Cheeseburger Gothic

The weird little origami-like folds of dictating your story

Posted September 4 into Writing by John Birmingham

I'm being crushed by deadline. The sequel to Zero Day Code. So naturally in the middle of this, I lost my mind and decided it was time to have a look at my productivity. I bought a book about voice recognition software. 15 Minute Dictation by Sean Platt and Neeve Silver. Although I've been using Dragon’s dictation software for more than a decade now, it was still useful.

Honest! I didn’t waste my time! There were a couple of tricks to using dictation software, weird little origami-like folds of understanding exactly how you hold a story in your head, I suppose, that I hadn't really thought about before. And they were interacting with the way I use the pomodoro method to fuck me up, just a little bit. So I tweaked my method.

I normally work in half-hour bursts if I'm doing something I really don't want to do. That is the beating heart of the pomodoro method. Even if some writing task is completely fucking loathsome, you should be able to gut it out for twenty-five minutes. And by focusing for that small window of time you normally get past your resistance to doing The Bad Thing and the job starts to move.

When I'm working on something that I actually do want to do, I can stretch the pomodoro timer out to nearly an hour. Either 50 or 55 minutes is best. But it's not easy to talk to yourself for just under an hour. Not if you want to maintain steady progress on a narrative. It's always tempting to go back and fix up every phrase or sentence or scrap of dialogue you’ve just written. This is a completely natural process when you're typing. You don't even think about it. The words come out, they could be a little bit better, you tweak them and move on. A simple, intuitive, almost thoughtless process when typing. But not when you are using dictation software.

Oh my fucking God no.

So one of the tips for young players that this book recommended was knowing what you're going to write before you write it. This is an old hack’s trick. It is why so many of us plot out rather than just plunge into the story. You are at your most glacial when you’re trying to figure out what you are writing while you write. But you're even slower if you’re also correcting the grammar and the aesthetics of the language as you go. So slow in fact, that you can lose all of the benefits of dictation, which can be three or five or even ten times faster than composing something by hand.

So what I tried to do was reorganise the way I move through those 55-minute blocks of writing time. Rather than trying to just talk to the software for nearly an hour without a break, I wrote out the entire chapter, paragraph by paragraph, in the form of a one line summary for each par.

I then had a blueprint to refer to while I was ‘writing’ (ie, dictating).

But—and here’s the money shot—I wouldn't just look at the blueprint and try and talk my way through it, expanding each one line summary as I went. Instead I looked at the synopsis of the first par and asked myself “What is going to happen in this?”

I spent about a minute figuring it out, imagining the scene in my head, and all of the dialogue to be spoken in it. I wasn't looking for a perfect word-by-word facsimile in my head of what would soon appear on screen. I simply wanted to know what was going to happen. The story beats of the paragraph, if you will. The narrative waypoints. There’s not many of them in a single par.

This meant I was dictating about two- to three hundred words in the space of 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat the process over an hour and you get about five or six slabs of wordage, totalling 1200 or 1300 words in all.

Fuckin' romantic, innit, eh?

I didn’t edit or second guess myself as I went, I just tried to move as quickly through those short bursts of ‘writing’ as I could - after roughly figuring out where they would go, narratively. A short break followed, five minutes or so, and then I moved onto half an hours editing of the just transcribed copy.

It’s always best to edit dictated sections on the same day. The software is much better than it used to be, but there will still be errors and you’re more likely to clean them up accurately when the composition is fresh in your mind.

A developer who (I think) also writes video game storylines asked me on Twitter how I changed gears between creation and the ‘analysis’ of editing. She found it difficult to switch. It might be as simple a trick as thinking of those short, immediate bursts of editing, not as editing, but simply as more writing. You’re expanding and sculpting and refining the copy you just threw at the screen. I normally add another 25% in volume at this point. Structural and copy editing are different and can wait until later.

4 Responses to ‘The weird little origami-like folds of dictating your story’

Nocturnalist mumbles...

Posted September 5
+++But it's not easy to talk to yourself for just under an hour.+++

Oh, I don't know, I manage it pretty well when I'm on a task or out walking and have something on my mind and forget there are people around. And then I stop to take stock, or waiting to cross a road, and see all the looks I'm getting and get that sinking realisation that my internal monologue wasn't quite so internal for a little while there.

Anyway. Probably not what you meant. Carry on.

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Doccs mutters...

