A little update on books and writing projects

Note: This post has been edited to include the the Ida Pender and related work, since first posting.


I seem to be working on so many writing projects at the same time that I lose track of which is which, sometimes. For my own benefit as much as anything, I’ll work through a list of what I think I’m doing and where I think I’m up to.

The Waste Land project.

My T.S. Eliot epic. I’ve progressed a long way into this project and am at poem 221, getting toward the end of the third section, titled ‘The Fire Sermon’.

You may recall that I took the 400+ lines of The Waste Land and broke them up fairly randomly into phrases that I thought I might be able to write and respond to. My challenge has ended up being set at around 310 poems, so I’m better than halfway through. Two-thirds, more like.

I don’t have any thought of publishing this project, although I may turn it into 2 or 3 books for my personal library when it is done. The project is an interesting one that I might write about seperately – the challenge of setting writing goals and being able to stick with them through a very long project.

To date, it has led me through Covid first stage, a journey into personal history of 30 years ago, a return to Covid present, and quite a few side-journeys on the way.

It is an uncomfortable writing project in many ways and its value isn’t really very clear. I can’t wait to finish the Fire Sermon section and start another.

As a by-the-way, Eliot’s is a powerful piece of work that forces personal examination when approached in the way I’m doing it. At least it does if the maxim of poetry needing to be truthful holds any weight.

Estimated completion: No idea. No rush.

Flock project

My pigeon philosophy collection. When last reported, I was madly formatting to create 2 page spreads for each poem, with images split across the 2 pages and nested behind the text. I was doing this in greyscale, largely because I didn’t have access to the original images anymore – they were taken in early days of using a digital camera and I basically shrank them down to very small size and got rid of the originals in an act of technological clumsiness.

The poems for this collection are all written – completed a long time back, when I took the photographs initially.

Work on this project has halted, temporarily. I decided that the 2-page spreads weren’t working as I want them to. The background – in greyscale – was too similar in too many of the pictures and started to seem a bit boring, overall, while remaining delightful in a few others.

I’ve just recently discovered that the GooglePhotos ap that I was using when I first butchered the images allows me to download the originals. This might be obvious to many users of sundry apps, but I can assure you that I have turned myself inside out over the last 12 months or so to try to recover, or rediscover original images for this and for various cloud-poetry projects. As a result, I’ve spent some hours organising images on Google Photos into albums, so I can download the originally sized images and then play with them all over again, with a bit more knowledge and control than formerly.

This is what the ‘Flock’ album looks like in Google Photos. Pigeons galore!

What lies ahead is a long and tedious downloading task, then chopping up the images again to highlight the bits I’m interested in and then deciding whether to use colour or not, 2 page spreads or not, or some combination.

Estimated Completion: This one could be awhile, yet.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying project

This is a Seventeen Syllable Poetry project which has gone about a hundred poems deep – more than enough for a poetry book.

I have a number of presentation issues to come to grips with for this (and other Seventeen Syllable projects. They are such small poems, while packing quite a punch, in many cases.

I have flirted with the range of possible (paper) book sizes. My usual collection is in a 6″ x 9″ trim size, which tends to lend itself to conversion into e-book format reasonably well. But for these titchy little poems, a smaller size has appeal. Picture books tend to be a large 8.5 x 8.5 inch format, but there is also a 6.5 x 6.5 inch option and also a lim little 4 x 6. They are, however, expensive.

Also, I want to use pictureswith these poems. Clouds, grasses, other potentially contemplative images of clouds, grasses and so on. I now have these in Google albums . . .

Estimated Completion: Maybe 12 months. Not a huge priority to get this done, but what it might look like interests me and might make me hurry it up a bit.

A Love Poetry Trilogy Omnibus project

You will likely recall the ‘A Love Poetry Trilogy’ project that resulted – a little unexpectedly – in three collections of poetry being produced, each with its own slant on ‘love’ – at least in my interpretation of the original poems by Amy Lowell, Walt Whitman and T.S. Eliot. It was this work that led me to undertake the Waste Land project.

I intend to put the three collections into a single book – an omnibus edition, of sorts. To this end, I have combined and largely formatted the internal document. I’ve stalled at the cover.

The original 3 covers came out of a single photo session on a Melbourne Beach one evening. A half-buried shell, a washed ashore Jellyfish and the paw print of a large dog. FOr the cover I would like to create a montage of those images nesting one within the other in a way that I can visualise but not deliver, at this stage. I don’t have the image manipulation skills to tackle it yet. I’m hoping to do a technical Certificate-level course next year that will focus on graphic design and exactly this kind of photo-manipulation.

Failing that, I’ll dig up another image from that session on the beach and do something with it. The first option is preferred.

I’m thinking hardcover, jacketed edition only for this, though it is prepared to be e-book suitable if it comes to that.

Estimated completion: No rush. A year, or perhaps longer, unless the bug gets to me.

The Bachelard project

This is a project very dear to my heart. The draft work coming out of my reading of the works of the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard resulted in 8 volumes of work, broadly following themes explored by Bachelard.

