I promise I will read them all…

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Or at least start them all. Honest!

I’ve just finished a three week seminar series at Kew Library on Romance Writing run by Anne Gracie (see the end), and I may have accidentally bought a book (which she signed, so that’s cool right?). I have so many books in the ‘to read’ pile, added to steadily by the lists of novels set for uni, of which many are now partially read. However, I have exciting news:

I have finished my degree!!

Well, okay, not technically. I have one more essay to do, due on 12 June, and then I still have to pass all my subjects, and then I have to have the graduation ceremony in October, but I still think of this as being the end. I made it through! I’m very pleased with myself for finishing it, for sticking out full-time study again as a grown up, and for pursuing things that make me happy. And soon I’ll have the piece of paper to prove it!

I now promise myself to slowly, but surely, make my way through the ‘to read’ pile. All reading on public transport, waiting for appointments, while on lunch breaks and before falling asleep can now be for fun!

I promise to spend more time writing. It’s true that for the last 12 months while doing full-time uni I’ve been doing quite a lot of uni writing, (for example I have pumped out 5,500 words in the last two days, which I think is pretty impressive), but it isn’t the same as writing for fun. I know that it’s all very well to say I will write more, and when there’s nothing stopping you it’s easier to be disenchanted with it, but I hope to be able to set up a more productive writing routine, and finish that third manuscript! (And write more here).

For those who are interested in hearing a bit about the Romance Writing thing I mentioned at the start, it was very interesting, I got lots of great writing tips, lots of names of writers, mostly romance, for me to follow up on (even more for the ‘to read’ pile!), and a lot of new writing contacts with whom I hope to share my work for to get feedback and have fresh eyes look over it. Anne Gracie is very generous with her time and is super lovely, so if you ever have the opportunity to go to one of her sessions, and you’re a writer of any sort of genre or commercial fiction, she’s a great teacher!

Finally, here’s a gratuitous picture of me from a couple of weeks ago because I’ve been pretty quiet lately and you all deserve a photo.

GPOS - photo by Meiki

GPOS – photo by Meiki

Alright, that’s it, you can all go home

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And so it was that we came to closing night of the MICF for this year. I have some mixed feelings about my festival experience. I saw nine shows, which is more I think than any year previously, but I also wanted to see so many more shows but didn’t/couldn’t for various reasons. I mean they were pretty good reasons, I was sick for a bit, then I spent a whole weekend in Adelaide, and then I had obscene amounts of uni work. But still –

Anyway, let me just give you a quick run down of my last shows:

Ross Noble / Tangentleman 

Ross Noble seems to make most of his material up as he goes along, it’s a sort of surrealist/childish/bollocks-fuelled journey into his brain and I laughed so hard I was sweating (please tell me I’m not the only person who does that). There was one joke that was a bit off in my opinion, but I guess that’s going to happen from time to time when you make it up as you go along.

Backwards Anorak / A Hip Hikers Guide to the Galaxy

I saw Backwards Anorak do a cabaret show last year based heavily on Game of Thrones, and it was pretty funny, except I’m not into GoT so I didn’t get some of the jokes. I’m totally into The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy so I thought I’d go better. I guess maybe they’re work is… well, absurd is maybe the word for it. I laughed, I enjoyed myself, I sang along and did the dance moves (apparently no-one else in the audience did them though, I discovered that when I turned around, awkward!) but it was still pretty incomprehensible. Good, incomprehensible, with singing.

Clem Bastow / Escape from L.A. 

I’ve read some of Clem’s work in The Age, and I respect her politics and her puke yellow armpit hair choices, so I thought I should see her. Her show was great, although her sound guy was odd. I suppose that’s a bit what you get for going on the last night. Also it wasn’t stand-up, it was an amusing story. A very good, amusing story.

There were so many other deserving, fabulous artists/comedians at the festival this year, as there are every year, and I wish I had had the opportunity to see more. I have a Facebook friend who was seeing two or three shows per night for the whole festival, I was jealous. One day, I’m going to write a show and maybe I’ll have the guts to put it on at the MICF. Until then I’ll just go to lots of shows, I’ll see weird lucky dip shows, and random what’s-on-in-the-next-half-hour-shows and see people I’ve heard of sometimes too. I’ll continue to sit in the front row, on my own, because no-one wants to play to an empty front row, and also fuck it, when else do you get to get up in a performer’s grill like that?

