Friday, 19 October 2012

For Better or Worse

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend two weddings - one was on Friday afternoon, floating on a pontoon in Sydney Harbour, and the other was on Sunday, two hours drive north in a picturesque surf club on the ocean's edge. Both were beautiful events that celebrated love, foremost, along with other grand notions such as fate, fortune, happiness and commitment, alongside overcoming obstacles and adversity, which if we're honest represent some of the major hallmarks of the human condition.

Of course on such days guests are usually inspired to evaluate their own lives and highlight the similarities and differences all wrapped in a package of gratitude - and I was no different. So in between chatting to the happy couple x2, other guests, eating/drinking and celebrating on the dance floor, I was indeed awash with these thoughts and feelings.

Now, this post could easily be about the love in my life, but since I am a fierce protector of the privacy of my loved ones, I do not think it appropriate to over-share. But I will say that I am fortunate and I do cherish all those who willingly share their lives with me and who allow me to share mine with theirs. I'm a lucky boy!

Instead, as this is a blog about following one's heart in respect to one's purpose in life, I thought of the correlation between the exchanging of marital vows with that of the bond of writing. A bit of a leap, granted, (about the size of the Grand Canyon), but a quirky and fun leap at that!

For those artists/creators out there - it matters not which form of art is your poison, there is a time (whether the occasion is marked or not) that you commit or surrender to your form of art and you become bound to it. It becomes part of your DNA; a part of what makes you 'you.' It permeates your reasoning and becomes a form of ballast in the turbulent waters of life. And like a wedding of sorts it requires the recitation of vows...

I, Farmer Kidd, take thee, writing, to be my lawfully wedded endeavor, to have and to hold from this day forward (I can't give this up, even if I wanted to - it's in my blood), for better or worse (inspired creating or hackneyed rubbish), for richer or poorer (bestselling lists or print-outs on A4 paper handed to bemused relations), in sickness and in health (unsellable concepts to commercial gold), to love, honour, and cherish (to simultaneously give me purpose and torment me), til death us do part (yep, that's what it'll take for me to give up).

So, for those creative types out there - I now pronounce you 'artist and subject.' You may kiss the...I'll leave that part up to you.

Have a long, happy and successful divorce is not an option ;-)
File:Wedding rings.jpg

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Just How Badly Do You Want It?

Being a pragmatic dreamer; one that has both his head firmly in the clouds and his feet squarely on terra firma, I've long straddled the dual worlds of sensible adulthood (working hard on a respectable career; working towards owning a house; ensuring I'm financially responsible; being a good partner, son, brother and friend; giving back to the world, etc), and starry-eyed schoolboy who really believes that we're born to find out what we love to do on this planet and to just do it, regardless of the potential roadblocks, insurmountable as they sometimes appear to be.

I don't think I'm alone here, right? So, does that mean we have to continue living this in-between limbo between sensible adult and starry-eyed child (and therefore ultimately not succeeding in either role), or can I choose? Can we still function in a world that requires us to be the responsible people that we are, yet focus on what we want to be, do, achieve and experience?

Absolutely! You do not have to focus on things 'as they are' but instead put your energies to 'things as you would like them to be'. Now, on the surface that may seem like wishful denial - but it really isn't. If, as we're continually told that 'what you think about, you bring about', then why not focus on what you desire? The stuff that is happening now - will still exist. I don't have to have my every thought trained on it....because if I do, I'll just perpetuate more of the same straddling!

So, here's the experiment - live today with the respect, commitment and responsibility that it deserves (current circumstances included), but intend something different with your thoughts. Dream brighter, louder, wilder. Feel your mood lift as you think better and better thoughts. After all what's the risk? If nothing changes, then nothing changes, but I'm certain it will.

Push through the fear and ask yourself what you're willing to do to make it happen. Providence will then come knocking on your door. It's knocking on mine...

Monday, 30 July 2012

Let's Bring Back Half-Birthdays!

A little glance at my calendar the other day triggered a long-forgotten memory. I remembered being a young lad who in an effort to grow up as quickly as possible (so I could become an adult and do whatever I liked - if only that were true), I would latch onto any sign that I was getting older.

And so, like many boys and girls my age, I would happily declare to anyone even mildly interested that I was 7 and a quarter, or 11 and a half, and so on.

These days, I am most certainly not in a rush to get older! I happily embrace it but I'm not in a rush, if you get my meaning. However, when I flicked my calendar over and I realized that I was 35 and a quarter, I decided to regress a little and do two things.