I loved this work. Reading him was a revelation. Writing the thoughts he inspired was joy.

I turned the various collections (including a fairly substantial set of Seventeen Syllable poems) into book form for my own library, but I would dearly love to undertake a substantial edit to screen for too-similar work within each collection – sometimes a single idea led to many interpretations, but reading them sequentially is probably not as stimulating as writing them. This is a problem with themed work – too many ideas focused on a small area of exploration.

To me, these are important works and I feel that I have to sort them out and release them, sooner than later. I realise, of course, that my perspective is narrow and slightly biased, but it’s the best that I have to rely on!

At some point in the next 12 months I hope that I might tackle at least one of these collections with a view to release more widely.

Estimated completion: Twelve months plus.

The Cielonaut project

This is perhaps the one that I love the best, in many ways.

The Cielonaut is the sole survivor of the take-off of a space ship. He cannot control the ship. It is travelling at light speed (or thereabouts), and what he left behind already has ceased to exist. His flight is to nowhere and no when.

This is the collection that I created using the impetus of my first Rainforest Writing Retreat anthology submission, a love affair with NASA images of stars and nebulae and the cosmos, and the encouragement and urging of Andrea (Meeks) Flory.

The book is complete and a hard copy is sitting on my desk, but . . .

I’m not happy with the quality of the reproduced images. It is possible that they are actually good enough, it is possible that they woudl be better with highest grade colour paper and colour reproduction (rather than the middle level that I have chosen, to date. It is a significant problem because the solution could be as costly as an additional $10 per book wholesale. Not peanuts and likely making the book unaffordable, or at the least, unattractive price-wise.

I love this book. Writing and creating it has taken me well away from my usual stomping grounds and it is a journey that I couldn’t have imagined, until I imagined it – so to speak. I have produced a digital copy, which I think works ok, and recently had a Speculative Fiction writer/editor/competition judge read it. She claimed never to have read anything quite like it, so the potential is there.

What to do exercises me, considerably. Here is an image from the sample book. The greens in particular seem to be less ‘clean’ than I would like.

Image taken from The Cielonaut – 07/09/2021

Estimated completion: Who knows. I’ll try to resolve things in time for some Award opportunities in the next 12 months.

The Beechworth Bakery Bears – Waiting For Frank-Bear project

A sequel! Can you believe it? Makes me feel very author-ish, indeed!

This is the good news story of my projects in train, currently.

The big edit (as performed by Editor-in-Chief, Leanne) was done and dusted yesterday. Many changes, but the bears are still cute and amazingly alive.

The documents have been uploaded to the printers and I expect that, today or tomorrow, I will have electronic proofs and be able to order a copy hold in my hand and edit again in that form.

A paperback and hardback are to be produced in book form. I’ve started to try to come to grips with a digital version.

Estimated completion: Ready in time to be a Christmas present, if so desired (fingers crossed).

Ida Pender and Squizzy Taylor

I almost forgot about Ida.

Coming out of the Sheep On The Somme collection, I set about peering into other possible work in that era. More work on the War – First or Second World Wars, that is – didn’t appeal as immediate prospects. However, the period between the two World Wars yielded up 4 possible writing targets. The slum era that ended in the 1960s. The Great Depression era focussed more on the 1930’s. Prostitution in and around these times (and perhaps because of them), and Squizzy Taylor the gangster personality of the 1920s, among them.

First among them, though, is Ida Pender. Why? It was rumored, when I was a student psychiatric nurse, that she had spent time in my training hospital – the Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum.

This work has progressed, driven by actual quotations from newspapers of the day, and images they contained of Ida, and the fact that she is a wonderful and relatively untold story in her own right.

There will be a point – soon, I think – where I get going on this again, as to date, there is nearly a book worth of poems written. The questions for me are

  • How much to rely on citations within the text. Probably I will end up with one referenced citation for every poem.
  • How to use the images thatI have access to.
  • Whether to include the story of Leslie ‘Squizzy’ Taylor as a discrete section. Whether to include his story at all (as opposed to treating him solely as an off-shoot of the Ida story). Usually he gets the centre-stage.
  • Whether to focus on a single book, or to create a series of all the above between-war targets, cited, and referenced and including images.

This is a fun project/s to pursue at my leisure.

Estimated completion: The Ida Pender collection (Jazz Baby) could be done fairly soon. It requires organisation more than writing. Perhaps 6 months from now. The rest of these targets might hover for quite a long period of time before being tackled. I have many images for the slum era, many references for the Great Depression in Melbourne. Might be a mish mash in the end, but great fun to do,

Other Projects

There are more. A contemplation of Clouds. Re-release of my first-ever collection in book form – A Book of Evenings, Re-release of the first collection that Leanne and I created from scratch some few years ago – Memoir of a Dog.

Thinking about them is making me feel tired, though, so I’ll leave them be, for awhile.


14 thoughts on “A little update on books and writing projects

  1. Since I am very much a beginner here I am overawed, by this explanation. However, you have the time now to develop your ideas, (and you have the Editor in chief) Good luck

    Liked by 1 person

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