I am going to be embarking on a 12-8 shift at work today (which I know isn’t that bad for some people, but allow me to be shocked seeing as before now I basically wrote, did university and worked in a theatre company and bookshop), and have a rare moment to enjoy a coffee before I wander down the road to the ever so lovely Burger King. There I will buss’ tables, serve angry customers who don’t understand the complexities of a BBQ sauce pot and mop floors with the hearty gusto of a sailor on a pirate ship deck.
My point bringing this up is about failure and success. I don’t have long to write, so I hope I can finish and post this before I have to leave for work. It is sunny outside at least, and the coffee is warm, so my morning is pleasant enough. I even have chocolate biscuits. But back to success, failure and being mediocre in the middle.
I serve a vast array of people every day, but I cannot help but see so many who do not seem happy with their state of affairs. They grumble when the Whopper they ordered is too late. Men in suits complain down telephones that ‘Jackie should have filed it’, even though suited man has no idea what ‘it’ is. Families sigh and roll their eyes at the twelve kids they have to control, when they didn’t even want to get married back in high school.
And then I look at myself, as I smile at the customers, laugh when I overspill the smoothie mixture, etc. I look at myself through this hazy mirror and wonder how successful I have been.
I was a grand student at college and secondary school, which allowed me to study what I wished to at university. I have had two short films made, worked in London with a Transmedia firm, and will soon be self-publishing my first novel. I pay for my own flat, my own corner of the universe, and have the opportunity to write pretty much when I please. But I work for Burger King. I am lacky n.o. 209. This is not to say they treat me unfairly, on the contrary, B.K do not fall into enormous stereotypes of what it is like to work for fast food (as other friends in a similar position of mine say is very lucky). I am lucky in that I have all this opportunity.To write, to be treated well at work, and to earn (just) enough to pay for my own place.
So why can’t I shake off the feeling I am failing? I set high expectations for myself, because I am a honest believer of why the fuck not. I am Nathan Dean, self-loather and narcissist, I deserve the best. And then I don’t reach it. Bret Easton Ellis had published his first book two years before my age current. Max Landis is filling corners of Hollywood with his own special brand of madness. And I sit in a little box in Lincoln, hoping someone might read something I have written, and then give me enough money from that to be able to live off it.
Other people don’t seem to do this, panic over failure. And that worries me. They’ll say “I wish I had XYZ” and then continue doing “ABC”. I serve a hundred people just like me, who earn thousands time more than me, or nothing at all. I serve people just like me, but who also squandered a gift or cast aside a choice. How, then, do you continue being happy when the dream feels out of reach?
I’ll be brutally honest, I haven’t a fucking clue. I wish I did. I wish I could lay on my back in the shadows and then, in a shining epiphany, I’d go “IT WAS PIZZA.” “It was pizza all along that helps you remain happy when the dreams down the bottom of a well.”
But I am clambering down that well, and I just need a helping hand back out with my dream clutched tight to my chest, like a baby kitten that a kangaroo told me to go save. “Yes, Skippy, that’s right, I did follow my dream.” (Cue cheesiest movie of all time).
I wish it was all that simple, when it came to believing in yourself. Eating pizza and watching cute movies. I wish it was that easy.
You wake up, and on the doorstep is a little white envelope. Printed on the cover, in tiny black letters, is your name. Your real one. Not something you use from time to time. In full: your name. you open the envelope and you smile, not showing anyone the contents. Because it tells you how to be happy.
Looking down the street, you see someone has put one envelope on everyones doorstep. And everyone opens them. Some people smile. Others laugh. One person cries.
There we have it. You now know how to be happy.
It’s a fleeting feeling though. You learn, from the little gorgeous hand-written note, that happiness will happen in small bursts. It is not something you carry at all times. Life wouldn’t be worth living if it was only one emotion at a time.
You go and work in shit job #1 for a bit, but you smile, and it seems easier. The weight of your failure, which isn’t failure at all, fades. You just serve, clean, whatever, with a clear mind, thinking about the other things in your life you want to fix, solve, play with, evolve.
You scrape together change, go for a drink you can’t afford, come home, and do whatever you do best.
Whatever you do best: something that brilliant shouldn’t be done all the time. People who juggle don’t juggle all the time.
