If I could without feeling guilty, I'd just repost last week's blog, because this week was a great one for catching up, and a couple of really good brainstorming sessions make me think January might be busy for the writing. If I drag my arse out of bed any time soon, but it's all warm and comfy, and I have no real reason to get up other than to fill my belly or empty my bladder. 

But that can wait while I hash out this blog. Still one a week, although sometimes I forget it's Monday. Having not worked in... a while now... it's amazing how often I forget what day it is, and even time has lost some of it's meaning. It'll be 2145 and I'll get started on a project, only to need something from Home Depot. Or it'll be gone midnight and I'll realise I didn't have dinner. It'll be Sunday and I'll have forgotten to go to church. For about 25 years on that one...

Anyway. The structure I've always rebelled against, mostly because I can be quite a contrary bastard sometimes, well, I'll admit it would be nice to have something. Something that gives me a reason to get up at a specific time, or make me eat, or go to bed at a "normal" time rather than when I'm fed up watching youtube videos... I've tried enforcing it myself, but I'm not the strictest of disciplinarians at the best of time, and especially not towards myself. Apparently I need deadlines. 

I should have known that. I always did better on schoolwork when there was a specific deadline (as long as it was far enough in the future I could waste some of the time not doing it, but not too far that I'd completely forget about it). And just this week I accomplished what might be a first fo me... I finally submitted a script to a competition. Now, that's not the first, I actually did one about four years ago, but it didn't go anywhere. No, what's "first" about it is that the deadline for submissions is 1st February. 1st February, and I submitted on 9th January. That's a whole 22 days early! Who am I, and what have I done with me??

And in an effort to not rest on my laurels, I'm gonna keep with the momentum and try to structure my life better. Wednesday's are for the blog. I'm going to actually set an alarm for five days a week, something I haven't had to do in... a while now. 0930 sounds about right. Couple of hours to run errands, then errands and fed by 1300, and then writing. Writing writing writing. My white board is filled with projects I've started, projects I've come up with, and a whole bunch of things to do around the house. My white board is my structure. And as of today it is my lord and taskmaster. 

In 16 minutes. It's not 0930 yet. Maybe make that 1000...


A couple of posts ago, I talked about the yacht race. This is how many days I have left, before I say goodbye to the company I've worked for for eight and a half years. It'll be 11 years almost to the day by that point. The exact starting date of the race hasn't been announced yet, and probably won't be until January of that year. But I like to have things to look forward to, so 12 Jun 2015 is the most tangible date I can give myself. I don't know which ports we'll end up sailing in to. I don't know where I'll go at the end of the race. And I'm actually excited about that.

I've had a career. I decided when I was pretty young that I wanted to do theatre professionally. I've been a lighting tech, run sound, automation, stage management, even acted and been paid for it. I started my own company with a couple of friends, wrote scripts, built sets, hung lights- and on one memorable occasion, a snow machine with a squirrel fan which blanketed the audience. I've loaded and fired pyro.

I've programmed automation for three Cirque Du Soleil shows. I've gone from an hourly employee, to Show Lead, to Assistant Head. I've gone from having a problem with authority to being the authority.

And I'm only 32, and ready for something else. Automation, theatre, is comfortable for me. I have no problems operating a multi-million dollar system with people's lives in my hands, while two thousand people watch in awe. I'll take a screwdriver or a wrench to just about anything, especially when I've got a bunch of people waiting for me to either continue the show, or cancel it.

So the way I see it, I've got 999 more days until the end of my career. Will I continue to progress in that time? Who knows. My bosses know I'm making this trip, so are definitely less likely to consider me for promotion, but I'm fine with that. I have 999 more days to work on finishing some of the writing projects I'm working on. I have 999 more days of 2am shopping, and 24 hour bars, and showgirls and slot machines.

I have 999 more days of paying for the trip.


Writing is a lot like sex. Sometimes it's easy, and enjoyable, and better than therapy. Everything flows, and you don't want to stop, can keep going for hours, and it makes you feel good about yourself.

Sometimes it's a struggle, and you're not in the mood, and every little bit of progress is a huge effort. You might need therapy because of it. Things on your mind get in the way, and you feel bad about subjecting other people to it.

Sometimes music helps, and most of the time alcohol is involved.

And the majority of what you'll do in your lifetime probably happens alone.


Everyone says that when you are writing, there's nothing so daunting as a blank screen. I don't agree. A blank screen is full of potential and promise. It's when I'm into a project that writing becomes daunting. All of a sudden I have characters who are waiting to find out what they're going to do next. I've got worlds to finish crafting, and similes and metaphors to pull out of my arse.

And I get to a certain point, and I start to worry about what I'm writing. Is it any good? Am I going to be able to convince anyone to read it? Or is it some unremembered story I once read, that I've become convinced is my own idea? You always hear that there's no such thing as originality any more. Every story's already been told, etc. etc. blah blah blah.

I haven't written much this year. I'm not sure why. But about two months ago I was in something of a funk, and decided to make a concerted effort to write. A month later, I started. I set myself goals, but because of the nature of life, I don't like to say I'll write five hundred words a day. Life gets in the way of that, and writing doesn't work like that for me. I have to do it when it lets me. I'll go month to month, setting a goal in the hopes that not too many things will distract me.

I'm not a fan of February. It gives me fewer days to reach my goals.

Anyway, I've been writing this month. Not as much as I'd like, but there's still time. Book II isn't going to go anywhere. I started another screenplay. I started and finished a short yesterday afternoon before work. Maybe as the year progresses, I'll get more and more down on paper/on the screen/in the hard drive/whatever I should call it these days. It's the pattern I seem to follow right now; bugger all until June, and then thousands on thousands of words, some of them usable, until the end of the year.

I got a tonne to get done before December, then.


