A New World

So this week we have entered a new world.

While Simon and I enjoyed our short trip to Terrigal, because we couldn’t change our flight to get back before the borders to Western Australia closed, we are now on self-isolation for 2 weeks. And after his last piece of driving last night, Stu was told to go home and wait for them to contact him. Apparently his work has shut the office down and the general manager is doing everything from his home. That doesn’t mean Stu won’t get any work, but apparently the franchise drivers will get it first as he drives buses not cars. Pity we didn’t have the $75k to take on that franchise when it came up.

And Simon is keeping up-to-date on his job through the net, using emails and notices his work is sending out.

How did we come to this? All brought down by a common cold virus (I’m not making a statement, here) that is highly contagious. We all lived through SARS and the swine flu and nothing was shut down. The difference this time is that this one is highly contagious. The others weren’t so contagious.

We’re now living in an apocalypse movie! Wasn’t there Outbreak? And then half the new zombie movies started with a virus getting loose. Welcome to their world. There is also talk of China getting a second wave as their travellers return home from the new hotspots like Europe, Australia and the USA. Where will it end?

On the other side of the coin, as writing friends say – this fits completely in with a writer’s lifestyle – live at home, never go out. The difference, however, is that we can go out – as writers that is. Currently, Simon and I are only allowed out to attend medical appointments. I can’t wait for Easter for that to be over.

So all the dystopian writers out there – get writing – you’ve got a ready-made apocalypse to write!

Challenging journey

So, while a lot of people would say that life is and can be a challenging journey, I believe it is a far more challenging journey in today’s situation.

Not to make light of what happened 100 years ago, but for us, this is our most challenging time. And what a time to travel!

While we had a wonderful few days on the Central Coast of New South Wales, we are now paying for it as we head closer to home. It is Monday 23 March and we have made it to Sydney only to learn that WA borders are being closed tomorrow from 13.30. Not only that, but Emirates has temporarily suspended all passenger flights and the regional carrier REX has completely folded.

What will happen from now? No one knows. Will these measures work? Will they do the exact opposite to what is hoped? What I mean, is that while we try to limit the contact between people, we’re not building an immunity to this version of the virus. Does that mean that when the time is up that all of the people who have been self-isolating come out and get the virus in a more deadly form? Or will our self-isolation actually work?

And what happens to people in the hospitality and travel industry? How will they survive? Will the government pay them in exchange for their lack of work? Remember, I have 2 close friends who work in the travel industry and at least one of them is affected by Emirates’ decision. So how are we going to survive? I don’t really want to go to full-time, but it looks like I may need to just to ensure everything is covered.

And will my employer allow me to take 2 weeks off that the govt has said I must take because I’m coming back to WA after the borders close? I have no idea. Given who they’re contracted to, I’m assuming they will because it is a government order.

This is a really bad situation – whether the govt has made it worse or not remains to be seen. They have to do something and from their viewpoint they are doing the very best they can. Whether it is the right thing or not, we have yet to find out.

Maybe this is the time we take back our manufacturing from overseas so that our travel and hospitality staff have some work that they can take on.

One thing I think will be interesting and may actually fall over is the employment provider situation. I really don’t think this is sustainable in this situation and it will be interesting to watch. They may actually give it their all during this time and actually help people. But that also remains to be seen.

We are in a completely new environment, both working, living and shopping. Hopefully, we’ll come out of it on the other side a more enlightened society.

Holidays

Yes, it’s that time of year again. It’s a strange feeling – because I only work 3 days a week, I feel like I’m on holidays every week. This time, I’m away from work until the end of the month.

And it’ll be a busy holiday, too. For Simon and I have decided to use up frequent flyers points and we are going to Terrigal in NSW.

Now, Terrigal is not a big place but it’s on the coast and it is home to a friend of mine. Whom I’m meeting for the first time! This friend has been editing my work for about 6 months, now (I’m giving Jeanne a rest – yep, she’ll laugh at that), and with this opportunity, I thought we’d go and see her.

