Writing

Laws exist to protect the privacy and reputation of individuals and companies from the negative effects of the media machine.

In practice, some of these laws include some disturbing grey area.

For example, in a public place it is completely legal to photograph or video any person, with or without their permission, as long as you aren’t using the images or video for commercial use.

(Note: Public spaces do not include privately owned land such as shopping centres.)

You are also allowed to photograph or film privately owned places, as long as you are on public land while you do so – even if you’re operating a drone.

As is often the case, what’s legal and what’s ethical varies greatly in many aspects of media operations.

Imagine you’re lying on the beach, minding your own business and soaking up some sun, when out of a bush pops Kyle Sandilands. Imagine that he then pulls out a camera with a zoom lens and starts taking close up shots of your crotch. There is absolutely nothing you could do about this unless he decided to publish any of the shots.

However, if you went home and posted an angry message like this to twitter, Kyle would have grounds to sue you for defamation.

Oops.

Because twitter is a public forum, those eight words are technically considered ‘published’. If Kyle can prove that my tweet has caused, or is currently causing him repetitional damage, I am liable for the cost of those damages.

That is, unless I can prove that my statement is true.

(Which in this case – who knows?)

The moral of the story is to be mindful of what you say online, especially about other people. If you’re going to say something that someone else isn’t going to like, make sure you verify your facts first.

Martin McDonagh’s debut film, In Bruges (2008) remains one of my all time favourites.

Image result for in bruges

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched it. But every time I do, I discover another brilliant spec of writing that I hadn’t noticed before – there isn’t a wasted line, and every moment has relevance outside of the scene it takes place in.

If you think you found something inconsequential… Watch it again. The film is that tight.

Some of the jokes haven’t aged well, there’s a lot of swearing (in typical Irish fashion) and the plot is dark, but McDonagh’s uncanny ability to generate and string together tension results in the kind of sharp, dark, hysterical character driven drama which has become a staple of his work.

He’s also responsible for Seven Psychopaths (2012), and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) which received four golden globes and is nothing short of exceptional.

The thing I didn’t know until today (which has brought McDonagh back to the forefront of my mind) is that the Irish writer is also responsible for one of my favourite plays; The Lieutenant Of Inishmore (2001).

Learning this was a penny-drop moment for me. Finally, I think I understand why these films resonate with me so deeply; I fell in love with with the stories McDonagh tells for the same reason that I fell in love with theatre.

I adore stories where complex characters navigate tragic circumstances in the imperfect ways that humans do.

Dramatic theatre has an easier time with this, because its nature implies a restraint that modern cinema simply doesn’t have to worry about.

There aren’t any Michael Bay explosion sequences at the theatre.

Instead, playwrights rely on their characters to generate tension, set stakes scenes and drive plot.

McDonagh is an expert at crafting morally ambiguous characters and smashing them together to create tragedy, and it pleases me to no end that he’s able to translate this skill to the screen – the resulting chaos is so much fun to watch.

All of the works listed tackle horridly dark subject matter in a way which doesn’t shy away or undermine the severity of the tragedies, but still finds the humour in them.

Black comedy is at its best when it allows us to consider the most challenging aspects of the human condition in the most human way we know how, seamlessly blending tragedy and comedy to incite catharsis.

He knows exactly when to let the audience sit in a tragic moment, and when to loose the tension in a scene through a well written joke. Funny moments aren’t tacked on to scenes for cheap release, they are embedded deeply within those scenes.

When our lives become too much, we generally respond by laughing or crying.

Masters of ‘tragi-comedy’ make us do both.

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

Epictetus

It seems a general truth that those more attuned to listening are those with the most insightful things to say.

As someone who speaks a lot, this means I need to work hard to do enough listening.

Information has never been more accessible.

Seek out the information which incites you, and listen hard.

If can’t think of anything worth listening to, start here;

Are you a writer?

How would you know?

Writers tend to write, right?

But how often, who for and how well?

This line of questioning is ambiguously annoying for a reason; there are no hard and fast metrics which dictate what a writer is or isn’t.

If you write anything at all, you have a case to state.

Whether or not you’re a writer depends entirely on whether or not you think you’re a writer.

The same goes for dancers, photographers, fighters, models, philosophers and nearly everything in between.

You become a writer (and cease being an ‘aspiring-writer’) the second you decide to mold your definition of what a writer is to include yourself.

I believe you should do this with everything you’re passionate about.

The ‘aspiring’ part of ‘aspiring writer’ is a safety net. It shields your work from scrutiny and justify mistakes.

Unfortunately, the shield perpetuates itself.

