Tag Archives: Writing

How to Feign Looking Like A Writing Genius

I’m taking time out from my NaNo novel trail blazing to bring you this special account of my outing into the ‘real world’, where strange and magical things happen in the hallowed aisles of the supermarket.

Oh, I felt so compelled to share my experiences I wandered around the shopping centre writing notes as I went, accumulating funny looks along the way. Yes, texting while walking is perfectly acceptable, writing in a notebook, oh ho ho ho. I’m here to shock and amaze people, this is my purpose on this planet.

Any who, my first notation. A young person buying alcohol is much less conspicuous if  purchasing Healthy Start cereal and 100% pure organic coconut water along with her alcoholic purchase. Much less likely to get carded than the tall, blond, young person buying only a bottle of vodka in front of her. Much more likely to be told ‘Oh, yes, I’ve had that cider last night, it was really nice!’, like she is just another fellow middle aged lady, who spends nights alone with her cat, watching Dancing with the Stars and sampling new, fancy flavours of imported cider. So am I old, or have a I just discovered a new fool proof way for underage people to buy alcohol?

Second notation. Closing times in cafes should be clearer. Because they lie, they are straight out liars, people. 9am – 3pm in not accurate. It should be more like 9am – 1:30 we are perfectly happy to serve you, 1:30pm – 2pm we are still happy to serve you, but with every minute encroaching upon kitchen close time we become more and more begrudging towards you. 2pm kitchen closes! Do they mention that on the opening hours? Nah. 2pm-3pm, we want to seem like we have flexible opening hours, but really we’re trying to cram in closing down within this hour so we don’t have to pay our staff overtime, and they can get home before 5pm on a Saturday so they can get ready for whatever social event they had planned, technically you can stay, but we will just casually begin to clean around you, gradually making you feel more and more uncomfortable until you down your tea, ruining your previous tea-induced relaxation, now making you feel all stomach swishingly, overflowing with tea. So why don’t they just do this – 9am – 1:30pm (please feel free and welcome to order your lunch) 1:30pm – 2pm (please only order beverages, but finish them before 2:30pm) 2:30pm – 3pm (get the fuck out).

Third notation. Lines at supermarket cash registers leave me flustered, and brain dead. Which is the shortest one? Self service or normal or express lane? Where the fuck is the express lane?

‘There’s no-one at the express lane,’ some lady attendant says, seemingly annoyed that people are lining up at self service, like it is personally ruining her whole life.

‘I thought this was the express lane,’ I reply, like a bubble headed loon.

‘No, it’s down the end.’

Wellity, wellity, wellity. Maybe no-one’s there because it’s in some obscure, hidden place behind tens of thousands of other unused express cash registers. The rather creepy ghosts of ruthless Supermarket job cut backs, in favour of machines who always get upset if I use my own bags. ‘Unexpected item in bagging area’. I’ll give you an unexpected item, my fist in your face!

Anyways, ‘Thanks,’ replies the ever polite and genial me.

Oo, the register attendant is kind of cute. Did that Lady tell everyone the express lane was empty? These people just seemed to swarm in like flies onto fresh dog shit. But I’m here now. I’ll feel silly if I line up for the third time. Hey, this register guy has really awesome glasses, they look expensive, they make him look like a hipster. Wow, he actually asked me how my day was going. I now bet he has instantly regretted it. I’m babbling I can tell. I make some remark about how everyone was sent here at the same time. I try and give him some change with my fifty so I can get notes back. Oh no. Too much pressure. I can’t add. Why can’t I add? For the love of god why do you escape me now simple maths?! Why?! The humanity! Escape! Just take your odd change and escape.

‘Well that didn’t work,’ I casually remark.

‘Yeah, I was wondering why you gave this to me…’

Walking away, wow do I feel stupid. Hmm, I think, I’ll just write about it in my blog to make myself feel better that I’m such a spaz. You see I do this deliberately for writing material.

Last notation. I should walk around the shopping centre writing shit down more often. I look like a crazy, genius writer person, whose ideas are too fabulous and awesome to be forgotten to the winds of time and a poor short term memory. They must be written down immediately! Also, shopping centre toilet cubicles are strangely inspiring.

