Getting it done. Early or late?

I’m not sure of the best time to write if I want to get a blog post written every day. Doing it in the morning feels like it’s not a good use of the good writing energy that a morning brings (I should be doing the real writing), but if I wait until the evening then I’m all out of writing energy and wanting to do something like my knitting or embroidery.

So it’s the morning. I’ve done a quick bit of morning pages, focused on the script of Stitches, because I’ve got the staged readings on Thursday night and it would be good to have something that makes a bit more sense than what I currently have. And now I’m at my desk, with half an hour to go before my day gets swamped by a bunch of work things that need doing.

Adrian booked us a bunch of things for the Adelaide Film Festival over the weekend. It felt invigorating getting to the Capri early on a Thursday and Friday evening, be in a crowd of people all enjoying what they’re watching, then skip over to Good Gilbert for a glass of wine and a bit of food. I don’t know whether it felt good because there’s still a bit of post-covid release; or whether it’s my renewed commitment to creative and enriching life; or maybe the sense of moving into a new stage of life with certain freedoms now that children are living their own autonomous and independent lives. Maybe it’s some combination of them all. Or maybe it was just a lovely weekend. We saw Poor Things on Thursday night, and Emma Stone was extraordinary. Friday was The Persian Version which was less cinematic than Poor Things, and perhaps not as joyous as promised in the blurbs, but nonetheless excellent (I should be a movie reviewer with such insightful commentary).

Had a performance of An Evening with the Vegetarian Librarian down at the Victor Harbor library on Saturday afternoon, and it was excellent fun. I do love that script. Most of it is very silly indeed, but of all my scripts it’s the most fun to perform. And it’s weird that even though I wrote it, the more I perform it the more that I find things in there I never knew were there, and the more I think, ‘okay, that’s an amazing line’ (if I do say so myself).

Then went to see the 80s synth and strings show by Follow That Car. Enormous, joyous fun, wearing my sparkly boots and a little bit of dancing. Would go again, ten out of ten for a night of pure escapism. Adrian was sitting next to the father of the lead singer who said, ‘I don’t know why he’s the one with a band, his sister’s the best singer in the family, and I’m the second best.’ But he said it with the kind of quiet pride that makes you hope your own kids know how quietly proud you are of them.

Sunday we went to Speedway which was over at the Piccadilly. It was around 3pm when we came out and there weren’t too many post-film food options, so we ended up at the bakery. That’s only our second visit and I was doing a terrible job of making a decision and ended up with a pasty and a sausage roll intending to take the sausage roll home, but ate most of it there. It made me think that I might need to include some more about (in)decisiveness in my show.

Home then and knitting on the couch until it was time to go and collect children from a music festival in McLaren Vale. Then went to bed knowing that when I woke up it would be Monday.

Back to work now.

Sunday morning

Home again

Even after my solemn vow to never neglect it again, I have this weekend rediscovered my blog after apparently forgetting it for ten months. Time after time it is this simple format that proves itself to be the most constant companion of my online life. After a facebook thread the other–a rare wave of discussion in a sea of nothing much–I was reminded of this article in Wired by Corey Doctorrow (my god, that man’s brain) on the enshitiffaction of tiktok (and encompassing pretty much every social media platform). At the same time, I’ve been back on the new writing trail. This always leads to me trawling through the scraps of every word I’ve committed to every space over the last year. A desperate search for the spark of something which might lead to something more substantial which might, eventually, add up to a fully-formed piece. With the enshitiffaction of facebook and insta, and the general patchiness of my substack newsletter there is less to trawl through than ever before. (And of course the fact that after five shows, I have already mined many of the seams–but this makes the scraps and sparks even more valuable).

I had thought that getting a bit more regular with my newsletter might help. But newsletters are only superficially like blogs. Newsletters aren’t the place for the meandering whimsy of nothing in particular that blogs have always allowed. As I started on my newsletter on Friday morning, filling it with this and that of nothing much including (but not limited to a visit to the chemist to buy a replacement cleanser), I was forced to ask, ‘Who wants this landing in their inbox really?’

The chemist story was the kind of thing that would once have been okay on facebook. A fleeting laugh for passers-by. But it’s so cluttered in there now, so few opportunities to chat. So it was back here.

Of course, when I got here, I had an idea to move it to a different domain so that it could be linked still to my substack newsletter and so that I could finally use this domain name that I’ve been renewing for years without knowing what I was going to do with it. And of course that led to all sorts of malarkey, including around 24 hours where I could see that everything was still there hiding, I just couldn’t get to it.

