Can be good. I’m off to work in it for a while. But before I go, I wanted to wish you guys a merry Christmas and a happy 2013. Thanks for reading, thanks for your emails, thanks for sharing the work. And while we’re on the topic of silence, I found this really helpful. Maybe some of you will, too.
Thank you Coonabarabran – people, students, professional nodders, parents, and of course the staff of Coonabarabran High School, with an extra special mention to Kellie Nash and Champagne Deb. I didn’t think last year could be topped, but amazingly it was, which was also due to the awesomeness of the other presenters – JC Burke, Patrick May, Julian Larnach, Peter FitzSimons, Dr Mituota Kigotho.
For those of you who’ve never been to Coona, get out there. It’s the sort of place where you make a date for dinner at the pub and turn up expecting five or so people, only to find forty waiting. WARM and WELCOMING.
And keep an eye on the Feast of Words, because this festival is going to get bigger and bigger.
PS and thanks Bec and David for driving us to the airport – no small trip! (and for the research material – you’ll be in the next one, mark my words …)
One of the very nice things about writing Night Beach was that if I needed to get myself in the mood, all I had to do was run around the net searching for the sort of art that would inspire me. I looked at Dan McCarthy’s art a lot. To me, his work is similar in feel to the paintings from the Romantic Era that I love*. It often features the human figure dwarfed by the natural environment – woods, mountains and the heavily starred (and so beautiful!) night sky. And, of course, he had me at ultramarine blue.
One of the chapters in Night Beach is called The gloaming in his honour (after a series of paintings he did with the same title).
I figure the internet must have completely transformed the playing field for new artists. In addition to the gallery system of exhibiting and selling paintings, they have the option of self-managing the distribution of their work. So, in plain English, Dan releases screen prints regularly for sale. I bought three of them, and now I get to enjoy his work every day. It’s even better in the flesh. Another thing I found is that the same word is hidden in each of them. Disguised and embedded. I like that.
His posters are beautiful, too:
If you like Dan’s work, and are interested in seeing more on his process, check out his Facebook page. And you might also like another Dan’s work – Dan Danger. The two of them are exhibiting together in San Francisco in April, and it’s one show I would love to see.
*I did a post a little while ago on how the Romantic Era artists, poets, writers were big influencers on Night Beach, see here.
**All Dan’s work shown here with permission.
Thanks to an excellent review post by Alpha Reader, I’ve just read this article: Sex Education: far from decent, and also a related article which discusses the extent to which violent pornography is now accessed on a regular basis by regular teenagers. No. More than that, it argues that porn is now our main sex educator, during a period in which porn content has become increasingly violent and disrespectful towards women.
The only way this is going to be redressed is by talking about it. Bad things flourish when good people stick their heads in the sand because they find the issue (understandably!) difficult to address.
I can’t say it better than Benjamin Law (author of the first article – “Sex Education: far from decent”):
Teenagers are smart. They instinctively know when you’re patronising them. Cast your mind back to when you were a teenager yourself: you appreciated it when adults trusted you with sensitive information, and assumed you could make choices based on that information … Frightening things are only combatted by shedding light on them.
This is why I love the internet – happy accidents. I was doing a search on carpe noctem, (which means ‘seize the night’, a play on carpe diem), and I came across We Are Sleeping Giants – the project site for a series of photographs by Canadian photographer Brooks Reynolds about summer nights, youth, and that moment just before something happens.
You have to check these out. THEY’RE SO BEAUTIFUL. More
Fishermen at Sea (JMW Turner)
One of the big things in Night Beach is obsession, and Abbie, the main character, is definitely an obsessive type. Aren’t we all? Anyway, while a guy called Kane is probably her most dangerous obsession, it’s her fascination with art and the ocean that help to define her. What I loved about writing the story is that it was influenced by so many things and ideas; working on it was like going exploring every day. Sorting through a big box of cool shit.
Romanticism was definitely an influence. Nothing to do with love, or being romantic, but the artistic movement that includes authors like Goethe and Thoreau and Poe. Mary Shelley. Poets like Lord Byron. Artists like Joseph Turner. The good old Encyclopaedia Britannica lays it down as being about: the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental.
They were awed by the natural environment – mountains, the sea, the sky. I love their take on awe. A not entirely comfortable feeling that somehow straddles delight and terror. A reaction to bigness.
From Romanticism it’s only a small leap into Gothic fiction, the supernatural, and symbolism, all of which fed the story, too. I leave you with the deliciously creepy painting, The Nightmare, by John Henry Fuseli. As you can see, he leaned towards the supernatural …
It’s raining here – squally, southeasterly shite – and there is a complete lack of surf. It doesn’t even resemble surf, it’s more like sea puff. But for some reason rainy days and dead poets seem to go together, so instead of surfing, I thought I’d bore you with this thing I’ve got for Rupert Brooke.
Here he is, looking all thing-worthy:
You probably already know about him. Especially if, like me, you had to study his poem ‘The Soldier’ at school. But it wasn’t the war poetry that got me in. It’s his other stuff. I love it because it’s young (which seems to be one of the reasons why it gets pooh-poohed – there you go, I have no taste). It’s not self conscious or ironic or cynical. It’s fierce feelings and yearnings.
Most of all, I love his references to the ocean. He was definitely a sea drunk.
Halfway through the first draft of Night Beach I came across a poem of his that I hadn’t found before. In 229 words, he’d pretty much taken the trip I wanted to go on (except that my first draft ended up being 115,000 words … so much for brevity).
It’s called Song of the Beasts, and it starts like this:Come away! Come away! Ye are sober and dull through the common day, But now it is night! It is shameful night, and God is asleep!
And it ends like this:Unswerving and silent follow with me, Till the city ends sheer, And the crook’d lanes open wide, Out of the voices of night, Beyond lust and fear, To the level waters of moonlight, To the level waters, quiet and clear, To the black unresting plains of the calling sea.
Just gets me every time. If you want to read the whole of it, click here …
People who’ve read Raw Blue keep saying they liked Danny. Which is nice. Because I liked him, too. A lot.
Anyhow, then they either: a. say they know someone else with synaesthesia (or synesthesia as it is spelled in other places); or b. want to know more about it. Thing is, Danny just had this thing where he related colours to people from before draft one (when the whole story was brain soup). It was later I read an article on synaesthesia and realised it was along the lines of what I’d been thinking.
That said, people→colour synaesthesia hasn’t really been explored much in the research on synaesthesia*. Danny also got colours from letters and days of the week, which is a more common manifestation of the big S. And it doesn’t have to be just colours, some people get a sense of taste, or hear sounds.
(*If you are uber into this and want to know more, you can check out this as a jump off point. Or, if you want to get all scholarly, you can contact me for a list of references…)