The Fallacy of Idleness

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I’m starting to think that I have a skewed idea of what ‘not doing much’ means. Since the start of the year I’ve been feeling the frustrating and conflicted combination of being both bored and overly busy. It’s a very strange feeling and it also means I’ve felt like I’m not really doing much, or progressing with projects.

This feeling has not been helped at all by the fact that I have recently subscribed to Netflix, so I feel like I’ve been watching a lot more tv than in the past. To be honest it’s probably just replaced stupid YouTube rabbit holes.

Anyway, as a colleague at work commented to me earlier today, I do actually have my fingers in a lot of pies. I’ve got practicing and rehearsing with my band, writing (and re-writing) various projects, Dances with Cucumbers, life modelling, exercise, socialising, and working in recruitment. I manage to fill up my time pretty effectively. So maybe what I’m actually feeling is some sort of misplaced guilt. As though every moment of the day should be utilised for some sort of productive end. There’s no rule that says you must book yourself back to back with stuff or you fail at being an adult. In fact I’m pretty sure there are arguments against it.

I’ve been looking into opportunities to submit to online magazines, either as once off submissions or as a staff writer. One which seems interesting requires one blog post per week, and one long article per month, which seems totally doable on the surface. But I worry that some weeks I’d struggle to have the time, and other weeks I’d have plenty of time. I guess everything in life is like that; a balancing act of compromise and negotiation. I’m going to go for it, and try to make it work. It’s not a paid gig, but it would definitely look good on my writing resume.

I wonder how other people manage to get the right balance between being productive and having enough rest that you don’t burn out. I need to tell my brain to settle down and just accept there will be weeks when not much happens, and other weeks when you’re jam packed. That’s life. I’m pretty sure it won’t change.

Well, I just wanted to write that all out and tell myself aloud that I am not being a slacker. It’s also a bit of an update. I haven’t started editing the Choose Your Own Adventure novel from NaNoWriMo 2015, but I have started some major rewrites for the novel from NaNoWriMo 2014, which are coming along nicely. This weekend is hideously flat out for me, so hopefully I get through it without exploding/imploding. I’ll catch you all on the flip side!

Welcome 2016!

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So, I went out last night with some beautiful people and had a bloody fabulous time, but now I’m feeling a little bit delicate around the eyeballs*.

You might know that I don’t drink alcohol, but it turns out staying up late, jumping up and down, and then sleeping fitfully coz it’s really hot feel quite similar to a hangover (I assume, I haven’t really ever had one).

Anyway, welcome to 2016. It feels weird to be writing that as the date. It feels a bit like we’re in the future already and that feels pretty strange.

As I promised yesterday I’m doing my goals for the new year. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions because I believe we should all be striving to live our best lives all the time. Also because most people don’t keep them.

In 2016, I’ve grouped my goals into three categories: Writing Projects, Concrete Goals, Vaguely Defined Aspirations.

Writing Projects include:

  • Winning NaNoWriMo in 2016
  • Edit the Choose Your Own Adventure book from 2015
  • Redraft You Brought this on Yourself (2014 manuscript)
  • Finalise and pitch Adventures in Mediocrity script

I’m going to keep going to my two writing groups, I’m going to try to get into a routine of setting time aside to work on my longer stuff during the week. Of course I’ll probably still be frantically coming up with something for the writing groups about three hours before I have to be there! Maybe this year I’ll even be a bit more organised about that, but I do seem to thrive with a looming deadline, so I probably won’t.

My concrete goals are:

  • Plan or take a new trip
  • Perform with the band

The band seems to be coming on steadily, so I’m confident that this one will happen. I’ve been writing a bunch of lyrics, along with Charlie, the singer, and we’re finding our creative grooves both individually and collectively.

I want to go on another trip. I think travel is important for both sanity and growth. I haven’t been to South America, or Africa, or Asia, so one of those places might be the go this time, although having people to visit in Europe makes it very tempting to go back. I haven’t put ‘go on a trip’ on the list because I might not have the money to do it in 2016, but I will definitely be going sometime soon.

