Plans and schemes

Now I have my Australian Business Number, this whole project has moved from “cautious progress” to “go go go”. I want to test the production systems, without making a total mess of the novel, and I will be releasing a set of five short stories in the lead-up to the novel release.

For those of you who haven’t read any of my writing, this is a set of stories that touch on fantasy, science-fiction and, above all, the people (and others) in those situations.

Here’s the working cover art for the first version of “Five Stories”, revealing my ongoing minor obsession with London Underground. It will retail for 0.99 US and I hope that it will be available in the next couple of weeks. (Actual art may vary but this is the overall look and feel.)

Fingers crossed for a successful test of all of the production systems! If you read it, I hope that you enjoy it.

FiveStories2

Quick progress update

My amazing editor has given me some really useful things to think about. I’m happy to say that she did what I’d hoped for by identifying the places that I knew were weak but thought I’d got away with, and giving me some more things to think about. But it’s not major and the overall feedback is very positive.

I’m rewriting a little bit, then we go back into deep copy edit. But we are still on track for the launch!

The tax office have also provided me with the ability to run this as a business, in that my ABN has come through. I’ve never been so happy to see an 11 digit number…

Onwards!

Not ‘Just Kids’: Patti Smith’s important lesson

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Wally Gobetz (Flickr), NYC – Chelsea: Hotel Chelsea
I’ve always loved the music of Patti Smith and it was a pleasure to enjoy her books just as much. Her big hit, “Just Kids”, is a wonderful memoir of her early life. One of my favourite parts of the book is an account of a time that she and Robert Mapplethorpe (her then partner) were sitting around. I’ll let her tell it.

“We were walking toward the fountain, the epicenter of activity, when an older couple stopped and openly observed us. Robert enjoyed being noticed, and he affectionately squeezed my hand.
“Oh, take their picture,” said the woman to her bemused husband, “I think they’re artists.”
“Oh, go on,” he shrugged. “They’re just kids.”

And, of course, they were just kids but that simple classification is deceptive, because what the husband meant was “there’s nothing special about them in terms of being artists.”  And that is both true and false, because there’s nothing more special about them for being just kids and there’s certainly nothing less special about them.

I like this story. The punchline, of course, is that two of New York’s better-known artists from that period were dismissed as not being interesting enough to photograph; they didn’t look artistic enough. But Patti Smith is a clever writer and the message goes beyond this.

It’s not just that she and Robert looked like two kids, it’s that you can’t always pick what an artist looks like, any more than you can tell where an artist will go based on what they’re doing when you meet them.

It’s that reminder that there are many more paths to being an artist than many people realise and that waiting for other people to recognise that won’t always happen.

Look in the mirror. That’s your audience. That’s the person who will help you identify your art. Other people may be able to help but they have to be artists too and they have to be honest, not caught up in the machinery of art or be fixated on gatekeeping. But it starts with you and you have to be prepared to observe things with an artist’s perception, revealing what others may not. It’s your perception that will drive your art.

I’ll leave you with another of my favourite quotes from Patti.

“I’m certain, as we filed down the great staircase, that I appeared the same as ever, a moping twelve years-old, all arms and legs. But secretly I knew I had been transformed, moved by the revelation that human beings create art, that to be an artist was to see what others could not.”