August 10, 2017

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Music today once again comes from Passenger. It’s his cover of Bill Wither’s Ain’t No Sunshine, which you should listen to for the piano and guitar solo’s alone.

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Current chain of writing days: 11

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We’re all living in a bubble. My bubble, I think, mostly consists of work, writing, worry about that writing (not good enough, not writing enough, etc), social responsibilities, trying not to eat junk food then injudiciously eating junk food, financial concerns, the Lady Holly, and all rounded off by my weekly routine (with a smidge of thought of if I should change my weekly routine). Basically, the space my brain spends most of it’s day in, cycling through these issues time and time again.

But here’s the thing, it only takes a modicum of empathy to pop that bubble. Read one article about someone else’s life, see one news feed about the struggle of a refugee, hear one story from a friend about an issue they or someone they know is facing, and suddenly I’m not in my bubble anymore. It’s a good thing for me to get a break from my bubble once in awhile. While my bubble provides the boundaries for what I exert my daily energies towards, it also narrows my field of vision. It makes my problems seem like the only problems, which, without a wider perspective, also makes them seem larger than they are. And they’re not that large, not really.

With my bubble popped I’m more aware of what’s going on around me, more appreciative of what I have, more patient with others, and more willing to experience new things. It will grow back, it needs to, it provides the necessary structure for me to continue moving forward with my life, but it’s also good for me to remember that it’s there, and that if I’m ever feeling overwhelmed, or victimised, or that I don’t have enough, that I can purposely pop that bubble and see the greater picture, and realise just how lucky I am.

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The article that popped my bubble today was this comic about a journalist who visited Doctors Without Borders camps in Yemen.

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In writing related news I watched this awesome video essay yesterday about how Christopher Nolan uses story structure so well. It focuses on Batman Begins, and shows how by with four central characters, all with opposing views around a central theme, it can provide the outline for the conflict in each act. Really interesting, and just made me appreciate how well Nolan’s movie are made.

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While I’m sharing things, I read this great blog piece from one of my favourite writers, Peter Clines, a while ago with some simple advice about how to make some really easy edits on your writing. 

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Final share, this video below. It’s been around for a little while now but whenever it pops up I always watch it because I think it’s beautiful and inspiring in it’s unnecessary but undoubtedly stunning design.

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Remember, we’re all just making it up as we go along.

Talk soon

Damian

July 26, 2017

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On family car trips it was usually Dad who chose the music. While young me preferred it more than talk back radio or listening to the footy, often I would want to listen to the music I liked; which is what I did once walkmans came on the scene. As I’ve grown older though my musical tastes have bent closer and closer to my Dad’s, so much so that most of the artists I like quote the same musicians Dad liked as their inspiration. One of the songs Dad listened to (on repeat) was Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. One of my favourite musicians is Passenger, who’s recently released an album of cover songs – including Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. It is, of course, today’s blog song.

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Current chain of writing days: 10

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The man moved through the crisp morning air, two voices speaking in his head. The first was his own, delivering the usual commentary of thoughts and observations, cataloging and sorting all input into the relevant folders and sub-folders within his mind; connecting dots, finding patterns. The second was not due to any sort of split brain insanity, but was simply an audio book. This second voice, that of an author reading his own work, emitted inside his skull next to his own. Or, perhaps it was emitting from the metal, plastic, and glass rectangle in his pocket. Or was it from the tangle of wire finishing in tiny speakers that led from the rectangle to his ears? The man wasn’t really sure, now that he thought about it. Like most of the technology he used he had no idea how it worked, and so the actual source of the sound was a mystery to him. The headphones seemed like the likely culprit, but they were just soundless cords without the rectangle, and even combined those two would be a metaphorical tree falling in a forest without the addition of the fleshy protuberances sticking out the side of his head. He didn’t know. All he knew was that the words were first spoken on the other side of the planet, months or possibly years ago, and yet somehow, amazingly, were now rolling through his head, causing thoughts of sounds and their origins to flow along behind them.

It was then that he realised he hadn’t taken in a single word the second voice had said for the past five minutes or so. He admonished himself and tuned the first voice to concentrated harder on the second. Other sounds came from around him, but he told himself to ignore them. Traffic, the movement of the wind, dogs barking and people talking, the sound of his own breath as his legs turned in place while simultaneously moving forward. Another device he didn’t truly understand. There he was balanced on two wheels, his feet orbiting endlessly around the epicenter that was the frame of his bike, the two maintaining the same trajectory to one another and yet at the same time both propelling ever onwards; a miniaturised example of the earth’s relationship to the sun. It was so easy to forget sometimes that the whole solar system was racing through space much the same way he and his bike were flying through the air. That right now he wasn’t just moving across the earth, as his perception told him, but charging forward through space itself. That if you took away the bike and the planet he rode on to leave just the man and the vastness of space, you would see him hurtling forward, rotating wildly as he went, like a dysfunctional superman.

