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I’m back in Beijing after almost three months away – the first two on an adventure, and the third at a residency in the US working on stories for a new collection. I’ll respect the privacy policy of Yaddo by not describing it in detail here, but i cannot refrain from expressing wonder at the extraordinary value and privilege of such places. Working in a colony alongside other creative people, in a place where so many other people have created, does something to the mind. I had some transformative conversations, exceeded my modest goals, managed to do three months’ worth of work in less than one, and have returned to my real life with a decent-sized pile of new stories for the monster collection I have brewing. This week I’ve been sorting them into those that are finished, those that will need another draft or two, and those that are lost causes – by some miracle the third column is empty and the first two are even, so apparently the gold spun in the palace still weighs something in the town. I was half expecting it all to fall apart in my hands like salvage from a dream.

I’m giving myself the rest of the year to put a rough tracklist* together and look for gaps and links and balancing-places. I am aided in this quest by some tidy money from the Australia Council (kindly proffered just before the Minister snatched much of it away), and hopefully that will enable me to continue in the vein of miraculous efficiency resulting from extraordinary privilege.

Meanwhile, I have an essay out in Overland about Detroit, which I visited last year and found I couldn’t not write about. It’s online here, and in print in issue #220. The thinking in it is really the culmination of a lot of thinking I was doing in the writing of the novel, Dyschronia, which I still can’t tell you more about just yet – I think I succeeded with that book’s mission to break time, but not in the way that I intended. Hard to believe the universe is composed completely of accidents crashing into other accidents when it has such a sharp sense of humour. Or maybe that’s a simpler case of cause and effect than I think.

Oh, if you’re into poetry in a big way and you want to contribute to the intellectual space that Overland makes, you can apply to be the new poetry editor, which would make you my counterpart but with more blank space. Being part of a literary journal is a bloody rewarding gig, if you’re up for the effort. The clever comrades are also looking for volunteer readers at the same link, deadline this Sunday.

*if the last one felt like a mixtape, i guess this one’s an album