Friday, August 30, 2013

Sometimes I feel like I don't belong

When I was about 8 years old, I wrote a story at school which featured an old man, aged 50. I remember how mortified my 50 something year old grandfather was when he read the story. Fast forward, thirty five odd years, and I realize why my grandfather reacted the way he did.

I was a sensitive child, who grew into a hypersensitive teenager. I used my intelligence and leadership qualities to wander aimlessly around the paddock of my high school. Like a sheep, I followed bad shepherds, experimented with substances, jigged classes, and played around with some criminal activity until finally dropping out. Working to finance binge drinking seemed like a better option. I had no idea what I was doing with my life.

Fast forward thirty years, and sometimes I still wonder what on earth I am doing. I am driven. I am ambitious. I know what I want, but I am not prepared to do whatever it takes to get it. I've been married and we have two teenagers. I have a mortgage and seven years of university education behind me. I'm working as an English language teacher. I am a published novelist, with two out and a third on the way. I am well and truly in the settled phase of my three score and ten. Yet there are still times when I feel like I am just playing a game.

I live in the tension between what is and what could be. I live in the great in between land called Earth. I live, grateful for what I have, but ever mindful of the fact that what awaits me will be so much better. In some ways I will always be that ten year old budding writer, and that directionless and selfish fifteen year old, and the newlywed, and the new dad. I am all those people, but still far from being complete.

There's so much more to my story. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Museum of Anonymity

The Loathe Your Neighbour book tour was a spontaneous, last minute marketing ploy which I tacked on to a planned road trip.

Here are three things I want to share.

1. I have tried everything to build my platform and sell my books but my numbers are paltry. I take the advice of authors and bloggers who have significant followings. I spend at least an hour every day on social media. I share "me" at least as much as publicize my work. I join conversations. I try to build relationships. I even add prayer to my hard work. Nothing really works.

2. I love driving. I went to Canberra via the scenic route just
because I could. With no dead lines and no passengers to consider, (apart from a very compliant copy of Loathe Your Neighbor on the passenger seat) , it was just me, and my Falcon XR6 cruising the open road to the sounds of my favourite tunes.

3. I spent hours at the Museum of Democracy, and I came to this conclusion: the Australian version of democracy is great. I may have missed out on Question Time but as I walked the halls, and trod the lush carpets of Old Parliament House and considered the  

long, furious and passionate debates which went on there as our political leaders argued over decisions of great national significance, I felt awed and grateful. When I watched interviews of refugees and migrants to Australia talking about what democracy was, and how they appreciated being able to express political opinions without fear of imprisonment, torture or death, I felt proud. One man simply said that he felt safe in Australia.

Although the trip was a commercial flop, it was a personal success.

Next week, I'll talk about another example of what a superb democracy Australia is. For now, I'd love to hear about your successes, your triumphs and your feelings about democracy.

See the full set of Loathe Your Neighbor book tour photographs here.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Not as good as it gets

Jack Nicholson famously posed the slightly fatalistic question, "What if this is as good as it gets?" Similarly, Solomon suggested that a man should accept what befalls him, and make the most of it. Is this life as good as it gets? Many people think so. In fact, the very same don't believe there is anything else. This is it. This is life. Do your best. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Life is characterised by problems, by trouble, and by suffering but I refuse to believe that this is as good as it gets. We do have to make the most of this life, but not because it is the only one we have, or because we cannot make it better.

A paradoxically simple attitudinal change is all that is required to improve our lot in life. Instead of lamenting the computer crash which robbed me of nearly four hours of my life, and put me way behind the work/study eight ball, I can be grateful that we have other computers in this house. I can be thankful that I have even one. That it can be repaired. That I can afford to have it fixed. That I can ask for an extension on my assignment, and it will be granted. That I know how to use a computer. That I know how to read and write. That I was able to go to school. That there is a heater blowing warm air on to my legs. That I have legs, and that they work well. I could go on but I think I've made my point.

Former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser once said that life wasn't meant to be easy. It was actually, and it will be once more. When the cancer of sin is finally and eternally cured, we will be made whole, and life will be perfect. In the meantime, let's try large doses of gratitude to help ease the pain.

What are you thankful for?
photograph sources:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chasing Likes

I am not a people pleaser. I do not go out of my way to make people like me. I do not like to attract attention to myself. I do not talk about myself and my interests incessantly and in great detail. I am generally amiable, and I try to keep the peace if one exists, or make it, if necessary. I avoid doing things which might cause people to dislike me, but I only go along with the crowd if doing so does not compromise my integrity. I know these things about myself.

I understand the fickle nature of popularity. I know that popularity does not necessarily equate to quality. I know that much of what is good, even great in this world, in terms of music, art and literature is, and will most likely remain, unknown to the masses.

I understand the limitations of time and human attention spans. I appreciate the fact the people are resistant to authority, and prefer to dwell in the land of moral relativity where life is easier. I know most people use some kind of anasthetic to help them cope with pain and stress. I know that people hide from uncomfortable truths.

This knowledge informs and underpins my writing, and helps me deal with the paradox of my personality. As I writer I crave readers, lots of them. My pursuit of fame, means I chase Likes. I have to talk about myself and my work. I have to push myself "out there" if I want to share what I have to say with as many people as possible. I am still a little discomfited by this kind of activity, but I am hopeful that in time, as my readership grows into the thousands and tens of thousands (modest ambition) I will become, with God's help, more relaxed in the role of self promoter.

When do you behave differently from how you usually would?

Photo sources and related articles:

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The World Revolves Around Me

It doesn't actually, nor could it, and neither should it, but there are times when I wish it did. For example, if the world, or even Australia revolved around me, the Prime Minister would not call the federal election until after I have visited Parliament House, and watched Question Time in the House of Representatives.

I have planned a trip to our national capital, Canberra, on August 22. Canberra is a great place to visit, and, according to locals, also a great place to live. I've been there many times. It's only a two and half hour drive from my home on the south coast of New South Wales. I love going to Canberra but this trip is going to be different. This time I am going by myself, so I can take my time and do exactly what I want to do. I'll be visiting the Museum of Democracy in the Old Parliament building, the Australian War Memorial, and I was going to Parliament House for Question Time.

The problem is that when the election date is announced, and it will be soon, parliament will be dissolved. Ergo, not only no Question Time, but also no members of parliament in the House. They'll all be busy campaigning in their electorates.

What about me? Stuff the election! I want to see some action in the House. Alas, I may be disappointed. However, I'll still have a good trip because I'll make the most of the opportunity. And that my friends is what life is all about: making the most of whatever opportunities present themselves. We may not get exactly what we want, but we can be thankful for what we do get it, and enjoy it.

When have you made the best of a less than ideal situation?