A few years later you try and find the envelope again, as you can’t remember what was inside. You can’t find it.
You don’t mind.
I discovered recently I have a collection of 411 people following me on the twitter place, and I decided that with that number growing in such a manner, I should actually check out which lovely bods and boddesses find my whimsy, pseudo-bon-vivanting and other such writerly shenanigans interesting.
Amongst the 411 followers - which gives this self-doubting narcissist the ego-building potential to think himself a god of some sort, or at least a Mayan priest with all those pretty feathers and things - I have anything from music producers, to university students; from enterprise schemes to European artist collectives. And then smattered amongst that: plays that have been and gone; of course the more expected arrival of identity-less cybergirls and literary quote-collecting robots. I think the final block are the most abundant. And though I understand my twitter presence may be supported by a pile of faux femme fatales with pretty hipster headings and quotes in the bios, I can’t help but think that my other followers are just as lacking in identity as well.
And this is nothing to do with their work, or their creative ethic, but rather down to a kind of promotional issue. These people are certainly not as empty & buzzing on positronic sexlines as the cyberladies of the twittersphere, but they add a plethora of followers to their own ranks to get their name, as they say, out there. (There. That big place where people live with, possibly, money, money that can be renamed funding, and funding means you can do things in the big out there and be part of out there with other out-there-ers. We all love Out There.) But once these people get their names out there, they fail to continue forging those connections, and I’ll add – so I don’t seem too arrogant – that I am also afflicted by this same inability to continue communicating…
When I get a spare moment I want to collate all my followers/followees into category groups, so I can network more effectively with all these lovely creatives following me. I mean, amongst my followers are experimental drug treatment twitters for Crohns, because I once mentioned my condition in a tweet. Hundreds (exaggerated…) of doctors emerged from the cyber-woodwork to tell me that they too could cure my bellyache. But they never followed through. Just a quick follow and a grinning profile picture. And to be honest, I don’t want that, so your follow was a little underappreciated I am afraid.
What these people, and myself, need to do is keep in chatterings with these bluebird 140 gossip accounts. Twitter is quite an informal playground for this kind of thing, and so when you next follow a group of people, try and have a bit of chat with them. Because the more important factor in the mass number of followers isn’t that a higher number creates greater exposure, but rather that a larger number is a greater potential for further endeavour. Imagine: somewhere there is a magic room filled with the people you want to see you. You hand business cards to all of them, and then steal the champagne and run away into the night. Yes, those people now have you in their mind for a bit, but it’ll fade when the next 200 business card-follow metaphors come in and steal your half-dim limelight. Rather, whilst in that magic room of everything you need, you stay and chat for a bit, and they say “I need a new advert” or “I really wish my skateboarding had a theme song” or “my grandmother skydives and needs social media for her cloud-earth adventuring”… more opportunity!
Instead of just “follow me buy my book”, why not “what are you up to?” And I don’t mean just professionally speaking, why not as human beings? Shock and horror! People get so embroiled in the business of businessing their business, they forget why they did it initially. I went on twitter to moan and highlight my life out of that narcissism I mentioned above, and then to promote my work. I’m at a stage now where I need to promote far harder: I have a flat, I have a novel, I have a web series in the works, and I can no longer presume my work is only “good for my CV”. I can’t just sit and wait for the writing to take off, and to do that I need to promote, and to do that I need to be myself chatting with other people being themselves. In an industry built on not being yourself. Quite the paradox to fight through…
We live in an era where connecting people is as easy as sending an aggravating hashtag to your favourite celebrity. Where a private message can link to a Vine to an Instagrammed image of an artist you once met by accident on the tube… The power of social media should make promoting oneself such an easy dream, and yet time and time again people just hit follow, expect a self-entitled followback, and can’t even be arsed to tell people what they do. I’m a band. I’m a writer. Good for you. But what does that mean to you, and what does that mean to me? Also do you want to grab a drink next time I’m in town, because I like friends as well as “connections”.
Getting the balance between me as novelist and me as person is difficult. Chuck Wendig seemed to oppose branding oneself because if you need to give yourself a brand you must sure as hell be uninteresting. You are a fully fledged person who does things; surely that should be interesting enough. And I know you are interesting, you just need to let me in. You need to be more than just an @ address and a link to your bandcamp/society6/whateverthehell.
