Strangers and Perspicacity 

Fine dining with strangers.

I’m one of those people that wants to know the useless information of the world. I may not have a clue as to why I’m voting come election time, yet I enjoy knowing that the inside of a banana peel can be used as shoe polish. I’m particularly good at movie trivia; when I hear a familiar voice in a cartoon, see an actor on the television I can’t quite pin or don’t understand a satirical joke – I need to look it up right then and there to understand and link to any prior knowledge I’ve had.
I similarly don’t feel comfortable with writing a scene where I haven’t truly experienced something that is happening to the character. I like to write a lot of fantasy and some of my current characters have wings, so it’s not easily relatable – that’s why I jumped off a cliff three years ago to gain the feeling of free falling and then soaring outwards at 150kms an hour. 

So in the spirit of hands-on research, I decided to take on another pursuit. My main character, whom spends a lot of time on the run and avoiding human-like relationships, will enter an environment where she is welcomed into a share-home and due to another character’s passion for normality, encourages the home’s occupants to sit down and have dinner together every night. Now we’ve all been in situations where we have to meet people; new jobs, meeting the in-laws, university or school classes and functions, yet actually sitting down to dinner purely in the spirit of bonding – with complete strangers – is something that isn’t heard of often. This is my character’s experience and I wanted to know what it felt like. I’m not a shy person so when I first heard of Stranger Danger Dinners, I thought it was something right up my alley, however I still couldn’t shake the creeping curiosity of the unknown that contrasted wider to nerves when meeting someone for a date or going to a party where you only know one person. Sitting down to a dinner full of unknowns where all we do is talk, is rather personal and enchanting. I feel as though some people revealed things they were originally not planning to say, as one’s personal filter does when you’re meeting people for the first time. Yet the act of sharing a meal and a drink with no agenda made it safe.

It gave me hope for my character and I had a great time too. Stranger Danger Dinners are currently active in the city of Perth, Australia, however their mysterious host tells me of hopes to expand in other cities, so I encourage you to give it a go.

In general I encourage you to take on experiences that will benefit your characters; travel, sports, food, languages – anything that enriches the senses of your characters and scenes. Make your life as rich as possible…and claim it on tax once you can call yourself an author 😜

 

Canyon Swing – Queenstown, New Zealand.


 

Experiencing new cities for an urban and artistic feel.

 

My story is set in the Northern Hemisphere so needed to experience a winter; and oh how cold that day was.

 
  

Poetry at a Glance

 

Alex Biddle performs for OUTspoken at The Sparrow’s Nest.

 
I had no idea Perth had such a passionate poetry scene. Watching some local and national poets express their work in the spoken word reminded me of the welcomed subjectivity that poetry offers.

I wrote a lot of poetry when I was a teenager but perhaps I felt more then. As time goes on, like all writing or other creative pursuits, I began to doubt that what I expressed was worthy. Hearing the Featured Artists showcase and OUTspoken on the Friday night of the 2015 Perth Poetry Festival, made me remember that poetry is so kind and respectfully personal. I heard lines surrounding the Australian landscape, recollections of family based sweet-nothings, abstract alter egos as well as social and political outcries, and confident, cheer-worthy sexuality.

 

Pierre Van Osselaer gives an animated performance at Featured Poets.

 
 

Alexis Lateef speaks fondly of Fremantle at Featured Poets.

 
I still write a poem every now and then, mainly spurred by anger, moments of despondency, or occasional peace, and as I heard the guest poets and open mic participants speak, I was greatly inspired to try and dig up an old piece of work from the buried chests of my mind and share something in return to those who shared their soul so willingly.

But alas, not this year… because for me Friday night was all about listening. I needed that perspective to feel apart of the giant hug that is a community of writers. However it was the night that a friend of mine decided to read some of his work for the first time. Seeing someone get past a fear sat well and warm in my chest, and of course each poem he read was well received. (Much love to you and I hope you keep sharing!).

 

Sufyaan Mohamed with Rose van Son after his first reading. Well done Sufy!

 
I had hoped to attend the first heat of the Poetry Slam on the Saturday night, however I unfortunately didn’t see the time change and missed out. Not to fear as there are more to come on upcoming Saturdays at The Rosemount.

Well done to the participants and thanks to the guest poets that attended. You all made Perth’s creative scene flourish even further.

  
Imaged sourced from WA Poets Inc.

Still Here

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New hair, new mood

Finally! A blog post! Nine. Long. Months. Later.

December 2014 was filled with winter travelling in England, Paris and Ireland, and was a fantastic experience. I’ve travelled many times however this was my first time travelling in a Northern Hemisphere winter.  I have never appreciated shorts and a T-shirt more.

Putting on the layers upon layers of clothing was the equivalent to an average workout and we found ourselves exhausted before we got out the door! Then there’s the icy feeling in your throat mixed with the sweat pooling at the base of your spine where you can’t possibly get to it.

