Monday, 21 October 2013

Giving Birth

I got my work back from Larissa.

There were very few alterations (barring bibliography).

Normally, there is loads to do. Today, not so much.

She said that once I've done this last little bit it should be ready to go. She actually said that.

And then the terror set it.

This is the mental equivalent of giving birth. A year ago it was nothing more than a glimmer in Daddy's eye. Nine months ago, my mind got knocked up. There have been pregnancy complications, the possibility of a late delivery and now the Doctor says it might come a day early.

And for the first time in the whole gestation period, I'm scared. Something is coming out me that's big, and life changing. And just like a newborn, I have no idea whether it'll turn out happy and healthy, or if it'll be a difficult delivery that results in retardation, academic retardation.

I'll have the kid regardless. Too late for a coat-hanger or a "trip" down the stairs. But my life will be different in a few days and I'm scared.

But a bun can't live in the oven too long or it spoils - and it hurts the mother too.

I think what is terrifying me is that this is the biggest thing I'll do that has a mark attached, and that mark decides the next step. I want to do a PhD, but I want a scholarship and I'm chasing marks.

I'm waiting to hear back about my publication, but that isn't until November.

I'll be waiting for this too, once it's out. Like it'll be in neonatal care for eight weeks or something.

What'll I be like if I ever become a Father? Although if I get four days of stress every nine months or so, I can't be doing too badly.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


This might well be the last post before The Biggun (as it is labeled on my laptop) is due.

I sent the lot in (words, not bibliography or photos) on Friday.

I couldn't look at it anymore. 15500 is a big number, and it isn't even close to what I need.

I was scared I wouldn't have enough. Now I can't stop.

I looked over what I have and I found a couple of earlier places to wrap up. Not too much earlier mind you, but at a place where I can say "Look, I did something small but cool, and this is the direction it might lead".

Now this doesn't mean I didn't work today. I put my bibliography together (157 references), made sure all the in-text stuff fit and started collecting photos. The pictures won't be too hard to grab (about 1 for every 1000 words - a picture tells a 1000 doesn't it? So I'll have 30000 come Monday) I don't really know how to reference them so that's my problem for now.

When I get my writing back, I can send that stuff to the Boss and fix the problems in the written work. Mash the two together, format, one final look-over and Friday hits.

Then it is all over.

I'm scared, because I'm putting something real out into the world. Thankfully I can shoot it via email since my markers are away, but I will make a concrete copy at some point. I might wait until they send it back so I can edit it further before forking out the money to make it "real", but it will be my first little book.

My first. I can tell this is going to be like a show. Once it is all over there is this massive relief that you did it, nobody died and for the most part people had a good time. Two weeks later you get reminiscent and two weeks after that you get depressed, because it can't be replicated and there is nothing else to do.

Then the next show comes along and it starts again. You take what you did from the last one, add to it and make this one better.

I'm a pretty good theatre practitioner. I'm rusty as all hell (and I'll be doing a short film in November so at least I won't feel totally ceased up) but I'm good. I hope to whatever larger-than-man force you believe in that this will hold for writing.

For now I'm off, but I'm not pulling hair or procrastinating. Just counting words, and counting on a good mark to get to the next place.

Now to count sheep...

Quiet Carriage

Here's a post I wrote (but never published due to lack of Internet connection) on October 4th, around 10pm:


I just got on the train at Strathfield (NSW) on the way to Gosford and took a nice comfy seat in the front carriage.

Mum called to see when I'd land and we started talking. Then a bunch of people began to give me really filthy looks until one of the nicer seeming folk got up and told me I was in a "quiet carriage" - a place where no conversation - present or remote - was allowed.

After a whispered apology for my ignorance I stepped out and finished my conversation.

PART II (back about 10 hours)

I was on a really long train from Melbourne to Sydney thinking it'd be a good working environment. Lack of internet and no need to really write any non-internet necessary new work made me edit, and we all know I hate editing.

Then these two guys started talking, loudly, right behind me for the rest of my journey.

Where was the F*&%^NG quiet carriage then??!!!?!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Normally I get it wrong in the other direction. I looked at the minutes in the SSCC meeting this morning and saw 16/10/2013.

Nine days is fine. Later that day I met with my Supervisor.

Strangely, I have so much to do and not enough time, but because I had my days the wrong way around I may have inadvertently gone a touch over. One in the bag.

I'm halfway through my third chapter (revise and edit), while The Boss has pulled stuff from the first two into an intro. We talked about due dates (Honours, PhD and just life) before I gave a promise that I'd have a full draft - edited and gap-free - on Friday!

Terrifying, but a very good kick. Larissa also expected that I'd submit digitally (a massive bonus, but considering my "school" probably not that unexpected) which does give me a few extra days.

So I'm in a place where I have much to do and just possibly, exactly the right amount of time.

The knowledge of the time-frame is not just a pressure cooker, but also a release. Once the Honours thing is in, I have enough time to do the rest, which also means I will have everything done before I turn 30!!!!

No degrees at 25. Two at 30. Hopefully, Three before 35.

All it takes is time.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


I can't drum and I can't paint.

I have great rhythm and timing. I'm artistic and creative. I'm extremely dextrous - physically, mentally and verbally.

But that isn't the point. I'm writing a thesis.

I have two editors. Larissa is an artist and she paints broadly. Neal is a designer and he uses a fine brush.

