Resurrecting the Renegade

Today I’ve been hit by a crippling bout of nostalgia. I’m coming down with a curious temptation to return to a manuscript long left dormant and try and salvage what was very nearly my first published work. A few years ago I wrote a novel titled Renegade, a tale of murder and mayhem that almost drove me insane. The story was told from the duel perspectives of a killer and the police officer leading the hunt to find him, and was one of the most enjoyable pieces of work I have ever completed. Or at least it was, the first time I wrote it.

I was only about nineteen years old when I completed the first draft of Renegade, and with my youth came a state of naivety. I assumed that the first draft of my manuscript would be strong enough to navigate the proverbial slush pile of scripts saturating the desks of publishers and agents throughout the industry. But after a few knockbacks I took to rewriting the story and editing the absolute shit out of it. From there I started to see some improvements, and I started to progress ever so slowly through the initial stages of securing an agent for my work.

But with these minor successes came the need to edit again and again. The agency that I was in contact with asked for another rewrite on the manuscript and I begrudgingly obliged time and time again, until I found myself crying in the wardrobe one night and decided that enough was enough. Renegade was complete; I had edited the fucking thing to the point where I couldn’t bear to look at it anymore. Thankfully my agency agreed that the editing side of things was complete. They were finally happy to take on the manuscript and present it to the world. Shortly after I received a contract from a publishing company and thought that I had finally made it as an author… Unfortunately the deal fell through and I was left right back where I started, without a publisher or an agent to represent my work.

From there I started approaching publishers direct, and nearly found a home for Renegade with an Australian publishing house, before failing to progress through the final stages of the selection process. My work was praised for its construction, but much to my dismay the publishing house suggested that I make a few edits; that I rewrite sections of the script to improve its overall marketability. And in my infinite stupidity I decided against following their suggestions and chose to simply abandon the script altogether.

It wasn’t until a few years later during a university lecture that I learned a very valuable lesson; publishers don’t often give out feedback on a script. And if they do, it means that they believe in the work and you should just make the fucking changes to please them. After all, they are the ones who are potentially financing your dreams.

So now years later, as I sit on my hands and await some feedback on the Midas script that is still half a world away, I have to contend with a case of nostalgia for the novel that never was. While I would love to devote the time and effort required to resurrect Renegade and see it put into print, I feel that right now I’m not in the right headspace to reopen Pandora’s Box just yet. Instead I’ll keep toiling away on the follow up to Midas and the love story that I have been trying to develop. I’ll eventually return to Renegade one day, and when I do I know that I will be able to turn what I have into something fantastic. But sadly, today is just not that day.

On a side note, I am involved in the 2013 Best Australian Blogs competition. If you would like to vote for me in the people’s choice awards, just click on the big button below. As always, I promise to be in touch very soon.

You’re now reading from the mother-fucking greatest.

Oh, that sounds arrogant doesn’t it? For a lot of you reading it probably doesn’t sit quite right. And to be honest, it shouldn’t. How can someone so young and so inexperienced be so bold as to call themself the greatest? What have I possibly achieved to warrant making such an outlandish claim when history has bought so many fantastic writers whose skills far surpass my own? Well, it’s at this point that I ask you to bear with me for just a little while longer before you pass judgement and write me off as an arrogant prick.

I believe every single word of this entry’s title, yet at the same time I am willing to concede that I am nowhere near worthy of having such adulation bestowed upon me. So, now that I have utterly confused and frustrated the reader, I better back-track and explain just what the fuck I am talking about.

I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection over the past week or so. Now that I have (finally) sent my manuscript in its entirety to the Brooklyn based literary agent that I have been dealing with throughout the last few posts, I’ve had a lot of downtime to reassess myself as a person and more importantly, as a writer. While my little adventure down the path of self-discovery was designed as a way to take a few days off before delving into novel number two, I have managed to stumble upon a few gems of wisdom that will alter the course of my writing journey along the way.

