February 9, 2017

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Music today comes from Australian band Woodlock. This tune, entitled Forever ago, is especially beautiful – the piano towards the end of the track is worth a listen alone.

I had someone tell me over the weekend that they’ve “started reading my little blog.” Another friend of mine recently explained to me how his Mum had told him that when she goes for walks she now “listens to his little podcast.” My question is why do people feel the need to add ‘little’ when referring to creative work? Apart from coming off as condescending it literally belittles the value of the work they’re referring to. While my blog reader went on to say some lovely things, and ultimately were just trying to show their support for my writing, the need to distance themselves from their own encouragement baffles me.

I think it comes down to the fact that working in the creative industries still isn’t considered a “real” job, or at least not until the one doing it has achieved some incredible level of success. This is, to me, absurd.

First let’s address the idea of creative work as a “real” job. My guess here is that the underlying thought is that any kind of creative output is seen to be superfluous to our survival as a species. Enjoyable for the one doing it but ultimately unnecessary to how we run as a society, with the usual argument being a made up post apocalyptic scenario where the creatives won’t survive as they have no real world skills to add in the rebuilding of civilisation. This is insane because another name for the creative industries could be the entertainment industries. While, yes, the initial purpose of any creative work is the artist having an creative itch they’re trying to scratch, the ultimate purpose is to pass the work on to the larger populace in an effort to entertain and help make sense of the world. To say this is unnecessary to how we run as a society is flat out wrong.

Just look at our current world and how desperate we all are to be entertained. Look at the mammoth, and varied, amount of entertainment content available, how quickly it gets consumed, and how often it needs to be replenished to feed the hungry masses. Look at why Netflix’s model works so well, offering up immediate and complete entertainment of a quantity you could never entirely get through. Look at why we’re all so addicted to social media. While it’s entertainment quality may not be high it’s quantity is irrefutable. Any creative out there knows you’re only as good as your last piece of work, and that you better keep producing work at an ever increasing pace and quality if you want to stay in the market. As for that fictional post apocalyptic scenario if you think people won’t want to be entertained under those conditions then you are flat out bonkers; and I’m not someone who uses the word ‘bonkers’ in vain. We’ve been telling ourselves stories and painting our histories since we first started walking upright. Creativity is now, and has always been, entirely necessary to how we run as a species and arguably a major factor to our current level of evolutionary success.

Now let’s look at the idea that you need to be successful before it can be classified as a real job and not just a hobby. You never hear anyone ask “Human resource is more of a hobby though, right?” or “How’s your little dock working position going?” Both of those careers require you to learn on the job with the expectation that you get paid while you do so. In my mind this salary makes it a real job to the populace at large. Whereas, there is little to no support for the apprentice creative and fuck all chance of getting paid while they grow their skills. Ask any creative out there and they’ll tell you how someone has offered them “exposure” as payment for a job instead of money – “We can’t pay you but it’ll be great exposure.” The thing about exposure is it’s nice but strangely doesn’t work as currency anywhere else. You’d never expect someone to do your taxes for you “for the exposure”. At the end of the day creatives are expected to do a significant amount of work for free before they start getting paid for it. Why? Because it’s their little hobby. If someone was to leave their job to open a restaurant they would immediately be classified as a small business owner and restaurateur. If however a person was to leave a similar job in order to become an artist they would be seen less as the freelancer they are and more as a dole bludger until their creative work achieves not only a living wage but also some level of celebrity for them.

This cultural mindset behind the creative industries and the reduction of their importance is a dangerous thing for our society. The Lady Holly, a high school maths and science teacher (and my lady love), showed me this TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson. In it he makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. Basically, he says what I’m trying to say with a lot more detail and humour (it genuinely feels like stand up act at points), and with a better vocabulary. A superbly good watch.

Clearly I have some issues with how the creative industries are regarded, especially in this country, and while I don’t expect things to change anytime soon I guess for now all I’m asking is for you to question your own perception of those seeking a creative career, or at the very least stop using ‘little’ as a prefix when talking about their work.

Talk soon

Damian

December 17, 2016

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This week was an oddly busy week at work. I say oddly because, as a big part of me had already happily embraced the forthcoming juggernaut that is Christmas, my expectations for the workplace this week were that they would be more festive and relaxed rather than business as usual. I forgot I worked in science. Researchers, as a whole, seem not to welcome and become mellowed by any given holiday, but panicked by it. It’s merely a barrier for their ever continuing research, an annoyance to get through, and as their support staff (myself included) will be away for the Christmas/New Year break they usually double down on the workload prior so that our selfish instance to take time off during public holidays won’t hinder them to greatly. Part of me in impressed by their commitment to their work but another, much larger, part of me is just ready to get his damn Christmas on.

Work stuff aside I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year. I have a good line up that will allow me to spend time with friends and family and hopefully won’t tip into the whole ‘I’m feel like I’ve eaten an entire ham, don’t want to move, and yet we still have five more groups of people to visit,’ phase. A number get knocked off this weekend, which should keep me merry enough to get through the week of work that follows it. Then Christmas Eve day will be spent with the Lady Holly’s family and the Christmas Eve night spent with just the Lady Holly (and probably Moriarty – our rabbit) eating chocolate and reading books. Last year, prior going to Scandinavia, Holly found out it was the Icelandic tradition to give each other books and eat chocolate on Christmas Eve and, as this will be the second year we’ve partaken, I think I can say it’s now our tradition too. There’s something very charming and relaxing to quietly eating chocolate and reading books the night before the rushed chaos of Christmas. Plus, I’ll take any excuse to read books and eat chocolate. Christmas day itself will be spent with my family in the house I grew up in and haven’t been back to for some time (we already have a Christmas themed audiobook loaded up for the drive down there), before spending boxing day with my gang to close out the festivities. Like I said, it should be quite a time.

