The more I write

The easier it gets, right?

My life without news

News

I did some research and it appears Malcolm X did make the comment in the image above.

He also said.

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

Amazing insight and both comments are even more relevant today.

In November 2014 my wife and I agreed to switch off our TV(s). Initially it was to get away from the news. In the 5 months leading up to November I had spent a great deal time away from work, supporting my wife through her battle with breast cancer. Surgery, treatment and ongoing follow ups. The majority of our time was spent at hospitals talking about cancer, seeing doctors about cancer, with some time at home trying to forget about cancer. Wherever we went, there was always a TV and the TV always seemed to be on a channel broadcasting news. Let’s face it, it’s hard to escape it these days. Most Australian commercial TV stations have back to back news programs from 6am until about 7.30pm. The only break seemed to be in the form of light entertainment or quiz shows, dispersed between breaks from news.

I remember hating the news when I was a kid. I’d get home from school, do my homework as fast as I could so that I could watch whatever kids programs they had on at the time (Bewitched, I dream of Jeanie or maybe the Bugs Bunny show). When 6pm rolled around, the sound of the news starting was like someone sticking a fork in my eye. I was so happy when I discovered that the ABC didn’t play their news until 7pm. We had Doctor Who and then Monkey. I’d flicked the channel over and hoped that my news consuming parents hadn’t noticed.

So what happened? When and why did I start enjoying the news? At some point, I actually began looking forward to it. There was even a time when I contemplated getting the papers delivered.

I of course don’t know the why, I just fell into line like so many others and eagerly consumed the media product blindly. I become outraged with terrorism, I worried about border security and I believed every celebrity fall from grace story they fed me. I found myself talking to people about stuff I’d heard, becoming one of those doom-sayers, convinced the world was coming to an end.

Relief came in the form a breakdown. I have suffered with various mental health issues for most of my life. But it got a lot worse in October/November 2014. It resulted in a stay in my local hospital’s mental health ward. It was just over a week of drug induced bliss. Sure, there was screaming, fights between patients and fights between patients and staff. But there was also Diazepam and no TV.

When I got home I shared this experience with my wife. Not the Diazepam bit, but the no TV part, or at least no more news. Luckily my wife had begun to feel the same way. So we switched off. No news on TV, in papers or magazines. We still had some TV shows we liked to watch together in the evenings and I’m a cricket fan, so the TV came back on intermittently.

But it soon became apparent that the news wasn’t the only problem. Being selective about what you watch is fine, but you have almost no control over the barrage of marketing and advertising that occurs during commercial breaks. Sure you can turn the volume down, but it’s almost like advertisers are aware that people might do that, so they bombard you with images of stuff they’re trying to sell you. Even if you can’t hear it, you can see it!

There’s a book called “Reasons to Stay Alive” by Matt Haig. I highly recommend it if you suffer from depression and/or anxiety. I also recommend it to people who have family or friends with depression and/or anxiety. The title of the book says it all really, but there’s a chapter in the book called ‘The World’, which really struck me. It really summed up how I was feeling about media, big corporations and advertising.

Very little on TV is real. The news is not the absolute truth. It’s a version of something that has happened or will happen that is spun in such a way that will ultimately benefit them. It is aimed at making you vote they way they want you to vote. Hate who they want you to hate. Buy the things they want you to buy. Worse than that, all of this is predicated on fear and self loathing.

Fear of missing out (FOMO). Fear of people in boats and terrorism. Fear that welfare cheats are creating the economic crisis. Seriously? Everyone knows someone in their circle of friends or neighbourhood that is claiming something they shouldn’t be or getting more welfare then they deserve. None of these people are using that extra money to holiday overseas or to buy a new car. They’re paying bills, feeding their family. Sure, a few may waste it on drugs, cigarettes or alcohol, but who gives a shit. The banks, politicians and big corporations are the problem, not someone getting $50 a fortnight too much from Centrelink.

