Some stuff I did write elsewhere

I’ve been sick with a post-TiNA cold and (just as I’ve nearly recovered) I’ve been handed an unusually busy work week. So rather than failing to write something new and substantial, on this, my one-day weekend, I instead present an assortment of stuff I already wrote recently. Hopefully a TiNA-based post and other good new things will ensue soon. Until then, enjoy?

First, if you’ll cast your eyes down to my previous post, I’ve rescued and revived something I wrote for National Young Writers Month entitled Why I (Don’t) Write.

I’ve also recently put another piece up on my other blog, Suburban Flotsam and Jetsam. During National Young Writers Month, I wrote a piece each week for SuFaJ, and since I was pretty happy with what resulted, I decided I’d continue with it, not weekly, but whenever I can. Hence, my fifth piece ‘o.n.o’ is up there, along with the inspiration for the impending sixth.

I’ve been writing some stuff for Canberra street press mag BMA. Here’s my piece on Canberra musician Pete Akhurst, and my review of an evening of spoken word, Urban Soul Food.

And finally, if you haven’t already got a copy (or a subscription [why not?]), you should grab the previous issue of Voiceworks. That’d be #85 OTHER, the one with my non-fiction piece about seeking ghosts, psychics and otherworldly experiences in Canberra. The piece is called Ghost Town and I’ve been invited to read something Ghost Town-related at a special Halloween-themed night of readings organised by Voiceworks and the Victorian Writers’ Centre next Friday, the 21st of October, at the good ol’ (actually, still quite new and shiny) Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. See the Facebook event and/or the VWC website for extra details, so you may come along and be enthralled by all.

Rightio then, that’s all for now. Enjoy your weekend. I hope it’s longer than mine. May your nostrils be not runny and your spring days fairly sunny.

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Why I (Don’t) Write

In the lead-up to National Young Writers’ Month (NYWM) in June this year, I was asked, along with the other NYWM ambassadorial folk, to share my perspectives on ‘Why I Write’ on the NYWM blog. Unfortunately, the servers behind NYWM were hacked and much was lost. It was still an awesome month though. Recently, I realised I still had a copy of  my NYWM blog post saved on my hard drive. I thought I should give it a new home online here, because I thought it was pretty solid , still relevant to me and hopefully relevant to others. Enjoy!


When asked to write a piece outlining Why I Write, I admit to being somewhat intimidated. You see, when I start asking myself ‘why do I write?’, I’m not asking why I write to-do lists or job applications. It makes me think more about why I do the writing that writers do. You know, stirring poetry, piercing essays, mindblowing novels. The craft, the art, nothing but you, the words and your readers.

And then the doubt sets in. What can my scribbles and typings amount to? What am I doing? Why do I write?

It’s a tricky one, because when you ask yourself that, you’re forced to assess yourself, your ability and value as a writer and all sorts of knotty things, and then you start comparing yourself to all those who’ve gone before you with their own thoughts under the same title: George OrwellJoan DidionStephen Elliot and many more I’m sure.

So if you don’t want to give up before beginning, it can help to come at things from a different angle. If I’m going to get anywhere with my writing, I need to acknowledge and address my shortcomings. So rather than explain Why I Write, I’m going to first look at Why I Don’t Write.

Okay, so it is early days still, and although I do call myself a writer, my efforts have been sporadic, with some particularly scant writing patches recently. Sure, there are other things in my life and I can’t write all the time, but more often than I’d like lately, it seems I don’t write. Even though my Year 2 teacher Mrs. Brooks encouraged me and gave me a star award saying “He is going to be a famous writer when he grows up”. Even though I’ve had some successes, some published pieces here and there. Even though some say they like my writing and I get adrenal quivers when I’m right into it and I really just love writing, there’s still been too many times lately where I could have written and didn’t.

When I know I could write, should write and actually want to write, but I don’t, why don’t I?

To answer this, I devised a list of possibilities:

1. Nothing to write with. Nope, rarely an issue. I ensure writing implements are handy at all times, from desktop computer to pen plus ticket stub.

