Spilling – Day 117 – Mark

I’m not feeling the best today and my assessment, life and work all seem to be burring me. 

Reaching boiling point

She stirs occasionally

So close to spilling

My dad told me just to keep everything on the boil, stir occasionally and eventually some pots can come off the stove. You don’t always have to be on top of everything, sometimes just keeping everything from spilling is an achievement. 

Timing – Day 116 – Plane

I thought of this little story on the plane home to Brisbane today.

I sat next to an old man on the plane. He said the secret to being happy was to time everything to perfection. I shut my eyes and only awoke when his head drooped onto my shoulder. I checked his pulse as the plane plummeted.    

Quaff – Day 115 – Meadhbh

My Melbourne friend Meadhbh gave me a good word today: Quaff. I thought of some other good eating words (as eating is all I have been doing in Melbourne) and came up with this:

She quaffed fads, guzzled self help and wolfed down make up when just nibbling on a few words exchanged between friends would have filled her right up.

Pumpkin – Day 114 – Anon/Susan MacGillicuddy

20140319_165529So I met with my old screenwriting lecturer from uni and asked her for some Mentor March advice. She’s a very inspiring teacher and her advice was very simple:

Q. What are you good at that you can pass on to me? 

A. Blazing my own trail- not trying to mimic someone else’s.

Q. How do writers improve?

A. They get older.

And then came the challenge: “ask a stranger for a secret.”

It was a pretty daunting thought, but as it turns out surprisingly easy. I headed to Melbourne today, and while waiting for my overpriced airport bagel, a man offered me a seat at his table.

So I asked him, and he was incredibly obliging. He bravely launched into a tale about a girl he loved, which ended in an awkward threesome. I wont go into all the details, but he’d loved her for a long time and she had gotten together with someone else. Then he met her at a party years later and they got talking about plants.

She interjected, and he found out all was not quite as it seemed… I liked the detail he’d added about talking about plants so I took it for my story today:

“I tried to grow a pumpkin from the seeds once, but it didn’t work.”

“Maybe you didn’t spend enough time on it?”

“I started out watering it every day. I’d heard plants respond well to music so I even sung to it. I liked to imagine a little pumpkin embryo dancing under the soil. But after two weeks I gave up, I knew it wasn’t going to grow.”

“You were too impatient. If you’d stuck by it, maybe it would have seen how much you wanted it to grow.”

“I can’t spend all my time singing to potential pumpkins.”

“It wasn’t potential, it was real, you just didn’t notice. It needed you. You could have eaten pumpkin every day if you’d just looked a little harder!”

“I dreamt of pumpkin every night. No one wanted it more than me. I’ve even left the garden bed empty all this time.So don’t tell me how to garden.”

Little Tiny – Day 113 – Andrew Wright

My uncle gave me a prompt today: “Fluffy Bunny Slippers.” Written in my lunch break. 

Johnny had little tiny feet

And on those tiny feet were little tiny rabbits

And on those tiny rabbits were little tiny mouths

They squeaked little bits of guidance to little tiny Johnny

Told him where to put his little tiny feet

Now little tiny Johnny lives in a little tiny kingdom

A slave to the little tiny rabbit society

I guess not all mentors are good ones, rabbits especially.

Melt – Day 112 – Josh Donellan (& Terry Whidborne)

A few months ago I attended Laura Street Festival in West End, and saw a brilliant slam poet (and author too) named Josh Donellan. He was funny, charismatic and insightful. So I decided to get in contact with him to see if he’d be one of my March Mentors. This project has definitely opened my eyes to just how easy it is to get help from those you admire when you just ask.

We met up yesterday and he was just as kind and inspiring as all my other mentors (I don’t have a picture of us because I got flustered and forgot). 

As usual I asked him what he was good at that he could pass on to me, and he answered with art/life balance. Josh splits his life into teaching and writing/performing. He loves teaching because he gets to tell stories and sing songs with the kids, but it doesn’t sap him of creative energy, so when he gets the time to write he’s completely onto it. He told me to search for what works for me and treat my mind like an athlete would their body.

