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 24, 2016

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It’s been a week since I last posted. In that post I mention that I had a self imposed deadline to finish the novelette I’m currently working on by THIS VERY DAY, and as of right now….I haven’t finished.

I’m so close though! It’s still disappointing however and, while I’m about to blame it on my day job, it’s completely my fault. Saying that, it’s my damn day job that’s the problem! (see what I did there?) Seriously though I did have a mammoth week at work, not one that was particularly horrible, just one where I had to do a lot of boss-type activities, running around, and attending meetings. Meetings by the way are totally weird. I’ve been in meetings before, usually as a lower-grade attendant, but, as I’m filling in for the boss while she’s on long service leave, this was a management meeting. It’s a completely different game, and I use the word game quite deliberately, as everyone attending seemed to be playing a part. They all had their “professional” mask on and used a very particular vernacular that is for the most part, unnatural. It’s one that comes across as very restrained and politically correct, and uses words like problematic, moving forward, foresee, action, and update. All of which are fine words, they just seem to get overused in this environment. The worst part of it all is that I totally assimilated to this weird game. I also found myself talking in this stilted, overly thought out way. I too put on the professional mask and nodded when others suggested we “table this business and add it to the next meeting’s agenda”. For a guy that stubbornly wears t-shirt and jeans to almost any occasion this was a hard thing to learn about myself (I was however wearing a t-shirt and jeans in the meeting and was the only one in the room to do so, so at least I was able to oppose social norms in that regard and by so doing convince myself that at least internally I was still a creative). It gave me the idea for a short film where a bunch of people are in a room, attending a meeting, talking in this way, and not actually saying anything; which is what it seems like half the time.

Back to my novelette though. I didn’t finish but I have plans to do so by the end of the weekend. It’s entirely doable it will just require a number of hours of work to do so. Luckily it’s currently winter in Australia and so the idea of setting myself up in front of the heater or in the warmth of the library and getting some good writing done is a fairly desirable one. Let’s see how I go.

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The writing behemoth with the softly spoken voice that is Neil Gaiman shared a very useful bit of advice on his blog during the week that I thought I would pass along. A fan of his had sent in a question asking about getting themselves back into writing after five years of having trouble doing so.

Mr Gaiman’s advice was as follows:

“Set aside time to write that’s only writing time. Put away your phone. Turn off or disable your wifi. Write in longhand if you wish. Put up a do not disturb sign. And make your writing time sacred and inviolable.

And in that time, this is the deal. You can write, or you can not do anything. Not doing anything is allowed. (What not doing anything includes: staring at walls, staring out of windows, thinking broodily, staring at your hands. What not doing anything does not include: alphabetising the spice rack, checking Tumblr, taking your pen apart, playing solitaire or running a clean up program on your computer.)

You get to pick how long a day your writing time is. An hour? Two? Three? Your call.

Doing nothing gets pretty dull. So you might as well write. (And if you write 300 words, one page, every day, you’ll have a 90,000 word novel in a year.)”

It’s pretty hard to argue with that wisdom.

Talk soon

Damian

May 20, 2016

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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.

Damian

February 16, 2016

16:02:2016

While at work today I thought a lot about working part time. I have no doubt that a desire to be in bed watching TV had a big part to do with that but the thought also passed across my brain waves out of a desire to write more. Before starting work full time again I used to occasionally ride down to the library to do some writing. It was this new, beautiful, library that sat out over the water in the docklands. I would get a coffee, put my headphones in, listen to something instrumental, and write. It was pretty great, although I don’t think I realised exactly how great until I started back at my nine to five. Now, it’s what I fantasise about when I’m at work. Of course, money’s pretty great too, and I can’t deny that before I was working full time money was the thing I would fantasise about, not free time.

Clearly I had a tiring day at work, and I did, and I’ll probably have one tomorrow, then after that I’ll still have two more days left in my working week, and during all this I’ll probably feel guilty and annoyed that I’m not getting much writing done. Which is why I’m about to rant.

I strongly believe, and have for years now, that in this modern age we don’t have a good work/life balance. Admittedly some people handle it pretty well. They’ll work their 40+ hours a week and still manage to exercise, socialise, cook meals, learn a language, and sustain a number of hobbies. Those people are freaks, or perhaps crack addicts. Us mere (and sober) mortals often get home at the end of the day exhausted and spent. While I do have some extra time outside of work to follow my passions, like writing, what work seems to take the most of is my energy. Granted that’s the deal. I sell them my ability and energy in exchange for money. The problem to me is that in most cases you don’t get to choose how much of your energy you want to sell. Five days out of seven, or 71.4% of your energy, is the going deal. It’s a shit deal. I would love to only sell 50% of my energy in a given week and use the other 50% for the things I’m actually passionate about. What’s more I’d like to choose when in that week my 50% is given. Monday to Wednesday, or do half days every day, or get your 50% done at nights, I see little reason why with today’s tech these options aren’t more readily available.

Anyway, I had all these thoughts on my brain when I got home from work, slumped onto the couch, and chose to see what interesting things the internet had birthed today. I quickly, and fortuitously came across this TED talk by Ricardo Semier, in which he talks about how he and his business had a lot of the same thoughts I did and then, best of all, put them into practice. He even expands on these ideas to, as he deems it, ‘redesign for wisdom’; basically overhauling our current systems, work, education etc. and redesigning them for the world we live in, one where google exists, one where people may choose to sell back their Wednesdays for part of their salary, one where if the works done you get to go home. He’s now on my list of heros. You may have picked up on this already but I think his TED talk is well worth a watch.

Knowing there are influential people out there having the same thoughts I do is encouraging, knowing that their putting these thoughts into practice is momentous. It gives me hope that maybe one day I’ll be able to sell the percentage of energy I want to and then spend the spend the rest of it at the library with some music, a coffee, and my laptop (and some of it watching TV in bed).

What can I say, I’m a dreamer.

Talk soon

Damian