I've been doing this all wrong. I keep thinking about the things I'm doing, and how they're a means to an end, a path to take to go where I want to go, but that's not the case. I used to know that, but somewhere along the way I forgot.

Working on ships, it used to piss me off no end when people sad 'what happens on ships stays on ships,' and claim that it wasn't real life out there. I always refused to take that point of view, because if you're spending nine bloody months out there, that's a good chunk of life that I'm not ready to write off. Admittedly, a lot of the shit you can get up to seems surreal, like you're living someone else's life. You can cram a lot of experiences into a short time on a ship, and looking back it sometimes doesn't seem real, but you can't qualify a part of life as not real. I used to know that.

Well, I'm getting back onto that train of thought. The past couple of years, I've been talking about becoming a writer. I've talked about leaving Las Vegas. I've talked about living on a sailboat. I've talked about travelling more. And the whole time, it's as though I've been waiting for something. I've been preparing for when I'm a writer. I've been getting ready for when I live on a sailboat. And I need to stop doing that.

I'll leave Vegas one day. I'll do all the things I talk about, because, hell, I'll never live it down if I don't. I expect each and every one of you to give me a full serving of shit if I fall short in anything I intend to do. But I've been bumming around thinking that what I'm doing right now is preparation, and doesn't really count. I got a cheap sailboat, not because I like the boat, but because I'm getting ready, learning all I can, for the day I can finally move aboard a bigger one, and cast off. I'm preparing for the future by doing this now. But when you keep doing that, you forget that now is part of your life too. None of us get enough time to live, and if you spend too much time looking ahead, you miss chunks. So the boat, the writing and editing I'm doing that is preparing me to be an author, sure, it's all preparation. But I'm enjoying it. I'm already doing things that a lot of people never do. And while I'm doing them with the express intention of moving on to bigger and better things, I'm going to try not to lose sight of the fact that I'm a third of the way through the final edit of my first novel, which already makes me a writer. I'm spending weekends out at the marina, working on the 23' Ranger sailboat that's mine, which already makes me a sailor. The preparation for what I want to become, what I want to do, has already got me there. And I almost didn't notice.

Pressing on

I finished the first draft of my first novel almost a year ago. The day before Christmas, to be exact. It wasn't perfect, and due to the nature of the subject, there were things I already knew I had to change-- either the chronology of events, or a little bit of research into the science behind what I was describing. I messed around with it in January and February, and in April I emailed to to someone who had offered to edit it, give me feedback, suggestions, anything that would make it a better novel. She said she'd get it back to me asap, probably a month, no more than two. I received an email from her a couple of days ago.

Criticism is never easy to take. There's a sinking feeling, when you find that all that hard work isn't enough. You beat yourself up, wondering why her opinion is so different to the people who have read it out of an interest in what you're doing-- friends and family who may have a biased opinion because, after all, it's you who's writing it-- and you think that maybe it's the impartiality they bring to it that unmasks your words for what they really are. I was a little angry when I got her email, because as I read on I found out she hadn't even read past the fourth chapter. Seven months to not even get past the fourth chapter? Is it really that bad? Tell me that, at least, tell me that after the second time you 'couldn't get past the fourth chapter.' Then I can go back, rework it, make the changes to the first chapter that you say it needs.

Or not, as the case may be. I don't want to write some cookie-cutter novel, with the plot generic, the characters typical, where you know exactly how they're going to react in every situation. I don't want you to have an instant, immediate relationship with them. That's not what happens in the real world. Relationships develop, they aren't usually thrust on you.

Maybe this is me just being unable to take criticism. Or maybe this is me remembering a lesson I thought I'd already learnt. My senior year of College, I designed a set for Lysistrata, the classical Greek comedy by Aristophanes. The show was very surreal, and I used Dali and Henry Moore as influences for most of the set. At the beginning of the play, the director wanted Lysistrata seated, surrounded with four ages of womanhood, while scenes of war were projected onto a screen. Our theatre didn't have a projection screen, so instead I painted the head from Dali's Sleep, 20' by 10', to be projected onto. When we had a bloke come in and give notes on the show, he mentioned that he loved the Dali and the Moore references in the set, but he didn't understand what the big head at the beginning had been. It was then that I realized that people will always have gaps in their knowledge, and won't always necessarily want to admit to them. If he didn't get that reference, at 20' by 10', then had he actually got the rest of them?

I'm trying to remember that again. While there are books that should have you totally interested by the end of the first page, I'd argue that very few of what are considered vital parts of English literary canon do that. Nothing by Jane Austen does that for me (full disclosure: I don't like Jane Austen. Not my type of book, although I've read a few for classes.) Neither did Lord of the Rings, books I loved. So maybe this is just me being unable to take criticism, or maybe it's me realizing another important lesson. Just because someone has edited books that have been published, it doesn't mean that their email will have perfect grammar. Just because someone offers something, you shouldn't take them up on it, especially if they don't generally read the genre you're writing in. That's what I want to take from this. I'm going to press on regardless, write the book I want to write, and not let one instance make me rip it up.

The manuscript's too thick for me to do that.


I've been spending the last twelve days convincing myself that it's not my fault, it's just bad timing. Again. And once I almost had myself convinced of that, I thought more about it. Maybe it's not bad timing. Maybe it's good timing. Maybe it's pushing me in the direction I need to go, which is away, outta here, once more unto the beach, dear friends. There was a shitty movie made about my life a couple years back. I say shitty, but in the interests of full disclosure I never saw it, because I don't like Dane Cook. Good Luck Chuck, the story of a guy who could shag you, and the next guy you met would be your true love. Except I don't even need to shag 'em, all it takes is a kiss. I'm on seven now.

