February 26, 2016

26:02:2016

I did something today that I was really proud of. It wasn’t that I went to work, did my part to contribute to society, or that I helped advance medical science just a little bit more. No, it was that I managed to watch TV on my laptop, through the reflection of my mirror, while I shaved my head. A worthy accomplishment.

I did this because shaving my head takes around 20-25 minutes and it’s simply not that stimulating a thing to do. I do this a lot, use technology to entertain myself the moment there’s even a whiff of boredom. As I ride to and from work I listen to an audiobook. When I have a lunch break, or even just a toilet break, I read an ebook on my phone. Now when I shave my head I watch TV, as I also do if I’m doing exercises, or scanning Facebook, or completing some mundane clerical task on my laptop.

It’s so easy to do nowadays. There is literally no excuse for boredom. But being bored is important. I’ve found with screenwriting that the time I get the best ideas is usually when I’m bored. When I give myself time to be bored it allows my mind to tell me all the things it’s been trying to tell me during my constantly-stimulated-day. Then after all those thoughts have been heard, registered, and catalogued to wherever it is my brain those thoughts go; my mind delves deep down into my subconscious, searching inwards for entertainment, so that I get access to a bunch of interesting and different ideas. It’s in these times that I feel like I get struck by inspiration, or I have an epiphany, when in reality I’m just accessing the parts of my brain that I usually deny myself access to due to this unrelenting stimulation.

But I didn’t do that today. I instead set up an ingenious system of mirrors (well one) to ensure I wouldn’t be bored for even twenty minutes.

I guess it’s easier said than done.

Talk soon.

Damian.

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February 25, 2016

25:02:2016

I’ll have a break from talking about myself for today and share with you some lovely gifts the internet have provided us with this week.

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First up is one that was shared with me by my good friend Nice-Guy-Sean (The nicknamed earned by the fact that his name is Sean and he’s a nice guy). It’s an article about a guy from reddit who takes peoples regular photos and then turns them into fairly epic fictional movie posters complete with titles, tagline, and actors names. For example…

5-1486-1427-1338-12325-1626-15

Great, right? I mean I would buy tickets to Night at the Aquarium right now if I could. You can see many more, as well as a link to the guys reddit page, here.

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Next up is this…short film, I guess? Or maybe a skit? Either way it’s a funny and surprisingly moving video by the comedic actor Beck Bennet, and is entitled How to lose weight in 4 easy steps. I know, it sounds like I’m trying to secretly tell you you need to lose weight but as most of the video focuses on the third tip “Get your heart broken” I think you can tell this isn’t your usual weight lose advice.

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For those of you who may have read this blog before you’ll know what a fan I am of the writer/futurist/genius Warren Ellis. For those of you who haven’t read this blog, you now know that I’m a fan I am of the writer/futurist/genius Warren Ellis. Anywho, here’s an interview he did for The Paris Review where he discusses writing, the future, and what it’s like to be in the head of a murderer. It’s quality stuff. Read it here.

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Finally, this article from the AV Club about The Prestige. For those of you unfamiliar with The Prestige it’s a 2006 film from Christopher Nolan that features a big reveal ending. A very successful one. The article analyses the film and gives some thought on just how Mr. Nolan pulled this off. It’s well thought out it, I found it quite illuminating, and it gave me some ideas about how I could implement the same features in my own writing. Read it here.

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Quick aside of something all this internet sharing has got me thinking about: Basically this, the internet is such a glut of wonderful and meaningless information that it’s hard to know what to do with it all. Sometimes I think I should simply let it entertain me, Lord knows there’s enough content out there to keep a man entertained for many lifetimes. But that feels like I’m wasting a pretty valuable asset. So what should I do with all this information? Do I let it inspire me? Educate me? Connect me? Do I want to add my voice and ideas to this infinite swarm of voices? Well, I suppose my answer is the same as that of the man with two penises when asked if it hangs to the left or the right. Yes. Yes to all of it. Let all that information educate, entertain, connect, and inspire. Then, using all that, add to it.

Look at that, I managed to talk about myself anyway. Whoops. (Also, for the record, I only have the one penis)

Talk soon

Damian

February 23, 2016

23:02:2016

I had a day today that despite being incredibly busy felt like I go nothing done.

