Firstly, this is my 301st blog post! Wow! I completely missed the fact I’d hit three hundred when I published the last one. My first post here was 7 November 2011. It seems like a lifetime ago, although eight years is a pretty long time too.
I’ve done a lot of stuff in that time, completed NaNoWriMo eight times, self-published two books, co-written, co-produced and co-starred in two Melbourne Fringe Festival shows, left and started several jobs, become a life model and become heavily involved in running the Life Models’ Society.
My life is very different to what it was in 2011 when I started. We’re also approaching the end of another decade which has its own weird feelings associated with it.
As is my tradition, I take some time at the end of each year to reflect on the goals I set myself at the start of the year. I like to look at the things I’ve achieved the things I haven’t as a record of the evolution of my life over time.
Last year I published the following goals for 2019:
- Publish ‘Discovery of the Franklins’
- NaNoWriMo 2019
- Finish manuscript from NaNoWriMo 2018
- NaPoWriMo 2019
- Top Secret Project
- Wasted Monday performances
- Life Models’ Society Exhibition
- Life Models’ Society 30th anniversary
Maybe/if I have time:
- Self-publish one of my other manuscripts
- Finish/rework shorts story/novella
I have achieved several of these goals, I published my second novel, I completed NaNoWriMoand NaPoWriMo, I project managed a successful art competition and exhibition for the LMS and helped to organise a lot of events for the LMS thirtieth anniversary year. And I’ve kept up this blog.
A couple of these goals weren’t achieved. I went back to my NaNoWriMo manuscript from 2018 but haven’t completed it. I don’t know whether it has what’s necessary to be an interesting book. I may come back to it later but for the moment it’s on the back burner.
For my collaboration stuff, the sitcom and top secret projects were worked on at the start of the year, but have fallen away in the later part of the year. Wasted Monday has gained and lost a drummer this year and with it some motivation. Lu and I are still keen so hopefully next year will be a good one for us.
A couple of things I’ve done this year were not on the list: I finished a first draft of a manuscript that was not a NaNoWriMo project, I also submitted a manuscript to my editor with the aim of self-publishing my third novel next year. The editor has encouraged me to submit to publishers (once I’ve made the required changes) so that’s an exciting opportunity too. And I travelled to Morroco and Spain in October.
This is, of course, not counting any of the stuff I’ve done for my day job. The day job has been a pretty intense year, in a number of ways. We’ve had a couple of restructures, and a lot of changes in the teams. I look forward to a more settled year next year, but who knows, maybe there is more change to come.
Do you have an annual goal setting ritual? Do you believe in New Years’ resolutions? Next year is shaping up to be a pretty busy year for me, I’ll give you the full run down of goals in the New Years’ post. I hope you all have a safe, fun and restful holiday period and I’ll see you back here next year.
We’ve entered the realm of Christmas parties and end-of-year celebrations. I had my work party last Wednesday – good chicken, disappointing dessert, my poetry group end-of-year do today and my writing group Christmas party tomorrow!
As we’ve done in the past, the poetry group visited the Ian Potter Centre at the National Gallery of Victoria to view the works in the hope of inspiring something poetic.
I spent some time sitting in front of these three works by Petrina Hicks: Fertile (2010), Into the abyss (2011), and Melo malo (2019).
Then I stood looking at this work, Force (1950-54), by Roger Kemp.
Finally I sat with this impressive sculpture, Hippolyta and the Amazons defeating Theseus (1933), by Jean Broome-Norton.
I wrote the bones of three ekphastic poems today. It’s more poetry than I’ve written in a long time, since I’ve been mainly working on prose. I hope to post some of the poems here on this blog once I get them polished up.
All the artists at the Ian Potter Centre are Australian, and all the works I viewed were in the free collection part of the gallery.
I can highly recommend hanging out in galleries with notebooks and writing whatever comes to mind. Take yourself on a date, or go with friends. You never know what might come of it.
‘I have done five layers of background
I want to make it twenty,’ she says.
‘What’s the background of?’ I ask.
‘Just colours, like everything I do.’
‘I spent hours on this one
making the background.
I was really pleased with it –
a rich matte black
but then I got drunk when I did
the foreground and now it’s ruined.’
I don’t agree. I think it looks like galaxies or
cells joined together with shining
bridges of silver and ink, but I’m not
the painter so what I think isn’t worth much.
Her works fill her lounge room
vast pieces of converted detritus
‘These are wardrobe doors
I found on the street one time,’ she says.
Now they are covered in
splotches and splashes of riotous
flamboyant colour. They didn’t deserve
to die on the side of the road
as doors, so she saved them.
Last night I managed to get to the 50,000 word target of my fourth year of NaNoWriMo. Huzzah! I was so pleased to have been able to get it done, two days early, and with only a couple of thousand words worth of story to go. I’m going to wrap it up today and tomorrow and then put it away for a little while to stew.