Posted September 9
Thank You JB-I’ve been struggling with VR software as part of my work.
Your idea kinda gels with what I’ve learnt that you have to speak in phrases, ie ones you’ve already thought out.

Will give your method a try.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted September 11
#SausageMaking
In a previous career I schlepped AV equipment. One day a very casually dressed bloke asked if I minded him working in the back of a room I was setting for a show. Of course, so we each got on with our work. I noticed he wore a headset and would occasionally talk. I assumed a phone call. As I finished up we had a brief conversation. He is/was one of the lord high poo-bahs of the Federal Family Court. He was reading submissions and dictating notes via Dragon. I mentioned I knew a bloke who wrangled words professionally and who was down one arm at the time who spoke to the Dragon. He showed me how it learnt to understand him and the specific arcana of law-speak. He mentioned how unlike Ye olde memorex cassette & typist transcription, he composed each note in his head before speaking. An additional 30 seconds before clicking resulted in a significant decrease in edit & revision. Also some sweet ass tagging methods for subsequent analysis.

So when can we have a Spoilerific Spoily thread on 0DC &/or TCS ?

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Doccs is gonna tell you...

Posted September 12
Thanks Nblob-helps me understand a bit more.

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Alternate realities

Posted May 23 into Writing by John Birmingham

One of the nice things about writing for a living is the way you get paid to retreat from the world of real things. I've been in full retreat since about 7.30 on Saturday night. The entry below, "Dark Thoughts", was composed in the hours before dawn when I'd woken up, seething and unable to get back to sleep.

I brought myself down to my office, wrote that blog post, and opened up Scrivener. I started to work on a TV script. I can't talk about it in detail because we're still in the early stages of development. But I can say this. I fucking LOVE writing for TV. I get lost in it. Sometimes I get lost in novels too, but not like this. I've been racking up long hours at the keyboard all week. Not because I'm on deadline or under pressure, but because once I step into the imagined world of this show I find I much prefer it to the real world. I don't want to leave.

Even when I do leave, when I push back from the computer and rejoin the family for dinner, lets say, I find myself repeating long stretches of dialogue without realising that I'm doing it.

"What did you say?" Jane will ask. And I have to mutter something about just talking to myself. To be honest, it's a little embarrassing that it's been happening so much.

Still, better than reality.

I don't think the retreat from an unpleasant outer world explains why I've spent so much time so deeply embedded in this new, inner world. I think it might partly have something to do with the structure of storytelling for the screen.

The irreducible element at the core of a screenplay or a teleplay is the scene. Each scene is a world unto itself, but unlike a book it is an almost bare stage. When writing a novel you make everything bigger. When writing a script, it goes the other way. Everything gets stripped back, reduced to essences. It's fascinating, almost mesmerising.

I've now finished the first draft of the pilot for this show. I have no idea whether it will get any further. But even so, even with a chapter of World War 3.1 to write, and a whole novel in the Zero Day Code franchise to finish, I feel myself being pulled back into the world of the TV show, almost as though I am trapped in a dangerous rip.

13 Responses to ‘Alternate realities’

WarDog puts forth...

Posted May 23
Just in case it doesn't make it to T, can it reprised in written form?

jl puts forth...

Posted May 23
A fine question!

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted May 23
It could be, but I really hope to see it made.

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jl has opinions thus...

Posted May 23
Sounds like great fun, actually. Yeah, I got lost in my latest (an alternate history) pretty bad for the last two weeks; now the rough draft is done. Definitely know what you're saying, JB.

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted May 23
I am drawn by the imagery of your writing being caught in a rip, so Australian. Since Saturday I have been trying to follow Alasdair Gray's aphorism "Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation" but it is hard.

Nocturnalist mutters...

Posted May 24
Have you read WALKAWAY yet? That line and sentiment come up quite a bit in it.

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted May 25
Not yet, but Cory Doctorow is always on my to read list.

Nocturnalist is gonna tell you...

Posted May 25
Be interested to get your take on it when you've read it. I don't reread much these days but I'll probably take another trip through it myself soon.

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jason reckons...

Posted May 23
My favorite thing about writing and others people's writing in some ways is that you get to play in a world where you control almost everything. The good guys normally win or are so heroic it appears to be a win and the bad folks always take a licking. Far removed from the real world but a beautiful place.

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Oldy reckons...