2. Too busy. But I know that’s not the case. It’s not like I’m working in a factory all week for 5 cents an hour to feed my starving family. I can make the time.

3. Too hard. Variations on this include ‘uninspired’, ‘no ideas’, ‘writer’s block’, ‘I’m no good’, ‘I have nothing to write about’, ‘it’s unoriginal’ and so on. But I know this is all bovine faeces. I have dozens of scraps of ideas waiting in my notebooks. I can string a sentence together, several times over. And it’s all just moving my fingers around, really. Sure, good writing is harder, but the only way to get better is to write, so that’s what I should be doing.

4. Distraction. Also goes by the pseudonym ‘procrastination’. O yes, I will write, right after I watch another episode of Buffy. And right after I check my Twitter feed. Then right after I do the dishes. Look, it’s time to check the mail! You know the drill. I end up doing all those things, but then I don’t get around to writing. Why the hell not?

5. Fear. Am I afraid of writing? Is the blank page really that fearsome? Am I afraid of what might happen, somehow? Am I still intimidated by George Orwell and all those other towering figures? But they’re all just people. And they’re not me. And anyway, even Orwell didn’t get right into writing until around the age of 25 and he still turned out okay. I could get a head start on him! So I’ve got no excuse, really. No excuse. And that’s the thing.

6. Excuses. That’s the main reason I don’t write. I make excuses. This is just a list of excuses. Sure, everyone needs a day off and sometimes there are extenuating circumstances. But when I don’t write for a couple of days, I know that I’m just making excuses. So I feel bad. But the only solution, really, is not to mope and go woe is me and give up, but to write. No matter how hard it seems, it’s not, once you get going. In fact, it’s usually worthwhile and even fun, as I well know.

So my solution is simple. I keep writing tools at the ready. I find an hour or so in my day to knuckle down and be relatively undistracted. I take a deep breath. And I write. In fact, one of my goals for National Young Writers’ Month is to sit down every single day and do some serious(ly awesome) writing, and, despite still being slightly intimidated, I’m super excited about it.

When I address the reasons I don’t write and start to correct the bad habits, impulses and behaviour, I start to find that I’m paying attention more. I’m more mindful and doing something worthwhile. I’m active, content, living more meaningfully, more connected with my imagination and the world around me. Everything deepens and broadens, becomes richer and stranger. I become more inspired, bursting with ideas. I’m making time to do something I want to do, something challenging, transformative, therapeutic, experimental and fun. I’m summoning meaning, understanding and power. I’m growing as a writer, progressing, and maybe making something useful, something that might bring me some scratch. But more importantly, it might be of some benefit to me and to others, in some small, subtly spectacular or profound way when it’s out there, shared with the world. Nothing but me, the words and their readers.

And I guess, after addressing Why I Don’t Write, after tapping out a decent chunk of sentences, I think I’ve just explained after all, in a roundabout way, Why I Write.

Suburban Flotsam and Jetsam

This is just a little post to letcha all know that my new fiction blogging project has kicked off. It’s called Suburban Flotsam and Jetsam, or SuFaJ for short.

Basically, I scan and upload pictures of found ephemera that I pick up on my wanderings around town and I write things inspired by said found ephemera. Ephemera is my favourite word of the day.

You can check out my first story ‘The Girl with Hexadecimal Hair’, and the piece of paper with some words on it that inspired it, here.

In June, I plan to write a piece a week for SuFaJ, as one of my goals for National Young Writers Month. It’s already June 10 though, so I gotta get onto the next one soon! And if you read it and want to give feedback of any sort, or submit your own guest post to SuFaJ, please do! More details on the aforementioned website!

Other than that, I’ve been doing pretty well with my other two goals: writing for a focussed hour every day (in fact, I’ve been getting up most mornings and writing for a good two hours before doing much else! crazy!) and being an awesome NYWM Ambassador!

Anyway, hope you enjoy the story/are going well with NYWM/are having a frabjous day!