Anyway, I guess that’s it. I’m at home in bed with a knee blankey because it’s cold, thanks Melbourne weather. I’m looking forward to getting to some more comedy and theatre in the next few months and I might even get to some Fringe Festival show when it comes around later in the year.

Lucky Dip and Luisa

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Yep, it’s another Melbourne International Comedy Festival post. I’ve had a bit of a cold over the Easter Weekend so I didn’t get to as many shows as I would have liked but I’ve got another three to add to my list.

Ali McGregor / Late Nite Variety Nite Night.

It’s lovely and good value. Ali is a singer, so she does some singing, she’s very good. She also gets various other acts from the festival to come do a little snippet during her show. I went last Saturday, so we got DeAnne Smith, Sara Pascoe, The Pajama Men, and Gypsy Wood (who does burlesque). It starts late, but it’s worth staying up for.

Luisa Omielan / What Would Beyonce Do?

Five Stars! Ten out of ten! Holy crap, so many reason everyone who is alive should see this show. It’s sad. It’s hilarious. There’s dancing. There’s singing. Go see it. The end.

Lucky Dip Show

I’m not going to name this last show coz, well, it wasn’t very good. Two guys doing a half hour set each, first guy was really awful, bad mic technique and really odd material which was a bit more like the story of his life and not really jokes. Second guy was much better but still not great, however I see potential.

You can’t win them all, and what’s life without a little bit of awkward lucky dip comedy festival times? More to come! This weekend I’ll be in Adelaide though, going to MoonFaker’s EP launch, also supporting them is Destrends. Woo! If you’re in Adelaide come down.

So the Melbourne International Comedy Festival opened yesterday…

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… and I’ve already seen three shows (one was a preview, technically, so I saw that on Thursday). Here follows super short review of each.

Number 1: Free Wil / Wil Anderson

Most people who live in Australia know Wil Anderson. I hadn’t seen him live before but I thought why not! So I did. It was excellent. Quite thought provoking. Recommended!

Number 2: Square Peg / Josh Earl

Josh Earl does song related comedy. I saw him do Spicks and Specks one time before they cancelled it. As my Facebook friends would know this show involved bubbles and Nick Cave’s ‘Stagger Lee’, what’s not to like? Recommended!

Number 3: An Evening with Sammy J and Randy / Sammy J and Randy

Sammy J and Randy, apparently soon to be on the TV in their own sit com on ABC. They were both much ruder and better in person. Got touched by Randy when he fell into the crowd (I was in the first row), and accosted Sammy J when he was at the restaurant where I ate dinner. Recommended!

Over the next few days/weeks I’m going to see more shows, not sure which ones yet, we’ll see. I’ll try to see some people I haven’t heard of and will definitely see some shows that are not by straight white dudes I promise!

Crush

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I can raise sixty kilos above me
Five times, but cannot raze your weight
From my chest.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Heavy, turgid – an
Imaginary version of you
I cling to like a child desperate
To be loved.

xxx

xxxxxxxxxxx No more tears
Will I cry for you. You’re destroying
This, whatever it might have been
By being an arsehole.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Enough.
I have nothing more to say to
You. Except
xxxxxxxxxx Grow up.

Photo Portraiture

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For Christmas, my mum gave me a ‘voucher’ for a photography course. She made it herself and it accompanied some money with which to pay for said course. My mum does good presents.

I took some time looking around for a course that would suit my skill level, more experienced than a beginner but not a super whiz (especially with the technical side of things). After speaking to a few photographer friends and having a look at the photos available on each course’s website, I decided to go with Creative Photo Workshop‘s Natural Light Portraits course. It was a bit on the expensive side compared to the other courses out there, but ran for six hours, and, it turns out, they pay for a model, which was really great for practising. I decided that the longer duration (other courses run for three hours) justified my spending more on it.

Model - Brock, with window light.

Model – Brock, with window light.

Model - Brock, with carpark fluorescent lighting.

Model – Brock, with carpark fluorescent lighting.

Both of these shots were set up by the teacher in order to demonstrate what he wanted us to learn, as well as the many others I took.

