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Entries in writing (13)

Monday
Aug052013

Music Journalism 101 by Leticia Mooney - OUT NOW!

 

A heads up to any and all music writers; erudite editor and wunderkind writer Leticia Mooney's new book is OUT NOW! It's available as a paperback and eBook. It's the definitive resource for new and established writers. It was an honour and a privilege to write the introduction. Cheers Tish! Get your copy at Amazon here.

Monday
May272013

My Resistance is Useless

It was important that I met my Hapkido instructor, Ken. He texted me after three or so reschedules to meet him at a little café down a tree-lined street. I entered the faux-vintage butcher shop, finding him underneath an old wooden staircase, slurping down pumpkin soup. It was strange to see him in “civvies” instead of his black and menacing gi. Tufts of chest hair were escaping the top of his grey shirt.

“How’s it goin’,” he said. I replied with something phatic. He wiped the corner of his mouth with a napkin and took a deep breath.

“The ting is Tahm,” he spoke in brusque Irish, “you’ve got your orange belt now.” His next words were placed carefully.

“You’ve hit a plateau, I t’ink. Ye can make it to black belt but you’ve got t’ push harder.”

His words hung in the air for me. There was praise in there, but I thought it microscopic. The criticism loomed as high and wide as skyscrapers. We talked some more and as we waded through diet, exercise and new techniques for training, a wave of realization crashed on top of me.

My entire fucking life was plateauing.

His words weren’t one scrawled tag on a distant corner of a wall. It was like a building sat with more windows broken than not, cracking at the foundations. No hint of collapse, mind. It all seemed fine, but it wasn’t great.

The nucleus of my being lies with words I write. I’ve been doing it since I was a child, whether I acknowledge it or not. I keep green and black striped books filled with nonsense and dreams of movies that would never get made, let alone make sense (I don’t think anyone would pay to see a convoluted sci-fi version of Ocean’s Eleven.)  It all sort of flowed out of me until it all got deathly serious.

It didn’t get “deathly,” let alone “serious.” It just did in my head.

Of late, I noticed editors expressing displeasure with my work. “I’ll be honest, I don’t understand this,” said one. “This is so weighed down with poetry it doesn’t work,” noted another. “Your copy’s crisp but not concise,” scolded one more. I saw a few snide comments on my overzealous use of adjectives.

So I clicked through the jungles of Amazon for tips. The Art of Writing, by my childhood hero Ray Bradbury. Elements of Style by Strunk and White. I cracked open my Writing for Journalists and Subediting for Journalists again. Help! For Writers. Choose the Right Word. My confidence felt so shaken I had forgotten everything I’d learned. Maybe everything I learned was bunk anyhow. I felt boxed in and shut down.

But the cardboard box flaps were taped up by my mind. I was the one holding the masking tape over my own mouth, not someone else. On the verge of giving up, I arranged to see my shrink, Geoff.

I entered his office on a warm day. Outside, yellowing leaves of trees began to flutter to the ground. I sat on his sleek, modern rocking chair and blurted, “I don’t think my writing is any good.”

He stared. He stared some more. I looked around his room at his chipped wooden bookcase and wallpaper made of degrees and certificates. We both bobbed back and forth in silence. He was still staring at me.

“I dunno,” I murmured, “maybe I’m not being honest enough.”

He flashed a smile; a seasoned poker shark would have been at pains to see it. He earned his $120, right there.

A few weeks back at my men’s support group I said the same thing. “I don’t think my honesty is where it is. I’ve been holding shit in that doesn’t need to be.” A couple of years ago, I was losing friends faster than investors did money in BlackBerry. I didn’t care, because I was fucking honest. I wasn’t pretending, I wasn’t faking, and it was all 100% genuine. I was climbing heights I never dared climb because I dared to speak my mind. For the past year I’ve been zombie-walking through life. I’ve not felt the bone-quaking fear of telling the truth.

I’m not going to get shit right. I have to let that go. I’m really afraid of getting it wrong. My face will be lit for hours by a bluish MS Word page with nothing on it. I’m 730 words in and it’s taken me less than an hour because I’m not bullshitting myself. I triple-check every fact and figure that goes into my work; nothing is unverifiable or false there. This is my headline: no one can engage with my writing because it’s coming from a bullshit place.

People are bullshit detectors. They’ve been ferreting out bullshit since the dawn of time. You can see corners of eyes wrinkle and arms fold when people are hissing virtues of snake oil and carbon taxes. I feel like a fucking fraud hitting “send” on my shit of late because its trying to be something it’s not. “I wish I could be more like X,” I secretly wish to myself. “Then I’ll finally be great.” What the fuck for? Let X be X. I have to let me be me.

Salieri was all pissed off Mozart stole praise that was “rightly” his. Why? Because his soul was dog shit. It’s the whole reason he confessed to a priest, framing the entire fucking film. Salieri was fine being Salieri; he just had to accept the gifts Mozart bestowed to him and move the fuck on. Same goes for me.

It’s been two weeks since Ken told me what I needed to do. I hung up a punching bag on my rickety veranda, scared shitless it’ll collapse on me if I take too hard a swing. I go to the gym more often, eat less shit and run, run, run. But what about pushing that which is most vital to me, my writing? There’s no black belt for writing. I’m gonna aim for Grand Master anyway.

Thursday
Nov152012

Article: Top 10 inarguably terrible music genres (TheVine)

Originally titled "Top 10 boils on the arse of music (that eventually went away)"

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We've all been there.You find yourself at a party finding your face gurned into a deformed pumpkin as it bears witness to a bunch of people dancing to music so heinous it ought to be banned by the Geneva Convention. "It's Dubstep," they'll peep, "It's everything that's great about music right now."* Brimming with more scepticism than a James Randi convention, you clamour for a bunker in which your own music collection is lowered into to, wait until the plague flushes through the intertubes. Once the toxicity fades proper music is allowed to flourish once again.

Luckily, when it comes to these musical aberrations, our consensus realities are in agreement for about as long as a lunchbreak at a Student Union committee meeting ("Lunch is oppressive, I propose that we serve organic vegan lunch from now on" implore the Communists for Disabled Whales faction) and it only takes a few months (or days in this day and age) to initiate a ritual cleansing of any unpalatable music style. So what are the top 10 boils on the arse of music that, when left untreated and ignored thankfully vanished of their own accord?

 

*This has probably never happened ever.

Read the entire list at TheVine.

Friday
Sep072012

Article: Out from the Crowd (The Big Issue)

In The Big Issue #415 I wrote a story about the often forgotten people in successful music festivals and gig - crowd controllers. Read about three women who stand with their backs to the band to ensure their and punters' safety, often at great personal risk. Get a copy from street vendors around the country, to help out the homeless and long-term unemployed.

Thursday
Jan262012

Writing: Australia Day - And What it Means to Us (Onya Magazine)

(By Editor Sandi Sieger with contributions from the Onya Team)

I’m in the business of celebrating Australia every day. Being Editor-In-Chief of this magazine means I see, do, taste and feel so much of this great land every day of the week. So when I sat down to think about the meaning of Australia Day, I was a little stuck. It’s just another day, after all.

Sure, there’ll be a lot of stereos beating to the sound of Triple J’s Hottest 100. There’ll be a lot of barbeques sizzling with snags and steaks, and tops being twisted off bottles, and corks being popped. There’ll be Australian flags emblazoned on windows and cars and tattooed on the shoulders and backs of the citizens of this country. But what about it should matter?

Read more at Onya Magazine.