Self loathing creates a feeling that you are not good enough as you are. You’ll never be happy if you stay like you are now. You need to buy stuff, a new car, the newest smartphone or a big TV. That’s what your life is missing and they will make you happy, for now. In a few weeks you’ll be sad again but don’t worry, a new smartphone is already out!

The bottom line (to use a horrible business/marketing term), happiness doesn’t sell stuff. Fear, paranoia and hate are good for business.

So eventually we fully unplugged. I removed the cord from my TV to my roof antenna. I still have a TV and I admit to having a Netflix subscription. But our reliance of this for entertainment is slowly decreasing. The next 12 months will hopefully see me getting rid of Netflix and the TV.

It’s a work in process and part of my plan to move toward minimalism.

For now, I’m trying to practice JOMO – Joy of missing out.

Thanks for reading.

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen and Max Weinberg

Bruce Springsteen and Max Weinberg in concert

I got a 69 Chevy with a 396
Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor
She’s waiting tonight down in the parking lot
Outside the Seven-Eleven Store
Racing in the Street, Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen’s beautiful ode to street racers, is my favourite Springsteen song, from Darkness on the edge of town, which is also my favourite album. It perfectly illustrates the lives of working class nobodies, whose one passion is racing for money, cars and sometimes hearts.

I blew that Camaro off my back and drove that little girl away.

What I most love about this song, and indeed about most of his songs, is that everyone has a chance at redemption.

For all the shut down strangers and hot rod angels
Rumbling through this promised land
Tonight my baby and me we’re gonna ride to the sea
And wash these sins off our hands

I first saw ‘The Boss’ in concert when he toured Australia with the E Street Band in 1985.  I was 17 and my brother was 15.  We travelled by bus from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane.  Because it was his first ever Australian tour, buying tickets required you to cut out an order from from our local newspaper and post it, along with your money order, to the ticket office. The tickets were only $25 each!

The only thing we knew about Bruce Springsteen was what we’d heard from his Born in the U.S.A album.  But what we got changed us forever.  That show, lasting almost 4 hours, would become the benchmark for every concert I would see.  I’d learned all the songs from Born in the USA, so I could sing along when he played anything from that album, but surprisingly there were a number of songs I knew that hadn’t realised were his.  Badlands, Prove all night and of course Hungry Heart.  The most memorable moment came late in the evening when it started to rain.  It was an outdoor concert and prompted by the heavens opening up, Bruce sang Who’ll Stop the Rain and the rain stopped.

Since that night, I’ve been to 3 more Springsteen concerts.   The second in 97.  The third in 2013 and again in 2014.  What hits me the most with his shows is that after the first 4 or 5 songs, I always feel like I’ve got my money’s worth.  At the 3 hour mark, I’m exhausted, drained but exhilarated.  Night after night, the man bares his heart and soul for his audience.  He leaves nothing off stage, he empties the tank (as Jon Stewart said in his speech about Bruce when he was being honoured at the Kennedy Center).

Bruce Springsteen was born 7 days before my mother, 23 September 1949.  He is 65 now.  He shows no sign of stopping or even slowing down.  I know this ride cannot last forever, but I’m going to enjoy while I can.  I have a dream, maybe more of a goal than a dream, to see him in concert in New Jersey or at Madison Square Garden.  I know it’s cliche, but that would be one of the things I’d like to do before I die.

While Im not going to complain and say my life has been terrible up to this point.  At times it has been hard but I know it could have been a lot worse.  My first 47 years have been lived in constant fear, of what exactly I can’t say for sure.  But the more I write, the closer I get at my shot at redemption…

Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening
To the hours and minutes tickin’ away
Yeah just sittin’ around waitin’ for my life to begin
While it was all just slippin’ away
I’m tired of waitin’ for tomorrow to come
Or that train to come roarin’ ’round the bend
I got a new suit of clothes a pretty red rose
And a woman I can call my friend

Better Days, Bruce Springsteen.

Thanks for reading.

