October 2009

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 744.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 159.
  • warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/modules/node/views_handler_argument_dates_various.inc on line 72.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 24.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Writer

Writing is an odd job. I know I've said this a thousand times, but sometimes I look at myself and wonder, "Did you really think this through?"

 

The factor I didn't entirely think through is a factor known to science as "my entire personality".

 

I'm quite a social person. I love being around people. Talking, getting the giggles, even arguing with people is fun if everybody knows not to thump their fists on the table and scream "oh shut UP Darren you neofascist" and so forth. Being a writer involves extricating oneself from society. It means sitting alone and writing for long periods of time about people, none of whom you come into contact with, due to the fact that you're too busy writing about them to talk to any of them.

 

This is fine, I knew this would happen. I knew I would need the self-discipline to say, "Actually I can't do that fantastically interesting thing over there because I have to be utterly boring". It's like my old maths teacher Mr Raff used to say, "If you don't want to learn, that's fine by me". Because the person who's going to lose is always you.

 

As a result of this, I have become antisocial. This is in direct contravention of (see above) "my entire personality".

 

And even that's fine. I mean, it's awful, but it's a trade-off. I don't see my friends as much as I used to, but I've done the projects I set out to do and I've enjoyed them and I've quit my day-job and I'm feeling less like a caged bird than I used to when I was trying to juggle all these things at once and surely my friends understand, provided they remember who I am, and I love them, and they know that. 

 

What does bother me is what's happening now. Think of it, if you will, as a war. On one side there's my writing, and on the other side there's my personality. Sometimes my personality wants to kill my work because it causes my personality pain. Sometimes my work subdues my personality. Occasionally, they go into diplomatic talks and they organise a compromise whereby I can have a nice time with friends and also get some work done. 

 

What's happening now is: there's been a coup. My work is taking over. It's infiltrating my personality. Just like those diagrams of World War II with the pincer movements of troops across maps of Eastern Europe, my personality is under attack. 

 

Working by yourself is lonely. You don't talk to people in the office kitchen, or pick up the phone and call the department of whatsisface to talk to that lady with the scratchy voice about that invoice they should have sent. You don't have to deal with anybody at all if you don't want to. And in fact, it becomes more and more difficult the less you do it. As a result of this mental coup, I am becoming, I suspect, a true writer. I misjudge the moment at the dinner table and come off as obnoxious. I talk too loudly and too enthusiastically. I over-think. Afterwards, I wish I had said nothing at all.

 

 So if you know a writer, or someone who works freelance and gets to have coffee in the sun whenever they like and answers to nobody and refuses to get out of bed early unless there's a deadline: be nice to them. It's not always as fun as it looks. 

 

Technology Becomes You

 

When my sister was little, she thought she might be a song-rememberer when she grew up. Ha ha, we used to say, recognising the unfortunate chasm between her special gift and an actual job description.

 

These days, song-remembering, and remembering lines from films, TV and even Youtube, is conversational capital as everyday as “do you come here often?” and as revealing as “Mary is it? I’m the Prince of Denmark. Like a drink?”

 

In fact, quoting cultural references is so par-for-the-course that a new faux pas has emerged wherein the answer to the question “What’s that from?” results in the devastating answer “It’s not from anything”. I committed this sin last week. After laughing at something funny, I asked, “What’s that from?” and I could tell straight away it wasn’t from anything. Because it’s a bit of a slap in the face for the bonding experience, isn’t it, when you inadvertently accuse someone of being unoriginal only to be told you’ve mistaken reality for an episode of Buffy 

 

This is why I can’t play video games. The bleeding of technology into real life can be disconcerting. After playing Tetris, I find myself trying to fit parts of the skyline into cloud formations like it’s a jigsaw I have to solve. The plane-landing iPhone app Flight Control had me cutting corners on my walk to work, mentally mapping pedestrians’ flight paths. I don’t do it deliberately, I just recognise the mental pattern from somewhere, and remember: Flight Control. That tracksuitpanted power-walker has to get to the drinking fountain before I do, or I can’t beat my high score.

 

Technology is such an extension of the human brain that mental slippage can happen anywhere. If you’ve worked in an office, chances are you’ve experienced the sensation of thinking your mouse won’t work and looking down to find you’re drawing circles on your desk with your phone. Once, I found myself pressing Control Z in order to undo something I’d thought.

 

So do these things dilute reality? Possibly. But as Spiderman says, with great power comes great responsibility. Maybe the feeling of being diluted by technology comes with the feeling of being reinforced by it. Cultural references are your friends, your teachers.

 

Someone said to me recently, “Walk with me”, and I felt instantly somehow important. I realised later this is because of the West Wing, but you know what? Good on it. For thirty seconds, I was CJ Cregg. It’s not long enough, sure. But it’s a start.

 

 

A version of the above originally appeared in The Big Issue, which is an excellent magazine that you should go out and buy immediately for a range of reasons only some of which are to do with the fact that I am possibly in the upcoming edition as well.

 

Fame and Fortune

Standing There Productions had a big weekend this weekend. Rita came down from Sydney and we saw The Hayloft Project's fringe show, Yuri Wells. It were lovely. One man show. North Melbourne Town Hall. This week only.

 

We also saw our very own Paris Hilton, Miriam Glaser, in A Black Joy - another fringe festival show although one I should have seen earlier, given it has now finished and me telling you to go and see it would be somewhat pointless/cruel/unfair.

 

Anyway. One of the more important developments Standing There Productions made this week was the establishment of a new tradition: Fortune Cookie Monday.

 

The results of the inaugural Fortune Cookie Monday were as follows:

 

Rits fortune

 

 

Lozz fortune

 

Stew fortune

 

Bodes well. Don't you think?