So, I’ll start.
Hello everyone! (waits for you to reply like a gang of schoolchildren), I am Nathan Dean. I am releasing my book on Sept 15th – Spectral Fathoms – and I’d love you to buy it, because it means I can afford more coffee, which is my fuel. Speaking of coffee, let’s all meet up and have one next chance we get. @CreativeLincoln is a good ass twitter for meeting up, but if you’re free, gimme a bell, I love coffee.
See… that wasn’t too hard. Bit creepy, but not too hard.
Moaning about how your craft - your special brand of creativity - is harder than other peoples is a pet peeve of mine. To compare ones art to another, to me, seems ludicrous, as even though many forms of media all share similar habits in how they relate to their audience, the practices, conventions, ideologies, theories and logics behind them are so esoteric to the field that comparisons are pointless, dull and often incorrect.
In this regard I will now moan about how hard it is being a writer.
The issue with being a writer is that other peoples skills have a very physical presence. Let us say, for the purposes of this, you are a car mechanic. If you happen to read this, and you are a car mechanic, wonderful. Coincidence has yet again created something fun and happy. If you are not a car mechanic, do not worry, you’ll still be able to keep up. Being a mechanic, you have to get down and dirty, and your client can see you working hard on the engine. You pick up tools. You cover yourself in muck. You hang rude calenders on your walls (I am not averse to stereotyping). This means people can see you working: can actively appreciate your craft.
The same for editors, sound designers and the like. As an actor your very craft is an act. Audio editors will have software, which seems specific and complex to someone untrained in that subject. But, what does a writer have?
At the end of the day - if we don’t go into a socio-political argument about literacy rates in 1st world countries - we can assume everyone can write. And if everyone can write, then everyone is a writer? No.
Myself and my fellow writerly friends have studied this craft. We know Todorovian narrative theory, we have character progression sheets aplenty, we have studied plot arcs and how to balance a fine ending with an epilogue. We know our craft. The issue comes when you try and prove your knowledge when every other bastard with a quill is also writing something!
I am not the sort of a person who wants to prevent people writing. I support fanfiction culture; I believe everyone has the potential to be anything they dream to be. But this requires time and effort. Being a famous author isn’t about luck, but about creating lucky situations, and that requires hard graft and a lot of skill. Yes, every one can pick up a typewriter and be the next William Burroughs, but that doesn’t mean I am going to immediately treat you in the same vein as other writers/scriptitians/dramaturges and other made up words. I will support. I will educate where I can. Help your work blossom. But you need to have a certain mindset and education (bought or self-taught) in the subject that has merit and decency.
I feel I am moving away from the point at hand; everyone is a writer but not a Writer, a capitalisation arrogant yet necessary. Anyone can paint but they are not Painters. Anyone can fiddle with an engine but are not Mechanics. Mario is a plumber, not a Plumber.
This, naturally, creates an elitism. And elitism creates pockets of creativity without communication, which furthermore prevents the cross-pollination of ideas between different fields. We reach a strange balance between giving creative arts a hierarchy so we can accurately progress media whilst celebrating particularly fantastic creators in the form, whilst simultaneously making the arts open for every one, as they should be. Joe Bloggs and Marie de Artiste Fontingue should be on the same playing field, sharing the same cakes and biscuits of delicious creativity. But this is yet to be the case. Or rather, it is happening, but in an underground sense.
I want this to change.
Myself, Hannah Agutter and Sam Clarke have begun to try and change this. Myself and Sam put on a play, which is outside our comfort zone of filmed media. Hannah Agutter produces across different kinds of media, from photography to film. And all of us have set up #creativepeople.
#Creativepeople is to make networking across different fields friendly, open and inviting. So many times networking events can seem off-putting, either with the format (like a strange speed dating run with business cards and not enough wine) or in payment (why do people pay to meet people?). #Creativepeople is literally putting people in a room, buying a few drinks and chatting about the arts and media as a whole. Our last events had 1st year Media Production Students meeting design companies; it had film societies meeting theatre actors. And our next one - on June 12th - will have an even larger range of people, from different backgrounds and creative fields. (The word creative, unrelatedly, is now my Matrix Name… you know, if you say a word enough times and it ceases to have meaning, that is your name when you leave the Matrix).