Before we leave for home, we’re spending a couple of days in Sydney so that will be an experience.

One of the things we’re doing whilst in Terrigal is going to visit the burn scar – probably the Gosper Mountain fire. I’ve been asked by a few people at work if I can take photos of the regrowth in the area and I thought it would bring a sense of reality to those fire claim calls we’ve been getting at work.

I can’t imagine the heartache that these people must be going through and I do my utmost to get them that small amount of money as quickly as I can. And before anyone asks, no, we are not looking after the relief payments gathered by Ellen, P!nk and all of the other celebrities. We look after the govt payments.

The main reason I want to visit the site, though, is because of all the stories I read over Christmas and New Year. All those personal accounts from survivors and what, who and how they survived. I want to make that real for myself as a person. Because I think that’s the only way we can appreciate the depth of an experience like that and be able to help the people in that situation recover best.

That’s another reason why we’re staying at Terrigal – to put money back into one of the regions that so desperately need it after the fires – and then the floods, of course!

But we’re also going so that we can relax – away from work – and recharge our batteries for the next round of whatever comes our way.

Returning

And we’re back to blue skies and sunny days. Although we did get a little sprinkle on Friday night and yesterday, they didn’t last and only made the ants long for more. I’m sure we’ll get more, though.

Today is a day of returning, too. I tried an experiment which was to take my e-reader to work with my notebook for Dark Reign and start working on getting it altogether. Yep, that was a mistake. By the time I’d finished lunch, I had 5 minutes before catching the lift back up to work. Darn! So, today is the day I’m doing that. After washing, etc., I’m going into the front room and going through this book with the note book beside me and without being distracted by – oh, look, kittens on – Facebook.

I struggle with doing this and editing because I really want to spend my time writing new stuff. But I know it’s something that is super important to do because the less an editor has to do the cheaper it is. So, I do as much using notes from previous editors to make sure I’m doing the right thing. Although one is still complaining about my use of ‘someone else and I’ as opposed to ‘someone else and me’. It’s something I had drummed into me and I can now see where it’s wrong but the fingers and the brain go automatically to ‘I’. I’ll get there, though, I know I will. I’ve quickly adapted to 1 space between full stops and the next sentence – because originally I was going to publish in America and although Pen Knights Press is Canadian, they still use the double space but I’m so used to single space now it’s too hard to go back.

And I don’t know how other writers work but I get plagued by my characters. I had planned the Consequences series to be only 2 books. At the end of the last year I had the barebones of a 3rd book and just the other day I added more to it! Guys, (meaning my characters) I really want to finish books, not write more!

And for those who know my writing, I also have a lot from before publishing that I’d love to get finished and printed. I know Stu’s desperate for Twists Turns and Complications to go up but that needs a helluvalot more work to get there. Hmm, any sugar daddies out there that want to sponsor my early writing days? With a great marketing team?

Storms

So we finally have had a break in our extremely hot weather! Simon picked me up from work on Tuesday and we headed home as normal. Well, it was normal until we got to Morley.

Bang! Lightning strikes! All over the place! We even saw 4 or 5 lightning strikes hit the one spot (Yes, we know. We thought the same! The Martians had arrived!)

By the time we got to Noranda, it had started raining. Big, juicy drops that kept coming! By the time we got to the bridge we could barely see the car in front. The only way we knew he was there was because he had his hazards on. Simon says: “Why’s he got his hazards on?”

I looked around, saw the trees were half bent over just as a palm front lands on the road in front of us. We glance at each other and in concert say: “Debris on road!” And Simon turns our hazards on.

For the rest of Benara Rd, well, most of it – and it’s not a short street! – that was how we went – we were lucky to see the front of the bonnet! (If you’re American, that’s the hood!)

Now, we love a big, deep puddle as much as the next person but when Simon attacked one, we lost sight of everything. I looked at him and said: “Don’t do that until the rain stops.” Wisely, he agreed.