Quick interlude – I actually just had the perfect visual representation of what I’m trying to explain while I was typing that first sentence. The computer I’m currently writing this on has a bad habit of refreshing every ten seconds or so due to it being connected to this rather clunky system called Citrix. If I’m typing when the computer refreshes it will sometimes highlight the last section of text I typed, then as I continue to write I unwittingly type over that text. This causes me to, upon realizing, delete it all and retype the whole sentence again. At which point the computer will refresh and I end up typing over it again. That’s what today felt like, like I kept retyping the same sentence and yet somehow it never got written.

I did get some stuff done of course – you’d have to go to real effort to have a day where you don’t actually do anything, but then the case could be made that the effort required to do nothing is something, in which case you haven’t actually managed to do nothing at all – but it felt like as soon as I got one thing completed a new thing came along to take its place.

Being that busy wasn’t even so much a bad thing as it was unexpected. I had plans for the day (which mostly involved getting some sneaky writing done at work) and those plans quickly fell into ruin. Expectation is the real enemy here. If I had expected a busy day full of little challenges then I would have been mentally prepared for just that, and it would be unlikely that I would now be bitching about it on the internet, but I didn’t, and so I am. Perception definitely plays a part as well. My perception could be to look back at the day that was and not see the things I had planned to do and didn’t, or the multiple tasks that still need to be completed, but to see all the things I did get done; then tally them up to a point where I could comfortably claim that today was a success, and that I am the master of productivity. But that’s the tricky thing about expectation and perception, they’re not really under our control. I think we can influence them through a rational analysis, like I’ve done above, but at the end of the day if you feel like the sentence didn’t get written then it didn’t get written. Perception especially is some scary shit because it literally molds your world around you, to the point that if you perceive it it’s real. For example, if two people experience the same day but perceive it differently who’s right? Both of them technically. I’m sure there’s a short story in there somewhere.

Despite this perceived lack of progress I’m actually getting closer to finishing the first draft of a TV idea I’ve been working on called Trench. It’s taken far longer than I was hoping but I’ll be done soon, at least to the point where I can scrap most of it and start on the second draft, which is already forming in my head as I finalise the first.

Other good stuff that’s going on today is that it’s my anniversary with the Lady Holly, and to celebrate it we’re going out for dinner and then over to the drive in movies because we’re adorable as hell.

Talk soon.

Damian

February 19, 2016

19:02:2016

I got a text this morning from my girlfriend. Her bike had broken as she rode to work and she was hoping I would be able to pick her up that afternoon. I could but that’s not the point of this anticdote.

As she explained in her text the problem with her bike was that “the pin thing going through the front wheel has come out and there’s no nut on the other side to screw it into”. With this description and the make of her bike I was confident that I would be able to “google it up” (as my Grandma adorably like to say) and find a replacement. I was right. Thanks to said googling I quickly found out the ‘pin thing’ was called a skewer, and then I was able to find a shop nearby where I could buy the part. By the time I met her that afternoon to pick her up I had gone to the store, purchased a skewer nut, and was able to fix the bike.

The reason I tell you all this is because IT’S AMAZING! Not what a wonderful boyfriend I am but the fact that our problem could so easily be solved in minutes by me simply punching my fingers over a keyboard. All too often I take the tech advanced world we live in for granted, and I really shouldn’t; it’s phenomenal. For example, I found myself recently yelling at my phone because the screen rotated the wrong way while I was using the navigation app. I literally yelled “you piece of shit” to a machine that is able to connect with satellites hundreds of meters above me and then give me step by step verbal instructions to direct me to where I needed to go. Ignoring the fact that I was pointlessly yelling at a machine, the one thing that is clear is that a device that is able to do all that is far from a piece of shit.

Anyway, the point is the ease with which I was able to learn the name for an obscure bike part by typing in ‘rod that goes through the hub of a bike’, then the ease in which I was able to find a store that sold that part, as well as gain directions to said store kind of blew me away today as the modern age miracle that it is.

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Another thing that blew me away was a response by Neil Gaiman to a fourteen year old writer who was looking for advice on things he can do now in order to achieve his dream. I won’t go through it all for you but you can see the majesty of his answer by clicking this link. I’ve always thought that Gaiman is a wonderful thinker and writer, and clearly this holds true even when answering fan mail…am I gushing? I’m gushing aren’t I?

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Another heroic thing that came my way via the internet is the news that a woman in Russia has shared more than 48 million journal articles to a website called Sci-Hub, which this article (where you’ll find more information and the link to the site) describes as ‘The pirate bay of the science world’, and who, despite court injunction and a lawsuit, refuses to take them down. What a boss. I am strongly in favour of research papers and journal articles being free and accessible to everyone. Surely it’s in this way that our global community advances. Where anyone willing, capable, and with an internet connection can educate themselves and further contribute to our global knowledge. That’s kind of one of the best things about the internet.