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Round Two

Have you ever posted on a forum that appears to be buzzing with back and forth conversation, only for that forum to die suddenly and become paranoid that it was because of you?

No?

Is it just me? Am I that self centered?

It’s even more heartbreaking when the forum you were posting to was ‘one sentence synopsis of your novel’ for NaNoWriMo. Everyone was blasting all over the place with their snappy one sentences, receiving positive feedback. And then I posted. And then the crickets began to chirp.

Okay. It’s probably not me. The thread was long dead by the time I got there.

I’m just antsy that I’m going to be spending a whole month writing something that’s complete and utter crap, and not realising it until I’m half way through and thinking ‘wow, this is complete and utter crap’.

But, I can’t begin the process this way. I’ve chosen a storyline, fleshed out the characters and built the world probably as well as Athens prepared for the olympics. I’m sticking to it goddamn it. It’s going to be the best novel I’ve ever written.

Actually it’s going to be the first novel I’ve ever written. To a stage of completion that can warrant it being called a novel.

I can’t believe November has come around again so quickly.

I’m having flashbacks to last year’s NaNo and the novel writing pain. My brain hurts already. I can feel Miss Crankypants coming on. Yet, still, I’m pretty damn excited.

Maybe I’m a masochist.

All I know is that this year is going to be better somehow. I think it’s because I now have a cat. You’re not a legitimate writer until you have a cat.

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Too Young To Be Bitter

My cat is fixated on something outside the window, but there is nothing there. It must be the ghost of my last university session – because I killed it. ‘Muthaaa Fuckaaa!’  – as the incorrigible Hank Moody would say.

Bring on the holidays! Yes, more opportunity to feel guilty about not accomplishing anything.

Well that’s not entirely true. I am slowly climbing the Karate ranks. I was given Arnis canes the other day to train with. And as I swung them around in my living room, I couldn’t help but make lightsaber noises in my head. I can tell I’m going to go far. I wonder if those new Star Wars movies are looking for extras? That was, after all, a long forgotten childhood dream of mine – to be a Jedi. My makeshift dressing-gown Jedi robe and blue cellophane wrapped curtain rod would testify to that.

Anyhow, I moved onto bigger and better dreams. To be a writer. Quite frankly, I think I’d have a better chance of becoming a Jedi. At least I’m realistic. Bitter, cynical, yes, but realistic.

Like that person in my class, who professed that writing should probably just be a hobby of hers, instead of a career path. I, somewhat guilty, agreed with her. I mean you’re not going to get very far if you’re already tearing down your own writing and telling everyone that it’s shit. That’s not part of the ‘Belief, Focus, Follow Through’ mantra I’ve adopted as my own. Sure I say stuff like: I’d have a better chance making a career of stopping the evil Sith from taking over the galaxy than writing, but that’s just acknowledging that it’s tough out there. And another thing, I’m not going to present a piece of writing to be scrutinized that I think is shit, then pout over the fact that it’s getting constructively criticised, making excuses of why it is the way it is.

“Oh, you meant to write in cliches? Pretty sure that only works if you’re making some sort of clever, satirical comment on the practice, and not just being a lazy writer.”

I’m guilty too! My last creative piece was heavily slashed of cliches and melodramatic writing, so I feel I’m qualified to recognise the error of such things.

I was once too filled with bright eyed and rather ridiculous notions of teenage romance, before I read Twilight and my gag reflex developed. Now I have a full blown cringe factor, especially for male leads who are ‘sensitive and very feeling’ and who bake cupcakes and wear flowers in their hair???

‘Does he also sparkle in the sun?’ I asked. Apparently not. But seriously, this is what young ladies fantasize about?

‘Oh, I get it, what you want in a guy, is a woman…’

That’s cool. There may be someone out there for you like that, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

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I Have Been Put to Shame

The bloody woman had eight blogs. Count em. Eight! If she was an octopus her blogs would be like her arms. If she was a mother, she’d have octuplets. Eight screaming babies all vying for a suckle of mummy’s creative teat. But Mummy needs her rest children. Can’t you amuse yourself for five minutes? Can’t I even take a leak in private!