I’ve learnt over the course of the past week to fully immerse myself in an ideal that I have been trying to implement into my life for a while now. The idea that people don’t buy what we do, they buy why we do it. This little nugget of motivational wisdom is something that I have been trying to base my professional career upon ever since stumbling across it. But now it’s something that I have learned can be immensely valuable to my continued development as a writer. How? Well, I’ll give you a hint. It’s hidden in the subconscious undertone of this very post’s title. I believe that I am the greatest writer there is. I believe that my skills are developing every single time I put pen to paper. And in doing so, in immersing myself so completely in an unwavering belief in my own abilities, my writing is improving accordingly. And as a result, I just might be able to convince a few others to believe it to.

I’m continually evolving as a writer, and as a man. Yet until I found the self-belief to expose myself to the world, to stand tall and say ‘fuck it. I am good enough to scream my own name from the rooftops’ my writing was only ever going to develop so far. Yet with my new found vigour and unwavering devotion to my craft, there is no limit to what my mind can create. I whole-heartedly believe that I am the mother-fucking greatest. I believe that I am going to be a writer worthy of acclaim sometime in the foreseeable future, and I believe so strongly in my convictions that I can no longer envision myself as a failure. Whether I sell a hundred thousand books or whether I sell zero, I have already achieved everything I ever dreamed of just by having you read this blog on a (somewhat) regular basis. Everything from here on out is just a bonus.

But alas, that’s enough procrastinating for now. It’s time to step down off my hastily erected soap box and start making some progress on the Midas sequel. So for now, I am happy to leave you somewhat baffled as whether you should love me or loathe me for my confidence. Or is it arrogance? Either way, I promise to be in touch very soon.

A side project of a different kind.

I’ve been thinking about the future a lot over the past few days. As I draw closer to finalising the edit of my manuscript before I send it off into the literary world, my mind has started to wander to the projects that lay ahead of me now that I have completed a script that has been six years in the making. I have just a few precious days left labouring over the manuscript that has come to be known as Midas, and after that I will delve straight into part two of what is set to be a four novel saga. And from where I sit right now, in front of a blank document that awaits my mind’s eye to weave a gripping tale of destruction and woe, the future appears to be full of possibility.

While I am in the very early stages of planning this novel and researching exactly what I need to in order to construct a compelling read, there are a few certainties that I have already locked into place. While I would love to sit here and outline exactly what I have planned, I feel that doing so would take away from the beauty of Midas when it (hopefully) makes it into print in the near future. So for now, all I will say is that I have settled on the name of what will hopefully be one of my two protagonists and the character histories of two new antagonists who will elevate my script to a whole new level.

But even as my mind is feverishly creating these fantastic characters, scenes and plotlines, I can’t seem to ignore that little voice inside my head that is urging me to branch out, take on a side project, and start dabbling in alternate genres. A while back I quoted comic book writer Alan Moore, stating that to be a successful writer you need to immerse yourself in the least desirable element and swim. To dive head first into ideas and genres that are foreign to your talents in order to continually develop as a writer. It is an idea that I have used before to great success, this very blog was a product of Moore’s ideals, and now after a considerable number of posts it is continually gaining momentum and humbling its creator every single day. So, if I was to create a side project; something to dabble with while I continue to develop the ongoing saga that I have started, what genre would I choose to write in? Well, as crazy as it seems (and trust me, it’s fucking ridiculous), I want to write a love story.

Every single thing I have ever written has been written with a view to please myself. A view to create something that I would love to read if it were ever presented to me in print. So as a young male, my stories are almost always fast paced, incorporating elements such as sex, murder, drugs, and all round debauchery and mayhem.  So, imagine the effort it would take for me to generate a piece of work that focuses almost entirely on the intricacies of man and woman, and the delicate unfurling rose that is their courtship. In all honesty it wouldn’t be the first time that I have tried to write such a story; I have been down this path a few times before. Twice I have submitted university assessments based loosely around love and romance; however both were labelled as vulgar, sexist, and downright offensive by my tutors. Apparently there is something taboo about creating a love story that ends with the female cutting out the male’s heart and burying it in her back yard….

