dolorosa_12: (sellotape)
I know it's due to frustrating and for some, upsetting circumstances, but I have to say I'm really pleased to see so much activity on Dreamwidth. People are returning after a long time away, people are trying it out for the first time, comms are active for the first time in years, and, above all, people are interacting with one another! Threaded comments: I love them so much.

I've seen this meme floating around all over my reading page, but I think [personal profile] naye was the first to post it. Ask me any of these questions, and I'll answer it in the comments.

    1. What made you start writing fanfic? Asked by [personal profile] naye, answered here.

    2. Which of your own fanfics have you reread the most?

    3. Describe the differences between your first fanfic and your most recent fanfic.
    Do you think your style has changed over time? How so?

    4. You’ve posted a fic anonymously. How would someone be able to guess that you’d written it?

    5. Name three stories you found easy to write.

    6. Name three stories you found difficult to write.

    7. What’s your ratio of hits to kudos?

    8. What do your fic bookmarks say about you? Asked by [personal profile] geckoholic, answered here.

    9. What’s a theme that keeps coming up in your writing? Asked by [personal profile] merit, answered here.

    10. What kind of relationships are you most interested in writing? Asked by [personal profile] schneefink, answered here.

    11. For E-rated fic, what are some things your characters keep doing?

    12. Name three favorite characters to write.

    13. You’re applying for the fanfic writer of the year award. What five fanfics do you put in your portfolio?

    14. Question of your choice!

My Tumblr import to Wordpress finished yesterday. I had to disable the importing of large media files, or else I would have exceeded the media storage allowance, and, quite frankly, I was not prepared to pay Wordpress in order to back up other people's gif sets. My Tumblr tags imported, but because Wordpress lists them alphabetically, any tag-essays are now completely incoherent. It was a weird exercise in fannish nostalgia; my Tumblr goes back to 2010, and it's bizarre to think there was a time when I was reblogging SPN, Teen Wolf, and MCU content, since I'm so resolutely fandom-of-one-ish these days. I can also see so many disntinct periods of fannish focus: the Pretty Little Liars phase, the Orphan Black phase, the ATLA period, that brief moment I tried to engage with Sleepy Hollow fandom before backing away slowly. It's like peeling back layers of personal history. In any case, now that the import is done, the whole lot is just sitting there on Wordpress. I'm going to put up a message on Tumblr telling people where to find me, possibly fiddle around with the settings on the Wordpress backup, and then draw a line under my time on the blue hellsite for good. I know some people will miss the place, but for me it feels almost like relief to leave it behind.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
I've seen this fashion meme doing the rounds, and most recently saw it via [personal profile] merit.

Adornment behind the cut )
dolorosa_12: (Default)
I hope everyone had as good a Yuletide as I did! It's sometimes hard to find people who like the same small, Yuletide-eligible fandoms as you do, so I thought it would be great to do a friending meme after reveals, so that people could find and add the authors, recipients and commenters who made their 2017 Yuletides so enjoyable.

Please feel free to share this meme far and wide. To participate, just leave a comment on this post, copying the code below and filling in your own answers. I've enabled anonymous commenting so if you don't have a Dreamwidth account you can still participate.

dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
I got tagged over on Tumblr by [ profile] ienthuse to do a meme about music where I talked about ten songs that I fell in love with. I've moved things over to Dreamwidth because I prefer to do longform blogging here.

As anyone who's ever met me knows, I am completely overinvested in music, so the hard part of a meme like this is trying to narrow it down to only ten songs! I've tried to get in as wide a range in mood as possible, but given that I tend towards melodrama and big emotions (I literally have a Tumblr tag called mellow is not a genuine emotion), and tend to overidentify with song lyrics (and associate songs with people, relationships, and/or phases in my life), certain themes are likely to be apparent here.

