Public Affair

Anyone who knows me well, knows that my favourite author is the sublimely talented Elizabeth Gilbert. I find her so inspiring, her memoir Eat Pray Love changed my life and helped me forge my own journey (albeit not through the beauty of places like Italy, Bali or India) to self acceptance and through the pit of depression and out into the light. If you follow my Goodbye Fatty blog, you will no doubt already know all about these challenges and what I went through so you are all caught up? Great!

Liz (I hope I am allowed to call her that?) has written a fabulous new book called Big Magic, it is all about creative living beyond fear, something that speaks very expressly to me. I have been devouring this book every night, chapter by chapter, consistently fist pumping and screaming out “Yes! Yes! This so happens!” to the point of my housemates asking if I am ok in there (to which I reply with a resounding YES!). This is something that I have struggled with for so long, constantly being excited by creativity, but then fear creeps in and takes over and everything dwindles and I fall back into the black pit of “artist suffering” resolving myself to the fact that I will never be a writer or creative person.

A large part of the book explores our influences growing up and what people say to us about being creative and how this cannot lead to success (or what the world deems as successful) and I must admit that this is where probably three quarters of my fear comes from. What if I put it out there and it gets shot down? What if everyone laughs at it and it is a complete failure? What if my family read it and realise that some of this is about them? What then? This and a host of a million other questions consistently flood my mind when I start a creative project, I exhaust myself going through all of this, that I am so depleted and my creativity is completely bruised and battered, and the project slips away.

One of the ideas in the book explores making our creative projects public, this is something that I also struggle with, I have believed for the longest time that all creative work is for public consumption, otherwise how do you know if its any good? This has been my struggle this week and my realisation is this, I create because I want to create, because I make something that did not exist the day before. I do it because it get’s hold of me and I have to get it out. It doesn’t have to be a fully formed novel or script, it can be an idea with a few major plot points, and the more I dwell on it and research it, it reveals more of itself during this process. My problem is posting everything up for anyone and everyone to see before it has been attended to and coddled to produce a work worthy of creativities idea. I also do this in my personal life too and this has been a huge realisation this week, I looked back at the last few posts on here and they are deeply personal. I am posting up thoughts and events about myself and someone else I am currently involved with (hopefully still am!) and while I am an open book, he is a private person who does not necessarily want my thoughts about us and him out there for everyone to see.

When I approached the subject with him, he did listen and say that he understands why I need to write about it, and I agree to some extent that I definitely do need to write about it, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be public. So if you are reading this expecting hot and steamy details about my relationship, I am sorry to disappoint you, moving forward that is completely off the cards, I will be continuing to write about it, but it will not be something that is made for public consumption.

I feel like this is a first in a series of giant leaps forward for my creative life and I am excited about where it takes me. If you look to the left you will see a cute little cartoon that I nabbed from Liz Gilbert’s Facebook page about fear. This is a quote from Big Magic about where fear should be in the presence of our creative lives. “Fear is allowed to come along for the ride, but it is sitting in the back seat, it doesn’t get a say, it doesn’t get to navigate, it definitely does not get to take over, it does not even get to touch the radio! Instead of fighting it or conquering it, we have to work with it and acknowledge that it exists” I cannot stop reading this passage over and over and dwelling on the direction this will take my writing.

Recently I gave up playing games and dedicated that time to my writing, already in the last few weeks I have seen such a surge forward in my work, I am getting to pursue and accept so many things that I just kept on the back-burner because I was convinced that I would do these things “when the time was right”. Already this post is close to 1000 words, something that used to feel like such a chore to get out, now just seems to be flowing out of me as I open myself up to the creative process and accept that yes I am a writer, yes I am a successful creator and I have all the tools I need to do this.

If you want to listen to the Magic Lessons podcast hosted by Liz Gilbert you can subscribe here

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A Change Is As Good As A Holiday

For those that do not know me personally, I have recently relocated from the stormy and cold city of Sydney, to the sunny, friendly and breathtakingly beautiful state of Queensland. An opportunity came up at work to relocate and after much soul searching (a whole 24 hours) I said yes and then it seemed as if I blinked and it was time to move.

I haven’t talked much about my time in Sydney, it was one of the most challenging and rewarding times of my life. I moved after completing a 12 week challenge that reinvigorated my body, I had dreams, I had ambition and a new job and everywhere I went it seemed like everyone around me was shitting all over it. I had one persistent and ever optimistic friend (thanks Sipple!) who encouraged me to keep going for my dreams and if it wasn’t for here I would not have experienced half of what I did in my time there.