Posted May 23
It sounds like some chicken soup for your soul, and I for one cheer that on. I can relate to how dark these last few days have been, and anything that brightens that, I'm cheering for.

Have fun mate, and I look forward to enjoying more JB content.

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Leftarc is gonna tell you...

Posted May 23
Sounds like good times. As a fan of the West Wing (of which seems to get more and more wistful, and yet further away from reality every single day), and the West Wing Weekly podcast, I remember a quote from the late John Spencer; 'First comes the word'. Early episodes of the podcast tell of how late the scripts were for the West Wing when Aaron Sorkin was writing was because he spent hours making sure it was right. And it was, actors had to read the script exactly, there was no improvisation, and you could not change any of the words. At all.
This is why I imagine TV writing would be a whole rabbit hole to go down. I think the difference between a novel and TV is that there is more setting out, and 'telling the story' for TV. In a book like The Stand, my imagination created how Stu Redman looked and spoke. But then watching the mini series, Stu is Gary Sinise, since then Stu's words are spoken in that Gary Sinise drawl.
And whilst you bang away at Zero Day Code, and since I brought it up, Stephen King also wrote the screen play for The Stand Mini Series. You might be onto something.

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Sparty has opinions thus...

Posted May 23
I'd like me some JB TV.
interesting to note that @pennyred who some people tagged as a good inspiration for whats her name in the time travel books is now a writer on Joss Whedons new series..

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thetick has opinions thus...

Posted May 26
How is writing for TV different from writing a novel, for example?

I mean, is it that you describe each scene, character actions, lines, etc?

Like, when you write a scene are you laying down the setting, the clothing, etc, or does that get filled in later?

Is it fiction or non-fiction?

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Writing in cafes is bullshit

Posted March 28 into Writing by John Birmingham

I’m currently sitting in one of my favourite coffee joints. Pourboy in south Brisbane. (Okay, I guess I'm not any sitting there anymore cos I wrote this hours before posting it). You might have seen me rave about their croque madame because their croque monsieur is fucking awesome.

I find myself here once or twice a week during the school year because I drop Thomas nearby to a bunch of extracurricular stuff before class starts. Pourboy is a great place, but there’s a reason I’m writing this blog post and not the book chapter I should be working on right now. Pourboy is too good. It’s popular and crowded and noisy and I don’t know how any of these pretend bullshit writers and poets and citizen journalists ever get anything done in all of these fucking cafes they seem to live in because... GAH!

It’s busy here.

Funny thing is, it’s not usually this busy when I come through because I get here about 6.30 in the AM. It’s now just after nine, and I’ll be here a while longer while I run down the clock to an interview at the ABC studios down the road.

I brought in the new iPad, thinking I’d get some work done, and I did, but nothing heavy or deep. Not the book chapters I have due, or the TV script I’m working on. Nope. This ain’t the place for that. I avoided getting caught in a social media spiral, so yay for me, I guess. But I’ve been here for nearly two hours now and I’ve basically been triaging emails, writing short blog posts, and knocking over chickenshit admin that I’d leave until it was way too late if I was at my desk.

Given all that, I suppose it hasn’t been a complete write off. In a way it’s been kind of instructive. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the unconscionable waste of time that Twitter has become (and Facebook always was). I’ve been thinking about how I always mean to blog regularly but never quite build up the head of steam to keep it going because I’m so fucking busy during my writing day that I can’t justify spending time on the Burger. And when I down tools at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is more writing.

I wonder then if the thing to do might be to carve out a little time in the early morning a couple of days a week, to do the stuff I’ve been forced to do here today by all these noisy fuckers invading my normally quiet coffee shop.

I’ve come back around to the idea that social networks are poison. That it’s not just the nazis and the advertising and the advertising for Nazis. It’s the very nature of the thing, the way these platforms are engineered to destroy people’s concentration, to lure them into mindless scrolling, and swiping and liking and kommunting. They are also, of course, intellectual property traps. Everything you post on Facebook belongs to the Zuck. Everything. And the original deal the Book made with artists, that the creators would provide content and the Zuck would gather the audience, that’s long gone. Now you provide the content AND you pay for access to the audience.

I’ll admit, it’s a lot of thinking, for a morning coffee stop to fill in some time. But I dont often get the time to sit and think. Even if I can barely hear my own thoughts.

I should do more of it.

16 Responses to ‘Writing in cafes is bullshit’

jl is gonna tell you...

