Sunday, 25 April 2010

"Your art matters. It's what got me here."

Two years ago, I sat at a laptop much like this one in this same spot that I am in now, and I listened to a CD. It spoke to me. Using a page of a journal, I pretended that that CD was the soundtrack to a novel; each song was a chapter. I wrote what happened in each. And the end product was the plan for a 1930's murder mystery/ romance. That CD was called The Compound.

Even though that same story has changed significantly, and been rewritten four times, going on a fifth, I owe a depth of gratitude to that CD, Search/Rescue's The Compound, because it inspired me. It filled me with a sense of motivation and direction.

So, today I have officially been writing my book for two years. I'm treating it like a celebration, even though I am nowhere near as finished as I would like to be, and even though whether or not I will ever be a published author is severely in doubt. I want to thank each and every person who has encouraged me even in the tiniest of ways. I keep all of your names in a file on my computer so that when the book finally comes out in print, the Acknowledgements section can be just as long as the story itself. It feels amazing (and I am truly humbled) to have so many people believe in me. I just hope that I can live up to the expectations of those around me.

Just like my book, I have changed these past two years as well. I am no longer a high school student. I am an extremely loud-voiced university student. I write for my uni magazine. I love what I study. I am considering doing honours. I love dressing like an adult. I love goofing around like a kid, and I still love that CD that started me off on that journey. I am listening to it now.

Maybe this is the beginning of some great cosmic chain. Search/Rescue inspired me. I will publish my book which will inspire someone else, and so on and so forth. To quote One Tree Hill, my guilty pleasure TV indulgence, "Your art matters. It's what got me here."

And because my book explores the turmoil of war....Lest We Forget.

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Phone

It was peaceful... strangely so.  Nick relished the lack of telemarketers to hassle him.  He danced around in his underwear and sang into the wooden end of the broom like a microphone, not worried that if the phone rang, those on the other end would hear the shame in his voice.  Something told him that he would be safe from that.

But as the days wore on, the peace and quiet became an eerie silence.  No one rang to sell him things, yes, but no one rang for other reasons either.  There were no relatives ringing to gossip about menial things, no friends ringing with invites to parties, no wrong numbers dialled, nothing.  The house was filled with the emptiness that only comes from an un-rung telephone.

He sat for a while, staring at the phone on the wall, willing someone to call.  It was as if the whole of the world had fallen away around his house.  For days it had seemed like he barely blinked.  He ate his meals in front of the phone.  He did his homework next to it.  He slept on the countertop nearby.  Still the phone did not ring.

Red eyed with frustration, he bunched his hair into his fists and screamed at the phone.  "Why won't you ring?!"  He reached out and grabbed it, expecting to tear it free from the wall with a sickening crack.  Instead, the unplugged cables swung loosely around. 

It was then that he realised that the phone had never been plugged in at all.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


The monster has shut down for the day. Its eight identical smoke stacks have stopped coughing and spluttering, and the black smoke they spew into the sky has dissipated. As they approach the chain link fence surrounding the beast, its many straight-shuttered eyes observe them. They walk towards it across the vacant lot, looking for the place where the fence is most bowed and bent, and where behind a cluster of bushes, an entrance has been cut. Above them, the conveyors are like folded arms, objecting to their presence.

Franky doesn’t cry when the loose, jagged flap of the cut fence skins his shoulders as he wiggles through. He shakes the grit off and says nothing as he holds the flap open for the others, two boys and his little sister. Once they’re in, he races towards the scaffolding, hollering a bawdy song as he goes. He leaps towards his target and wraps his outstretched arms around the first rung, holding on with the crook of his elbow as he swings around like a rusty gate to see how far behind the others are.

“Come on, Slow-Pokes!” he calls.

The wind tugs at his hair. His bare toes make contact with cold, dirty metal. He strains his arms to reach as high as they will go, holding on so tight the pads of his fingers turn white. His little hand only makes it around three-quarters of the way around each bar.

The scaffolding shivers and shakes as the other two boys jump on. The twanging hum of the metal goes straight up the poles and through Franky’s body. His ribcage seems to thrum. Each step boys below him take reverberates— he abandons his song and begins to sing along with the iron-shod footsteps instead.

The wind gets stronger the higher he climbs. It roars past his ears, cold and insistent. His breath catches as he forces it past his teeth. The scaffolding grows hot and sticky under his sweaty palms. He no longer holds on tight for the fun of it. Each white knuckled grasp makes the joints in his fingers seize up. The thudding has stopped. Franky swings his weight backwards to look down the length of his body and his vision fluctuates between out of focus and sharp. He blinks and sweaty tendrils of black hair fall into his eyes.

He tries to lift one foot off the rung but it’s stuck to the bar like a magnet. The muscles in his thighs shake as he wrenches it off and lowers it. He cannot bring himself to look down again, so his foot swings about. The fumble creates a vacuum in Franky’s gut. He sucks in his cheeks, until, at last, his toenails drag along a piece of freezing metal. It’s the cross bar. A cheer rises from below, and emboldened, Franky takes his other foot off the rung.

But then something snaps, and the cross bar falls. Franky’s feet run in the open air. His sweaty fingers lose their hand-hold joint by joint. Beneath his dangling feet, he sees the little girl. From so high up, she is little more than a pink dress.

“Don’t look!” he calls.

Then, Franky lets go.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

My Uninspired Life

I think I need to start living a little more bohemian, a little more indie. I need to start living the sort of life that I idealise, rather than just dream about it all the time. Mind you, I think I have made this promise to myself (and maybe even on my blog) several thousand times and I always end up perpetually bored.

I'm probably going to start with the way I dress. I am going to wear what I want, when I want (minding of course, a few exceptions like work uniform) and if people don't like it they can get stuffed. I am sick of buying all these gorgeous dresses and skirts, and then being too scared to wear them out because I'm worried I will be overdressed. What a waste!

Then I might give the way I spend my free time a bit of a make over. I sit around on the computer a lot, and it's really dumb because I'm actually not doing anything productive. That time that I spend fooling myself into pretending I am busy would be much better spent writing. (And typing "I suck" into a word document and then deleting it does not count.) I need to start handwriting my stuff anyway because I buy/ get given all these beautiful journals and mostly I just fill them with teenaged ramblings about how bored I am. (Or how boring, maybe.)

I need to get out of the house more. Go on bike rides, take photos, write sitting on a park bench somewhere.

I need to give myself the kind of life I tend to give the characters I write about. Coffee in Freo, shopping at markets etc etc...

Perhaps I'll call it research?