Finally my vaguely defined aspirations are:

  • Get a job
  • Learn new stuff/expand
  • Talk to strangers/meet new people
  • Exercise
  • Read
  • Explore
  • Eat well

Taking care of my body and my mind are top priorities for this year, so these items are designed to help me do that. I give myself permission to do nice things for myself, like going for walks, doing short courses, spending money on nice food, and meeting people.

I think it’s a pretty good looking list. I’ve covered all the bases of stuff I want to work on and continue to improve in the new year. If I think of any more concrete goals I’ll just add them onto the master list that I have on a Sticky Note on my computer desktop (so high-tech).

Thank-you to everyone who made 2015 amazing! I’ve learned so many things, like how to Blasphememe, and met new amazing people like Tay, Joe, and Charlie (my band, <3 you guys). I’ve been pushing the boundaries of my mind, I’ve joined a new writing group, I’ve had a bunch of jobs, I nearly melted my brain with art, and I hope this year will be just as full of fabulousness (or possibly even more full)! I love you all. xo

 

*this has been greatly improved by consumption of coffee, I’m feeling pretty human now.

Wrapping up 2015

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For the last couple of years, I’ve written a little review of my year in reference to the goals I set at the start of the year. I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions, because they have such a bad reputation for not sticking. Instead I like to set a bunch of goals. Some are stretch goals, which means I’ll have to work pretty darn hard to achieve them, some are hangover goals, which didn’t get done but which are still on the to-do list, and some are more like lifestyle aims.

Here is my list of goals for 2015, taken from my post last year:

  1. Win NaNoWriMo
  2. Finish and submit We Can’t Have Nice Things (the novel I started for 2014’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

Let’s go through them!

1. Win NaNoWriMo

Yep. Totally did it. Wrote a Choose Your Own Adventure novel with 50k or so words. Editing this will be on the list for 2016.

2. Finish and submit We Can’t Have Nice Things (2014’s NaNoWriMo manuscript)

Well, I finished the initial draft. It took me longer than I’d hoped to get done. I slogged away through January forcing myself to write it, and then ignored it totally until about June when I’d finished studying. The manuscript ended up being about 65k words.

I sent it to a couple of people for an initial read, and I had some really interesting structural feedback. I haven’t yet been able to redraft the manuscript, fill out some parts, and shuffle the focus a  bit. It seems super daunting but it’s on my list of things to get started on in January 2016.

So I guess this one was half done.

3. Redraft Adventures in Mediocrity script.

This one’s a bit tricky to say yes or no to. I’ve redrafted it a couple of times, I’ve broken it up into six half-hour long episodes, sit-com style, and then I’ve redrafted those. But it’s not really finished. It’s been through a few iterations, and I think it has a bit more work still to be done to it.

4. Visit the Netherlands

Totally did this one! I visited my dear, beautiful friends Simon and Katharine who have moved to the Netherlands. It’s gorgeous there and I had an amazing time hanging out with them and eating good food and playing board games and riding bicycles around canals.

I also spent two weeks at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival filling my brain with arty goodness, see also this post and this post. Now I have to think about where I’m going to next! Possibly Asia somewhere.

5. Finish my Bachelor of Letters

Yes. Completely finished it, and I even graduated like a mother-flipping grown up! Go me! It feels a bit weird not to be learning in a structured environment. I might look into online courses/communities and other ways of keeping the flow of good stuff coming into my brain for 2016.

6. Perform with the band I’m in.

This one is a big old no. But there’s a reason: the band broke up. I am, however, in a new band, which is looking really good for performing early this year, end of January or early February we hope. We have a set of about half an hour, which is a bit rough around the edges but what better way to polish it up than performing for people, right? So I’m actually counting this one as partially completed.

7. Find/perform at new spoken word events

This one is also a no, but I feel like it’s a purposeful one. I was invited to perform some of my work at an event in mid-September. It was listed as being an edgy event where boundaries would be pushed. I was a little wary of what that meant, I mean, there’s edgy and there’s edgy right? So I sent off some suggested pieces to the organiser and she came back and said they weren’t really in the tone of the night. I was going for dark/gritty, almost horror type edgy, she apparently wanted titillating with a hint of 50 Shades of Grey type edgy, so I actually declined to perform. I’m not really sure spoken word is my jam. I think I’ll take it off the list for 2016.