There’s not much use in considering yourself an ‘aspiring’ anything. Making mistakes and processing critique are both essential to growth.

‘Aspiring’ implies that the goal is to get good enough to shed the preface. It implies a destination which is an absolutely arbitrary definition.

It’s better to be a bad writer than an aspiring one.

Nobody is going to respect your work or hold it to a professional standard until you do so yourself.

Being bad at stuff is great. The worse you are, the more you have to learn.

Those who identify as ‘aspiring’ tend to be the most fearful of failure.

Become petrified enough of failing, and you might just scare yourself out of ever getting the practice you need to reach your destination.

Stop aspiring, start doing.

Find what you love.

Show up.

Do the work.

Embrace the failure.

Grow.

As a general rule, I try to avoid consuming much news from traditional sources.

I prefer news which is actionable.

When I finish reading a story I like learning something which enables me to go, “Oh. In that case, I should ______.”

Good news fills in that blank with informed action which is productive, important and surprising.

But most news fills that gap with, I should be afraid.

While the targets they take aim at are different, news outlets on both sides of politics are constantly reverberating the same message;

People who are different from you are doing awful things, and you ought to be worried about it.

This message rings true whether you’re watching a bigot on Sky News dribble on about how maniacal the ‘climate cult’ is, or whether you’re watching a journalist on the ABC report a horrific case of domestic violence.

It used to be that this news happened twice each day; every morning when the paper was delivered and every evening when everyone got home from work.

Now we have a news cycle which doesn’t sleep, and our overexposure to it is cancerous.

Which is why I value journalists like Lisa Ling.

“It requires time and energy to get invested in other people’s stories, but I do in my heart of hearts believe that you emerge a better and smarter human as a result of taking that time.”
— Lisa Ling

Journalists who lean into the darkest complexities of society with empathy.

Instead of telling you who the good guy is, who the bad guy is, and why your should be upset, this type of journalism instead says;

Here are some people. This is what they’re going through. I’m going to try and help you understand.

Instead of preying on your emotional negativity bias by regurgitating oversimplified black-and-white narratives, these journalists find non-judgemental ways to understand people – usually in formats which take the necessary time to portray people as they really are; complex, illogical individuals.

It’s impossible to tell anyone’s full story in a news snippet.

We have nothing to gain through reinforcing polarising stereotypes, and everything to gain through compassionate conversation which fosters understanding.

If you haven’t encountered her work before, she’s well worth a google search.

Making the bed is usually the last thing on my mind in the morning.

If I’m not rushing to the gym, I’m usually calculating how long it will take to get changed and brush my teeth as I try to figure out whether or not I have enough time to scoff breakfast before leaving the house.

Obviously, this is far from an ideal morning routine.

(I’m working on it)

We should make our beds in the morning not just because it feels better to come home to at the end of the day, but because the feeling of accomplishment associated is one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for a productive morning; which can snowball all the way throughout your day.

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

Admiral William H. McRaven

Making your bed is a low hanging fruit; you can enjoy significant benefit despite the fact it takes next to no time or energy.

When we’re able to build habits around these low hanging fruit, the little effort it does take to accomplish them reduces even further. So much so, that eventually you won’t even have to think about them.

Making your bed after you wake up should be as intuitive as washing your hands after you use the bathroom; if it’s not completely automatic, something is probably wrong.

Build habits around the small things you can do which provide the largest benefits, and you’ll be constantly generating your own wellbeing.

What’s your low hanging fruit?

Have you always kind of wanted to meditate, but never got around to it?

Ever wanted to exercise more often, but just couldn’t seem to muster the motivation?

Want to be a writer, but never find the time to write?

Treat yourself like a professional, and do the work. Then keep doing the work until it doesn’t feel like work anymore.

These things take ten minutes out of your morning. Unless you’re a parent to young children, (in which case, why are you even here? Go get some rest) there is really no excuse.

A doctor washes her hands before every surgery whether her hands are dirty or not.

It’s not something she thinks about doing, it’s something she does.

That’s what a professional does.

I don’t want an authentic surgeon who says, “I don’t really feel like doing knee surgery today.” I want a professional who shows up whatever they feel like.

Seth Godin

We have to hold ourselves accountable to building these habits, especially around the things we care about.

I don’t yet make my bed every morning, but I will. Because I care about having good days.

I didn’t used to write every day, now I do. Because I care about my practice.

This stuff is simple, but far from easy. The ball is in your court.

Don’t ever stop striving to be a work in progress.

Be a professional. Do the work.

Here’s two things which are deeply important to me;

Helping people understand what attention deficit disorders look like, how they function, and what someone lucky enough to have one can do to turn their variance into an asset.

