‘You’ve lost weight’: The unconscious judgements in compliments

I returned home from overseas in March, and entered two weeks’ isolation under the rules to contain COVID-19. This was early in the virus spread, so I was lucky enough to spend the two weeks in a holiday house near the beach.

During those two weeks, I did not leave the property. On sunny days, I could not go to the beach or walk into town. I had my groceries delivered from the local supermarket, and occasionally spoke to a neighbour over the front fence. But mostly, I was alone.

What I did, was eat – lots! I was bored and lonely and spending most of my day on Netflix. I would start off eating healthy – cereal for breakfast, and a sandwich for lunch. By dinner time I was looking for all the favourite comfort foods I had bought – schnitzels, mashed potato, chips, chocolate, and several bottles of wine. I also took a case of beer with me, left over from my last birthday, and drank one every day.

By the second week of isolation I realised something had to change. I was feeling the weight pile on. Already a larger person, this added weight was not welcome.

I started exercising.

There wasn’t a lot of variety in the exercise I could do, stuck in a house. I alternated between a high intensity interval workout in the lounge room, and jogging around the outside of the house. I even completed 20 kilometres around the house one day, (333 laps – and my legs paid for it!), but usually managed between 7-12 kilometres.

Returning to home and work, I continued my exercise routine. I also started changing my diet. I still drank wine and beer, and ate chocolate and chips, just a lot less than before. As all the cafes were closed, I made my lunches to take to work. This allowed me to focus on healthy options.

You can imagine what happened. I lost 12 kilos (so far!). I felt good. I was fitter than I had been in years. I was even hammering new holes in my belt to hold my pants up!

Then I started receiving compliments from people, both at work and in my private life, about my weight loss. For some reason, these compliments made me uncomfortable.

I realised I was interpreting ‘You’ve lost weight’ as ‘You’re not as fat as you used to be’. While this obviously was not the intended message, it was a clear message behind it. To notice I have lost weight, they must first have noticed I was fat. Not being able to say ‘You’re not fat anymore’, they use the commonly accepted phrase of ‘You’ve lost weight’.

Our culture is ingrained with the concept of ‘thin is best’. I don’t need to go into this idea – there have been countless articles, critiques, and studies done to prove this point. What I’m focusing on is the praise we give weight loss, and how this message is received.

Some people crave this positive reinforcement of the hard work they have done to achieve their weight loss goals. Some people accept these comments as the normal response to weight loss, and even give the comments out themselves. Then others, like me, find the comments offensive.

As you can see, I interpreted the message as an unconscious acknowledgement that not only did they think I was fat, they paid attention to how I looked and judged me negatively for being fat. They could now judge me positively because I was aligning to the societal belief of ‘thin is best’, and publicly declare their acceptance of my physical form.

This also implied they felt more comfortable with a thinner me, as well. I mean, who wants to be friends with a fat person?

It got me thinking about the privilege thin or average weight people have, of which they are unaware. How else to explain someone feeling they have the right to comment on my body in the workplace, or in public?

I also thought of what message these comments send to others within earshot; others who may struggle with their own body issues. Giving this praise, and accepting it, reinforces the message of ‘thin is best’. If praise is only given when someone loses weight, this can reinforce negative body beliefs for others.

At my first dinner out since restrictions eased, two friends commented on my weight loss and started asking questions about my diet and exercise. I quickly but politely shut the conversation down. I thanked them, and said I did not want to discuss this further. They both accepted my stance, hopefully without offense, and it was not raised again.

But can I do this in the workplace? In my particular workplace, it is usual for staff to discuss their weight, diet and exercise. How then to politely shut down comment on my weight, without impinging on the conversations of others? I also know some of the people I work with take offense easily. If I were to raise concerns regarding their comments about my body, this could easily lead to conflict, and eventually involve management. Both things I wish to avoid.

Should I skimp my pride and go along with the status quo, to avoid conflict? Or should I politely introduce the topic of inappropriate body comments, opening a discussion (and possible conflict) which could change the conversation positively for me and others?

