Feb. 12th, 2013

gillpolack: (Default)
It's amazing what a difference small things make. Without the bushfire smoke in the air, I don't have to sleep an extra four hours a day. I didn't allow for this, so I have spent this morning awake and reading just for fun. I brought some extra work to do in Melbourne, but it's mostly already done. And I forgot to contact most of my friends, so they don't know I'm here. I ought to visit museums and walk along riverbanks and window-shop and catch up with people and places. Instead, I borrowed a bunch of books on my mother's library card, and I'm drinking much tea and reading and catching up on just being myself.

My afternoon will be entirely full, and I have no idea what my evening will consist of, but my morning reminds me of when I was a public servant and had free time before work and after work and read three books a day. I will only read two books today, and quite probably average one a day for the time I'm here, so I'm reading about the same amount of fiction as when I'm working solidly, but I'm not writing about any of these novels, or analysing them for arcane purposes. Someone asked me last month whether it was possible to do what I do and still read for fun. Yes, it is. And it's essential. It brings me back into the core of myself and reminds me why I do what I do.

I don't feel as if I wok very hard, usually, but it's nice to slow down from time to time. In fact, I'm so enjoying the slowing down, that I've asked editors if I can get back to them next week. The two editors in question were very nice about it. One is editing a short story, and another an academic review. Gives me something to look forward to, next week!

This afternoon is all about being a Medievalist. The Australian equivalent of Leeds and the Zoo begins in a few hours. Until then, I shall lounge around in my t-shirt (which announces that I am unemployed - it's a relic of my public service days, SBS gave it to me when I was part of a team that was getting rid of typing pools and helping find career paths for junior staff - and is my emergency lounging-around garment) and I shall read another book. The next book in my queue is by Eoin Colfer.

I'm supposed to be working. I have three books to write that are in various stages of disarray. But it's rather fun to lounge around in the morning and attend a conference in the afternoon. I am definitely in sybaritic mode.
gillpolack: (Default)
There are many fewer Medievalist and Early Modernists in Australia and New Zealand than I thought. I suspect cutbacks, but it might be time of year. In other words, ANZAMEMS is no bigger than Conflux. It's easier to be shy in a smaller group, so it's just as well that people are friendly. I did leave after the reception, though, and had a quiet evening with my mother*.

I checked my email before I went out to congregate, however. I'm rather pleased by the editor's comments on an upcoming academic review of mine (he liked it!). That was my last truly coherent moment of the day.

Thanks to a comment by >lj user="highly_eccentric"> I am pondering the codes by which one can clasify Medievalists. Dress code (I break this code, it seems - I explained it's because I dress like an SF writer, but I suspect it's because I dress like Gillian), names (who knows whom and which circles - we had a nice little circle of folks that knew John O Ward at one stage), specialisation (some people classify by period, but the experts in matters monastic defined themselves by order, me, I kept saying "historiography" but it's really narratives and historiography is only a component), and institution. It seems that it's still normal for Australians to identify with one institution, which left me trying to explain that the institution on my label was only partly right and that I was actually at the ANU (but only sort of) and that my primary affiliation was Melbourne Unviersity, but...I should stop saying these things. They're true, but no-one's interested, really, and all it means is that my identity is a lot more tangled in that respect than most people's. It's like trying to explain what I write, but at least I have a nice answer for the fiction. "Speculative fiction" is such a lovely and broad category.

I lost a few minutes of the early part of the program to memories, because they mentioned Leonard Boyle. He would have hated my scholarship, but he was such a lovely man. I keep wondering if part of the almost-ex-pope's proems were based on him not having a Leonard Boyle as his predecesor did.

And then I lost a bit more to internal cogitation, because a lot of the scholarship on display this afternoon provoked thoughts. I think I need to expand the range of one of my chapters in the book-to-be and I finally have a decent title for it.

And I lost even more when I realised that Medievalists have the same propensity for literate puns as spec fic writers. The pleanary this afternoon was call "A Tale of Two Summae," you see. (I need to revisit Aquinas - but when will I find time? So many interesting things to do and so little time! Anyhow, the talk was mainly about Antoninus, and I've not read him and I ought to do that too.) Also, Frater Diabolus needs to appear in my fiction sometime. There are so not enough devils who raid monastic libraries for ideas in my writing.

The plenary was full of useful thoughts, and perhaps one of the best definitions of genre I have seen. This got me thinking about techniques writers use to make their writing internally consistent, for we were shown texts that borrowed from other texts and it struck me that borowing and plagiarism are the easiest ways of doing this. Derivative writing makes a whole bunch of technical aspects of writing easier, I guess, which explains why it appears so very often.

For a good twenty minutes this afternoon I just let the language of medieval scholarship roll past while I analysed it. It's not nearly as different to the language of SF criticism as it used to be. The vocabulary is vastly different, but the concepts, less so. This is why my two worlds aren't so hard to bring together right now, I suspect. I don't know if this is a kind of broad-based cultural discourse, or communities of thought that overlap, or something else entirely.

Now I'm past making sense, which means it's bedtime. If you're very lucky, I will bring you more random and disconnected thoughts tomorrow.





*This is partly because there is just a little bushfire smoke here, which would not be a problem if I hadn't walked two kilometres in it. It all depends on which way the wind is blowing, so mostly I'm fine, but mostly isn't quite good enough. Well, it will pass.

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