I was signed by the very first literary agency I contacted. I’d never written a book before, had only completed the first three-quarters of the initial draft of Winter’s Shadow, but I was signed nonetheless. Shortly after, I secured a 2-book publishing deal. Basically, I won the lottery. This is not a story I tell aspiring writers for fear of being murdered and I relay it now only to serve as a point of comparison.
I spent the Easter break with my family in Port Macquarie followed by a few days spent on a permaculture farm. The farm is owned and operated by a 60-year-old Parisian woman and her Malaysian-Australian husband. Neither were farmers a year ago. She was a teacher and he worked in finance. After moving from Paris to Sydney, both found themselves frustrated with city living, specifically how expensive everything was.
My wife was driving us home the other day when a young fella wandered in front of the car. He looked like a student – late teens, slouch-shouldered, head drooping to stare at the phone cradled in his hand. Lucky for us, luckier for him, we weren’t driving fast so stopping in time wasn’t an issue. The student didn’t look-up. Simply shuffled along unhurriedly lost in whatever gripping content his phone was transmitting. Enraged, my wife beeped him. She was born in Saudi Arabia and some of that blistering desert heat never left her. The student looked up, his eyes wide with surprise. He didn’t seem embarrassed that he was standing in the middle of the road. Merely confused in a bovine kind of way that someone might beep him for this behaviour.
I have a friend who recently bought a PlayStation. He’s in a similar situation to me – young kids, limited social outings, long nights on the couch. He’s not a gamer. Neither am I. My PlayStation is a telephone with benefits. It scratches an itch left unscratched since I became more or less housebound on a Friday or Saturday night. That vital social connection I used to get from going to the pub and shooting the shit with mates. Only now I can shoot my friends in a digital hellscape while also talking to them.
It hasn’t been a productive week. My little girl, India, has a chest infection and I’ve been lying awake most nights listening to her breathe. Her coughing fits break my heart. She’s four months old. Kids that young should never get sick.
I can’t drink like I used to. Not that I was ever a big drinker, but there was a time when I could drink five or six beers without being reduced to a gibbering mess. Not anymore. Three’s my limit. Anything more than that and there’s a good chance I’ll be spending an unreasonable amount of time in the bathroom.
In my never-ending search for blog content (god, I hate that word! Talk about devaluing what writers do. Reducing our blood, sweat, and tears to something easily digestible and just as easily forgotten) I’ve decided to make a virtue of my chronic procrastination. Hence this new column, the full title of which would have been What I watched, read, listened to this week while I should have been writing if I wasn’t a little OCD about unwieldy page URLs. This is a place where I’ll touch on the various tv shows, movies and music I caught this week.
In January, I started a new writing schedule. My schedule was simple – rise early and get an hour done before the kids wake up and I have to go to work. I stuck to this schedule for two days. Two days. First I got sick and lost a week or so swaddled on the couch floating through a codeine haze. Then, my day job became stressful, a large project taking up most of my mental real estate. I couldn’t switch off when I got home. I went to bed thinking about work, woke up thinking about work. Just another victim of the grind. To deal with the stress, I bought a new video game. It was fun to play. Too much fun. I stayed up late and mornings became harder to face.
I caught a joke on Facebook the other day that made me smile. It went something like this: I’m opening a gym called RESOLUTIONS. For the first two weeks, it will be full of exercise equipment. After that, it will be converted into a bar.
Last year, I made a New Year’s resolution to go six months without drinking alcohol. I lasted a fortnight. In the past, I’ve resolved to exercise more, eat better, watch less television, read more books. I’ve rarely managed to stick to any resolution past January before slipping into lazy old habits. I suspect I am not alone in this.
This year I made a new resolution. Write more.