Winter Is Coming – Gillian Polack


I’m Gillian, and I’ll be blogging about things that are everyday to me. I’ll change the title whenever I feel it needs changing, and I’ll put my name up top so that you know it’s me, playing with titles. I love playing with titles. My current draft novel is up to its sixth. I also like writing letters. This will be my letter to you.

I discovered (the peculiar way) that the combination of all the things in my life mean that my life is a bit different. I live in Australia (my family migrated here between the 1850s and 1920) and have had an exceptionally strange career. I’m not certain what my everyday is different to, not yet. We’ll explore that together.

Take my Sunday. You don’t have to take it very far, because I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon. Right now I’m downloading the Hugo packet for the WorldCon in New Zealand. I was so happy about going to a place a mere six hours travel from home and spending time with friends and… COVID-19 hit. At least I’ll have more time for reading my Hugo awards packet.

My corner of Australia (the national capital) has bad internet. This means that it has taken me 8 hours to download the Hugo packet. I live in deep commune with my computer. It thinks it’s my life partner and plays games with me. I think I need to get a new one. My computer is proud of the duct tape holding it together. Actually, it might be masking tape. It’s an old, grumpy computer.

I thought, with Crowtime (my personal pun for this period) that I would be able to hop online and go to all the amazing online conferences I’ve heard of in North America. My computer gets in the way of this. So does my location.

Location is a factor for online conferences. It turns out that not one of the conferences have panels at four in the morning… the time barrier is still too big. Some people have defeated the limited range of hours that the rest of the world lives in, by sleeping during the day or simply not sleeping at all, but I’m fighting chronic illnesses and this is only an option if, say, I’m on a panel.

The weather report says we’re getting snow in the mountains tomorrow. I live at the base of a mountain that misses snow, every time. All the cold, none of the snow-angels. Canberra and Narnia have quite a few things in common. Our Prime Minister would like to be Aslan, winter without Christmas – we need to rename. (I don’t mind winter without Christmas, since I’m Jewish. I wouldn’t mind summer without Christmas either.)

The weather forecast is done, back to what I was saying.

I suspect I’m not the only Australian writer who feels a bit like Cinderella denied the ball this weekend, but I have so much to do that I’m not bored.

I’ve just written 1,500 words about hooks and how they work to translate a writer’s ideas into something a reader can see. It’s part of the non-fiction book I need to finish by the end of the financial year. That sounds way less scary than saying I need to finish the first draft in the next four weeks.’

I had an interested publisher months ago, and the bushfires intervened. I was so sick during those bushfires that I didn’t get much work done. At the time I felt cheated, but given that 445 people died of the smoke that made me ill, I wasn’t cheated at all. I have to finish it now, though.

Doesn’t the subject sound exciting? Well, it is. Except that it means I’ve lost any chance of finding a hook for you now apart from “Hi, I’m Gillian”. I need an extra-special hook, too, for today is my first day on a new blog (this one, here) and we only just began the blog today and you need something special.

So much at the moment that is special is also terrible. We’re not living in one of humankind’s happiest hours. I’m not going to talk about those things most of the time.

I’ve said I’ll write about my everyday at a given moment, but then didn’t tell you who I was and why that everyday is different. Apart from me being a bit ill, but that’s just life. The things I’ve worked to bring into my life I mostly haven’t explained, thought you now know about the things that came to me without giving me a choice. And you know about Canberra. Everyone needs to know about Canberra.

I write novels and I research culture, sometimes historical culture,  right now mostly modern culture. I write my research up in the way that best suits the ideas I’m playing with. Sometimes the research fits into novels, sometimes into academic monographs, often into short pieces that litter the literary landscape. I have no idea if I’m any good, but enough people pay me so that I can keep on going. I care profoundly about my research and about my writing.

I’m really rather bad at keeping lists of what I write. I discovered this when someone wanted a complete bibliography of my work and I ran out of steam far too early on. Here are my books (for books are easy to track)  and here is a sample of my other stuff.

You can find me on Patreon and … all over the place. Yes, I am here admitting that I am all over the place.

What am I teaching right now? I’m so glad you asked. I’m in the middle of a six week online workshop about the Middle Ages (being a Medievalist is like being a Queen of Narnia – once a Medievalist, always a Medievalist) and another on how history is used in fiction. I also teach creative writing, but that’s not open to the public. The evening workshops are run by a publisher, who is determined that as many writers and musicians will be financially stable during this Crowtime as possible.

I don’t get out much, but my life is the opposite of boring. I’m going to talk about those things. The non-boring side of life. My shoes and ships and sealing wax will be my everyday existence and my cabbages and kings will be extraordinary or fascinating things that cross my desk.

If I am excited about something I’ll talk about it. Today you’re saved from the excitement by the Hugo packet, by another article being due, by my tax (oh, horror!) and by me having just written 1,500 words on how book marketing can translate the culture an individual owns (which I call idioculture) into a wider cultural sphere. Research. Reading novels is research. So is watching TV. My life is tough…

And you’re going to hear the cool bits from that life, first, third and fifth Mondays of the month.

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