Blogging 101 – First assignment

Today marks the start of the Blogging 101 course.  The first assignment is to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself to the world and talk about the purpose of my blog…

G’day,

Mick Dundee from Australia here…

No, that’s too cheesy.  I’m Micheal and I am indeed from Australia.  I started this blog a few years ago, under a different name, but it never really took off like I’d planned.  In late 2014/early 2015 I repurposed it with a better focus on what I wanted to do, which is write.  Not writing for profit, although that would be nice, but more for pleasure.

So “The more I write” was born.

I already have an ‘About me‘ section.  It’s still pretty accurate, although I’m a little older now.

So why do I publish stuff on my blog and not in a private journal?  Fear has held me for far too long.  All my life I have written in notebooks or in docs on my computer, kept hidden away.  Scared of what people will say about my writing.  This is the first big leap into the unknown.  Hitting the blue Publish button is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but the more I do it, the easier it becomes, right?

The main aim of this blog is to write, write and write some more.  I want to write about anything and everything.  Just getting my words and ideas out of my head and onto this blog.  It’s hard to explain but this quote says it best.  “Don’t die with the music still in you”.

I have two people that inspire me.  The first is my wife.  She fights every day to beat cancer and I’m in awe of her ability to keep going.  The second is Bruce Springsteen.  I saw him in concert in 1985 and even though I was only 16 and only knew a few of his songs, it was the most amazing concert ever!  I’ve since seen him in 97, 2014 and 2015.  The ultimate would be seeing him in New York or New Jersey.  Maybe one day.

So that’s about it for now.  By doing this course I hope to get into a better blogging routine and learn a few tips along the way.  I hope I can connect with some like minded people and we can all learn from each other.

 

 

 

 

It’s life

But not as we know it…

Or maybe it is how we know it. We’ve grown up with it, become accustomed to it, controlled by it.

What happened to us? What happened to the free world? Does it exist anywhere? Has it ever existed?

We have a new H&M store open in our huge multilevel mega-plaza. I tried to follow my wife and son into it recently only to be stopped at the door by a security person. “No beverages allowed in the store sir” I was advised. Like a diligent servant I complied with the order. But why did I? What could “they” have possibly done if I had just walked around the security guard and entered the store? I guess we will never know because society has trained me so well, I did as asked and didn’t make a fuss.

Ultimately it’s no big deal. I have vowed not to shop there, which won’t be hard as I don’t buy a lot of clothes for myself. The store won’t care because they have a lot more customers to take my place. But it’s another example of the control corporations have over us. And the worst part, these corporations don’t have to do anything to keep us in check. We control each other on their behalf.

A Current Affair asked their Facebook fans if H&M’s rule to not let shopping trolleys into their store was fair. The debate, like most debates on social media, got quite heated. Clearly people feel strongly about shopping trolleys and beverages in their favourite clothing stores. I can see both sides of the argument but why is it even being discussed? We’re talking about people, people with trolleys. People that are not conforming to the standards. People who don’t fit into the tiny little shoebox of what is expected. But the store doesn’t waste their time responding, we do it for them.

This afternoon, on my way home from work I walked passed a car yard. Several of the nice shinny cars had signs on their windscreens. ‘Feel it, Love it, Own it”. On a fairly well know soft drink, a slogan reads ‘Taste happiness’. Isn’t advertising wonderful.

I have been on a self-imposed media ban since about January this year. No newspapers, no news websites and no TV (I read, or I watch DVDs or Netflix, I know I know, hypocrite). Someone said to me recently, “but how will you know what’s going on in the world?” I won’t I guess, but I’ll be no less wiser than anyone who watches or reads anything from the mass media outlets. I may be a paranoid conspiracy theory nut, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong about the major media corporations, mega global corporations and Governments, all working together to keep us in line.

Don’t watch TV for a few days or weeks and then turn it back on. Within minutes you’ll start to feel worse about yourself. Your clothes are no longer in fashion, you are ageing too rapidly and you are not skinny enough. You need a new car, a new phone and a bigger house to put your stuff in. Keep watching. They’ll tell you who to be scared of, who is to blame for the rising cost of living and the deficit, oh the deficit, who will save us from this terrifying world? They will tell you…

Perhaps I am crazy, it does all sound a little big brother, 1984. Do your own research. Check out the Collective Evolution website. Read Russell Brand’s book Revolution or his Trews channel on YouTube.

