Monday, September 16, 2013

Still wrecking these journals:

Sometimes biting the bullet means doing the thing to 70% of standard because if you waited till you had the time and energy to do it to 100%, well it would never happen at all. I'm talking about the dodgy pictures here, taken in haste and in low light. But this could also be a metaphor for the very idea that the Wreck This Journal project fosters. Sometimes the quest for perfection (in creativity, in art, in craft, in relationships, in work, in life) can be so powerful that it completely paralyses the doer. Waiting until ability and passion reach full capacity before beginning is like the perfect recipe for unachievement, for non-doing.

I think that's the intrigue of Wreck This Journal. By blatantly ignoring perfection, you're set free to start. Right now. With anything. Free from expectations.

I'm still working on the Wreck This Journal project with my eleven-year-old students, and if possible we are having even more fun than before. Originally, we'd flip open to a random page and do whatever the instructions told us to, but we found that this method was kind of conducive to cheating. If one of the kids came to an instruction that didn't seem appealing, they'd discard it. Now we're going at it again, one page at a time, in order -- and that way we're forced to do even the pages that weird us out ("Chew the page? WHAT."). I love seeing the kids' incredulous faces when I read out the latest instruction: "Really?" Last week found us tying string around the spines of our books and swinging them through the air and into walls. There was complete disbelief followed quickly by giggles -- which pretty sums up the whole project. Plus, it's a fresh way to try new things and save precious pieces of ephemera like birthday gift wrap, picture book illustrations, and treasures scavenged from outside.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekend journal:

Queensland knows nothing of middle ground, it seems. There's no subtle progression from autumn to winter to spring to summer. It was autumn last week (winter, technically, but in title only) and now, suddenly, we seem to have bypassed spring altogether and fallen straight into summer. The forecasters are predicting thirty this week. Thirty. My soul is not ready.

I haven't done a weekend journal post for ages, but I suddenly missed the old habit of recording those magical two days of non-daily-ness, so I'm here with my pictures. On Friday night, my mum, little brother and I kind of spontaneously headed to Red Fest, a local festival celebrating the launch of strawberry season with lots of music, fairground rides, and ethnic food stalls. In past years we've spent whole days there on either the Saturday or Sunday, but there was such a relaxed vibe going along on opening night for just a few hours. Fewer people were around and we just strolled past the sideshows, burnt our mouths out on purportedly mild Indian food, and ended up in a hall where The Hillbilly Goats were playing a rollicking show. The show was high intensity and lots of fun, and the night itself was chilled out -- a good welcome to Spring/Summer.

Saturday I had to knuckle under and really make some headway on my major assessments for this semester. Both are fairly big projects (a memoir plus exegesis and a picture book manuscript with a number of illustrations and a publishing rationale) but they're also predominantly creative rather than academic, and I'm really enjoying that. When I finished my Bachelor degree, I really knew I wasn't ready to leave school behind, but now I'm nearing the end of my Master's, I can tell that it's time. My fingers are itching to have the freedom to explore some projects. Even more than that, I'm hankering after the brain space to actually remember that I can be a creative person and I can generate ideas. There has to be space in life for that to happen, and I'm looking forward to finding a bit of that space. Obviously, no one knows what lies ahead, but I'm hoping that I can continue in my current work situation (although a few more students would be great) and use the time I would've spent studying on writing instead.

So studying was the order of the day on Saturday, but there was still time to go and vote in the federal election -- and then, of course, to watch the results as they came in live on almost every television station. I felt quite strongly emotional about this election this year, and even fifteen minutes before leaving for the polling booths, I felt somewhat undecided about my vote. Political parties are much like anything else in life, I guess: you're never going to find one that you can say is 100% perfect -- or perhaps that's just my experience. What it came down to for me was not total alignment on every single policy, but weighing up which issues were the most important issues. This is, of course, highly subjective and probably quite ridiculous. For some, straightening out the economy is of key importance, so voting for a government which will make serious cuts to spending and keep out people who might require Australia's generosity becomes necessary. Others are justice-focussed and vote for policies which make the greatest effort to help the largest number of people, whether within our borders or beyond. I really had no feeling about which way things would go, but now that Tony Abbott is our PM, I hope that we'll honour his leadership where we can, support the policies that are great, and work respectfully to bring change where change is so needful. I have really strong feelings about our prime ministers. Even when I don't agree with them, I respect their role and the immense pressure it brings. It's not a job I'd ever want.

Today has been, in this precise order: church, birthday gift shopping for a certain sister and a certain nephew, a really terrible yum cha experience, drooling over stationery at Kikki-K, and weeping over The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I was supposed to study today to make up all the time I've lost over the past couple of weeks being unwell. But sometimes it's good just to take it slow.
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