Six: Sunday 17/07/2005

Sunday, 24 July, 2005

I haven't been sleeping well but nevertheless I get up and go to breakfast. We are late to the con and I only catch the tail-end of “The Token Harry Potter Panel”. I am disturbed to discover that there is slash fiction out there about Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. Even though the book was only released the day before, there are people who have already finished reading it. Cannot wait for my copy but I have to wait for my brother who promised to give it to me for my birthday.

Next is “Underground Comics In Australia” (David Carroll, David Blumenstein, Jo Waite, Grant Stone) which was pretty disappointing (or maybe it was because they bagged out Christianity which always makes me feel slightly ill anyway).

I couldn't find Kathleen but I went to the Robin Hobb Guest of Honour speech anyway and was surprised by how good it was and how much I enjoyed it. She talked about writing and parenting and the strong parallels between the two. Here are some of my notes:

  • Writing is like parenting: you have to break it down into achievable goals. And you won't know if you're successful for years. You just attempt it and make judgements later.
  • Both require perseverance. You are constantly correcting and repeating.
  • Time doesn't come in years; it comes in moments. Children don't wait. Be the parent you want to be. Don't procrastinate. It's the same with writing—if you write about that idea you had a year later, it won't be the same idea but it will be the idea with one year's experience on it.
  • You will never have more free time than you do right now. Life just fills in the moments; if you don't take them, you'll never get them.
  • Being in charge and setting the rules. With each choice I make, I decide against all other choices.
  • Children keep you in touch with the world. Great excuse to plunder children's and young adult's sections of the library and bookstores.
  • You don't have to be a parent to be a good writer. But you can do both.

I thought it was interesting how Robin was writing about Fitz in the Farseer Trilogy while her son was going through the turmoil of adolescence. It didn't matter if they had argued or weren't speaking, whenever he came home, he would always read the day's chapter before going to bed.

I wonder if my kids would ever want to read my work.

After Robin's speech, I was kind of sick of going to panels and sitting down. I wanted to do something else for a while so I knelt on the floor and worked on the Dinotopia puzzle that someone had so kindly set up for people to work on in the foyer of the three ballrooms. Various people came and went and helped me—particularly people in Neil's signing line (his third session). I had a splitting headache. Unfortunately, kneeling on the floor is uncomfortable and I got a backache from pouring over the puzzle so I gave up and tried to join the signing line to get Neil to sign my hardcover copy of Coraline and give him his present but I was too late—they needed to take him off to lunch so I went off and bought another sandwich from the Hilton people and found Kathleen, remembering that they were going to screen A Short Film About John Bolton during the lunch hour (which is kind of good because I wanted to see it but wasn't prepared to get to the Hilton at 8 am that morning to do so. I'm not that dedicated). I really enjoy the film—especially for its humour and characterisation. I think I was taking it way too seriously as a documentary—definitely didn't pick the ending.

Afterwards, Kathleen and I camped out on the foyer floor and ate our Hilton sandwiches. My headache was getting worse and I didn't think I'd be able to last for the Robin Hobb signing at 4 to get The Golden Fool signed for Panther. Kathleen said she was going anyway. After lunch, there was the “What's New in Anime” panel but I wasn't up for it. I hung around the foyer while Kathleen went off to something and then I saw Neil coming back from lunch, walking and talking with the girl with the amazing hair. I felt rude interrupting but he very nicely stopped to sign my book.

“Who should I make it out to?” he asked. At this point, completely forgetting about Neil's signing tips, particularly,

Remember your name. Know how to spell it, even under pressure, such as being asked.

I say, in response to my question, “Me.” And then think to pull out my Continuum 3 nametag so he knows what my name actually is and how to spell it. And again, even though he wasn't supposed to be signing, he had his own pen with him and he drew me a rat and I told him that Coraline is my favourite thing he's written so far. And then I gave him a present (it was Elixir if you're curious; I thought he might like them) and, even though I'm sure he's gotten tons of presents over the years from various fans, he still thanked me sincerely like he really appreciated it and then kissed me on the cheek.

(At this point I think briefly of Guan's post—particularly the lines,

Ahhhhh. (sigh of contentment) And not that it's a competition, but top that, /Karen/ and Haoran.

and am inflicted by a very perverse and juvenile urge to SMS Guan [who, I know, is currently away at the Campus Bible Study Graduate Conference with Haoran, Elsie and Haydn] but then think that belittles a rather special moment and so I don't.)

He moves on and I'm left in the foyer, kind of stunned. I'm also stuck for things to do and I don't want to go to another panel because I'm all panelled-out but I still need to get that book signed. I find one of the available chairs in the foyer and sit down and fill out the feedback form for the convention. While I'm sitting there, a guy named Firebird comes up and starts talking to me—I met him briefly the day before during the Neil signing. He seems to be a con veteran and he tells me all about Swancon and other cons he's been to (cons that have constant video streams and even gaming streams). Talking to him makes me realise that not everyone goes to cons for the Guests of Honour or the panels; people go for different reasons. I must be weird. He also advised, to get the most of a con experience, to stay in the hotel and to keep coming because then you get to know more of the people. His friend Erica also comes and sits with us but she's very tired and so semi-crashes out on the floor. She and Firebird have just checked out of their rooms so they don't really have anywhere they can snooze.

