All of the Dreams

This is an explanation that I hope will hold for months and months if need be. I really appreciate this blog and it’s stupid url, loosely taken from D.H. Lawrence because when I started it five years ago I was in a D.H. Lawrence kinda mood.  I will say, a lot has changed. I work full-time. I write every day, but lack of time means it’s usually just day-to-day journal entries of wandering thoughts. I’ve been listening to a lot of music, returning to Lorde’s Melodrama often because OF COURSE. And there’s comfort there, too. Here, with the lyric, “All of the dreams that get harder.” Time management is hard. I never thought time management, of all things, would be such a burden. But I am writing, and when I write something decent I keep it for myself in the hopes one day someone will buy it. It’s been fun, keeping things private.

At the start of my current journal, which is about a week away from being full, are these words from Kurt Vonnegut: “Nobody will stop you from creating. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow. That is the way to make your soul grow – whether there is a market for it or not! The kick of creation is the act of creating, not anything that happens afterward. I would tell all of you watching this screen: Before you go to bed, write a four line poem. Make it as good as you can. Don’t show it to anybody. Put it where nobody will find it. And you will discover that you have your reward.”

I’m glad those words ended up meaning something. I was worried, when I wrote it, what my motive was. I was nineteen. I’m twenty-one now, the journal is almost done. I was wondering whose words would start my next. I chose Tavi Gevinson, because lately I’ve been looking around instead of up, and people my own age have become bigger and better inspirations than others. In her Infinity Diaries series she says, “But something inside me conquers this nostalgia, this desire to miss: the simple knowledge that these feelings will happen again. New feelings will happen, if I let them. As Kenny said of doing the same thing on stage every night, you never actually do, because you’ve never been alive today before, and the same goes for tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.” I’m curious to find out what this will mean to me in two, three-years time.

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Hello, World!

A portrait of the writer as a young clown

I’ve been learning to code for the past 3 months – nothing major, nothing spectacular. But now I know that the utterly simple exclamation of Hello, World! is enough to induct a newbie into the world of programming. I’m saying this now because I realise I’ve never really spoken to any of you directly – ever – but here you are: still and unflinching, dark and mysterious. You fascinate me. I recently started an internship producing radio at the ABC, and my presenter says that word a lot – this is fascinating, it’s great to talk to you.

So, then. Who are you? How are you going? Do you have any pets? A cat or a dog or a gecko?

I’m opening up to you in hopes this rambling display of openness and trust will inspire some back-and-forth. Tonight I spoke to a curator at a museum for the morbid, last week to a woman directing the Future Library art project, the week before that to a neuroscientist. I like talking with people, so it’s probably time I start a conversation on here. Here, where my teenage writing matures. Where the evidence of my evolution sits under glass.

These are the coordinates of my life right now, as it stands: I hurt my ankle a few weeks back tumbling, and I’ve been staying up until 6.00am for the Olympic gymnastics – all the while wishing I could jump again. I still prefer sunsets over sunrises. I’m in the final hour of the audiobook The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. I’ve got the business card of a NASA engineer sitting in front of me on my desk, next to my lapel pins shaped like stars. It’s 1.04am and I have an important email to send in the morning. I’m in my final semester of university. There’s a new This American Life episode waiting for me, but I can’t bring myself to listen to anything titled My Summer Self while I’m still wearing finger-less gloves. I ordered six second-hand Ray Bradbury paperbacks this afternoon. I still don’t know if writing things down is helpful for me or for anyone else. I’m going to sit in the sun tomorrow and listen to Neutral Milk Hotel and the soundtrack to In the Heights. I’m not going to check this for spelling errors.

My reasoning behind all of these sentences of admittance, is an intersection of occurrences. Last night I wrote a poem to my favourite author, who I’ve posthumously adopted as an unwitting mentor. I don’t think it made sense, not unless you’re someone who is well-versed in Fahrenheit 451 trivia or the tales of Dandelion Wine. But when I posted it on here, on my scribbled home, it got half a dozen likes. I wonder too much – too much not to ask – whether anyone actually reads anything on here. I need to know if you have, and I truly want to know what you think.

This is an offering – a short but concise map to my life right now. It’s a gesture. I’m letting you know that you have access to parts of my life, the same as you do my writing. And to let you know that it would be great to talk to you about fascinating things.

 

Grey, Black, and Blue

GREY

As I got older, storms got quieter. When I was small the cracks of thunder pierced through my rose-coloured world in a whip of fantastical fear. Now the rain just gets in my socks.

In the middle of my teenage years a friend and I camped at Esperance, on top of a hill. Her dad – a man who shaved his head by choice – drove us in his polished four-wheeler.

The town was tiny. It stretched across the south coast of Western Australia by way of dirt trails, rock pools, and water that reflected the world – and your peering face – in tinges of blue.

Continue reading “Grey, Black, and Blue”

A Conversation with Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is one of my all time favourite writers, and he became one of my favourites solely through his writing. For me, living in Internet Land as I do, the writer and the writing aren’t necessarily separate.