And she wrote everyday, sometimes twice. I sat there in my Writing for Performance class marveling at her, wondering how somebody could possibly have that much to say…

Then I heard her talk.

And then I understood.

The woman was a machine.

An eight tentacled abomination, enrapturing the blogosphere with her many differently themed creations.

I wondered about her competency. She was deathly allergic to bananas, yet for two years worked at The Big Banana. Bad logic? Or delicious irony? Like when someone fashionable wears a really ugly sweater…

Anyways. People. What can I say? I’m intrigued by them. Now to wait patiently for the mothership to beam me back onboard so that I may report my findings.

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I Wrote This With My Eyes Closed

Sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for inspiration to strike, I suddenly notice that for a non-religious household, there sure are a lot of representations of Buddha around the place.

When I was younger, in a previous house, Mum put a statue of Buddha outside the door, hoping it would repel Johos.

Somehow, I don’t think a little clay monument would deter them from helping us look for Jesus, but no matter. I searched behind my couch, where most lost things gravitate to, but alas, no avail.

Anyways, I digress. It was my first day back at Uni today. I had a midday short story class straight off the bat, my holiday hangover ever apparent as 12 still felt too early to function and my attentions immediately wandered from the teacher to all the new and shiny people. Particularly some Byron Bay alumni, with a floppy, maroon beanie and dead straight, sun bleached hair, compelling me to note down that I don’t like it when guys have prettier hair than I do.

The guy sitting next to him had red rimmed eyes, and I unabashedly assumed he was stoned. When the teacher asked him to define ‘short story’ on behalf of his group, he replied ‘Well, we all agree that they are short.’

Smart ass.

Anyways, he turned out to be some deep thinking, intellectual genius.

Here’s another one. ‘Short story is like a door, opened just a little.’

‘What does that mean to you?’

‘That life is like a door.’

Oh, god.

‘Why do we study short fiction?’

Thinks I, ‘Because it’s impossible to write and mark novel length fiction?’

BOOM.

Smart ass.

Unfortunately I didn’t turn out to be some deep thinking, intellectual genius.

Don’t get me wrong, I like short fiction, so in respect for the genre, let’s keep this post as short as possible.

 

 

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One Stormy Night.

We seem to be in the eye of a storm, rumbling thunder, lightning flashing and big fat pouring rain. There’s nothing on television. My cat, who five minutes ago was the picture of sweetness, all cosied up and sleeping, is now running around the kitchen and lounge room like he dropped an E or something. Why must he venture into every cupboard that’s open? It’s not like he’s never seen the mixing bowls and the frypans ten million times before.  I guess he’s a bit frenetic. I can’t talk, kiai – ing and kicking all over the place, practicing my ninja moves. We’re really one and the same, me and Smudge, as I too like to stick my head in the kitchen bin and jump into laptop bags just for the heck of it.

Is this what my life has become? Observations of my cat? Smudge might as well hire me to ghost write his autobiography. What’s in the toilet bowl and other poignant life questions. I tried to convince him to go with something a little more snappy for the title, but he’s just about as stubborn as I am.

Well, that’s just about enough of that chapter.

I’ll tell you instead what I’ve recently come to realise. Writing is hard. Actually, I already knew that, but I’ve put it into a different context.

You see, the other day I broke my first board in Karate. Thank you, thank you. Your applause is greatly appreciated. Anyways, prior to such accomplishment I was told that to break a board you need three things – belief, focus and follow through. And with my genius mind I extrapolated that it is the exact same thing with writing.

I know, mind blowing isn’t it?

Not really, it’s just sometimes you realise obvious things when they’re put in certain ways.

To write that piece, that short story, novel, poem, or whatever grabs your fancy, you first need to believe you can do it.

Yes, well that’s all very well and good, but secondly you must put your ass in that goddamn chair and focus. Focus with the steely gaze of a falcon on his small, mousy prey. Attach falcon! Attack!

