Thursday, 30 June 2011

Free The Bees!

I had the strangest dream. All else aside, and there was a lot of "else", I dreamed that I collected lots of bees, who were in different coloured jerseys - they seemed to be in teams of green, red, blue, and yellow, striped, obviously, these were bees after all - and put them in a big jar. Later I released them but by then they were in my mouth and I had to get them out so they could be free. They never felt like they were getting aggressive or that I was in danger of being stung, in fact I remember thinking that I was lucky not to be stung (who wouldn't?) and that the bees all seemed pretty cheery. Those bees, they can have a good time anywhere, right? ... Anyway, I woke up shouting "FREE THE BEES". Maudie, for one, wasn't entirely happy with the interruption. 
I'm sure there's some big-up Freudian McShizzle in there (and if I start telling you about the lady who was collecting something else, I forget what, who drove through the snowy night in her incongruous porsche only for it to freeze into a giant poseur ice cube, we'll just complicate matters) but what I can extrapolate from my generally perplexing dream dictionary, is that I am, or should be, open and receptive to being "busy as a bee". The predominant colour of bee jersey was green, which suggests new growth and also feelings of calm and hope. I will ignore the other suggestions in the dictionary wherein I am painted as a jealous harridan who is destined to be a weakling. The dream was positive so I feel free to be as selective as I choose. Because that is how I roll. So now I'm off to go all hive on my beeswax and get some work done. 

"When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited" - Ramakrishna. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


This is a beginning, you'll be pleased to know. How should I begin, then? Let me tell you about my weekend.

I ventured forth from my mountain fortress in Switzerland into the wilds of Derby for alt.fiction (how much of that is a lie is for you to ponder) I was fortunate enough to meet a couple of friends while there - the divine Miss Kate Laity and the mighty Miss Adele Wearing - both of whom were involved in proceedings. So I didn't entirely feel like the new kid at school. I haven't been to a literary convention before. I'd been to many Astronomy ones as a kid - and they were completely different. 

It was nice to be surrounded by people who like the things I like. Mind you, I grew up with a family full of them, but sometimes it's good to know that Other People are out there, reading the scares, and understanding the beauty of genre. Although I'm fairly friendly, I have a pathological belief that me interrupting people and saying hello is always an inconvenience to them, so I don't tend to start conversations with people I don't know. Sometimes I don't start them with those I do know ... and sometimes I witter on with wild abandon and only afterwards think, SHUT IT ... Anyway, I didn't meet many people because of my stupidity, but I earwigged conversations, put some gratuitous people watching time in, went to panels and readings, and drank some cider. It was a fine weekend.

What I took away from it, as a timid writer, is to take it seriously. This is a job. You need to be professional and not be a twat about it. If you want to succeed, the only real way is to believe in yourself and your stories. If you won't stand up for your work, who will? The next thing I learned, however (and this was something that surprised me about the mindset of too many people to think about) is you shouldn't believe in your work to the nth degree. Blind faith and "my mum says it's brilliant" are not the currency that will get you published. What will is hard work, a realistic outlook, and a professional attitude. Those writing in crayon need not apply.

So if, next year, you're thinking you should get out there and live your love of genre, alt.fiction might well be a place for you to start.