But this year, with it's terrible timing, has led me to a decision. I'm going to apply for the Los Angeles Show, an as-yet unnamed production that I'm not sure how much I can talk about, what with Cirque's penchant for secrecy and spectacle. The jobs aren't posted yet, nothing's set, but even the decision to apply makes me feel better. I'm going to see about getting out of Vegas, changing my pace and my surroundings. And if it doesn't happen? Well, then it's not the right time.

Is there such a thing as bad timing? You get stuck at a red light, the first car stopped, and that's bad timing. But then in front of you a car hits a patch of oil, swerves out of control, and runs into four other cars, five if you'd have made the light. Your son chooses to slam the car door, but your hand is still in it. Crappy timing, unless you have some sort of disease that is slowly rotting your bones in that hand, and you wouldn't have found out if it weren't for the little bugger (true story, that actually happened to a friend of mine, I forget what the medical problem was tho).

So timing's what you make of it. I'm writing about timing for my hundredth post. Good timing? And while the. . .coincidence? of my timing with these seven women seems pretty shitty from my end, and has caused me more than a bit of self-doubt over the years (I mean, at what point is it you, and not just chance?) I'm working on not letting it get to me. I'm telling myself that rather than running away from this last incident, I'm letting it guide me, propel me towards something new. It's reminding me that Vegas really isn't the sort of city I would choose to live in.

And not to belabour the point, but speaking of timing, some of what I'm writing here will work for my book. One of my characters, Brokes, has to make a decision, and I haven't been sure of how to go about it, and now I think I know.

There are so many things that do work out, which is pretty fucking incredible when you think about it. If the universe has been around for billions of years. . . hell, if you believe in Genesis timing, and think the world's only been around for six thousand or so years, it's pretty incredible anything happens at the right time. I think of an instant as the time it takes to go from now to then. Say a millisecond. There's three point six million of those in an hour. And there's been more than fifty-two and a half million hours if you believe in Genesis. Whatever you believe, that's a metric shit-tonne of instants, so why is anyone surprised when things don't work out? Nothing should ever happen right if you look at the odds. And when you bring space into it too, and the chance of being in the right time and place, I'm surprised we even bother.

But there have been those times. Things do work out. Events conspire, bring two people together for a moment. Even if all that's left is the memory of lips brushing together and a lingering tobacco taste, things worked out, and now things are working out still, convincing me to get off my arse and get out, get better, get on with it.

I'm getting on. I'll get book one back in the next couple of weeks, and then I'll get online and start submitting. The timing's right.

The Beach

The past couple of days I spent time on Catalina Island, and in Laguna Beach. Went out there with a friend from work to do some SCUBA diving, and generally relax. Our third dive was on Thursday, and afterwards we sat on the beach in Laguna and waited while our dive master went back in to find one of his integrated weights that had slipped out during the dive. It gave me enough time to get sunburned, and do a little bit of thinking.

The last time I did a similar trip was five years ago. I'd been in Vegas just over a year, and a friend of mine from ships came down for the diving and relaxing. We had a bit of a history. I'd met her on ships, and at the time she wasn't interested because my contract would be up soon. But I left the ship, and we kept in touch by letter (she was on the cruise line's private island, sans internet or phone). We found out we actually did like each other. Quite a bit.

We visited each other a few times, and the relationship she hadn't allowed to happen while we were living and working in the same place did happen, after a fashion, when time and distance allowed. The last time was in California, diving and relaxing in Catalina and Laguna. I drove out with her after work, slept in the car, caught the first ferry and dove all day, then went back to the mainland. Crashed with a friend of hers, then spent the next day wandering around Laguna, doing coupley things. I bought a couple of shirts that she said looked hot on me. I still have them, although time won't allow me to wear one of them any more. I keep it in the hopes that one day someone else will say it looks hot on me. I'm not holding my breath. . .except for when I put that shirt on.

My mind wasn't in the right place at the time. I couldn't give her what she needed or wanted, and I didn't know what I wanted. But a lot has changed in the past five years, both with me and with her. I wouldn't say I exactly know what I want, but I do know what I'm open for now. Back then I'd just bought a condo, and had a five year plan. Now I'm beginning short sale procedures, and I have a different five year plan. Back then she came down to see if things might work between us. Now, she just gave birth to her second child. I actually went to her wedding, and have a terrible feeling that I didn't send her the disc of photos I took.

I posted a few pictures on the social networking site that I will not name, for fear that their privacy policy changes again and any mention of them entitles them to take ownership of any content on said page. But I posted a picture of Avalon Harbour, and she commented on it. So Jealous. I don't take this to mean that she would trade places with me, or she's unhappy in her life-- far from it, she's got two great kids and a bloke who looks after her well. But if she's jealous of my being in Catalina, am I jealous of her having a happy family life?

Juries still out on that one. Had things happened differently, would we have the happy family life and have been in Catalina together this past week? That sort of question's just not worth asking, again cos of crazy. I've lived countless lifetimes in my mind, some with her, some with others I've loved, and some with people I barely know. I've been single for six years, and in that time I've been married a thousand times, had hundreds of children, and been mourned by all those wives and family members. Scary, huh?

But I've been thinking that maybe it's the imagination I'm relying on to help me have a career as an author that's screwing me up in my personal life. If I'm living all those lifetimes in my mind, creating possible and potential scenarios, and thinking too much about what to say or do instead of just letting things happen, I'm stopping myself from actually living. One life lived is better than thousands imagined. So from now on I'm going to stop. The lives I imagine won't be for myself, they'll be for my characters. I won't think about the woulda shoulda couldas. I'll focus on what's going to happen next, and I won't be scared by it any more.


Today, I bought my first Nautical Chart. Actually, I bought it a couple of days ago online, but it arrived today. It's of the Oregon Coast, from Yaquina (oh, those crazy Oregon names) Head to Columbia River. The measurements are in fathoms, degrees, minutes and seconds, and if I hadn't run out of pins I'd have put it up on my bedroom wall tonight.

