I’m stuck on writing. Solution? Random short story.

Yesterday was a real struggle to get something together for my blog, and today’s no different. In search of some material I have opted for a random word generator to produce some kind of guide as to what to write. The story is short – I need to complete by the end of my train journey. That’s little room for planning or organisation or even too much editing, and I’m issuing a caution about language and content, so buckle in kids it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Four words are: band, mould, wriggle, ferry.

Gavin’s eyes roamed the cabin. Not literally of course, that would be insane. Roaming eyes, but the owner still sees out of them. Gavin had a new idea for a song. Being in a band, travelling to Tasmania for a series of gigs, Gavin was desperate for something to fill out their repertoire. Despite assurances to the organisers, they only had a few original songs to play. They needed inspiration.

Returning to the roaming eyes, Gavin caught sight of some mould on the wall, Gavin gave his nose a wriggle. Disgusting. It was bad enough being in a four bed cabin with three other male death metal performers. Good thing it was non-smoking; there was enough methane in the room to power South Australia.

The ferry rocked and vibrated.

“Fuck.” Said Pedro – real name Peter, but, you know, nicknames… – sitting up. “Maybe we hit something.”

“Mmphhh mmmh.” Said Danny, lying prone face down in his bunk. Gavin was inclined to agree.

“What?” Said Pedro. “I can’t understand you doucheface.”

Danny turned his head slightly.

“Stop worrying. Let me sleep.” He uttered.

“This boat isn’t safe.” Said Pedro.

“You’re the one that wanted to come by boat and not fly.” Said Steven, directly below Gavin.

“That would be way more dangerous.” Said Pedro.

The boat shuddered, and for a moment Gavin felt a queasy vibration in his stomach. Sea sick or hungry? Gavin opted for the later, and with a neat twist sat up on the edge of his bunk, legs dangling over the side. He jumped down, stumbling a little with the swaying motion of the boat.

“Any food left?” He said, glancing over at the collection of half-eaten savoury snacks.

“Hear.” Said Steven, passing him a bag of crisps.

“Where were you keeping that?”

“Who knows?” Said Steven. “People go there and never return. But they produce nice crisps.”

“Shit crisps.” Murmured Danny. He was falling asleep again.

Gavin opened the packet and munched a handful. Salt and vinegar. Great, now he’s need something to drink.

“We need some song ideas.” Said Gavin.

“What the fuck?” Said Steven. “Why?”

“I thought we could expand our routine.” 

“We just worked on some” said Pedro.

“Yeah, we need more.” Said Gavin.

“We have enough songs.” Said Steven. “Why do you want more?”

There was just the slightest hint of suspicion in Steven’s voice.

“We have Reguritate Cats Vomit on Your Mother’s Corpse.”

“Yes.”

S”Anal Fisting Angels in Heaven, Hammer Fuck to the Face, Napalm Scrotum, Deep Throat Zombie Jizz.”

At each title, Steven counted off on fingers.

“We’ve got enough dude.”

“We may need more.” Said Gavin. “I made promises.”

“What kind of promises?” Said Pedro, peering up at Gavin. 

A long snore drifted out from Danny’s bunk.

“I promised five gigs.”

“What!?” 

“What fuck you mean?” Said Steven. Gavin always knew when Steven became anxious because he started talking like a Neanderthal. 

“Five gigs in Tasmania?”

“Yeah. Five.” Said Gavin.

“It’s Tasmania. Fuck we’d be lucky to do five in Sydney.”

“Some bikie meet apparently. We’ll get paid more.”

Gavin reflected that he should probably have mentioned that part earlier.

“And you want one more song?”

“Well, let’s start with one and see where it takes us.”

“Any ideas?”

Gavin thought for a moment and looked about the cabin. His eyes rested on the mould. He smiled.

“Mouldy roaming eyes double-p your girlfriend.”

Steven and Pedro looked at each other. Pedro shrugged.

“Okay.” Said Steven. “But you’re writing the lyrics.”

Gavin held up his hands, in a show of acquiescence.

“Cool.” He said. “Now, what was your girlfriends name again?”

