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

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. 

 

 

 

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.”

Inspiration

Today I had the absolute pleasure of reconnecting with an old friend I haven’t seen or spoke to properly for some time. It has been over a year since our last meeting and the both of us have gone through such radical and immense change it was almost as if we were meeting again for the first time. 

In the interest of this piece let’s call my friend Terry. He has gone through a massive physical change, and mine was spiritual. Terry did the most terrifying thing imaginable and shed some serious weight, like 20kgs+! It wasn’t just weight loss though it is also a daily gym and exercise routine as well as healthy eating, nutrition and building his own garden to not only save money but to also know what he is eating and where it is coming from. 

As we sat in the car heading to our destination I asked him questions that everyone else had “How did you do it?” “How did you stay motivated?” “What food did you eat?” You know the usual stuff, as usual I was looking for the magic formula, the instant gratification answer, even though deep down I knew it was nothing but pure self control, determination and willpower. 

Listening to the story of his journey (I will not recount it here as it is not mine to tell!) I kept reflecting on the last year of my life and how many things have changed. So many circumstances and places I was in have completely changed for the better and I barely recognise myself after a very turbulent 12 months. Please do not misunderstand this post, this is not a whinge just a simple reflection on what has changed in my life. 

12 months ago I was working in a crappy call centre for a greedy health insurance company who cared more about profits than the health and well-being of their employees. I was eating my feelings, living in a crappy apartment and in a degree that I was unsure had any future. By pure universal force my job was taken away from me and I was forced to move back home with my parents (I know!) so I decided to make my life over. I sold everything that I had and made a conscious decision to change everything and become who the person I want to be. 

While this transformation has not been easy, and I am still a long way from being complete, I can honestly say that I am a lot happier with myself now than I ever have been. I remember being scared about turning 30, worried that the person I envisioned myself to be at the age of 30 was not who I was. This scared me but I look back now and cannot believe how much happier I am. 

While Terry’s changes are physical (and seriously the arms, WOW!) he is considering embarking on a no dating/guys challenge for 12 months. I am 9 months into that challenge (nearly 10!!!) and while it has been good for me, I am really ready for it to be over. As I embark on my own physical challenge starting in one day (October 1st!) it is so inspiring to know that the results are achievable and getting into that fitness routine will get there. 

Now don’t get me wrong I am not doing this to fit a stereotype or expectation from the gay community, but rather to feel good about myself, to look in the mirror and be happy with myself inside and out. Also the avoidance of things like heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer will be a nice bonus, along with living past the age of 55. 

I was a really skinny child and teenager, it wasn’t until I quit smoking that I started stacking on the weight. Put simply I got rid of one addiction and moved on to another. After I got into my first relationship the weight started coming back on as the years and unhappiness went on, I never lost it. 

Many times I have tried diets, exercise plans and so many gym memberships that have gone to waste, so what makes this time different? I have a different mindset now, I have a clear goal in mind and nothing and no-one will stop me from doing that. I am the person that can change this situation and I will, I have created a supportive network of friends who will support me through this and I can’t wait to be the best version of myself I can be. 

Terry had a horrible weekend and told me that this day had turned things around for him, but for me it was the opposite. This day had helped give me the boost that I needed to get things moving again. To stop being this stagnant, whining, needy person who is always going to do something and start actually doing it. 

Thank you Terry for helping me today to realise this, and for reconnecting and hopefully continuing this friendship that came out of nowhere but is now something that I treasure and hope will continue to grow. 

Here is a pic of us today, both happy, both different and both moving forward. 

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