Let's put this behind a cut, because this got long )

Looking at this list, the other common element (besides EXTREME EMOTIONS and overidentification with song lyrics) is the sea, and water more generally. I guess it makes sense. I feel all the feelings about the ocean, and it's had a profound effect on my life, like a watery thread running through everything.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
Pretty much everyone's been posting this meme, so I figured I might as well give it a go myself.

Comment with one of my fandoms and I'll tell you:

the character I least understand
interactions I enjoyed the most
the character who scares me the most
the character who is mostly like me
hottest looks character
one thing I dislike about my fave character
one thing I like about my hated character
a quote or scene that haunts me
a death that left me indifferent
a character I wish died but didn’t
my ship that never sailed

If you don't know my fandoms, feel free to ask: my Ao3 profile might also be helpful.
dolorosa_12: (le guin)
This has been my tradition since 2007, and I've found it to be a good way to take stock and pause for reflection in the moment as one year slips into the next.

Questions and answers behind the cut )

Happy 2017, everyone.
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
[personal profile] schneefink asked me to post about fannish things I read/watch to cheer myself up. As I tend not to reread fanfic, I've chosen to interpret this as 'media that I feel fannish about, which I read/watch to cheer myself up.'

My ultimate comfort reread is the Pagan Chronicles series by Catherine Jinks, which I have read so many times that the spines of my books are split and cracked, and the pages are torn in places. I almost know them by heart, to the point that when I read them I'm no longer sure if I'm actually reading the sentences, or completing them myself in my head. This series is like the written equivalent of a warm blanket, and the best thing about it is it can be enjoyed on many levels.

On one level, it's a Monty Pythonesque piece of historical fiction, set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade and Languedoc in the late twelfth-early thirteenth centuries, hilarious and poignant, and well researched. On another, it's a series of interrelated coming-of-age stories, about dispossessed, damaged, orphaned people mentoring and learning from one another and healing each others' brokenness. In fannish terms, it is the published equivalent of emotional hurt-comfort. Its characters are like old friends; they've been with me since I was ten years old, and I'm not embarrassed to admit that I've occasionally imagined them at my side during times of difficult, fear or anger. It's always helped.

In terms of TV shows, Buffy is the one I always come back to, for similar reasons. Over the years I've liked different things about the show, and learnt different things from it, and identified with different aspects, but it's always been a constant. I rewatched the whole series while writing my Honours thesis, [ profile] losseniaiel and I picked out individual episodes to watch over the course of our MPhil year (and this was, in fact, how we came to be such good friends during that time), and the first thing I did when I submitted my PhD was sit on the couch and watch Buffy.

As I said before, I don't really reread or rewatch fanworks, but I do adore the fanvid 'Starships', because it's such a heartfelt celebration of fannishness — what it is to feel so deeply about stories that you seek out like-minded people to discuss, explore, and remake them — and it just makes me really happy. I rewatch it from time to time, and it always lifts my spirits.

Apologies for the lateness of this post. Life just caught up with me a bit, and before I knew it, it was the end of term.
dolorosa_12: (sister finland)
[personal profile] umadoshi asked me to talk about my favourite animal or animals, and apologies for posting about this topic one day late. This is a bit of a difficult one for me, because I am really, really not an animal person at all. My mother is, likewise, not an animal person, so we never had pets growing up, and no one in my extended family had pets either. As a result, I never grew up with the idea that a pet was a normal and expected part of every family home. Ultimately, this was probably for the best, given how much I've moved around, as I get the impression that it's very complicated to emigrate with pets. Thankfully, Matthias comes from a similar family, and also is not an animal person, so we're on the same page there. It really would be a dealbreaker for me.

I quite enjoy watching David Attenborough nature documentaries, and love things like the Strange Animals Twitter feed (also the feeds devoted to beautifully coloured birds), so I guess I appreciate animals in the wild. I think if I have a favourite animal, it's probably birds, especially corvids, and Australian birds like lorikeets, rosellas, Australian magpies (terrifying in the spring, beautiful song all year round; there used to be a magpie that my grandfather would feed porridge oats every morning, and he would whistle at it and it would sing back at him), king parrots, galahs, ganggangs, lyrebirds, bowerbirds, black swans and so on. There are a lot of Australian birds. I do miss the sounds of Australian birds in the morning, even though we have wood pigeons in the trees around our complex and thus aren't exactly lacking for morning birdsong.