I’ve had some conversations in the last little while about my plan for the future. The only problem is I don’t really have a well thought out and detailed plan. What I want is a job that I like well enough, that’s part-time so that I can do my creative stuff on the side, and possibly one day I’ll get a job where I can use my writing skills, but maybe not. That’s the plan.
At the moment I have a job placement which is three days per week doing Human Resources. It’s a refreshing change from the basic office admin job placements I’ve been doing recently so I’m really enjoying getting stuck in. It’s only until the end of the year though, and then I’ll be back to looking for ongoing work.
So here’s the new plan. Starting from now I’m going to work one day per week on my writing. Now that NaNoWriMo is finished for the year I really need to start doing something with my older manuscripts. The one I wrote last year, in particular, needs a whole bunch of structural edits and additional sections.
I’m going to do what I’ve heard other professional authors do, for example Dawn French and Fiona McIntosh, that is set myself a proper 9am to 5pm day of work for my writing. In the morning I will spend my time researching writing opportunities, applying for jobs, finding writing competitions, magazines and periodicals and blogs that are taking submissions and do that. This will be my time to work on this blog. I will also look into networking possibilities in the industry and short courses in writing that I might like to do.
In the afternoon I’m just going to write (and rewrite). I’m going to start with the manuscript from last year’s NaNoWriMo, which needs some big stuff done to it, and spend a couple of hours a week just going through it and fixing it. Editing has never been my strong suit, I’ve always be much more interested in coming up with new material, but I must spend the time revising and reworking. Maybe I’ll set myself a deadline of the end of January to have it done and I can start sending it to publishers.
Some of you may have noticed that that only adds up to four days work. You’re right, and the other day I’m going to keep for my band. We meet once a week usually, and rehearse for 4 or 5 hours. That takes up most of one day of the weekend. I will spend some of the time on the other weekday practicing and the rest of the day getting the chores and life admin stuff done that I would have done on the weekend. We’re also going to start looking for performance opportunities in the new year so I’ll schedule those in too.
My aim in this is to get myself into a routine. I’m not studying anymore and I hope to have a solid, ongoing job by early next year. It’s time to get serious about the business of creating and make sure that going back to uni was not just a frivolous escape from being at work.
I am That Woman.
I’m at a market with my sister
I pick up a necklace
With Frida Kahlo’s face on it.
I put it back on the display wrong
My sister turns to me, smiling, and asks:
“What are you doing?”
“Destroying the joint,” I reply,
“I’ve been warned about women like you,”
She says, still smiling.
I am That Woman.
It’s hot. I’m in a line
Waiting for a ride
At an amusement park in Holland.
A child in front of me turns to his friend,
He’s restless and excited,
His face aglow with illicit glee,
He’s speaking German and pointing
At the dark, plentiful hair he sees
Peeking out from underneath my arms.
I am That Woman.
Each morning I paint on my face
So I can go unremarked upon in the world.
I put on a costume, one that says:
“Nothing to see here.”
I conform to your gender stereotypes
To your standards of beauty
Yet a man at a tram stop tells me
“Your features are all wrong.”
I am That Woman.
And sometimes I don’t want to be
Wish I didn’t have to be.
I want to bare my chest on a beach
I want to earn as much as the next man
I want to grow old disgracefully
And have worth beyond my fuckability.
I want to come home to a man
Who will love me because of,
Not in spite of, the fact
I am That Woman.
I’ve spent today so far hanging out at my accommodation because yesterday I slipped on the cobbled streets of Edinburgh and hurt my right foot. This is my fourth day at the Fringe. I’m pretty devastated.
Since arriving I’ve seen so many amazing things. I’ve been filling my brain with all sorts of art and I don’t really how, or if, I’m going to be able to keep it all straight in my memory. I feel like there will be things that be pushed out when I try to fit something new in. That being said the idea of having an immersive experience where everything sort of blurs together into one abstract blob sounds kind of amazing too.
Maybe I’ll start last night and work backwards. I saw Beardyman, who is a sort of musical improviser. I have seen a bit of his stuff on YouTube and he was one of the few people who wa on my list even before I got to Scotland. The show, One Album Per Hour, is made up of song titles suggested by the audience before the show and he sort of makes up a genre and song based on those titles. My suggestions wee “Vampires on Speed” and “Watermelon Floyd”. I was really excited when he read out the first one and proceeded to make up a song which started with organ like massive chords and a dodgey Transylvanian accent through a dancey rave party high section, coming back to the organ chords at the end. It was pretty cheesy but I don’t know what else I was expecting from a suggestion like that.
I wanted to show off a bit about that last one, but I’ve seen too many shows so far to give them all a review. I’m also quite tired as I didn’t sleep very well, my foot kept hurting, so I’ll make a list and of the ones, so far, that are worth seeing:
- Burning Books, Jess Green and the Mischeif Theives, spoken word with music.
