May 31, 2016


After last week’s illness I’m now feeling better and am mostly mucus-free (other than having to clear my flemmy throat every few minutes like the old man I will one day become). It’s amazing how you forget how good feeling good feels. Did I have this much energy pre-sickness? That can’t be right because I’m pretty sure I remember feeling tired all the time. Either way, I’m riding this post sickness rejuvenation for as long as I can which I’m guessing will be about one full work week, no doubt by then I’ll be back to being tired and bitter and not this peppy annoyance the Lady Holly is currently putting up with (who is now also sick thanks to yours truly).

Until then I’ve used this seemingly surplus energy to come up with a plan for future-tired-me that will see him maintain the lifestyle of the current-peppy-me. I’m calling it a June Retune, because the timeline for this plan will last to the end of June, and because I like creating names that rhyme. Basically the June Retune is a diet/exercise/writing regiment that I will stick to for the thirty days that make up June. The rules of this plan aren’t too harsh, to be honest they’re aimed at being fairly sustainable. The current aim is if I manage the plan easily enough I’ll continue on into a July Retune (although obviously I’d have to rename it to something that rhymes, July Solidify maybe?). Here’s what I’m asking of myself: No snacking – something I’ve been indulging in a lot lately, no doubt trying to fatten up for a winter hibernation, Minimal alcohol – mostly because during good beer week I drank a month’s supply of beer anyway, exercise everyday – nothing too crazy, just twenty minutes or so and only on days when I don’t ride to work, visit the quagmire of facebook only once a day and only for a maximum of half an hour – that one’s fairly self explanatory, and of course stick to my writing schedule – which at the moment is an hour in the morning before work, an hour after work, any time I can sneak in at work, and a three hour block (or more if possible) on the weekend.

Like I said fairly manageable, especially when I just need to maintain it for thirty days, the main thing is to stick to it; which is the final point of the plan. No excuse, no justifications, just FTDP (follow the damn plan – thanks to The Lady Holly for providing the initialism, and thanks to Brother Jonathan for pointing out the difference between an acronym and an initialism).


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about input and output. In order to produce a creative output (be it writing, drawing, dancing, knitting, dog grooming etc.) I think you must first put in a lot of informational input. For myself this mostly comes from reading. Reading anything. Books, blogs, scripts, articles, research papers, and so on. I know I have a lot of input, sometimes I worry too much input. Throughout the day I’m almost in a constant state of informational input. I listen to audiobooks on my way to and from work. I read a bunch of stuff in any downtime I have. When I’m home I watch TV, browse the internet, and read. When I’m in the bathroom I read a book from my phone. All day my brain is being swamped with input. Which for the most part is a good thing. I’m providing my brain with a wealth of different information so when it comes to the output stage I have a lot of points to draw on. Using these points, connecting together seemingly unconnected things, and weaving something new, is to me what creative output is. It’s what art is. So all that’s fine, but I’m starting to think there’s a third step. A middle step. Analyse. This is where I think I fall short, and it comes back to bite me in the arse when it comes time for output. Without properly analysing the input I sit at my laptop, watch the minutes tick by, and bash my head to get it to think of what to write next. I know I’ve got a lot of points in my brain, I know I’ve saturated it with input, hell, it should have plenty just from near thirty years of living, but the dots aren’t connecting because they haven’t been analysed. The tricky part is how to analyse and when to analyse. Thanks to my smartphone and the internet it’s easy to distract myself, to never be bored, and in turn never give myself time to analyse, just continually put in more input. Maybe that’s the key, reduce my input. Ride to work one day without any kind of stimulation. Eat lunch without looking at my phone. Go to the bathroom and just go to the bathroom. Set aside ten minutes at the end of each day to do nothing. Create input free time. Because ultimately without analysing the input goes to waste.

In fact I came up with this whole theory, i.e. the output you’ve just read, while in the shower; one of the few input free times I have left.

The annoying part is there’s just so much good input out there.

The challenge continues, and we’re better off for it.

Talk soon


May 25, 2016


After my last post, where I talked about how busy I’ve been at work and that I drank beer for a week, I’m now sick. Suprising? No. Annoying? Yes. Mostly because the back of my throat currently feels like someone took a cheese grater to it. Saying that, it’s just a cold and I’m sure it’ll pass soon. Meanwhile, sick days! There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a legitimate reason to skip work, and if that means being a snot monster for a few days then I say it’s worth it.