Obviously I know my place in the literary world; I know that I am not going to be the next Nicholas Sparks, and nor do I want to be. Rather I want to take the ideals of the classic love story and breathe new life into a genre that has been beat down by writer after writer cashing in on society’s desire to feel in order to make a quick buck. I still want the piece to feel like a Chris Nicholas artwork. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll will still feature heavily in any work I produce at this stage of my writing evolution, but I want it to do so in a manner that aids the story, rather than defining it.

But this idea, this love story, if it is ever to come to fruition, will never be more than a side piece. My heart and my head are still firmly embedded within the saga that I have begun. Midas is a piece of writing that I will forever hold close to my heart, but it is merely the beginning of a journey that will (figuratively) bring the world of my characters to its knees.

Holding a wolf by its ears

Have you ever reached a point in your life where it feels like you are holding a wolf by its ears? A point where you have somehow wrestled every single aspect of your chaotic life into a (barely) manageable timetable that you bust your arse just to keep in check? – Well right now, that’s my life. Chaotic would be an understatement. Even calling it exhausting would seem less than fitting.
Since my last blog my life has become incredibly frantic, and I have done everything within my power to keep a handle on each component as best I can. But despite my best efforts it’s getting increasingly difficult to maintain the insane pace of my current existence. In the past two weeks I’ve moved house, worked non-stop, recommenced university for the year, and had some rather unexpected (and extremely positive) contact with the Brooklyn based literary agent mentioned in my last post. And it is this final point threatening to disturb my barely manageable timetable and leave me teetering on the verge of another writing induced meltdown.

Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely thrilled and humbled by the incredible feedback that my work has received from an external body. It’s something that every writer strives for; for someone to deem their work and their skill set to be of a publishable quality. But the fact that I am still editing the work has left me in the difficult situation of trying to finalise the edit as quickly as possible whilst still maintaining a keen eye to tweak and edit the manuscript’s finer details. I realise now that submitting a query to an agent when my script was still undergoing an edit was about as intelligent as pissing into the wind. But in all fairness I never expected such an efficient turnaround time from a company located halfway around the world.

Every spare moment I have right now is dedicated to finalising my script so that it can be sent in its entirety to the agent so that a final decision can be made in regards to the marketability of the finished product. I am quietly confident that what I have will be successful, but it’s still a daunting concept to know that each day will follow the same exact process of rising at five o’clock in the morning to edit before working an eight hour day, to then return home and dive straight back into my editing until I’m happy with the end result. And I’m doing this whilst still trying to juggle my university studies and maintain a social life. My body hates me for all the hours of inactivity it is enduring lately. I’m exhausted and I feel like shit after spending such long portions of the day painstakingly dissecting a piece of work that I already know like the back of my hand. But I will continue on this path of reckless inactivity until I can proudly proclaim my edit complete and submit a fully polished script to my agent.

But alas, this is the life that I chose to live when I (foolishly) decided to set myself the goal of becoming a published author; a life of anxiety, inactivity, and sheer frustration over the fact that my edit is still roughly two weeks from completion. I know that right now I am holding a wolf by its ears as I struggle to realise my dream whilst maintaining a normal existence. But if my labours pay off than the spoils will far outweigh the countless hours slaving over laptop, pen and paper.

Patience is bitter. But its fruit is sweet. – Aristotle.

Playing with fire & a sneak peak at a labour of love.

Last week I took a gamble and sent a query letter detailing the plot points of my manuscript off to a company located halfway around the world in Brooklyn NY. In addition to a synopsis of my work, the letter also outlined my intent to become a published author and detailed what minor successes I have had to date. I chose the literary agent after a considerable amount of research as they came with the highest level of recommendation and boasted an impressive line-up of authors. In my eyes when I sent this letter off I was playing with fire. My manuscript has only been recently completed and is in the stages of being rewritten and edited, but I’ve been through the waiting game with agents and publishers before and know that it can take months for someone to respond to your work, if they respond at all. So imagine my elation/horror when two days later I receive a reply from the agent asking to view my entire manuscript!

