wild magic

Over the last week or so, I’ve been rereading Tamora Pierce’s The Immortals quartet. They make for great bus-reading, which I do rather a lot of – given that on a day I have university, I spend close to (sometimes more than) 2 hours on buses. Which is partial excuse for the fact that I’ve nearly finished the fourth book already. I loved Pierce’s various fantastical novels in my tween/early-teen years, particularly her Tortall books (for some reason I never really bonded with any of the Circle of Magic books or characters, despite the fact that one of the characters was called Briar. Or perhaps because of that fact, since the Briar in their world was a boy. What gives?). I revisited them a couple of years back, borrowing a bevy of them from a coworker, but I only really got through the Alanna books and made myself properly read the Circle of Magic books (I did enjoy those ones more at upon my 18 year old reading rather than at 13/14, for whatever reason). I own Wild Magic, the first of the Daine books, somewhere. Magical word, somewhere. Probably it’s boxed up in the garage somewhere, bundled up with Animorphs books and a few craptastic Sabrina the Teenage Witch novelisations.

Anyway. I borrowed all four of The Immortals titles from the lovely Lola Mulot (fellow writer, book-slut and tautologist) and have devoured them. It’s been glorious. Not that my reading log of late hasn’t been enjoyable, on the contrary, but the occasional easy read, particularly of a fantastical nature, is wonderful. Not only is it basically like dragon-flavoured crack, it’s also a reminder of a genre that I’ve been tempted to write myself for quite some time. Before I ever started writing ‘legitimately’ (aka. when my creative writing flame was well and truly ignited by the esteemed Mrs Rosalind Ali of high school creative writing fame circa 2006) I was writing pages and pages of scribble, drawing maps and anatomically questionable pictures of characters from all kinds of ridiculous lands. I had drawers brimming with loose leaf paper and exercise books full of the stuff – mostly terrible Tamora Pierce inspired fantasy lands and people, but the occasional more sci-fi world, too, just to mix it up. Nobody really knew about my weird creative visions, which was perhaps for the best, but it did kind of explain why suddenly writing words that went well together seemed to fit like a glove.

Everyone knows that fantasy is always in vogue for children’s and YA fiction – or at least it has been for the last decade or so. Harry Potter, Twilight, Eragon… it’s all about finding the current creature or trait that’s going to strike a chord with voracious young readers. Although I suppose the average consumer of Stephenie Meyer’s words doesn’t necessarily come under the ‘voracious young reader’ label. Nor would they know what ‘voracious’ means. No matter. I used to prefer – as a teen fantasy creator – the thoroughly immersive foreign fantasy worlds that Pierce uses – as does Christopher Paolini in the Inheritance Cycle – though it seems that the fad of the day, at least in fantasy designed for teen consumers, is fantasy threads running through real life – à la finding that vampires live in the rainiest corners of Washington State, or that there’s a school for wizardry up somewhere in Scotland. It’s a shame, in some ways, but maybe I’ll just have to work with the trends. That, or write for a younger audience, who seem to be more willing to put faith in a hand-drawn, mentally-created map. Either way, a foray into fantasy seems only appropriate.

In the meantime, I’ll get back to Daine and Numair and the Divine Realms. And contemplate the fact that my derby-appropriate roller skates have been shipped and hopefully will be here soon. Très exciting stuff.

boxed in

I’m currently stuck inside the box. Said box is keeping me from finishing a rather crucial essay. And by finishing, I mean starting.

This is me being stuck inside the box –

The essay is on The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Which is an excellent book. But it’s worth 50% of my grade, and I suspect this is what is somewhat freaking me out. I’ve not had such a high percentage reliant on one piece of work before. Cue mild terror.

As an aside, The Appraisal went reasonably well. In the workplace I put on my hyper-upbeat face, in contrast to my cynical bitch face (what can I say, I’m a Gemini) – so that tends to help my case when my work ethic etc etc is being assessed. In a quintessentially back-country kiwi fashion, heck yes!

(I myself am a city (well, suburban) girl born and bred and know nothing of such lingo except as inserted into the ironic jargon of the modern day K Rd hipster.)

Peace out. There is trauma to be written about. And I suppose, when it’s over, and I get a possibly abominable grade, I will then have trauma to write creatively, rather than academically, about, for my own point and purpose. AKA using it as impetus for the poetry that my delightfully sixteen-year-old character Ruby will be writing over the course of her novel.

feeling appraised.

Situation: You are a university student. This is your second-to-last semester. You have a part-time job in a bookstore. You started working in this store in your last year of high school, and apart from nine months of being overseas/working elsewhere, you have been there all this time. You’ve been in a position of authority for quite some time. Retail slavery is only sticking around as long as you a) are a student and b) live in the vicinity of the shop in question.

