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.

2014 – A Year in Review

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Last year I wrote a post outlining my goals for the year. These were the things that I had on my list:

  1. Submit my second novel to publishers
  2. Finish adapting the second novel into a screenplay and send it to some local film companies
  3. Plan my next big trip (this one is just going to stay on the list every year)
  4. Write something for young adults
  5. Submit something for Lot’s Wife (this is the student publication for the university I attend)
  6. Perform my work at spoken word events (I’ve already signed up for something in February, and I look forward to more)
  7. Finish the mural for my house
  8. Win NaNoWriMo 2014
  9. Talk to strangers
  10. Exercise (I’m pretty good with this generally but it doesn’t hurt to put it on the list right?)
  11. Read (all the things, I joined a book club to help with this, but so far it’s just added more books to the ‘to read’ pile)
  12. and most importantly just keep writing; anything, all the time!

For the most part, I did pretty well at achieving the goals I set for myself.

One was fairly straight forward, I sent off my manuscript to any and every publisher that I thought would be even vaguely interested and I had no response. That’s about what I was expecting, it’s a super competitive market and I think I would probably need to be pretty lucky to get picked up, but it was a bit disappointing none the less.

On to number two. I rewrote Adventures in Mediocrity as a film script, which turned out to be much harder than it sounded (requiring quite a different skill set if I’m honest), and I ended up with something that was way too long and boring. I haven’t made time to go in and slash it up in the way it needs to be. I’m counting that one as done, but it’s still a work in progress. I also didn’t send it out to anyone, because as I say it’s still super long and boring and will need some very serious attention in order for it to be worth sending to anyone.

Three, plan a trip, was meant to be just that, plan something. But in mid May (or sometime near there), I decided I needed a holiday sooner rather than later and I very quickly organised a three week trip to India. The trip was a real eye opener in so many ways. I’m very glad I did it, I learned a lot about myself and about life but it was often extremely challenging. Tick for that one!

Number four was a carry over from 2013, and again I didn’t do it. I wonder if maybe young adult is something that doesn’t come naturally to me, and it might be better to put this one on a bucket list for something I want to do at some point rather than trying to force it to come out in a particular year. I think young adult could be really fun to write, but I also have loads of other project ideas so I’ll get to it one day.

Five was submit for the university magazine. This one is a bit dissatisfying because I did submit two items, one was a satirical quiz, in the vein of the Cosmo/Dolly quizzes that many women will remember having done in high-school, and the other was a response to the Ilsa Vista killings in May. Both of these items were rejected and I wonder whether as a mature aged student I don’t have quite the right perspective for what the editors want. I dunno, maybe they just suck at diversity.

Number six was amazing. I would like to thank Little Raven Publishing for providing the avenue for my to perform my work to a beautiful and receptive audience. I performed at Velvet Tongue events a couple of times, and at the launch of Little Raven 3, an erotic anthology in which one of my stories was published (woot!).

Speaking of published, I also had two of my works, one story and one poem, published in my writing group anthology, and another story in a different local anthology. It’s been fantastic to be able to work with my writing group, a group of people who are both critical and encouraging, and to have that bear fruit. My writing group also had a workshop day in October, one session of which was a panel on poetry that I was invited to moderate. I really appreciated the faith in my ability, and the opportunity to try a new skills, and the positive feedback that I received for the session. I would certainly be keen to do something like that again. That one wasn’t on the list, but it was certainly an achievement worthy of being recorded.

Seven was finish the mural for my house. This one was an utter failure and the main reason for that is that the relationship between myself and the housemates in that particular place disintegrated completely and I moved out. I’m not going to count that against myself, because sometimes things don’t work out, and that’s ok.

The next one was to win NaNoWriMo again, which I did, so yay! But as was discussed in my last post, I haven’t finished the story, so that’s a bit annoying. I will finish it though – that’s going on the list of 2015 goals.

The last four are slightly less measurable, but I’ll attempt to review them. Talk to strangers has been going really well for me, it has resulted in meeting Seth, who invited me to join his band/jamming buds, and also meeting Alex, who is now also part of the band/jamming buds. It’s resulted in meeting the boys from Destrends, who I’m totally obsessed with and love a lot, and it’s meant that I’ve had some awesome, sometimes challenging, conversations with people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Exercise has been consistent in my life generally over the year, I’m still working out at the gym two or three times per week, and I occasionally venture into other types of exercise too. My housemate and I are hoping to get into a routine using some free weights and some boxing pads, so that will be a good addition to my regimen.

