March 22, 2016

22:03:2016

Yesterday morning started with a shock. It’s less than a week now until the Lady Holly and I jet off, first to London to pick up Jon, Dom, and Nikki, and then to Iceland. Unsurprisingly, given the size of Iceland, our main destination in this country is Reykjavik. We’d booked accommodation there for the five of us months ago at a nice apartment close to the middle of the city. The Lady Holly got informed yesterday, by email while on the way to work, that our accommodation had been cancelled.

Admittedly the website we had booked it through had tried to email Holly to inform her that when they went to take payment there wasn’t enough funds, but as we were away with some friends over the weekend this email never found it’s recipient.

Even more admittedly, it was totally our fault.

We had input my credit card details when booking it all those months ago with the plan to change the card details to my travel card once it had the appropriate funds on it, and then completely forgot to do so. They had tried to take the funds, couldn’t, then tried to contact us, couldn’t, and then promptly cancelled the booking. I can’t blame them, but it was shattering.

Holly called me with tears in her voice and managed to choke out what had happened, and that she had already tried to rebook it only to discover that with less than a week to our arrival it was well and truly booked out. Luckily I was still at home, and so, after calling work to let them know I was going to be late, went on a hunt to find us some new accommodation. Here’s the good bit; I got us a new apartment for roughly the same price, and even at a similar distance from the city. I managed to bring some calm to the now no-longer-hyperventilating Lady Holly, and informed the rest of the gang to the change in location. They weren’t bothered, they’re champs, and I got to be a hero…although one that helped cause the issue in the first place, but let’s ignore that fact.

I have a theory that when travelling you should always expect something to go wrong, that way when it does you can greet it calmly with a “Oh, hi, I was expecting you” rather than completely freaking out. I’m hoping this was our something wrong, that way we can have smooth sailing from here out, but I’m not getting my hope to high. I’ll still be on the look out to see if our something wrong decides to bring along any of it’s friends.

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Something that I came across in my internet wanderings this week is this outstanding project that shows how wonderful artists are and how powerful collaboration is.

It’s a movie about the life of Vincent Van Gogh called ‘Loving Vincent’ that was made by over 100 artist hand painting every frame in Van Gogh’s style. The video below explains all.

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Another thing well worth watching is this TED talk by Tim Urban, who gives a funny and entertaining talk about the mind of a procrastinator. Really good stuff in here, especially a theory about what happens to procrastinators when the deadlines are removed that I’m sure we can all relate to.

 

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In five days we leave and I’ve already checked out from work and am using my powerful ability to do the bare minimum without anyone noticing. Probably time to start thinking about packing.

Talk soon.

Damian

March 18, 2016

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I believe that the term ‘write what you know’ is about including small details of yourself and your experiences into your writing in order to imbue it with authenticity, rather than only write about topics where you are academically knowledgeable. Because of that when I have a small memory from some part of my life that seems to stick around I like to write it down as I figure it must have some import for me not to forget it, with the added hope that one day I’ll be able to use it when it’s appropriate to a story. On that note, here is one of those memories.

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I was in year nine at school, which would have made me fourteen or fifteen years of age. I had been at the same school for the whole of my education, the fact of which will become relevance by the end of this story.

In school I was very much an inbetweener. I was far from one of the cool kids, who in my school were the misbehaviours; the ones who got into drinking, drugs and sex before I could even consider that those things would one day have a place in my world. I was also not in the nerdy kids group, the unfortunate outcasts who were always just a little bit too different to fit in and could never figure out why. No, I was in the middle, I had a group of friends I fit in with, I was shy but not crippling so, I was well behaved and read a lot of fantasy books; I still do. I was, and am, happy to be an inbetweener. I think it makes school just a part of your life rather than the defining part. High school wasn’t the glory days of my youth nor was it an experience I’ll resent forever, it was simply the beginning of me figuring out who I am.