And now, time has rolled around once more for your appraisal.

It tends to feel like one of the more pointless exercises of life. And my my, this situation happens to be presenting itself to me right now. Or in an hour or so, anyway. I’ve been gifted a wad of paper to look through, containing my supervisor job description (obviously so that I will realise there is one little criterion I haven’t been fulfilling, and for which I will spend my appraisal begging forgiveness. Ha.) and a goal-type template. Problem is, at this point, I have no goals within this particular job. I can open the store, and close it, and oversee the running of however many minions are rostered on with me on any one day. I know procedures, I’ve learned some extra processes (like those pertaining to magazines – mission and a half, I tell you.).

There’s really nowhere that I can go from here. Since I have no desire to stick around in the retail sector, or, god forbid, enter the corporate world as it relates to my particular company. A bookstore’s just a good place for a writerly English major to spend her money making Saturdays. Mildly castigatory action may occur due to my lack of preparation, but honestly, I don’t know what more they expect. My ‘longer-term goals’? To get a non-retail job as soon as possible. ‘Skills and past experiences [that I have] acquired to support [my] career goals’? Hmmm. That if I decide to write under a pseudonym, I should make sure it starts with something in the front half of the alphabet for general eye-level accessibility. That’s something relevant to my career plans. And knowledge of what (drastically terrible) genres sell. That’s both depressing and useful to know, I suppose. So maybe there’s a little bit of usefulness that comes from this long-term planning. Thanks, work!

Obviously, the part-time-supervisor final-year-student appraisal is a worthy and necessary fixture. I’m sorry to have ever doubted you, retail world.

if lists won awards…

It’s one of my plots/schemes of the moment to get through as many substantially ‘awarded’ books as possible. This means both books receiving a substantial number of awards, and those that have received awards that themselves are ‘substantial’ in nature. Like the Man Booker, Orange, Pulitzer… NZ Post. Etc. I promise I won’t use the word ‘substantial’ again for a long time.

The latest book on my award-winning list (oh that the list itself won awards – one has to fund one’s way through the trial and tribulations of pre-publication writerhood somehow) is As The Earth Turns Silver by Alison Wong, which won the overall best fiction prize in the NZ Post Book Awards this year. And I could write an in-depth review and talk about the insight into both British Imperial and expat Chinese cultures in turn of the century Wellington, and how much one feels for both Yung and Katherine throughout the book. But really, the book  is under 300 pages, and I read the whole thing in less than a day. So go find yourself a copy and create your own opinion on it. I promise you it’s worth investigation.

(Booker prize winner of 2002, Life of Pi, was last week – like so many books, I’ve taken my time to get around to reading this one, but there’s definitely more Yann Martel in my future, I’m sure of it. A library copy of The Graveyard Book (Hugo/Newbery/Locus/Carnegie medal winning, and therefore definitely appropriate for my reading log of late) by Neil Gaiman is hanging around my bed, so methinks it’s going to be the next on the list. After rereading The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy in preparation for an essay due on Friday. And, oh hey, that one won the 1997 Booker. STILL ON THEME.)

This was conceived as a word-oriented blog (those created by others and by yours truly), but I’m at times a music/literature dual control vehicle of promotion. So, new acquisitions/recent obsessions – Karen Elson’s The Ghost That Walks, Zoe Boekbinder’s Over The Top EP, Tychozorente by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Forest Fiction by Teacups and Gin Wigmore’s 2008 release, Extended Play. All of these, new or old, are all definitely recommended, and all able to be found through the magic that is the internet. If not on iTunes, then BandCamps of the respective artists. Go explore the auditory magic.

And in the meantime, in Briar-Word-Land, I’m having a creation-y, uncover-y romance with a teenage character, peeling away layers to figure her out at the same time as building those layers up myself in word and mechanical pencil sketch form. That’s how I roll. Ruby is her name, and she wants to be a poet. Which is fun, since poetry is the opposite of that which I usually do. She’s going to eventually have her own novel. Exciting times lie ahead. Writers’ block is somewhat present on my other somewhat developed manuscript, the currently titled Singing The Frangipani Blues (favourite title I’ve ever come up with, I think, loitering at the top of sheets of loose leaf paper since I was fifteen), but cracking through will hopefully happen soon. There are too many madcap snow-bound adventures to be had in fictional Quebecois streets.

And that, my friends, is the first installment of the, possibly to be epic, chronicles of the Raw Library. Tune in next time.