Now that you are so focused, one hundred percent, that not even your cat laying over your keyboard like a hippy in front of a bulldozer, can deter you, you must then follow through.

Break through that board, or in this case blank white page, all the way to the other side, with a big fat KIAI at the end. Wasn’t that just the most satisfying snap you have ever heard in your life?

I know it was for me. I’m freaking hanging that ply wood on my wall or something and writing all over it:

Belief

Focus

Follow Through

Because that is some good shit. And I would do well to remember that shit.

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The Big Five-Oh

 

In celebration of my 50th post, the 50th person to view this will win a brand new iPad!

Ah hah! Lucky for me I never get 50 views so … aww. Now I’m sad.

Never mind.

I once read a brilliant post from an actual ‘successful’ blogger about the difference between an ‘art blog’ and a ‘conversational blog’, and which one is more popular and gets more followers.

But, you see, here’s the thing, I know the aim of this game is to have many followers and likes to validate the existence of your writing, yet I’m not sure that’s my intention here.

Of course I love coming back to my page and seeing that little orange star of appreciation glowing back at me, making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but … no, yep, that’s it I love it. Give me more shiny stars! Plaster them all over my face, let me devour them like many a tasty, tasty star shaped cookie. Arggghhh they’re so shiny, buuurrrrrrggghhhh.

Yes, please like me. I need constant approval.

Anyways, what was my intention for blogging again?

The most honest answer would probably be therapy.

When I was eight – ten years old I kept a diary, and it was full of crazy shit too. I was a very emotional child, heck I probably cried for two weeks straight after watching The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride (I mean, come on, Kovu loved Kiara, he never meant for Simba to get hurt, don’t throw him out of the pride, waaaahhhhhhhhh! Now you’re going to sing a song about how you’re rejecting him, this couldn’t be more TRAGIC!)

My point is writing down my thoughts got them out of my head, which was very therapeutic, and I continued to do this, well to this very day actually. Except most of those thoughts are kept private, because that stuff is gnarly and way too deep, man.

Other thoughts I’m quite happy to share here on this blog, which is helpful in other ways. Mainly when I’m obsessing over something so completely trivial that the only way to remind myself of its trivialness is to make fun of the situation, and myself, for all to see.

The inside of my head is perpetual doomsday. It’s like the 21st of December 2012 in there … THE END OF THE WORLD.

For example:

Inside my head – ‘What, somebody didn’t like the thing I posted on their wall…*sharp, ‘pregnant lady in labour’ breathing*, hee hee hoo, hee hee hoo. EVERYBODY HATES ME!’

Outside my head – ‘Ah ha ha, I’m so silly, being a hermit for 30 days had made me paranoid, tee hee hee.’

Blogging for me equals therapy.

So, lucky readers, you are all officially observing psychologists.

And if you want to ask me what I see in the following inkblots, my answers are, a bat, a star, a star, a star, a star, a star, a cookie, a bunny rabbit, and two lions fighting over a scrap of meat …

Quick, somebody get my reference. You may or may not win an iPad.

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44,514 Words of Paranoid Delusion

Day 26 of NaNoWriMo: November is almost over. We’re on the home stretch, slowly dragging our way to that illustrious 50k finish line, like a dismembered, self-possessed zombie limb creeping up on an unsuspecting ankle.

After all this time writing, the aptly named forum title on NaNoWriMo’s official website : ‘NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul’, is starting to make sense to me. With every Facebook status in November an update on a milestone word count, every WordPress post about the perils of writing on an everyday basis (ha, who am I kidding, I don’t have time to blog…), every request made by my mum answered with ‘but I have to finish my words’… yes, it has happened, I’ve become Nano-hermit. No, I haven’t stopped showering, my personal hygiene is still immaculate, but I have perhaps gone a little stir crazy. Which is to be expected, being cooped up in my own head all day.

I thought a change of scenery would help, so I took my laptop to a cafe – ‘please, monsieur, just keep the earl grey tea coming’ – Ah, yes a date with my laptop and all my screwed up, issue ridden characters – ‘why you give me two pots of chilli soy chai? Do I look like that much of yuppie? And what the hell is chilli soy chai, anyhow?’ – Needless to say that exercise lasted about 2 hours and around 600 something words.