One was celebrate! After all, I'll use any excuse, however flimsy, to eat cake or chocolate, watch a favorite film, sing my gratitude for the good stuff in my life...

And two, was look at my goals. What had I accomplished so far? What would I like to achieve between now and my half-birthday three months away? After all, a lot can be accomplished in that time. Add a little extrinsic motivation, a week away with friends at the end of it (which I've booked), and my waning motivation got the shot in the arm that it definitely needed.

So today I went to work, then I finished editing a particularly tricky chapter, before going to the gym. Woo hoo! Although I am cognizant that motivation spurs you on yet commitment gets you to your destination, I am happy for something to have re-calibrated my engine, as it were. Add a cake in there, and I say it's reason to celebrate!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

My Favorite Things!

Who read the title and immediately had a picture of Julie Andrews singing to children who were afraid of a storm? I promise not to do so here. Although an alp or two does make a cameo below.

Along with "Fan Mail," this is another themed entry series I am undertaking that will hopefully add a little variety and a little commentary to this blog.

I thought I would start with a very basic generic list of my faves - at the time of this writing. (Best I add that, since you see, if you ask me in a little while what my favorite of anything is, it might change. In fact it will. My prerogative! ;-)

Favorite Color - Mundane answer: Green - Artistic answer: Glacial Blue, as in the actual color of a glacier. Ethereal and otherworldly - see below
Favorite Animated Movie - How to Train Your Dragon
Favourite Film - Impossible to select - I'm a film addict. Most watched genre? Horror - I like getting scared in the relative comfort and safety of my living room!
Favorite TV Comedy - The Vicar of Dibley
Favorite TV Drama - Currently, it's True Blood
Favorite TV Documentary - The Universe (The History Channel)
Favorite Food - Chocolate (good quality Swiss chocolate is my best friend)
Favorite Book - See above re: Favorite Film
Favorite Hobby - Can eating count as a hobby? No...okay, then dancing
Favorite Gym Class - Zumba: see directly above
Favorite Sport - Tennis
Favourite Season - Winter
Favorite Destination (that I have been to) - Tied between Florence, Italy; Santorini, Greece and Salzburg, Austria
Favorite Destination (that I have yet to visit) - Switzerland. Would love a helicopter ride around the Matterhorn

I'll stop there. I don't want to exhaust all of my favorites in one go. Stay tuned for more (themed) Favorite Things in upcoming entries. And please feel free to share with me some of your absolute faves.

I'm about to raid the pantry for some Lindt chocolate. After all its been an entire hour since my last scoff - gasp! My willpower is truly the stuff of legend...

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Halfway Mark

We're halfway through 2012... Six months to go before the end of the year (and according to some Mayan theorists, the end of the world. Methinks the world will definitely keep turning past December 21 but I am looking forward to the forthcoming 'human interest' stories at the end of the 6 o'clock news that will no doubt depict people preparing for the end of days in their kitted-up bomb shelters. Zany fun!)

Be that as it may, I thought that since we had reached the halfway mark, I'd commemorate the occasion with a point-check of sorts. Not an exhaustive checklist of resolutions but more of a "so you made a list of goals for that the novelty has seriously worn off and we're halfway to the year's end, how are you doing...really?"

So, holding up a mirror (which is never much fun), let's look at the battle scars this year has afflicted thus far.

Being a half-glass full kinda fella, lets begin with the positives...

In no particular order... I am at the midpoint of editing my novel - I've edited and rewritten this manuscript many times, each time chipping more rock away from the gem underneath. I read once that if you think you cannot edit your book anymore, then go over it one final time. This is where I am up to - and I am excited at the results so far; I have just returned from a little 4-day trip to Bali. I had a wonderfully relaxing and rejuvenating time that was much needed; Whilst away I received the mock-up of my author website from my awesome website designer and I got tears in my eyes and goosebumps running up my arms - it signifies another step taken in the direction of my writing career - more on that to come; I am in better shape than I was when the year began - a continuing work in progress; and my new blog is slowly name the stuff that comes straight to mind.

And of course, the not-so positives...

Work is currently exhausting - Since February I've started at a new department and its been a steady menu of studying, lecturing, being critiqued, observed, examined, rinse and repeat. Strangely enough, I am halfway (there's that 50% status bar again) from getting my license and being let loose on the pilot and cabin crew population. Thank goodness for my wonderfully supportive colleagues; Illness has affected those in my immediate family. To respect their privacy, all I will say is that in the last six months diagnoses of cancer, Parkinson's, and spinal surgery/chronic pain has wobbled all our respective orbits; finances are nearly non-existent causing cumulative stress; and my time management skills have ranged from the sublime to the woefully inadequate.