Posted March 29
Thanks for the warning re: IP traps. Hadn't thought of that, although I'm not surprised.

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jason would have you know...

Posted March 29
I cant write anything with the TV on let alone in a crowded cafe. Although I do listen to the sounds of a crowded cafe on spotify sometimes when trying to concentrate, hmmm...

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted March 29
Yeah, me too. It’s weird, innit.

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Barnesm would have you know...

Posted March 29
Weirdly this sounds to me like a productive strategy, you admit to yourself its stuff that wouldn't othewise get done. I confess I never considered a graded level of distraction tailored to the work I needed to accomplish as a productivity tool. Nice one.

damian is gonna tell you...

Posted March 29
I’m a believer in this concept of modes that you seem to be describing. You can write certain content in a certain context, because that’s what you have time for or it’s what you have brainspace (tipping a hat to Tim and Debbie) for.

Sitting in the food court at Brookside at the moment, after eating two greasy pizza slices from the kebab shop waiting for a bus (like the old days I guess).

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
I distresses me that I know who you mean by Tim and Debbie.

damian puts forth...

Posted April 7
...
Because it means you’re over 40?

Nocturnalist asserts...

Posted April 9
Age is just a state of mind, damian.

Or should I say, age is just a Braaiiinn Spaaace.

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Rob would have you know...

Posted March 29
I was thinking today that a café might be a good place to study my online degree to avoid distractions at home. I might give it a go, mainly to see if the pretentiousness and embarrassment of getting out a laptop or tablet in a hipster café would make me actually study. As opposed to sitting at home and going look! a dog to pat, look! a cat to meow at, look! a video game to play.

On the plus side of social media, without it I would never had met and continued to know novelists, musicians, artists, art gallery curators and owners. Its been good in a lot of ways. But I have had to filter out the angry posters and tediously easy politics (of which I'm definitely one) .

But as a boredom shifter of the void that is the modern soul, it really needs a hand break. It will probably come in the form of a Facebook myspace moment or an Microsoft anti trust lawsuit.

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she_jedi puts forth...

Posted March 29
I honestly don’t know how JK Rowling managed to write Harry Potter in a cafe. Maybe it was before they became hipster traps of “pretend bullshit writers”...? Maybe she started it???

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
I was pondering this very question just yesterday.

Nocturnalist ducks in to say...

Posted March 29
I suspect she spent a lot of time in there outside the breakfast/lunchtime/after work rushes. (It was owned by a relative, apparently, so at least she didn't have to contend with "Scuse me, but the boss says you have to order something or leave".

damian mutters...

Posted March 29
I’d hang out for hours in quiet cafés in the 80s and 90s. Mostly they’d be okay if it wasn’t busy and you got at least one coffee or a pot of tea. Worst you would get is after a while a polite “Are you going to order anything else? It’s just there are people waiting for a table...”

I did get writing done that way, though it was with a good old A4 notebook and a pen (or several pens, ball points ran out too fast, felt tip sharpies hadn’t really been invented). That’s while living alone or in share houses, too, which is a very different life.

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Nocturnalist reckons...

Posted March 29
There's a particular caff here that was pretty much my second home in my 30s. I'd knock off the day job at sixish, head in there, eat, then bust out the laptop and write until they threw me out at 10pm and usually go home and put another hour or two in before bed. It was a pain if it got too crowded, in which case I'd go elsewhere, but most of the time the noise level was just right, just enough to lull the looking-for-distraction part of my brain so it didn't interfere with the writing but not enough to, well, interfere with the writing. So maybe it's just a question of finding the *right* café.

Interesting thing was that when I was in a café with a certain amount of background noise I was fine, but on the nights I went to write in the library at ANU where it was much quieter, a single whispered conversation six desks away would drive me insane.

Did you ever work in an old-school newsroom in your journalist days, JB? I know Terry Pratchett said that once you've learned to write surrounded by ringing phones and shouting sub-editors you can write anywhere.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 29
Yeah, it's a weird thing. I have no trouble writing in crowded newsrooms. It's a background buzz, I guess.

she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted March 31
I’m a business analyst so I have to write requirements documents, business cases etc, so creative but in a formal way? And I find I can write in a mildly noisy office, to the point where i’m doing my writing workshop stuff for uni in the office after hours before I go home because once i’m home the procrastination bug gets me and my creativity dries up. It’s weird!

