My Thing Flowered

Trying to be a writer has a lot in common with trying to be a gardener. You put a lot of work in, then wait weeks or months to see if something grows fruit and flowers, or gets accepted by a magazine or anthology. (Or withers and dies right in front of you. RIP 2018’s attempt at growing a passionfruit up the three storeys of my house).

I pondered on this metaphor late last year, when the lilies on the balcony produced four beautiful flowers despite little attention over spring. I wondered if this was perhaps a sign that I would sell four stories in the following year. (I sold two in 2017, so four felt like a realistic expectation for improvement.)

I never told anyone about this thought, but wouldn't you know it? I have sold four stories this year! (So far, I'm happy to exceed flowery predictions…) Only one has actually made it to print so far, but I remain optimistic...

When November rolled around, I checked on the lily pots to see their progress and I saw that my thing plant had a flower.

image 1813 from bradism.com

I like this thing. I don't know what it is, but it's been on our balcony for at least a few years after it was given to us by our friend Elliott. It's still in the original pot, and only gets occasional love from the watering can, but it always plugs away growing new fronds to replace old ones, never dying. I didn't even know it could flower!

image 1814 from bradism.com

So the question is, what prophetic sign is this? If a lily is a short story sold, is a thing-flower an agent? A manuscript request? A book deal? My first subscriber to the bradism.com mailing list?

Only 2019 will tell.


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Working Overtime

image 1812 from bradism.com

The NBA season tipped off about a month back, and I still don't know the results of a single game. Usually I have my foreign-priced League Pass account setup by now, would have fallen asleep to a couple of games each week, watched a bunch of highlights whenever time allowed.

This year I'm giving up basketball until I finish the manuscript for my third novel - Law and Odor: Cold Case.

Doing this probably isn't necessary. No doubt I'd finish that manuscript at some point anyway, but I just feel like some extra motivation might help me get it done sooner. And every NBA gif in Messenger is a handy prompt to get back to work, and not just a reminder of my separation from the sport I used to love. I read that pain and trauma is the source of many great artworks, and perhaps this could be mine.

It has nothing to do with the cost of a League Pass subscription, or Golden State being unreasonably stacked.

Children

image 1808 from bradism.com

Parenting is not something which comes naturally to me, but this weekend I was entrusted to keep alive two small humans for over 24 hours.

To get through this I needed to draw on the advice and examples of other child-raisers in my life. Most recently, I saw a mother swan with four developing cygnets crossing a lake in the hope of a feed. When I offered noting, the mother coloured the water with fecal discharge, which the trailing offspring sucked up for nourishment.
I put this in the maybe pile.

image 1809 from bradism.com

I was proud of myself for lasting the first day of babysitting without resorting to TV, candy, or violence. I gently led the children to believe that playing Lego was their idea, and killed several hours building “spaceships” which were in fact a carrot, and an octopus’ car. I didn't even need a drink that night.

image 1810 from bradism.com

image 1811 from bradism.com

My greatest challenge early on Sunday morning when both children were crying about how their sibling “hated them” or had said something mean. I solved this by explaining that, as brother and sister, they would always be in competition for emotional superiority, and the earlier they developed a thicker skin to their family member's trolling and jabbering, the more successful they'd be.

Ultimately - despite never feeling completely comfortable that I could sit on the toilet for thirty minutes without interruption - I think I did a capable job of fostering children. Made possible completely by the knowledge throughout that it would soon be over.

Always in the Last Place you Cook

Tomorrow I'll be flying to Melbourne for a few days to visit my brother and his kids. Family is very important to me, but I can't lie, a tiny part of this trip is about using up some of the credit I have left on my Myki from my visit in April. There was a minimum top up and I didn't use anywhere near the whole balance.

Being very organised, I didn't start packing until around 10pm the night before my flight. After cramming four days of clothes into my carry on I realised, crap, I have no idea where my Myki actually is. I'd taken it out of my wallet and left it in my study somewhere, I was sure. But where in this room full of drying laundry, CDs, notebooks, camera shit, unused online shopping purchases and boxes of Lego was it? I searched for an hour. I found all my wallet's other D-League cards, including Oyster, Opal, and a dozen loyalty cards I'd picked up so I could get free stuff on my birthday. Still no card.

I nearly gave up, but I checked one last place and of course, there it was, on the floor behind my giant goddamn wok.


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Corpse on the Cob

For me, a lunchtime walk usually develops organically from the moment I leave the office. In late October, when it still feels good to stand in the sun, but the UV Ratings website tells me to avoid it, I’ll stick to shadowy ways. Traffic lights, and the timing of pedestrian crossings, can also send me on tangents.

So it was that I locked my computer on North Terrace and found myself at the Gingko Gate of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. I’ve been there before, but today was the first time I’ve ever seen a sign advertising the blooming of a corpse flower.

Prior to today I didn’t know much about corpse flowers. I did know they only bloom for short, infrequent periods. And I knew they are stinky, which made me think I should take advantage of the opportunity and smell one in case a certain private investigator who can smell through time could get involved with one.

I headed straight for the Bicentennial Conservatory (following shady paths) and entered the greenhouse. Immediately the smell hit me, though it was not as strong as I’d expected. A TV crew was there, and a smart looking botanist was talking to a small crowd about the flowering process. I came closer, keen to bring my nose as close to the flesh of the towering spadix. I sniffed.

image 1791 from bradism.com

It wasn’t that bad, somewhere between rotting feet and a decent craft beer. And that’s how I simultaneously added and crossed off an item on my bucket list.

Ten Weeks 'til Christmas

Better finish off my hot cross buns...

image 1790 from bradism.com

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