For those of you who do work (or aspire to work) in the publishing industry you will know that an agent or publishing house will usually ask to see first 20-50 pages of a script they deem worthy of further review. So when the email arrived asking for the entire script my joy and excitement quickly gave way to angst and the crippling realisation that the script wasn’t anywhere near ready to view in its entirety. I sent what little I could to the agent with the promise of more to come, and have now spent so much of the past week reworking my script that I feel as though I am on the verge of growing to hate my labour of love once again. I played with fire by jumping the gun, never assuming that I would be burnt so quickly.

In any case, before I take a deep breath and delve back into the nightmarish stack of crisp white paper still waiting to be edited, I wanted to share with you all a little snippet from something that has been a few years in the making. I hope that you enjoy it…

The spring sun had set on Marseilles, France’s second largest city and its largest commercial port. The temperature was a mild eighteen degrees Celsius and the trade wind known as the Mistral blew through the valleys of the Rhone before finally unleashing their bitter assault on the city. The harshly-cold wind was an unwelcome change from the warm early spring days the city had experienced over the past week, and many residents had locked themselves indoors for the night. High above the city sat the Notre-Dame de la Garde, a huge basilica positioned on the city’s highest natural point, a limestone outcrop on the south side of the old port. The de la Garde looked grand against the moonlight, the cold winds lashing over its stone surface leaving a faint trace of limestone in the air. The basilica was a tourist mecca and a local place of worship for Marseilles’ religious population, but right now the holy building had been closed down for the night. The huge building had been abandoned, save for the four men standing on the limestone balcony that lined its edges.

The four men gazed out over the city below, lights glistened through windows and streets cut an intricate maze through buildings as far as the eye could see. To the south the Mediterranean Sea was visible, it’s usually calm surface rippled with small wind swell created by the Mistral. The moon’s light reflected off the deep blue surface, broken only by the small whitecaps rolling silently towards the shoreline. The four men were brothers by blood, but their appearances were startling different, even when concealed by their heavy robes designed to protect them against the cold night air. The eldest brother was tall, his features dark and handsome, his eyes an endless and deadly hazel. His body was lean, yet surprisingly muscular; his age indeterminable beneath his priest’s robes and hood. Concealed beneath his robes were two pearl white handguns held in pancake holsters against his ribs.

The second brother was huge. Taller and broader than his siblings, he physically dominated the foursome. His shoulders were wide and his chest shaped as though Da Vinci himself has chiselled it from the finest of stone. His hair was a dark brown and his eyes a fiery emerald green. He wore a beard, thick and woolly, poking out from within the hood of his robe. In his right hand he held a small flick knife, the blade three inches long and cast from a blood red metal. He spun the knife effortlessly between his fingers as he watched the skyline. To his left stood the third eldest of the brothers; the quiet one, his head cast down at the floor.

The quiet one was the meekest of the foursome, standing at an embarrassing five feet nine inches with thin, sinewy shoulders. But what he lacked in physical dominance he made up for with his mysticism. Many myths surrounded the quiet one, no one had ever seen his face; his brothers included. The quiet one was known for his bizarre dress patterns; full military Special Forces combat attire, all black. His face eternally covered by a black face mask, complete with breathing apparatus that could be seen right now hanging from beneath the hood that was pulled deep over his head; a slight hiss audible as oxygen passed through the device.

The youngest of the brothers stood apart from his siblings, his head turned high towards the moon above. The hood of his robe had been removed and draped across his shoulders and neck, revealing a beautifully hideous face to the world. His head was shaved smooth, his features made sharper by the pale green tattoos that covered his face. His entire skeletal system had been tattooed onto his skin. Cheekbones, ribs, phalanges and metatarsals were replicated in soft green ink. He was tall, six feet three inches, and his eyes were a translucent grey. Death incarnate.

And there you have it. A brief interlude to a work that has been years in the making. Stay tuned, I promise to post more very soon….

Insomnia, procrastination, and the bane of my existence.

I can’t sleep. For weeks I’ve been battling through the nights in a desperate search for the mythical sandman who can bring about the sleep that has been so consistently deserting me. My nights have become a mixture of time wasting feats such as watching episode after episode of Family Guy, re-watching the Dark Knight saga, and staring at the roof of my bedroom contemplating the direction of my life.

