I was lucky enough to go to university for free. It seems unlikely my children will be this fortunate.
I’m blessed to live in a country with universal health care.
I’ve seen the devastation wrought by dispossession from traditional lands (and songlines) and forced separation from families. Consequently, I’m a firm believer in indigenous land rights.
I didn’t grow up in a household that beatified the prime minister responsible for these changes. But I certainly grew up grateful for the social policies Mr Gough Whitlam mustered through the federal parliament.
Similar to the cartoonist First Dog on the Moon, my hope is that our current politicians might be inspired by Mr Whitlam’s lasting legacy and focus on the greater good, rather than mean-spirited ideology.
As Paul Kelly and Kev Camody wrote, even small changes can make a big difference.
Melbourne singer, songwriter, actress and entrepreneur Clare Bowditch is the driving force behind the annual Big Hearted Business seminars in which artists are educated in ways of business and business people in the mysteries of creativity. I’ve never attended and can’t this year, (much as I’d like to,) but the concept seems mighty fine to me.
As an author I wish I didn’t have to think about money. Ever. Ideally, my day would be spent dreaming up characters and action. Word flow not cash flow. Places and plots not profit and loss. So any tips that render the money side of existing easier would truly be golden.
It’s a bit of a detour but I’m reminded of when a newspaper asked a fantastic local author what she might do with the windfall from a major literature prize she had just won. The author answered that she would buy a new kettle. That speaks volumes about arts funding in Australia, people.
Starving artists aside, the bodacious Ms Bowditch is gifting even us non-attendees Inspiration Bombs via her BHB website. I was drawn to this one because it features not only words from musician Missy Higgins but the art-in-progress of Ghostpatrol, a combination too good to miss.
Some of the comments that struck a chord with me go to the importance of not second guessing what will appeal to consumers, particularly in the age of cowardly instant feedback via (anti)social media. The wonderful Ms Higgins says:
“It helps to just pull back and go, you know what, I am just going to do what I do and have faith that there’s going to be a market out there for me. The only thing you can do is do your best and do what comes naturally to you and the rest will follow. But it absolutely never works if you try and cater toward a potential fan base.”
She continues: “True originality is not going to be understood straight away. And it’s not going to be understood by a lot of people. If you’re truly creative and truly original then you’re going to have a lot of people feel strongly about it. Either way, you are going to polarise people but that’s the only way to come up with something that’s truly great.”
Like Ms Higgins, I take inspiration from many places. Songs, movies, gardens, wielding of words, visual art and creative people generally. So it put a smile on my face to find a Ghostpatrol on my way to a recent writing course. Here it is for you.
Extract from the The Sunday Age’s M magazine cover story on Melbourne musician Clare Bowditch on May 6, 2012:
“People are so scared of not being good enough, they keep their first draft under their bed forever,” she says. “No one tells you that when you start something you’ll be shit at it for a while.”
Now, when an aspiring songwriter asks her how to get started, she tells them: “Just write the f—ing song.”
Despite her improvement, Bowditch says she writes, “10 shit songs for every average one, and three average songs for every good one”. This ratio has remained constant. What’s changed is that she no longer flagellates herself over the mediocre tunes.
“The trick is to just keep on creating,” she says. “If you do, victory is nigh, whether the world recognises it or not.”
2011 has been a tough year but not without highlights. Some of these include:
– Dawn over the wetlands at Kakadu
– Visiting Pascoe Vale Girls’ College for the Premiers’ Reading Challenge. Best crowd ever and I can proudly say all the library copies of my books had been stolen.
– Building friendships with other authors; I’m blessed to get to hang out with some truly fantastic people with wonderful, magical minds.
– Getting a short story published in The New Paper Trails
– Cadel Evans winning the Tour de France
– Lunchtime in the library at MacKillop College in Werribee, hanging out with the Book Clubbers and signing copies of Five Parts Dead for many more students than the teachers expected.
– A new bike
– Good friends and family
– Doing a masterclass in writing graphic novels and comics. (How cool is it that classes like this exist?)
– Clare Bowditch’s Eva Cassidy tribute show (made me cry)
Next year I’ll strive to avoid fulltime work and submerge myself in writing again.
Other favourites experienced during 2011:
TV: Deadwood; Friday Night Lights; season 5 of Skins; Bored to Death; 30 Rock reruns Movies: Murundak: Songs of Freedom; Red Dog; Harry Potter finale; The Ides of March Reading: Jeph Loeb’s Batman: Hush series; Glenda Millard’s beautiful The Naming of Tishkin Silk; Craig Thompson’s Habibi (Wow!); Derek Landy’s The Death Bringer; Scot Gardner’s The Dead I Know Music: Wilco’s The Whole Love; Bon Iver’s trippy self titled album; vintage Springsteen; the Jezabels generally.
To everyone who has visited and engaged with this irregular blog, read my books, followed me on Twitter or supported me in other ways, you have my profuse thanks. May the new year bring you adventure, love and laughter.