Today I did nothing, or as close to nothing as a person can get. Certainly nothing productive. I just watched TV in my pyjamas all day, with a quick visit to the doctors to get him to give me a note. The whole getting a doctor’s note seems a little ridiculous when all you have is a cold. He didn’t bother prescribing me anything other than to drink a lot of water and rest up, and, while drinking water at the moment feels like chugging a glass of ice cold acid, that’s pretty much what I was planning to do anyway. In fact the argument could be made that driving myself to the doctors and waiting for an hour for a five minute consultation to get a piece of paper that says ‘You’re sick’, actually gets in the way of me resting up. Oh well, you know what they say, if the system’s broke then complain about it on the internet and don’t actually do anything to fix it.

Tomorrow I’m planning to get some writing done as long as my mucus filled head is able to think clearly. I’m looking forward to it. I’m working on a short story that has the working title His name was Henry, as that’s the first line of the piece and I haven’t thought of a proper name yet. Pretty good first line though, right? If all goes to plan tomorrow I should get a nice chunk of it done. As that’s all the writing news I have let me harshly segway to…


…internet bits, aka, cool things from the internet.

As some of you know I’m a big fan of Warren Ellis. One of the things he does so well with his writing is to imbue it with ideas and knowledge of things that seem likely to exist in the near future. In other words, he’s a futurist, so much so that he’s been asked to give talks and write essays on the topic. Another writer who does the same thing is Ramez Naam. He’s written an award winning series of books called The Nexus Trilogy which are must reading, not only for its in depth futurist themes (and they are very in depth, the guy was a CEO for a nanotechnology company and worked for Microsoft before writing fiction) but also for its interesting characters, and a story that will always keep you guessing.

I found his writing after seeing a post on the internet about an Icelandic tradition where you givie books to each other on Christmas eve and then spending the night reading them. The Lady Holly and I decided to partake in this tradition and so I had to find a book to give her. I went to the website, which allows you to type in the names of books you’ve enjoyed and then produces a list of books it thinks you’ll like. Nexus kept popping up, I read a synopsis, purchased it, and gave it to Holly. I’m glad I did, as I mentioned it’s excellent reading, and it inspired me to look more into futurism (footnote: the Lady Holly and I both ended up finishing the book while in Iceland which added a nice circular ending to the whole thing).

This interest in futurism caused me to look for pages I could add to my facebook feed on the topic and unsurprisingly I found one called…Futurism (which also has a website here) and it has been entertaining and educating me ever since. It, as you may have guessed, is this post’s cool thing from the internet. Apart from checking out the site yourself I thought I’d share a few of the cool, quick, videos they make about all things futurist.

Like this one about braille tablet for the blind

Or this one that is a brilliant combination of technology and art in the form of 3D projection face mapping

Or finally this one about a smart touch mirror


Mind blown? Good, because mine was. Although as it’s full of mucus I’m going to go blow my nose instead.

Talk soon.


May 20, 2016


It’s been another busy week for me, both working and socially, and so writing has once again taken a back step. It’s also left me tired. Every morning starts the same way; my alarm rings, I turn it off then get comfortable again which is when the never ending monologue in my head says “C’mon mate, got to get up”, the ‘got to get up’ thought then causes my brain’s jukebox to start playing the theme song to the Winnie the Pooh cartoon I watched as a kid, which goes “Gotta get up. Gotta get going. Gotta see a friend of mine. He’s round and he’s fuzzy, I love him because he’s just…Pooh bear, Winnie the Pooh bear”, and with this jaunty tune playing in my head I start the day. Admittedly having a children’s cartoon theme song play through your head every morning is a weird routine for a twenty nine year old man, but it’s one that’s entirely out of my control; and every day the song buzzes through my brain it manages to cement itself in there even further. I know one day, when I’m old and my brain is on it’s way out, that tune will still be playing, and I’ll end up in a rocking chair somewhere singing it to myself over and over again. At least it’s an upbeat song.

Either way, I’ve been busy.

Work has still been the same mess it has for the last few weeks, where the powers that be keep expecting me to work. What’s more they seem to have this insane notion that I should do this for a full eight hours, five days a week! It’s madness. Seriously though, my non-writing work has been a shit storm, one that has raged on unchecked and managed to soak up most of my time and energy. However some sunlight has appeared on the distance and I think it should only be a few more weeks before I ride it out. I hope.

The other reason I’ve been busy is a much more positive one. It’s Good Beer Week in Melbourne town, which is basically a week long festival celebrating all things beer with a bunch of events being held all over the city. The Lady Holly and I decided to embrace it this year and went to some of these events. It’s been fun, but drinking beer during the workweek is a sure way to add points to your tiredness level.