Neil Gaiman, Jack Kerouac, John Green, have all been at the top of my imaginary list at some point, and I’m not sure whether I like them more as writers or more as people. As a teenager I grew up on vlogbrothers, and before I even opened one of John’s books I looked up to him enormously. Later in high school I read Gaiman and Kerouac, and I listened to them both. If you’ve ever heard either of them speak, you’ll know they’re great readers. Kerouac’s mythical history, complicated image, and voice like a 1950s heartthrob, gave something extra to all his books and poems. Neil Gaiman’s voice played in my head when I read his books. His narrative voice is bloody great, and he has an online presence that I appreciate. I’ve probably watched more of his interviews, and Conversations with Neil Gaiman’s, than his books (I’m working on it).

On the other hand, I picked up Ray Bradbury when I was 16 and knew nothing about him. Actually, John Green was the one who inadvertently led to the meeting. The vlogbrothers used to do book clubs, and Fahrenheit 451 was the only one I was ever a part of. It was maybe the first classic book I’d voluntarily read. I didn’t even know it was a classic, I just knew the vlogbrothers were talking about it so it must be good. I’ve reread it every year since.

But I hadn’t really looked up Ray Bradbury outside his writing and a few stray quotes. I hadn’t watched interviews or listened to him read. I don’t know, maybe his writing just spoke for itself? I’m not kidding when I say this video, which I watched freaking yesterday, is my first look at what he was like behind the page. This is exactly who I’d expect to be behind The Veldt and Zero Hour. He’s like Santa Claus from Mars.

(Watch John and Hank talk about Fahrenheit 451)

“This Is Not Practice, This Is Your Life”

Sometimes I feel like the biggest phony the world has ever churned out. Like, really? I can just go out… and do things with my life? Things I actually want to do? I’m waiting for someone to stop me in the street and tell me to cut it out, but it hasn’t happened yet. The people of Earth have let me roam free – and it’s the strangest feeling I’ve had.

I don’t want to waste time. That’s where everything I’ve done, especially lately, has come from. I’m terrified of a lot of stuff, but hiding in a hole doesn’t work for me. If I’m scared of time then I’ve got to use it. I’ve got to tell myself It’s Now Or Never, You’ll Thank Me Later, You Have Too Many Days Off, Do Something, This Isn’t Practice.

This video was posted, what, 2 years ago? Jeez. But when I watched it for the first time I got it. It made me feel better about rash decisions and going with my gut. Hell, it was posted around the same time I would have been signing up for a freaking Arts degree.

I think of this video whenever I do something scary and ridiculous. I seem to be doing a lot of those lately. For anyone thinking of doing the same, this is something you’ll want to watch.

Mt Everest and Writing

Writing is like climbing a mountain twice as high as Mt Everest. Sometimes you don’t even need to look for a handhold. It’s right next to you, that jagged piece of rock stable enough to hold your weight. Sometimes it’s as easy as rock climbing – not quite the easiest thing in the world, but safer, and warmer. Tonight, at 8:46PM on the 8th of May 2015, I’m somewhere near the base of the mountain. I’ve barely gotten off the ground, but I’m terrified. Tonight I looked down. What I saw weren’t sharp press pin rocks sticking up at me, but soft plush snow waiting to catch me.

I’m leaving this metaphor and delving into the past for a little bit, but it’s cliche enough for you to remember for later. I started writing seriously under a year ago, and boy did I have high hopes. I knew I could write, in the sense that I knew where to put full stops and how much dialogue was too much dialogue. What I have learned since then is that I don’t even know that. I really. Don’t. And there is a whole trove of troubles that I have which I’m uncovering every single day, like lost jewels. This isn’t what I expected, but it’s what I want. If you can’t identify anything that’s wrong with you then you’ll stay stagnant; you’ll pickle in your own bad grammar and crappy characters. You’ll become one of your own crappy characters.

Really though, I wasn’t going into this with rose coloured glasses. I didn’t even have time to put them on; I dived headfirst into this thing without considering it fully. I’d compare it to taking a shot of vodka. Just don’t think about it. Just drink. But I knew I could end up having the time of my life or puking out of a taxi window.

So up until now I haven’t been looking at the world of writing with a pink tinge, or without acknowledging my faults. My issue tonight didn’t start with me suddenly realising that I wasn’t on the same level as George Orwell. For me, it’s the pressure of wanting to be somewhere within the same world, whether that’s a published writer or a published journalist.

I wish, every day, that I could be Stephen King with his rusty nail above his desk, where he’d stab his rejection letters repeatedly. Writing in the internet age brings with it so many added pressures. I have constant access to other people’s work, running critique on my own work, and hundreds of publications calling for submissions and hundreds of submissions coming back with a pixelated rejection stamp neatly in the by-line. And there are my teachers too, plus my own struggles when it comes to writing that I bring to my desk with me every time I sit down. Grateful? I am, most of the time. All these things have their positives, they’re all underneath me while I climb, pushing me further and further. But sometimes I just want to ‘stay home and write and figure things out for myself’, in the words of the beautifully tortured Kerouac. It’s how I feel when I’m being prodded a little too much, or when constructive criticism becomes overwhelming and turns into a well-meaning dark shadow cast over my head.

It can be defeating. This is why I tell people, only write if you have to. You’ll be happier if you can find something safer to love, that gives a little more and doesn’t take so much. Tonight is one of those nights where I glimpsed down at the ground below. I’m still at the point, though, where if I fall I’ll land with a soft thud. It wouldn’t kill me to jump off and become an…architect, or an accountant. Actually, I had to think for a minute about what job I’d rather have than this. It is neither an architect nor an accountant. Maybe I’m higher up this mountain than I thought.