Monday, 15 December 2014

Better late than never...

Argus
Over the weekend I worked furiously to meet a story deadline. It is the first time that I have sent one of my short stories from the Beautiful Creatures series for review by a journal. I was fortunate to have some wonderful helpers to look over my work before I submitted the final draft on Sunday. I was thinking of the process that I went through and how I have compiled my thoughts about characters. I have several rough drafts for stories but this was the first time that I had actually intertwined the subplots of my characters. Within the series that I am developing there are a multitude of storylines and each of the characters are at some point connected throughout my narrative. It is fascinating to see that while I know the outcome of the story, that when I did piece it together that my readers could, for the most part, follow the progression of how everything fit together. There were a few minor tweaks to be made. When you are close to your own work it is sometimes hard to be able to realise that you can fill in the blanks but unless it is clearly written out for your reader it runs the risk of being confusing. However, I was relieved that this was not the case. My vision as I had put it together came together quite clearly. Although there were a few parts that required a clarifying sentence here or there I had indeed conveyed the layering of my story effectively for my reader. It is always helpful in that way to have a reader not familiar with your work to look over your writing. I am fortunate that I do have several willing helpers with keen eyes, talented in their own writing skills and effective in their critiques to look over my writings. My story was sent off in time and now I patiently wait for the outcome... Either way, no matter the outcome, it has started a new chapter in bringing my dream just one step closer to reality…

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Courtship… And all you brought me were flowers?

Throughout the last couple of years I have been reading and learning about the various courtship rituals of other species. A lot of the stories that I have shared to date through the Alphabeasts series were themed in love or loss and they gave me a moment to really study these impressive rituals in depth. I have worked some these rituals into the narratives of my stories, but this week, I would like to share a few that are really beautiful, touching and inspiring to me…

The first is from the Japanese Puffer Fish that works tirelessly to create an underwater chef-d'oeuvre upon the ocean floor. The effort that it takes for his little fins brush away the sand and fight the currents to attract a female with the creation of his vision in the sand is beyond what you may imagine…

http://www.starrenvironmental.com/

And from the seafloor to the seashore is a lifelong love story of feathers that truly soars… There are many bird species that are monogamous and have some special mating rituals, like the duet of the Great Hornbill, the cuddling of Lovebirds or the intricate dance of the Manakin. However, one of my favourites are the Albatross, as theirs is the most intense love affair as they will spend months apart… Their courtship ritual of clapping beaks, mirrored dance and cheerfully boisterous squawks make it hard not to smile. If you need a little sprinkling of happiness to your day, the exuberance of their squawks alone are sure to lift your spirits! The Albatross mate for life (a 50 year commitment) like many other birds. Interestingly, the courtship rituals of the albatross more resemble our own through a dating process of elimination as the strike partners from their dance cards from one year to the next. They will engage in preening, staring, dancing and vocalising which they learn from watching their elders slowly weeding out partners until they are left with the one true mate with whom they will spend the rest of their lives.

And lastly, is the Maratus volans or Peacock spider, who is aptly named for the colourful display like the tail feathers of the bird by the same name. Maratus volans (cue 3:30 for the full display) is an Australian species that has a dance routine similar to the Manakin. However, if the male spider fails to interest his female she’ll have him for diner!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Run with it! Or rather, swim with it...

One of my main interests in writing about lesser known species is to try and shed light on the beauty of the unknown and the wonder in the worlds that surround us. This past month I came across three distinct articles that touch on framing other than human nature through a lens of fear. The first article is from the CTV news reporting on a recent video capture of an anglerfish which is a deep sea being also referred to as the black sea devil. This article brought me back to my research on the Australian grey nurse shark and the undeserved monikers and reputation they earned in the late 1960s. Many of the pieces that reported on the Australian grey nurse shark would capture the audience with a provocative tag-line that did not necessarily convey the tone of the story, which is very much the case with the CTV anglerfish article. The title of the story, Research team captures deep-sea nightmare on film, conveys an alarmist reaction in the reader whence the content reflects a very different perspective. However, this is not so much the case with the second article that I came across…

The hype about the 'Jurassic World' trailer that the public has been waiting for on the “edge of their seat,” very much reflects how popular Hollywood big box office productions gear their audiencess viewpoint to interpret nonhuman nature through a lens of fear. The Jurassic World trailer echoes societal glorifications of an obsession with control and the confinement of other beings for human entertainment. We see this most effectively mirrored in the brief glimpse of a mosasaur breaching the water in the SeaWorld-like pool with its arena of awe-struck spectators watching the beast attack the dangling great white shark in true Jaws fashion. The carefully timed high pitched sounds from the striking of isolated piano keys of that ever recognisable John Williams slow piano piece creates that eerily unsettling feeling in the viewer to a point that one is both primed and caught off guard by the ensuing drama that will follow. The creation of these types of films reinforce our penchant for attributing human characteristics in relation to intent over instinct upon other beings that hunt for survival over sport or vengeance. This brings me to the last article that I explored which looks at deflating the hyperbolic myths that surround the great white shark…

This third article exposes ten well-disseminated myths, from the intent of attacks, frequency at which they occur and the efforts that we have made to safeguard against shark attacks. One of the key myths surrounding shark attacks and their occurrence is also tied to the frequency of their reportage in mass media. Often times there can be years when no fatal attacks occur but a sudden clumping of attacks (and clumping is in relation to three or four attacks) in a single year can send the media into a feeding frenzy. These fatal attacks also tend to occur at times that other prey species are more active and hence at times when it is ill-advised to be in the water. And while it is true that there may indeed be an increase in the number of attacks that do occur, this is more a reflection of the “ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the opportunity for interaction between the two affected parties" rather than truly reflects a swell in the rate of attacks.  

Thus, it is intriguing to examine the way in which information is conveyed to the public and the ways in which we construct realities through our narratives as they do nourish our beliefs…
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