However, it must have put me in good stride, because for the first time ever that stupid little grey bar went past the daily expected average line. Whoop! Yes, a small win, a feeling that perhaps lasted until I realised dinner was a carrot. And that I hate my life. And that I should probably stop checking my Facebook in a state of paranoid delusion that I’ve annoyed everyone. Because that’s what happens when I cut myself off from all normal social interaction. I become weird, and start thinking that the outside world doesn’t like me. Which may or may not be true. But, seriously, look at this face, aww, who wouldn’t love this face.

Stop looking at me.

Ah, curse you NaNoWriMo, you fickle beast. Soon I will slay you, and you will be my floor rug. Or my yoga mat, because I really need to stretch out these cramped up muscles. Eh hem, you’ve also made me fatter, and required me to wear my glasses more often. Luckily for you, I look damn fine in these glasses – they don’t at all draw attention to any unsightly jiggly bits – but that new massage chair your mum’s boyfriend bought does, so let’s just use that in the privacy of our own company, shall we?

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16,314 Words of Mild Insanity.

Day 11 of NaNoWriMo: It’s a Sunday, and I feel like that’s some sort of milestone, being the end of the week and all. A perfect time to consolidate all that has happened in the month of November so far. But, in reality, this is the only day I haven’t felt an immense self-reprimanding guilt for typing words that are un-realted to my novel word count. However, this is important, I feel, to take stock, to see how far I’ve come, what I’ve learnt and to perhaps give myself a little pat on the back for managing to put something down on the page every single day – after all, it’s quite a surprise for someone like myself, a world class procrastinator and all round lazy sod to accomplish such a feat. I’ve seemed to gain some sort of rhythm, yet haven’t quite perfected the illusive ‘maintaining quality whilst producing quantity’ technique. I guess that comes with practice.

Here’s, however, what I have learnt. (Apparently not the difference between learned and learnt…is there a difference? One’s Brit. according to my dictionary. Hmm, learning something new everyday!)

Okay, one: rising levels of commitment  – in the beginning of my NaNoWriMo quest there was food, lots and lots of food. About ten million satay chicken sticks and Vita-Weets with butter and Vegemite, a product of intense, procrastinating hunger, and left over catering food from a wedding waitressing job. As the quest carried on there became less food. I love food, and I love dinner, so when dinner becomes a banana because you just have to reach your word quota for the day, you know you’re committed. Now, when you forget about your tea, steeping on the counter, left to go cold, perhaps you’ve taken it too far. Another sign of your rising commitment is the sore poky outie bits of your wrists that rest on your laptop, leaving you to type from above, like your on some sort of clunky, old school type writer.

Two: imaginative descriptions use up most of my brain juice – As you may have been able to tell from my incredibly knowledgable description of a certain part of my wrists, adjectives are not my strongest suit when it comes to writing. I’m not a very detail-orientated person, which is quite frustrating when you’re trying to create a scene from scratch that doesn’t exist on this planet. Why on earth did I decide to write Sci-Fi, anyways? Everything just ends up being silver and shiny. ‘Would they have concrete in the future, on a distant moon colony half way across the galaxy? Hmm, maybe not, perhaps I should just say it’s a concrete like substance, yes, that will do, I can’t waste precious time agonising over a made up building material…’

Three: Perhaps the literary community is right, when they say ‘write what you know’ – I don’t know anything specific about space travel, paramedics, the laws of physics, military hierarchies, the legal system or whether people would still tile their bathroom showers in the future, which leads me to digress that writing a story which requires much research is probably not the best thing when sticking to a strict schedule. Not to say that I have done absolutely none. I have bugged my Paramedic friend about the procedure of a chest decompression, and she’s probably a bit confused why I’m so obsessed with the specifics of the needle used – it’s just a needle. Ah, yes, but how exactly long is the needle, is it thin or thick, what colour is it, is it like a tube thing or a syringe thing? etc. Ah, that’s okay, just forget about it, we’ll fill that in later, along with another word for space concrete.