8. Find a ‘good’/’real’ job

This one is a bit more vague, but I think this is still a bit of a work in progress. I’ve got a reasonably steady income doing temp work and life modelling, and I’m pretty happy doing that for the moment.

I’m still looking for what I really want to be doing. I know HR is not a sustainable long-term career choice for me, but it’s what I’m qualified in, what I’m good at, and what I keep getting offered. So I’ll stick at it until something more suitable for the long-term shows up.

Now we get into the more esoteric, even less-well-defined goals.

9. Talk to strangers
10. Exercise
11. Read
12. Explore
13. Expand
14. Eat well

For these goals, overall, I feel like I’ve done pretty well. I’ve met new people, I’ve kept up a reasonably regular exercise regime, I’ve read a bunch of books, I’ve also discovered the freedom to not finish ones I don’t like. I’ve explored two new European cities as well as discovering more about Melbourne’s live music and theatre/performance scene.

I’ve expanded my mind, I’ve had singing lessons and have a piano keyboard now. I’ve made changes to the composition of my social world, I’ve brought in some new people, let go of some old people, and strengthened connections with some people on the peripheries.

The last one, however, Eat Well, I still have room to improve on. I’m not in the habit of cooking properly for myself, partly I blame the lack of solid routine, and partly I blame not feeling like I’m worth it. I am totally worth the effort required to make up a batch of food and keep it for left overs. I am totally worth going to the markets to buy good quality meat and veg. I am totally worth spending that extra $20 to buy good food. I’m learning all the time and I know I’ll be better over the next year.

In summary, I’ve done some of the things I wanted to do, and I haven’t done some of the things I wanted to do. I’ve done things that weren’t on the list. It’s been a year of ups and downs, and hopefully I’m working towards something that’s a bit more stable, without being less exciting. Tomorrow I’m going to be doing a New Year’s goals post for 2016, so keep an eye out for that!

How’s that working for you?

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Right, so, about three weeks ago I put up a post about making time for the business of creating. At the time it seemed like a totally achievable, realistic plan; just spend one of my days off paid work to work on writing.

Seems simple, except that it doesn’t work.

A full day working from home, for me, is awful. I can get probably four hours of productive work done in the morning, but coming back to it after lunch – NOPE.

I find myself hard pressed to clear a whole day for writing. I come up with excuses, other stuff I have to do immediately, like go to the gym, or get coffee with someone, or visit a friend. Even read a book or stare into space.

Meiki, a friend of mine, talks about having a ‘people bath’ every day. For extroverts, or even partial extroverts, having conversations and interactions with other real life humans (online doesn’t count) is super important to motivation and happiness. For Meiki, that means bathing in the presence of other humans for a minimum period of time every day.

I am a pretty extroverted person. I love a good old chat, I like meeting new people, and nurturing friendships. So sitting on my own, at home, typing, for a whole day, is painful. Especially if my housemates aren’t home. I need alone time too, but a daily dose of people is definitely required.

I feel a revision of the goal is in order, just in time for New Year’s resolutions, too! At the moment I have three days per week of paid employment, so that means I have two weekdays available for sitting down and writing. I’m going to try using the mornings or evenings of both days to work on writing and schedule other stuff in the afternoons. Stuff like exercise, catching up with friends, generally getting out into the world.

The other road block that’s coming up is editing. I have a project from last year, my NaNoWriMo for 2014, which needs some serious rewriting. The only problem is actually starting it – it’s daunting to open up a hundred-odd page document and start fiddling. I suppose, if I’m honest, I’ve never really rewritten any long stuff. It feels like a really big task and I can’t quite work out where to start.

What I need to do is re-read the manuscript and work out what areas need the most attention and then just do one chapter at a time. Break it down into bite sized chunks which don’t seem so overwhelming.

The new plan for 2016, then, will be two chunks of three or four hours each week for writing. One for editing, and one for writing new stuff for competitions and magazines and blogs and stuff.

Next week I’m going to do a review of my 2015 goals and I’ll also be writing another New Years resolutions/goal type post too.