I suppose my attitude towards animals is probably summed up as follows: most of the time I don't give animals much thought, I have no interest in having pets, but I'm glad that they bring so much happiness to my friends who have them.
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
[personal profile] schneefink asked me to talk about fandoms I wished were bigger. For me — someone whose fannish feelings always seem to direct themselves at tiny book fandoms that, if not fandoms-of-one, are usually fandoms-of-two (where all tagged posts on Tumblr are written by me, the now-dead LJ comm was set up by me, and any fic that exists is written by me, and the second fan's activities are usually confined to passively liking my posts) — the glib answer to this is 'all of them!'

I talked quite a bit yesterday about my favourite authors, and there's a large degree of overlap between the books of the authors mentioned yesterday, and the fandoms that I wish were more active. In the case of some — Kate Elliott, Sophia McDougall — there is some discussion out there, but it seems to be of different works to those I'd like to discuss. (So Elliott's Cold Magic series and Black Wolves, and McDougall's Mars Evacuees series. All are fabulous books and I love them a lot, but I wish others felt as affectionate towards Elliott's Crossroads series — it's even set in the same world as Black Wolves! — or McDougall's Romanitas trilogy.)

Apart from the works I mentioned in yesterday's post, there are a handful of other fandoms I wish were bigger: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, and The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. (In the case of all three, there is a bit of fannish discussion on Tumblr, but — and this is such a small fandom problem — everyone else seems to like different characters to me!) My other intense fandom-of-one is Jo Walton's Tir Tanagiri Saga, where I've been lucky enough to meet pretty much the only other fan, [ profile] sulienapgwien, who turned out to be awesome.

That being said, for all my whining about my small fandoms, I've been lucky in all of them to avoid some of the problems that plague mega- or even medium-sized fandoms. There is remarkably little drama in any of the fannish communities that have sprung up around these works — there are so few of us that I think everyone collectively decided to be generous, supportive, and positive about any fannish activity, even if it's not focused on our preferred characters. When you're in a tiny fandom, any fanwork is welcome, and all discussion is a pleasant surprise. I'm not sure I'd trade page after page of fanworks on Ao3 for my calm, if inactive, little fannish oases.
dolorosa_12: (matilda)
Today's topic is from [personal profile] geckoholic: talk about my favourite author or authors. For a bookworm like me, this is an impossible topic to narrow down - I have so many favourite authors, most of whom I like for a wide variety of reasons. I've limited myself here to just a handful.

If you asked me to name just one author as my favourite, I probably automatically say Philip Pullman. This isn't necessarily because I think he is the best author in the world, but because he is the author who (unintentionally) has written the books that have given me the most. Oh, I have always loved his turns of phrase, the page-turning intensity of his plots, and his vivid characters, and the themes of his books have spoken to me for close to two decades now, but my love for him goes beyond that. When I read Northern Lights for the first time, it was like a resounding thunderclap, as if I had been given words to explain something I'd never been able to articulate, as if my (twelve-year-old's) worldview had been condensed and distilled into a single novel. And, as the years went by, Philip Pullman's writing gave me a career as a reviewer, my first introduction to online fannish communities, and a vast, international gang of friends who have been there for me through some of the best and some of the worst times of my life.

I adore the writing of Kate Elliott because she writes epic fantasy with an eye, not to 'historical accuracy', but rather to how her imagined worlds function at every level - from the highest branches of the aristocracy to the artisans, farmers and merchants who keep things running. She is one of the rare epic fantasy writers who thinks both on a broad scale (the sweep of politics and history, the repercussions of a small event over a large period of time) and on a smaller, intimate level (the ripples of trauma and repeated mistakes within communities, families, couples). Her worlds feel lived-in in a way that I often feel is missing in more well-known, popular epic fantasy. She's the sort of writer who thinks about how characters pay for their possessions, what sorts of trade sustain large empires and small communities within them, what sort of family structures are common to particular societies - and how much scope is there for her individual characters to push back against various societal constraints. She's also responsible for one of my favourite characters of all time, Mai.

