Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
No, I haven't had a close shave with death. I mean it in the other sense - I feel extremely privileged to be alive now.
Here I am, sitting on a comfortable couch in my media room, typing on a laptop (ooh) wirelessly connected to the Internet at high speed, listening to Muse's latest album (again wirelessly, through my computer and AirTunes) through speakers slightly smaller than European countries. So much of what we now take for granted was unimaginable twenty years ago. Certainly very few people predicted anything like the internet.
Which is where the 'futurists' make their big mistake. They extract from present technology to predict the future. All it will take is another internet or combustion engine or airplane or something similar to change everything - again.
Wow. I mean, wow. Life is just - insert your superlative. Oh yes, things like friends, love, yeah yeah yeah. Haven't forgotten those. But, just for a moment, let me reject all my puritanical church background and glory in things.
The news I've been hoping for. Orbit USA have offered to publish my first Trilogy, Fire of Heaven, in the US.
Orbit are new to the American scene. They are a branch of the successful Orbit UK, backed by Hachette Livre. Their launch season is scheduled for September 2007 - June 2008, and Across the Face of the World will be part of it.
Of course this is exciting. It's also full of mystery. How well will Orbit do in the US? (At least they will be motivated to promote the book - I hope!) Is there a niche for my style and subject matter? I can't wait to find out.
You're not as great a writer as you think you are in your most optimistic moments, nor are you as bad as you fear in your most pessimistic moments. The truth is somewhere in between.
So when I get rave reviews or a gushing email from a fan, I'm pleased but I don't take it to heart. The same goes for entirely negative reviews (I've had them - 'Waikato's answer to Tolkien', or 'cookie-cutter fantasy').
So when I get feedback like that sent to me today by Gillian Polack (hi Gillian), I'm delighted. Gillian is a writer from Canberra to whom i sent a pre-publication copy of Path of Revenge.
Gillian explained what she liked about Path of Revenge and why. She talked about how it made her feel. Then she talked about the development in my writing since the first trilogy, and the things I do well, in her view.
With this thoughtful and personal analysis she's earned the right to critique the work, and she does to great effect. She outlines my struggles with POV, fleshing out minor characters and various other issues.
The care Gilian showed made me cry. I'm very happy to receive such thoughtful critiques. Be assured that I will be vigilant to apply Gillian's thoughts to my future efforts.
I say this because I'm not a fan of the 'destroy the aspiring author' school of criticism. Supposedly being extremely harsh on a manuscript is good for the author, somehow. As though there's only one personality type among authors. I'm thankful there are people like Gillian.
Anyone ever successfully completed a course by correspondence?
My younger son Alex is in his penultimate year at school (year 12). He wanted to do Geography (bless him). But they only offered it by correspondence because it clashed with his drama class.
So. The material arrived late or never. He couldn't be bothered if the administrators couldn't be bothered. It all ground to a halt. His exam is next week. So I'm giving him a crash course.
And I'm discovering just how appalling secondary school geography is. It's mired in the 1980s - there's been no curriculum review since 1990. This is not the fault of the teachers - the Ministry of Education has left the subject out to dry. Alex is having to learn stuff that academics abandoned thirty years ago.
It makes me angry. But then most things make me angry these days.