I hope you all have a lovely festive period, if you celebrate Christmas, I hope it’s full of delicious food, laughter, and love, and minimal bickering. And actually if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope that you have lots of food, laughter and love and not too much bickering.

Fiztroy Garden

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I can hear the rumble of traffic
The clang and clatter of trams
While the soft, sweet scent of trees
Blows past in the a gentle summer wind

Sitting on the buttressed root
Of some ancient fig
Looking at the needles of the Cyprus
And wondering if they belong here

Our heritage of colonial conquest
Out tendency to squash nature
Trying to impose order onto our lives
Mindlessly droning, buying, dying

The collective memory of this place
The wisdom of the ancestors
Is buried under this manicured lawn
Hidden, waiting, patient and eternal

I often feel disconnected from our Mother
Gaia, her gifts and kindness
Are always there for the asking
But in this world of concrete and paper and money
I have forgotten the question.

The Business of Creating

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Last night I managed to get to the 50,000 word target of my fourth year of NaNoWriMo. Huzzah! I was so pleased to have been able to get it done, two days early, and with only a couple of thousand words worth of story to go. I’m going to wrap it up today and tomorrow and then put it away for a little while to stew.

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-Square.jpg

I’ve had some conversations in the last little while about my plan for the future. The only problem is I don’t really have a well thought out and detailed plan. What I want is a job that I like well enough, that’s part-time so that I can do my creative stuff on the side, and possibly one day I’ll get a job where I can use my writing skills, but maybe not. That’s the plan.

At the moment I have a job placement which is three days per week doing Human Resources. It’s a refreshing change from the basic office admin job placements I’ve been doing recently so I’m really enjoying getting stuck in. It’s only until the end of the year though, and then I’ll be back to looking for ongoing work.

So here’s the new plan. Starting from now I’m going to work one day per week on my writing. Now that NaNoWriMo is finished for the year I really need to start doing something with my older manuscripts. The one I wrote last year, in particular, needs a whole bunch of structural edits and additional sections.

I’m going to do what I’ve heard other professional authors do, for example Dawn French and Fiona McIntosh, that is set myself a proper 9am to 5pm day of work for my writing. In the morning I will spend my time researching writing opportunities, applying for jobs, finding writing competitions, magazines and periodicals and blogs that are taking submissions and do that. This will be my time to work on this blog. I will also look into networking possibilities in the industry and short courses in writing that I might like to do.

In the afternoon I’m just going to write (and rewrite). I’m going to start with the manuscript from last year’s NaNoWriMo, which needs some big stuff done to it, and spend a couple of hours a week just going through it and fixing it. Editing has never been my strong suit, I’ve always be much more interested in coming up with new material, but I must spend the time revising and reworking. Maybe I’ll set myself a deadline of the end of January to have it done and I can start sending it to publishers.

Some of you may have noticed that that only adds up to four days work. You’re right, and the other day I’m going to keep for my band. We meet once a week usually, and rehearse for 4 or 5 hours. That takes up most of one day of the weekend. I will spend some of the time on the other weekday practicing and the rest of the day getting the chores and life admin stuff done that I would have done on the weekend. We’re also going to start looking for performance opportunities in the new year so I’ll schedule those in too.

My aim in this is to get myself into a routine. I’m not studying anymore and I hope to have a solid, ongoing job by early next year. It’s time to get serious about the business of creating and make sure that going back to uni was not just a frivolous escape from being at work.

Blasphememes*

In the last week of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been having a poorly photoshopped war with my sister…

Dances with Cucumbers

*deface religious art with a visual pun, it’s a Blasphememe!

We’ve decided that the ‘art’ we’re creating by mashing art works and puns together should be called Blasphememes. Here are some more.

Berry Caesar

We start with Jacqui’s “I came to Berry Caesar, not to praise him”.

Primavera

Then we have Fleur’s “Primavera”, after Botticelli. It’s a bowl of pasta, not a pizza, by the way.

lamb of god

Next, Jacqui’s “Roast Lamb of God”, served with roast pumpkin of God.