Which brings me back to the modern world being amazing.

Didn’t that bookend nicely?

Talk soon.

Damian

February 16, 2016

16:02:2016

While at work today I thought a lot about working part time. I have no doubt that a desire to be in bed watching TV had a big part to do with that but the thought also passed across my brain waves out of a desire to write more. Before starting work full time again I used to occasionally ride down to the library to do some writing. It was this new, beautiful, library that sat out over the water in the docklands. I would get a coffee, put my headphones in, listen to something instrumental, and write. It was pretty great, although I don’t think I realised exactly how great until I started back at my nine to five. Now, it’s what I fantasise about when I’m at work. Of course, money’s pretty great too, and I can’t deny that before I was working full time money was the thing I would fantasise about, not free time.

Clearly I had a tiring day at work, and I did, and I’ll probably have one tomorrow, then after that I’ll still have two more days left in my working week, and during all this I’ll probably feel guilty and annoyed that I’m not getting much writing done. Which is why I’m about to rant.

I strongly believe, and have for years now, that in this modern age we don’t have a good work/life balance. Admittedly some people handle it pretty well. They’ll work their 40+ hours a week and still manage to exercise, socialise, cook meals, learn a language, and sustain a number of hobbies. Those people are freaks, or perhaps crack addicts. Us mere (and sober) mortals often get home at the end of the day exhausted and spent. While I do have some extra time outside of work to follow my passions, like writing, what work seems to take the most of is my energy. Granted that’s the deal. I sell them my ability and energy in exchange for money. The problem to me is that in most cases you don’t get to choose how much of your energy you want to sell. Five days out of seven, or 71.4% of your energy, is the going deal. It’s a shit deal. I would love to only sell 50% of my energy in a given week and use the other 50% for the things I’m actually passionate about. What’s more I’d like to choose when in that week my 50% is given. Monday to Wednesday, or do half days every day, or get your 50% done at nights, I see little reason why with today’s tech these options aren’t more readily available.

Anyway, I had all these thoughts on my brain when I got home from work, slumped onto the couch, and chose to see what interesting things the internet had birthed today. I quickly, and fortuitously came across this TED talk by Ricardo Semier, in which he talks about how he and his business had a lot of the same thoughts I did and then, best of all, put them into practice. He even expands on these ideas to, as he deems it, ‘redesign for wisdom’; basically overhauling our current systems, work, education etc. and redesigning them for the world we live in, one where google exists, one where people may choose to sell back their Wednesdays for part of their salary, one where if the works done you get to go home. He’s now on my list of heros. You may have picked up on this already but I think his TED talk is well worth a watch.

Knowing there are influential people out there having the same thoughts I do is encouraging, knowing that their putting these thoughts into practice is momentous. It gives me hope that maybe one day I’ll be able to sell the percentage of energy I want to and then spend the spend the rest of it at the library with some music, a coffee, and my laptop (and some of it watching TV in bed).

What can I say, I’m a dreamer.

Talk soon

Damian

February 15, 2016

15:02:2016

The first thing I’ll hound you with today is the music of Run RIver North. I’ve been listening to their album of the same name and haven’t been able to stop. It’s got a lot of great tracks on there, so much so I that I had a real tough time choosing one to share with you all, so I didn’t, I chose two. Hopefully they’ll pair well with today’s blog, so have a listen while you have a read.

Needless to say if you like these tracks you should check out the whole album.

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A friend implied the other day to my girlfriend that she suspected we would be busy on the 14th of February due to us being lovebirds, with the 14th of February being the day for love. This was not the case. Instead we went and watched some of my friends take on a five kilometer obstacle course in which they often ended up falling into water. Romance was not really part of it, reapplication of sunscreen was. I’m not a fan of Valentine’s day. It simply is an invented holiday however you look at it, one loaded with expectation and a smidge of greed. The idea of it being a romantic holiday is even more ludicrous if you look at the history of the day. As you’ll see in this link, romance wasn’t really part of it, men whipping woman with the hides of freshly slain animals was.