It’s not the first time that I’ve been struck with a serious bout of restlessness and I’m sure that it won’t be the last. The key to overcoming this stint of sleep deprivation is to break down and identify why my mind has gone into overdrive as of late and develop a means of overcoming the affliction. It’s not like I don’t want to sleep. Between you and me, I’m fucking exhausted. I manage to stumble through each day fueled by a dangerously high level of caffeine coursing through my veins, but it just doesn’t compare to a decent night’s sleep.

My insomnia could be stemming from any number of things both professional and personal. My work life balance has spiraled dramatically out of control recently and I am spending increasingly large portions of my day trapped at my desk, which in turn has seen a reduction in time spent exerting physical energy. This in turn could be enough to spark a serious case of restlessness, and in the past this has been the reason behind my inability to sleep.  But I honestly believe that my current bout of insomnia is stemming from a little thing called procrastination. Since my last post I have completed the first draft of my manuscript, traveled overseas and survived the crazy time of year we know as the holiday season. What I haven’t managed to do though is start the all-important editing process that I alluded to back in December’s blog update.

I’ve had a few sporadic half-hearted attempts at editing, however if I was to be truly honest with myself I’ve been avoiding diving headfirst into the process, and now my mind and body is suffering as a result. Editing is the bane of my existence. There’s nothing worse than moving from the dizzying highs of completing a manuscript to the horrible realisation that you now have to track back through the document dozens of times until every minute detail has been rendered perfectly. I’ve been through the process a few times before, and it usually results in me despising a piece of work that I once loved. When you spend hour upon hour deconstructing something you worked so hard to create you can become so obsessed with the process that you begin to view your manuscript as a broken artwork in desperate need of a rewrite. 

I think that it’s this last point that has seen me so content to procrastinate over the editing process of my latest work. As I mentioned last time it has been over six years in the making, and I just don’t know if I am ready to shatter the love affair that I have created with my characters just yet. I know that it is a necessary evil, and the sooner that I edit, the sooner I can re-enter the slush-pile of writers bombarding publishers with manuscripts in the hopes of seeing my work in print.

So why am I still procrastinating? Even now I should be editing, not writing about it. I’m doing it again.  But hopefully this post with be therapeutic. People say that admitting your issues is the first step towards dealing with them. So here it is; my issue is that editing is the one part of my craft that I despise. Now that I have admitted this hopefully I can move forward and start to tackle the process and see it through from start to finish. God knows that I need to; if not for the sake of my manuscript than for the sake of my own sanity. I don’t know how many more nights I can spend mapping out the landscape of my bedroom ceiling. I need sleep, and I need to finalise the editing of this manuscript so that I can move onto the next. My head is already overflowing with ideas and plot points just waiting to spill onto pages, but I need to close one door before I open another. 

The long awaited closure of a manuscript.

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Have you ever had an idea so fantastic that you knew if you could just clearly convey it to others that they would love it just as much as you? Yet when you try to take this concept and verbalise it to your peers or put it into print, it fails in comparison to the whimsical ideals that you have developed in your mind’s eye? I have.

Lately I have been adding the finishing touches to the first draft of a manuscript that has been six years in the making. During that time I have produced a number of other finished manuscripts, poems, short stories and micro-fiction pieces, but all have fallen short in comparison to this one idea that has been caught up inside my fucking head.

Over those six years the plot of my story has changed dramatically: from its humble beginnings dealing with the implementation of the Kyoto protocol, to a version involving serial killers in Las Vegas, to the inception of what I can honestly say is my favourite protagonist and cluster of antagonists that I have ever created. The idea has varied so dramatically that I look back on my earlier attempts to complete the manuscript and can’t even fathom what my imagination was attempting to create. But through all of these changes there has been one solid ideal that has remained constant. That idea is that this is to be the first of a four novel saga. The concept behind the creation of my protagonist was to create a series of novels that documented his turbulent life as he sought retribution from the men who have wronged him (a feat that fills me with trepidation considering it took six years to complete the first draft of novel number one).