NaYoWriMo-a-go-go!

Yep, National Young Writers’ Month is up and happening, online and off.

We have badges (see, I’ve already put mine on).

I have a piece up on the NYWM blog that I like to call ‘Why I (Don’t) Write’.

And we have heaps of other good stuff goin’ on, on the blog, on the forum, on Twitter and on Facebook. Not to mention we ambassadors and our impending travels around our respective states and territories, and the workshops, and who knows what else.

One way to find out: get amongst!

Anyway, I hope to still make time to keep blogging here over the next two months, but I may be overly engaged with NYWM, along with my other online writing project (and one of my NYWM goals), SuFaJ, which I hope to reveal soon.

Acronyms and excitement all around!

Update!

I’m blogging again.

Where to begin? There’s too much to cover (there usually is), and I don’t want my first update in months to be a rambling mess. So when things seem tricky, one must turn to lists. Here be two, in no particular order:

CURRENT TOP TEN

  1. Cube Root of Book by Paul Magee two thirds through and I’m hooked, with its balance of almost-too-intellectual wordplay and sneaky, gobsmacking sincerity. This guy was one of my favourite teachers at Uni; opened up a whole lot of doors and windows on poetry, he did, for me at least.
  2. Darren Hanlon been reading his online tour journal lately and revisiting his albums, EPs and songs. I listen to Old Dream and I tear up and I don’t know why but I love it and him.
  3. East West 101 just started on this and it’s already the best Aussie crime drama I know. Probably my favourite anywhere, after The Wire.  But I dislike most other crime dramas. Anyway, look! An Australian cast that isn’t predominantly white!
  4. The Lost Thing — deserved the Oscar. Shaun Tan is amazing. I gave him a glass of water once.
  5. You Are Here festival an excellent inaugural fringe arts festival for Canberra. Good stuff. Especially the bread. And Tom Doig’s Selling Ice to the Remains of the Eskimos. Full on. Still processing it all, a month later.
  6. Living in Canberra again it’s lovely.
  7. Myth, Propaganda and Disaster is Nazi Germany and Contemporary America: A Drama in 30 Scenes by Stephen Sewell — I love works with long titles. I read this as a script rather than seeing it performed and I was satisfied. Intense and brain-sparking.
  8. National Young Writers Month — it’s coming up in June and I’m the ACT Ambassador. Woo! Get amongst it, under-25ers.
  9. $8 one-kilo banana loaf — bananas are still expensive, but this is big, discounted and delicious
  10. Getting engaged — yup, it’s pretty awesome.


CURRENT BOTTOM TEN

  1. THE COLD IT’S REALLY FRIGGIN COLD.
  2. Money, or lack thereof I could do with some more paid employment, thx.
  3. Jerkface real estate agents I don’t want to buy your overpriced apartment, especially when you tell me it’s not so bad if my fiancée dies, you soulless arse.
  4. Blessed maybe my expectations of Andrew Bovell were too high after being floored by When the Rain Stops Falling and Lantana, or maybe it was the other co-writers, but this just seemed needlessly depressing and meh in comparison.
  5. queues just had enough of them this week, thanks.
  6. The response of most people when I tell them of my Canberra move stop acting like I’ve told you I have cancer. If you actually lived here for a while you’d see beyond stereotypes and how it’s actually kind of great.
  7. A Commercial Farce When a character is meant to be obnoxious, he shouldn’t be so obnoxious that the audience cannot stand him being on stage. Also, your first running gag should draw you in, not be obnoxious. Verdict: obnoxious and not very good.
  8. Coming up with a Bottom Ten  either life is really good or I am too positive. Hmm. OH!
  9. My breadmaker being on the fritz I added yeast! Why don’t you cook good?
  10. Any Royal Wedding hoohaa — seriously, why do people care about this?

Fun! I might do this again sometime. Or expand on any number of these. We’ll see. The blog is my oyster. But I hate oysters. Pop-tart? No. Banana loaf. Mmm. Wait, I’m rambling. Okay, until next time then.