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I’ve mentioned previously how I occasionally take part in a podcast called Movie Maintenance. It’s a fun listen where one of us takes a movie, explains where we think it could be improved, and then fixes the problems of the film; if not re-pitch a whole new story for it altogether. I’ve done a number of them throughout the year and they’ve always been a quality time, 1) because I get to spend time with some clever and witty champions, and 2) because it’s a good way to improve my writing. This second part is due to the critiquing aspect of the endeavour, which helps me to analyse my own work, as well as the pitching side of it, which forces me to tell a story quickly but in a way that still hits all the necessary elements and is hopefully entertaining. It’s good stuff. So good in fact that last week we did a live show. We filled fifty seats in a upstairs theatre in North Melbourne and to be honest it went really well. The place was packed, the audience were responsive, and there was just an overall good feel in the room of people who love talking movies. We signed a few autographs after the show and then even got to have some good chats with a few of the fans who happily joined us at the pub. A good night and one we’re likely to repeat in the new year.

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In writing news things have been going pretty well. After the whirlwind of words that was NaNoWriMo I’ve slowed things down a bit for the end of the year. Not slowed down completely, NaNoWriMo taught me to much to allow that to happen, but enough to take a deep breath before I kick off 2017, which I’m planning to be a big year writing wise. In the meantime I’m currently working on a new short story that is so far coming along really well and that I’ll hopefully get done over the Christmas break, and I also have an idea for a TV show that I think could have some legs and so will get stuck into that soon too. So, plenty to keep me busy. Yay, writing!

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That’s it from me for now and, as the work week is now done, we’re only six more sleeps away from Christmas. Bring it on.

Remember: worrying if you’re happy, definitely doesn’t make you happy.

Talk soon,

Damian

June 14, 2016

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Deadlines and word counts. These things make me think mostly of horrible, dreaded, university essays or scientific reports (thanks to my sordid past involving a science degree). Blessedly they’re not a part of my everyday life anymore but I’m thinking of changing that. Not the university essays and scientific report part; having finished previously mentioned degree I swore never to return to university, then after finishing a Master’s degree seven years later I swore the same thing again. No, I’m thinking of reintroducing deadlines and word counts into my everyday life, more specifically into my writing.

Being fairly new to this writing game, so far I’ve been enforcing writing on myself in time increments, x amount of hours per day kind of thing. I think so far it’s been a success. I’ve gotten used to writing just about every day, and now when I have “free time” I occasionally use it to do something productive, like more writing, rather than just watching more TV. The only problem with this system is that the amount of work in the set upon time period can vary widely from day to day, and consequently I’m not finishing projects as quickly as I’d like. I think I’m now ready to kick it up to the next level, and, as I’m not currently working a writing job that demands a word count or deadline on my writing, I’ve decided to put it on myself. By applying deadlines and word counts on myself I’m hoping to 1) make better use of the time in which I’ve given myself to write and 2) force myself to write more in the day, even if it’s at twelve o’clock at night in order to reach my word count so that horrible Damian person can let me go to bed. Granted that won’t generate the best writing ever but ultimately I’m under the idea that creating something that needs work is better than not creating anything at all. You need clay to make a sculpture.

The first deadline will be for the short story I’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts, which I’m now about halfway through, and the deadline I’ve decided upon is in two weeks. That’s when the Lady Holly has her mid year break and so gives her plenty of free time to proofread the story, lucky thing. I haven’t landed hard and fast on a daily word count just yet. I do work a full time job, one that for the next two months comes with some added responsibility, so I want the word count I give myself to be realistic and achievable, otherwise I run the risk of becoming demoralised by failing to reach it everyday. It’ll be a bit of trial and error. I think I’ll start with an easy figure, like around 500, as I know I can reach that. Then once that’s habit I can begin to increase it. We’ll see, no doubt I’ll keep you updated on this thrilling experiment.

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The cool thing from the internet I want to share today does indeed come from the internet but was more specifically pointed out to me by Brother Jonathan (twin sibling, not a monk). It’s a video of artist Jim McKenzie creating a sculpture for an exhibition of his entitled ‘Lost Magic’. His sculpture is amazing, and of a style I really like (think the stop motion movie Coraline), but watching him create it is the real exceptional part. Even seeing the process the end result still leaves me thinking ‘How did he do that?’ Well worth a watch.

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Talk soon

Damian

January 29, 2016

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Something quick today because it is a Friday after all.

I’m currently full of pasta, and I mean full. If you were to cut me I would bleed matriciana sauce. Take a closer look at my flesh and you’d find that at it’s cellular level it’s actually ravioli. My hair is no longer just the colour of freshly cooked spaghetti, it is spaghetti. If you were to perform the game of operation on me the challenge would be to pull out every single type of pasta. I think you get the idea, I ate too much pasta.

So the something quick I have for you today is a trailer for an upcoming documentary. I only heard about it today, and by heard I of course mean read-about-it-on-the-internet, but I’m already very excited.

It’s entitled Temple Of Art, and it’s described as “A documentary that looks at what it means to be an artist, how to fail beautifully, and proceed with courage.” Amazing, right? If that’s not enough to wet your artistic appetites it also features a who’s who of my artistic heroes, inc:
Neil Gaiman
Chuck Palahniuk
Ben Folds
Kevin Smith
Molly Crabapple
David Mack
Amanda Palmer
Dave Mckean &
Grant Morrison
From the trailer it seems to be these giants describing their process and views on being an artist. I’d pay money to see that, and I did. You can too by preordering the movie.

Talk soon

Damian