Without giving too much away, I would just like to say that I am incredibly excited that I have finally produced an (almost) completed version of my story that I deem worthy to present to the world. However in saying that, I am also somewhat saddened that I am moving towards the end of an era in regards to the relationship that I have formed internally with some of my characters. No longer will I be able to talk to myself in the shower or while scrubbing the dishes and refer to myself as Jason, Rapier, Pestilence, or Joshua, as at least half of those characters have been met with a horrific death over the past few weeks.

As soon as I complete the draft I am going to do a number of things; my first reaction will probably be to burst into tears and run down the street screaming I did it at the top of my lungs. After that I will probably sit back, put my feet up and have a beer to celebrate the hellacious yet unbelievably rewarding six years of writing that has been. Then, when I am finished indulging myself, I’ll get down to the nitty gritty of what I do; the editing cycle. When you have produced a manuscript that has amounted to roughly eighty thousand words on a first draft there is a huge chance that you’ve made a few mistakes in there somewhere. Misspelt words, grammatical misconstructions, and general plot errors are going to become the bane of my existence as I prepare to finalise my manuscript to place before publishers.

It’s going to take some time to edit my work, in reality it will be a couple more months before the manuscript is finalised and the editing process is complete. I’m going to hate it. I always hate editing, it’s time consuming and incredibly draining mentally. But when it’s all said and done and my work is completed and ready to be shipped off to publishing houses I’ll be able to run down the street once more and with tears streaming down my face in celebration. Then when I pull myself together, I’ll sit down, take a deep breath, and begin penning the opening lines to novel number two of four.

Great expectations and my own inevitable relapse

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I sometimes feel as though my mind has fractured into two. As though there is two very different people living inside of me who battle it out on a daily basis to see which one is allowed to control my every emotion and mood. To plagiarise the title of a famous album cover; sometimes it literally feels as though God and the Devil are raging inside me.

Since the inception of this blog and the admission of my depression to the world my life has become infinitely more wonderful, and with every day comes new and exciting prospects for myself both personally and professionally. Yet through all the positives, there are still moments when all of my demons return to haunt me. For you see, depression is like an addiction. It’s something that you can conquer, but never completely overcome. That bastard monkey will always be on my back and there will always be moments of weakness during which the devil inside me will overpower all that I have achieved and leave me feeling lost and alone. But each time my mind begins to conjure up these feelings of helplessness I am afforded the opportunity and privilege of learning from my shortcomings and growing into a more internally aware human being.

Lately I have come to understand (with the help of my beautiful girlfriend) that one of the greatest reasons for my dark days is the great expectations that I place on myself; particularly when it comes to my writing. I believe that I have what it takes to be a successful writer, and as such I push myself to my limits at every conceivable opportunity so that I can continue to develop beyond what others would believe I am capable of. In my mind, this is my greatest asset as a writer: my unrelenting drive to flourish and develop through self-assessment and reflection is what will eventually see me break into the industry as a published author. But my continued self-assessment can also be my greatest curse. Being hyper-alert of my own strengths and shortcomings causes me to reassess everything that I do, and when I feel as though my writing is falling short of my own expectations I beat myself up over my inability to achieve at the level that I know I am capable of.

When you commit yourself so completely to a task such as writing a novel, it is all too easy to overcommit and leave the rest of your life on hold why you retreat into a world populated solely by the voices inside your head. Trust me, I’ve been here before. I’ve been at that point where my entire life has suffered because of my craft and my own frustration at failing to produce just what I believed I should have. When you hit this point, everything spirals out of control and before you know it it’s 3am and you are sitting in your wardrobe crying as you try and edit your manuscript for what feels like the hundredth time, or you find yourself setting a ninety thousand word document alight in the family fireplace because you just can’t stand the sight of it anymore.

While it has been some time since I let my craft consume me to that degree, about two weeks ago I felt as though I was having a slight relapse into a depressive state. It was nothing major; I just began to notice the reappearance of the misomaniac version of myself; the man who hates everyone and everything (if you need proof take a look at my previous entry about my university lecturer). But just being able to notice this small change in my perceptions was a monumental step towards overcoming my issues once again. Being able to stop, take a deep breath and channel those small instances of hatred into my creative thought process has done wonders, both for my own sanity, and for my writing.