Winter Write-up or How I’ve neglected my writing and I need to change

Something happened. Something snapped. I’m hoping it wasn’t a muscle. I’ve been working out more, so that might explain it. Then again, this is a mental thing. 

Let me start again.

Last night I was writing. Well, rewriting I should say. Any hoot, in the midst of my literary lat pull downs it occurred to me that I don’t write often enough these days. 

There were a group of us talking about how much time we commit each day, often to unnecessary futile tasks. If we committed just 7 minutes a day to writing that would be 200 words a day (assuming 30 words a minute). 365 days x 200 = 73000. A novel.

I like my morning preparation for the day. The routine works. Early bus. Arrive I. Plenty of time for a coffee. No rush and easy start to the day. Time on the bus to listen to music, get in the mood. It’s almost meditative.

No doubt it has its benefits, but in the meantime important words are being left unsaid. Or, rather, unwritten. I do two bus journeys each day. 20 minutes or so each. Even if I was to reduce my writing time to 20 words a minute, that would be 800 each working day. In 6 months that would be over 100,000 words. 

Writing can also be meditative. And I exercise most days so I think I am sound in mind, spirit and body. I definitely need to rethink the routine. 

I kinda persuaded myself that university work was a good excuse to set aside the blog, but I’m not so sure. Seems like a cop out to me with hindsight. I reckon I could easily have made the time for both.

So the blogging is back, each weekday, and maybe the weekend if I get a chance (fuck, I just need 7 minutes). In the meantime, I need to reacquaint myself with writing projects, which I’ve handled with kid gloves for the past few months. Not acceptable. Bad mental-projection-of-myself-as-a-writing-slave-monkey.

Looks like the bus has nearly arrived.

Remember, 7 minutes.

Like yesterday never happened

Where did Monday go? I feel as though there was a day of activity, but at best seen through a haze of uncertainty. I might have said it was like trying to recollect a night out after being really, really drunk, but there’s no uncomfortable after effect. No hangover, headache, or sense of shame. Monday happened, but I think it happened to other people.

This is, of course, not the case. I do remember very distinctly sections of yesterday, but for the most part I felt more observer than participant. Joints ached, mind muddled; not exactly conducive to effective operation.

Today though, feels better. Slept well, up in good time, body feels relaxed, mind active. 

I guess it was fortunate yesterday was quiet. Then again, maybe that’s why it was so difficult to get in my groove. I don’t work well when there’s less activity. It doesn’t mean I want to be rushed off my feet every moment, but having the hum of activity in the background gives me energy. Helps motivate.

On a slow burning day it might seem like the perfect opportunity to progress some projects. Unfortunately, the slow burning is from me. It’s akin to self motivation, propelling action. Yesterday, though notionally productive, just felt, well, a little bit…meh.

So today I have a bit more vigour. Take the opportunity to kick start Some ideas I have, clear up my slightly pudgy task list. 

It’s also about personal wellbeing. Need to exercise today – my lunchtime routine is horribly lacking. Probably why I’ve been getting more tired than normal. A busy weekend probably contributed – my body has had less time to recover.

I need to get the creative juices flowing. I tried writing last night, but could only manage a few hundred words. Two 25 minute segments should be yielding 1500 words at least, and top up at the weekend. 

So I’m feeling a lot more motivated today is the long and short of it. Here’s hoping it carries through the rest of the week.

A world of Bill Shorten lookalikes

Circumstances have led me here to the Perth – Fremantle train to get to work. I see inside the world of daily commute, monotony of work, and occasional carefree indulgence of spare time.

My journey is never lonesome – even the empty bus still has a driver. The only person who talks to me is the automated voice on the Transperth line. I’d like to tell them (female st the station, male on the train) how grateful I am for their guidance. I doubt they’d understand. We have a healthy uncomplicated relationship.

I feel like I could belong. I’m surrounded by faces, each reminding of people I’ve met and seen in my life. I’m sure that one guy looked like Bill Shorten, until I saw the guy next to him that looked even more like Bill Shorten. I know what you’re thinking, two much BS.

