Writer’s post: the cinema of the mind

You know that moment in a dark cinema when the person next to you lifts their hand for a mouthful of popcorn and their watch catches in the light? It’s enough. That small distraction breaks¬†your suspension of disbelief. Suddenly, the film seems utterly daft and implausible.

That is exactly how this week felt.

Before I write a scene, I play it out in my head like a film. The cinema of my mind is incomplete. I know some people can visualise every note of music, every syllable of dialogue, every nuance of expression. I wish!¬†I visualise the tone and the action, maybe snippets of dialogue, but I can’t yet manage the whole scene. Sometime the same fragment of the scene will iterate over and over again.

My manuscript has historical elements and¬†I want them to be accurate and believable. It’s usually when they are not that the scene repeats; the distractions of light and rustling popcorn invade.

Enter: Research. Followed by several days of replaying the same scene in my head and even more research before I sit down to write.

How complete is your cinema of the mind? What tricks do you use when the image freezes or stalls?



Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 1 comment

Productivity Commission- Intellectual Property in Australia | An aspiring author’s perspective

The Australian Government’s Productivity Commission draft report on Intellectual Property has been released. I recommend you read at least these key points and recommendations. The Australian publishing industry is largely unhappy about it and I’m not surprised.

What people are saying about it:

Read the submissions page, if you like government-style documents. It is separated into two sections: Initial submissions and post-draft submissions. Or letters/blogs by prominent authors or groups. Here are links to a few of my picks:

Read the views of Jackie French and the¬†Australian winners of the Booker Prize. Read¬†Allison Tait. Read the PwC report prepared¬†for APRA AMCOS, PCA, Copyright Agency‚ĒāViscopy, Foxtel, News Corp Australia and Screenrights.¬†In the initial submissions section, you can also find letters from many of Australia’s publishers and writing societies and organisations.

On the other¬†side of the table there is a counter-report, in response to the PwC report, by members of the Global Expert Network on Copyright User Rights.¬†Note: this counter-report is dated 15 April 2016. It appears on the submissions page as a post draft submission, but the draft report was supposedly not released until 29 April 2016. So I’m not certain if these experts are just responding to the PwC report, or to the draft report (time-travel, anyone?). Judging by the content: the former only.


Why do I care?

As an aspiring author, nowhere near finishing my first draft, let alone publishing, one may well wonder – why do I care?¬†I am an Australian currently living in the UK – what right do I have to care even? Still, Jackie French‘s letter and Allison Tait‘s blog, struck a chord. My initial reaction was visceral and unedited. I may not be a professional writer today, or tomorrow, or ever – but I aspire to be one.

In follow up, I’ve been reading what I can. Section 4, Copyright Term and Scope:

  • acknowledges that the current term of protection for most works is life + 70 years to ‘incentivise creation’
  • proposes to institute more ‘consumer-favourable’ copyright laws offering shorter protection terms of between 15-25 years after the creation of new works, which is a shorter term of protection than either the UK or the US.

So … the¬†recommendation is to reduce the incentive to create new works?

That’s not good news for aspiring authors or the future of Australian works. I can’t see any mention of the changes being retroactive, so what does it really mean for the works of published authors today?

There is also the argument around Parallel Importations which you can read more about here.

What can we do?

Talk about it. Consider voicing your opinion by making a submission here before Friday 3rd June.

EDIT: Sign this petition to stop the Parallel Importation of books


Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 5 comments

A blog once called: a spotted deer

This site was previously called ‘a spotted deer’.

I liked my anonymity – still do, but some names are better than others. I now choose to write as Catherine M. James. These are my first steps into a whole new world of blogging and writing; I’m really excited to be taking them. I look forward to getting to know you all better and sharing this journey together.

Thanks for following!

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Finding my tribe(s)

img_1503If you and I were having coffee …

I’d tell you that I’m finding my tribes. Plural – because why limit myself to just one when there are so many amazing people in this world?

With the Australian Writers Centre podcast¬†‘So You Want To Be A Writer’ by¬†Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo – and a whole community of authors who blog and tweet that I never even knew¬†(Kate Forsyth, Ursula K. Le Guin, Tamora Pierce, Juliet Marillier, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, etc.)

With the yogis on youtube (Yoga With Adriene) and instagram (@mynameisjessamyn, @letsstartyoga, @the_southern_yogi, etc.)

I’m finding people I admire. People who inspire me. I’m learning so much and loving every minute of it.

So now is the part where I stop and ask you Рwhat tribe(s) do you belong to and where do you find them? Instagram? Twitter? Blogs? Podcasts? Snapchat? Facebook? IRL?

More than that – do we belong to the same tribes? Happy for any recommendations from anywhere in the world – the internet is international after all and I’m never entirely in the one¬†place¬†ūüôā


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#NaPoWriMo Day 9

“The Girl Who Loved Infinity”

Pure mathematics is an art.
It is an art of numbers and symbols

formulas and concepts
to the physics of life
the iterative shape of a leaf
the path it floats from tree to ground
the science of a multitude of planets
orbiting the stars

integrals and series
because when first discovered
first uncovered
first dreamt up – they can’t always be

the theory precedes the application

sometimes by a hundred years.

Mathematicians are artists.
They see glimpses of the future
that so few living ever appreciate
and even less

I like to be appreciated
To be understood
I am afraid to tell the future – because
what if I get it wrong?

What if I get it wrong and that first I carry in my back pocket
comes to nothing

nothing but loneliness
because to not be appreciated,
to not be understood,
is lonely.


Last night I saw ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’ and I was so moved. It was a truly beautiful film. Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel were brilliant! I highly recommend it.

I am perhaps a little biased though, because I have a degree in mathematics. It is a subject I have always loved dearly. As I’ve grown older, I’ve drifted further and further away from it, and it is a deep source of sadness for me. To have once loved something so dear and to each day be walking away from it.

To have today’s prompt, of writing a line you are afraid to write, follow last night’s viewing, inspired this poem. That ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’, whether one credits it to Socrates or Plato, I hold it to be true. Why do I not return to my beloved pure mathematics?

I loved infinity well before John Green’s ‘Some infinities are bigger than other infinities’ – though I respect him infinitely more as a writer for bringing such a beautiful concept to a broad young audience. I loved mathematics enough to write a thesis on it – to strive for and achieve a first class honours! I loved it so much I chose it over and again above writing, above music, above all my other passions.

But I have let it go, and though I look back, and consider, and wonder if I will ever return – I see the loneliness my peers have endured. One spends years on a PhD, and few that do achieve that accomplishment then follow it with a life of academia. Academics can spend their days working on a theory that maybe ten people in the world will ever truly understand in their lifetime. This is near inconceivable now that the population of the world has cracked 7 billion.

So to all the mathematicians out there, artists working in a language all their own that transcends nationality, bridges the past and the future, and unlocks so many mysteries of the universe – I salute you. You are far braver than I. Maybe one day, I’ll find my way back to you again.

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
~ Marie Curie


Posted by jhamby in Blogging, Poetry, 0 comments


If we were having coffee, I’d remind you that the coffee in London almost universally sucks compared to Sydney, and that we should be having wine instead, or that coffee after 3pm will keep me up till 3am. But you know all that, so why nag. 

Instead, let me sit in silence a while and just listen to you. 

Just listen. 

Because you need it. 

With love, 


P.S. Recommendations for good coffee in London are very very welcome in the comments below!

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 0 comments