Thanks for reading.

What stops you writing?

Maybe it’s just me, but given the number of books, websites and blogs dedicated to addressing writer’s block or offering help to finish that novel, it would seem I’m not alone in my struggle. I would, on average, spend more time coming up with excuses why not to write than I would on actually writing.

The simple solution would be to find a way to earn money through procrastination.

Not that I’m looking at my writing as an opportunity to earn money, it’s very much just a hobby, a fun distraction from normal daily life. I think if you go into something with the sole intention of making money, it probably puts too much pressure on it. It would feel like just another job. Regardless, a big part of being a paid writer is letting other people read what you have written. As I haven’t yet transitioned to the point of letting anyone read my work, it’s kind of a moot point.

Yes, the irony of publishing my writing on this blog, for the world to see is not lost on me but I feel safe in the knowledge that no one is reading this.

Since the 2014 Easter/ANZAC Day public holiday period (in Australia we are fortunate that in some years we get two short weeks in a row due to the alignment of certain public holidays, yay!), finding the time to write has become difficult. Yes I have the normal excuses running in my head, but I also had a new situation to deal with. During that period I just mentioned, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have never experienced anything like this before, where everything just stops.

It’s like one minute life has the usual sucky crap going on, your job, your bills, mowing the lawn, taking your dogs to the vet, going to stuff at the kid’s school. Then bam! Everything melts away, like plastic in a fire. Normality ceases to exist.

Suddenly you’re visiting the hospital almost every other day to see a doctor or a specialist. You know you’ve been at the hospital a lot when you discover that the cafe staff know your coffee order and you’re on a first name basis.

One day you’re holding your wife’s hand walking along the street, then you’re holding her hand as they wheel her into surgery, trying not to cry, trying to be strong for her. But she looks terrified and all you want to do is grab that hospital bed and get her out of there.

Then there’s chemo and radiation both of which are terrible to watch someone you love go through, but you know they have to go through it. Wanna get someone to stop smoking, have them spend a few days with someone who just had chemo pushed through their veins. It’s a scene man, I tell ya.

The worst part is that, unless you’ve had cancer, chemo, etc, you really have no clue what they’re going through. You just can’t understand, no matter how caring, how loving, none of it matters because they look like death and they tell you they feel like they’re dying. You can’t hug it away, you can’t make a cup of tea and say there there, it’ll be okay. Maybe it will be, maybe it won’t be. So all you can do is stop everything and be there.

The good news is that my wife finished her last radiation treatment on Friday January 2, 2015. At this point the doctors have said they can’t detect any cancer. This of course could change at any time but we’re both, very much living in the moment. Being present, letting go of the past and not thinking about tomorrow.

The intention of this post was not to bring everyone down. I didn’t even really plan to write as much as I did about my wife’s battle, it just flowed out of me I guess. I think I wanted to use the experience to emphasise how quickly life can change and how important it is to use your time wisely. Or to quote the title of a book by Wayne Bennett, Don’t Die With The Music In You.

So I’m putting aside my fears, living in the now and doing whatever makes me happy. You should too, unless what makes you happy is hurting people or animals. Please don’t do that.

Thanks for reading, peace and love to you all.

TV sitcom treatment

I haven’t written anything for quite sometime. Not making excuses (like I would in the past) but we’ve had a few personal issues that have had to take priority.  Life is starting to work itself out and I’m feeling more like putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

Recently I had a forced vacation in the hospital and while I was there I came up with the following idea.

If anyone reads this and has advice, feedback or words of encouragement, I’d love to hear from you.

The Undercover Lunatic

Logline: The Undercover Lunatic sees Gavin Bond, an unknown billionaire bachelor get himself committed into a Mental Health Hospital as part of a complex plan to donate $5,000,000. The balmy billionaire is convinced that this will raise his international profile and in-turn help him to meet the woman of his dreams.