However nothing compared to sitting in a late night coach toward York, resting my head on the window, and realising it’s not rain, it’s snow. My whole body stopped moving for several moments as the event I’d been waiting 26 years for finally happened.

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Sheffield, coach getting a top-up.

I have one request from anyone reading this; go to Ireland! Just go. The amount of green is beautifully unyielding and I have never met a country as kind. More of my travel pictures are on Instagram (@rebeccadonbavand).

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Temple Bar

The rest of the time was occupied by taking on a full-time load of an intense university course. Thankfully, I’m part-time again and will graduate by the end of the year. Working that hard has made me value how my time is precious to focus on the things I want to achieve.

A much needed kick in the pants came from attending several writing seminars at Supanova in June. I was genuinely star-struck meeting one of my favourite authors, Kevin J. Anderson. Hearing the authors talk about their writing processes took my novel off its pedestal. They gave me confidence to get back into it and make it something I need to do now; not in a few days, not when the dishes are done, not when I’ve got some time aside…now.

Supanova Perth 2015; from left, Karen Miller, me, Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta

Supanova Perth 2015; from left, Karen Miller, me, Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta

Much love, and here’s to less assignments!

Getting back on the Beanstalk

I have been a teeeeeeeerrible blogger (and writer) lately. I began studying again mid-year so am learning to juggle full time work, part time university, wife-ing and assignments. I know – no mortgage and no children – my life is so difficult. So truthfully I’ve spent the time being a full-time neglectful wanker to my laptop and manuscript. This whole grabbing life by the balls is starting to make my head feel tightly con-caved. I’m angry at myself for procrastinating something I love doing and honestly it gets a little self damaging. I sat at my desk the other day holding a stapler, looking to a radiant and irresistible day outside and thought ‘what am I doing with my life’; hence the enrollment back to university. I want to take my writing seriously, so therefore when I’m not writing, I want to be teaching kids to write – yet apparently I need a qualification for that. Hooray. Plus it simply keeps my head out of the oven.

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I had a night to myself last week and thought I needed to get back in touch with escapism, so I watched Jack the Giant Slayer. Quite an adorable yet pleasantly gory flick. Obviously it’s a family event, and no doubt the kids love the nose-picking, wart covered giants. However it was a sweet, funny, action packed bit of fun that killed my boredom for 2 hours.

Nicholas Hoult has turned into such a bit of crumpet since About a Boy. I’ll be honest, that’s why I watched it – but yeeesss he is also a good actor. Jack is the handsome underdog farmer’s boy that you love seeing win the fight and the girl (Eleanor Tomlinson as Princess Isabelle). There was no astounding pumping chemistry between the two innocent love bird mains, but you’re still rooting for them and thinking ‘hehe, cute’ when they finally kiss. Stanley Tucci (one of my favourite actors) was as creepy and arrogant as ever when he does his asshole roles. Bill Nighy’s voice is such a treat to hear when playing a bad guy. Ian McShane should always play someone in power as he has the perfect uppity voice and that comical annoyed look. Ewan McGregor, and I suppose all the cast had such a theatrical way of acting in this piece which was quite fitting due to the fairytale behind it. Everything was quite fluffy for the children – but is that always bad…naahhhh. Yet the puffed up tale still had some cajones with the surprising amount of gore that was in it. Cute little lambs getting eaten by giants, heads bitten off, live pigs tooth-picked into pastry, eyes exploding, horses squished, bodies falling from the stalk, yet it was that silly kind of gore that makes you remember it’s just a fun film. Some may read this and go eww, but I like a bit of family-friendly gore, so for me it gave the action some oomph.

If you haven’t seen it, grab the wine and popcorn, grab the kids or mates and enjoy it for what it is.

Dear Robin Williams

Dear Robin Williams,

I’m struggling to accept that you’re not on the same celestial plain as I am. Someone so apparently joyous in making other people happy; someone who was lucky and hardworking enough to be able to do what they loved every day – and yet there was something incurable inside you unable to accept this life. I’ve always heard the stigma of suicide being a ‘selfish’ act. Yet when I think of you, I question a character like yours, even at my distance, ever being selfish toward others. To you, I am nothing but a fan and a mere stranger. However I’ve never had the death of someone I never knew affect me as deeply as yours has.

I understand thousands of people are feeling the same way as I. The concept seems wrong and so unfortunately hopeless to those who suffered and are still suffering the same way you were. And sadly, the cycle will continue with countries worth of people feeling the loss of you. Will those people feel empowered, inspired or desperate? I daresay we have all had depression in our lives at some point, whether it be through stress, illness, social struggles or the environment we found ourselves in. Perhaps it was measured in terms of length such as an everyday fight or that ‘time’ in our lives we look back on with a sigh and the small throb of the internal battle scar.