So, I was in year nine at the only school I had ever attended when a kid by the name of, let’s call him Leo Moretti (because the internet’s not such a small place and I’m not writing this as some sort of internet shaming), approached me. Leo was one of the cool kids, the kind of guy who’s arrogantly confident and hangs out with the older kids. He had more to do with my older brother, Matt, than with me, for example, despite the fact we shared a year level. I’m not even sure I had ever spoken to Leo before this day, but I knew who he was because he was loud and outspoken. I was undoubtedly the opposite. Because of this I was surprised when Leo approached me, but was even more surprised when he genuinely asked me “Hey. Are you new here?”

If you ever want to feel invisible try attempting to convince a kid you’ve spent the last three years sharing a classroom with that you’d always been there.

I honestly don’t think he even meant any malice to the question, he was just a self absorbed kid who saw a person he had never bother to recognise before. Nevertheless it was still shattering at the time to feel so unnoticed and unimportant, and to have to argue for my own existence.

If I ever write a story about a person who has to battle with loneliness and feeling invisible that memory will be my cold open.

Turns out that’s what I know.

Talk soon.

Damian

March 16, 2016

16:03:2016

It’s late on this hot Melbourne evening and a number of tiny flies are crawling over my laptop screen as I write this, thanks to the door being open to let in a breeze.

I’ve been thinking about connectivity, especially that between strangers. The Lady Holly and I were talking the other day about how we see maybe hundreds of strangers everyday and that after they leave our eyeline the likelihood is that we will never see them again. Because of this I often find myself forgetting they’re real people; in the sense they they, like me, have their own world around them full of their people, their favourite places to get a coffee, their weird idiosyncrasies nobody knows about. They seem like background players, TV extras, or NPCs, only there to fulfill a small purpose in my story, even if that purpose is only to be seen. But the thing to remember is that I could walk up to any single one of those people, interrupt them, have a conversation, and realise that they’re real, and that they are no less and no more a protagonist as me.

Connectivity’s a funny thing too, because it can sometimes only happen one way, or, happen between two people without either of them ever meeting or communicating to each other. Let me give you an example. There’s a sandwich place not to far from my house that I like to get lunch at sometimes. It’s in the next suburb over from me, Moonee Ponds, and it’s called Under the Breadline – good name, right? I’ve only ever gotten one type of sandwich from there despite the fact I’ve gone there many times. It’s called the Paolo special (presumably because the guy who invented it was called Paolo) and it contains a chicken schnitzel, cheese, lettuce, slice of fried potato, and sweet chilli sauce. If it sounds like an odd combination I assure you it is outstanding. Someone who agrees with me is Paul. I’ve never met Paul, spoken to Paul, or would be able to pick him out of a line up. I don’t even know his last name. But Paul was the one who recommended Under the Breadline to me. You see, a while ago, before I knew of Under the Breadline’s existence, I decided to go on a google hunt to find a nice sandwich shop near my house. As you can probably guess, I was successful. This hunt led me to the website Zomato, which lists all types of eateries in your area, giving a description of each, some photos, and reviews. When I go a-hunting online, whether it be for dining, shopping or other, one of the main things I look out for are reviews. They’re my go to. Mostly because the people leaving the review have no reason to lie to me (unless they’re from the person trying to sell you the thing in which case they’re usually so over the top positive that they’re easy to spot) and so you usually end up with an honest account of the restaurant, product, or other. Paul left a comment for Under the Breadline on Zomato. He gave it an A+ rating and strongly suggested the Paolo special. Because of Paul (last name unknown) I eat the Paolo special on a regular basis. He has directly affected my life and yet will never know it or even know of my existence. Thank you, Paul.

My last point on this matter is you, because we’re connecting right now. While some of you out there are reading this because you know me personally, others of you don’t. So, we’re strangers. Strangers who have each stopped in our individual stories, that, beyond this digital crossing of paths, may never intersect again, and seen each other. Hi. How’re you doing? I hope you’re stories’s going well.

