Friday, March 27, 2009
I was beyond thrilled the year that we finally got to have an "olden day picture" taken at the now out-of-operation Old Sydney Town. Friends had similar pictures hanging on their walls and I thought it was the best thing ever. You can tell by my gawky grin and my Foxtel-dish eyes that I'm pretty excited. My brother Nick, in the front with the fake gun, was just playing it cool. c. 1991.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
a) unwell, followed by
b) excited about Things, followed by
c) trying to catch up on my monthly 20,000-word goal.
In lieu of real words, have this picture instead, taken at Byron Bay last month. Gospel graffiti? It seems like the perfect irony.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
That morning, I'd rather unsuccessfully squeezed out about 750 words (250 short of my daily required quota, if I'm to fulfill my writing pledge for this year, and let's not talk about the fourteen days I've missed writing already this month). Every one of those words was painful. Getting them from brain to fingers to screen felt rather like trying to run a marathon through quicksand. The sludge kept pulling me down.
At lunchtime, I took refuge in a little paperback mystery novel. The supposed powers of distraction only added to my misery. The book was nothing earth-shattering, certainly never destined to be a classic or even a top seller, and yet it was immensely more readable and more real than anything I've ever been able to shake from my pen.
That's an agonising realisation to make, but it was also strangely enlightening. I realised that the reason I've been finding my writing goals so hard to reach is not because it's hard to spew a thousand words onto a page every day (it's not; plus, a thousand words usually takes more than a page, in case you were wondering). Rather, it's painful because it's horrifying to write a thousand bad words a day. Bad writing is painful. Understanding that one is making bad writing is even more painful.
It couldn't have been just coincidence, then, that I read Justine Larbalestier's latest blog post that night. She said:
There’s a certain misery in the air right now. I’m reading it on other writer’s blogs. I’m feeling it myself. Seeing it in tweets. Hearing it in late night conversations in bars. It’s kind of everywhere. So many writers I know, or who I follow on line, or in interviews, are grappling with their own self worth as writers. If I’m not selling am I still a writer? If I can’t get published am I still a writer? If my contract got cancelled am I still a writer? If my next book doesn’t do as well as my last book am I still a writer? If I don’t win awards am I still a writer? If reviewers hate my books am I still a writer?
Obviously, she is speaking particularly to published authors, the people already considered by most of us to be already making good words. But her advice rings true for anyone. It rings true for me:
All you can do is write the very best book you can.
It will get published or it won’t. It will find its market or it won’t. It will sell or it won’t. It will win awards or it won’t. None of that matters if you’ve written the best book you can.
Every act of creativity involves taking a risk. We don't really know that what we're undertaking will turn out lovely and beautiful. Well, maybe Bach had that kind of confidence, but most of us don't. Most of us just jump out into the water and hope we'll remember how to swim. Not even gracefully; we just want to stay afloat.
All I can do is try to write the very best words I can. I might not make something brilliant, but the question at the back of my mind asks, "Will you be able to stop, even if you stink?" The answer is: most likely, no.
I take courage from that phrase about genius (was it Einstein or Edison who said it?): genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Since genius isn't what I'm aiming for (I gave that hope up long ago), I figure the equation for making something really, really good might be half a percent inspiration and 99 and a half percent perspiration. Inspiration is everywhere; the perspiration bit is up to me.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The penguin in the jumping picture is one of the only things I remember from the Tasmanian holiday our family went on in 1986. It was strangely awesome to get to see that beloved penguin again -- a lot smaller than I'd remembered. Oh, and the picture above is one of they very few with my Dad in it; others usually include him and a sticking-out tongue or similar. Nice.
This is my last post of Tasmanian pictures and -- shout hooray -- my hundredth post here. Throw some confetti!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
This is more true than I care to admit. Oh, how I love the cosiness of my comfort zone!
(with thanks to artist and writer Keri Smith for pointing out the painful truth)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Today on the Boundless blog, Ted Slater asks about nudity in visual art such as illustration and film: "When and how is it appropriate to include nudity... in various forms of art?"
It's a good question because it brings into focus two distinct arguments: that God made the human body as the marvellous crowning glory of His creation (see Psalm 139:13-16), and that the naked body has a particularly remarkable effect on many of those who view it.
The naked body has been portrayed -- and revered -- in visual art since there was art to be made. This doesn't offer an exception to Christians pondering the appropriateness of nudity in art; it simply shows us how deeply flows the belief in the value and necessity of the nude form in art.
There are, however, exceptions to most rules. In this case, married couples are, of course, given the freedom to look on each others' nakedness, and a male doctor might be required to tend a female patient. That same doctor will also likely have studied detailed depictions of anatomy in the course of his education, which I think provides a clear example of when nudity in art is appropriate and when it is not.
All art is created for a reason, even if the reason is so basic as a guiding compulsion to create, or for the sheer joy of making something. But art also invokes a response, and I think it is this reason and response which provides the best guideline for the appropriateness of the portrayal of nudity. What is the underlying reason behind the portrayal of a naked woman in a painting? What is the response of the viewer?
It is impossible to deny that humans -- particularly men -- struggle with lust provoked by visual stimulation. Is it ever right for us to create a piece of art that could add to that struggle? To say that someone's struggle over sin is their own battle to fight is not enough. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are obligated and privileged to help one another, to "spur one another on to love and good deeds." And our role as disciples goes beyond simply helping: we are called to avoid doing anything -- even unintentionally -- that could cause someone else to stumble.
Jesus said, But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea (Matt. 18:6).
Being exempt from similar struggles ourselves -- or being firmly convinced of the beauty and loveliness of the human form -- does not excuse us from meeting our obligations to our fellow believers. The following Scripture relates specifically to food; if we substitute the word "art" in its place, we are offered a challenging insight into our role as creators of art:
Do not, for the sake of [art], destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he [views] (Romans 14:20).
There will be nudity in art as long as there is art. But should Christians be creating visual art which includes portrayals of nudity and sexual images? These Scriptures convince me that the answer is no.
But what's your take? (You can disagree if you want; it keeps us all on our toes!)
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Happily, looking at these pictures of Tasmanian architecture inspires me all over again:
[the clock tower that chimed every quarter of the hour;
my brother's counting improved greatly just by listening to this]
[one of the fountains in City Park, Launceston]
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Meaghan -- School holidays are not too far away!! (I think New York beats Tasmania).
Staish -- we missed you, too. Like heaps.
Rachael -- wow; thank you! I'm honoured!