So ever since we have had thunderstorms every day! It’s brilliant to get such rain and all the green is coming back! Our ground cover mint is revitalising as is our parsley and basil (summer). We’re hoping the rain is here for more than a week but at the moment, I think it’s hanging around for a week. Finally! It was our turn to get wet!

But, naturally, it means that safest is to turn computers off in a thunderstorm (oh, what’s Australian roulette? Make a phone call during lightning! haha) so therefore writing has been very sporadic. Although I did realise I hadn’t put my Nano writing from November in to Delta Recoveries, so I managed to get that done. My next step is to upload Dark Reign to my tablet and read that at lunchtimes making notes as I do so. Gah! I hate this part of writing. I’d rather just write and write and write. Oh. Hang on. That’s what I’m doing now.

Time to go. Thunder!

Extreme

Well, it finally hit. Rain! And unexpected to me. They had forecast rain on Wednesday and apparently we got it, but of course I was working. Last night, however, the heavens opened and I woke in the early hours to rain!

And that’s where extreme comes into things. Australia has always been known as the land of the extremes. From Mt Kosciusko and its snowy region to the Great Sandy Desert, to the Great Barrier Reef – all part of the Smallest Continent or the Largest Island, whichever you choose to call our artistic land. I call it an artistic land because so much of it seems to have been created with the painter, the drawer, the sculptor in mind.

But our weather can also be extreme. While we don’t experience anything near the destructive forces of the US’s tornadoes, our weather can go from one extreme to the other in one day. A popular saying for when you’re in Melbourne, Victoria, is – if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes and it’ll change. If you still don’t like it, wait another 10 minutes and it’ll change to something else.

I’ve walked across a rail overpass in Melbourne in February and thought ‘maybe I could come back. Maybe I can live here again’. And then the northerly hit. The temperature felt like it went from about 30 degrees Celsius to 42 degrees Celsius in less than 30 seconds. With high humidity. I retracted my statement. I’d rather have 36 degrees Celsius in a dry heat than humidity.

I could talk about our wildlife, but it just suddenly occurred to me – they can be scary. And so can some of our plants.

And that’s the last thing I want to do – scare people off. The main thing about our plants and wildlife? Treat them with respect and they will leave you alone. In fact, some of the wildlife are downright friendly if you are friendly to them.

Heat – again

So we’d started to cool down but then again, we haven’t. Another stinking day here – at least we’re not in Mordor like a friend is!

But down to business.

Someone asked in a Facebook Group how deep people plan.

I couldn’t answer that question. Because I’m what most people call a plantser. While I’m planning, my fingers are getting itchy and my characters are starting to get antsy – sorta telling me “get on with it! Stop this planning stuff and get that keyboard ready! I wanna talk to you!”

So my planning is basically – start, middle, finish. I know where the story starts and where it’ll end up – it’s what’s in the middle that’s interesting. Because I don’t know most of that.

Take my sequel to Dark Dimensions. A friend read what I had written and gave me feedback and I thought and thought and realised that there was an element that was missing. So I tried to put that in. But my characters kept fighting me about it. So after a week of struggling, I just pulled the scene. There was no way it was going to happen. I even tried it from 3 different characters’ points of view.

But it was an interesting process to go through because the scene was evolving as I was writing it. I really wanted it to go in one direction, but there was no way I could get it there, no matter how hard I tried. I could turn around as I have above and say it was the ‘characters’ faults, but in reality, who are these characters but facets of me and my creativity. So it was my creativity that was blocking the scene.

So that’s what I mean by a plantser. And I don’t plan anything before NaNoWriMo. Or if I dream anything.

Take Delta Recoveries (to be completed). That wasn’t a dream so I planned a lot of the different elements in it. And even though I had planned this particular work, it still led me in a direction I hadn’t expected to go which made me do a helluvalot more planning in the background for the NaNoWriMo experience this year. And that’s what happens when you take 2 completely different creatures, gene splice them, blend the DNA and splice the genes again, then do a huge amount of more genetic manipulation and end up with 2 races that are quite clearly related yet look nothing alike and nothing like the 2 creatures from the beginning. (Oh, the pain of planning that side of Delta!)