Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Life

You were that kid, weren't you? That kid who always secretly kind of liked doing their homework. Especially if it was for English, or SOSE. (You were probably one of the only kids who knew that SOSE stood for Society and Environment... and the fact that the acronym was a phonetic one rather than one letter standing for one word each really burnt your waffles.) You relished being given the chance to show your teachers that YOU listened. YOU heard them when they showed you how to use all the correct terms for things. You loved that first-time feeling... that is, the first time you correctly used a compound word in a sentence. You got mostly A's all through high school. If you got a B, it was usually in maths or science, and you felt like a failure. You didn't get dux of your high school, but you were friends with the person who did. You probably still are. You aced your TEE; didn't really even have a legitimate cause to think you wouldn't, but you fretted about it all the same. When you saw your score, it STILL could have been better. But it was enough. It was more than enough. You'd known for months where you wanted to go to University, and it suprised you because it wasn't where all your friends were going, and it wasn't the Uni with the highest estimation in most peoples' thinking. You got there, and you loved it. You started to go out to places, do things other than read. Your friendships strengthened. You learned what was important to you. You met someone. It didn't work out, and you broke up with them. You felt like no one would ever love you again, so you threw yourself into your work. You spent time with different people depending on the mood you were in. You found a dress style you liked. You started liking caffeinated beverages. You started liking alcohol but not as much as when you were sixteen. You finally felt comfortable in your own skin, and you got to keep that eager, academic part of you. You met someone else. So far it's worked; more than worked, you're the happiest you've ever been and so is he.

Somewhere along the line, you decided to write a novel. It's nearly finished.

It's like homework, only better.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Some days you just need a little happy.




Dancing to this barefoot in my room after a stupid dumb bad dumb day at work. There almost seems to be magic in this song... I want to feel inspired enough to write before I go to bed.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

When You've Got a Navel as Pretty as Mine, Of Course You Want to Gaze at it.

Navel-gazing... Excessive introspection, self-absorption, or concentration on a single issue: "The optimistic trend masks a looming problem, which has sent the travel industry into a renewed bout of navel-gazing" (Financial Times).

Apparently this is the plight of creative writing produced by people in my age bracket, and people in my situation (That is, students of Creative Writing) in general. It is the creative equivalent of dipping your toes in a freezing ocean but being too cowardly to dive in and swim towards the horizon.

Let me just stop right here and say that the only reason I even care about "the direction of creative writing produced by people in my age bracket and situation" is because of some feedback. Last Friday, in the mail I received a certificate telling me that I had placed second in the Katharine Susannah Prichard Short Fiction Awards for the under 20s category. And that was pretty awesome. I got a little happy out of that. Won $25 and I got a nice gold piece of paper to tell me I'd done well, so that was nice. But on reading the judges comments that buzz died a little bit. The judge, who shall remain nameless (but he knows who he is), in his general comments, blathered on about the overall poor literary standard of everyone's work, and about how language use and length were neither experimental, nor fully utilized. Now, being general comments, I have to remind myself that this person was not calling me into the Principal's Office, sitting me down and yelling "YOU SUCK" directly into my face. But it was disheartening nonetheless, and several of the comments brought me back to the whole navel-gazing argument.

I recall reading an article in Kill Your Darlings Issue Three by Emmett Stinson which talks about the growing trend in criticism to label works being produced in such a way. Stinson, as far as I can tell, made the argument that this should be applied perhaps more to the American journals than the Australian ones. He also concludes by saying that to insist on all writing having some sort of political agenda or deal with a political issue at least, is an unrealistic notion.

So how can we not navel-gaze?

As a CW student, I am constantly told to write what I know. So largely, that would consist of: working in retail, going to uni, driving around the same old suburbs to hang out with my friends. But apparently, to write about my life is to navel gaze.

Perhaps what all writers should do from now on (in fact, it should probably be made a law) is log onto their twitter accounts and take all the trending topics for that day, and make a story about them. Write about stuff people really care about, like Chuck Bass having survived the season 3 gossip girl finale, and Oprah's tour of Australia. Who cares about the trials and tribulations of leaving home? Oprah climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge! And she's got a Book Club, so she's better than the rest of us humble peons.

It's a post modern thing, guys, that's what it comes down to. Navel gazing is a fact of life. Reading is about interiority and the subjunctive a lot of the time, and perhaps that's what writing is about too. Imagining what it would be like to be someone else. I think I'll leave all the political writing to people who actually understand (read: like or care about) politics.