For the most part though, these faces are familiar, but still strangers. I see type. It’s an early morning world of office junkies, kids in school uniform, hipster and hipster light, in cold weather beanie wearers and leather jackets. Book readers, music lovers, YouTube viewers. All types of bodies, looks gestures, hair or none. 

I’m endlessly curious about what these people are doing. I’m spending anywhere up to 2 hours a day on public transport. I should make more use of it.

10 hours a week, with about 48 working weeks of the year, say 500 words an hour. That’s 240,000 words a year, just from travel to work and back.

In Freo. Today’s going to be tough. 

Naked without my headphones 

Last night as I left work, I realised that, yet again, I had forgotten to get my headphones. Normally I realise before I hit the stairwell and go back and collect them, but on this occasion it was only after the door shut. As a security feature you cannot open the door from outside, forcing you to go all the way downstairs. Since I was rushing to catch a bus this was quite frustrating.

Normally this situation would generate something akin to a feeling of panic and utter frustration. It would not be unexpected for me to sacrifice the bus, so I can collect my headphones. For some reason, on this occasion, I mustered enough self control to travel home sans headphones.

In the past I have found it difficult to prepare for my day, walk to work etc. without the presence of music. It is something approaching dependency to have such a need. It all helps me prepare for the day.

Now you might be thinking, if they are that important to you how come you forget them so often? Well, the simple answer is absent-mindedness. I am quite capable of forgetting to bring headphones, but then suffering a major existential crisis as a result. Maybe it’s a masochistic thing.

So now I’m on the bus, cramped into seating that has so little legroom I think it has been designed for amputees. The bus is busy, but quiet. There’s only a low level of school child chatter. The adults are staring into space (and yes, they are wearing headphones…bastards). One school kid, with glasses and hair that looks like 1950’s George McFly, gives me a creepy stare as I glance around the occupants of the bus. I suppose it is a little unusual for someone to be looking at everybody and then typing furiously into their ‘phone, so perhaps his suspicious glance at me is warranted. On the other hand, dramatic licence allows me to assume that he is some kind of adolescent daemon child that has a pack of ravenous, but loyal, dogs who appear at inconvenient moments for a protagonist, and he could set me on fire just by looking at me and making his eyes glow red.

So I can’t say the lack of headphones is opening me up to new auditory experiences. The bus rumbles on, but I feel it more as sound in my ears, rather than vibration in my body. This isn’t a particularly new experience. 

I’m just realising how crappy I’m feeling this morning. I’ve been dealing with a light cold this week. Not strong enough to keep me at home, but not weak enough for me to feel reasonably functional. I have a perma-headache on the periphery that is thankfully combatable with drugs, and a slight sense of drowsiness without ever being tired. I also have a sick feeling in my stomach, but think that has more to do with the lurching stop/start motion of the bus.

I’ll persevere, and man up. Freo awaits.

Sensible duvet matter

School kids are back. All the seating is taken up. Welcome back kids.

I wasn’t sure if a theme this morning. Back in my Tumblr days (sounds a long time ago – just a few months to be honest) I just wrote about things I saw out and about. Nowadays, I feel like I need to have sensible duvet (that was meant to be ‘subject’, not duvet, but since I’m a fan of humorous autocorrects, I’m leaving duvet in there) matter for serious consideration. Should I be looking to such solemn subject matter, compared to more frivolous nonsense? I reckon I’ll stick to the serious, because I am my least funny when I try to be. When my humour is more organic to the situation I get the impression I get more laughs.

On the other hand, is really possible to be serious in a world of Brexit, Pauline Hanson (for fucks sake Queensland), Donald Trump, Jeremy Corbyn, the RNC allowing members to openly wear guns after a series of mass shootings in the US.

This things make life difficult to take seriously. And so somehow I’m left with trucks driving into large crowds, axe wielding people in trains, and my day job in child protection.

Thank god for writing and photography is all I can say. When I was younger I used to deal with this differently – Mario Kart 64 and Goldeneye on multiplayer with my friends…and arguably the Adelphi pub in Preston. Those were the days. Pokemon people are much easier to understand in that context. You go find those Pokemon, because the world is a little too fucked up to do otherwise.