My vision is to have the next Steve Jobs sat beside a guy who made an indie game for his friends and no one else, and not necessarily having the former help the latter become the next Ubisoft, but just have ideas shared across the boundaries we set ourselves. At this stage, before an endgame that ludicrously far away, I just want people to meet and work together that wouldn’t have done so before. What happens when a game designer works with two actors and a web developer? What happens when a film society gets a photography company to advertise them, with soundscapists on the front line? What happens when a film maker meets a fashion designer? How will we know until we start talking?
The problem comes that media like to fight. Each format wants to overwhelm the other with jargon and cleverness unnecessary. Each one wants to prove to the others they are the best, or the most complex, or the hardest to work for. This needs to change. No more comparisons. No more competition. Just collaboration, the most powerful tool we possess.
Oh god, this is hippie culture and the arts combining. I really am a beatnik…
But what is the hardest form of media? None of them? All of them. I think any occupation where you have to constantly prove you are still good at the thing you are doing is hard. I suppose that is every job in the universe. As humans we have created such a hypermasculine industry structure, of waving our penises about in the hopes someone will see how big and creative they are. We can’t just sit down for coffee, and charm one another. There is no room for courting in the arts, and this saddens me, for where else should courting live if not there?
So, let us put our penises away. Let us put on our hipster shades and take our Apple Macs to a Costa Coffee. Let us buy notepads from Paper Chase and use fountain pens to take bullet points. And let us be #creativepeople together!
It is I, the blog neglecter! I return with the possibility of words you wish to read which may or may not hold meaning of a vaguely agreeable value.
I am pleased to announce that I am now a writer for Fantasy Faction. This is a big deal for me, as this is the first place I have sent work to that is published outside of a certain catchment area, so to speak. Up until this point I had written obscure words for esoteric companies, and worked with colleagues and friends locally, but this is me, writing words I want to write, on topics I love, for the sake of it, for other people. It is essentially an extension on this ‘ere blog, but with less fucking swearing and a more professional attitude (ha, yeah right, writers with a professional attitude. That’s like artists with concentration that lasts over 4 seconds).
I will be writing articles on various topics involving the worlds and themes of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I have already talked about world-building, and have a few other ideas up my sleeve, but I also need your help. If you have fantasy or science fiction short story, please send them my way. Preferably ones already up online, even if that means just some little backwater blog you run. I want to help support new writers and - god I hate the term, but lets do it… - amateur writers by reviewing their work alongside the bigwigs. So if you have a story you don’t mind being reviewed to a wider audience with a heavy dash of constructive criticism, please send them my way. Just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with an subject heading making it clear it is a short story to review, with a link to where you host it online.
I only want to review stories currently online, as this is just far simpler for me to send people to. Being able to just attach a URL to a review so people can see the work for themselves, is far easier than other methods. So no manuscripts please, just website addresses to blogs, websites and literary caves. I can’t wait to read what you have. If any short stories contain a pineapple, I will link it to this blog regardless of quality.
But yes. I’ve been neglecting this place again. I can see on the corners of punctuation marks little cobwebs by the wordspiders, and under the floorboards of the first posts are the skeletons of previous worries and woes. I need to have a tidy up.
The reason why I haven’t been here is quite a simple one. I am a pseudo-bohemian writer living out of a friends house, working for a fast food restaurant to support my crazy choice to be a wordsmith. Let me tell you, I am living the rogue writer dream, and that dream is a little bit rough around the edges. It smells funny and keeps going on nights out without my consent. I had reached a point where I could no longer function on the drips and drabs of odd projects. Being funded on projects can only help so far, and I needed something to help me. I originally didn’t want to tell anyone online I work for Burger King, on the tills getting people the food they want, because I felt this would taint my professional patter. I felt that people wouldn’t treat me as a respectable writer in my field, if they knew I supported myself with other avenues of work. So I retreated, felt sorry for myself, went home, saw Mum, got a bollocking-of-love that I am in fact doing well, gave said folks huge hugs, and returned feeling invigorated. (Note for life: if feeling lost and confused, see your Mum).