So here I am. Writing nothing of consequence with no consequence. Because in a beautiful way the enshitiffation of it all is beautifully freeing. I don’t need to worry about SEO because what’s the point? Google is almost worthless as a search engine now. I don’t need to worry about whether people will unsubscribe because I’m not imposing on anyone’s time (or inbox). And I’ve just got this lovely, old-school blog theme where I don’t have to worry about blocks and formats and all the blah that takes so much brain for so little reason.

Of course, I know myself well enough to know that another ten months might pass without a visit. But for now, I shall enjoy the deeply satisfying feelings of ‘I’m home’ that coming back here always bring.

Sunday evening

The keets spent their first night out of their locked coop last night, made doubly unsettling by the unexpected rain that passed over us. It rained on and off all night, sometimes quite heavily. We were surprised to find two of them up on the roof with the bigs, and the other one struggling to get up there. One of them tried to follow the bigs as they did their nightly jump from the roof over to the trees, but it wasn’t quite big enough to make it and landed on the ground. It did find its way into a nearby tree though. Meanwhile, the final keet made its way up onto the roof by way of the ladder, which was kind of comical to watch but an ingenious solution by the little. And apparently they decided that would do, because they huddled in together and spent the night there.

When we got up this morning, four of them were up on the roof and the other one was pacing back and forth underneath. They spent today wandering around as a much more cohesive flock than ever before, though of course the two bigs are still a bit bossy to the littles. And now it’s that time of night when I start worrying about them again and hoping they have put themselves to bed somewhere safe from foxes.

In other news, I’m still working away on my show, and I want to record how I’m feeling about the process of writing now which is to say, I think I should be much more worried about it than I am. But at the same time, I can see now that it’s going to work, even if I’m not exactly sure how it’s going to work.

I’m in the cycle of checking my ticket sales a billion times each day, so I’m going to try to crack that cycle by putting some space between myself and my phone. I don’t know why it’s so hard to follow through on that when I definitely know how much better I feel when I’m on limited phone time. Beginning with the simple, but seemingly impossible task of putting my phone away at 8pm and not picking it up again until later in the following morning. And that goes for my iPad too.

Clearly, I have nothing of great significance to say, so I am going to stop trying to say it.

Keets and avocados

After a series of steps, we have finally let the keets out of their cage so that now they can start to freerange. The steps were: teeny tiny keets in a little container with a brooder plate on permanently; still in a little container but with the brooder plate taken out during the day; moved into a bigger cage (the dog’s old wire crate), with the brooder put on most nights but not if it had been a hot day); brooder plate taken out altogether; crate moved up to the block but kept inside ; crate moved outside for the day brought back in at night; crate moved outside under the verandah not brought back in at night; crate moved up to be under the tree where the bigs sleep at night; one keet let out at a time then put back in at the end of the day; and now all of the keets allowed out together.

The final step is to somehow teach them to roost high up in the trees so that they are safe from the nighttime predators. The keets have probably met the nighttime predators–my guess is that foxes come and look in at them, hoping to work out how to get in. After their first day out, they put themselves back into the crate at the end of the day, so I shut the door and that was fine, but I won’t be here every night and they’ll soon be grown out of the crate.

It’s baking hot today. I keep thinking to myself, ‘It’s one of those old-fashioned summer days.’ By which I mean, it makes me think of hot high school days. But it’s not like the days stopped feeling like this, it’s just that I stopped living in the places where the summer days felt like this.

Sometime before Christmas, I ordered two avocado trees from Diggers. It was one of those purchases I sometimes make when my gardening ambition and my gardening belief in myself outstrips my gardening truth. By some miracle I’ve kept them alive (mostly by keeping them in the laundry sink where I guess they get just enough light and are just enough in plain sight that they haven’t been forgotten), and today they have been planted. They’re down in the space with caper bush and the fig tree. The place where we saw the snake. But when we (by ‘we’ I, of course, mean ‘the mister’) got the weeds down, we realised the irrigation was already all set up and there were four spaces for trees, with two of the trees still alive, and two of them not. Two trees, two holes. I’m not really convinced it’s the best conditions for avocado trees, but we don’t have any other tree-ready spaces and we have two trees that really need to go in the ground. They’ve got more chance in those holes than they have in the laundry sink.

And meanwhile, I’m still tapping away at my new show, feeling it bit by bit coming together but still with a long way to go.