I’m really glad that I attended the class. Before yesterday, I wasn’t confident to use the manual setting on my camera, although now I feel like I have a better idea of what the individual functions do and how to get them to do what I want them to.

Glynn’s photographic style is distinctive and strong, and while not completely in tune with my own style, produces some awesome effects that I’m glad to be able to replicate. He is extremely knowledgeable and he’s able to convey technical information and tips without making it seem like hard work, which is great for someone still learning. Glynn also focuses on in-camera technique, rather than post production or photoshop, which reflects my own preference. His style is a bit blokey, and though it’s not my favourite,  in the end, didn’t affect my enjoyment of the class.

So thanks Mum, and thanks Creative Photography for opening up my experience and for instilling a sense of confidence in my technical ability which should result in a better translation of my creative vision to the finished shot. Woo!! I look forward to shooting more portraits in the near future!

The day after the night before

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I didn’t manage to get to White Night in Melbourne last night, for various dull reasons that I don’t need to go into. So today I thought I would head into the city and see if there were any remnants, or things I could still see.

Two by two, hands of blue.

Two by two, hands of blue.

Some interesting chalk graf outside the State Library

Some interesting chalk graf outside the State Library

Inside the 'Bohemian Melbourne' exhibition in the State Library

Inside the ‘Bohemian Melbourne’ exhibition in the State Library

Inside the State Library Dome

Inside the State Library Dome

There wasn’t much left, and there wasn’t that much mess, but then it was hours after the end of the event, so maybe it had been cleaned already.

Have you ever?

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Have you ever worried that you’re actually boring? That you’re actually exactly the same as everyone else, and everything you think makes you special is bullshit?

Have you ever thought that being different isn’t good? Have you ever just wanted to be like everyone else and fit in and be liked and get up and go to work and come home and have a meal with a lover and go to bed and get up and go to work and be happy with that?

Have you ever managed to be happy, or even pretty contented, for a while and not picked at it like a scab? Like you can’t possibly be happy because Coca Cola tells you that you won’t be happy unless your frolicking on a beach holding an ice-cold sugary drink surrounded by models. That you won’t be happy until you live in your own detached house with a husband and two point three kids and a mortgage too big to pay off and a car too big for anyone to drive.

Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought you know what, I’m actually pretty hot! Fuck everyone who doesn’t want this all up in their business, it’s their loss! I’m awesome.

Have you ever felt lonely, alienated and worthless only to go out on a date with someone and realise that you’d much rather be alone than date them just for the sake of dating someone?

Speaking of dating, did I tell you the one where I met this dude from an online dating website who told me several times in messages that he was boring and suburban and asked if I was really sure I wanted to meet him because I seemed all creative and interesting and wouldn’t that be really dull for me because he was so boring and normal? Did I tell you about how he sat across the table from me and spent an hour regaling me with all the fucked up shit he’d done before he gave up drinking? How many times he’d driven home drunk. How many times he’d driven off the road. How many times he’d screwed people over. How he’d had his license revoked and been called a menace by the magistrate. Did I tell you how much I wanted him to be boring in that moment?

Have you ever looked at your life and thought, you know what, everything I’ve ever done, everything I’ve ever felt, good and bad and in between, has led me to this place. And this place is pretty fucking cool.

‘Coz I have.

Meandering Update Post

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Bah. I’ve been wanting to post something for a while but I just haven’t had the time or energy to really do it justice, so this is just a sort of spur of the moment brain purge.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been working a lot – doing full time hours for the first time in years and I’m finding myself feeling tired, lazy, uninspired and generally unproductive. I get that we all need money, and I do particularly because I can’t really work much while I’m studying and the government, in all their collective wisdom, don’t think I need welfare payments to stop me from starving while studying, but seriously. Full time work and I are not friends, but we have to just get along for the moment.

I’ve been working on my novel, slowly knocking out a thousand words a week or so, it’s coming along, I think it’s just about to climax and then there will just be the resolution and the first draft will be done. It will be nice to have it finished and I think I’m on track to have that by the time I go back to uni.

I’ve been practising my bass and jamming with my dudes. We recorded some of the songs we jammed last Saturday and they sound way less awesome played back than they do at the time, although perhaps that’s just how recording yourself works. But it’s still really early days for that so it’s all good. It totally sounds like, y’know, music, so that’s a bonus! I think they’re also on board for the performing in front of other people goal that I set myself for this year, so that’s amazing.

