Thursday, October 28, 2004

Prehistoric hobbits

So Tolkien was right! It's all over the newspapers about this race of tiny people whose skeletal remains have just been unearthed in caves on an Indonesian island. They're a different species, but co-existed with homo sapiens, and villagers put out food for them, like Europeans did for the fairies. The average height was only a metre, smaller than pygmies. They've been nicknamed hobbits. They were a lot brighter than their small brains would suggest, and I like to think they might have been refugees from the Shire.

It's great every now and then when you get some news that tells you it's okay to dream.

I wonder what it was like, being such a small human in a huge world, confronting huge humans, giant rats - but oddly, dwarf elephants.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Writing projects

When you write, you get stressed out without a project. I got a very pleasant surprise when my ploy of sending my education title about archaeology to a publisher worked. It was accompanied by a note saying, "This has sold 31,000 copies so far, got any work for me?" As it happened, my former editor from Allen and Unwin, who is now series editor for a sort of junior version of the True Stories series, for which I wrote two books, did have some work for me and was pleased to hear from me. So I'm working on a juvenile book about spies. It's surprised me how quickly I've managed to get through most of the first draft - I think it's all the education writing I've done, where they give you about 3 months to do a non-fiction title, complete with research.

Jack Dann once told me that you always have to "hustle" for writing jobs. He was right. I have been hustling for projects for years now. I watched him at work once, his ears pricking up when I introduced him to my then-publisher, his hand reaching into his pocket for a card... Whether I will ever be as successful as he is, I don't know. I doubt it. But you don't have to be a massive bestseller to be able to consider yourself a professional writer. If you "hustle" and get work, if someone is prepared to pay you to write for them, you're a professional writer. I've found it pays not to be fussy - fiction or non-fiction, juvenile or adult, if someone is buying, I have a go. And while I'm establishing myself and letting my name be known to those who are buying, I can still get on with the SF and fantasy that are my first love. I've sold a few of those stories too!