And just like that …

… more than a month had passed and I actually did forget that I had set myself this habit. Which is what happens with me all the time, so many plans set up, then I get distracted and then they fall away. But look at me not getting grumpy at myself, and not just throwing it all in. Look at me saying, ‘Okay, well, you’ve missed a lot of days but that’s no excuse to miss a whole lot more.’

I’m on the deck at Clare at the moment, and it’s one of my favourite weather situations, where it’s been hot–so hot–but now the clouds are closing in and there are storms around but they never quite reach here. I’ve done some old-fashioned blogging and taken an untidy picture with my phone and uploaded. Not quite old-fashioned blogging because I had to airdrop it from my phone to my laptop and I never used to that in the noughties. I rarely do it now.

What I love about this weather is the sense of both promise and expectation. This is a feeling that I live with in my chest so often. It’s a wonderful feeling, but equally it is a false friend. Because it gives me the dopamine rush of success, but without putting in the work that’s going to lead to the success. Writing this it has only just made sense to me the impact of what it means, because I have long misinterpreted the sense of anticipation to be a sense of anticipation about the work. But of course the sense of anticipation is about the result. It’s led me to believe that I am looking forward to the work, and then, when the work is hard that makes no sense to me and I stop doing the work. But what it really means is that I’m looking forward to the result.

This probably doesn’t sound like anything to you, but it is actually vaguely profound for me, because it means I immediately see the work in a different light. Something to be endured rather than enjoyed. And if I know it’s to be endured, then I can just remind myself of that while I’m going. The ‘having written’.

One of my favourite Winnie the Pooh things used to be when he was asked what his favourite thing was and he answered, ‘Honey.’ And then he added, but there’s a moment before I eat the honey and that’s possibly just as good. And I think that’s why I’ve always been confused about what my sense of anticipation is focused on. It’s not that hard for Winnie the Pooh to lift the honey to eat it. But it is hard to do the writing that results in the having written.

This is awkwardly written, and to make it a decent piece of writing I would need to go back over it and smooth out the clunkiness, but this is already yesterday’s post posted late, and I’ve got a lot of writing in my heart and my mind waiting to be done.

The End.

Yesterday, I remembered…

…and then I forgot, and then I got busy and by the time I remembered it was far too late. And I think by coming back in today I prove that the habit is not broken despite the breaks, and I think I finally understand the phrase of ‘the exception that proves the rule.’

Fringe launched yesterday. The inevitable result? I was sent into a spin of ‘what am I doing’ ‘why am I doing it’ ‘how will I get it done’. Social media was on fire, pictures of themselves at the launch, in front of their venues, their arms wrapped around each other. Everyone else is hyper noisy and I’m quiet and small. Everyone else knows everyone and I don’t know anyone. And so on and so on and etceteragh. All of it exacerbated by the break I took last year, the resultant lack of stage time, and the niggle in the back of my brain saying, ‘You’re only as good as your last show,’ and wondering whether I should have tried for something more ambitious.

Then I remind myself that my endgame isn’t fringe, the endgame is my body of work. My work is part of the fringe program but the fringe isn’t what defines the work. I think to make myself properly understand this, I need to get outside of fringe more often. I really do need to work on creating work that stands on its own terms and outside the context of a big noisy festival, otherwise I will always have this feeling that I don’t quite fit. Of course, what is stopping me doing that is a complete lack of confidence in my work. Can the work actually stand on its own without the supporting structure of the fringe? It’s exhausting having no confidence in your work, even if I know that nearly everyone feels this way.

Maybe as I move into the next phase of work (now that the trilogy is finished) I can think about making work that has broader boundaries than the fifty-minute, lo-fi borders of a fringe production.

But all of this is getting way too far ahead of myself, because before I work out how I’m going to produce work outside fringe, I need to get this show ready. It will be ready, it always is, but right now it feels like it’s a long way away.

I’m down in the loungeroom at the moment, and the sun is going down and the keets are going as wild as they always do at this time of night. It’s time for me to feed the keets then light the lights then have an early night.

The trick to …

… maintaining a habit is that when you skip the habit you must get back in the habit. Because it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to write every day in December. Especially because it was our weekend of the family lunch for everyone who goes to other parts of the family for Christmas Day. I really love that lunch, and I love that we were able to have it at our place, and welcome everyone here. I put all the lights and the candles on even though it was lunchtime, because even in the daylight, the candles and lights look so pretty.