Larissa gets my material first. She looks at the lot and tells me where I'm missing sections. Neal gets it once Larissa has had a crack and he tells me where I'm missing details.

Today I finished the first two chapters, and by finished I mean they both had a look and I've adjusted it accordingly.

I started work on the final chapter and I found this great through-line - black boxes - which I would never have seen without the two of them.

Larissa feeds me ideas and lets me go wild. Neal sees the result and tells me where to reign it in.

I'm working (paid working) this weekend so not much writing to be done from here, but I'm seeing Neal Monday and Larissa Tuesday which is the reverse of the usual - just as for this post I did my research journal before the blog.

ANYWAY, I'm working under pressure (October 25 is D-day) without the pressure (I actually have until November 22 if I want it). I'm using the editors and the perceived pressure to get it done. If its ready to go on D-day, then I'm out. If it needs more time it can only improve - and I'm happy to take it either way.

The gist is that too many cooks blah blah, but the right amount of cooks working in unison work.

A drum circle is a beautiful thing.

Collaborative art is the same.

I've a great gift in mind for Larissa. Now I might have to get one for Neal.

For someone who is useless with brushes, I'm doing my best not to brush it aside.

Or maybe I'm just stroking a few egos...

That was some truly awful punning...

Friday, 11 October 2013

Back in Black

I'm sort of back. In pretty heavy lock-down, but back enough to drop in here for a little.

Currently working on my two sections. One is just editing, the other almost there.

I was kind of shitting myself when my "holiday" destroyed my writing. Long story short my tech failed so I'm a touch behind - but not too far.

I sent of my latest incarnation of Chapter 3. It isn't finished, but it isn't far off. So while that's gone I'm poring over the rest with the editing comb, and I'm about a third of the way through.

Now I'm not being ruthless, but I'm not being precious either. Larissa has gone over it a couple of times and seems pretty okay for the most part, but Neal had a lot of underlines and question marks, so I'm mostly going over it with his eyes and adjusting accordingly.

In doing all of this I realise where I write best. I basically invent my own framework and just talk through stuff. There are a few really nice paragraphs in there where it is quite clear that its me talking and not just regurgitating other folk's ideas.

So as I go over the editing, I'm trying to find other places where I can throw this in. I revamped an earlier paragraph in the first section and I'm trying to run with that. It's basically a two part idea (what and how) where one thing links to objects and the other to content. It sort of hits steam as interfaces become objects, which is basically by applying remediation to the equation.

I keep editing with the hope of bringing down my word count, but it's so far out of hand I've kind of given up on that aim. When all is said and done I'll be staring down the barrel of a Monash Honours thesis (maybe 18K if I include references) but all in all, even with so much left to do I'm actually not that far off and I'm out of the red.

Which means I'm back in the black.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Dirty Thirty

I'm off to my two oldest friend's combined 30th.

Catching the train so I can do some work.

Probably already told you all that.

Anyhow, I wrote the Convergence chunk today which took me somewhere else. It took me to a place where theatre (and by this I mean co-location in a non-digital setting) reigns supreme.

Again, not that it's better than anything else, but that is distinct. A recording doesn't cut it. A broadcast doesn't get there. Online interactivity still misses the mark.

There is something bigger and much simpler than any form of mediation. Non-mediation.

Not just in the sense that we're both there, we're all in this together, blah blah blah get it into your heads that we're in the twenty-first century.

It is the ability to touch, the most intimate thing in the whole world. I can stare into your eyes until the cows come home - and I can do it from Ghana, underwater or in space. 

What I can't do is touch you. I can do it emotionally, but even this isn't the same as brushing my hand against your cheek, breaking your nose with my elbow, pulling a splinter out of your finger.

I can touch the screen and it does things. I can touch the same screen you do. In no way does this replicate the truth of the exchange.

In the theatre, protocol often dictates we don't touch - but that doesn't change the fact that we can, and this is (as yet) the one place media can't remediate. It can set up a series of very close approximations, but the simple sensation of two people touching can't be replicated.

It's really funny. As a somewhat brave actor, I've kissed other performers, simulated sex and appeared naked in shows but I never took into account the power of touching someone for real. The fourth-wall sets up a lovely, neat barrier that lets me do this stuff away from you, the audience. Character acting allows me to put up a barrier between me and you, the other performer.

I did a show two years ago that had no characters - we all played ourselves. I told a story in a sentence ("For a minute there, I thought I was going to be a Dad.") followed by a wordless scream. It was one of the toughest things I'd ever done because it was absolutely real - and screaming without noise is far more taxing because it offers no release.

My brother and one of his friends came to watch the show. His mate said "that's some good acting" and Liam, who I hadn't told, replied "that's not acting". The next thing that happened in the show was me rejoining the performing group and playing childhood games and night after night someone different would come to me and touch me, on the arm, a hug, a shove, and I'd be less alone.

I can't fuck you or hit you or smell you through a screen. I can simulate it, share elements of it, but it isn't it unless we can feel it, physically feel it. No matter how intellectual, our brains are trapped in bodies and bodies learn through touch. Helen Keller anyone? And for once I'm not being a smart arse.

So I'm off to touch my two oldest friends for their 30ths, because I want to feel the dirt that makes them real. Mediation, no matter how intricate, just won't cut it this time.