I was given some money at Christmas to put towards a photography course which I’m hoping get done before uni goes back, although I’ve hit a bit of a roadblock in the sense where I don’t really know what I want to focus on or what skill level the courses are pitched at. I suspect I’m just procrastinating the decision – I should get onto that. Other photography capers have included taking my camera to see some bands and then having an excuse to talk to the bands after to say ‘Hey I was that person with my lens in your face, would you like me to send you photos?’. It works quite well actually, I get to chat to some lovely people, they get a couple of cool shots of them on stage, everyone wins!

And of course on top of all of that I’ve been trying to keep in touch with my friends and y’know be sociable and stuff. So all in all I’m pretty busy, pretty happy, and while not being as productive creatively as I would like to be, still getting a fair amount of stuff done.

After starting this post feeling like I’m not getting anything done, I’m now feeling more like I’m getting bits of a lot of different things done a bit at a time and so, while I might feel like time is slipping away (how is it 2015?!) I’m not idle and it will all work out in the end.

Happy New Year for 2015!

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For the last two years, I’ve published a list of goals here that I set myself for the coming year. I think it’s important to set yourself up to succeed with specific, achievable and challenging goals. I don’t like to call them resolutions, because New Years Resolutions tend to have a high failure rate (to be honest, I’m basing this on anecdotal rather than statistical information, but it sounds true).

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Here is my list of goals for 2015:

  1. Win NaNoWriMo
  2. Finish and submit We Can’t Have Nice Things (the novel I started for this last year’s NaNoWriMo)
  3. Redraft the Adventures in Mediocrity script
  4. Visit the Netherlands
  5. Finish my Bachelor of Letters
  6. Perform with the band I’m in
  7. Find/perform at new spoken word events
  8. Find a ‘good’/’real’ job
  9. Talk to strangers
  10. Exercise
  11. Read
  12. Explore
  13. Expand
  14. Eat well

The first five of these are pretty easily defined and achievable. Numbers two, three and five I hope to have ticked off by the middle of the year. Winning NaNoWrimo has to happen in November, because that’s when it’s on. I guess I could do it any time, but having the other participants there for encouragement is a really important part of the process for me.

I’m planning to go to the Netherlands to visit my friends Simon and Katharine in their summer, once I’ve finished my degree. I have four subjects, or about six months, left on the Bachelor of Letters and a trip feels like a suitable reward to myself.

Performing with the band is one of the only goals on the list that relies heavily on other people for it to be achieved. Part of that is scary, but part of it is exhilarating! Setting myself a team goal is going to be a stretch for me, and I think I will feel even better for having achieved it. I’m aiming for that to happen in the second half of the year, we have a lot of work to do before we’re ready to get up on stage.

Number eight, is related to the end of my study. Once I finish studying I’m going to have a meeting with myself about what I want to do for work. I’m enjoying the casual work I do at the moment, but it doesn’t really feel like a grown up job. I think I’ll probably want a job with stability and routine so that I can channel myself into my creative pursuits in my time outside of work. It’s also nice to have colleagues with whom you work regularly and build up a relationship with, that’s one of the things I guess I miss most about my old job.

Finding new spoken word events is primarily up there because I’ve really enjoyed the stuff I’ve done with Velvet Tongue and Little Raven, but I don’t know whether they’re going to continue this year, so expanding that network is going to be important. There are a few different venues that host spoken word open mics and slams and other things, so I’m sure I’ll be able to find somewhere where I’ll feel good getting up on stage.

The last six are a bit more vague and are there to encourage me to really focus on learning, growth and pushing my own boundaries. I want to continue to expand my creativity, to explore new avenues of friendship, work, and relationships. I want to meet new people. I want to spend time on myself and value myself by cooking more and eating better – since moving to Fitzroy I haven’t been able to get into a good routine foodwise.

Thank you to everyone who made 2014 a year of learning to be happy. Thank you specifically to Cathy and Aaron for hosting a very sophisticated dinner party last night, it felt very grown up, and you are both really important to me. Thank you to everyone who I met in 2014 and thank you for everyone who’s stuck around from before. Thank you to my family. I love you all and I look forward to sharing this year with you.

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