Congratulations to all the winners of the KSP Short Fiction awards, even the 15 year old who beat me (because you must be really goooooood girly) and especially to my friend Elisa!

And to the judge of the KSP thingy.... THE YOUNGEST PERSON WHO ENTERED WAS TEN. FIND SOMETHING NICE TO SAY TO BALANCE OUT YOUR HURTFUL WORDS.

To see the Judges Report and Winners for the competition, Click Here.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Tudors...

I sit writing this post having just watched the final episode, and all the special features of the final season of Showcase television show, The Tudors. I discovered this show about a year ago, but my fascination with the Tudor dynasty goes back further. For anyone who is an avid reader of the novels of Phillipa Gregory, the period was a time of wonder and enchantment, but also of fear;her books are written from the point of view of those women most known and descriptions of violence are kept expedient. The Tudors series creator Michael Hirst puts a different interpretation before us in showing us the 'real' Henry, subtly taking us on a journey from fun loving young king to tyrant.

Here are a few points of interest about the show.



1. Henry Cavill



I must confess that Cavill became my favourite cast member because I developed a slight crush on him... that being said, the show has overall a very attractive cast, and the first two seasons of the show at least were devoted to making England seem like a very sexy place to live (but also a cleaner one than I know it would have been.) But what amazes me about his character, Charles Brandon, the first Duke of Suffolk is his longevity in the cast. While other characters come and go, often without explanation, the Duke remains King Henry's oldest and truest friend. The pair grow old together, and it seems that as Henry's wives come and go, Charles remains a testament to loyalty. (How's that for 'bro's before ho's'?) Brandon's fealty to his sovereign costs him his faith, the love of his wife Katherine Brook, and his youth. His death in the final episode was to me far more touching than the King's final moments, proving to me that my affection for Henry Cavill had developed from a silly girlish crush into respect for the attention devoted to the role.

2. Sarah Bolger




I was delighted to learn that in the fourth and final season of The Tudors, Sarah Bolger had finally been given an opening credit. There is something very human about Bolger's portrayal of the young Mary Tudor that I have found lacking in other presentations of her. She is much more relatable than the old, cruel spinster she is often known as; her hurts are real, she loves, she is strong and she is true to her beliefs, making her a very strong female role model of the period, despite what would happen during her reign (1553-1558). I attribute this humanity to Bolger's charms and her talent.

3. Alan van Sprang... because no TV series is complete without a character who resembles a pirate




This point should not entirely be devoted to van Sprang, but rather to the league of temporary core cast members like him, who often disappear without explanation (and in the case of van Sprang's character, Sir Francis Bryan, appear that way too.) The show is so intriguing that my cries of 'But whatever happened to Sir Anthony Knivert?' (Callum Blue, season one) are forgotten in due time. Other characters who disappear without much explanation include lady Margaret 'Madge' Sheldon. How a man like Francis Bryan could have come into the King's good graces is completely beyond me, seeing as he is immensely immoral.

But also, he's a pirate. It's just funny.

4. The plethora of terrible accents, first and foremost in the acting of Gabriel Anwar

Try as they may, they cannot cover up that a lot of the cast is Irish. Even the King's voice changes and becomes largely false sounding as he tries to make it sound gruffer and older. But it is Anwar's English accent, in her role as the Princess Margaret, that is most laughable. Good times.

5. The host of Harry Potter guest stars

Just an interesting little point; when the King goes into seclusion after the death of Queen Jane, he is entertained by his fool, Will Somers... played by Argus Filch, or in any case the man who plays Argus. And in season four, the Earl of Surrey appears... only it could very well be Harry Potter because David O'Hara was also in the most recent Harry Potter Film (Deathly Hallows Part 1) as Runcorn, the man Harry changes into when he partakes of polyjuice potion to get into the ministry.

Also as a HP related segue... Fleur Delacour was in Gossip Girl the other night. Does this mean HP is really nearly over??? Everyone seems to be working on new projects.




In truth there are many reasons why I love this show, and this period, but it would take me a whole book to write them down. It took me a week and a half to get through all four seasons of the show, and it has been a nice little holiday from being a writer, but I shall get back to work on the Compound now, with fresh eyes and a re-invigoured approach... that is, as soon as I can stop speaking and thinking in Early Modern English.