Monday, December 15, 2008

Tonight's Efforts

Tonight I'd set myself one of two goals - and didn't reach either of them.

I'm researching for a kind of keystone which will unlock the imagery I want to use in my historical fiction piece currently titled Newland. I'm thinking of a bird but it must be able to fly and it must have significance to indigenous Australian's so it is used within one of their stories - what we know or call "The Dreaming".

One would think tracking down something similar in the historical records of the first inhabitants of this land a fairly easy thing to do. Indeed I mentioned what I was after to a knowledgeable friend who looked at me strangely and said, "Of course it's easy," and promptly went on a search of his own - which yielded nothing.

I'm just about resigned to the fact I'm going to have to talk with a tribal elder to discover my keystone. First I'll try another visit to the library at the scene of my story which had a plethora of historical tomes the last time I went there - only that time I wasn't looking for the Aboriginal content.

I have a huge store of Aboriginal knowledge I can weave into my story due to my research, so it hasn't been a complete misfire, but looking into the history of those who first lived in the area my story is set in, is nowhere as easy as I first assumed.

So the word count I've added is: nearly 300 words to my research notes after 3 hours of surfing. I've read countless Dreamtime Tales but none have been what I want. Some I can use, but only in passing. I also found out many remain secret and unpublished.

I did find one little bit of information which will help me reshape my ending as is decidedly unsettling. Very cool, but nothing to do with imagery or able to be used throughout the book to plant the imagery - decidedly not cool.

My other goal was to write some additional words to the story. When I sit in a computer chair for extended periods of time, my legs seriously begin to ache. I work with computers during the day and relieve the pressure by going outside for a short walk each hour or so. When I'm at home I become engrossed in what I'm reading/researching/writing and can be seated until the pain drives me out of the room. I wander around for a while, but the damage is done and my stints at the keyboard shorten significantly. After three hours this evening, on top of the hours I have sat already today, my legs are screaming out in agony resulting in no will to write after doing the research. Net gain is 0 extra words on the manuscript again this evening - pitiful.

Tomorrow night is the kid's Xmas party at the cricket club so there will be no additional writing then either. Any spare time I currently get at work is devoted to helping out another writer - if I haven't completely alienated them with my overview of the manuscript they sent me to read.

I filled out my application for enrolment for next year today so that will go out the door soon.

No further replies back about submissions and I'm guessing everyone is winding down for Xmas holidays so any further news is probably not going to happen until next year. Maybe I should just send all my pieces to publishers in the Australian market first to try and build up some credits - God that sounds terrible. What I mean is: perhaps I shouldn't target the pro and upper semi-pro markets around the world anymore. Perhaps I should aim for semi-pro and paying markets a little more? Maybe even send any pieces which have been rejected five or more times to non-paying markets. If they get rejected there, then maybe I need to retire them to my examples pages...I suppose it goes back to how long you want to trot them out as I've talked about before.

Okay, my legs are reminding me it's time to move, and this will be the last move for tonight as I blissfully slip beneath the covers.

So goodnight to you all. Pleasant dreams and may all your writing wishes come true.


Oh! I almost forgot - Alex has posted a new writing tip in her ongoing series. Go take a look here or if you're wondering what I'm talking about, check out my post with all the links in here.




  1. I am having the same problem with a YA book I am writing. It deals with an Indian chief who, I found out, is harder to research than I thought.

  2. I'm sure you'll find the info you need - I love research.

    I've decided that any rejections I receive between now and Christmas can wait until the New Year before I start hunting down new places to send them. So many magazines are closed at the moment.

  3. I think it's amazing in this day and age how difficult it can be to still track down information.

    Cate - with most of the markets closed, now is your chance to target somewhere you never get to because you're always looking at those other markets.

    Never ever stop sending them out. Whenever mine come back, I update my tracking spreadsheet, locate a new, open, and relevant market, and send it straight back out.

    The only change here is if the rejection contains feedback. I work on each piece significantly more now-a-days so any feedback tends to be little things. I still try to make any changes I deem appropriate that night and send it out again immediately.

    Never sit on anything you believe to be at a publishable level.

  4. What country does your writing refer to amidst the Australian Indigenous nations?

    Country will be different to each mob you're writing about - or including references to. County encompasses Dreaming, so mob from different country may have different totems relevant to their Dreaming. ie: that particular country.

    I recently participated in a Kanyini Indigenous Womens Camp to learn and share with aunties from the Gumbagginyr Nation that encompasses the Bellingen/Coffss Harbour area. Auntie Em and Aunti Jessie spoke of their connection of the King Parrot between their mix of Aboriginal and Christian spirituality, of which these old girls follow.

    And I agree, this stuff isn't as easily available online or in mainstream research as you would think. I've been looking into Indigenous knowledge throgh my own potent curiousity and writing research and it breaks my heart - the acknowledgement that my ancestors are so responsible for the dispossession of their ancestors. That so much of Indigenous spirituality has been blantantly diminished throughout Australia's colonial history... so much of this knowledge has been lost.

    Perhaps try the State Library in your state? Kuril Dhagan at the State Library of Queensland has amazing resources and staff that may be able to help you connect with elders from a particular country/totem bird you need to reference.

    Lastly, I'm wondering if we can be blog buddies? I'm from the Qld Writers Centre and my blog is lonely :(


  5. oops!

  6. Hi Lisette,

    Welcome to Musings - I'll add you to my link list immediately. So you're writing the currently unamed blog for QWC...very cool. More than happy to be "blog buddies" with a blog I've been keeping quiet tabs on anyway. Pretty picture of you on there as well ;c)

    Country - Ramindjeri in particular, now known as part of the Ngarrinjeri group of countries. Through my research I've discovered you are correct in each region has differences in how they relate the Dreaming. Many stories have the same underlying things to teach but use different characters or settings to do it.

    A few are almost universal such as the Rainbow Serpent.

    I have a couple of local Dreamings which will be useful for my story but it is the little things within the culture I need to know about now. A big question involves good luck gifts/charms/totems dealing with marriage. This would be my keystone for imagery if I can track down such a thing.

    I'm going to the state library next week and I'm going to the actual regional library over the Christmas period for research. I've also tracked down a local organisation run by elders of the country involved so I can fall back to discussing things with them if I can't find it elsewhere.

    During your Camp - was anything about marriage, and the ceremonies surrounding it, mentioned?

    Glad to have you here.

    Maybe I should have turned this into a post on its own...