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I’ve been thinking lately how the statement often found in TV and books “Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental” is straight up bull shit. In the script I’m working on at the moment a number of the key characters are without a doubt versions of people I know, to the point where I’ll need to change the names at some point down the track lest they actually share that person’s name as they currently do. Somehow I don’t think I’m the only person who does this. In fact I would hazard a guess that just about any writer you meet would admit to using people from their lives in their stories, and the ones that say they don’t are more than likely doing so subconsciously (or liars!). For good reason. The people in our lives are multifaceted, nuances individuals with real, and often conflicting, motivations. They are a treasure trove of story, one that any writer would be foolish to waste.

The statement should read “Any resemblance to persons living or dead is done with great deliberation and thought, thanks for being an interesting enough person to write about”  or something to that effect, maybe with something in there about names being changed and that they don’t get a percentage of any profits, soz.

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Another thing I’ve been considering this week is unplugging. By this I mean reducing my time attached to screens. As my hobbies run in the introvert fashion and because almost everything is transferable to a digital format these days I’m almost always on my computer. I’m doing different things, and some (definitely not all) are productive, but that still doesn’t discount the fact that I’m on my computer or phone an inordinately long, sometimes regrettable, amount of time.

To counter this I’ve decided to unplug one afternoon a week, basically ban myself from screens no matter how much I kick and scream (in this scenario I’m both the parent and the child). Wednesdays I’ve decided, for no other reason than it sits in the middle of the week and I like symmetry, I will get home from work and unplug. I’m hoping this will force me out of that cyclical weekday rut, creatively push me to try different things, and basically just gives my eyes a break from looking at pixels.

No doubt it’s going to be a wild ride. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Talk soon

Damian

February 10, 2016

10:02:2016

I thought I would do another write-what-you-know today.

Basically the idea behind this is that my definition of the moniker ‘write what you know’ is less about only writing about things you have an educated knowledge of and more about embedding real people, experiences, and details from your life into a story in order to give it authenticity.

I think some of the best details of a story can come from the smaller moments in your life, moments that tell you a lot about a person and their development. The big moments, the dramatic ones, definitely do this as well but those are memories you’re likely never to forget, it’s the small everyday moments that are unique in their normality that you need to write down and hopefully cleverly utilise in a story one day.

That’s what I’m going to do today, share a short story with you that is neither theatrical or dramatic, but for some reason I remember every once in awhile. A small detail of my life that might crop up in my writing one day, who knows.

Strap yourself in, it’s story time.

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I was in my younger years, somewhere after people asking you how school is going but before they start asking you what you want to do when you finish school (let’s say ten for the sake of simplicity and round numbers). My Mum and I had pulled up into our local petrol station to refill our big, old, nine seater, beautiful beast of a mazda van. Mum always referred to this petrol station as Kavatis, although that wasn’t actually it’s name, probably due to a past iteration of the petrol station or more likely the people who owned it. My Mum, being a creature of habit and efficiency, always put twenty dollars of petrol into the tank, and, unsurprisingly, always paid with a twenty dollar note.

I was a shy child, a natural introvert, and had been been enjoying the warmth emanating from the bowels of the van and the smell of the petrol fumes when Mum climbed back into the front seat, handed me the twenty dollar note, and asked me to go inside and pay for the petrol. I was confronted by this very adult task she put before me but I was also an obedient child and so I took the note and went into the store.

As I approached the counter the middle aged clerk saw me and wandered over.

“What can I do for you?” he asked.

“Number two” I said, and handed him the note.

He took it with a brief smile, worked the register, and replaced the note with a receipt.

“Thank you”

“No worries” he replied “Have a good one”.

This response astounded me. I had probably heard that basic Aussie pleasantry before but this was the first time someone had said it to me. Spoken it to me as if I were an equal, an adult. My world was rocketed. Not only had I completed the very grown up task of paying for petrol but suddenly I had been welcomed into the halls of adulthood! What was more amazing was that the whole transaction had gone so smoothly! I felt sure the man didn’t even know how nervous I had been. Maybe he actually thought I was an adult! There are times today when I don’t do so well.

“You too” I replied, softly.

I was grinning as I got back into the car.

“Mum, the man told me to have a good one!”

“Really? Well did you tell him to have a good one too?”

“Yep!”

Mum smiled at me, no doubt impressed by how grown up I was. As she started up the car and pulled out onto the road a thought hit me.

“Mum? A good what?”

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That’s my story. I don’t know why it’s stuck in my memory except that with that interaction I truly thought I had fooled the man into believing I was a grown up, and then like many grown ups, I was quickly confused by the ways of the grown up world.

Turns out that’s what I know.

Talk soon

Damian