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McCafe morning. (Please don’t tell anybody I wrote this.)

Posted February 21 into Writing by John Birmingham


I had to kill an hour in the city this morning. (Matter of fact, Dr Who-like, I’m there right now, but you’re not and it’s much later. Timey Wimey Magic!)
I had my new iPad Pro with me, thinking I’d test it out for mobile productivity. I love this fucking thing, and will write about it some more, but the tech wasn’t the issue this morning. It was the space.
Having an hour to fill while I was waiting for my daughter to get out of the orthodontist, I started casting around for somewhere to prop up and write a few pars.
Something I quickly discovered; the better the cafe, the less likely it is to provide Wi-Fi. Hence I ended up hanging with the red headed horror clown. AKA McCafe.
First impression. Going into the coffee business was a good deal for Ronald McDonald. My flat white and muffin cost more than they would have at a ‘real’ cafe. The quality was fine. Machine-tooled even. That’s one thing about Maccas. You know what you’re getting. Every. Goddamned. Time.
The Wi-Fi was free and fast, although having been lured there by the complimentary webz, I ended up using the city’s free network instead. No reason to the let horror clown in on my pornhub preferences. The city council, however, I’m fine with them knowing.
The Maccas I chose was in the middle of the Queen Street Mall, in the old Jo-Jo’s building. It was spacious, and having been recently fitted out it hadn’t yet taken on that depressing patina of an underground city on a post apocalyptic world. The air con was chilly, the table tops clean, and there was more than enough seating for me to hide myself away from the horde.
Crucially, after purchasing my coffee and muffin nobody hassled me to buy anything else. And to be honest, they wouldn’t have bothered me even if I’d just wandered in, hooked up to the net and started work.
I dunno that I’d want to try get any real work done here during the burger rush hour, but as a place to prop up and bang out a few quick words, it beat the shit out of cooler, better, realer cafes.
But if you tell anyone I wrote this, I'll straight up deny it and curse you for a damned liar.

9 Responses to ‘McCafe morning. (Please don’t tell anybody I wrote this.)’

Bondiboy66 would have you know...

Posted February 21
I'm not a fan of the Shrine of The Clown...but have found that their free wif-fi is handy when travelling overseas!

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insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted February 21
McDoodles is handy while waiting for a flight to land at Sydney Airport.

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tqft asserts...

Posted February 21
That's a McCafe with recent work place relations issues, you may not have crossed a picket line, but some people avoid it on purpose.

You are not using a vpn?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 21
I haven't put my normal VPN on the iPad yet. It's very new. So all I did was write a couple of pars in the Bear app.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted February 21
What issues, btw? Wage theft, I'd imagine.

tqft swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 22
Working conditions
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/young-mcdonald-s-workers-terrified-to-ask-for-toilet-breaks-20190111-p50qwk.html

Also the owners of that store franchise have a reputation
https://www.news.com.au/national/queensland/mcdonalds-workers-told-they-cant-take-toilet-or-water-breaks-outside-of-designated-10minute-periods/news-story/ed8806059848c7799ffde0424302d85a

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Naut is gonna tell you...

Posted February 21
Maccas has a role to play and their cookies and cream cheesecake is inoffensive.

Tell me more about the iPad Pro. We are discussing BYOD at work and an iPad Pro could become my device of choice

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jason mumbles...

Posted February 22
I'm not judging you... but... can you please delete me from all correspondence and if possible erase my digital foot print on this site and any other you are a part of. I live in Brunswick, Melbourne and my hipster credibility will be seriously diminished if i have any connection at all to "that coffee".

jl has opinions thus...

Posted February 22
-Nods head in agreement while cruising through the drive-thru.

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MUP

Posted January 30 into Writing by John Birmingham

So, I have a calendar entry for a phone hook up with Melbourne University Press on Feb 11 to discuss a book I was going to do with them, The City and the Tribe, a sort of Leviathan-like study of tribalism and modernity. I'm not sure that meeting is even going ahead now, since the entire board of MUP and the head publisher, Louise Adler, resigned today.

The Herald has a report here.

There have apparently been disagreements with the University over the direction of the house. Odd, because MUP is one of the most successful publishing houses in the country. Although, allegedly some in the University disparage its output as 'airport trash'. (A pretty grotesque slur in my opinion).