Sydney was amazing for my Novastream website, movie premieres, gaming events, networking and connections and I found myself busying my life with this noise and surrounding myself with “things to do” that were distracting me from what was really going on inside. I had up and moved and left all of my friends behind, and instead of taking all I had learnt with me, I fell victim to what I am calling “Sydney Syndrome”, an infectious disease that I found in a lot of people I met with there.

They, like me, had moved to Sydney hoping to achieve their dreams, they had big plans, make it big, get rich, get connected enough that they could then get out and live where they wanted to and all would be right in the world. One of these people (whose name I have changed for the sake of this article) is Mike. Mike had moved here 12 months before I did, working at a low level paying office job in the CBD, a horrible boss, whose dreams had also been squashed by the city lights, he went in day and day out, 5 sometimes 6 days a week and had dreams of running a Google like empire. He had the degree, he had the connections, but the city had beaten him down, told him that too many other people were trying to do the same thing, so what is the point of trying to do it? You will try, fail and then have to come back to work here and will end up resenting yourself and life. No, no, it is easier and more rewarding if you just stick to what you know and leave that to Sundar Pichai’s of the world.

Another friend Bettina, had been living here for 6 years, she wanted to be a news reporter, and now worked in the low level administration for a television studio. She spent her days answering phones, through her window she could see the news desk and coerced with journalists and camera crew all day, sitting there longing for the job, but overtime she thought she tried, she was denied, feeling like she was always overlooked for someone younger, someone prettier so she descended into madness and monotony and decided to stick to what she knew.

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Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a trashing Sydney post, I learned so much from my time there about myself, about other people and about the world. All I will say is that it was definitely not the place for me. I do miss the coffee and the late night shopping combined with the consistent slew of events that the city just seems to pump out day and night throughout the year. Sydney will always have a fond place in my heart, it taught me a lot about myself and revealed some ugly truths that I had to face and deal with.

So where am I now? I am in Queensland, everyday is feeling like a holiday at the moment, I go to work during the day, then in the afternoons and evenings I get to explore some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet (I could possibly be biased here, just a little!) I feel like this place has defrosted me from the inside out. I am dating again, and successfully this time (I think…) work is great, my direction and purpose feel revitalised and the blocks that were stopping me are feeling further and further away. If I get bored or need inspiration I can drive to a beautiful beach, go for a walk in the golden sand, eat ice cream and go on a rollercoaster, and it’s still winter! I feel lucky and blessed to be here and I would not want it any other way.

An Open Letter To Foxtel & AME

On Monday Foxtel’s Facebook page went rampant with posts about an advertisement for the Marriage Alliance “Same Sex Marriage : There’s More To It Than You Think” (see ad here) Hundreds of disgruntled customers and annoyed LGBT Australians and supported flooded the page with messages of anger and disgust over the decision to air these ads repeatedly over the weekend. The ad claims that same sex marriage will lead to changes in sex education in schools, effect children and directs viewers to a website to find more information (you really should check it out!)

Like clockworks customers and the LGBT community and its supporters hit the Foxtel Facebook page, flooding it with outrage. Cancellations and promises of moving to streaming services flowed on their page for days, as well as members of the LGBT community and their supporters tearing down the company for daring to air the ad. I was also one of these people, not a Foxtel subscriber, but a member of the LGBT community and felt outraged that an ad I hadn’t bothered to watch was aired on a service that I did not have. So after I wrote a scathing message condemning Foxtel for daring to show the ad, I actually watched it and realised that it wasn’t anywhere near as offensive as others had claimed, and that I was more offended that the Marriage Alliance seemed to blame the gay community for sinking the Titanic!

Foxtel were not the only one’s to cop it, the Australian Marriage Equality Twitter page was bombarded with messages of outrage, as they had previously confirmed that Foxtel were a corporate sponsor and support of AME. This response was posted by the AME in conjunction with Foxtel :

“Australian Marriage Equality values the support shown by Australia’s business community for marriage equality. Foxtel is among our corporate supporters.

A group opposing marriage equality, known as “the Marriage Alliance”, is currently airing an advertisement through various media outlets including Foxtel. It is their right to express their views.

The feedback from decision-makers in Canberra is that the “Marriage Alliance” advertisement is actually helping our campaign. The ad offers nothing new and and our research indicates that when opponents of marriage equality express their views in the way they have, support for marriage equality increases.

We urge community members who are angry about the ad to turn their anger into positive action.

If you’re outraged with the Marriage Alliance’s campaign the best way to end it is to help make marriage equality happen and recruit everyone you know to help. There are actions listed on our new website www.wecandothis.org.au

You can leave a message in support of marriage equality on our Equality Calling hotline 1300663679. Your message will go direct to your MP and Senators.”

Similarly Fairfax media have aired the ad on Channel Nine and online on their news website. In response they have said a Fairfax Media spokesman said:  “The advertising Fairfax runs is just that, advertising, and not reflective of the company’s position on anything whatsoever.”

