Tag Archives: just because of thoughtfulness

New Year, New What Exactly?

It is the year 2017, according to the Gregorian Calendar. It may as well be Year 42AMB (After My Birth). Or Year Zero with the way the leadership of the world is going.

Reflection: 2016 was meant to be the Year of Getting Stuff Done.

Stuff didn’t get done. 

Because reasons.

Some within my control. Others outside my control.

And it was the most frustrating year regarding my creative output. I realised it’s been two years since I’ve written a complete short story. The most output I had was the rough draft of a verse novel (still incomplete) and part of a novella. I had done little pieces of writing but there was a host of reasons that kept me from putting in the work and making it happen. 

It’s not trying to make excuses, although I can do that with the death of two significant people during the year. It’s an acknowledgement of what I did not do. I can use the word ‘failure’ without it becoming a label to wear.
I failed to complete projects.
I failed to write.
I failed to make time to work out what I wanted to do.
I failed to plan.
I failed to pursue my creative desires.

I did do things that kept me thinking about writing and creativity, like my zentangle poetry. More importantly, I gave myself permission to put it aside for the sake of significant priorities. And that’s ok. 

But with the end of the year, taking a break over January, I needed to move beyond the sloth and slump and take on a new perspective. In speaking with some close writing friends, we try and find a single word to help guide and focus our creative work. It took me a few days to sort it out but my key word is “Intentionality.” 

If I am to pursue the creative goals I have set for myself I need to be intentional about the work I have planned and the work I plan to do. Which leads me to how I want to approach the new year.

DO THE WORK.

If I am to be intentional in my creative work, I therefore need to DO THE WORK. That work might involve planning a new short story, creating a new zentangle poem, writing a new piece or editing a current story.

It needs to be planned, deliberate, month-to-month goals and outcomes. One month it might simply be planning and note making for a project. Another month it might be actually writing a short story or pushing towards the completion of the verse novel or novella. At the moment, this month is given over to completing a vignette collection.

It’s a new year and a need for a new perceptive. Therefore, I will be intentional and do the work.

How about you?

Handwritten Pages #5

I grew up in a house with a corrugated iron roof and loved hearing the sound the rain made on it. It’s a familiar sound and a familiar memory and I used it as the basis for an idea developed below.

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Like the wind picks at the corrugated iron roof, this memory is a scab I have picked at for years and years.
I have scratched and scratched.
Sometimes out of curiosity, out of a need to understand; to comprehend how we failed to relate to one another. Or out of frustration and anger at failed intimacy. 
I retreat into the solitude of the bedroom, into a book and a pen and bury myself beneath headphones where the music thrashes and yells and pummels.
And like the wind, I return to pick at the scab of memory.

Handwritten Pages #4

Sometimes it’s random images that lodge in my head like a splinter. This is one of them. I think there’s more to this story but I’m putting it aside for later to see what grows out of the compost heap.

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The child stood on the crest of the hill overlooking the city. She turned her eyes upwards to the uniform inky expanse of night sky. It was spotted with dots of white; a scattered litter of light like tissue fragments on a black jumper in the wash.
Turning her gaze downwards the city lights exploded in a galaxy of white, orange, red, blue, green.
She bent down and performed a headstand, inverting the world, and for a brief moment she believed the earthly heavens were brighter than she ever hoped for.

Handwritten Pages #3

This week’s Handwritten Page is inspired by a colleague of mine who wrote down for me a series of events and remembrances of growing up in Queensland, Australia.

I have only taken a snippet of a memory while I work out a larger story from the raw material. On a side notes, people’s stories are fascinating.

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My sister and I would sit in in the projectionist’s booth at the drive-in, offering gifts of popcorn, hot chips and sips of Coke to the projectionist. Gifts from our mother who ran the tuck shop as we waited for Dad to pick us up after he finished his shift.
We watched visions of life unspool through the reels as the clatter of the projector spoke over the dialogue and music, until frame by frame, it disappeared.
I loved how the end of the film would fthlip fthlip fthlip as the reel ended. A child’s tongue extended, blowing a raspberry. I saw it as a cheeky gesture, a way to express myself no matter how serious or shitty life would become. A chance to blow a raspberry at circumstance while the reel was changed and life moved on.

Handwritten Pages #2

The second instalment of Handwritten Pages. This one was inspired while reading Amanda Palmer’s book, “The Art of Asking.”

I cannot recommend her book highly enough if you are a creative person. It is a heartfelt and affirming read; quite challenging to accept her premise sometimes but as a creative person there is such a wealth of ideas to gain from it. If time is of the essence, listen to her TED Talk.

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The couple sit across from each other at the dining room table, each with a pen and a pad of Post It Notes.
In silence they share a communion of scribbled notes, stick figure cartoons and random doodles intermingled wiht a chorus of laughter, sighs and whispers.
There is a solemn but playful sincerity to their ritual as the notes pass back and forth.
He passes a note to her; the body of Christ.
She receives it. Reads and responds.
She passes a note to him; the blood of Christ.
He receives it. Reads and responds.
He offers his hand and they stand to leave with the benediction spoken on paper.
They leave the notes as holy writ.

Handwritten Pages

What I don’t do enough of is write by hand, letting the pen and paper become an exploration. Yesterday I was inspired by a blog post on calligraphy to use my notebooks more effectively.

I know writers who use Julia Cameron’s (The Artist’s Way) technique of morning pages. The idea is you free write first thing in the morning as it clears the head and channels a creative flow. Mornings don’t work for me but the concept of free writing association can be done at any time. 

I want to use a specific notebook of mine for this exercise as it is unlined meaning I can use the space on the page to convey meaning as much as the words do. I can alter my handwriting style, use colour, draw shapes or doodle images. Over the coming months I will share more handwritten explorations.

Below is the first attempt at using a notebook for handwritten explorations. Nothing fancy. Just text. 

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“I dab the tissue at the pinpoint of blood on my fingertip, blotting the word that pools. The tissue is spattered with random words bleeding into one another in a random game of Scrabble. Another word forms and I place it on my tongue to break it down to letters and reabsorb it. The blank page waits patiently as I resist the urge to open a vein.”

Book Versus Movie Part 2

A little while back I argued in Book Versus Movie that there is much to gain from seeing film as a different language of art. 

But I’ve been thinking about it some more and watching The Book Thief on tv recently crystallised another aspect of the book versus movie debate. I didn’t watch the entirety of the movie (I will watch it in full one day) for one reason that  I hadn’t thought of: voice.

I love The Book Thief. It is a magnificently written book and one of my favourites. Death narrates the story and it is this voice, and the voice of the author, that makes it such a stirring novel for me. While watching the film, I didn’t have the same sense of voice. The film looks superb, the characters well defined, but it was the lack of authorial voice that I was expecting that made me turn off. 

Similarly, my viewing of The Lord of The Rings is informed by my reading of the novels. There are parts that I love and adore in the film, and others that are just downright cheesy and lacking the right voice to give the scene its proper gravitas or humour. The voice of LOTR is sometimes as dry as mortuary dust but that is what gives the novel is authenticity and pathos and humour.

Voice is one of those almost intangible aspects of writing; you know what voice you like, those you do not, those that sound mellifluous, those that sound like a Year 9 class on Friday afternoon. I think voice works for cinema too but it is more a chorus.

The “book was better than the movie” debate is too simplistic and we need to unpack it to understand why it is said, and whether we believe it or not. Both are art forms, with different voices and different modes of production, and should be treated as such. To simply divide is to denigrate one art form, extol the other and the division is not helpful. 

Appreciation and understanding is the aim.