This has all turned very morose. It shouldn’t be. My life is good. While I know many others are not having a good life or even a good day, I guess me having a good day is a good place to start. It has a knock on effect – a team mirrors its leader. More impervious or resistant to stress or tension (at least, that’s the plan).

Like getting on the bus this morning. Some people would bemoan the lack of seating, but for me it represented the return of the familiar. It was comforting to have social order restored. If I were in a different mood I imagine the scenario would be very different (‘fucking kids everywhere!’).

Well, time to wrap up again. Back in Freo. Might try to write a little before work.

Chasing the sunrise

Early morning, but growing noticeably brighter. The faint reflection of sunlight on the bottom, little flecks of red on grey, turned into a vast curtain of orange and gold. I was stuck in the bus, making to do with occasional glances but never quite managing to capture that glory. The best I could was along the lines of the photo I have attached to this blog. 

These type of photos will never be my best, but they serve a purpose beyond artistic representation. I just want a memory of it, recorded somewhere. I enjoyed the chase for the photo.

As it happens, sunrises, and sunsets, are the subject of my current literary project. That’s proving to be something of a false start though, so I need to push myself to get on with it. Procrastination can become debilitating if I’m not careful.

I put some of that down to not having read anything in the last couple of weeks. I need to crack on with that as well. It’s actual nourishment and I can tell the difference between periods of reading and non reading. I’ve got a few Hemingway tucked on my Kindle. I’ll dig into one of those.

The drive to Freo seems unusually slow today. I had what felt like a long daydream earlier (a new story idea). Yet the journey doesn’t seem to have progressed very far.

Am I really writing about anything today? Seems a little wayward. Maybe it’s first week back from holiday symptoms. I’m not sure I believe in that axiom. Back from holiday, need another holiday. Nonsense.

Just saw a poster for a school. It has the face of a child on it with words ‘I am 11. I used to be afraid of making mistakes.’ There is a sub caption that reads ‘Prepating boys for life.’

I still am afraid of making mistakes. That feeling shouldn’t go away. I work in child protection, so making a mistake can have catastrophic consequences. That is not the same as not acknowledging that mistakes can and do happen. I’ve seen a whole branch of thinking about embracing fallibility as a way of improving work performance.

So I’m not sure that preparing kids not to be afraid of mistakes is the right way to go. I mean, I understand what the poster is trying to say, but the wording strikes me as being simplistic. Maybe I’m reading too much into the advert.

Freo docks. Playtime’s over.

I want to be a sell out

I have this dream of working in a flashy office with a great view. The kind top executives and business types like to work, with brilliant views across the city scape. Very monetarist.

I work in crappy offices. I know, I’m a Social  Worker. I should expect this. But why? My last job had a window. It looked out onto the driver way and a fence. My current office has no window. Utilitarian. Grim. Prosaic. Bleak.
Office builds need a rethink. Imagine you work in a highly stressful profession. And imagine you only go out for traumatic situations. Then imagine when you’re finished you go back into a box. That is actually my life – I work in a box. I can flourish all the nice photos I like, but they are simply wall dressing. It doesn’t relax me.

At my last office, I worked in a town in the woods.The office was a converted business (I think it used to be a vets). Could they not have found a location of equal value in a more relaxed setting, such as more in the country. It would necessarily be poor access for families – it’s country so it’s a norm. 

I live and work in metro now. Is the best location really a grim, dull office block in a main street. We’re by the coast, but can’t see it. Like being in the forest, but can’t see it.

Pressurised work environments need therapeutic locations. Look out the window to a forest, or the sea. Calming.

I know the cynical view. Too difficult. It’s about access. People expect accountability – people should be working not enjoying the view. Blah blah blah.

No. I reject this. 

We should enjoy the workplace. Let it be a place of sanctuary. It should be therapeutic.

That’s why I want the relaxing office environment. That’s why I want the city view. The forest view. The sea view. I need to recover, refresh, replenish.