It's much more fun to look at the chart than read the news online. More bullshit from politicians. The Republicans want to cut the deficit and taxes. The Democrats want to cut taxes for some, but don't want to vote on it because they're already winning. Christine O'Donnell wants people to stop masturbating (from now on, if I say I'm going home to disappoint O'Donnell, you know what I'm saying. Yeah you do.) Don't Ask Don't tell isn't being repealed. Lindsay Lohan's in jail. Blockbuster filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Whereas when I look at the chart, with its underwater pipelines marked, and low tide levels shown, and names of places I know almost scribbled on as an afterthought (after all, they're on land, and who cares about the land?), I can forget about most of the crap that's being dealt to us by the people we elected, and the people we pay to report on the people we elected.

I've been having a really productive month so far. I talked about motivation last post, and again it's pretty much all I want to talk about now. Yes, I'm quite political, and I talk about it, but I'm just not all that fond of writing about it at the moment. I want to write Book II in the trilogy, and find out how Brokes and the rest of them are going to get to where I'm sending them. I want to write the screenplay for Taras, and find out if Jake and Brett are going to be friends at the end of everything I'm putting them through. I've got ideas for short stories, and different genres to dabble in. I don't want to write about the Democrats inability to organize their party, and I don't want to write about the Republicans ability to organize their party around no platform. It just pisses me off, and there's enough going on to piss me off without putting that into my writing as well. Will I write about politics again? Probably, it's too fascinatingly frustrating for me to stay away from, but for now I need to work on things for myself. Gods know that the bloody politicians aren't working on things for me.

So if all the crap is getting you down, do what I've done. Find something you like. Focus on that, instead of the ratings battles, or the career politicians. Keep a picture of it on your desktop, or bedroom wall, or office cubicle partition. I've got my boat, and now I've got a nautical map to imagine plotting a course across.

Just got to learn to read the bloody thing properly. And plot a course. . .

Motivation Pt. III

This month has been productive for me so far. I finished building a set, opened the show, grilled for twenty people, started re-doing my 3000-piece jigsaw puzzle, ran a console twice, and have written almost thirteen thousand words, spread out over three projects. Four, if you include blogging as a project. There's something else, but that's private. And the best thing is, the month's not even half-way. I'm looking at my original goal of twenty thousand words for the month, and thinking I should shoot for thirty thousand. I mean, why not? Why stop when it seems to be coming right now, the characters are just setting themselves up for the situations and conversations they've been having?

I'm not going to knock it. I'm not going to stop and ask why I've all of a sudden got this burst of motivation, because as soon as you wonder if the motivation is going to stick around, it buggers off.

This blog entry is more a reminder to people to not stop. You can take a break, pause by all means, but don't do what I've been doing for years. Don't make any excuses, cos they're all bullshit. You know it, too. There's a quote from Nelson Mandela that I have up on my bedroom wall, and while I make no pretenses that my goals are as noble or lofty as his, it can speak to everyone:

"I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet done."

While my use of the quote is pretty selfish, and I see freedom as freedom for myself than a whole country, it's good to remember that we're all headed somewhere. Maybe Vegas is just a place I've stopped for a while, to catch my breath and enjoy the view, but it sure as hell isn't the place I'm headed to. There's no freedom here for someone like me. And right now the view is my motivation. Looking back, seeing where I've been and how far I've travelled, and looking forward, seeing what's in store, is the best muse a person could ask for. Because you're all there, and I can see the whole world from up here.


Already? I don't know why I'm so surprised every year about this time. Summer is almost over-- although we've got another month or two of weather I would have called summer living in England. I'm on the downward slope to my next birthday. I think about all the things I said I was going to do this year, and try to work out if I can get them done in the next four months.

First and foremost, I had hoped to have an agent by this point. I finished draft one back in December last year, which seems like a lifetime ago. I re-drafted it, and gave it to someone who had offered to give me an outside perspective, a rough edit, before polishing it myself and submitting. She had it for a month. That month has now been five, I've given up hope of her coming through, and someone else has it instead.

Not that I've entirely wasted my time. As of tonight I'm thirty-two thousand words into book two. Starting book two before I'm done with book one is a definite help. It's drawing attention to things I left out, or need to mention in book one. When I get book one back I'm going to have to sit down and plot out on my whiteboard the exact timeline, because if even I am having trouble keeping up with the ages of the characters, what's a reader going to think?

My whiteboard. I have a 3' by 4' whiteboard hanging on my bedroom wall next to my bed, and every day it hangs there, silent and accusatory, reminding me of future book/play/screenplay ideas. I've jotted down a couple of almost-remembered dreams just in case. The problem is that I do a lot of my writing in down time at work. I know the music and the show so well by now, that it almost serves as a quiet place that I can shut myself off from the world. But it's not practical to take the whiteboard to work every day.

Anyway, back to the goals for the year. Agent, nope, but book two started? Hells, I'm almost half-way through. I've started work on a bunch of other projects, some literary, some theatrical. I built a set for the show BNTA's opening in less than a week. I came up with a new five year plan. So while I suppose I only had one goal for the year, I haven't achieved it and in the time left I'm not sure whether I can achieve it, there's all these other things that I've managed to do without even having them as goals.

I hate the idea of a bucket list. When I think bucket I think of the galvanized ones my grandfather used to have in his garden. Though there's nothing wrong with them per se, they had a tendency to sit there, year after year, collecting rainwater and mosquito larvae. They never moved. No one cared about the water they had in them, except maybe the mosquitoes. And the list part of that? Making lists is useless for me. If I write out a shopping list, I'll inevitably leave it at home and forget half the crap on it. And if I remember the list, how do I add to it in the store when I don't have a pen? A list is too finite. I've just got things I'm going to do at some point.

