Don’t Dream It, Be It.

Today I have been brave. Today, I have spoken to people, and I’ve been introducing myself as a writer, or at least an aspiring one. I have talked to strangers, chatted with artists and authors.

I have spoken with Megan Hutchins, an up and coming who recently published her first short story, during the World Fantasy Award Banquet.

I’ve talked with Travis Heermann, about what it means to be a writer and give something your all, and about ideas, and about music.

I’ve just generally chattered with Lauren Cannon about all sorts of things, and with Sam Sykes about dogs.

I’ve talked to all kinds of people about all kinds of things, and I haven’t been scared or shy or hidden away. It’s been a fantastic day. Tomorrow I’m going home. Sleeping now. Good night, world.

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Where’s Neil When You Need Him?

They say you should never meet your heroes, and they couldn’t possibly be more mistaken.

Me, I’m prone to fangirlism, so for my heroes’ sake, I probably shouldn’t meet them. The prospect of talking to someone I admire to that extent is both terrifying and exciting, and I spend weeks if not months imagining what it will be like when faced with that prospect. The way I imagine it I’m always very cool and relaxed and talk to them like an adult.

That is never the reality. The reality is that I go white as a sheet, get slightly queasy and lose my ability to speak.

Tonight, I met Neil Gaiman in a bar, here at the hotel. Morten and I were just sitting in the bar, having a drink, when he walked in with his assistant and some friends, and he talked to people he knew, and hugged people, and he had a friend who did card tricks. And I just sat, feeling sick, and I choked up and couldn’t think, because he was in the same room, in a social situation.

I have to back up a bit now, I think. I’ve been writing since I was five, for as long as I’ve known the alphabet, and I’ve been singing and performing for just as long, if not technically longer. When I was about six, I made a conscious decision to become a writer when I grew up. So when there’s a writer I really love, that admiration is so much greater than it could be for pretty much anyone else, including the fantastic musicians I love equally as much.

Neil Gaiman is one of those writers. His work exceeds pretty much everything else for me. The way he writes is how I wish I could write. His stories are amazing. His characters are real. His work is, in my opinion, perfect. I use his books to study the craft, and whenever I’m ready to give up on writing, if I read one of his stories, it brings me right back on track.

Yesterday, in the panel with Neil and Connie, they talked about the craft of writing, where ideas come from, why people become writers, and how you go about it. And I realised something important. I realised that if I want to be an artist – if I want to write and sing professionally, which in the end are the only two things I have always been sure I want to do – I have to go for it. I have to focus on that, do my best to be magnificent and not let anything stop me. Never give up, and keep going.

Neil Gaiman helped me realise that. So did Amanda Palmer, from the musical perspective, at her gig last night. I thought, she’s doing it. She’s just doing it, she’s out there singing and playing and writing songs, and she’s doing it all by herself. If she can do it, maybe I can too, and I at least owe it to myself to try.

Yesterday Neil said that the moment he realised that he was going to try to be a writer, was when he imagined himself on his deathbed. He thought he could either lie there thinking, ‘I could have been a writer.’ Or he could think, ‘I tried being a writer,’ even if it didn’t work out, at least he’d tried.

And that’s what I need to do. I’ve been lazy up until now. I’ve been thinking, there’s no guarantee I can live off my art, so I’d better have something else to fall back on. Hence the Physics. But every artist who truly made it, everyone who really lived their dream, they jumped right into it. That’s the difference between success and failure, and if I go on trying to build myself a safety net instead of jumping in and taking the risks, I am never going to make it.

So, back to the bar. Neil got up to buy some drinks, and before he and his friends went back to their seats, my courage finally decided to show up, and I tapped his shoulder, said excuse me, and told him all this. I believe I may have stuttered and rambled, and my voice quavered, and I was having a hard time keeping eye contact, but I got through it, and I thanked him for making me realise it, and he said, ‘That’s wonderful! Give me a hug.’

And I hugged Neil Gaiman. A long hug, during which he told me good luck and not to give up. Then we talked about Amanda Palmer for a minute, and then he moved on. And I ran into the bathroom and cried in something like relief and joy and just pure overpouring of emotion.