Right now I am writing every day. I wake up at 5am and punch out a thousand words before breakfast, and if possible I back that up with another session at night, and you know what? Between my writing, work, exercise, and enjoying the company of my beloved partner, I genuinely don’t have the time to be negative. My everyday life is so jam-packed with happiness that the misomania has vanished once again. My demons have disappeared, and while I am positive that they will live to fight another day, right now they remain out of sight and out of mind. God and the Devil will continue to rage inside me for the rest of my life, and while it does often feel as though I live a fractured existence, it is within the fractured fault lines of my two personalities that I find my inspiration to create.

For as long as I live and as long as I am a writer I will place great expectations on myself. And although at times I will falter and fail in my quest to succeed (and burn an entire manuscript out of frustration), these great expectations will inevitably be what drives me towards success.

Roadblocks & One Man’s Misconstrued Perception Of Self Worth

It has been a considerable time since I posted my last blog entry and there has been a great deal happening in my personal and professional life since then. I have relocated, completed my second year at university, submitted a manuscript to two of Australia’s largest publishing houses, and continued to write through all of this. I have been meaning to post a blog update for quite a while now, having written numerous pieces that were destined for the public forum but never quite made the final cut. But now after a few months lost in translation, my misguided, misinformed weblog is back.

In all the blog entries that I have written (both published and otherwise) I have attempted to remain positive, as for someone who has come through a spate of depression it is integral to keep your chin up and your mind focused on the positive aspects of everyday. Yet today I am going to digress away from my usually uplifting and playful banter to have a stab at something that has really rubbed me up the wrong way as of late. It’s nothing major, and if I was to be truly honest it is something that I have been aware of for a long time. In a blog that is dedicated to my writing, and the advancement towards my goal of seeing my work in print, it seems only fair to pay homage to the roadblocks that stand in my way. So, here it is: my rant will be predicated around one simple fact: the writing industry is full of fucking wankers.

The previous statement can be misconstrued as my frustration towards my continual failure to crack the ‘big time’ and receive a publishing deal, so let me explain myself before you judge me as a spiteful arsehole. I recently contacted one of my university lecturers to ask if it were possible to submit an assessment via post as I was unable to attend the University and deliver the item in person. During this incredibly brief interaction I referred to the lecturer as ‘mate’; a colloquialism that has come to be known as a term of endearment in Australian pop culture. I call everyone mate. I mean no harm by it, I actually use the term as a way to subconsciously inform my peers that I consider us to operate on a level playing field of equal importance and mutual respect. However, this particular lecturer took offence to the term and made an effort to berate me for referring to him in what he deemed to be an inappropriate manner. His exact words were “when you address a senior lecturer at university I’d advise you to avoid mate“. Seriously, where does this fuck-head get off? I’m a twenty four year old man who works full time and studies; I’m not a fucking twelve year old school boy who just called the teacher ‘mate’ by accident.

Herein this little tale lays my problem with the world of academia. Every cock-head with a degree, doctorate, masters, or otherwise suddenly becomes caught up in the hype of their own self-worth and status. To me, a senior lecturer at a university is nothing; nor is a doctor, lawyer, or any other profession. It’s the man or woman behind the title that earns the respect of those around them, not the pretty certificate that cost them four years of study and tens of thousands of dollars. This is especially true in the creative writing industry. Yes, I study creative writing, but I do so knowing that my entire degree is bullshit, and that the chances of me gaining employment from this are slim at best. So for someone who teaches students what is essentially a ‘nothing degree’ to be riding their high horse in such a way is nothing short of pathetic.

Or maybe I am wrong. Maybe I should go back and read my course summaries for university, and see if there is a correct way to address a senior lecturer written somewhere in there. Maybe ‘Sir’ would be more suited for a man who so highly values their own self-worth. Whether there is or not is irrelevant; for you see the point I am trying to make here is that the title does not make the man. The man makes the title. There are leaders. And there are those who lead.  A leader has a title, a fancy degree, and a spine a crooked as a paperclip. They lead from their pedestal and earn the respect of no one. Those who lead place no value in their title, they have a spine steeled from hard work, and they lead from the front lines, redefining just what it means to lead.