I learnt I shouldn’t be ashamed just because I am not the next Iain. M. Gaiman-Novik yet, but should be more grateful of what I do have. A family willing to support me even when I’m being a complete twatbasket about my current affairs. Friends coping with fitful outbursts of self-deprecation whilst also giving me a home to live in. A job that isn’t as bad as the media makes out, may be small pay but it lets me live a life worth living, and my colleagues are the funniest people I know. Writing work with new creatives I wish I had known for so much longer. And a future that seems, not necessarily bright yet, but definitely flickering with new born sunlight. My Stepdad told me “if there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel, go down there and turn the bugger on yourself.” Doing that. Now. Finally. [I think].
Life is scary. Just, a heads up. If you’re in college or secondary school reading this, hopefully on your phone at the back of a class like the rebels you won’t be allowed to be later, remember that phrase. Life is scary. It can be horrid. But that doesn’t mean stop. It will always be that. From now, all the fears of friendship groups and passing exams, to owning your first house to your deathbed, you will be scared. Ride it like a wave. And if people say “you can be whatever you want to be”, hit them. The phrase is too positive to be worked with and adapted into your life. You can strive to be anything, but its hard, and not everyone will make it. Not everyone climbs Everest. But it’s worth the effort… and some people do. Some do win. You might be that guy. How will you ever know if you don’t pick up your gear and start a-climbin’? Hmm?
So this is it.
Send me your short stories, start your ascent. I may be just the first few pebbles at the bottom of the mountain but who knows, I might help you get a handhold to the next step. Send them to me.
Also check out all these people below. Writers and dramaturges and producers and marketers and lovely folks you need to follow on twitter because why the fuck not:
Chris Mudd, Hannah Agutter, Charlotte Greenley, Brett Knights, Samuel Mant, Alex Capper, Samuel. J. Clarke, Jim Booth, Dominic Bright, Myles Curwen, Hannah Eaton. There are probably more, check my follow list.
Those people above, and a fuck tonne more, are the people that help me get out of bed in the morning. They are the people who remind me to keep writing, keep selling burgers and to keep climbing the mountain.
I am writer, here me roar… or scribble.
40 followers. 39 posts. Time to make it equal, mother trucking doodah dayers.
The sun is setting already because I firstly got out of bed too late again, and secondly because I live in a country that doesn’t understand time or weather. I drink a coffee, but not a special brand as I usually adore, and it tastes of Tesco Savings. It reminds me that I want my own house, with a fine selection of coffees, a cafetiere, a cat called Mazzapax - or Eonada - and a plentiful supply of typewriter reels, canvas’ and internet allowance.
Recently, I sat for around four hours in a Burger King. This seems like very strange behaviour, because who on Earth would want to do that? But I had a fine reason. Firstly, I was eating there, which is a more appropriate reason, but I didn’t order 4 hours worth of nommage. Instead, rather, I was discussing friends, love, hates, worries and distempers with a lovely friend of mine who I wish I had met sooner. She and my other friend share a student house, which also has a spare room, and they allow me to sofa surf for limited periods whilst I claw my way into a respectable position in society: i.e. job hunting. And they are unbelievably supportive, the pair of them, but for those 4 hours I had the chance to discuss many things about me: what I like, what I dislike, and get my head straight.
I will be honest, I have been finding days difficult recently. To sound arrogant, I am not used to failure. I am fine with not doing my best, but very rarely do I put my mind to something and not get some form of reward. This leads me to self-deprecate and is a terrible side-effect of being told I was a gifted-and-talented student who would achieve everything. I learn now this wasn’t just lovely support, but also a great responsibility, which made me incorrectly assume I had to be great at everything or I was worthless. I am not worthless, as I have been told numerously by friends (even if I never listen to them), but when over 40 job applications come back as empty you can’t help but think that the duvet is a finer place than the outside world.
Now, I tell you this for another reason other than to get some form of psychic e-sympathy. I tell you this because it is "bullshit."
Bullshit, ladies and gentlemen, is everywhere.
Under every crevice, between every wall, lost in deodorant cans, pill boxes, coffee mugs, spiritual shops, business ventures and even sleeping soundly under your pillow each night. Yes, fellows, bullshit is everywhere.