Mai is slightly edged out as my favourite fictional character by two other authors' creations. The first is Noviana Una, from Sophia McDougall's Romanitas trilogy. McDougall is another of my favourite writers, not just because of Una, but because she writes about revolutions in a way that makes my heart sing. Her stories resonate with me, because, at their heart, they are about the dispossessed: escaped slaves, abused women, people marginalised by ethnicity or sexuality finding common cause, realising that they outnumber their oppressors, and, quietly, carefully, on their own terms, making revolution. That the revolution is run out of a never-destroyed Library of Alexandria by Una, an escaped-slave-turned-library-assistant is just the icing on the cake.

Given we're on the topic of dystopias (the world Romanitas is most definitely a dystopia, even if the series is marketed as alternate history), I'll also mention two of my other favourite writers of dystopias: Victor Kelleher and Gillian Rubinstein. These two are Australian writers whose dystopian works were popular during my childhood in the '90s. I've been singing the praises of this genre for a really long time, and it's hard to describe why I think it's so excellent in just a few words. I think I keep returning to these works because they reward rereads (and I have definitely reread them at least a hundred times - not an exaggeration), and they speak to a particularly Australian understanding of postapocalyptic living, to a readership who already has an uneasy relationship with a hostile land and is carrying very specific colonial baggage.

A couple of authors who I appreciate specifically for their beautiful use of language: Ursula Le Guin and Emily St. John Mandel. It's not that these writers aren't telling incredible stories and exploring really complicated ideas: they are. It's just that their words resonate, but in a quiet way, like a stone dropped in still water. I love Le Guin's Earthsea books, particularly the later ones, which I feel helped me understand myself as a woman. I really love what they have to say about the power and magic of ordinary, everyday work - the kind of work that is endless, unacknowledged and unappreciated, but absolutely essential (Monica Furlong is another author who has a lot to say about this particular topic). Neither Le Guin nor St. John Mandel is a comforting writer, but I find myself returning to their books again and again to give myself a sense of hope.

I would be remiss to leave this post without at least mentioning Catherine Jinks, who showed me that you could write powerful, meaningful, thoughtful work that is aimed at teenage readers, upends conventional, popular understanding of historical events, and is utterly hilarious. Jinks also gave me Pagan Kidrouk, my favourite fictional character of all time, someone whose stories I've been reading for more than twenty years, and which are the first books I reach for as comfort reading.

I could go on and on and on here, but I'll stop at this point before things get ridiculous. I think it's fairly clear that I like different authors for different reasons, but it's hard for something to be my favourite unless it provokes a great intensity of emotion - and sustains this intensity of emotion over repeated rereads, over a period of many years. While I can appreciate the craft of writing in an abstract way, I need to be made to feel things, intensely, and think things, intensely, for the writing to make any kind of impression beyond the time spent reading it.

I'm still taking requests for this meme. You can do so here on Dreamwidth or here on Livejournal.
dolorosa_12: (pagan kidrouk)
[personal profile] dhampyresa asked me to talk about 'things I wish people in fandom knew'. For the purposes of this post, I'm interpreting fandom as fanworks (fanfiction, fanart, reviews, commentary, meta, and other types of fan creation, made as an unpaid hobby) fandom, and mainly the corners thereof with which I'm more familiar ('Western media fandom', as it's sometimes called). I do not think of fandom as a monolith, and when I talk about 'fandom' in this post, I'm talking about the parts of it in which I hang out, not every single fannish community in every corner of the internet.

Honestly, the one thing I wish people in fandom knew is fannish history.