I hope people don’t see this as a post, purposeful only because you held some ‘importance’ in our society, as that isn’t my intention. Everyone is important to someone at some point of their lives. There was souls lesser known before you, doing good in the world or simply trying to live life, that like you, were ready to rest from the emotional animosity. There isn’t enough understanding of depression; something you were quite public with – and I’m so, so very sorrowful that it has taken you to reach a point of such clarifying darkness and say goodbye – to create more questions. Because as I mentioned before – how can someone like you not be able to carry on when you have brought so much elation and magical wonderment to others on such a tremendous scale? What kind of lives are we living in a world that you can no longer exist?

There has been such overwhelming outpour about you; I hope you’re seeing it from wherever you are. We’ve been watching your old interviews, stand up and favourite childhood movies as a tribute to you and the eternal happiness you created and will continue to create from this immortality stories allow. Even in death you are still bringing people together –it’s just that now there will be a heavy twang of bittersweet despondency and hopefully, awareness, supporting the smiles you inspire. Personally I’m not simply watching them as a reminder of entertainment I’d forgotten, but because I’m trying my best to still see your distinct face, hear your familiar voice, laugh at your silly movements; grasping at whatever is earthly left of you to hold dear. I guess we never do forget the things we loved as children. Right now I am that child, baffled and tried by something so incomprehensible. So I will keep watching the films I remember. I know I’ll also begin sourcing the film and television you were in before I was born or that I haven’t yet given myself the opportunity to watch, because although I can respect your death; I cannot yet accept it. It is still raw, still something I don’t want to believe – and I can’t even hold a candle to the grief of those who were close to you.

To your loved ones, to others feeling the same as me, and to anyone on which ever end of the pain depression and suicide inflicts, my thoughts extend. To you however, I say a heavy and reluctant goodbye…and thank you. I hope you are free somewhere, sharing your spark in a different space that we can’t comprehend…because the world feels lesser without you in it.

Youre-only-given-a

 

The Big Year

It’s been a few days since a post. Annoying since I stated I would work on my novel for 30 minutes a day. Ironically my laptop works but it has a meltdown when I use the keyboard. Inconvenient.
Typing one-thumbed on my phone makes for a counter-productive day!

Now since I can’t write properly I’ve made it a mission to keep my brain enriched and watch obscure movies and get through some books (the pile of unread is shameful).

With that in mind I watched The Big Year (2011). It’s based on the book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik.
See this film!!!
After all the supernatural, drama, heavy, depressing, OMG comedy that current boundary pushing cinema and television offers; it was so lovely to watch this gentle, educational comedy starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin. Given comedic veteran Martin was in this, the style of comedy made me feel it was from the innocent humorous golden age of the eighties when Steve Martin was witty with the spoken word and John Candy’s jovial bouncing belly made us chuckle endearingly.

It also had a bit of Walter Mitty flavour for me; I daresay from the travel perspective and the unique work/hobby choice comparisons. i.e. Walter Mitty worked in the dark rooms of Time Magazine, and The Big Year characters have an insatiable passion for bird watching. Both are ‘uninteresting’ points of view, suddenly made fascinating.

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Basically three men from different walks of life are on a race to achieve a Big Year – a prize-less honour system based competition for who can spot the most species of birds in North America within a calendar year. Our main character is the driven young underdog Brad (Black), a wealthy retiree Stu (Martin) finally getting out and reaching his dream, and arrogant, overachieving asshole Kenny (Wilson) who stops at nothing so no one beats his previous Big Year record.

It’s funny but not outrageously, however it doesn’t need to be. The friendship between Brad and Stu is just charming and the cinematography dedicated to showing this sport for what it is, was remarkable. This competitiveness between the characters is quite frustrating when you remember there is absolutely nothing at stake, and yet it changes each of their lives personally – I guess like any big experience does. That’s the magic of travel in any form.

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It’s a very simple and addictive premise to watch these characters do the one thing we all want – to live out our dreams. However it was also very clever to see how our passions can impact those around us, and not always positively. Wilson’s character is like the popular guy at school…and then you’re thinking ‘dude, calm ya farm, it’s bird watching!’

This movie really sells that message ‘life is a journey, not a destination’. At the end I was left feeling so damn GOOD and I encourage others to watch it and feel goofily happy for a while.

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100, Oh My Glob!

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See, little milestones are what make life fun!

Got my 100th follower notification this morning. Hooray!!!

It may seem lame to some but when I go on Instagram and see my 15 year old sister’s equestrian account has over 6000 followers, you gotta grab hold of what you have as you fade into the mass production of technology, tugging at the last grip of youth and pathetically realise you don’t know what hashtag ‘sfs’ and ‘cwd’ mean.
…anyway.

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Thank you fellow readers and writers.