All in all, I am taking stock, relishing the forthcoming opportunities, rededicating myself to my dreams, gratefully living a healthy and loving life, and stepping out to meet these next six months hopefully with a little grace and a little smile on my face.

Who's with me?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Observer Effect

It is a law of physics that the mere act of observation changes/affects that which is being observed.

There has been many experiments in the field of quantum mechanics - the science of the very small, where it has been proven that the electrons that surround the nucleus of an atom, which are non-local in nature (not in one precise point but rather in a cloud of potentiality) only condense to become local if they are being observed. So in essence they move from potentially being anywhere and everywhere in the orbit of a nucleus to a precise point only if someone is there to watch it.

I hope I haven't made an absolute mess of trying to break down ridiculously complex physics into basic language but I really wanted to post something which is scientific law and relevant to our everyday experience.

There are many examples where this law could be used to illustrate its veracity. I'll use creative license and talk about two such examples.

  1. A metaphoric example: Since this blog is partly about living one's dreams, I thought I would attempt to make a link between this immutable law and the act of achieving one's goals. As we continually make lists of things we like to see, do, have, accomplish, experience, etc, we create a field of potentiality; one that we continue to hone, refine, improve upon and so on as time goes by and our life experience builds. It just so happens that the actual achievement of said goal/s only comes when you have kept your attention on it (taking time, effort, opportunity, luck and the other nebulous bits) to bring the dream out of the ether into solid reality. What you think about you bring about we're constantly told...
  2.  A literal example: Since this blog is also about the creative endeavor - specifically writing, here is an example where I have personal experience... With writing I have repeatedly come across the advice that you should be careful about showing anyone your writing - whilst it is in its draft stages (the question of 'when is a book truly finished?' will be tackled in a future post). The reason being is that your reader/observer through your invitation will affect your writing through sharing opinion, asking a question, making a comment, omitting a comment, making a facial expression (real or imagined), and on it goes. Sometimes this can be to the benefit of the story and other times to its detriment - but either way, it will change the beast and affect you, the writer. It cannot be any other way. 
Food for thought, no? So keep it in the back of your mind that merely observing something or someone does have a powerful effect. The ramifications are awesome.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Fan Mail #1

A rather random posting on someone I am an unabashed fan of... (I might actually add further postings to this theme from time to time, just for a bit of fun).

Dawn French: the rather marvelous actress, writer, comedian, all-round fabulous woman, who I am a flag-waving fan of. On my only (to this point) trip to London back in 2003, I went to the West End and saw a one-woman play staring Ms. French called 'My Brilliant Divorce.' It was hilarious and heartfelt and remains a wonderful memory.

The reason for my post is that I've just watched a marathon of Dawn's "Vicar of Dibley" episodes - all 20 of them, over the weekend. If you haven't caught this show, please do yourself a favor, go out and buy it! It's English comedy at its best. The creator, Richard Curtis is the talented chap behind Four Weddings and Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love Actually - so if you like those films, I think you'd love this show's take of a female vicar that lands in a quaint, countryside town with the oddest, yet loveliest bunch of characters. I've seen all the episodes countless times and despite knowing what happens - even down to miming the dialogue, it genuinely makes me laugh in a way that few shows (especially on repeat viewing) can.

If I can turn but one person in the direction of this show - and this exceptionally talented woman, I would have done my good deed for the gods of entertainment.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Carousel of Guilt

After posting my last blog - regarding my 'day job' as an Aviation Instructor and the rigors of training, I had hoped to reengage with both my writing and my posting. Perhaps it was naive of me to expect to go full tilt, but I did expect to do more than  I subsequently have = not a thing.

So, my sometime companion, guilt, popped by to torture me softly over what I should be doing, of what should have been done, and what I must now do.

Perhaps it's wisdom in age - another birthday just passed last week, but I thought to myself that this time, this time, I would not let my unwanted mental house-guest to outstay its welcome. And it is welcome, only because it spurs me to activate my situational awareness of my current state - which is healthy, but then it continues on and starts sabotaging my feelings of self-worth and self-esteem, culminating in "I'll never get published at this rate" and the like.

How many fellow writers out there go through the same dance?

The excuses are invariably there - new job is intense, I'm keeping long hours, I'm studying at home to the point of dreaming of airplanes, trying to keep up with my home obligations, squeezing in a life and some sorely needed sleep to name but a few. I could then either hold these reasons up as armor and feel vindicated, or feel forlorn that I've hid behind them and failed to achieve what I set out to do. Both options I have visited.