The ‘To Read’ pile hasn’t really changed; I’ve read a bunch of books this year, but I’ve also added a bunch to the pile, so the pile is just as big, if not bigger than it was at the start of the year. The book club went well for the first half of the year, but when I went to full time study, with three literature subjects, I didn’t have the time to read another book a month. I finish my degree mid next year, so perhaps I’ll venture back to the book club in the latter half of the year.

Finally, keep writing. I have written a lot this year – I’ve written poetry, and short stories, most of third novel, and erotica and horror and lots of things in between. I’ve blogged, I experimented with reviews, and challenges, and I would like to blog a bit more regularly in 2015. My skills in editing will probably need some work in future, it’s really not my strong point and I feel like it might help with getting a publisher’s attention if I were more willing to kill my darlings, as they say.

2014 has been a really busy year for me. I’ve done a lot I didn’t think I would do, I’ve done a lot of things I wanted to do, and I haven’t done a few things I thought I wanted to do. I’m happier, healthier and more settled now that I was a year ago. I still don’t know what I’m going to do with my life, but that’s ok for now. Maybe at the end of 2015 I’ll be able to report that I know what I want to be when I grow up. But if I don’t then that’s ok too.

I’m going to be following this post up with a new list of goals for 2015, so be on the look out for that, but for now, I want to wish you the very best for the New Year. I hope you’re able to set yourself some goals and achieve them. I wish you happiness and growth, to be surrounded by people who love you, and the courage to love yourself.

Multi-disciplinary art

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According to a guy I was talking to on an online dating website, Joni Mitchell used to think of creativity as being like crop rotation. If you worked in more than one artistic discipline there would be periods where you would spend a lot of time on one form and the others would lie fallow, as it were. You would ride the crests and troughs of each type of art so that they would each have time to mature and regenerate between periods of high productivity.

I’ve been feeling bad about the amount of time I’ve spent on the novel I started for NaNoWriMo this year since November finished. I made it through the challenge, and I won, but since it’s been December I’ve written very little. The reason I guess I’m feeling a bit guilty about it, is that the story isn’t finished.

I don’t like the fact that the story isn’t finished. It niggles at my brain but I’ve been really really not feeling like writing. I know this isn’t surprising, NaNoWriMo is not a sustainable way of writing, and the last two times I’ve done it, I’ve finished the work within the month. I’ve never had this feeling of unfinishedness hanging over me.

There are other contributing factors too. I’m not studying currently because it’s not semester time, and since I’m a full-time student these days I don’t have a ‘proper job’ so I’m sort of not really doing anything which means I’m floating around and floating around feels directionless and feeling directionless is a bit of a vicious cycle in which you feel like you don’t achieve anything so you then don’t feel motivated to achieve anything and therefore don’t achieve anything. I think you can all see what I’m getting at.

I have been spending a significant amount of time on my bass guitar playing, so that’s good. And I’m sure it being right before Christmas isn’t helping with the generally weird feeling of forced frivolity either. I don’t really know what this post is trying to say but y’know, maybe I’ll take myself on a photowalk tomorrow or write a couple of thousand words and then I’ll feel a bit more like I’ve done something.

How it got to be December

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On the first day of November, I started to write my third novel. It was an ambitious and very different project for me, both in scope and in content/tone. If you’ve read my last entry, Feeding the darkness, you’ll know that mid way through the month I started to have doubts about myself as a result of the stuff that was coming out of my writing.

It’s now 2 December and NaNoWriMo is officially over. My total wordcount for the month was just under 55,000 words, which is a fantastic effort I think for my third year running of the challenge. Disappointingly I haven’t finished the story, the characters are just heading towards the climax now. I expect it will need another few thousand words, I might even make it to 70k, which would be a personal best for me. The problem is that since Saturday I haven’t felt any motivation at all to write. I have used up a lot of my energy for writing by binging for NaNoWriMo and I’m starting to worry that I won’t finish the project. I look at other NaNoWriMoers and some of them have done truly ridiculous (and impressive) word counts, up to 200k words, and I think that I should be able to just push through to the finish. I’m sure I will because the completionist in me won’t let it rest, but it’s hard to remember to be nice to myself – it was a big effort, at times it felt like an insurmountable obstacle to churn out my words every day, but I reached the goal and learned a lot about myself and my writing in the process.