I find it hard to get out of bed in the morning because I think I am worthless, when I know I am not, and even if I am due to a great cosmic joke it shouldn’t fucking bother me. It isn’t something to be worried about. Whether you mean something to the universe or not isn’t really important in the grand scheme of things.
I chatted to this friend in Burger King for 4 hours about what worried us - for me it was that tall women won’t find me attractive, I don’t have a job and that being a beatnik writer isn’t what it made itself out to be - and with her she told me of friends of friends troubles, past issues, et cetera, ad infinitum. And it was a fine conversation, because it put things in perspective.
I am trying my best to get a job. I care for my friends. I’m good at what I do. I just can’t handle bullshit.
I can’t handle people coming up to me and saying that I need to settle down, in that passive way where someone says their lovely little life with taxes and jobs and mortgages and engagements makes them happy, as they pop another anti-depressant. I can’t handle people telling me how they didn’t enjoy a night out clubbing because X and Y didn’t happen. I can’t handle people saying they have to say mean things because its a coping mechanism that X is ill or Y is bullying them. I can’t handle the fact that me standing up and saying, “I find it hard each day because I’m lonely” is also bullshit. Alongside twitter celebrities moaning that Doctor Who is a travesty of modern society, I am equally as bullshitty by saying “ooo, I wish someone liked me”.
Everyone is saying their problems are the worst, and 99% of those problems are not problems. They are offensive, they are frustrating, they are even saddening, but they are not problems. They are life.
People - including me - need to grow a pair.
I have issues and, I will call them problems due to a lack of the correct vocabulary for such things (there isn’t a word in English for “this that bothers me a bit too much which is kinda like a problem but really it isn’t it is just a thing I wish would fuck off or sort itself out”; German probably does have a word for it, or Japanese), and I need to just sort them. Slowly. Quickly. Angrily. Normally. Things need doing.
So I am going to do them. And I send this as a message to everyone else with… things… that bother them. That need doing.
My message is simple. Moan. Groan. Drink too much. Drink too little. Write angsty poetry as you listen to Panic! At the Disco. Whatever makes you feel better. But remember that after doing that, you need to get on with life. Don’t wallow in the bullshit. The bullshit ain’t going nowhere, so laugh at it, point and giggle at it like your an uneducated primary school student who has met his first ginger. Throw it out of a window and laugh manically as it scrambles on the concrete. Smother it with a pillow as you weep for tomorrow to be filled with more whiskey and boobs. Do these things and do other things. Nicer things. After worrying about your money and your loves and the people on twitter with too much time on their hands (I don’t count, shattup!), go for a drink, hug someone, hand out CVs, do your taxes, pet a cat. Something.
I would like you to reread the above paragraph in a tone of voice slowly and gradually rising in pitch til it is so high in exasperation you can’t understand me. Go on. Do it.
I hope everyone in the world is happy today, or at least giggling to themselves because you have no other emotion left to feel. I hope you have a day where you too can laugh for the sake of laughing, because you might as well go psychotic one day. I hope that the day after that you find the courage in yourself to ignore the bullshit and love yourself, because even if your a baby-eating gay-killing mass murdering kitten-crusher, you should love yourself as you do it. At the end of the day, it is all you have.
Love yourself, find the world as ridiculous and angry as it is, and then buy yourself some posh coffee and laugh at how un-self-aware Planet Earth truly is, and that includes you.
AFTER MOCKING YOU SENSELESS, YOU SHOULD GIVE ME MONEY. I made an EP of electronic dumb music to piss off HoneyCombLaserVision. You should download it or something:
Note one: 38th post for 38 followers. I love each and every one of you.
Note two: I love this:
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended, -
That you have but slumber’d here,
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpents tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call:
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
Recently I put on a play, proper theatre and all that jazz, with fellow writery-producer man Sam Clarke. It was inspired, initially, by that closing monologue, my favourite piece of Shakespeare’s writings. I wanted to explore how all the minute characters of his work - Ghosts and Apothecaries and temporary-on-the-set-for-a-moment-faeries - are in fact utterly horrific, terrifying and malicious, and so, with the help of the horror loving Mr. Clarke, we wrote We Have Offended.