Pitch:

Genre: Sitcom/Mocumentary

Target Audience: Teens and Adults 18 to 80

While the show will be a light hearted comedy, each episode will feature real mental health disorders and present an important message. Gavin Bond is a misguided, awkward, kind hearted romantic. Think Chandler Bing meets David Brent.

Gavin Bond is a billionaire bachelor. However, unlike his counterparts, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson, he is not widely known. Gavin believes that he needs to become famous in order to meet women. He sees that many other wealthy entrepreneurs get noticed when they donate large sums of money to various charities.

Gavin decides to donate $5,000,000 to a Mental Health Hospital, by the name of Parkview, but rather than simply hand the staff a huge novelty cheque, he devises a complex plan that involves getting himself committed as a patient. Gavin enlists the services of a highly skilled technical assistant to develop a special outfit that is fitted with cameras and audio equipment so that he can film his interactions with the patients and staff, and to also capture the big moment.

Episode 1 (the pilot episode):

In the first episode we meet Gavin wandering through the rooms of his seemingly empty mansion, the image of a lonely man. His footsteps echo loudly, further emphasising his aloneness. Later we see him Googling himself, not finding anything on the first 10 pages of search results. Then he is Googling other billionaires. The one thing they have in common is their charity work. We see an idea begin to hatch and Gavin making notes on a pad on his desk. We see the figure $5,000,000 written and circled, other words are scribbled down, video, TV show, and Parkview.

Gavin makes a call. “Mac, I need to see you, the usual place okay? Great, 3 o’clock is perfect, see you then.”

Gavin writes a brief email to his assistant Jennifer. In the email he tells her he is taking a few weeks off and not to bother him. Gavin’s company is run by a board and very rarely needs his input on any decisions.

We find Gavin and Mac sitting in a booth, in a very questionable looking bar. Gavin explains his plan in detail to Mac.

Gavin: “You know that show Undercover Boss?”

Mac: “Yeah.”

Gavin: “I want to do something like that, but much much bigger.”

Mac: “Okay?”

Gavin: “I want to go into Parkview Mental Health Hospital, undercover, as a patient.”

Mac: “Tell them this story and you’ll get straight in, because you’re clearly nuts!”

Gavin: “No, you don’t get it, listen to me. I want that jacket of yours, the one with the camera and mike built into the buttons. I’m going to get committed, but just for the day. I want to film the whole thing and at the end of the day I am going to donate $5,000,000!”

Mac: “Okay, still sounds crazy to me, but apart from my jacket, why else do you need me?”

Gavin: “Right, well I’ll need you and your surveillance parked somewhere close by to record it all. I also need a fake licence in the name of Adrian Tombs.”

Mac: “Who is he?”

Gavin: “He is me, or at least I will be once I shave off my hair, beard and moustache.”

Mac: “Anything else?”

Gavin: “Yes, you need a cop uniform. It’s gotta be realistic, you will be the one committing me into the hospital.

Mac: “Okay, I’m still sure this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard but I think I can handle that. But I want double what I got last time!”

Gavin: “Sure, whatever you want.”

A few days later, the pair are sitting in Mac’s white van, around the corner from the Parkview Mental Health Hospital. Mac is in a very authentic police uniform. Gavin has transformed into Adrian Tombs. He has no facial hair and just a very short stubble covering his head.

They have gone over the plan several times and tested all recording equipment. All systems are go. The pair leave the van. Mac has handcuffed Gavin and is walking him to the door of the Parkview Mental Health Hospital.

At the door, Mac hits the buzzer and after a few minutes, some guys come out to greet them. Mac tells them that he picked this guy up when he saw him wandering across a main highway. He was talking to himself and he kept mentioning this place. “Reckons he’s been here before?”

“He has a wallet, empty except for his licence, which says he’s Adrian Tombs.” Mac said. “Ever had an Adrian Tombs in here before?” Mac asked.

One of the guy nods and says “could have, we get so many, you don’t remember all the names. We’ll check for his file. Take a seat in the waiting area while we check.”