- The Sensible Dresser, Elsie Diamond, cabaret.
- Transformer, cabaret/Lou Reed tribute.
- Imaginary Porno Charades, game/panel show.
- Good Music Cave Party, Tomás Ford, extreme cabaret (top pick).
- Aart with Mikey, comedy? It was excellent but defies classification.
- One album per hour, Beardyman, music.
Unfortunately some of these have already finished. Three plus weeks is a pretty long time to do a show. Apparently this is the point at which people start to go a bit insane which should be interesting. I’m hoping that I’ll be up for a short trip into the centre tonight for a show or two. It seems like a waste not to go out at all with so many things to see and so little time.
I’m feeling a bizarre combination of inspiration and brain fart. I feel like I really want to be able to produce something as great and mind blowing as some of the shows I’ve seen here, but I also feel this crippling sense of intimidation. I guess it’s that thing of comparing oneself to others; sometimes you come out well sometimes not, but usually the comparison is not worth drawing and is completely unhelpful. As much as I know it is unhelpful, I none-the-less am compelled to do it.
Perhaps this experience is a bit like being in India; you realise it’s true scope and effect on your mind only much later when you’re at home and have had time to assimilate the information properly.
I am learning, however, that I really struggle to respect someone if I don’t like their art. Strike that, I don’t have to like it, nor do I have to completely comprehend it, but I must respect the art if I am to respect the artist. Comedians who are dismissive or insulting to groups of people fall into this category. That isn’t art, it’s being a jerk.
So I have more than a week more here to drink in all the things, and hopefully venture to a couple of the other parts of nearby Scotland. I hope my foot will be more up for walking soon too!
Hullo dear readers!
I have now been in Amsterdam for about 10 days staying with some of my beautiful friends who moved here about two years ago. So far I have touristed thoroughly, in addition to eating all the things, sitting with some neighbours and pretending I understood what they were saying (and mostly getting a vague idea), BBQing in Vondelpark and cycling about the town, Weesp, where my friends now live.
I had hoped that I would be able to do some writing while I was away, but it doesn’t seem to have happened. Travelling is tiring, y’know? I have taken a few pictures around the place, and seen lots of cool museums.
One of them, the Eye Film Museum, had an exhibition by a South African artist/animator William Kentridge. The photo below is of his stencils which were used in the films that they had in the exhibition.
Watching the film installations in this exhibition, and having read the little blurbs that went with them, it became clear that I didn’t get it. Like, at all. I mean, I can be pretty arty, I can look at abstract paintings or see avant garde theatre and usually have some appreciation for the work but these film were just a bit beyond me.
Perhaps it’s fatigue to do with being away from home, perhaps it’s to do with his commentary on South African culture, which I admit I don’t know much about, or perhaps I just don’t get it.
The experience of being in the Netherlands was pretty surreal to start with, but after a while the architecture and the language and the flat landscape and the cars driving on the other side of the road and all the bicycles all combine and you realise you’re far from home and it’s nice. I leave here on Saturday for Edinburgh to catch the Fringe Festival. I suspect it’s going to be intense. I might have more time for blogging there but then again I might not.
For Christmas, my mum gave me a ‘voucher’ for a photography course. She made it herself and it accompanied some money with which to pay for said course. My mum does good presents.
I took some time looking around for a course that would suit my skill level, more experienced than a beginner but not a super whiz (especially with the technical side of things). After speaking to a few photographer friends and having a look at the photos available on each course’s website, I decided to go with Creative Photo Workshop‘s Natural Light Portraits course. It was a bit on the expensive side compared to the other courses out there, but ran for six hours, and, it turns out, they pay for a model, which was really great for practising. I decided that the longer duration (other courses run for three hours) justified my spending more on it.
Both of these shots were set up by the teacher in order to demonstrate what he wanted us to learn, as well as the many others I took.
I’m really glad that I attended the class. Before yesterday, I wasn’t confident to use the manual setting on my camera, although now I feel like I have a better idea of what the individual functions do and how to get them to do what I want them to.
Glynn’s photographic style is distinctive and strong, and while not completely in tune with my own style, produces some awesome effects that I’m glad to be able to replicate. He is extremely knowledgeable and he’s able to convey technical information and tips without making it seem like hard work, which is great for someone still learning. Glynn also focuses on in-camera technique, rather than post production or photoshop, which reflects my own preference. His style is a bit blokey, and though it’s not my favourite, in the end, didn’t affect my enjoyment of the class.
So thanks Mum, and thanks Creative Photography for opening up my experience and for instilling a sense of confidence in my technical ability which should result in a better translation of my creative vision to the finished shot. Woo!! I look forward to shooting more portraits in the near future!