We performed it as part of the LPAC’s NewVolution festival, curated by Craig Morrow, and essentially filled the space with audience. There was an expectation of 30 people, and we hit around 45, give or take. Some people we knew were coming couldn’t make it last minute, and if we had pushed our marketing a bit more and had everyone arrive we would have hit 50 people easy, which is 10 less than what the room can hold legally. Arrogance aside, for our first ever theatre piece - by essentially unknowns, where I had to take up roles outside of my comfort zone due to a crew downsize by accident - I am really (‘scuse French) fucking chuffed with us all. We put on something progressive and fun and horrible and brilliant and it was fantastic; soundscaping and projection art and acting and omg it woz so gud i stop riting well *internally screams*.
The piece was intended to offend people, with horrific visions of hell, male rape, forced demoniacal abortions and Satan himself. When we did the Q&A afterwards, we learnt people were not offended by any of these sections, finding them either too traditionally hellish or just not scary on any level; this desensitization does not mean they weren’t offended at all, but rather were offended by a scene which one audience member read as homophobic (not our intention, was unrelated to homosexuality, ask our bisexual lead actor) and when characters said the C-swear. We found it intriguing that Satan himself - which is the personification of offensiveness in one context - was seen like a teddybear, but misunderstood homophobia and some rude words shocked people. I wonder what this says about our culture; when I log into tumblr and see people ranting over the minutiae of sexuality, femininity, masculinity, race and the kind, and argue over a single line said in a single story of a single show by a single character, I wonder whether these people are offended by larger concepts such as mass murder, war, political suppression and the kind. I wonder whether, to cope with the unbearable complexity of the universe at present, people will happily be offended by sexism whilst ignoring the murderous gangster with the machete and machine gun, but will be completely uncaring of something globally catastrophic. I also wonder whether the phrase “happily be offended” sums up our current cultural climate more effectively than a 1hr theatre piece created around the concept of offence itself. I think this sums up what We Have Offended achieved and this is far more important to me than any initial intention:
— Michelle Walsh (@MiWol)January 22, 2014
To cycle back around, I just wanted to say I am chuffed and proud and all manner of lovely words with the group of people I worked with on We Have Offended and I cannae wait to write more work in the future. I may go back and explore offensiveness again, but my next piece is going to explore futility and buddy-friend-comedy, because we all love a bit of existentialist crises.
2014 has proven to be quite a rockinghorse of fun and frivolity - of stress and heartbreak - currently, and its only the 28th of…. only the 28th! Where the hell did January go?! They say as you get older time seems to go faster. By the time I’m 35 I’ll be 90?! Where’s Capaldi when you need him…
Wake up Nathan. 2014 has proven to be quite a rockinghorse of experience, and one I need to take control of. On the one hand I have writing contacts and theatre work receiving good reviews, but in the other grubbier one is still a lack of life-sustaining job and my-own-home. I am however fixing this. Temp work, jobseekers, whatever is needed.
I’m going to restart The Puddle, but with a focus on more than merely visual art, maybe short film, music and the kind, all with that distinct poetical reviewness. If you have anything you want me to write about, send it my way, I want to keep my braining ticking over in artistic circles and The Puddle seems the best way to go about this. Mayhaps I could write for Sang Bleu or Only Magic Left is Art if The Puddle shows me off well enough, or something akin to them, to bring in some extra whiskey money. Perhaps more. Perhaps The World! Muhahahaha.
Composing myself, 2014 is going to be my most creative year to date, because I have near complete freedom in how I deliver that creativity. I am not restrained by getting grades or meeting targets… only money and getting a job. Oh well. It is going to be quite the experience.
Note Three: The promotional stuff for We Have Offended by Arron Baxter, I shall put it all into one big sexy picture post for you all after this one.
I have a feeling that spilling my heart out is the answer to getting messages in my inbox.
Thank you unknown visitor! I’m glad you too found it inspiring. I feel I was perhaps a little harsh on certain people I know, but sometimes you can’t find the right words. Sometimes it is a case of living and seeing how you react. A thousand books in a thousand libraries could not fully encapsulate somethings.
I also realise a thousand books in a thousand libraries means each library only has one book, so really that metaphor fell flat.
But yes, I hope you do! I hope this message helps me get that job haha! Thank you again!