September 9, 2016

09092016

I finished a short story late last week and have been waiting to edit it. It’s a first draft so I have no doubt that it’ll need a fair bit of correcting and rewriting. I’m keen to do so. This one was a bit of a bear in that it took me rewriting the first few pages a number of times until it started to come out the way I wanted. It finally did – I basically needed to force myself to compress the writing, I was having too much fun and overwriting the heck out it to the point where I was drifting away from the plot line – and once done I happily progressed. That is until I got to that point in the writing, somewhere just past half way, where I start to doubt every aspect of the story.

This seems to happen to me no matter what medium I’m working with. On almost every grey lead drawing I’ve done I’ll come to a point where I’m sure it looks terrible. When I’ve done comics I’ll be three panels deep and convince myself the joke isn’t funny, or that it isn’t coming out the way I think it should. Even learning new songs on the guitar usually involves a time where I think I’ll never get the timing right. Inevitably, though, I do. Persistence is the key. Often helped along with some stern words from myself to convince me that I’m not completely terrible. Mostly persistence though. If I can maintain my persistence eventually the song starts to sound right, I finish the comic and find that I like it again, the drawing gets completed and I keep looking at it to tell myself what a great job I did, and, in this case, the story gets finished.

Luckily I know I’m not alone in this habit. Fantasy author, wearer of black, and all around nice guy Neil Gaiman wrote a blog a while ago about how he experiences the same thing. He detailed he would get to a certain point in his writing where he’d ring his publisher to tell her he’s terrible, the story is terrible, and everything is the worst. To which she responded with ‘you know you do this every time you write a book?’ Unfortunately I can’t find the link to that blog, but that’s the general gist of it. The point being that even the pros still have to go through this as part of their practice.

I got through it and came out the other end looking at the finish line. For me endings are the easiest and most enjoyable part to write. All the setting up’s been done, the challenging second act is complete, and now I get to just bring it home. Like I said though, editing will need to be done, and then a second draft. I’ve waited the week to do so because I think it’s a good idea to get some space between finishing and editing in order to see it with new eyes. Realistically I should probably wait more than a week but am too excited to go over it, then send it to my readers: The Lady holly and Brother Jonathan. Even just waiting a week was hard. I managed to get through it by working on some web series scripts I’ve been planning to do for a while. They were a fun change of pace and only required about a half day period of doubt. That might be a new PB.

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Time for some internet things.

First up is this article from the AV Club about an app that lets you purchase leftover meals from restaurants at a lower price. The app, called Too Good To Go, was designed to try and decrease the amount of food waste happening across the world, and so far seems to be working. It started in Denmark last year and has already saved thousands of meals from being thrown away as well as prevented over 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Basically you make the purchase using the app and then organise a time to pick up the food from the restaurant. While not available in Australia yet I hope it comes soon as restaurant quality meals at half the price sound like a pretty good deal to me.

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Next up is a short story The High Lonesome Frontier written by Rebecca Campbell and published on Tor.com. It details the life of a song over one hundred and fifty years. Very enjoyable, and superbly written.

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Brother Jonathan has a new blog up on his site detailing his most recent travels home to Australia. A quality read, as his often are.

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Finally some sweet music by one of my favourite, if not favourite, artist; a man by the name of Passenger (aka Mike Rosenberg). He has a new album coming out at the end of this month, this time featuring a backing band. If this first track Young As The Morning Old As The Sea is anything to go by it’s sure to be another great one.

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Until next time remember that the best way to get through a rough patch is to keep going.

Talk soon

Damian

August 10, 2016

10:08:2016

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Mostly this is due to the welcome and enjoyable distraction of Brother Jonathan and his girlfriend Alex being in town. These crazy kids are over for a short two and a half week stint before returning to their real lives in London and Vienna respectively. Having them both be in the house with The Lady Holly and myself has been delightful. It makes coming home from work a treat where anything can happen, even if that anything is just the usual routine with the addition of their persons; because that addition is the treat. I know once they go I’ll miss them both terribly, it’s hard having your best friend and womb mate on the other side of the globe, but seeing how happy they are together well and truly makes up for that. Plus once Jonathan becomes fluent in German and manages to move his butt to Vienna I’ll have a place to stay in that gorgeous city whenever I want. Not a bad thing.