Anyway, I'm not as unsettled by the shenanigans as you'd imagine. I've been staring at the Commitment Matrix on the white board next to my desk and wondering whether I truly have the time to invest in a big prestige non fiction project. I know from Leviathan how much work is involved and I have a couple of other projects that would likely pay a lot more for much less demanding work. Airport novels, by way of coincidence.

I tried hashing this out with Dirk de Jager on Skype last week. I really want to avoid over-committing myself, but on the other hand I do have some financial damage from the last few years to repair and, just as importantly, I feel myself challenged to write this book.

Think I'll put my head down and lean into the other projects for now. Maybe have a look around next week.

13 Responses to ‘MUP’

insomniac asserts...

Posted January 30
JB needs to be like Vegemite. You need to spread what you have thick and goodly. To spread yourself too thin - well, all you get is tasteless and awful.

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jason puts forth...

Posted January 31
Airport trash - I think what we choose to read on the plane defines our true love. 10 hours lost in another world or 10 hours cogitating the meaningless of existence (with footnotes). Give me mayhem any day.

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted January 31
I was deeply shocked by the MUP dust up yesterday, and ESPECIALLY by the "airport trash" slur; have these ivory tower snobs actually READ any of the 'ON' books that MUP produced (much less any of their other great books)? Katharine Murphy's On Disruption and David Speers' On Mutiny were brilliantly pithy and accessible treatises on events that are affecting us deeply but we as pleb airport trash readers may not necessarily be able to grasp, not having a conduit into the inner workings of these subjects. I'm also hanging out for the release of Paula Matthewson's On Merit, which should be a forensic tour de force on the LNP's woman problem.

It's sad that you may not end up with a publisher for the City and the Tribe straightaway, and I do understand the dilemma of producing more 'airport trash' to pay the bills vs challenging yourself on a big non fiction piece like this. I can't imagine the slog that went into researching and writing Leviathan, but can i just say that book is a fricking MASTERPIECE? Especially in the sense of a journeyman finishing his apprenticeship and producing his masterwork kind of way? You really earned the right to write airport novels after that one.

I am very much in favour of more 'splosions and 'airport trash', but would also very much like to devour a big non fiction treatise from you as well. Very few do blistering social commentary like you do, and I gave up the Boob to support the City and the Tribe and feel invested in it now (because it's all about me). But as I said when you pulled the pin on ASB, you have to do what works for you, and I'll buy whatever your publish anyway! xx

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted January 31
I still haven't spoken to MUP, but I assume there's no way this idea of mine fits into the academic monograph plan. It's the sort of book you buy in an airport, after all. (But you still feel superior to the Dan Brown readers).
I could send an email this arvo and sell it somewhere else, but I really have been looking at my white board and chewing my lip worrying about whether I had too much on.

she_jedi asserts...

Posted January 31
Yeah I can't see it fitting into their new plan of cutting off the revenue stream that would have helped fund the publishing of their monographs, which is very sad. The only good things that can be said about Dan Brown readers is at least they're reading, and that they exist to enable readers like me to feel superior.

Knowing nothing about the publishing process as I do, is it worth putting feelers out to see if you'd be able to sell it at all this year? If no one shows an interest then that's your answer and you can focus on the airport fiction instead of the non fiction. Or is the dilemma that someone will throw a wad of cash at you (in lieu of a truckful of cash backed up to your door) and then you'd be stuck having to deliver? I'm leaning toward the challenge/personal growth project simply because I've flagged 2019 as my year of doing stuff I've been making excuses about forever, but that's my narrative, not yours.

What other works would you have to delay in order to deliver this one? Maybe we can vote a book off the island? :P

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted January 31
"Or is the dilemma that someone will throw a wad of cash at you (in lieu of a truckful of cash backed up to your door) and then you'd be stuck having to deliver?"

This.

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted January 31
Ah. Yep that would do it. I guess you have to decide how badly you want to do it vs your other stuff? :(

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Rob has opinions thus...

Posted January 31
Academic writing. The stuff only read by undergrads because they have to? I've read some utter trash in my new degree.(mostly it says Marxism good, capitalist hegemony bad)

Give me the clever snark and gold plated hovercrafts any day.


and 'splosions.

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Dirk puts forth...

Posted January 31
From my ivory tower near the summit of mount Olympus, I have only one question:
Did you burn enough ink today?

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Brother PorkChop reckons...