One thing I have managed to get done writing wise this week is to roughly sketch out the outline for a short story I’m writing. My plan for it is to record an audio version which I’ll post at some point on this blog, with it hopefully being the first of many. I wrote the first few pages of it with no plan in place during a coffee fuelled buzz a few months ago and then put it on the shelf. I re-read it the other week and liked what I had but, especially as it’s to be a detective story, thought it could do with some proper planning before getting back into the fun part of actually writing it. That’s now maybe seventy percent done, with a few more points I need to figure out, although I expect it’ll morph and change during the writing process as new ideas come up from the ether.

It’s also my Dad’s birthday today, so happy birthday Dad, of all my Dads you’re my favourite.

That’s it for now, I’ll leave you with this video of the aforementioned Winnie the Pooh theme song (which was amazingly easy to find, clearly this is what the internet was invented for) so it can embed itself into your head too, that way when we’re old and in a nursing home we can sing it together.

Talk soon.


May 13, 2016


Today I want to blog about bloggers.

I’ve spoken before about how I started this blog after signing up to the newsletter of comic book writer/novelist/futurist/mad genius Warren Ellis; and being inspired by it (which you can sign up to here if you’d like). It’s a weekly treat that lands in my inbox that I often giddily enjoy over a cup of coffee. As a professional writer of words he often details in these newsletters the various projects he’s working on and occasionally his process of putting those wonderful stories of his together. Usually by the time I get to the end of the newsletter my mind is inflamed, in part because my now guzzled cup of coffee is rolling in with a kick arse caffeine buzz, but also because reading about him writing makes me want to write.

My revamped mission of be-a-better-writer-you-idiot has involved a lot of me organising all my various projects and working out a constantly evolving plan and timeline for each one so I have a clear idea of what each project needs to keep moving forward. The next phase of the mission is to continue to educate myself, and I figure if Mr Ellis’ newsletter works to educate and inspire me with all things writing then that’s probably something I should try to bolster. Of course as much as I’d like Ellis to write a blog everyday in order to kick start my creativity that might be asking too much of a man I’ve never met. Instead I decided that where there’s one there must be more. There must be other writers I look up to and draw inspiration from out there who are writing their own blogs or newsletters. I just needed to find them.

I became a hunter. The blogs and newsletter of talented writers were my prey, the internet was my hunting ground, and google was my weapon. Warren’s newsletter themselves were a good starting ground as he occasionally offered suggestions of similar newsletters. I signed up to a few, and waited with anticipation for their arrival. My favourite thus far is one called Municipal Archive by Kio Stark. It rolls into my inbox spasmodically and each newsletter details a well written, and often moving, interaction the writer has had with a stranger. Each one is basically a tiny story that never fails to engage, and I really can’t recommend this one enough.

All my new subscriptions however weren’t enough. I wanted more. I was catching the newsletters but the blogs were managing to get through my net. A quick search showed me that, yes, a number of my favourite writers did in fact maintain a blog on their websites, the problem now was the ease to which I accessed them. I had become used to my idol’s words coming to me and the idea of routinely making the rounds on a number of websites in the hope that they’d been updated didn’t entice. I figured I can’t have been the first person in this quandary and another google search proved this to be true, and provided an answer. Feedly.

Feedly is a website/app that provides (as wikipedia cleverly puts it) a news aggregation service. Basically it uses rss feeds from websites to notify you whenever an update to those website is made, or, in other words, it’ll tell me when there’s a new blog in town I might be interested in. There’s a few different websites like this but I found feedly easy to use and, even better, easy to read. Once you make an account, which I did simply by logging in to my google account, you can sign up to get feeds from whatever website you like. This is made easy to do by the app’s search functionality that easily finds the website you’re after and even suggest similar ones you might be interested in. Once it’s found the website you’ve searched for you simply click the ‘+feedly’ button and that’s it; you’ll now get those blogs sent to your feedly whenever they’re updated where you can read, share, or save them at your leisure. It’s now become a daily pleasure for me to make my way over to my feedly in the morning (accompanied by a cup of coffee) and read through whatever new blogs the writers have written.

In case you’re interested, my current subscriptions are Brandon Sanderson, Matt Fraction, Warren Ellis (he keeps a blog as well as the newsletter, bless him), Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Ramez Naam, John Scalzi, and V. E. Schwab. The problem now becomes that not all writers keep blogs, which I find a bit strange. To me it would seem that the nature of being a writer is to write, and that of all the people out there likely to have a blog writers should be at the top of that list. Maybe they’re just busy writing stories, which I also want to read, so I can’t complain too much.

Either way, with this daily dose of inspiration and information my education should increase and hopefully with it my writing improve. In the meantime I’ll just have to keep an eye out for new blogs to add to the list.

The hunt continues.

Talk soon.