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Back to the writing. It’s been sparse, at least compared to what I was achieving last month. Apart from the welcome distraction of family it’s also due to me being burned out from work. Covering two roles has, unsurprisingly, become a chore and in the last week, and with another coworker away I’m now covering three positions. As expected this has eaten up both my time and energy and left me in a bit of a writing funk – one where I open whatever I’m working on and then nothing happens. My brain just shrugs at me, I shrug back, and then we both watch tv. It’s demoralising but I’m strengthened by the knowledge that even though it’s not coming up with much my brain is still trying to generate story. I know this because as I go through my busy day I’ll think of something, or read an article, and my brain will try to apply it to one or more of the projects I’m working on. It’s not giving great results, unfortunately, but it gets points for trying, or at least a condescending but appreciated ‘great effort’ ribbon. I’m also comforted by the knowledge that by this time next week both co-workers will be back, which will leave me to return to my usual role and hopefully have more space in my brain for the important things. If not, then I’ll contemplate taking some time off to write. This is something I’ve been thinking about anyway, work really gets in the way of solid writing sessions and I think I’m just about ready and disciplined enough to throw some caution to the wind and give it ago. At least that’s what the free spirited side of me says. The responsible side is more like ‘Well…money’. He’s a bummer, but he has a point. We’ll see.

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In novelette news all my readers have gone over it and given me some great notes which means it’s pretty much at a stage where I’m ready to share it around. What I’d like to do is try to enter it in some competitions or submit it to some magazines. This unfortunately means I can’t yet post it to this website as I had originally planned, as comps and zines request that the work not be published anywhere else and posting it here technically counts as publishing. I am writing another short story though which should find it’s way to this site.

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I read a quote recently that stated that taking up writing was like giving yourself homework every night for the rest of your life. That made me very happy. It mean’s I’ll always have something to do, never have an excuse to be bored, and will always have more to learn. What a wonderful thing.

Talk soon

Damian

June 27, 2016

27:06:2016

It’s finished. It being the first draft of the novelette I’ve been working on for about the last month, still, and possibly forever as I haven’t been able to think up another name, entitled His Name was Henry. After failing to meet my self imposed deadline to finish the draft by last Friday I then gave myself another forty eight hours, aka the weekend, to get it done. It turned out I only needed twenty four. On Saturday morning after a highly enjoyable breakfast roll and coffee provided by the lady Holly I set up the laptop, turned the heater on high in order to battle this cold Melburnian winter, and got to work. It took around another six hours of writing, and another three thousand and sixty four words, but I got it done.

The rest of my weekend was then spent being as unproductive as I had been productive before that.

The final page count was 26, and word count 17,191; only 309 words away from being a novella according to the statistics I wrote about recently. I have to admit I’m more than happy with it being a novelette not only because I think it is a respectable amount for a first try but also because novelette is a more fun word to say, especially if you put an accent on it.

I was very happy to be finished. Pressing the final period onto the page brought on a feeling that can only be described as a writer’s high (it’s quite the rush, but not one you’re going to be able to get in a hurry, so if you’re looking for a quick fix maybe just stick with the cocaine. Or write a blog, whatever). While writing this novelette hasn’t been some herculean effort – quite the opposite as it was, you know, fun – putting it down, and in a form I’m happy with, is a relief. One that’s comparable to lowering yourself slowly into a hot tub as a satisfied sigh escapes your mouth which is fixed into insuppressible smile. In other words it felt good.

Having had the story bouncing around in my head for a while with a monologue about it running almost constantly in the back of my mind for the last month as I tried to place all the pieces, figure out dialogue, ensure that it all made sense, and confirm the tone remained constant throughout it means that now my head feels a little emptier. The idea apartment has become vacant, cleaned out, and ready for a new tenant to move in. Which one already has. Perhaps because the brain gets off on being creative (it definitely does, writer’s high is a real thing) but in the last week a new story idea has forcibly pushed itself into my head and is now unpacking some of it’s stuff. I couldn’t be happier about it, this new fellow seems like a lot of fun, and I’m already looking forward to sharing him with all of you.

