’m really pleased with it. I can’t wait for it to get out there into the world.

Watch this space for more details, or just go and sling a few bucks at the indiegogo campaign and you’ll get regular updates.


Bloodlines available now

Bloodlines-cover-1aThe paperback of Bloodlines is available now from Amazon and all good bookstores.

Here’s the Amazon link:

Here’s the Table of Contents:

Bloodlines, the new non-traditional dark urban fantasy anthology edited by the award-winning Amanda Pillar. These 16 incredible original stories are:

  • Joanne Anderton “Unnamed Children”
  • Alan Baxter “Old Promise New Blood”
  • Nathan Burrage “The Ties of Blood, Hair and Bone”
  • Dirk Flinthart “In The Blood”
  • Rebecca Fung “In the Heart of the City”
  • Stephanie Gunn “The Flowers That Bloom Where Blood Touches Earth”
  • Kelly Hoolihan “The Stone and the Sheath”
  • Kathleen Jennings “The Tangled Streets”
  • Pete Kempshall “Azimuth”
  • Martin Livings “A Red Mist”
  • Seanan McGuire “Into the Green”
  • Anthony Panegyres “Lady Killer”
  • Jane Percival “The Mysterious Mr Montague”
  • Paul Starkey “The Tenderness of Monsters”
  • Lyn Thorne-Adder “Lifeblood of the City”
  • S. Zanne “Seeing Red”

Go get some!


Conflux 11 in Canberra this weekend

Conflux-11-300x93I have a soft spot for the Conflux convention in Canberra. It’s on every year over the October long weekend and I haven’t missed one for years. It was the first SFF convention I attended and it’s always one of the best.

This year I can only make it for one day, sadly, but I will be there all day on Sunday. I’m on two panels:

2.30pm – “I felt that!” Vivid prose, wherein I’ll be talking about descriptive writing with Debbie Richardson, Shauna O’Meara and Leife Shallcross.

3.30pm – Dystopian Fiction, wherein I’ll be moderating on the subject with Cat Sparks and Shauna O’Meara.

Otherwise I’ll be around and about all day. The whole con runs from Friday to Monday at the Novotel Canberra, and there’s loads of great stuff happening. So get along there and be sure to come and say hi!