Like get an agent, as soon as book one's in the state it needs to be.


I have a healthy tendency to obsess about things. I say it's healthy, because it's how I've manages to get where I am today. I obsessed about working on cruise ships while I was in University, and two months after graduation I signed on for my first contract. I then obsessed about working for Cirque Du Soleil, and two years later I moved to Las Vegas and started working at New York New York. I've become obsessed with being a writer, earning a living doing it, and I'm chipping away at that too with novels and screenplays and short stories underway. And now I have a new obsession. It's been about a week now, and it probably has a little to do with watching the DVD of my 24th birthday last week, and some of what's going on financially in my world right now (that's a whole 'nother blog). But basically, I've become fixated on living on a boat. My own yacht. Nothing too guady or ostentatious, but no floating bathtub either.

It just sounds ideal for where I am in my life right now, or rather in a couple of years once I have a writing income. I know that's assuming a lot, but if I don't aim for it then I won't get there. But living in Vegas for over six years, I feel a little trapped. I'm trapped by the mountains that ring us on all sides, and the dirty ceiling of smog. There's still too much for me to go and see and do in the world, and living a 5 work-days-a-week isn't cutting it for me. I want to sail through the islands of Puget Sound and catch my salmon for to grill. I want to sail back through the Panama Canal, and actually set foot in South America rather than be yards away and still not there. I want to go to Galapagos and dive with the schooling scalloped hammerheads. And I want to do it all on my terms, in my time.

And it's the perfect time for me. I'm young enough that it still seems like a great idea. I'm also young enough to be able to forgo some of the things we take for granted in our daily lives, rough it a bit. I'm single, with emotional attachments that would for sure be tested with prolonged absences, but that's been the story of my life so far and those friendships I still have are all the better for it. I'm old enough that I won't just jump into it without doing the proper research and preparation. I'm old enough to know that it's not as glamorous as most people might think. And I'm old enough that I've done a lot of things that were goals as I was growing up, so I'm in search of new goals.

My opaternal grandfather was a fisherman, and my matyernal great-grandfather was a fisherman. Or maybe great-great, I'm not a hundred percent on that. My father was in the British Merchant Navy after school, and that's partly why I worked on cruise ships, to fulfill some sort of perceived familial obligation. But it's more than that, I realize now. There's something terrifying and fascinating between me and the Ocean. It scares the crap out of me, with its changeable moods and bewitching peace. It's a healthy obsession to have because it's seventy percent of the planet's surface. And wherever you go on it, you're linked to everywhere else.

So I shall live on a boat. I'm giving myself five years to achieve this goal, and I'll definitely be talking about it again as I head towards it. Five years. I'm obsessed.

I've already got a name picked out.


I spent two nights this past week giving relationship advice. Each time was to a woman, who if they were single I would be interested in dating. But they're not, so I'm not, and instead try to give advice to the best of my abilities. I'm just not sure why people listen to my advice when it comes to relationships. As I believe I've mentioned before, I've been single now for six years. In that time, whenever I've even come close to a relationship I've managed to convince myself it's not going to work before I've even given it a chance. I know this about myself, and still kill them before they even have a chance.

Regardless of that, I spent Sunday night- well, Sunday night into Monday morning- talking to a woman I'd just met about her current relationship. She's been seeing this guy for a few weeks, and really enjoys the time they spend together, his personality, she thinks he's hot, and the sex is great. And despite all this, despite the fact that when he goes out of town on business and calls her every day, she keeps asking herself why he's with her. She's pretty confident, and although I had only met her that night and we were both a little the worse for beer, she seems pretty sensible and put together, but because he's friends with a couple of playmates she questions why he would be with her.

Now, if he was to keep her away from his other friends, I could see why she'd be suspicious. But she's hung out with them all, they all know here and know he's with her. The logical part of me says it would make no sense for him to introduce her to them if he wanted to cheat on her with them. I mentioned this, and told her to just enjoy being with him because the more she over-analyzes everything, the sooner it'll be over.

The second friend, I'm not going to go into as much detail about, because it's a harder situation to give advice about. It's easier to give advice that someone wants to hear, as in the case of friend one, than advice that might not be welcome, which is what I gave friend two. She basically described the relationship to me, and I told her I have no idea why she would be with him. Beer was drunk and reasons were given, none of which I thought were any good. Admittedly there may have been a lot that she held back, but from what I got he treats her like crap and she shouldn't have to settle with someone like that. That's the advice I tried to convey, but nickel PBR has a wonderful charm and I probably wasn't as eloquent as I fancied.

So why advice from me? I can think of myriad reason to not come to me for advice. . .Been single for six years, I'm sometimes too logical about things, and I tend to drink when dispensing advice, to name a few. But thinking more about it, I'm not sure that it was something about me that had them asking my opinion. I think it's one component of our society, our species even. We ask advice even if we're already convinced of the path we should take. I know I ask people's advice, but don't always listen to the response. It's more about getting it out there, saying it, because that often helps me work through whatever I'm going through on my own. Not just with relationships, either. When I'm writing I like to let a few people read what I'm doing, and technically it's for feedback, but I've made very few changes based on feedback I've received so far. I'll add a few lines here or there to explain a situation better, but that's about it.

So here's my goal. To actually use the advice I'm given. Mostly. Cos it stands to reason that not all advice is good advice, but when someone suggests something to me that I know is the right course of action, I've been thinking about it myself for a while, I'm going to try and do better at heeding it. Starting today. Got some advice last night, and I'm trying to stick to it today. It's been. . .interesting. Not the easiest thing, but we'll see how things work out.

And if they don't, I can always blame the bugger who gave me the advice.