Talk soon.

Damian

March 14, 2016

14:03:2016

I did something this morning that I don’t normally do. When my alarm went off I rolled over and went back to sleep. I’m not opposed to a good sleep in, but on a work day I’m very much in the mind set that delaying the inevitable in order to spend some more time with sweet lady slumber will only lead to issues further down the track. Namely, panickingly rushing about with the certain fear that I’ll be late. Because of this I’m not even very good at attempting to sleep in on a work day. If I try it only takes my brain a few minutes before it starts to alarm the consequences of what I’m attempting loudly and frequently. This usually results in me doing a bunch of mental maths, moving minutes and the morning’s activities around to a point where I can safely afford myself those ten extra minutes and quiet my internal alarm. However, even if I do manage to move around my already fairly streamlined schedule to allow for extra sleep, the act of doing so makes my brain a hive of activity to the point where I am undeniably awake. Pointless.

Today was different. Unlike the rest of Victoria, who have the day off thanks to Labour day (a public holiday no one really seems to know the reason for), I did have to go to work; thanks to the fact that I work for a University who (for reasons equally unknown) don’t get the day off. Over the weekend I helped my sister, Angela, paint her apartment. In a past life I was a painter – I’m using the concept of ‘past life’ given in this brilliant and provocative comic by SMBC – and occasionally I still get to put those skills to good use. It was undeniably satisfying to see Angela’s apartment (which she has already renovated from something resembling a crack den into a lovely single bedroom apartment) change from a mix match of stained and plastered walls into a clean and fresh living space; but it did leave me exhausted. The kind of exhausted that bleeds over to the next day no matter how good of a sleep you have. To add to this I also think I’m becoming sick, am sick, or have quietly been slightly sick for a while without realising. My energies shot and lately I’ve seemed to always be running a slight fever. So, because of all this, I managed to give myself an extra half hour of sleep without my internal alarm screaming at me like some man on a TV commercial advertising a sale on rugs that seems to think flashing graphics and repeatedly yelling is the best way to do so. Basically I just didn’t do my normal half hour morning exercises. Exercise = bad, sleep = good.

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The other week a screenwriting friend of mine, by the name of Nice-Guy-Sean (not his actually name), and I were discussing how often we read scripts and screenplays. I read a lot of scripts and screenplays; mostly when I have some downtime at work as they’re the perfect length to allow me to both start and finish a story across all the little ten minute breaks I give myself throughout the day. For a wannabe screenwriter I think it’s crucial to read lots of scripts and screenplays. This may seem like saying it’s good to know how to pedal if you want to ride a bike but, unlike prose writers who want to write novels thanks to all the novels they’ve read, screenwriters generally want to write because of all the film and TV they’ve watched. Which means we’re not in the habit of reading scripts and screenplays.

Like I said, I think it’s crucial, mostly because of how much you can learn from reading them. Screenplay format is pretty basic and it really only takes reading one script to learn how to structure it. However I’ve found that there are a lot of minor techniques and situations that aren’t immediately obvious how to write. Things like character descriptions, split screens, flashbacks, point of views, close ups etc. etc. There’s a really great PDF by How Did They Write It that goes through a number of movies and looks at how they wrote what we watched (this was shared with me by Nice-Guy-Sean, just one of the many of reasons he has that name).

While reading scripts and screenplays has helped me learn all these “rules” what it’s also shown me is that the rules are always fluid and if you write it in a way people can understand, then that’s the right way to write it. It’s probably been the best thing I’ve learned. It’s far too easy for me to get held up while writing with worrying about if I’m writing certain scenes or scenarios the “right” way. Having read all those scripts and screenplays has shown me how each writer has their own style and way of doing things, and in turn has given me more confidence to write any way I damn please! But it’s still also nice to see how they’ve done things when I’m stumped about how to describe a shot.

If you want to read some scripts for yourself some good starting places to find them are here, here, and here.

Talk soon

Damian