This has been my first convention ever, and I think I can safely say that nothing will ever be able to top it. That said, I intend to keep coming back. Not next year, cause I don’t think I can affort Toronto, not after this, and Japan coming up in spring. But 2013 is in Brighton, and I am definitely going to that.

Other things we’ve done today include buying two pieces of art at the art show, attending a panel about the late (and magnificent) Diana Wynne Jones, and learning that China Mieville is going to be the Master of Ceremonies at WFC2013. And just now, I had a really nice chat with a guy from LA who was sitting outside playing guitar, about religion and fandom and culture and spirituality. But really, it all pales in comparison with talking to Neil Gaiman, as sad as that may be.

 

The title of this post comes from a CD I own, which is a collection of music by various artists, including Rasputina, Tori Amos and Voltaire, inspired by Neil’s work, and which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys his books, and anyone else who enjoys good music. Obviously, the answer to the question is, ‘Always there.’

There are familiar faces in discover this here the puzzle mode

Neil Fucking Gaiman and Amanda Fucking Palmer

A truly fucking awesome day! This morning, we got up and had breakfast, as you do, and bid on a couple of pieces in the art show, and then attended a couple of panels. One was the awesome guest of honour Ruth Sanderson talking about her fairy tale illustrations. She really is an amazing illustrator, and I wish I had $5000 to spend on one of her paintings. I don’t, so instead I made due with a print of her amazing Heart of the World painting, from her book The Enchanted Wood. Signed and numbered, #16/100. Then there was a Q&A with Connie Willis, in which she raved about Primevil, made fun of alien abductions and generally seemed lovely. I need to find some of her books and read them.

We went on an adventure to the Fashion Valley mall afterwards. We were looking for somewhere we could buy toothpaste, but there was no such thing there. Instead, there were five department stores and a shopping street to rival Karl Johan in Oslo. It was absolutely ridiculous! And in all this, there wasn’t a single shop that could sell us a measly tube of toothpaste. (Don’t worry, we do probably have enough, we just don’t have very much.)

When we returned empty-handed from this excursion, it was time for Neil Gaiman’s reading, which basically the entire con came to. (I feel sorry for the panels that were running simultaneously.) He is such and amazing reader! I feel really privileged to have been allowed to hear him in person, he tells stories so well.

A couple of hours after that, Neil Gaiman and Connie Willis had a conversation panel thing, where they generally just talked about writing, and reading, and, you know, the craft of fiction. They had so many interesting things to say, and for the moment I can’t really remember any of it, as it’s just been such an exciting day. What I do remember is feeling happy, sad, amused and moved.

We had some dinner after that, before it was time for the book signings. The queue to Neil Gaiman was ridiculous. I mean, honestly!

There were just so many people who wanted to get their books signed by him, compared to everyone else, so they gave him his own queue, and we waited for a good half hour at least, probably longer now I think about it… We talked to the people behind us, who were both awesome and friendly, about politics and literature and history and just everything. Not something that happens often in Norway, of course. So that was an interesting experience too.

When it was finally my turn, I got a bit choked up, stuttered some, but managed to tell him that his Doctor Who episode was my favourite ever. I did not, thankfully, break into tears, nor did I declare my undying love for him. (Completely platonic. Well, mostly. I like him for his ‘long and prolific writing career’.) So, all is well. I have not yet made a complete fool of myself in front of my hero.

After the signing, we headed off to town to see Amanda Palmer, ‘Mrs. Gaiman’. We missed the support acts, sadly, though we caught the last tune of the second one, the Jane Austen Argument, and they were truly awesome! They sang with Amanda later on, as well.

I admit that I haven’t listened much to Amanda Palmer. Mostly, it’s only the 8in8 thing I’ve listened to extensively, and while I’ve heard some of her solo stuff, I’ve never really paid all that much attention. Not cause I didn’t like it, just because there’s so much music in the world, and it takes some time to get to it all. I have now very definitely got to Amanda Palmer. I am in awe of this woman! The way she performs is just incredible, she has this energy that’s in her whole body when she plays, and she is so amazingly hot on stage, too. She is wonderful, and I vow to buy all her music when I have the money for it.