I'm not there yet. Not by a long shot. But I think I've made a pretty good start on it. The hardest part was deciding what I wanted out of life, but for now I've mostly decided that. It's good, it gives you something to strive for. I've decided I'm going to be a writer. Scratch that, I've decided I am a writer, just not a published one yet.

I know I've listed them off before, but I'm going to do it again because it keeps me focused on it. I'm currently working on four novels (although one hasn't been looked at in months, it's still there waiting to be written). I've got four short stories I consider ready to be published (and I might just throw a couple up here in the meantime, see what you think). I have three short screenplays that could be filmed tomorrow. I'm working on two feature screenplays, with one more I need to start and a fourth I'm thinking about.

Now, none of this is success, because one of the purposes of writing is to be read. I'm not Kafka. I want it all published, even the stuff I don't finish before I die (and just a heads up, I am so going to fuck with people and deliberately leave something bizarre unfinished). I haven't been successful yet by my definition as a writer, but I think I'm on a good track and it'll come.

I've been working in theatre for eighteen years. From being a chorus member and giving a hand at weekly set builds, to programming Automation for a Cirque Du Soleil show, and being the TD for a theatre company I helped found, I've come a long way. That's pretty successful, I think.

But there's one aspect of my life that I feel is a failure right now, and it's bringing down the rest of it. I feel like my personal life is a shambles, that I'm failing at something that used to come so naturally to me, and it's buggering up my focus and my motivation.

I always thought I was a good judge of character. I prided myself on working out who someone was, and what they were like, and whether they were worth my time. Moving around as I did, this was really handy; I didn't have years to develop friendships, bouncing from one place to another. I made a lot of good friends, most of whom I still have today. But it's been living in Vegas, and doing so well in every other aspect of my life, that has made this stand out recently. I still have a few good friends here, but I've always been better at focussing on the negative rather than the positive, and it's the friendships that have fallen by the wayside, that have revealed themselves to be less than I thought they were, that I can't get out of my head. It's the people who declare friendship, but then only remember it when it's convenient, or they need something. And I feel that it's my failure. I don't understand people any more, I don't get how they can be like that. I feel like I'm disconnected from the human race, standing outside looking in, and scratching my head in confusion.

It turns out that the search for alien life has been a success. You need to stop looking off-planet, because I'm here, living amongst you, watching, making mental notes, and trying to understand. Although whether or not it's intelligent life is debatable. . .

breaking up

getting back from a trip away is a lot like breaking up. You're left with a period of depression, of not knowing what to do with yourself. There's laundry to be done and the house to be straightened up, as if it magically got rearranged while you were away. You feel tired. Your friends all ask how it was, but you don't really want to talk about it. You find yourself with less money than before it started. And then you start planning your next one.

I got back Monday morning, and I'm already looking into going away again, but this time somewhere I really want to go; I wanted to go to Oregon the past few trips, but I'd much rather have gone somewhere further afield that I'm not so familiar with. For October, I'm looking into Europe.

Originally I wanted it to be a full three week trip, but as part of the whole I'm-thirty-now-and-need-to-be-a-bit-more-responsible thing, I'm actually acknowledging that I can't afford that, so it looks like it'll just be the British Isles. Scotland with the parents and grandfather, London with a couple of friends who live there and I haven't seen in years, and Ireland with another friend who I haven't seen in years.

My vacation time is very precious to me, and I don't get enough, but finally after six years with MGM Mirage, I'm on three weeks vacation, so of course I want to make the most of it. But another part of the sensible thing I'm trying, is that maybe I should start going to writing conventions. I should start networking, meeting people in the industry, and using up my precious vacation time to work on never needing vacation time. Most people I know who are in an industry go to the conventions as and when they can. My problem is that I wouldn't really go to listen to other people as much as I should. I write what I want, rather than what I think people want. I'd go to them and not really care much about the speakers unless it was someone I was a fan of. I don't know if I'd get anything out of going to one.

That's probably exactly why I should go. It's all very well typing away, and letting a couple people read what I'm beating out of the keyboard, but I should probably throw myself into it more than I already have, and by it I mean the industry. I should buy the books, listen to the podcasts, go to the conventions, sign up for the periodicals. I just want to keep myself happy with the illusion that writing isn't work, even after I get paid to do it. I want to see it as a treat, as theatre used to be and ceased to be a while ago.

So to use my coveted vacation time to do that? We'll see how I'm doing once I get book one back. Maybe it's time to look into it, put myself out there. Because if I do, then I have the potential to be a serial monogamist. I can go from vacation to vacation, writing all the while, and never having to go through the break-up period of malaise and frustration that I'm in right now.


I'm hoping that history repeats itself. When I was in University, I lived in Kenna Hall. We'd have parties there. But one particular party, I went outside for a breath of fresh air, and took a walk along the bluff. (The University I attended, University of Portland, is situated on a bluff overlooking the docks in Portland) I walked out there, in a mildly alcoholic haze, watching the lights below me and just able to hear the sounds of machinery as the kept working late into the night. The activity was almost all focused on a cruise ship in dry dock. I made up my mind there and then that I would work on a cruise ship when I graduated. I went back to the party, and started telling people that I was going to work on ships. I thought about doing it for a summer or two, but going to Salzburg for a year got in the way of doing that, so it would have to wait until after graduation. But for three years, I told people I was going to work on cruise ships.

I joined my first ship in July of 2001, six weeks after graduation, and worked on them for almost 3 years.

While working on ships I learned Automation. That is to say, I got taught the order in which to push buttons on an Automation console, which is what passed for training. The learning happened later, when things broke and I had to pull some sort of show out of my arse using a couple of joysticks and no variable speed, or overnight phone calls to London from the middle of the Pacific Ocean to troubleshoot problems. When contractors were sent out for jobs that were too big to do on the ship, or we went into dry dock ourselves, I tried to pick their brains and learn more about the systems (and generally realized that they were bluffing as much or more than I was). It was my first contract, before I learned Automation, that I learned about Cirque Du Soleil, from an Argentinian guy I worked with, Jeronimo. He talked about the shows they put on and the equipment they got to use, so I decided, like him, that I would work for them some day and started telling people this.