They get involved in a conversation with another lady who comes to join them and I spot Cat Sparks crossing the foyer floor and take advantage of her offer to talk further about small press publishing. She leads me to the dealer's room where we sit behind the table and chat. I tell her my vague idea and she gives me some direction for it. She talks a bit about the practicalities about small press publishing (print vs. web) and gives me her card. She's very nice and tells me not to hesitate about contacting her about stuff if I need help. I'm not sure what I will do with my idea ... need to do more thinking.

I spot Kathleen in the foyer again and she tells me Robin Hobb has just gone into the dealer's room to sign books for Justin of Slow Glass Books (who let me spend a whole heap of money the day before). When she finishes, I manage to grab her and get that book signed for Panther. I also compliment her on her Guest of Honour speech and ask her if she had a particular time of day to write while raising the kids. She said, “You just take the time when you can—sit by the sandbox with a notebook, get up two hours earlier than when the kids have to go to school ...” I feel quite inspired by her. Cat Sparks comes up and snaps a picture of us together (which isn't in her gallery but a lot of other photos from the con are if you are interested). Kathleen also gets her book signed and then Robin has to go.

My head is bursting at this point but Kathleen and I still go to the “Reinventing the Creation Myth: Gods and Monsters” (Neil Gaiman, Robin Hobb, Cameron Rogers, Jenny Blackford, Shane Jiralya Cummings). They didn't talk much about creation myths but a little bit about gods and monsters. While they were speaking, I couldn't help thinking of that Old Testament 1 lecture John Woodhouse gave us back in March where he talked about how Genesis 1 was probably written in reaction to creation myths like the Babylonian epic, Enuma Elish, which is one of the oldest complete creation myths we have. John drew comparisons between the two, eg.

Enuma Elish Genesis 1
The story is complex and messy. The story is simple and straightforward.
“Tiamat” appears as a character with mythological associations (she's sea water and her union with Apsu [fresh water] produces the race of the gods). “Tehom” is the Hebrew word for “deep” which might have etymological links to “Tiamat” but it is never personalised; it is merely part of God's creation and is incapable of offering resistance to God's creative work.
The monsters are gods and very powerful. They create things. The monsters are mere creatures and usually refer to large water creatures. They don't do any creating.
Marduk cuts Tiamat in half. God does the separating.
The sun, the moon and the stars are gods but they are not created by God. Marduk gives them their place and puts them in their constellations. God creates the sun, moon and stars but they are not named so as to not confuse them with pagan deities. Their status and function is downgraded; they separate day from night and are signs for seasons, days and years. No major attention is given to the stars—they are not objects to be worshipped.
The creation of mankind is an afterthought and has the purpose of providing the gods with food, relieving them of the monotony of their work or satisfying their physical needs. The creation of mankind is the pinnacle of creation. Adam is blessed by God and given dominion. God provides his food, not the other way around. Adam alone is addressed by God in the 2nd person pronoun, “you”. Adam alone, out of all the creation, is described as being created in God's image and likeness.
The gods speak magic words and by these words, things happen. God speaks and creation comes into being but it is not because his words have any power; it is because he himself is powerful.

While the panel discussion was taking place, Kathleen had gotten out her paints and was adding colour to her drawings from the Maskobalo the night before.

Kathleen painting

As you can see, she's really good!

Kathleen painting close-up

My head had had enough and I told Kathleen that I was going back to University College—maybe to have a sleep. I had decided to miss the closing ceremony anyway because I wanted to go to church with Anita. She said she would try to be back in time for church but might not make it. So we parted ways and I took the tram back to University College and found Ben watching some Herbie movie and we ate rice snacks until he fell asleep. I woke him up for dinner and was intending to go to church from there but he wasn't feeling too good and so did not accompany me.

Anita was there at the front gate promptly at 7:20 and she drove me to St. Jude's. It is an old Anglican church which looks like it's heritage listed because there was all this stuff on the walls to keep it from crumbling down.

St. Jude's exterior

They blocked off the back pews to get everyone to sit closer to the front. Ben mentioned that when he visited St. Jude's last year, he liked how all the singing was done together at the beginning and not scattered throughout the service as an excuse to stand up and stretch or break up the proceedings. I have to say I liked that too. I didn't know many of the songs but they were easy enough to pick up and join in.

St. Jude's interior

The sermon is on Daniel 6 and it is very good and encouraging, challenging us to be as upright and blameless as Daniel was—the kind of person who was the same in private as he was in public, continually trusting in his God. I didn't get enough time to fill out the response form before the plate came around but Anita got me to give it to one of their staff workers afterwards.

They were encouraging people to go to Lygon St. for supper but few were keen to go. Anita was successful in persuading one girl named Kristen to accompany us to Koko Black for another divine hot chocolate before dropping me back at University College again.

Posted in: Melbourne 2005

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What’s this idea for a book you keep talking about???

(suspense is killing me…)

I will tell you next time I see you.


Kinds of Blue: Cover art



A way of funding writing in the future: pitch and idea and get people to support it.

Place where you can hire play equipment for parties, etc.

How to recalibrate the home button on your iPhone.

Unsolicited manuscripts accepted by Pan Macmillan with certain conditions.

Thought Balloon is a group blog in which the writers tackle a new theme every week? month? with one-page scripts. This URL is for their Phonogram ones.


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