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And there was this giant chicken who ate my homework…..

We all make excuses

Excuses, someone should write a song about them. I’d like that. I’d listen to them. On repeat. For hours.  I could write a song about excuses but then I’d be interrupting my much valued procrastination time and we can’t be having with that, now can we.

Creative recovery has drawn to a snails crawl this week. I’ve done my morning pages, I’ve done my artist’s date. Other than that I’ve achieved a monstrous mountain of nothing. The excuses are pretty damn awesome frankly.

I’ve been off-colour for the past few weeks. It’s an interesting term off-colour isn’t it. Makes it sounds like my interior cathode tube has gone on the fritz and I’m walking around with green and purple blotches.

I’m utterly exhausted, can barely stay awake. Bloated and thirsty, hungry and over heated. My feet are burning and my back feels like it’s trying to climb out from under my skin and go on a relaxing holiday in Bali for a fortnight of cocktails and sun burn. I sound like a disaster just waiting to happen.

After 13 days of a headache that will not go away, I decided to go to the doctors and see if there is actually anything wrong or if it’s just the aging process. I tried to diagnose myself on Google, which informed me I had Malaria, or that I was pregnant. Both are pretty awesome diagnoses from a computer server somewhere in deepest darkest wherever they are stored, but neither are right.

I’ve not been anywhere to get Malaria and if I’m pregnant I’m selling the story to NW Magazine seeing as it is the second time God managed to impregnate someone and this time neither a virgin nor a female. I figure that’s got to be worth 100 grand right there.

I get my test results back on Monday. I can’t say that I’m nervous or that I think the world is going to end. I’m way too tired to care frankly. Some bugger has stolen all my energy crystals and I want them back.

Crawling into bed when I get home from work, and out of it again 8 hours later to go to work more tired than I was before is not really conducive to creative recovery, or any form of consistent work.

As I’ve spent this week trying to find the energy to write, I’ve instead indulged in the world wide habit of reality TV. Now to be honest, I really don’t get the point of it all. I admit to liking the The Voice – although I’m now studying every Monday night for the next 5 weeks – and you can’t go past a bit of Tabatha Takes Over, then there’s Wag Nation on Arena which has to be the stupidest show in existence but I made the mistake of having one shot and now I just have to know what happens next. Cliff hangers, the lives and trials of the sporting worlds elite wives. It’s like Dynasty without Joan Collins and over-sized shoulder pads .

My twitter following has skyrocketed as I tweet my way through each episode, my retweets have gone from non-existent to several per episode. It’s addictive. I can be creative and funny in 140 characters. Isn’t that enough for me?

Last night I was reading a blog post about Stephen King’s 20 Tips for Becoming a Frighteningly Good Writer and decided I really need to buy Stephen King’s book On Writing. I’ve heard it mentioned in various writers classes I’ve done and people on Facebook writing groups seem to be a fan of it.

Anyway, one of the tips was about limiting TV watching time to 1 program a day. I re-read that one several times. Surely Mr King meant 1 TV program an hour. I mean if I’m not watching TV and getting suckered into the lives of shallow people everywhere what will I do with my time?

I thought it was quite fitting, and it’s definitely something I suffer from. I used to excuse watching TV and movies as research, looking to see how others have done what I dream of doing. I guess that doesn’t work though when it’s all you do. Research is all well and good but eventually you need to get in there and dig a hole for yourself that will lead to China, Never Never Land or a Balinese beach with on tap cocktails and sunburn.

I often make the comment to friends that I can feel my intelligence level diminishing with each 20 minute interval of reality TV. I miss the days of the mini-series, television drama’s with characters and actors that were worth setting your VCR to record when you had to go out. Everything seems so generic, and disposable these days.

Instead of Elizabeth Taylor, we’re stuck in a world where Kim Kardashian is a star. I still can’t figure out why she’s famous enough to have her wedding to someone I’ve never heard of televised around the world in a 2 part special. I’m still unsure why we are supposed to care about a woman whose marriage lasted 72 days and is now being photographed all over the place with Kayne West.

Whatever happened to talent being worthy of respect. Apart from winning the reality TV version of World’s Shortest Marriage why is she famous?

Anyway, I digress. I’ve decided to try and follow Mr King’s advice and limited my exposure to brain destroying radioactive TV. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching Wag Nation I must say, just that I won’t watch both the re-cap episode and the new one one after the other.

It’s easy enough to fall into the rut/habit of get up, go to work, work all day, come home, eat food, collapse in a heap, sleep like the dead and then get up and start it all over again the next day. Ruts are there because you walk the same path every day without fail. From A to F with a slight detour once a month to G and occasionally if you’ve been really good a night out at H that leaves you needing a weekend to recover.

I guess the point of this post is to recognise I have excuses, not reasons. That if I’m ever going to make a go of writing or anything else I have to willingly sacrifice the rut for the effort to climb out of it and see if the world really is prettier on the other side of the mountain.

To be a writer – not just a scribbler of words – but an actual writer, you need to write through headaches, through exhaustion, through burning feet and bloated bellies, through sore ears and through the time that Wag Nation went to the fashion show and there was a bag emergency – it’s ok, for those worried, it all worked out in the end.

Excuses are valid only if you allow them to be. Excuses, habits, procrastination. Frankly to my way of thinking they’re all the same thing. They’re a protection mechanism to stop you taking a risk. I’m not a fan of risk. I don’t want to jump out of a plane with a bungee cord tied around my feet anymore than I want to wake up one morning and discover Ant’s have taken over the world.

But to reach any goal, you have to do it. Not just talk. Not just think. Not just sit and imagine how cool it will be when you can afford to buy a bottle of milk with money you’ve earned through your words.

I start my Screenwriting Stage 1 course tomorrow night at the Sydney Writers’ Centre  . I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been a long time since I made a commitment to something that wasn’t a reality TV show. I’m hopeful this will be the point in my life I can look back to one day and say “This is where it all began”.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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