I'm not talking about having an encyclopedic knowledge of the writing of Robert Heinlein, or knowing exactly which obscure fanzine was the originator of the term 'slash' - those sorts of things are often used as gatekeeping, and I think gatekeeping in fandom is a terrible and harmful thing. What I'm talking about is knowing where fandom has been before: what mattered, what were the burning issues being debated, what were the controversies, what were the established norms (and, if these changed, why), and who was having these conversations, and where. That way, we could avoid fighting the same battles over and over again, every time fandom moves to a new platform, or every time a new cohort of people enters fandom.

Tied up in this is my sincere wish that people in fandom cared more about written records. To put it plainly, it worries me that so much fannish activity is currently taking place on Tumblr - an unstable platform in which links can be broken whenever a user changes their username, and which is owned by Yahoo. It worries me that a lot of the platforms previously used for keeping records are now obsolete, or were taken down in response to complaints by people who were recorded there behaving in an unflattering light. It worries me that we are so reliant on platforms not owned by us, and that the transmission of fannish history is dependent on a mixture of web archiving and, essentially, oral history. (This is also why I am generally in favour of platforms like Dreamwidth and Archive of Our Own. It's really important to have platforms owned and curated by members of fandom, because they're less vulnerable than those owned externally.) I don't think of myself as a particularly long-standing member of fandom - I've only been here for nine years - and already I can recall multiple attempts at large-scale rewriting of history, history that I was around to witness and events that I know went down in a very different way to how they're now being portrayed.

I worry about this because it leaves fandom, especially its newer, younger, or otherwise more vulnerable members, open to the manipulations of abusive people. Two recent examples spring to mind: in the wake of the US election result, I witnessed two notorious scammers and abusers (one of whom has literally used fandom to create a cult, on at least three occasions) promoting themselves as figures of trust and authority to LGBT youth traumatised by the prospect of a Trump presidency. I'm positive that most of the people sharing these scammers' words and promoting them as helpful sources had no idea of their history, and their repeated, troubling patterns of behaviour. But this - while an extreme example - is exactly why I think keeping good records of fannish history is so important. It's not so we can have examples of bad behaviour from far in the past that we can constantly hang over people's heads. It's so that we can establish patterns of behaviour, so that fans both old and new can make up their own minds, using people's words and deeds to determine whether they are trustworthy, whether they've genuinely changed, or whether they're someone to be avoided. It's so we can help people to recognise a potential scam. It's so that we can avoid fighting the same battles over and over again, and reach out to others with whom we share common experiences, interests, and approaches to fandom. It's so we can look back at where we failed in the past, and try to be better.
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
(I'm going by dates in the month, not posts in the series, hence the jump from Day 1 to Day 4.)

Kathy (a friend who doesn't have an LJ/Dreamwidth account), asked me to talk about 'doing gymnastics.' Given we met when she was six and I was eight, while we were doing gymnastics, I think that's a very appropriate topic!

I started gymnastics when I was seven, when my mother noticed that I was spending more time on my hands than my feet, and seemed to be climbing to the tops of trees and playground equipment on every available opportunity. Her suspicion proved correct: I loved gymnastics, and continued to do gymnastics for the next ten years. I began in the 'recreational' group, which was a class of one hour a week, and slowly made my way from the lowest levels of regional competitive gymnastics (the kinds of competitions where hundreds of girls were packed into a tiny gymnasium and everyone got a ribbon) to state- and national-level competitions which involved months of arduous training, and, for some reason, industrial quantities of glittery hairspray holding beribboned french braided hair in place. At my peak, I was training for around twelve hours a week, and was strong enough to do fifty chin-ups, hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups without effort, and could climb a rope with weights tied around my ankles, using only my arms.