Posted January 31
Shame JB. I would have been keen to read this type of study. I did some courses on sociology and anthropology which I found really enjoyable. Since then (long long long ago) I have often thought of the tribal nature of societies and how football plays a role in continuing the tribalism BUT without the larger scale warfare. Yes, I know all about Chelsea headhunters (a friend of a friend was handed the knife) and lets not forget Millwall Bushwackers or FTroop.
Football can replace tribal warfare as an outlet for that aspect of our nature and I believe that over time this will prove to be true in Africa.
Thoughts?

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted February 1
I'm in two minds Porky. I really did want to write this book. It still fascinates me as a topic. But I also have to some debts to pay off and airport novels will do that.
As to the topic, there's a great book called The Professor in the Cage, which I'll write up here in a week or two. Middle aged English Lit professor takes up cage fighting. It's hella entertaining, but also goes deep on the same issues.

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HAVOCK21 mumbles...

Posted February 1
"I tried hashing this out with Dirk de Jager on Skype last week. I really want to avoid over-committing myself, but on the other hand I do have some financial damage from the last few years to repair and, just as importantly, I feel myself challenged to write this book"


I guess the hover must need a new polish or cut or whatever it is you outsource to some plebes etc...

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thetick puts forth...

Posted February 1
You gotta make your own decisions about how much work to do and stuff, but as an aside, I'd read the FUCK out of a book like that.

I mean, I'm gonna read all the rest of your stuff, but that sounds really interesting.

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WW 3.1 sample

Posted October 11, 2018 into Writing by John Birmingham

I get a lot of questions about when the next Axis of Time book is due out. Soon, I say, very soon. But that's only because I've been gettng a lot of help from Dirk de Jager and Jason Lambright.

If you're interested in what sort of help, there's a sample scene written by Jason over at his blog, The Interstellar Valley (still one of the greatest blog names ever, I reckon).

Brilon-Wald was not going to be cheap.

Artillery started to fall around him; the Russians were probing. Jochen remained where he was, standing in his turret, binoculars in hand. To catch the prey, he thought, one had to wait like a hunter. Both sides wanted the same thing; for someone’s nerves to break, for the prey to flee and catch the eye. That’s when the real killing began.

Boosfeld spotted movement along the road to the south. He lifted his binoculars slowly while shading the lenses. He felt the old surge of the blood, the taste of iron. There they were- BTR scout cars, coming slowly. They would surely sense they were being watched, he thought. They would also pick up on the lack of civilians in the streets if they had any experience at all.

He had four tanks in his forward position, counting himself. No one fired. This did not surprise him; he had been very specific that he would initiate the ambush. The BTRs came to a halt; their little turrets swiveled back and forth. Jochen controlled his breathing, he willed the scout cars to go away and call in their big brothers for an“easy”march toward Brilon proper.

11 Responses to ‘WW 3.1 sample’

Dirk ducks in to say...

Posted October 11, 2018
Can I tell the Burgers that it's gonna a be a good one, Sire? With more splossions and kissy scenes then the Burgers have ever read before? And that it's not a coincidence that El Goog presented a Slate this week?

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted October 11, 2018
My lawyers are talking to el Goog.

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thetick mutters...

Posted October 12, 2018
I wants it. I neeeeeds it.

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Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted October 12, 2018
You are a tease JB!

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted October 13, 2018
Is this getting the beta treatment?

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Vovchara reckons...

Posted October 15, 2018
Spend 2 hours on Amazon looking for something to read... Is something wrong with me when I don't want to read a time travel romance? Because judging by the number of those, there is a huge market for them %)

Or the stories, where avoiding a paradox is a huge part of narrative... how boring :/ Fuck the butterfly.

Or space opera, where the author doesn't give a shit about space.

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Vovchara is gonna tell you...

Posted October 15, 2018
Oh, almost forgot, LitRPG is also a thing. How delightful, to read a fiction about the virtual world... NOT.

And if the pornhub is not enough, there is a shit-ton of harem/reverse harem crap.

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HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted October 15, 2018
mmm yeah baby. GUNNA BE FKN EPIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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HAVOCK21 has opinions thus...

Posted October 15, 2018
BTW...for duration....thats a PRETTY FKN PISS POOR SAMPLE. Contents great...length fkn SUCKS! JB....MORE!

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted October 28, 2018
I look forward to this very much.

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Peterharryhat is gonna tell you...

Posted October 28
When will you be writing the next axis in time novel

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