Then it was time for the challenge. Josh started off with an anecdote about having to perform poetry to a group of 150+ 16 year old boys. When he finished he said “I challenge you to give your art to someone you think will hate it.” He explained that it will help me deal with criticism better. 

So I wrote this story based on Terry Whidborne’s tweet prompt from today: “melt”. (Terry is another amazing mentor/person I admire- his brilliant mind and stunning illustrations are on display at 7th World)

Her brain begins to melt. Thoughts slosh about, mixing like bad cocktails made by inebriated teens.  She cocks her head and it trickles out her ear onto the desk.

Mortified, she scrapes it up, trying to reshape it. It doesn’t work. The edges are wonky and little bits from the outside world keep sticking to it. Accepting futility, she stuffs it back inside her head.

Surprisingly it works. Colours look a little different and ideas begin to stick together, but it seems to think even better than before.

And then I hit the streets looking for someone who might hate it. This turned out to be hard… really hard.

For starters I had to stereotype people (funky glasses- no they like art… beard? No they probably run a blog themselves). And to top it off, I am very nervous about striking up conversation with strangers.

Finally, I decided to ask a construction worker, but he was directing traffic and said all the others would be too busy to read it too. I sat down in despair, then a man sat down next to me. He was holding a book about sporting injuries. It was a long shot…

“Excuse me, do you like short stories?” 

“Not really…”

“Great! You’re exactly who I’m looking for- can you read mine and tell me what you think?”

“…I guess.”

He looked as if he was wishing he’d sat somewhere else as he took my story.

After a minute he handed it back.

“Not bad, it’s a lot shorter than I expected which was good. It’s way better than reading my podiatry text book.”

Not a glowing review but I’d take it. I took a picture and off I went. A wave of relief hit me. The prospect of live feedback was way more daunting than actually receiving it. 

Image

Genetic Code – Day 111 – Simon Groth

Me and Simon laughing at the difficulties of selfies with huge height differences. (Simon is stooping... a lot)
Me and Simon laughing at the difficulties of selfies with huge height differences. (Simon is stooping… a lot)

Last year, before I began my writing challenge, I saw Simon Groth present a speech about writing a book in 24 hours (Willow Pattern). Simon is the manager of if:book Australia, which explores new forms of digital literature and the changing connections between writers and readers. I’d never heard of if:books before, but I loved their experimental and interactive projects! I thought they sounded a bit like mine- but better thought out and funded.

 I decided he would be a great person to talk to about my project. I remember getting sweaty palms as he finished his speech and sat down. Was I actually going to go up there and tell this professional author my half baked idea? 

I looked down and my feet were already carrying me up the aisle to the front row where he was sitting. Thank you feet… 

Simon turned out to be incredibly approachable and helpful. Since then he’s linked me to amazing sites & people, and even swapped war stories about writing for 24 hours with me on his podcast.

So I met up with him this week for Mentor March and found out a whole bunch of cool things about him. For instance, he has a saying “park your arse” – basically quit your jibber jabber, sit down and just write (everyday at that). 

I asked him what he was good at that he could pass on to me. He told me he’s always had good feedback about his dialogue, suggesting I try to write dialogue with deep subtext as much as possible.

Lastly he told me not to be afraid to be influenced by other artists. It doesn’t muddy individual voice, it will ultimately make it stronger. 

I then asked for a story prompt, he answered simply. “Codes”

18/03/2010

Hey Dad,

I know you haven’t been able to move around too well lately. The days must be so slow- they probably feel like time is going backwards. So I’ve left you a code to crack for the day:

teas rouy rednu stiucsib dih I.

Frankie

7/01/2014

Dad,

I usually love getting your call to say you’ve cracked the day’s code, but today I’m hoping you don’t get it. I guess I’m an even closer reflection of you than we thought.

yɿɒƚibɘɿɘʜ ƨ’ƚi ,yɒboƚ bɘƨonǫɒib ƨɒw I

Love,

Frankie