I started at Zumanity 10th June, 2004. (And Jero went on to get a job with them on tour).

So now, I'm going to be a writer. I've been telling people that for about two years. I'm not sure when I went from just writing for the hell of it to deciding I want to make a living doing it, but I did, and I do, so I will. I know everyone keeps saying it's hard to get into it, it's hard to make a living at it, but I've been successful so far when I've put myself out there by saying 'this is what I'm going to do.' There's no point in aiming to have just one thing published, make enough for a week long vacation in the Azores and then going back to your regular life. Sod that. I'm going to make a living as a writer.

Now maybe I should start making other statements of intent, if that's the right phrase. Statements of desire? Statements of . . .of the future? I intend to be a writer, I desire to be a writer, I shall be a writer? Well, whatever statements I'm making, I'm also going to start saying I will get in shape, I will travel more, I will make it to space one day.

There, I've said it, so now it's going to happen. I'm just not going to lie back and wait for any of it, I'm going to work for it. Now.


Is it pretentious to start writing your autobiography before you've really done anything? Probably no more pretentious than writing a blog and expecting people to read it. Especially when it doesn't have structure, or regularity, or a theme. But the thing about a blog is you write it, you leave it out there, and sometimes people will stumble across it, sometimes they won't. Writing an autobiography implies that you'll shop it around and try to get it published, all in the hopes of one day walking into your local Barnes and Noble to be confronted by a glossily-covered hard-backed image of yourself. Always wanted to be a 'local author,' and so far I think I can claim that for four places, with every intention of adding to the list.

But the thing about writing an autobiography is how much of a twat should you make yourself? Everyone's got some sort of embarrassing anecdote they can tell about themselves, and some of us have a plethora of the buggers. I could probably fill a whole book on 'stupid shit Rich has done,' and have more left over for the sequel. It's not like I'm shy about admitting to the dumb stuff I can, have, and will do. If you've read more than just this entry you'll know that.

The one thing I will not admit to trying, or having any desire to trying, is choking myself while pulling one off. Not interested. Don't want to try it, never have, never will.  The thing that worries me about my lack of interest in auto-erotic asphyxiation is that maybe it means I'm never going to get anywhere with my writing, never be a known, a local author. Because it seems to me that every few months you hear of another celebrity who has managed to choke not only the bishop, but themselves as well. Is is just a celebrity phenomenon? Or are there scores of people in every town, village, city, strangling themselves mid-masturbation right now?

Maybe that's the price of fame; you make a deal with the devil that you'll have fame and fortune, but be found dead in a pretty embarrassing way. Maybe that's how David Carradine secured his comeback. Too soon?

I don't think that's a deal I'm ready to make. Unless I can specify that I'll auto-erotically choke myself to death when I'm a hundred and four. Ugh.

Nope, when I'm writing my autobiography, there will be no section on that. Orgasms are great enough, I'm not greedy and have no interest in intensifying the experience if the possibility is getting found dead and naked.

Not really sure when I was going with the post, or where it came from, but it's helping take my mind off the car accident I had couple nights ago. The auto accident. See what I did there??


I haven't been accomplishing much in the past couple of weeks. I've sat here almost every day looking at one of my screenplays and draft the second of the book, keeping them always open in the hopes that I'll get back into the swing of it. Hasn't worked so far. I'm not worried yet. There's been a bit of adjustment at work while I get a temporary promotion (I'm filling in for my supervisor who's out right now after surgery). We've got a show opening on Tuesday evening. I've started going to the gym and playing racquetball (read: getting my arse handed to me on the court) one night a week after work. So it's not like I haven't accomplished anything, it's just not what I want to be accomplishing.

Being put into a supervisory position at work has been interesting, although probably not the best thing for me. Now that I've seen it from their point of view, and everything they have to deal with, I'm completely convinced I can do it, and possibly better. Definitely better than some. But the question is, do I want to? Working for Cirque is great: the bragging rights, the attachment to something so instantly recognizable and well-perceived by the rest of the world, the 5-year anniversary leather jacket. But I look around at the guys I work with, and I can't decide if I want it or not. Even working for a show such as LOVE can get a little. . . samey. Same music, same show, same people, and as fickle and easily distractable as I am, I don't think I have the patience to work my way up in the company. And there's no way I want to stay in the same position forever.

So why, then, am I slacking with the writing? I see it as my first best chance for a change of pace, and should be going at it hammer and tongs, but it's more like no hammer and just a pair of tweezers. It still feels good when I get a couple pages written, or edited, or scribble down more ideas on this big effing white board that now lives on the wall by my bed. I'm just not doing it right now.

Maybe I've had too many people compliment me on my writing. Not that they've read it yet; just that I actually got through the first draft, all seventy-something thousand words. I've had more than one person tell me how proud they are of me (even though it's probable that what I've written is pants), and I've always been one to rest on my laurels. The trouble is here, that the laurels are only supposed. I haven't earned anything- even though I got further than a lot of people, I'm starting to see a first draft as almost the same as never writing it.

So here's the plan. Finish the screenplay for Taras in the next week. The get cracking on my edit- I said I'd have it done by the end of March, so I gotsta get a move on with the bloody thing. And after that? Start something else. No more down time. Not until I've earned it, and I've got a comfy bunch of laurels that I can make a nest out of to rest in, just like I used to do with the blankets in the airing cupboard at the Coombe Road house.