Mac has of course hacked into their computer system and they will most certainly find a file on Adrian Tombs.

Shortly after the men return and confirm they have his details on file and that they are willing to take him as a patient. Mac unlocks Gavin’s handcuffs and leaves. Gavin is taken inside the secure facility. The wheels are in motion.

Throughout the day, Gavin mingles with the staff and other patients. He moves around the ward, in and out of the rooms and outside in the outdoor recreational area. Just before 5pm, when he thinks he has enough footage he makes his way to the reception area, in readiness for the big reveal. The time moves passed 5, then 5:15 comes and goes. At 5:30 Gavin’s concerns are growing. Just before 6pm he is approached by one of the male nurses.

Male Nurse: “Why are you waiting here Adrian? Maybe you should go get ready for dinner.”

Gavin/Adrian: “I’m waiting for a friend to come and get me out of here. He was meant to be here an hour ago.”

Male Nurse: “A friend?”

Gavin/Adrian: “Yeah, it’s hard to explain but when he gets here, it’s gonna be one hell of a surprise. Everyone will be so happy when he gets here.”

Male Nurse: “Look Adrian, I really don’t think anyone’s coming for you, at least not tonight. I need you to move away from this area, now.”

Gavin/Adrian: “No, please just give me a few more minutes, he’ll be here.”

The male nurse signals two other nurses to come over. The 3 have a brief discussion. One of the nurses leaves the other two and goes into the pharmacy room.

Male Nurse: “Adrian, I’m not going to ask again, I need you to go to your room and rest for a bit.”

Gavin/Adrian: “You don’t understand. I’m not Adrian, I’m not a patient! I’m actually a billionaire and I’ve been filming this day for a TV show. A guy is meant to be here with a novelty cheque for $5,000,000. You are ruining the surprise!”

The other nurse has returned and has something behind her back. The two, large male nurses move beside Gavin and each grab and arm.

Male Nurse: “Calm down now Adrian, calm down. This can go two ways, easy or not so easy.”

Gavin/Adrian: “What are you doing? I told you, I’m rich, I’m not sick! You’ll see, you’ll all see and then you’ll regret what you’re doing to me!”

The third nurse steps between the other two nurses who are struggling with Gavin and inject him with diazepam. Gavin sees the needle coming but is unable to do anything about it. The effect is almost instant. Everything goes dark.

Gavin is carried to his room and strapped to his bed.

The episode ends with Mac in front of his computer. On the screen we can see he is accessing Gavin’s bank account. We hear Mac say. “Well, you did say whatever I want.”

Just do it – AKA just finish one story

 

Broken swoosh

Broken swoosh – source https://www.flickr.com/photos/smoy/

 

What am I afraid of?

I write a little every day but the more I write the further away I am from finishing anything. I get an idea and I’m excited! I bang away on the laptop for a few thousand words and then something happens. I get distracted, maybe another idea pops into my head and off I go with the new idea.

What is that about?

I just want to pick one idea, stick with it and follow it through until I have a first draft. Maybe that’s too ambitious?

Maybe I need to be like Bob and take baby steps? I really thought this blog was a baby step but it turns out to be just another burden. Not that I’m going to stop, it’s still a very important part my process and it actually represents something I start and finish.

Things that aren’t important to the process are; Tumblr, Facebook, other WordPress sties, Instagram, YouTube and basically the internet in general…

So anyway,  after I finally finish this post (which has taken me several days fyi), my first assignment is to write one character. Let’s see if that works.

Thanks for reading, peace out.

 

PS. I’m not sure how I go about recognising/referencing the owner/creator of images I use, but the image on this page is not owned by me. I found it on Flickr and this is the person who owns it – albyantoniazzi

 

 

Where do you write?

My pool

The view outside the window where I write

I have no specific place where I write and maybe that’s a problem. I have a laptop set up at the end of my dinning room table that is permanently on (during the daylight hours at least) for whenever the mood strikes me. But I also write using the Pages app on my iPad when I’m traveling to and from work on public transport.