It was clear, pretty early on, that I was not destined for the Olympics, but I still worked incredibly hard, because it was important to me to do as well as I could at the level I was at, and I was the sort of child and teenager who had no problem with endless repetition and practice, as long as it led to a successful score, exam result, grade, or praise from authority figures. It also helped that I really, really loved doing gymnastics - learning the skills, though sometimes difficult and frustrating, was fun, and because they weren't skills that the average person could do without training, I always felt a real sense of achievement when I learnt to do something well. And, best of all, doing routines on my favourite apparatus - bars - felt like flying.

I'd like to talk about two other things I came to appreciate about being a gymnast. These were not apparent to me at the time, but as an adult, it's clear to me that there were two major benefits to being a gymnast beyond simply physical fitness and another arena in which to develop a good work ethic.

Firstly, precisely because I was not naturally very good at gymnastics - and indeed was not even the best gymnast in my group/team, let alone regionally or nationally - being a gymnast gave me the experience of a decade of working really, really hard at something in which I was never going to succeed. This meant, firstly, that I had to redefine how I understood 'success': success as a gymnast thus became learning new skills, and, after months of hard, repetitious work, performing them as well as I could, progressing to higher levels, and getting scores that I considered to be reasonable. Secondly, a lot of things came easily to me as a child, and I think it was helpful to have areas of my life, such as gymnastics (maths was a similar area, and piano, although I did well in exams, was not naturally easy to me and required hours of practice) in which I had to work very, very hard. I think this gave me a sense of perspective, and prepared me for times later in life in which persistent, repetitive, consistent work would be required.

The second reason I'm grateful for my decade doing gymnastics is that it spared me a lot of traumas and pains of adolescence, especially those common to being a teenage girl. Because I spent the years between the ages of seven and seventeen running around in a mixed-gender gym wearing very little clothing, I managed to avoid body-image issues, instead viewing my body purely as something powerful, something that could do extraordinary things. Because gymnastics took up so much of my spare time, I missed out on most of the house parties, underage nightclubbing, and drunken nights hanging out in the playgrounds of inner-south Canberra that were common to my cohort (and indeed attended by many of my friends). Although these often sounded like a lot of fun, they were also the site of a lot of heartbreak, dubiously consensual sexual activity - and occasionally, sexual assault and violence - none of which we were equipped to deal with. I can remember conversations with my female friends, when we were fourteen, fifteen, sixteen that worried me for reasons I couldn't then articulate, but which now fill me with sadness, as well as relief that I was spared those particular experiences during my teenage years. Of course, what ended up happening was that all the angst, and painful or mortifyingly embarrassing experiences that normally happen in your teens happened to me in my twenties! I might have been slightly more mature than I would've been as a teenager, but I was still ill-equipped to handle them, and my early-to-mid-twenties were really awful in lots of ways. I'm still glad I missed out on all that in my teens, though.

I had to give up gymnastics when I was seventeen, nearly eighteen, towards the end of my second-last year of secondary school, due to both the pressure of schoolwork and the fact that a decade of slamming with the full force of momentum, speed and gravity onto my narrow, flat feet had taken its toll. There's a reason you don't see many older gymnasts - Oksana Chusovitina notwithstanding - the body can't take it after a while. But I still keep vaguely in touch with the goings on at my old gymnastics club (which is now run by a former teammate of mine, and her husband, who was a fellow gymnast at our club), watch Olympic gymnastics, the World Championships, and other high-level competitions whenever they come around, and am still friends with people I met more than twenty years ago when we were little girls dressed in the best in lurid '90s lycra, dreaming of our very own puffy fringes.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
[ profile] promiseoftin asked 'What got you into journalism/writing'? This was a bit of a complicated, two-stage process. It's also worth saying that, aside from blogging and the odd bit of reviewing on my reviews blog, I'm not really a writer or journalist any more. But I was for a long time, and for a longer time before that, it was the only career I imagined for myself, and everything I did was geared towards becoming a reviewer/journalist.