He had stopped listening to the audio book again, he realised. Focus, the first voice told itself. You really want to hear this book, you’ve been wanting to consume it for a while. Stop letting your thoughts distract you. You can write them down or something once you get to your destination. Maybe share them on your blog. But for right now you need to listen. He turned his mind back towards the book, letting the words take over his thoughts and paint pictures in his head. Another phenomenon he didn’t completely understand. Brains and their ability to take words on a page (or a screen), or spoken into one’s head, and create images that can then be recalled as if seen for real; so much so that at some point the words fall away and what you’re really doing is watching a movie in your mind. How does that happen? How is it that the tiny alien looking dendrites that make up his brain can pass each other sodium ions to create an electrical charge, and somehow result in him seeing an image that does not exist. How do computers do it for that matter? How does-

He slowed his bike and paused the rectangle with a sigh of frustration; leaving just the single voice in his head. I’ll have to restart the audio book from the beginning, he thought.

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Remember, normal is only a matter of perspective.

Talk soon

Damian

February 24, 2017

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Today’s track comes from one of my favourites, Passenger. It’s a love song, but one that I can enjoy without finding it melodramatic because, as he usually does, Passenger comes at in a way that’s accessible and real. It also makes me think of The Lady Holly, you’ll find out why that’s relevant in just a moment.

Yesterday marked seven years of me being lucky enough to date the wonderful Lady Holly. Unfortunately she had a fairly horrendous day at work, which was then made worse by a unlucky series of events as she tried to traverse home. The day was ultimately salvaged however by a trip into the CBD and a visit to a Peruvian restaurant where we ordered pisco sours and told them to keep the food coming. The food was excellent, the pisco’s wonderfully sour, and the company perfect.

I also wrote Holly a card. Well, it started off as a card but seven years of love and admiration is hard to fit in a card and so it quickly evolved into a letter. She was kind enough to allow me to share it here, and so if you’re of a mind you can read it below.

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Dear Holly,

If it takes seven years for every cell in our bodies to replicate then that means we are not the same people who met at a bar in Washington (one of us relatively sober, the other not so much). And the fact is, we’re not. Those 21 and 23 years old are gone, replaced slowly one cell at a time. We’re here now.

We’re older, hopefully wiser, at the very least we definitely know more than we did then, although that doesn’t necessarily mean much. We have a rabbit called Morrie, and a shared life, and a shared home. We’ve grown and cut off more hair and fingernails than I can comfortably think about, not to mention the amount of skin we’ve collectively lost. We’ve kissed for an inordinate amount of time. Hugged, held, and touched each other to a degree my mind can’t really fathom (especially the number of butt touches that have taken place). We’ve spoken for what I think must be over a year. Looked at each other for months. Slept side by side longer than our nieces have been alive. But I can’t get enough.

I can’t get enough of speaking with you because every time I do I gain something. It might be just an update on what you’ve experienced while we’ve been apart. It might be your thoughts on a particular topic. It might be a summary of the projected emotions Morrie is feeling. Or it might be validation. It might be acceptance when I need it the most. It might be the thing that breaks through my head when it’s in a mess, giving me clarity and comfort. Whatever it is, it’s always thought out to a point that it’s engaging, or not, to a point that it’s entertaining. It’s always you, and so it’s always my favourite conversation.

I can’t get enough of hugging you because it’s always a connection. So much so that on days when I feel alone I plan to snatch one of those hugs as soon as you walk through the door. It’s home in a physical form and it has become my favourite feeling (apart from maybe the butt touches).

I can’t get enough of sleeping next to you, yes, even when it sounds like your nose and throat have converted into some kind of horrible fleshy set of bagpipes. Yes, even then. Because without you there the bed feels unnaturally big, and I can’t spread out enough to fill it. With you I’m always the right size and the empty spaces are no longer empty. It’s too quiet when you’re not around anyway, even for an introvert like me. My favourite night’s sleep is one I get to spend with you.

I can’t get enough of coming home to our house because it’s decorated with years of memories. Painted with multiple coats of shared laughter and shared drinks. Warmed by your affection, your love, and your cheek heavy smile. It is my favourite place because it contains you.

It’s been seven years and we are not the people we were when we met. For this I am grateful because it means I get to start this next seven years as someone who is supported beyond measure, who is happier than he has any right to be, who always knows where his next butt touch is coming from, and who is stupidly in love with you.

You are my favourite everything.

Love Damian

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I am a very lucky man.

Talk soon

Damian

September 9, 2016

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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