It is hard to not get emotional about this issue, Tony Abbott himself confirmed that this is a very personal and emotional subject and it is easy to get upset when the opposite opinion is aired. It is easy to forget that we live in a democratic country that has the openness to show both sides of an argument and it is our job as human beings to respect that there are two sides. We don’t have to agree with it, we don’t have to support it, but we should as human beings and Australian’s at least allow for that other opinion to be heard. Now before you start commenting and biting my head, you should know my stance on the issue. I am a gay man and I support marriage equality 100%. I am not in a relationship so this is not something that is an immediate option for me, but I do have friends who have been in loving and fruitful relationships for many years, who would love the option to enter into a marriage in the eyes of their country.

The good news moving forward is that the five day span of Marriage Alliance ads are now over, in that time we saw a six hour parliamentary debate happen with the current government to decide what to do moving forward with this issue, yes no decision was made, but what did come out of it was more conversation and more discussion within our community. Media outlets like The Project and MammaMia have posted articles and videos in support of Marriage Equality and condemning the speech from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who remains stagnant on the issue. American actor and comedian Jack Black even voiced his opposition to Abbott stating “I personally think the guy’s living in the stone ages, though. He’s not seeing the writing on the wall. The movement of the world is heading towards equality for all people, all sexual preferences. Come on, we’re all the same in the end. Who cares what gives you a boner. Really?”

So where to from here? I can confirm that Australian Marriage Equality have their own ad coming and it will run for a lot longer than the five days given to Marriage Alliance, just like you I jumped down Foxtel’s throat without thinking, without investigating further what would happen with Foxtel’s alliance with the AME and how this will change things in the future. If you look at Marriage Equality in other countries, it has passed when both sides have been given time to air, because in the end love wins. Showing the ad from the Marriage Alliance highlight’s the ignorance and exploitation of children, while AME show’s nothing but pure and beautiful love, love that should be celebrated, love that should be encouraged and love that should be accepted.

I guess this is a really long way of me personally apologising to Foxtel for jumping the gun and posting my ill-informed message on your Facebook wall. At the time I withdrew Novastream affiliation for Foxtel and affiliated streaming service Presto with our upcoming podcast The Streaming Show, we now would like to reinstate our full support and thank Foxtel for supporting the AME and airing pro marriage equality ads on their channels. We look forward to the day that Australia finally achieves marriage equality, until then there will be plenty of debate around the issue and remember, in the end love always wins!

Discovering The Art Of Writing

For the last few years I have been studying journalism, as well as this and other communications subjects, I have also been studying creative writing classes. The two kind of cancel each other out (or compliment each other depending on what your definition of journalism is!) and all I remember from all of my classes is knowing your audience, know who you are writing for, write the words they relate to, write the words they want to hear. The first time I heard these words I was furious, how can we write purely for someone else? Why should my words only be for someone else? 

I reflected on this idea for the longest time. I remember my news writing class and the lecturer telling us that when you write a news story about a car crash for instance, you should always go for an angle, so if it is a family car crash the headline would have to be about children dying in a car crash because the everyday person will find this appealing, I remember raising my hand and saying “But if anyone dies, isn’t that a tragedy as it’s a loss of any human life?” She looked at me, turned her head to the side as if to examine me, laughed and walked away. 

Needless to say I didn’t get very good marks in her class, but I did well enough to pass and get as far as away from that as I could. I dove into reviews, because it is easy to look at someone else’s work and give the yes or no opinion of that and I guess I sort of buried my head in review sand and stayed there for as long as I possibly could. 

When it came to my creative writing classes, I clearly excelled and relished every millisecond I had in these amazing lectures that filled me with such inspiration. I clung onto my notes from these classes like they were 100 dollar bills and soaked every scrap of information I could extract from them. I was so in love with these classes I just wanted to live in this universe forever. 

As 2013 wore on and on, I found myself writing and not sharing it with anyone. Not sending it to my editor to read over and get feedback, not publishing it on any website or sending it anywhere, just keeping it for me to read over and over again. As I wrote it all down I never once thought “Who am i writing this for?” or “Who is my audience?” Instead I wrote it and used it as my creative outlet and kept it close to my heart. 

When I started writing more and more towards the end of the year, I realised that I never wanted to be the kind of person that writes for someone else, I want to write my way, not using anyone else’s style or voice. I don’t care if it never gets published, I don’t care if I never make a single cent off it. Writing is my art and I will treasure it until the day I die and none can take it away from me. It was in this moment that I discovered that not only had I wasted a degree in journalism, I also feel like I have finally found my voice, my passion, and am in a place of being happy with my writing and what my creativity is pouring into the universe.