I tried a few different things with the ice cream this year, and I was very pleased with the creamy result. This was the second year of making a trifle, and I followed a recipe extremely carefully, making my own jelly and learning how to make the layers. I loved the result, although next time I might try cake instead of the ladyfingers, because it might now swell so much with the jelly, and I might also make a bit more jelly so that the jelly layers can be slightly thicker (here’s hoping I re-read this sometime to remind myself, but chances are I’ll just think to myself ‘I’ll follow that recipe I used last time, I remember that worked’). For the top, I decided not to use any cream and instead to have a thick layer of berries (frozen, the fresh ones are still eyewateringly expensive). It looked festive and inviting, but as leftovers in the fridge the following day, significantly less so.

Next year I might try some kind of cake–a yule log perhaps. Or maybe I will make one this year just to have one evening. Why not? Though that would make my list of Christmas traditions and rituals grow even longer and I can hear the mister now: ‘haven’t you got a show to write?’

He’s not wrong, but the older I get, the more that immersing myself in rituals feels both grounding and enriching. And they are probably the feelings that I seek more above anything else. So middle aged, and probably so privileged and middle class to be able to seek that above safety and security.

Next on my Christmas list is cards (not sure I’ll be able to make them this year), Christmas biscuits, refreshing my playlist, thinking about Christmas presents (remembering last year when I believed the whole supply chain thing and got out there to have all my presents bought by the beginning of November), making a tour of the Christmas lights, and planning for the best of the week of the year–the glorious days between Christmas and New Year. (The highlights of my year are that week just described, Easter, and the day that daylight saving gives us that luxurious extra hour in the day).

And what I just remembered is that one year I made marshmallow and I loved it. So that should definitely be on the list. Sugar! Sugar! And now with added sugar!

It’s taken me a loooong time to get these words written this morning, could it be that I’m diverting myself from this diversion from writing my show, because the longer I take to finish this, the more I get to put off writing my show. I know myself so well.

Talk tomorrow, okay?

I had something I wanted to write about …

… and now I’ve forgotten. But I can report that between these blog posts, opening the document where I’ve started writing my Christmas show and working out how to do a bit of storytelling through instagram my brain has started working in a writerly way. That is, it is making observations of things as I do them, narrating my own actions, exaggerating other people’s actions. It feels good. It hasn’t translated into a finished piece of work yet, but it’s coming.

One interesting thing about getting back into blogging is in looking around for blogs. Blogging was always about much more than simply the writing, and it feels physically impossible to login to my own blog without warming up by making a quick round of the other blogs in the neighbourhood.

The good thing about blogland these days is that it’s very chill. All the people who were looking for ways to gain traction, whose blogs were going to get them places, who knew to end every blog post with a question to get engagement…they’ve all moved on of course they have because blogging is no longer where it’s at.

But there are just enough blogs that have maintained their momentum throughout the years that it doesn’t feel like I’m all alone. I love that there are people who have kept their old templates, who don’t care about SEO and influencing, that blogging is still what it’s always been. Then, there are many people like me who have rebooted their blog, left their blog, rebooted it again. The posts coming semi-regularly, then one or two each year, then nothing. There’s a noticeable pandemic bump of course. And then there are those which is like making a journey to a place that’s frozen in time. We were writing about our children as they started school, about John Howard and Kevin Rudd, about our thirties sliding into our forties. And it’s of absolutely no use to lament the loss of blogging, and it seems only slightly less useful to insist that it could make a comeback. But I like the familiarity of this rhythm, I’m finding it soothing and grounding both at the same time. And I like the idea that there are blogs new to me out there waiting for me to find them, and maybe make new blogging friends.

I was at the gym earlier today–I decided that I would reboot my gym visitations along with my blog. The two are somewhat related in that they both used to be habits, both nourishing me in different ways, both bit by bit sliding out of my life. I like the gym on Fridays, though I try not to go too late on a Friday afternoon. By then it’s filled with young people all getting their pre-weekend workouts in. Honestly the place is so filled with pheromones I sometimes feel like even my menopausal being could get pregnant just by walking in. I did weights in a vaguely systematic way, but telling myself while I’m just getting back into it I don’t need to push too hard. And now I have that lovely feeling of knowing my body has been worked, but it’s not exhausted.

Are blog posts supposed to have a beginning, a middle and an end? Or is it all right to simply get to the end of a thought and then hit publish?

Third time is a critical time when …

… you’re setting yourself a new habit. In my world it is anyway. I can easily do two, but then the dopamine hit wears off, I forget I had set myself this new task and off it goes to join the (enormous and still growing) pile of abandoned projects.