I have to admit that, in hindsight, the main reason I gravitated towards journalistic writing as a career was the fact that both my parents are journalists. My father is a very prominent Australian political TV journalist, and my mother is a radio broadcaster; both have been working as journalists for over forty years. Growing up, basically all the adults around me were journalists, so that I developed this unconscious perception that to be an adult with a job meant being a journalist. It helped that reading, writing, and analysing the written word came naturally and easily to me, and that I was encouraged in this, particularly by my mother, who was always telling me that as long as I could write, I would always have a job. By the time I was in my teens, she was pushing me to submit reviews to newspapers and write for student papers, and I was enthusiastically doing so.

That is what underlay my entry into journalism and writing - parental example and encouragement. How I actually started working in this field is quite an embarrassing story. At one point, when I was sixteen, I was having yet another discussion with my mother about books, sparked by what I believed to be a terrible review of my favourite book series, His Dark Materials, in the weekend edition of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. Mum, who was always one to push and encourage me in ambitious directions, said that I should write a letter to the reviewer explaining why her review was flawed. I wrote an incredibly pompous letter to this poor woman - the children's book editor of the Sydney Morning Herald! - and, to her credit and my eternal shame, she wrote back. Instead of telling me I was being ridiculous (which was very kind, given that in the letter I accused her of not having read the book she reviewed), she asked me if I thought I could do a better job, and offered me the opportunity to review The Amber Spyglass along with two other books that had been my favourites of that year. My review was duly published in the Sydney Morning Herald's yearly roundup where multiple reviewers talked about their favourite books of the year, and I was paid normal reviewer rates. Please, please, people trying to get into writing and reviewing - don't do what I did. I found the letter years later when clearing out my room at my mum's house, along with the letter the editor had written back, and it was absolutely mortifying to read. Most editors are not going to behave like her!

That review was a one-off. I didn't really get a permanent newspaper reviewing foothold until, about two years later, I was having another discussion with my mother about books, writing, and ideas, sparked by a documentary on Roald Dahl that was playing on the TV in the background. I was insisting to my mother that J.K. Rowling owed a debt to Dahl, and that the Harry Potter books were part of a clear tradition of British children's literature that also included Charles Dickens. Mum suggested that I pitch this idea to various newspapers, and, as a new Harry Potter book was about to be published, one paper - The Canberra Times - eventually agreed to publish it. What followed was a ten-year career writing reviews for that paper. They were a great paper to write for, because, until 2013, they had the most amazing literary editor, who was incredibly supportive of her writers, gave me pretty much free rein to write about whatever I wanted, interview whoever I wanted and review whatever I liked in however many words I saw fit, and would make space in the paper for any review, interview, or commentary piece, whatever the length. She was a real mentor to me, and really helped me find my voice as a writer and improve my reviewing skills. I also did a stint on the student newspaper at the University of Sydney, wrote a review of the final Harry Potter book for The Age, and blogged for the ABC Radio National Book Show's blog.

All through undergrad, I was determined to become a journalist or newspaper subeditor. All this writing was intended to get me to that point, and I also did a two-week internship at The Canberra Times as a trainee journalist, where I published scintillating stories on crises in rural dentistry, children's soccer tournaments, amateur theatre productions, and so on. And when I graduated from my undergrad degree, I sort of fell into a subediting job at The Canberra Times by accident, mainly because I was panicking about what to do, asked if they needed any subediting help over the summer holidays, and somehow ended up with first a part-time, and then a permanent full-time job.