But not this time.

Simply put, it is what it is, and now I will revisit my time management schedule (I've started keeping one this year, and before the changes at work threw it all asunder, I was kicking goals rather well), and I will take things ONE STEP AT A TIME. Do one thing, followed by the next, and so on.

That is how anything worthwhile gets done (and hopefully done well, with skill and care). I will keep my dreams on an achievable, bite-sized scale, AND I will allow myself to be a multifaceted and flawed human who lives and loves in the real world - with all of its unpredictability.

I call that progress.

I hope by sharing I might help others out there get off the nauseating Carousel of Guilt.

Happy writing!

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Where did March go?

I sit here, completely run down with a head cold and utterly exhausted after a relentless month (my doctor informed me yesterday that my left eardrum is bleeding a little, to top it all off).

I had to put away everything - personal life, family, writing, exercising...all in an effort to run the gauntlet of Emergency Procedures training that all pilots and cabin crew must pass in order to fly above the clouds.

There was a twist in my story though.

I was part of an initial flight attendant course - and I had to sit all the exams and the practical drills, but I was there as a 'trainee trainer'. For those of you out there who think flight attendant school consists of learning how to serve food and beverages in the sky - think again! The first four weeks of the course is all about dealing with emergencies at 40,000ft.

Crash landings, ditchings (landing on water), inflight fires, depressurisations, dealing with door and exit malfunctions, pilots who are incapacitated, post-crash survival, and I can keep what occurs every nine hour work day during the course. The pass mark for written exams is 80%, and in other assessments, only 100% will be deemed a pass. (In my case, as a new Aviation Safety Instructor, it was expected that I ace them all - no was a cinch...really...(gulp). Some don't make it, and tears are shed, tempers sometimes fray, but the pressure-cooker environment is purposely crafted to see what crew are made of in the event of an emergency.

Sitting at my desk now, at the tail end of it, I have to say it was an awesome month. The pressure was immense and the scenarios were grim, but working with the new recruits (who you can't help but bond with over the course of the journey), and working with my fellow instructors - who range from former soldiers, fire fighters, flight attendants, pilots, school teachers, air marshals and other fascinating backgrounds, made March a crazy, intense, cortisol-increasing month, but one that was well worth the journey.

Coming from instructing crew in aviation first aid and security (anti-terrorism), to now being on the journey to becoming an emergency procedures instructor, it makes the non-writing part of my life feel incredibly worthwhile.

Having said that, I am looking forward to getting stuck back into my novel right after the Easter break. As broken as I feel now, I have been reinvigorated creatively and I'm excited about the next few months - I am also at the tentative beginnings of creating an 'author website'.

But, in the meantime, whether you celebrate Easter or not, eats loads of chocolate and get out amongst it all with your loved ones - that's what I'll be doing.

Monday, 27 February 2012

And the Academy Award goes to...

I have just finished watching the Oscars - Not the entire broadcast mind you, I pretty much fast-forwarded to the Top 8 Categories... Best Original Screenplay; Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Director; Best Actor in a Supporting Role; Best Actress in a Supporting Role; Best Actor in a Leading Role; Best Actress in a Leading Role and; Best Picture.

(No disrespect to the FOUR hour extravaganza, it's just that it aired here in Sydney smack bang in the middle of the day and I had to work...cough...)

For an unabashed lover of the cinema, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed all the films that scored the acting awards - The Help; The Iron Lady; Beginners; The Artist. (Special mention to A Week With Marilyn, too).

For all storytellers, originality or the closest thing to it, is something that we revel in and strive for. How to stay true to your voice and write with passion - to not follow the path that others have laid, but to forge your own (all the while being sane enough to take note, respect the craft and the trusted storytelling archetypal framework), is the ultimate goal for many. That is why I found this year's disparate Oscar-nominated films a wonderful example of exactly that - unbridled creativity. 

None so more than the winner of Best Picture - The Artist.

A silent film? Who would finance this? Who would believe in the creator of this wild concept enough to take a chance? And who would see it ('how many people would pay to see it' is probably the more important question for the commercially-minded)?

Most writers look at their own work in the same hopeful way. 'Who will take a chance on me - on this?'

Watching 'The Artist' win today - and seeing 'The Help' succeed so wonderfully (the author, Kathryn Stockett was soundly rejected by over 60 literary agents), is wonderful food for the creative soul.

May this inspire further creators out there to spin tales - and to never stop believing.

Sunday, 19 February 2012


As I am polishing, revising, and cutting my YA novel for the umpteenth time in an effort to adhere to the "less is more" idiom, I did something that I'm still in shock over...