I finished my last university assignment for the year on 3 November, so over the last month I’ve also been applying for jobs. So many jobs. All the jobs. I’ve been using a scatter technique in which I apply for just about anything and hope for the best, I figure if I get offered a job and it sounds like it would suck, I’ll turn it down. As anyone who’s been a jobseeker will know, it’s a hard slog. I find it difficult mentally, because each time I get an interview, I spend quite a lot of brain time fitting in the potential position into the stuff I’ve got going on at the moment and working out whether I’ll have to squeeze or move things, and when I don’t get the job, or don’t hear back, it takes a toll. It’s exhausting. Soon, all things going well, I’ll be able to stop doing the mental gymnastics that are involved with job hunting and settle into something for which I get paid!

For the rest of the summer, I hope to get more out of this blog. I’ve had it for three years now – the anniversary slipped past a couple of weeks ago – and I feel like it’s been a fantastic source of inspiration for me. It’s been a space to explore different media, styles, and challenges, and it’s been a space for me to develop my own unique voice. I hope to spend some more time working on my photography, particularly I’m going to take my camera to a few more gigs around the place so I plan to put up some thoughts here on that too.

The weather is beautiful today, as it has been in Melbourne for the last week or so. I’m sure it’s just the city’s way of lulling us into a false sense of security and hopefulness but that’s one of the joys of living here. I’m heading off to the markets shortly to get vegetables and other stuff to make into home made preserves for Christmas gifts so I’m feeling good. It’s a bit annoying that the job situation is still up in the air, but overall I think summer is going to kick butt and I’m really looking forward to getting out and about, meeting new people and generally being awesome!

forward to getting out and about, meeting new people and generally being awesome!

Feeding the darkness

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This November I have undertaken my third attempt at NaNoWriMo, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. So far I have been doing really well, I’ve been writing consistently and I’ve managed to stay a little bit ahead of the target. Today I crossed the halfway point, 25,000 words, with a day to spare. So, YAY!

The last two times I’ve done this I’ve been writing love stories. I’ve been writing about people who are generally heading towards a happy ending. This year, for various reasons, I’ve decided to explore the darkness. I’ve heard writers talk about their characters as though they’re real people, as though writing a book is about sitting down and listening/watching the characters interact and writing it down. I’ve never really felt like I understood that concept until I started this story.

With each chapter I write, I feel like the darkness in my characters becomes more real. I feel like they’re evolving in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. It’s amazing and it makes the task of writing them really interesting but it’s also a little bit worrying. Where is this darkness coming from? What part of me is generating these awful scenarios? Am I a bad person for coming up with this stuff?

I know that I’m not, I know that everyone has darkness in them, that voice that whispers ‘drive over the edge’ on cliff roads. And I know that there are people who spent a lot of time analysing why the public are so enamoured of crime novels. Something about catharsis, about expressing our violent urges vicariously through the characters. I guess I’m just a little bit surprised by how easily this stuff is coming out of my head.

Hopefully the end result will be something people want to read, and not something that’s so completely depressing that no one can finish it. I guess I won’t know till it’s done and I give it to someone!

Onwards little words, marching towards 50,000. Now I’m going to watch something funny on the internet.

Guilt + New Projects = Neglected blogging

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I feel like haven’t blogged for a while (even though it’s only been a couple of weeks), perhaps it’s just a part of the cumulative guilt thing that I seem to have going on at the moment. I’ve recently been feeling incredibly busy and part of the reason for that is that I’ve been taking on new creative projects and meeting new people, and I guess I feel a bit like I have a lot of balls in the air and I’m really worried I’m going to drop one of them.

I’m sure that quite a lot of the stress I’m feeling about the new projects is misdirected stress about uni assessments which have been looming large for the last few weeks. Hopefully that source of tension will settle down soon, I’ve finished all the assessments two of my subjects, and the other two will be finished by this time next week (oh god, I have to write 4,200 words by then). But back to reason for my blog, I wanted to tell you all about my new projects! Writing things down makes them feel more real, right?