Helping people (especially us millennial/Gen Z types) find ways to grow, learn, and reduce anxiety through the dedicated stoic practice of a meaningful pursuit (jiu-jitsu, in my case).

I’m going to be turning one of these into a book.

Perhaps I’ll even end up writing both. But for now, I need to decide which one gets to be first or I’ll bounce between the two forever.

I’m not married to a deadline yet, but I am commited to the outcome.

One book has to die for the other to thrive. If this is going to happen, I need to focus.

I need to make a choice, and I’d appreciate your help in making it.

Which book would you read first (if either)?

Which book are you more likely to champion?

Which book would you gift to a friend?

This is wildly important to me, so I’d appreciate any and all of your thoughts.

You can contact me publicly or privately.

Give me a call.

Let me buy you a coffee.

This is happening one way or the other. I want to do it justice.

I adore Kate Tempest.

Image result for kate tempest

She’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I think she’s one of the best performance poets on the planet.

Her gritty album and pessimistic state-of-the-world address Let Them Eat Chaos still rattles me every time I listen to it. It’s not always a fun experience, but it reached me at a time a few years ago when it was exactly what I needed.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard to it, but I can tell you that I notice something new everytime I do.

The pace of her delivery often makes it difficult to soak in every word unless you’re paying complete attention, which I appreciate as someone who struggles to sit through a regular full-length album.

I was fortunate to see her perform the album live in the UK a couple of years ago and it still remains the most impressive and impactful gig I’ve ever been to.

The way she crafts intensely vivid images in seconds, then smashes them together to the beat of EDM rhythms is mesmerising.

Watching her do this nonstop for over an hour was borderline hypnotic.

We die so others can be born
We age so others can be young
The point of life is live,
Love if you can
Then pass it on.

Kate Tempest, We Die

It’s the kind of gig which leaves you exhausted with a racing mind.

The overwhelming nature of her work informs its beauty.

Tempest is also a playwright, and has a medley of poetry collections published.

Her Ted Hughes Award winning piece Brand New Ancients is a personal standout, which I highly reccomend to anyone interested in long form verse poetry.

Here’s one of the songs I enjoyed most from Let Them Eat Chaos when I first listened to it, Europe Is Lost.

After this week’s display in UK parliament, it might be little on the nose.

I had the pleasure of attending the 2019 Perth REMIX Summit today.

The speakers left me inspired, provoked and motivated to find new and interesting ways to do my work.

I plan to write in detail about my favourite talks as I go through my notes over the next week or two.

Expect to hear about the intersection between technology and creative industries, cultural knowledge systems, young people and atychiphobia, the woke paradox, brand(ing) and how to turn missions into quests.

Opportunities to network with likeminded creatives shouldn’t be overlooked. Telling people about the interesting work you’re doing is one of the best ways to ensure that you get the work done.

It’s a privilege to be a young creative in this generation. If that’s you too, make the most of it.

There are so many of us out here and nothing to separate us but bandwidth.


Notes

I’m craving a dedicated personal office space quite badly.

I have a desk in my room that’s less than a metre from my bed. Naturally, this isn’t great for my productivity.

My house isn’t huge, and because I share a room with my partner all of my spaces are shared spaces.

I often write or get work done in the lounge when nobody’s home, but not so much when the house is full.

I’ve tried the coworking space thing before, but I’ve always felt that for the price I might as well just work from a cafe. At least I’ll get a pastry for my buck.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s what a lot of writers do. My only issue with cafes is that they usually present a constant stream of potential distraction.

On some days, they prove too much. My brain wanders, I get distracted for a minute, that minute turns into an hour and I’m no closer to where I want to be.

I resigned myself to the fact that this was just the way it was going to be for a while.

Then I discovered garden offices.

Rustic timber cabins - DIY or install - granny flats and sheds

These little nooks are cheap, look fantastic and don’t require intense council approval because they’re essentially just stylish sheds with windows.

I want one.

Inside would be nothing but a desk for working, a chair for reading and a bookcase full of my tsundoku.

How much would this cost?

It depends on the size and how much of the work you’re prepared to do yourself. Prefabricated kits are also an option, they reduce complexity and room for error, but increase cost significantly.

I need to do a lot more research, but people have completed some incredible builds for under a few thousand dollars and at the very least I’m inspired.

Rustic timber cabins - DIY or install - granny flats and sheds

I’m not sure how a garden office affects property value, but it could potentially be a worthwhile project once uni is over.

I’ve not impulsively made any decisions about this yet. All I’m saying is that if this is a terrible idea, someone ought to stop me before I start drawing schematics.