Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Time for Reflection

So it's been a little over 5 months (!) now since I resigned as President of the AHWA and I thought it time for some reflections on those years. It's taken me a while to become enthusiastic about writing again, and about horror. For 5+ years I was El Honcho, and it was exhausting. In the end I think it wore me out. I could have walked away and never looked back by the end of it all--but then I knew the bug to write would've returned eventually. It's always been that way. Keeps my demons in check, and that's probably best for everyone.

During those 5+ years, I had the chance to work with some amazing people. Folks who were nearly always willing to give their time to help, often asking for nothing in return. These people inspire me and I will always be here for them. But I also had the misfortune to work with some complete assholes, people I would happily go out of my way to run over with Tonka my truck. Jerks who only ever thought of themselves and couldn't care less for anything or anyone else. Oh, and way, way too many writers have egos so huge I'm stunned the Earth hasn't fallen into the sun yet.

A fair few people gave a lot and never had a good work said about them, only conspiracies of corrupting awards and lies about them having ulterior motives. Too many people found it easier to bitch than to offer anything positive. Sometimes, on those rare occasions when I was feeling postal because of what some idiot was doing, I'd think we should've been called Backstabbers Abound! But I guess this is in part human nature, and it is also unavoidable when you're working in such a small pond like the Aussie spec-fic (or horror) one. People clash, not everyone gets along. Some people are actually passionate in their hate. I guess you can't help that.

And boy, did I find myself in the middle of some searing confrontations. I have an awesome blackmail folder on many boys and girls in this genre, but it's safely tucked away, cos I suspect a fair few people also have files of their own on me! Still, one day maybe I'll write a book...

But it wasn't always grim; there were a lot of great times had. And as I always told myself, if I couldn't handle the heat, then get out of the kitchen. The fact I never until I hit the 5 year mark of something I'm happy about.

There were many projects we never got off the ground, either because we couldn't find people to manage them successfully (some managed only when they wanted to, for personal gain and nothing else), or because those ideas died during incubation. Some ideas, especially the mentor program, Midnight Echo, and the Crit Groups did survive birth, and of these and most of the people involved, I'm immensely proud. I hope they continue long past my reign.

Perhaps the biggest issue I can see is disharmony. Too many folks are trying too many different things with little or no unity between them. Rather than consolidating the resources and abilities of the many, we're starting to have isolated structures basically repeating what's been done before. None of which is going to help the genre in Australia move forward. It's a small field as it is, and I really believe people need to work together if they want to see massive changes for the best.

But the problem there, like I said earlier, is that too many people would rather complain and quit than to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to help improve things. And here I was thinking Aussies were hard workers :)

Another thing I was really proud of was the budding relationships with the British Fantasy Society and the Horror Writers Association. This is the way forward. We're a small fish is a big pond (again with the pond metaphor) and we need to build bridges between these other organisations. Ramsey Campbell and then Stephen Theaker of the BFS, and Rocky Wood of the HWA were all enthusiastic in these unions, so let's hope something great comes of them.

I made a heck of a lot of friends during my stint in the high chair, friends I hope to see succeed in their endeavours cos I plain on celebrating with them. I also made some fairly big contacts too, and hopefully those people help me to succeed!

Sure, I made some enemies, it was unavoidable. I didn't go out of my way to be a prickle or to put people offside, but some things go the way they go and you can't do jack about it. I hope those kids let bygones be bygones and move on, cos I have.

I even had a stalker! This was great fun--to begin with. But then this bird kept trying to get my address (which really, probably isn't that hard to get) and revealed just how much she knew about me. Then it was frightening. So I went after her and now I have no more stalker (it's nowhere near as bad as I've just made that sound).

So if HG Wells turned up and said, "Marty m'boy, jump in my time machine and I'll take you back to 2002," I'd probably say sure! Actually, I'd probably say can't you take me back to the age of the dinosaurs, me being the geek I am... But yeah, of course I'd do it again, I've learned way too much to curse those 5+ years.

Now though, for once, it's all about me. Me and my writing.

Friday, February 04, 2011

For all those Evil Geniuses out there...

Ever wanted to take over the world but haven't been sure how to go about it? Well, with a few household items, now you can! It's as simple as one-two-three.

Step 1. Get a fibreglass satellite dish and line it with 5800 small mirrors all focused into one spot. And just like that, you now have a solar death ray, capable of burning holes in paint tin lids, cutting a soft drink can in half, even melting rock and concrete! Serious, some kid in the States did just this and then presented it on YouTube. Check it out.

Step 2. Go find the Scientists who have recently made a paper clip invisible using calcite, use your newly created solar death ray to kidnap them, and get them to build you an invisibility cloak (apparently this new invisibility technique is only limited by the size of the calcite crystals, which can grow up to 21ft long so this isn't really a problem).

Step 3. You are now invisible and you have a weapon of destruction (presumably also invisible as a satellite dish walking around by itself would look a bit obvious). It's time to take over the world. Good luck. May the Force be with you.

Better hurry though as I imagine the military will be in on the action pretty quickly...