I killed a character.

Not in a dramatic one-two punch that's designed for readers to first fall in love, and then, lose a character (and hopefully by that stage, a friend). No, I've decided to annihilate every last trace of the character so that she never even existed.

This troubles me. I didn't see it coming. It certainly wasn't premeditated. And she's a major player in the unfolding of events - sometimes, she actually is the only one who knows what is happening, and therefore informs the reader through her presence. But despite her importance, it became clear a few days ago that she had to go. She was so weak. She didn't belong. She wasn't real...

And so the axe fell.

The messy aftermath is there for me to clean up. There's no need for luminol and black-light to see the hidden traces of blood spatter - it's all there in the succeeding chapters after her introduction (and now demise). I find I am having to erase all notions of reference and find other creative ways to use 'heralds' throughout the stories to propel the narrative in her stead.

The carnage is brutal, but it is containable. And when I am done with the clean-up, the story will be a tighter, more cohesive entity that will serve the manuscript well.

When I devoured Stephen King's excellent book, 'On Writing,' years ago, I didn't realize I'd take his "kill your darlings..." quote beyond editing prose and into dispatching a character. But I have.

And now I feel guilty. And my hands feel a little dirty...

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Ultimate Athlete?

As an avid tennis fan (it's the only sport I am remotely decent at), I was glued to the television during the men's singles final of the Australian Open between Djokovic and Nadal. After nearly six gruelling hours of punishing tennis, the World No.1 triumphed and lifted his fifth grand slam trophy (he in fact has won 4 out of the last 5).

Perhaps it's a little bit of a stretch to insert the analogy of being a writer into the realm of a being a tennis player, but indulge me a little. I promise not to use too much latitude...

Before the beginning of 2011, Djokovic had a single major under his belt (way back in 2008). Nadal and Federer were firmly entrenched as the dominating duopoly of the game. So what it is that made Djokovic suddenly go on a tear that has crowned him a clear Number 1?

At that level they all play amazing tennis, and their athletic prowess is otherworldly. So what indeed makes up the difference between these gifted athletes in a sport where there must only be one winner? If physically, you are a solid specimen, and you've put in all the required hours on the practice court, in the gym, with nutrition, etc, then all that's left behind is that hard-to-quantify and cliche ridden, grey matter: mental strength.

When he was asked multiple times last year how he had managed to suddenly usurp his competition, Djokovic kept replying that it was his belief - his new mentality that was the difference. That he as a player did not suddenly play a radically different game. The men's final on the 29th January was indeed a microcosm of his burgeoning belief. He did not give up. He believed in his ability. He stood toe-to-toe with an athlete who is arguably the fittest player on the tour and he refused to break...

So, why am I blogging about this? Sure, as a tennis fan, this story is both entertaining and intriguing - but as a writer, I found some interesting parallels. There are indeed so many wonderfully talented writers already in print, and others waiting to be discovered. You compete among thousands to be represented by a literary agent, who then competes with countless others to place your work with a publisher who only has finite slots to fill, who then attempts to sell the finished product to the saturated market in order to make substantial capital. The question for the aspiring author is, why should your manuscript be the one to compete - and win - against such tall odds and plentiful competition?

When you have put in (and continue to put in) all the hard yards; when you keep reaching out, learning all you can from those who have gone before; when you hone those unique set of storytelling skills, and you continue to write - what is the nebulous extra bit that will get you over the line?


Saturday, 21 January 2012

And So It Begins...

I thought I'd start with the obligatory New Year's Resolutions - except with an important twist. I am not going to make vague claims of getting in better shape (although the holiday season has been brutal on my waistline), or about lofty goals that are personal to me - yet boring to you, which may be seen as self-indulgent. Instead, I am going to take my goals for 2012 and put them in a (very) short-term time capsule. One that I will break open at the end of the year.

I heretofore promise to share my victories, defeats and moments of mediocrity once the sun sets on what should be a fantastic year. Besides, according to some who have had a stab at interpreting the Mayan calendar - if the world ends on Dec 21, I may not need to worry about having egg on my face ;-)

What I now will share, however, is the goal of living life as fully as possible. That, and scoring a marvelous literary agent/superhero that will help dissect the word 'aspiring' from the word 'writer.' I'm banking on the fact that using a time-management journal in order to pencil in my daily/weekly/monthly tasks will stop me scratching my head and wondering where the year has gone come December.

Remember folks: create SMARTER goals...
Evaluate them, then

May it be the best year yet for you.