Needless to say – as I’ve already said it – today has been fantastic! But tiring. It is now most definitely time for bed. Good night, world!

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Animals and Road Rage

This morning, we had a very posh breakfast indeed, before getting our rental car and driving out to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Morten got the chance to feel intimidated by American motorways, and I got to snap pictures. We’d asked for the smallest car they had. They gave us a Jeep Patriot. Well, this is, apparently, America.

The Safari Park was amazing! We took a walk and looked at tropical birds and gorillas, and then it was time for our Caravan Safari out into the habitats. Today, I have learned that rhinos are much friendlier than giraffes, having fed both. The rhinos were just happy for the apples, and didn’t mind at all being petted and spoken to. They seemed intelligent and interested, and they were just awesome and sweet. The giraffes tried to eat the caravan, and followed us when we were done feeding them. They were like the deer in Japan. I mean, they were lovely, too. All the animals we saw were. It was such an experience, seeing all these creatures up close!

When we were done with the safari, we had some lunch and took a walk to look at the elephants and the lions. We wanted to see the tigers as well, but we couldn’t find any.

On ou way back, we had a bit of an adventure trying to find a petrol station. It was really, really stressful, but all in all, I think Morten handled it like a champ! <3

We registered for the con, and were given a shittonne of books! I mean, I have no idea how we’re going to get them all home with us. Might have to post them. Among them was the 10th aniversary edition of American Gods, in hard cover. Which means we now have four of it. Woot! Then there was an opening ceremony, in which the guests of honour were introduced and spoke very briefly.

The first thing we attended was a demonstration by the San Diego Zoo of interesting animals. It was awesome! We saw an owl, and an amardillo, and a… not a penguin, but it sounds like it, I forgot the name, it’s the one in the picture. And a lesser anteater, and a porcupine, and a big-ish cat, and a very funky, very happy runny-around-y thing with black fur that climbed trees and wanted to be friends with us.

As fascinating as all the animals were, though, the highlight of all this was that Neil Gaiman was sitting five seats away from me. Seriously. I could see him writing that tweet.

We also attended a panel on class in fantasy (inspired by the Occupy movement, no doubt) and one of monsters as protagonists.

And that was our first day in San Diego! Tomorrow, a reading, an authograph session, and a gig with Amanda Fucking Palmer. So long!

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In America

Today has been one of the longest days I’ve ever had. Quite literally.

Due to not having a job and generally suffering from insomnia, my sleeping pattern had already been pushed to something akin to Pacific time, so I didn’t actually go to bed last night. Instead, I stayed up packing and fixing stuff until we were due to take the bus out to the airport.

We made good time and killed time by walking around shops and getting breakfast (well, I had already had breakfast), before heading to our gate. You have to understand that talking about it as being ‘this morning’ just feels really odd, as it’s now getting to be twenty-four hours ago, but it’s still Wednesday here in San Diego.

The flight to Newark was uneventful. I watched Captain America and got in a couple of hours of sleep, killing my neck just a bit.

Newark was entirely painless. We had the nicest customs guy ever! First he complimented me on my hair, then he asked us where we were headed, and when we told him about the WFC, he asked us about that and told us about an Anime convention he’d come across in New Orleans. I think he was Hawaiian or something, that’s what he looked like, anyway. He was honestly just nice.

When we went through security after clearing customs, I got this TSA agent who sounded like Mr Rogers. He had such a sunny disposition it was frankly scary. Morten was less lucky, and got one who was short, curt and angry.

I was immediately struck by how many genuinely friendly and polite people there are in this country. I got used to polite service in England, as in pleases and thank yous and ‘just pop your card in when you’re ready, love’. But in general those people were polite on the surface, went through the motions and you could tell it wasn’t really heartfelt. But here! People are just so… genuine! I love it!

Another flight (only slightly shorter) and a shuttle ride later we arrived at the hotel, checked in, and had dinner at one of the restaurants here. (I had the best fried chicken ever, OMG!)

Now I just need to sleep… I’m exhausted. I’ll try to blog every day, though, so join me again tomorrow when I detail our trip to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the beginning of the convention!

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A Funk.