Saint Sebastan Speared with Asparagus

Fleur’s “St Sebastian Speared with Asparagus”, sticking with the food theme.

st asparagustine

To which Jaqui’s reply was obviously “St Asparagustine”.

Judith Warheading Holofernes

Then Fleur got a bit more expansive in her definition of food, “Judith Warheading Holofernes”.

et tu

Going for the King of all puns, the Latin pun, Jacqui’s “Et tu Brighteyes?”

Venus and Mars

Fleur seems to be rather obsessed with Botticelli, again, here’s “Venus and Mars”.

parsleyfal

Then we went a bit Arthurian, Jacqui’s “Parsleyfal” (this guy’s name is Percival…

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Panacea

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– the cure for what ails ya!

This weekend I went up to a spot called Riverview in the bush near Tatong, Victoria to Panacea. It was part music festival, part yoga festival and all awesome. Organised largley by Chloe, who brings experience from Folk Rhythm & Life, and Stefan, this was the first year Panacea was run.

There were fifty something bands, two stages, a yoga space and a discovery space. I went up because the band that I’m a groupie for, Destrends, was playing and I had to. I took along the big camera to get some shots of their set, but I mostly left it in the car the rest of the time.

It’s the sort of festival where there’s no phone reception and no power. There was a creek to bathe in but most people went for the baby wipe shower (or not at all).

I took two videos of the boys playing:

Epic Entrance – why walk on stage when you can be carried on in a coffin?

“My Friend”

I had a fantastic time, bonding with people, having human conversations, getting back to nature, getting covered in dust and flies (so many flies). It’s important to just exist sometimes, unplug from the digital world, sit in the grass, and talk shit with strangers. It’s the perfect place for that.

I obviously didn’t get any of my NaNoWriMo stuff done, and it was really nice to have a few days off from thinking about it. I have 11,000 words to win and seven days to write them in. I think I’m well set up to do it!

I’m looking forward to seeing Panacea find it’s feet in the music scene, I really want them to run it again so I can go back next year. But right now I have to go try to get some writing done on my Choose Your Own Adventure (which I am procrastinating by writing this post).

Rock out!

A Short Update

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Alright, so things in my life have been going, well, all over the place is probably accurate. So a short update.

  1. I reached 30k words in NaNoWriMo last night, I’m more than half way!
  2. the band is coming along really well, we’ve got some good songs coming together
  3. my job situation is up in the air and moderately stressful, but it’s more a case of working out which job to take than not having one, so that’s nice.
  4. my housing situation is in a bit of a state of flux which is moderately stressful
  5. I don’t get enough hugs in life. I also don’t give enough hugs.

That’s it, really.

duck

Here is an unrelated photo from the internet

Four Years!?

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Yesterday, I got a notification from WordPress to tell me Happy Anniversary! It’s been four years since I started this blog, I’ve written over two hundred posts, which is almost one a week for that whole time! It’s also the fourth I year I’m doing NaNoWriMo, which feels pretty big.

I’ve been asked a number of times recently what I’m up to these days, usually it’s from lovely artists while I’m modellin. We only see one another once every few months and it’s a standard small talk question, but it always feels like it’s difficult for me to answer.

What I’m doing, I suppose, is trying to find a permanent job that will allow me to continue to work on my creative stuff and still pay the rent. Bonus points if the job involves something that will be useful for my creative stuff. Three or four days per week of paid work and three of four days per week of creativ stuff. I’d like to be able to get into a routine where I actually sit down on the weekday(s) that I’m not working and do creative stuff for the same time. Dawn French talks about how she writes as though it were a 9-5 job. 

There’s also a bunch of admin type stuff I want to be doing. Things like finding and submitting for magazines, or creative writing competitions, or networking, those sorts of things which need time set aside for them otherwise they won’t happen. 

But I got a bit sidetracked. I was wishing myself a happy blogoversary! Thank you all for continuing to read this, I need this space as a way to get my thinking in order but it’s always gratifying to know I’m not just talking to myself. 

As a present to you here is the poorly photoshopped cover art I made for my NaNoWriMo novel the other night:

 

*working title only

 
Gotta have Fabio on the cover! Even though there are no bodices to be ripped.

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