Transition Girl

Why transition girl?... Best answered by a quote from the Iliad....."The soul was not made to dwell in a thing; and when forced to it, there is no part of that soul but suffers violence."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

visual auditory sensory theatre

This week's blog title matches the name of a band. Folk might remember the band as V.A.S.T. They've been around for a while and one of their songs in particular packed a punch in terms of its production values. The song was called Touched.

I actually have no interest in spending this week's blog reliving my music memories, I merely wanted to use the band name as the title of this week's blog because I wanted to talk about that moment between being half asleep and half awake. And what the mind is capable of creating in the time before I drift off every night and in the pre-dawn before I am about to rise for each day.

I quote: "a hallucination, in the broadest sense of the word, is a perception in the absence of a stimulus. In a stricter sense, hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid, substantial, and located in external objective space. The latter definition distinguishes hallucinations from the related phenomena of dreaming, which does not involve wakefulness."

Hallucinations can occur in any sensory modality. I can see, hear, touch, taste and smell them. It is also normal to have hypnagogic hallucinations, which are hallucinations that occur just before falling asleep, and affect a surprisingly high proportion of the population. The hallucinations can last from seconds to minutes, all the while I usually remain aware of the true nature of the images.

The images are extensions of the dreams, yet often disconnected from them. This morning was a good example. The dream: I am at a beach when the swell starts to rise, signs of a looming tidal wave; it's a race to get to higher ground, the buildings are not tall enough, a forest and plain on the escarpment about the beach are just out of the water's reach; once I make it to safer ground I visit old highschool friends, friends from science class - Greg I and Andrew G - the smartest boys in the room; they cannot explain the nature of things any more than I can explain my emotional response to the threat. Then, half asleep, half awake, I am in a room full of machinery, unsure which buttons to press to stop the flow. Once fully awake I cannot make any sense of it - why the enormous wave, why is my salvation in nature when I am asleep but in a machine when I am in limbo?

I know, I really should stop trying to extrapolate any meaning from the images my sub- and semi- conscious mind produces!

The science boys permeate my dreams every now and then. A link to the past, memories long faded. My "go to" guys symbolic of problem solving. If only I could make sense of the puzzle my mind is trying to piece together. I'll probably have a Citizen Kane moment on my death bed before any of it makes sense.

post script: my long weekend last weekend was very productive - finished Part 1 of novel number 3 - now 55 pages and 14,000 words written of the next 100,000 installment of the trilogy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

long weekends

A five day long weekend is only a day away and I am practically jumping out of my skin to lock myself away for a few straight days of writing bliss.

For most of the year, my creative writing efforts have to be disciplined, setting aside the equivalent of one weekend day every week to put pen to paper (though in this modern day it is fingers to the keyboard). A full time day job gives me little choice so I write at least once a week, every week, whether I feel like it or not.

Some days are easier than others.

There are days when the ideas are spilling out of my mind and the words flow onto the page. On those days, I am possessed by a writing demon, whose essence bubbles away under my skin, and there are simply not enough hours in the day to capture all the words that I am driven to craft.

There are days when procrastination consumes me for several hours before even a single paragraph finds its way onto the screen. I have found, even on those days, if I sit there long enough, the words will come. Somehow filling my hours with mindless activity clears my head and then the ideas fill the empty space. I finish those days filled with wonder that the story threads emerged and managed to weave themselves onto the page guided by some invisible hand. I always think of the movie Field of Dreams when that happens, especially the line "if you build it, he will come." I simply substitute the words, "if I sit here long enough, the words will come." Because they always do.

I love long weekends because I can embrace my inner hermit, lock myself away, and write to my hearts content AND procrastinate AND then write some more. The luxury of time. As novel number two is still with agent number three, the focus this particularly long break will be drafting of novel number three. My goal will be to complete the first chapter (two scenes to write, three already written) and make some inroads into the second chapter.

And I'm feeling particularly inspired after seeing my favourite comedic storytellers at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Pajama Men. The pair seem to have an uncanny ability to match the tangent world that is my mind with their absurb and whimsical perspective of the worlds they create with their stories. Sublime. Here's a couple of clips of their work:

I will be immmersed in a fictional world for the next several days, writing and procrastinating and then writing some more.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

dream harder

It's Melbourne International Comedy Festival time, which is my favourite time of the year. Autumn in Melbourne and almost a month of listening to folks who share my love of all that is tangent. Being spoiled for choice means that sometimes I end up seeing a show that might not be my cup of tea. Though by and large I am getting better at selecting comedians who may appeal to my strong preference for observational humour, with whimsical and absurdist leanings. I avoid caberet comedians in much the same way as I avoid musicals.

I am not obsessively out and about every night watching a show, I simply do not have the stamina for it. But I pace myself to catch 2-3 shows a week while the festival runs its course. This seems to me to be the best way to balance work, being my usual hermit writing self, and some play time. I get less writing done in April as I am also incapable of juggling three balls at once.

I do find that the festival inspires me, usually a comment made by one of the comedians I am seeing grabs me and leads my mind off on a tangent. Then some time later I emerge with an idea or two for short stories or other creative work. Here's an example:

A line from Maria Bamford (now appearing at the Festival) - "most people work hard, play harder". Adrelalin rush crazy fucks. "I sleep hard, dream harder." I loved this punch line! Aside from being much more my pace, I immediately visualised, what if the hard dreamer was doing things as crazy as the hard players? A sleeping walking adventure junkie? And people could not tell the person was asleep? And the person had no memory of the sleeping travels? I thought the story would make for an interesting philosophical journey exploring the idea that most people sleep walk through their daily lives awake. The contrast could be very powerful. So without even breaking out a sweat, I have an idea for a short story that I will probably call "Sleepwalker".

Two other short stories ideas have emerged this week, talking to various friends and colleagues - unofficial muses - around the festival.

The second short story, which I'll likely call "Two Days Later", revolves around the idea of the impact of a person who is not very good at figuring out when they have said something offensive. It will be loosely based on the true story of a time when a girlfriend of mine punched me in the arm on the third day of a wine tasting road trip and it was only two days later when I figured out what I had said to offend her. But I thought I might put a speculative bent on it by taking the short fuse initial impact by the girlfriend triggering some kind of ticking time bomb which, unless I figure out the puzzle within two days, will lead to some very dire consequences. I may even pay homage to Failsafe as I write the multiple perspectives. It will no doubt offer some great fodder for the importance of self-awareness.

The third short story, which I'll likely call "Oxygen Thief", revolves around the idea of the spoiler in any project. This is the person who sits in on meetings (about developing / implementing major projects) week after week and saying nothing. Their silence is taken to be muted acceptance of the direction of the work. But at the 11th hour (and 59th minute), they open their mouth and spew forth the missle that destroys all that has come before. I think this story could be a 'real' every day what is it like to work in government piece. I already think taking it along that line would be boring (for me anyway). I think instead this story could speculate about the spoiler in the room actually stealing oxygen and the slow and steady process by which he does it until he reaches a point where a major heist is needed for his survival. I think this could work as a metaphor for the 'real' but with greater scope to inject some humour or perhaps even horror into the piece.

It will probably be some time before I can write these potential gems. The workload on the novel writing is taking most of my spare time at the moment. I can but dream harder, knowing I have the drive to find a day or two to pen some playful short stories emerging from my already bursting imagination.