Day 74: 10 July 2017
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 15:24

Here is advice given to graduating students by well-known speakers: ‘Remember, the best committee is two, with the second person sick.’ ‘Remember, the only job in the world where you start at the top, is digging a hole.’ ‘Sometimes, you discover what you’re supposed to be doing by doing things you should not.’ ‘Do ambitious things, but to the best you can, err in the direction of kindness.’ ‘Don’t buy today’s ideas of success, because they’re working only for ant-depressant makers.’ ‘If you’re able to stand up for what you believe, you won’t need my advice.’ ‘Try never to be the smartest person in the room. If you find that you are, shift rooms.’ ‘Don’t be trapped by others’ dogma; follow your own heart and intuition.’ ‘Don’t just get involved; fight for a seat at the table; better, fight for the best seat.’ ‘Go and break some rules and make some trouble out there.’ ‘You get to decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what is important.’ ‘Don’t confuse your life with your work; the second is part of the first.’ ‘Real leadership comes from nudging your inner voice, and realising it’s time to act.’ ‘Live a life. Be courageous. Give us a tomorrow more than we deserve.’ ‘Don’t listen to cynics. They were wrong about my generation and they’re wrong about yours.’ ‘Live life with integrity, don’t try to be something you’re not.’ ‘Do not live so cautiously that you haven’t lived at all.’ ‘Old rules are crumbling and no one knows the new rules. So, make up your own.’ ‘When your journey seems too hard, or people say that you can’t, say: Yes, we can.’ ‘It’s impossible to live without failing, unless you never tried, but then you fail by default.’ ‘Real courage is heeding that still voice that says, I must keep going.’ ‘Be compassionate and caring.’

Day 72: 8 July 2017
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 15:16

For those interested, here are my thoughts on being a successful writer: A writer should read seven times more than he/she writes. I believe this. Reading quality writing in your preferred genre not only gives you writing ideas; reading also is one of the most enjoyable things in life one can do. Stop looking at Facebook, and write. It’s pertinent advice from writer Catherine Devaney. Not only is Facebook a waste of valuable time which could be better spent writing (and reading), it interrupts the writing thought process, which can lead to second rate outcomes. Say something! I’ve read some really boring manuscripts. Learn from others’ criticism. As a writer, you need to find a ‘voice’. You’ll know when you’ve found one, when your writing finally falls into place for you, when it starts to flow. Edit-edit-edit. Cut-cut-cut. When I was first published in the now-defunct Bulletin magazine, and told I’d be paid five cents a word, I thought I’d be rich. But the sub-editor cut my 1,5000 story by half, without changing the substance one bit. Later, when I was allocated 300 words each week in a country newspaper, I always wrote 450 words, then cut the story back to 300 words. FICT: Factual-Informative-Crisp-Tight; run this ruler over everything you write. Write correct English, otherwise you’ll annoy your readers. Be brave, but observe basics. Include a start, a middle and an ending in everything you write. Try telling that story in fifty words. Accentuate the extraordinary. Remember, you want people, when they’ve finished reading your book, to say, ‘Wow! That was a good read’. Even better, ‘That was a great read’. Never give up, never give up; never, never, never, never. It’s a battlefield out there. Keep writing, and keep seeking representation (a literary agent) for your work. Good luck. Include an email address for readers to comment and give feedback. It’s instructive and humbling, but it can also give you great encouragement to continue writing.

Day 73: 9 July 2017
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 15:21

Jenny is a year-eleven boarder at a girls’ school in Tassie. Her parents, John and Margaret, run a successful sheep enterprise in central Tasmania. Whenever the couple go into town, they stop at their mailbox hoping there’ll be a letter from their darling daughter. Like there was yesterday. There, among the handful of envelopes, was one bearing Jenny’s school crest. It read... ‘Dear mum and dad, it’s time I fessed-up. I’m pregnant. The baby is due in December. Stephen promises he will get off drugs and look for a job when the baby is born. At the moment, he’s fighting Centrelink because he’s been on remand for break-and-entering, and they won’t give him benefits. He and his mate Terry robbed a bank. Stephen was carrying a gun at the time. But don’t worry. I’m leaving school on Friday, and Steve and I are moving into crisis accommodation in North Hobart. Oh, and Stephen’s mother is also in prison. His dad was gunned down during a drug bust. Love, Jenny.John and Margaret sat there, stunned. Speechless! This couldn’t be their Jenny. Their Jenny is a good girl, always doing good things; always on time with her school work, always getting top marks. She doesn’t even have a boyfriend. She’s never shown any interest in boys. Eventually, John looked across at his wife. ‘Is there any good news in the mail?’ he asked. Margaret resumed flicking through the envelopes. Another school-crested envelope. ‘Oh, look,’ she said, ‘here’s a second letter from Jenny’. She quickly tore open the envelope. ‘Dear mum and dad. Disregard the first letter. It’s just that I’m struggling with Maths, and I wanted you to get it in perspective.’

Day 71: 7 July 2017
Saturday, 07 July 2018 08:12

In his totally fabulous-hilarious-informative-engaging 2005 TED Talk, English educator Sir Ken Robinson speaks for nineteen minutes on how today’s education system is killing kids' creativity; how emphasising English and Maths leaves little or no time for Dance. It might sound trite, and light-on that I should dwell on this, but Sir Ken believes the sole purpose of our bodies is to carry our head to the next meeting. Think about it. Apart from those parts of our body which are used to fuel our system and for procreation, our body is there simply to service our head, to carry it hither and thither. And the key, all-important component of our head is our brain. How we develop and use our brain is what makes our life. (I’m deliberately leaving sporting endeavour and satisfaction out of this argument.) It all boils down to how, and for what purpose, we use or brain. Is it to boringly get through another twenty-four hours? Is it to achieve something creative? Is it to do harm or wrong to others, or things? Is it to make someone happy? Is it to impress? I cannot get Sir Ken’s thesis out of my mind. After Jamie died, and I was in the bowels of depression and at the lowest ebb of my life, I went from a glass-half-full person (which I had always been), to glass-half-empty. And, even though I don’t speak to anyone about it, not even Arjay, secretly I still think that we all are bags of useless shit, nothing more, nothing less, wandering around aimlessly, here for no meaningful purpose. (Truth be known, I really am a mess, aren’t I?) But I’m not being fair to Sir Ken. I’m taking up his space here. This, his first TED Talk, is so funny. He begins by saying the young girl who spoke the previous night at the conference blew him away; in fact, he was leaving! He talks about the innocence of kids, and how five year-olds playing the Three Wise Men said, in turn, ‘I bring you gold’; ‘I bring you myrrh’; ‘Frank sent this!’ Or is it just my mad sense of humour? But, I do beg you to watch a truly great TED Talk.


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