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.
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.
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’
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.
12 Responses to ‘WW 3.1 sample’
I've been learning a lot about Montana, mostly how purdy it is.
For those of you who are following the End of the World Project at Patreon, Montana is my Boulder, Colorado. It's where I've pointed my survivors, good and bad, of civilisational collapse. It's almost Tolkienesque in some respects, but populated by cowboys rather than hobbits.
I won't actually set many chapters in Montana until the second book, since my narrators are busy dealing with the end of all things in the first.
Still, I've learned it helps to sort out a few basics well before you start writing, and so its off to Big Sky country for me whenever I get some down time. One of the geographical features I'm really taken with is the existence of 'island ranges'. These are like isolated, singular outbreaks of mountain terrain, hundreds of miles before before you get to the continental divide. They soar up without warning in the middle of oceans of grassland in the state's east. Think Uluru, but made out of sabre-toothed granite, and surrounded by hundreds of milles of flatland.
It makes for a bit of imagined whiplash though, jumping between this and the research I'm doing on How To Collapse Modern Civilisation Without Really Trying.
That turns out to be surprisingly difficult. I'm having to call on all the Horsemen of the Apocalypse to ride to my help.
5 Responses to ‘Montana’
I had a co-worker in the word cave today. Thomas was off school with a tummy bug and... well, he can't really expected to keep his head in the books without a stern disciplinarian standing over him with a cat o' nine tails, can he?
So he took up position somewhere behind me, gurgling and farting away all day.
Needless to say, I didn't get much writing done.
I used to be able to write long, complicated features in a rowdy newsroom or magazine bullpit. And this was before headphones were invented. I seem to have lost that ability now.
I realised this after an hour of staring at the screen this morning. The whole day could have gone down the tubes, but I had a couple of editing jobs to get done too. I've cranked out some magazine and journal features recently (after a years long drought that'd finish off most farmers) and they needed checking. I also had a ten thousand word essay for MUP to proof, and a monstrous info dump of research material for World War 3.1 to injest. (Thankyou Mr Lambright, Mr de Jager)
So I jumped into that instead. Found I could even do it while listening to music, which I can't have on while I write. Even if I'm not using dictation software, music distracts me.
By the end of the day I'd cleared a heap of work I'd originally thought might take a whole week.
Might have to feed this kid a few more poison pizzas.
5 Responses to ‘Little brother is watching’
Jason Lambright has published an interesting (and for me very useful) chat with his old CO, Lt Col Howard Pearce, whom he describes as "a good guy and proven combat veteran". They sat down a little while ago and talked through a few things. Jason's published three of the six part interview so far, with the rest to come at his blog The Interstellar Valley. Worth a read on its own merits, but in my case, with a whole raft of military sci fi novels on the go, it's got some very useful insights, often puncturing the received wisdom or establshed narrative about how professional militaries operate. Below is a short extract from their discussion about an escape and evasion training course:
“When you show up for SERE School it’s a gentlemen’s course, everyone is in the classroom to eventually you get to the point where you’re in the prison camp. It’s one of the few Army schools where you sign a form saying that they are going to hit you. You are going to be struck, you are going to be injured, and you sign a form saying that you understand that.”
“You go through interrogations. Without going to in-depth about it, let me say that they were professional and they explained everything that they did- to include that at the end you sat down for at least an hour with one of your interrogators. He would walk you through your interrogation, what you were thinking…how you reacted, where you started going wrong.”
Howard thought he went wrong when the “hitter” came in. The interrogator disabused him of that notion. “No, no, you went wrong before we called in the hitter…”
As an aside, the Army has people who are specially qualified and trained to beat people in these schools without causing permanent damage. Still, the experience is unpleasant at best.