So here I am, back on day three. I’ve actually crafted quite a lot of words this week. I have been helping with a number of funerals, I’ve got my new website launched (like literally just an hour ago the designers emailed me to let me know it’s live), I’ve been playing around on instagram with stories, I’ve started work in earnest on my Christmas show, and now I’ve been back here three days.

As part of my Christmas show, I was looking back through some old newsletters and discovered–as I always do when I look back on previous writing–a treasure trove of memories and potential material. And I was reminded–as I always am when I look back on previous writing–that a regular writing habit is one of the most valuable tools a writer has. And then I feel–as I always do when I look back on previous writing–grumpy at myself for all the material lost to laziness or whatever it is that so often stops me from maintaining a regular writing habit.

But I’ll need to write about something more interesting than the subject of writing on here. I mean, it’s been okay up until now, but I feel like that’s about as much as I can say on that topic without it starting to sound like a first-year’s English essay, full of words which have no meaning. I was going to write ‘and have no reason to exist’ but I think for writers, all words have reasons, even if it’s just to clear the way for future words to arrive.

I went to collect the guinea fowl keeps last night. After several intended visits didn’t eventuate for one reason or another it was nice to finally make it happen. They made it home, and they made it through the night, and I feel like that’s all a good sign and they’ll make it to adulthood now. But I’m worried they’ll be grown out of their cage before we’re ready to take them to the block and settle them into their permanent home (as permanent as any guinea fowl’s home ever is–I’m trying to be pragmatic here and acknowledge that they might not stay with us) and I’ll need to buy another cage. Which would make them expensive keets if you add up all the little bits that individually didn’t cost that much, but combined will have cost a lot.

Allright, well, that’s three days which is a solid start. And from tomorrow, I’m going to start writing about something more substantial. I know there’s no one listening, but if you’ve got any requests let me know. (Cracking myself up, like I always say my dad used to say, ‘If you can’t laugh at your own jokes, why would you expect anyone else to?’)

It was astonishing to find …

… that the simple act of writing 500 inconsequential words that I knew no-one except myself would read despite the fact of leaving them in a public (though largely invisible) place left me with such a deep feeling of satisfaction that said feeling of satisfaction followed me out of my house, through my morning meeting, along the aisles of Officeworks, back to my desk, through my afternoon (including a return to C25 ‘running’), around the house while I turned the Christmas lights on, and in then out of my embroidery lesson (online). Even the grumpiness of having to clean the kitchen at the very time I would have liked to go to bed (I mean, honestly, I am not the only cleaning-capable adult in this house) did not erode the sense of satisfaction of those 500 words.

So far did that feeling follow me that it was with me still this morning, and although it did not provide me with momentum enough to get me out of bed the first time the alarm rang (nor the second, nor the third), it has brought me back here to write again.

Perhaps it is less the fact of the 500 words themselves and more that I have finally started on the long-standing item on my to-do list. (Described yesterday in the 500 words I am describing today, I won’t repeat it now because it has (as I am describing) provided me with deep satisfaction, but they weren’t otherwise noteworthy).

As I write today, I am listening to parliament, the censure motion of our former prime minister. I have so moved on from his years as leader that I find myself surprisingly not caring too much about the result. (I assume it will be carried or the ALP wouldn’t have moved the motion in the first place). We all know he was a terrible prime minister who did indeed lead us through some difficult times but did so with such arrogance (including making such little headway on addressing climate change) that I just don’t feel like giving him any more of my time (and yet here I am watching parliament live, sigh).

On other matters, I have had two wins this morning. First, this very act of my second day of writing these slightly anonymous, largely invisible words. Second, the sets of chairs and the piece of machinery I bought many years ago and have failed to use have finally been sent off to the auctioneers. One day I will tell you about my terrible relationship with the auctions (suffice to say the worst of it is the chairs and I’m grateful for that), but I feel like I’ve drawn a line under that period of my life and I will never buy any furniture ever again (‘never’ and ‘any’ being more relative than absolute in this, and most other, instances).

Time for me to turn my attention away from this slightly anonymous, largely invisible place and towards the script for my upcoming show for which tickets go on sale tomorrow. Tomorrow? I only just put that together as I was writing that very sentence. I don’t have time for writing 500 largely incoherent words in a slightly anonymous, largely invisible place! And yet, here I am deriving great satisfaction from that very act.

Talk tomorrow.