The infinite number of hopeful writers that I have come across in the past two years at university can only be described as a bag of liquorish allsorts. There are the quiet achievers, the loud-mouths, the silent assassins, the sci-fi nuts, and a myriad of other types filling the same classrooms as myself. But now at the halfway point of my degree there is a clear division between two types of people in my course. The fuckwits – those who consider think themselves to be leaders, to be the better writers, the supposed (and self-appointed) illuminati of our course. And there are those who lead; the men and women who believe in their craft and work tirelessly to succeed for no other reason than their own self-fulfilment. This second category is the men and women who will go on to find success as published authors. And every single one of them deserves it.

As for the first group. The fuckwits. Their own ignorance and misguided perceptions of self-worth will stop them from ever achieving their goals. And when they do finally realise that they haven’t achieved success they will almost certainly move into a career as a cock-head senior lecturer at a university, where they can get their rocks off over berating students for referring to them as ‘mate’.

Time to put up or shut up.

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On recent reflection something rather trivial has struck me about my sporadic blog entries. I have written two entries now about the trials and tribulations that I have endured as I strive towards my (ambitious) end-goal of becoming a published writer; yet I have never actually presented anything creative that would allow my admittedly limited followers an insight into what I am capable of producing. It sounds almost ludicrous that I have created this digital soapbox to preach my thoughts and feelings from, yet have kept the very subject that I speak about shrouded in secrecy.

Today, I will present you with a small sliver of the somewhat creative works that I produce. The following poem is far from my best work. It is simply a piece that I created as part of a university assessment last semester, and was actually the only poem that I submitted all semester that wasn’t deemed sexist, offensive, gratuitous, or downright obscene by my tutor. So if it’s not my best work, why present it? Two reasons…. Firstly, it’s short. I typically write novels or novellas, with word limits that range from fifty to a hundred thousand words. I doubt that if I submitted something of this length that anyone would actually bother to read it, and I don’t want to submit anything for your perusal that isn’t a complete piece of work. The following poem is exactly that: beginning, middle, and end all tied into two paragraphs.

The second reason, well that’s even simpler. I’m keeping a bit of an ace up my sleeve here. I’m not ready to show my best to the world, because then what have I got left to show? It’s a selfish motive I know, but it’s the honest to god truth. I’m not showing you my best…. Not just yet anyway.

So here it is, a short poem created by yours truly. It’s time to put up or shut up.

Thick ropes and heavy anchor bind a weather-beaten heart to the floor of an ocean of anguish. Swells of agony, of torment, drift beneath its bow. Ropes strain, groan, resisting their pull; the anchor digs deeper. The captain is alone. His crew abandoned ship. But this captain will go down; will drown alongside his anchored scow. Monsoons assault the deck; torrents of rain lash scuffed wood. Lightning flashes as thunder cracks overhead. The captain has survived these rains before, but now, alone, he will surely go down with his ship. His crew no longer stand beside him. No longer shoulder to shoulder. No longer hip to hip. A swell rolls beneath the bow. Ropes groan, the anchor digs deeper.

A whip crack of thunder, a vulgar finger of lightning; the anchor’s straining rope hit. A fast burning ember becomes a starburst of colour. A deafening whoosh as the thick rope ignites. The ship lurches, no longer bound to its tether. An anchored vessel now adrift in an ocean of desolation. Carried by swells; tormented by the endless pull of a power far greater than its own. The ship tumbles, rolls, and bobs. Its anchor no more.  The captain eyes an escape, a last remaining raft. But alas, he will not flee. This captain will go down with his ship. This captain will drown alongside his free floating scow. An explosion of sound. A flash flood of light. A fast burning ember as the raft’s tether ignites. The captain’s musket smokes, glistens in moonlight as the raft tumbles free.  A lurch from a swell, larger this time, the captain holds his breath, memorises the old line. The captain goes down with the ship. He takes a final breath, as his ship’s bow groans and then breaks, this god of the quarter deck falls into an abyss. His shipwrecked heart sinks. Lies broken beneath the sea.

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