Tag Archives: Coldplay

Warriors, worriers and the winding road

Japanese New Year traditions include the purchase of blank-eyed papier mache Daruma dolls. The recipient fills in one eye when they make a wish. Then, whenever they see the one-eyed doll, they are reminded to persevere, to fight on towards personal goals.

If the goal is achieved, the second eye is added. At the end of the year, whether goals are achieved or otherwise, the dolls are taken back to the temple they were purchased from, thanked for their service and burned.

My Daruma doll will finish 2014 with only one eye but that doesn’t mean it failed me. Maybe its lesson was to remind me to keep believing, keep working and focus on small steps towards the main goal. As the sign on the bakery wall said, ‘Look at the doughnut, not the hole.’

One eyed Daruma doll
One eyed Daruma doll

As the Thunder Road twists towards 2015 it’s a good time to review the year gone by. I’ve written a lot this year, probably more than I’ve ever managed before. I’ve spent many hours in schools, hopefully lodging a splinter or two of storytelling wisdom. I have a manuscript that’s teetering out into the world like a toddler taking its first steps. And another manuscript with a publisher, waiting to see if it slots into the complex 3D jigsaw that is a publishing schedule.

I’ve also made a return to journalism for the immediate future. Two employers came calling the day before an opportunity I’d been waiting on as an author evaporated. The universe can be less than subtle at times.

Over summer, I’ve set myself another goal, not quite the equivalent of NANORIMO but not unrelated, either. I’m writing quickly, as often as possible, about characters that danced into my consciousness and started talking. Listening to their banter has been great fun. Depending on how the story takes shape, and reactions from my intended crash-test dummies in the caravan park, I might even blog the chapters next year.

In the meantime, here are some of my reading, viewing and listening highlights for 2014:

Reading: I’ve spent countless hours in Westeros these past few years and can only doff my cap to Mr George RR Martin for his epic and detailed imagination. I’d been waiting to finish A Dance with Dragons before tackling Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North but ultimately couldn’t wait. I’m glad I didn’t. The Man Booker prize winner is visceral and confronting and worthy of multiple readings. I also finished Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy. Amazing stuff.

Watching: Am loving True Detective and The Walking Dead. At the cinemas I enjoyed Edge of Tomorrow and The Fault in our Stars, both of which had their origins in YA novels.

Listening: Chet Faker’s Built on Glass; Coldplay’s Ghost Stories; new CW Stoneking and official recordings of the Springsteen concert I attended.

Thank you to everyone has read my work, listened to and hosted me at schools and libraries, and stocked my books this year. Those who have attended my workshops will know I rave on a bit about the importance of spell-check and proof-reading so I’ll sign off with my favourite typographical errors of the year, sourced from entries in a short story competition I judged in October:

  • “We were being pursued by Mongolian worriers.”
  • “The uninhibited backyard was overgrown with weeds.”
  • “Mum and Dad scarified themselves for me.” (Ouch!)
  • “I must be imaging things.”

There’s already a meme out and about but, inspired by these latest errors, perhaps I should adopt it for 2015: ‘Be a warrior, not a worrier.’


Five Parts Dead dismembered

This set of images was prepared for Simmone Howell’s Anatomy of a Novel series, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. Copyright was an issue with some of the images I wanted to include but this is still a pretty fair snapshot of the influences wafting through my mind while writing Five Parts Dead.

For the lowdown on each image and how it connects to Five Parts Dead, please pop on over to postteen trauma.

The view from the top

When I’ve just seen a great movie, listened to a top new album or viewed an exhibition, I revel in the goshness of others’ imaginations and talents. Sometimes I have a surge of creativity and want to sit down and let ideas snap, crackle and pop out of me.

Insights into how other people tackle their art – and the the way their minds work – can also be inspiring and encouraging. For instance, when I hear that people who have achieved sustained success still experience doubts about their abilities, that is very reassuring.

Here’s a quote from Coldplay frontman Chris Martin in the doco Viva Coldplay: “I’m in a constant turmoil. I never quite know if we are good or we are bad because whatever you do someone likes it and someone doesn’t. That’s why you just have to keep playing every day, keep writing the lists (of new songs) and keep playing.”

As a novice author, I continually doubt myself so it’s amazing to hear someone who has had global success admit to similar fears and acknowledge the need to press harder.

And criticism? Anyone who dares to take their work public has to steel themselves for negative reviews.

Martin said of Coldplay: “About three years ago we got really taken to pieces by the New York Times which a lot of our friends were really nervous about mentioning. In fact it turned out to be most constructive. I read it and I was like OK, I don’t agree with that bit but I do agree my lyrics are not good enough so I am going to work a bit harder at that. Eventually it becomes quite useful.”

All four band members all came across as humble and self-effacing in this documentary. Indeed, Martin told a story where his father out for dinner and mentioned, “one of my sons is a banker and the other is an international rockstar … and the person responded, ‘Really? Which bank?’ That’s the sort of place I come from.”

I’m galaxies away from being a rockstar but it’s brilliant when I hear from someone who has read one of my books and enjoyed it. Imagine how it must feel to have a stadium full of fans singing one of your songs.

Martin said: “It makes me laugh some times that things you have written in the height of loneliness, in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, that suddenly 20,000 people are singing it with you. It’s such a funny transition… It could not have started in a more individual place but when it finishes up it’s such a collective atmosphere. That really makes me … That’s pure happiness.”

I wonder if JK Rowling feels like that?

Mad March update

Hello again, as indicated in the previous post, I expect my progress down the Thunder Road to be spasmodic at best this month.

That said, I can provide a quick update on some of the activities keeping me busy.

– The 90km Benalla bike ride had a real chatty, community feel for the first hour. One cyclist described it to me as “speed dating on wheels”. Once we hit the main hill climb the superstars took off and the bunch splintered. I rode the final 40km solo into a head wind. By the end I felt like I hadn’t ridden at all – just had my buttocks smashed by a meat tenderizer for three hours. Turns out the bitumen is a bit bumpier in the bush compared to the city.

Booktalkers was a thoroughly fun night. It’s always interesting hearing how other authors come up with their ideas. The only bummer was that John Marsden got stuck behind a fallen tree and couldn’t join us on stage. You can read my report on the night, here.

– And yes, as is evident from that last link, I’m now blogging at insideadog and really enjoying it.

– The Coldplay concert was brilliant. All the hits and almost every song from the Viva La Vida album. Acoustic numbers, piano solos, electronica remixes, singalongs and bona fide stadium rock. All without the usual posturing. Superstars without super-egos. Fantastic.

– No news on my manuscript at present.

Will post other updates here as time permits.