Anyone who knows me knows I have a tendency to be up and down. I'll be on top of the world one minute, and completely pissy the next for no apparent reason. This can lead to many stupid things done or said, and I think about a quarter of my life is comprised of apologizing for another quarter of it. I'm blaming it all on my star sign. Can't find the link anymore, but I read a description that was really good at explaining all the cap that I pull and should have bookmarked it to refer people.

Anyway, I can be having a great day, like today, and then feel myself slipping into one of my funks. I'm learning to socialize without alcohol (oh, didn't I tell you? I gave up drinking for February. Story for another day). I'm finding it not as scary as I thought it would be. I got to spend a couple of hours outside watching the Rugby Sevens Tournament with some friends before going to work, and it was exactly what I needed. But then three hours into work I started feeling down.

I'm convinced it's not because of work. Well, let me explain that. I think it's because I'm in a rut, and that work is just part of that rut that I'm slowly walking along day after day, digging a little deeper with each passage. If I keep walking along it, at what point do the sides become too steep for me to get out?

I desperately want out of Vegas, but I'm not doing anything about it. I'm not actively applying for other jobs, although I did go through a brief phase of looking at apartments in New York, and Munich, and London. But I don't think New York or London would cut it right now. I think they'd end up being a different sort of rut, and I don't want that. Hell, I don't even want to walk down a different path, I want to be climbing the trees. I want to dream in a different language.

I'm sometimes confused by how I got, as I see it, stuck here. After travelling around so much when I was younger, I never thought I would have to stop but owed it to myself to try this 'normal life' everyone else always talks about. After being in Vegas for six months, and getting decidedly antsy, instead of listening to myself and going somewhere else, I bought a condo in the hopes it would maybe settle me, let me give myself a chance at a normal life and a decent career. It's given me the decent chance at a career, but it hasn't settles me. And Vegas is hardly conducive to having a normal life.

For me, settling down, buying a place, and holding down a 9-5 job (well, 330-1130, but you know what I mean), it's been the equivalent of most people's teaching abroad year or peace corps year, albeit a lot less altruistic. I've taken my year off, and now I'm ready to get back into living the life I want, which involves much less in the way of mortgage payments and a lot more in the way of. . .well, anything, really. I have to write my books and my screenplays, and make enough money that I can up and leave and do it anywhere.

So the reason for the title? I like to buy shit when I'm in a pissy mood. Which I am on a regular basis because of the decision I made to try and have a normal, sedentary, settled down life. I have too much crap now to be able to up and move easily. I need to focus my retail therapy somewhere it's going to help, not hinder, my ability to bugger off for a while. Instead of buying any more fricking Blu-Rays (Zombieland is the last one, tomorrow, I swear), I'd be better off sticking that cash in a piggy bank and sending it all off at the end of the month towards my credit card, or student loans, and working towards something that'll get me where I want to be, stop me being so changeable, and buy trips not toys.

But now all I can think about is going to and buying a piggy bank.

why I write

I don't know if I can answer that. When I'm sitting there looking at a blinking cursor, willing words to come that have no interest in being typed, all I want to do is throw my computer out of a high building and never write another word (write, type, whatever). Trying to scribble down a thought that might be something or might be nothing,  a thought that refuses to be tied down to the page, I've snapped pens before. So why continue to do it? I'd love to make some money doing it eventually. . .or rather, I intend to make some money doing it. I know that statistically speaking it's unlikely, but I've always distrusted statistics. Probably something to do with having a maths teacher who would correct my work with his too-soft hands, leaving chalk dust all over my notebooks. Ugh. Anyway <he says, shaking himself back from distant memories>, I've somehow managed to convince myself that one day I'll make a living as a writer, and not be tied down to one place. I'll be able to travel the world, periodically sending in work to an agent, and not miss out on important life events of friends and family. Wedding in Australia? No problem, the flight will give me time to edit my latest work. You want to go to Oktoberfest with me? Well, it has been twelve years since I last went, and it's a brilliant place to people watch.

But I think the truth is, I enjoy it. Surprisingly enough, for something that's so close to schoolwork, I enjoy writing. Never liked it in school, but now I don't have to do it, I find myself wanting to do it. And in the past, what, two years? that I've decided to write, it's changed me more than I would have thought probable. Every random little thought, almost as soon as I've had it, I wonder if it would make a good story. I see people on the street or in the casinos or at the airport, and I think about them as a basis for something. I pick apart my own life and think about which parts might work for a story. And now, instead of having run out of things to write about, I'm almost worried that I won't have time to tell them all.

I think about the phrase "we've all got one book in us," and can't decide if it's true or not. Maybe on average everyone does, but that means people like Neil Gaiman and Stephen King are probably using up other people's stories. The bastards. Having said that, and being currently in the middle of editing my first novel, I know for a fact that this isn't the one book that I have inside me. This one, and I'm intending it to be the first of a trilogy, is more just to see if I can do it. Can I keep my short little span of attention focused long enough to actually write something worth reading, or publishing? So far yes, and keeping my one book for down the line I haven't blown my load straight away. Premature authoration sounds like a terrible thing. The knowledge that I have another, better book waiting to be written is good to have.

So I, who have never tried harder than I had to, who fought for years against attempts to get me to do homework, enjoy writing. I know I have teachers out there who would love the irony of that. But to quote one of my favourite authors, 'writing is the most fun anyone can have by themselves.' It is fun. I get to play God! When writing, I can create a world, characters, and elevate or destroy them on a whim. I can revisit events that I never got to experience, and even host my own events. It lets me escape from the world and my life, and helps me see it more clearly sometimes. It's a cheap form of therapy - I'm opposed to paying someone to listen to me run off my issues, cos I already have a pretty good idea of what they are. Writing is an outlet much more satisfying than playing video and computer games. It's as open ended as you want it to be (Robert Jordan. . .), or you can move on without even stopping to pack. If you haven't tried it yet, seriously. Open your word processor now, and just start typing.