1. NaNoWriMo 2015

If you’ve read my blog for a while you’ll know that for the last two years I’ve been involved in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to get a whole bunch of people together, both in person as part of local group activities and online as part of the NaNoWriMo global community, to encourage each other to commit to writing 50,000 words in November (they also run Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July, but I haven’t participate in either of those sessions yet). It sounds like complete, unachievable insanity, but I’ve successfully completed the challenge the two times I’ve been involved, and I feel confident I can do it again this year.

My current working title for the novel is ‘We Can’t Have Nice Things’ and I’m using characters from a short story that I wrote a little while ago and expanding them into a longer work. The idea is that it will be dark – an exploration of the way people’s lives can go wrong. I’m thinking of it as an anti-romance, I don’t really know if it will work, but I’m going to give it my best shot!

2. I joined a band.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here before, but a while ago, on a whim, I bought a bass guitar. I’ve played it a bit here and there for the couple of years I’ve had it, but I never really prioritised it. Then I met Seth at a party and he asked if I wanted to be in his band, and I thought, why not? And now I’m in a band. That was about six weeks ago. The line-up is still being worked out, and we’re really still trying to find our feet, but I feel really good, conceptually, about being in a band. Since joining the band, I’ve been out to see a bit more local live music and I’ve met some fantastic people, in particular the boys from The Destrends, who are not only phenomenal musicians and performers but also super amazing human beings. I hope to continue getting out to gigs and meeting people in the music industry and really immersing myself in a culture I never felt part of before.

3. and 4. Drawing and Photographing

There are also two other things I’ve been spending time one, but they’re not really taking up as much time/brain space as the novel and the band so I’ll mush them together into one paragraph. Firstly there’s drawing. I’ve been life modelling with the Life Model Society for all of this year and I’ve been meeting fantastic artists at every group I’ve worked with. Meeting these talented people and seeing the beauty they can produce has inspired me to spend more time on drawing. I’ve been to a couple of life drawing classes, the results of which I’ve put on my Instagram account, they need some work, but I think there’s a solid foundation of ‘looking vaguely human’ in there. The second thing is a couple of friends of mine, Woland and Gabrielle, who have appeared in this blog before, have been doing some really outstanding off-the-wall performance art at local events in the last couple of months, and I have been privileged to act as their stills photographer for these performances. It has been challenging, not just artistically, but personally, as their art pushes boundaries in all the best ways, you can watch their latest performance, ‘A Mermaid’s Tale’ here, but I should probably put a (fake) blood trigger and NSFW warning on it, just to be safe.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I hope I’ll be able to spend some more time on this blog over the summer, without the constant demands of university I hope I’ll have a bit more space in my brain for this, and I’ll have to bring you updates on all the amazing creative adventures I’m having! Every day I’m grateful to the people in my life who encourage and support me in my meandering search for a meaningful and fulfilling life, and every day I am rewarded with what I create, and with what people around me create, and I know that I wouldn’t go back to where I was three years ago for anything!

Allusions

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Today, my writing group held their all day writing seminar. The second session, on poetry, was a panel moderated by me. It went really very well, the participants were enthusiastic and willing to learn and discuss, the panel members were knowledgeable and the whole thing ran very well.

As part of the panel, I asked everyone to write a poem. I had spend some time talking about pantoums,and read them this one, Pleasure in Elysium, from my friend Louise Carter at Alone with Beauty, which they all really loved, and I was inspired to write one of my own.

 

Allusions

The past is a foreign country

Who is in need of a wife

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

Don’t go gentle into that good night

 

Who is in need of a wife

When he awoke from unsettling dreams

Don’t go gentle into that good night

Or call a rose by any other name

 

When he awoke from unsettling dreams

Staring at hills like white elephants

Or call a rose by any other name

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river

 

Staring at hills like white elephants

Two star cross’d lovers take their life

Fog everywhere. Fog up river

Sailing the waters back to Grey Havens

 

Two star cross’d lovers take their life

The past is a foreign country

Sailing the waters back to Grey Havens

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

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