I’ve been in one since I left my job. I’m supposed to be staying on as a temp, when people are sick or something, but it’s now been almost a month and I haven’t had a single shift. Don’t know if this means they don’t want me, or that no one’s getting sick… Either way, it means that my financial situation is a little bit worse for wear.

I’ve applied for some other jobs, but so far nothing. Hoping to everything holy that someone will get back to me soon, as I’m rapidly running out of cash and not getting more till my student loan comes in on the 15th of November, and it’s only a half loan as I’m only studying part time.

But the money thing is really nothing when compared with how much I miss my kids… I think about them every day. I left saying I’d see them all again soon, and I haven’t, and it breaks my heart, because as much as I’d come to care for them, a lot of them had come to depend on me. I miss all of them, even the difficult ones. I don’t think I’m ever going to take this kind of job again, because leaving is horrible. And even if I wasn’t leaving, it would break my heart when they leave to start school and I’ll never see them again.

If I could just have a new job, and the occasional shift at work, that would be awesome.

BUT! No time to be sad and stuff now! I’m packing. Tomorrow, we’re going to San Diego, for The World Fantasy Convention! It’s gonna be awesome. The journey there is going to be ridiculously long, though. Still, it’ll be worth it. It would be worth it just for the simple fact that I’m gonna hear Neil Gaiman read. The way that man tells stories, and the way he reads, is just absolutely amazing, and I honestly can’t wait! While we’re there, we’re also going to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and we’re catching a gig with Amanda Palmer, which coincides (probably not coincidentally).

It’ll be my first time in the States, so I’m a bit nervous, but mostly just excited. I think we’re gonna have a lot of fun!

So, no more Miss Mopey Face. I have brand new pink hair, I’m packing my stuff and I’m off to California!

Perpendicular lines have slopes that are the of each other

Tool’s Lateralus on Japanese Koto

This is just truly awesome, and everyone should see it!

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New Chapter of Sunrise

Yeah. That’s it, really. Here’s the new chapter. And, in case you haven’t read the others, here’s the story.

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Tumblr!

I has it!

If you have a tumblr, you should follow me. :)

Also, hair:

I has it less.

Spur of the moment thing. Did it with the boyfriend’s beard trimmer. I wanna do something more, but I haven’t got the courage to go all skin. Not sure it would suit me…

But yes, the tumblr, it will be used for posting of musics.

And maybe thoughts.

And I have an “ask me anything” button. So, you know, have at it!

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Thoughts and New Chapter of Sunrise

I’ve been writing a lot lately. Started off with a bunch of fanfics, and have since moved on to writing more of my own stuff again. I’ve had a lot of free time… I’ve got a sort of half term at the moment, and my last ordinary work day in the kindergarten was last Friday. They didn’t give me any shifts this week, as they didn’t need that many people, but I’m hopeful that they’ll ring me on Monday and that I’ll get some work next week. If not, I’ll just keep writing, I guess.

I’ve been doing some stargazing, too. Or, not so much stargazing as planetwatching, as there’s way too much light polution in the city. I picked up my binoculars at my mum’s last week. Had a look at Jupiter, which was looking quite brilliant. I want to get out of the city, to somewhere really dark on a cloudless night so I can have a good look at the sky.

I also really want a telescope. My binoculars are fairly decent, but it’s hard to hold them still and I’d like something that can get even closer. I’d like a really good telelens for my camera, too, so I can take good pictures. Something like this one would be awesome. My 200mm takes fairly good pictures of the moon, though.

This was just the other night. The moon was hanging so low in the sky, it was as big as an egg, almost. Well, not quite, but it was really big, and yellow as a cheese.

Anyway, like I said, I’ve been writing. I sort of stopped writing Sunrise when my beta reader stopped answering my e-mails. Now Perfect Imagination has closed down, too, so I haven’t really tried finding another one. Still, I’ve decided to make another stab at writing Sunrise, without a beta. I’ve rewritten the first chapter, and posted another one, so I hope you’ll read it and leave some comments, I’d love to know what you think!

Everything’s located in the original post, in the Fiction section. I intend to continue, this time, and not just give up and stop writing. I really feel like this story has potential, it could be really good, so I’m gonna give it my best, and I hope you all like it too!

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