In the meantime here’s what’s going to happen next with the Henry story. It’s going to first be read by The Lady Holly who’s patiently listened to me prattle on about it throughout the whole process. Once she’s read it, fixed up all the (many) spelling and grammatical errors, and (hopefully) assured me that it’s not the most terrible thing ever written, then I’ll handball it over to Brother Jonathan. He, with his experience gained through a professional writing and editing course as well as his own many years of writing prose, will then hopefully improve the work further and let me know all the things wrong with it so I can then make them not wrong. Following this I’m planning for it to get into one more set of hands. A friend of mine, Georgie, in a moment of serendipity told me not hours after I finished the last sentence that her Aunty is a professional editor, one who would be happy to read and ruthlessly critique it. While I am a little terrified of getting feedback from someone who doesn’t know and/or love me; I am ecstatic at the idea of an impartial reader having a look and hopefully helping me bring it up to a higher standard. Once all that is done I’ll use all that feedback to go over it myself and write the second draft. Finally, I’ll then release it here, on this website, in one form or another, where, for the few of you reading this, can enjoy it.

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While we’re on the topic of critics I came across this comic by the regularly hilarious Poorly Drawn Lines that pretty much sums up my want/fear of receiving said criticism.

ernestos-song

Grandma, if you’re reading this (and I know you might be), do you want to read my story?

Talk soon

Damian

March 8, 2016

08:03:2016

The Lady Holly and I will be traveling overseas for 21 days at the end of this month. As we will be letting loose for those 21 days in the white north of Iceland and Norway, as well as the shades of grey that comprise London, we’ve decided to restrict ourselves for the 21 days leading up to this. Basically, eat healthy and drink less beer, or, a diet.

We’re only three days in but already it’s made me realise how much I use food as a means to kill boredom. I often get through my occasionally mundane day by planning what to eat, thinking about eating that thing, then eventually eating it. I honestly don’t know how much time is spent in this activity, a worrying amount of time I’m sure. Perhaps I think about food every three seconds, but if, as common knowledge states, as a male, I’m also thinking about sex every three seconds then those three seconds are filling up fast. Either way if my day is particularly boring, thinking about food becomes the most exciting part of it. Up until the point where thinking about the food stops being entertaining and starts becoming torturously desirable. At which point it’s continual boredom or I eat the unhealthy food. It’s usually the latter. Hence the diet.

Surprisingly, thinking about healthy food doesn’t really provide the same entertainment value. I guess fantasising about a bowl of salad doesn’t release the same dopamine levels as fantasising about a bowl of M and M’s.

I’ve found the best thing for me to do is either stay so busy that I don’t need to rely on thoughts of nachos or maltesers to entertain me. Or, better still, find more superior forms of entertainment. My world is full of amazing, delectable, things to watch, read, and do; things that make eating-as-entertainment seem like the aforementioned bowl of salad. Here’s the plan: I replace thinking about junk food with; fantasising about reading a delicious book, or daydream about that mouth watering TV show I’m going to watch when I get home, or get giddy thinking about some appetising scene I want to write.

I doubt think this will entirely curb my sugar addiction but it should hopefully work to stop me shoving a bag of lollies into my mouth as soon as I get home from work…hopefully.

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In other news, I woke up this morning to my phone informing me that my Little London Boy, aka twin brother Jonathan, passed his UK practical nursing exam and can now work as a nurse in the UK. Considering he’s been living there for over six months this is a very good thing. Considering that he’s been trying for close to two years to get this registration complete this is a great thing. Despite having a Bachelor’s of Nursing Degree and working as a nurse in Australia for over five years the UK still made Jonathan jump through a seemingly endless supply of hoops in order to get his registration. This involved corresponding back and forth to London, sending them a bunch of forms by mail, getting his old university to send them a bunch of forms by mail, getting his old university to send them the same forms again after the UK nursing registration board lost the original forms, sitting a four hour English exam despite the fact that it’s the only language he’s ever spoken or written, sitting a three hour theoretical nursing exam, then sitting this final practical exam twice after they failed him the first time for not passing a cotton ball between his hands when swabbing a wound despite the fact that’s actually the more hygienic way to do it, and plenty more steps that I can’t remember. It took him two years, and literally thousands of dollars, thanks to the registration board charging him at every possible step of the procedure (sitting each practical exam cost $2000 each time and then they even charged him for passing it!), but finally he has passed through the last hoop. Massively huge congratulations to him.

Apart from being a nurse Jonathan is also a very talented writer (much better than me). He also has a website where he spins thought provoking and entertaining blogs about his often eye-opening experiences as a nurse, as well as some beautiful pieces of his creative writing. The kids got talent, and while I’m undoubtedly biased, I definitely recommend you check it out.

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Lastly I want to show you the jaw dropping guitar mastery of John Butler. I saw this video a while ago of him playing his ever evolving track, Ocean. It’s a masterpiece not just to listen to but also to watch. The guy is a freak of the best kind.

Talk soon.

Damian