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

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!

Saving Mr Banks

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Tonight for one of my friend’s 30th birthday, part of the festivities was going to see a movie. Originally we were meant to see The Hobbit, and thanks to the pleading and no no no from his wife, we decided to see Saving Mr Banks instead. For those not in the know, the film follows the life of author P.L Travers as she goes through the motions of signing her novel rights of the book Mary Poppins to Walt Disney to make it into the film that we all remember from our childhood Mary Poppins. 

Mrs Travers (as she likes to be called) is a tough old thing, she is very protective of her writing and characters and doesn’t want the story to turn into a typical Disney cartoony feature. She spends 20 years going back and forth with the rights before she actually agrees to come to America and look over scripts and hand over the rights. She is intricate in every decision made about these characters, down to the way they look, they act, where they live, what the house looks like. One of the characters announces about this “Does it matter?” and while people watching this laugh and agree, I couldn’t help but sit there and answer back “yes it fucking does!” 

To anyone who is not a creative person, this woman looks like a crazy, unsociable bitch, but to me she looks like an incredibly gifted and talented writer who knew her characters inside out, she knew what they wore, how they acted, where they would live, what it would look like and clung them so close to her chest, for anyone to suggest anything different would just be ridiculous. As a writer I understand and relate to this whole heartedly. 

The family is based on her own as a child,  as the story of the Mary Poppins moves along, so does the back story about her childhood, a horrific and troubled one at that. Some of the stories I have written have family members and friends in them and I would feel exactly the same about someone coming in and changing them around. 

After the film (and I was done crying and wiping up my tears) I got to thinking about the high amount of book turned into movie that litter our screens these days. I had to sit down and think did all these book authors have the same amount of scrutiny or do they just sign away on the dotted line, accept their large cheque and write their next book? 

The amount of atrocious and abysmal book to film adaptions I have seen in the last 10 years, I could not help but feel that this must be the case 9 times out of 10, and what about authors that are deceased and not here to oversee their works being reinvented for a new generation, would they approve? What does that leave of their legacy if the wrong message is being relayed? 

Apart from being an amazing movie, it also helped me a lot as a writer, and spurred me to keep going with my creative works (some of which I may end up posting here for your reading pleasure at some stage!) one of the lines that stuck out to me from this film was “As writers we create the world that makes sense to us, we make things how we see them, not as they are and this is how we survive.”