Sometimes I get home so tired I just want to flake out on the couch. I’m grateful I have a partner with a dog, and a discipline to walk her every day. I’m still tired, but I’m refreshed. I’m lucky we live by a river. Even at night it’s calming respite.

Entering Freo. About to crawl into my box. Maybe I exaggerate. It’s a good office to work. Vibrant staff. I like the journey (this blog is it’s own form of therapy). I like the work. I’m getting therapy somewhere it seems.

Foot’s on the other hand now, isn’t it Kramer?

I write this in the midst of a faux raging fury. Somehow, between leaving my house and getting to the bus stop, I enter a time warp where I miss my bus AGAIN!? Maybe the lack of an early morning coffee has not helped. Indeed, I suspect it to be the culprit. Coffee is the source of all time displacement. I blame the coffee. How can I, you ask, when I was the one that made an active choice not to have a coffee? Easy. I will apply sentience to the coffee. The coffee knows what it’s doing. The coffee made me do it. When I drink coffee, I drink people. 

…I think I need some coffee.

Feedback arrives for my stories. I’m through the looking glass. After  a couple of years giving out devastating lines of feedback for written assessments, now I am on the receiving end. The master has become the apprentice!
Once I get over my slightly irked feeling of actually getting feedback – I wrote the story like that? Really? Me? What was I thinking? – I learn to embrace. Like a literary massage – it feels like it’s tearing the muscles off, but you know in reality it is simply reordering them to make you feel better later. That’s feedback, and it feels good.

No school kids today. Have I caught an extra early bus? Has school ended? Now there are only adults, who know better than to inanely yabber. On the other hand, maybe the kids have something to say. Maybe I’m on the bus with the most boring adults in Perth.

As I write that, a school kid gets on the bus. Now I am more confused; where are all the other kids? 

An older lady has boarded the bus and pulled out A Feast of Crows (Game of Thrones for the uninitiated). Rape, murder, and isn’t that the one where Theon Greyjoy gets his nob cut off? I really don’t know where the books and TV diverge. Oh well, either way, have fun with that one grandma.

More school kids board. Inane conversation floods the bus. Now I feel guilty for whining about boring adults. I miss the quiet!

The narrative of my blog has broken down a bit, can you tell? Good timing perhaps, as we trundle into Freo. 

It is cold. Really sharp cold.

I’m going to drink people (coffee).

The mongoose was sleeping around

All things return to their normal state. The snake no longer lies with the mongoose. The cat and the dog sever their shared tenancy agreement. I catch the bus on time. Natural order is restored. A sense of calmness descends. 

But fuck me it’s busy on the bus this morning. 

But yeah, sense of calmness. Even the loss of the top of my coffee cup is not enough to cut the cords between sanity and consciousness. I will buy a new coffee cup. There; simple, ordered, structured. 

Sometimes my life is like a reverse Kinder egg. The crappy toy fused to the plastic orange casing, within which lies the melted crushed remnants of crappy chocolate that someone has crushed with their bare sweaty hand.

Mostly, I am glad to say, my life is better even than a normal Kinder egg – it’s more like decent chocolate with a copy of the Catan board game inside the orange ovoid (yep, big fucking egg).

With the general chaos of missed buses yesterday I managed only a few sections of my book, so today is catch up. 

A Mazda just drove by with the number plate ‘Mazda’, and promptly turned into the Mazda dealer. The end.

We just stopped at a bus stop and a guy was caught in the middle of the road frantically signalling for the bus to stop. I thought the traffic wasn’t going to give him a break but he was lucky and got across. He has the same headphones as me only red.

I got feedback on a short story today, for which I am very grateful. I’ve usually disliked feedback of any kind because I don’t like being fallible. Since embracing critical practice I’ve become more enthusiastic about accepting errors. Feedback used to be painful. It still is now, but confers a kind of BDSM emotional response.

I may need to reexamine my relationship with feedback, because I just inferred a sexualised connection.

Anyway, feedback is vital. It’s like my story was covered with a thin veil and it’s now been lifted. I get to see the story for what it is – most importantly to an observer – not what I wish it would be.

So some work ahead – indeed, quite literally as we come into Freo. See ya.