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50 Shades of Mikey…..

Where is the time going? I can’t believe it’s been over a week since I last regaled you with the wonderful journey that is my creative recovery.

Last Saturday night I went to see a singer by the name of Jay Brannan live in Sydney. I’d been looking forward to it for months. One minute I was telling my friend – we’ll call her Kirsty – I wasn’t feeling well, the next minute I’ve got some rather good looking man patting me on the face and telling me he was a lifesaver. Had it been in an erotic novel loved by millions of grandma’s the world over, this blog would be going X rated. But it’s not a naughty novel, and so I’ll stick to the truth.

As it was I’d passed out. Apparently my eyes glazed and that was that. Night night Mikey on the floor of a night club. Awesome. I remember the security guards trying to help me outside and then I was back on the floor again. The floor was wooden. It was hard. I’m not sure why I felt the need to continually turn it into a bed. I did though.

Eventually I got some water, and was fine in about 2 minutes if that. Security wouldn’t let me leave until the ambulance guys turned up to give me a check up. Which they did, and he was cute. Now at this point we should definitely be going into a “bow-chicka-wow-wow” moment designed to get those Grannies hearts a’pounding, but alas all he did was help me down the stairs.

I’ve been fine ever since. I was mightly annoyed, not the least because I’d only had 4 scotch & cokes on my final hurrah before Dry July. Pfft. The amount of nights I went out and drank myself sober when I was a teenager and in my twenties – possibly in my thirties too – and the one night I go out with the express intention of not getting drunk, I don’t. But I pass out anyway.

Anyway, that wasn’t really about my creative recovery. More an excuse to tell you I passed out and the live saver and ambulance dude – well one of them at any rate – were hot.

Work is insane. I mean really, slow the world down already. I wake up Monday, I go to work, feels like I come home Friday. I know my Grandmother used to say the years spend up as you got older, but give me a break. How am I supposed to write if I’m not getting home until after 9 and am asleep by 9:30.

I guess I could take my lap top on the train. My only problem with that is the stink of a smoker. I’m the smoker. I know – at least vaguely remember – how much smokers stink on trains and I’m always too embarrassed to sit next to anyone., expect at night, I have no manners when I’m exhausted. That may well sound like the stupidest reason on earth not to sit next to someone on a train, but it’s true.

For the last year that I’ve been working in my current job I’ve stood all the way from Hornsby to the city so I don’t offend anyone. I’m daft. Well mannered, but daft.

My course finished last Monday. I was sort of sad about it, but it turns out Young at Heart was rather good apparently. I was pleased. Pleased enough to dig out Hot Ice and start writing it immediately. I had thought I was further along than I was, which has turned out to be a bit of a problem. See, I’ve signed up to do Stage 2 of the Screenwriting class at The Sydney Writer’s Centre. It starts Monday. I have to write 10 pages before I attend and send them to Tim. This could be a problem. He may get them at 4am Monday morning.

Still it is exciting. I loved the first course so much and despite my own fears, I got a short film out of it. One thing I really learnt in that course was to shut up and get out of my own way. If I had done that years ago, who knows where I’d be. The other main key I took from the course was that writers can’t afford to be precious about their stories.

I know. I’m a writer too. Our stories are our babies. We pour our hearts and souls into them. Who does that producer, director, actor, janitor think they are telling us they want changes. Bastards! Don’t they know who we are. Yeah, we’re writers. Unemployed writers who spend more time railing at the world because it doesn’t understand our creative vision, but we’re writers.

You know what? We’re not. I came to the realisation – and I can only speak for myself – in this course that writers can’t afford to be precious because we’re like architects. We design the blueprint. We draw the story, but it’s up to the sub contractors, developers and electricians to make it a reality so we can stand next to it’s poster in the local Event Cinema, smiling like an idiot while our friend takes a photo we’ll tweet out as soon as we buy the popcorn.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that regardless of your creative endeavour, no creative journey can be undertaken in a vacuum. You can paint a picture I guess, but you still need a gallery owner to like it. My point is that as writers, we can’t write in a vacuum. It’s not just about being creative, it’s about the fact that writing is a product.

Regardless of whether you’re writing a novel, a movie, a short story or a short film, what you are doing is creating a product. It’s wonderful and joyful to see your creation go from a random thought, or if you’re me a vision of 1 scene into 90 0dd pages of screenplay or 100,000 words of novel. But ultimately we can’t do it alone.

Those who help us. Those who buy our product, have the products – not necessarily our – best intentions at heart. A precious writer, I’ve come to realise is a writer who writes for themselves. Regardless of the hours you spend alone in a room typing words, writing – in any form – is a team sport.

To act as though those who buy our products don’t know what they’re doing, because they ask us to change a character, an outcome, or a steamy sex scene into an intense passive aggressive argument over crumpets and tea simply because the idea wasn’t ours is limiting.

I was a precious writer. I have been since I was 12 and first began writing short stories to fill in the school holidays. I wrote for control. I wrote because the characters and voices in my head were all I had. I wrote because the “real world” was too tight and it bit and I hated it. I wrote because I was in charge, and nothing happened to those characters without me wanting it to. Every character lived or died by my decision. For a teenager who felt so out of control in every aspect of his life, writing was my way of “owning” my space.

Over the years that need to control continued, until I became a writer who drank. I didn’t write anymore. I didn’t do anything anymore. I worked. I came home. I watched TV. I drank away my weekends. I became a writer who talked about doing but never did.

In the first week of Screenwriting Stage 1, when Tim said something along the lines of “writers can’t be precious” my first thought was “shit this is going to be fun.” A few days later, I was working away in my morning pages and the light bulb in my brain went off and I realised, “Being precious is simply another mechanism for me to protect myself.” I came up with the analogy of a child.

Parents raise their children for the first 4 or 5 years pretty much in a cocoon of family and friends. Then they send the little bugger out into the real world, to school. If the kid is lucky they get a wonderful teacher and great friends and the journey to adulthood and independence begins.

By the time the child is an adult, the child the parents raised has changed and morphed into someone altogether different. He’s been affected by his teachers, his peers, his desires, his strengths and weaknesses and all in all, while the core foundation is the same, the child who is now a man is not what he would have been had he been raised solely by his parents.

Writing is a bit like that. We work on our own – or in a tightly controlled environment – and we create a script. As it’s creators we have to have the faith in our vision when we send it off into the real world. We have to have faith in the people who take over, in the foundations we’ve created and by the time we’re standing under the earlier mentioned poster, the child of our brain is no longer what it would have been if we’d kept it home all its life. It is now a combination of our faith, our foundations, and the good intentions of all of those who have a vested interest in our products ultimate success.

Oh I love a good rant lol. Anyway, this is my 20th post in Writing in Shadows. So to celebrate I thought I’d put in a video from youtube that I really enjoy. I’m not a huge fan of the song – sorry Lady Gaga – but I love the message of this video and I think it’s a wonderful story, told beautifully and simply. Enjoy.

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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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