The set up in the dinning room is nice. I have windows all around me so I can see our garden and pool area with its tropical plants, it really is paradise. There is a TV in that room as well, which is also on most of the time. It can be a distraction but it can also provide inspiration and ideas. The truth be known, having an internet connection is more of a problem…”I’ll just research this topic, I won’t Google anything else but this topic.” 30 minutes later, how did I go from researching the effects of anxiety attacks on people trapped in elevators, to watching dogs say “I love you” on YouTube? Side note, I’m trying to teach our dog Otis to say “Rye ruve roo” (I love you in Scooby Doo speak).

I know that this is not the best place to get the most out of my writing, but I love my family and don’t want to lock myself away in a room until I’ve written 2000 words. Again, the more I write in this fashion, the better I’ll get at maintaining focus. I hope.

Writing on public transport is also challenging. I have progressed a few stories in the hours between home and work, work and home. But the issue with this is privacy, or lack there of. Both the bus and train become quite full, quite quickly, so I always end up with someone sitting beside me. Being the archetypal paranoid writer, I don’t want to write with someone looking over my shoulder. So that’s pretty much out as a good place to write. I generally write until the bus or train is full and then swap to playing Plants Vs Zombies or something like that.

Where is the ideal spot to write?

I have this vision of sitting in the coolest, hipster coffeehouse, with views of the busy street outside as people go about their working day (thankfully I’m not one of them). The smell of good coffee, Apple and Cinnamon muffins and raisin toast in the air. I smash out best seller after best seller while tattooed, hipster baristas bring me skinny cappuccinos.

Yeah, it could happen.

 

 

The first line is the hardest…

IMG_0464

This is my dog Otis, looking very cute.

 

This being my first post for this site, I thought there’s no better place to start than with the first sentence of a book.

Charles Dickens had a few good first lines, as did James Joyce. There’s some good websites that list the top 50, 100 and probably thousand best first lines. But are they the best first lines because the books attached to these first lines were brilliant or because the first line was brilliant and made people want to read the book? My brain hurts.

No doubt about it, you need a hook, you need to grab the readers attention, but is the first line the most important or will the first line become great if the story is great?

I should say right now that this blog isn’t about me sharing my wisdom. Not at all. If I had wisdom, skills or any marketable expertise I’d probably be published and have no time to write this gibberish. I’m writing stuff here to get it out of my head, maybe clear out the cobwebs and free up the works so that I can write. And if anyone ever reads this, maybe they can give me some tips 🙂

Anyway…back to the topic at hand.

I struggle with starting (yes that’s a lack of confidence, I don’t need Freud to tell me that) and even when I do get a line, I question it, I doubt it, I make fun of it, I hate and ultimately I change it. Then the whole process starts over.

Someone might say, the reason I struggle is because I’m not meant to be a writer and that’s a fair comment. I’ve had more jobs than I can remember. From cleaner to welder, shoe repairer to employment consultant, security guard to underground miner and for the last 12 years a public servant. But writing is the one constant, the one thing that makes me feel alive. It’s the first thing that pops into my head if anyone asks, “what do you want to do with your life?” (thanks Twisted Sister). So I don’t doubt my passion, just my ability to execute.

Here are some of my most recent first lines, you be the judge if they suck or not.

  • The graveyard was particularly nice at this time of the afternoon. Winter was behind us and Spring was happening all around the city.
  • I’m sorry, it’s not good news I’m afraid. You’re dying and there is nothing I, or any other doctor can do to change it.
  • I’m no ones first choice, no one is sitting by their phone hoping I’ll call or text them.
  • The plume of smoke rising up through the trees in the forest behind Jake’s house was concerning.

“I got a million of ’em”, but I won’t bore you with anymore.

There’s probably nothing wrong with any of those and as I look at them now they seem fine. Maybe Stephen King was right when he talked about leaving your work for 6 weeks. When you come back to it and look at it with fresh, objective eyes. This is from his book, On Writing, which I highly recommend, particularly the audio book version because he reads it.

Anyway, I have purged enough. I’m going to take one of those lines and turn it into a paragraph.

Peace

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