And I hated it. I have never been as miserable in my life as I was during that one year as a subeditor. [ profile] catpuccino and [ profile] angel_cc will know what I mean, because they had the misfortune of living with me. Looking back, it was the perfect storm of awful working environment (tense, like all newspapers, because of the decline of print media and the resulting loss of jobs), too many changes to my life, and the escalation of the depression that had plagued me since I became an adult, rather than journalism itself, and if I had been less depressed, or could have stayed in Sydney, or worked for a different employer, things might've turned out very differently. But as it was, I didn't last long as a full-time journalist, and fled to the welcoming arms of academia, emigrating to the UK, and thence to the life I have now as a librarian. Throughout all this I continued to churn out reviews for The Canberra Times, as I had done while an undergrad, and as a subeditor, and during the year I worked four other jobs. I only stopped reviewing for them in 2013, when Fairfax (the company that owns pretty much every paper in Australia not owned by Rupert Murdoch) had mass layoffs, including my wonderful editor. We reviewers were offered the opportunity to continue writing for the paper, but, with a drastically reduced features section, and features editing being run out of Perth by an editor who seemed unequal to the task ahead, I could see the writing on the wall. I have not been paid for my writing since. I still love to write, and I miss the ease and fluency with which I was able to put together a review, particular during the middle years of my time writing for The Canberra Times, when I frequently produced multiple reviews in a week. I was incredibly privileged - I got paid to interview Garth Nix, Jeanette Winterson, John Marsden, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Sophie Masson, Gillian Rubinstein, Shaun Tan, and others. Many of those authors were childhood heroes of mine, the writers of incredibly formative books for me, and meeting them as an equal to talk to them about their writing was an unbelievable experience. Making a career out of writing and reviewing was never on the cards - it always seemed to me a very stressful and precarious way to earn money, and even though my former editor has often told me she thought it a shame that I didn't make a huge effort to pursue a career as a freelance writer, I prefer the security of a full-time job and regular paychecks. I really admire those who do - it's a difficult road to follow.

I hope that answers your question, [ profile] promiseoftin!

I still have spots available for more December posts. You can make suggestions for topics here on Dreamwidth or here on Livejournal. Multiple suggestions are very welcome.
dolorosa_12: (sister finland)
I've never done this before, mainly because I couldn't commit to writing as regularly as this meme requires, but I've decided to give it a go this year. How it works: pick a date from those below, give me a topic, and I'll ramble on about your chosen topic on the date selected. I'm leaving a chunk of days out due to holidays, but any date that appears is free to be selected by you. I'll update the post once people choose days, to indicate that they're no longer available.

So, give me topics!

  • 1 December - What got me into journalism/writing? - [ profile] promiseoftin

  • 2 December

  • 3 December

  • 4 December - Doing gymnastics - Kathy (who doesn't have an LJ/Dreamwidth account)

  • 5 December

  • 6 December - Things I wish people in fandom knew - [personal profile] dhampyresa

  • 7 December

  • 8 December

  • 9 December: My favourite author(s) - [personal profile] geckoholic

  • 10 December: Fandoms I wish were bigger - [personal profile] schneefink

  • 11 December

  • 12 December

  • 13 December

  • 14 December - My favourite animal(s) - [personal profile] umadoshi

  • 15 December

  • 16 December

  • 17 December: Fannish things I read/watch to cheer myself up - [personal profile] schneefink.

  • 18 December

  • 19 December

  • 20 December

  • 21 December

  • 22 December

  • 30 December

  • 31 December
  • dolorosa_12: (what's left? me)
    I'm taking my turn at that meme that's been doing the rounds, the one where you're assigned an age and answer a few questions which contrast your life then with your life now. [personal profile] naye gave me 18.

    Answers behind the cut )

    It was really great to do that meme. A lot of the things that caused me great distress at 18 had obvious fixes in retrospect, but I wouldn't have lived any other way. It makes me happy to see how far — literally and metaphorically — I have come.

    Two memes

    Aug. 29th, 2015 03:07 pm
    dolorosa_12: (Default)
    The first is from [ profile] thesunifollow

    Questions and answers )

    The second one is from [personal profile] falena

    Questions and answers )
    dolorosa_12: (what's left? me)
    Meme answers behind the cut )

    I'm a bit of a nervous wreck this week, so I've been fairly quiet online. However, I thought I'd let you all know that I passed my probation period at New Library Job, so I have been confirmed to be working there full-time until the end of 2016. So that's excellent.


    dolorosa_12: (Default)
    a million times a trillion more

    February 2019

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