Four: The research can actually be more interesting than your story and distract you from your work – Upon realising that Sci-Fi, by definition, actually requires some fiction about science, I consulted the internet about long distance space travel and stumbled upon a genius fellow by the name of Michio Kaku. One reasonably priced Amazon purchase later and I was the owner of his books ‘Physics of the Future’ and ‘Physics of the Impossible’. What I remember from my high school physics class is a diagram of someone pushing a boulder off a hill and some mathematic equations like speed = distance/time (I’m not even sure if that’s right, shows how much attention I was paying). Anyways, if they taught physics in high-school, the way Kaku writes about it, I’m pretty sure I would have at least sat up with a keen interest and not endeavoured to drop the subject quicker than a south-shore Sydney teenager, in the 70’s, drops his girlfriend when she eats his meat pie (Puberty Blues, anyone?).  If any high-school physics teacher talked in terms of the possibility of death stars, lightsabers, force fields, laser guns and gamma ray bursts that can incinerate all life on Earth, I’m certain we’d see more future Leonard and Sheldons walking around the school yard. Because that shit is cool. And being smart should be cool. Why isn’t smart cool? Is it because all smart kids look like Leonard and Sheldon? Anyways, if you can find a way to slice through any material with a glowing hot, plasma sword, you should be rock star.

Five: When the 900 + words you’ve just written in half the time it would have taken to write that amount in your story, makes you kinda depressed, you know you must get out of the house and reclaim your sanity, just a smidgeon.

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You’re The Best Around

I’ve been thinking about something for a while now. Thinking about dreams and why they’re so important to have. You know, life purpose sort of dreams, not the sleeping kind of dreams, like the one I had where I was a Maroon 5 groupie and Adam Levine gave me a piggy back through the snow singing Sunday Morning … well they’re important too, because nothing that awesome would ever happen to me in my waking life … but getting on point.

Big dreams, aka, what you really want to do with the rest of your life, scare the shit out of me. As they probably do for most people. It’s much easier to sit on the sidelines and make excuses why you can’t be or do what is really in your heart. It’s easier to pretend that you’re being realistic, that you’re saving yourself from disappointment, from failure and all those other shitty, ice-cream binging emotions. You may not feel supported, or worry that you won’t actually be very good at thing you most aspire to. There’s a lot of things that seem to clasp on your ankle like a shackle and drag you down with a ball and chain, even though from an outside perspective nothing appears to be stopping you.

So, obviously, in most cases, you are your own ball and chain. All that negative self talk that swirls around your head, telling you that you’re not good enough.

Okay, have I thoroughly depressed you yet? Well, the good news is, and I think I’m saying this for my own benefit, as I do need a regular kick up the ass, is that if it’s all in your head, you have the power to change it.

I like to constantly tell myself ‘hey, you’ll soon be dead’, not in a morbid kind of way, but in a ‘hey, you really have nothing to lose’ kind of way, to put things in perspective. Yeah, it helps, but that doesn’t mean that going after my dreams still doesn’t make me want to crawl back into bed and hide beneath the covers. Let’s just say I’m working on it.

I would quite like to grab the bull by the horns and shake the hell out of it. Put on that theme from Karate Kid or Rocky or whatever cliche you can think of, because it’s time to get motivated.

I’m going to enter freakin’ NaNoWriMo and try to finish a 50k novel in a month. Why not, I need the practise and obviously a reason to drive myself insanely mad. Yeah, I feel better about it already.

OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE.

Frack it. Put the needle back on that ‘You’re the Best’ record, because I’m going to do it.

Now, perhaps having images of myself with unwashed, unbrushed hair, severely neglected eyebrows and a piddly bank balance from having spent hundreds of dollars on Osteopathic appointments for my badly compressed spine and rounded ‘laptop’ shoulders …

Did I tell you to stop playing that ‘You’re the Best’ record? No, I didn’t, because I need it, and maybe you do to, so, onwards children, go frolic in the field of unrealised dreams. You may end up looking like a hobo, but at least at the end you won’t be saying this …

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