Courage would dictate I take the latter course. Another benefit from the Black Lives Matter and #Me Too movements is that courage is not always easy, but is usually necessary. This issue may not be as life threatening as what BLM and #MeToo are addressing, but every step towards confronting prejudice in any form can only be good for society as a whole.

I will challenge the idea that my body is an open topic of conversation for others, and hope this brings about positive change. In the meantime, feel free to talk about my self-inflicted, isolation haircut. Now that is a topic worth discussing!

Since I became a writer …

It’s been a year since I resigned from my job as a manager and moved to a part-time, low-paying role within my organisation, all so I could focus on becoming the writer I always wanted to be.

In the past year I have started two novels, written and rewritten over thirty short stories, created more than 20 poems, completed a couple of essays, and composed a plethora of flash fiction.

I have entered hundreds of writing competitions – from flash fiction to novel development – and only won once. I have submitted poems and short stories for publication, and not had a single acceptance.

Does this mean I’m a poor writer? Or that I just have nothing worthy to say?

The most success I’ve had with my writing has been through this blog, and Twitter. The responses I’ve had go someway to disproving both the questions above. On reflection, though, there is an element of truth there also.

I believe I am becoming a better writer as time goes on. I am learning from courses I have undertaken, from following other writers’ blogs, and reflecting on the feedback I get from some of my submissions. This would indicate that although I may not be a poor writer, I definitely had (and continue to have) room for improvement. The more I write, the better writer I am becoming.

I am also finding my voice. As soon as I resigned from my manager job I started working on a novel, the idea for which I carried around for a decade. I was surprised when I found it difficult to focus on writing this novel. I mean, I’d thought about writing this story for ten years! Why was it so hard to do? I thought the problem was just me adapting to a writing lifestyle. Then it dawned on me – I’m just not that into the story.

I was writing something that I thought other people would want to read, not something I wanted to write. I was approaching my writing from a sales perspective: this book has the potential to appeal to anyone from a teenager to a grandmother, therefore it has the potential to sell and be popular. This was true when I started writing the novel, and is true now. But it was not enough to inspire me and keep me engaged with actually writing the story.

I have since put this novel aside and started a new one. This new novel engages me at a personal level where writing is a pleasure, and words pour out of me with little effort. The story entertains me as I write it (I even laugh out loud at what my characters say!), and I think about it all the time.

This is what writing is meant to be.

I may not be having much success with all my submissions and competitions, and I may still be struggling to cement my voice and ideas into writing that is compelling for publishers and readers. But I am writing. And creating things no-one else has created.

This is what I have achieved in the past year. It gives me hope for what I will be able to achieve in the year ahead!

Would you move for love?

This is an interesting question that someone posted to my Twitter group a couple of weeks ago. The answers submitted by members included: ‘Yes! Enthusiastically, anything for love’; ‘No, I’ve done it before and it didn’t work out’; and, ‘I wouldn’t make room on the couch, let alone move to another city’.

It got me wondering – how stuck in our ways are we?

I know as I get older, I become more comforted by my habits and routines. It generally makes for an easier life. I don’t need to make difficult decisions. I don’t need to weigh things up, or care about the details. Because all these things are taken care of. We spend our lives creating a sanctuary, a place where we are safe and secure and can relax.

But is it wise to give up on challenges, even small, everyday ones, as we get older? Should we sacrifice the possibility of love, for comfort?

Recently I’ve connected online with a guy that lives in Sydney. We’ve gelled really well, and very quickly. In our current situation, distance is both our friend and our enemy. Distance has prevented us from meeting in person, or taking our connection to a physical level. Distance, though, has also slowed everything down, forcing us to spend more time just talking than we might otherwise. We recognise that distance may help us to get to know each other better in this initial stage than we would if we were in the same city.

But what will happen if this is ‘love’?

I was born in Sydney and I’ve lived there a couple of times in my twenties and thirties. When I returned to Melbourne at forty, it was with relief at escaping Sydney’s oppressive over-population and rampant vacuousness. I was mainly raised in Melbourne, and it had always felt like home to me. When I was living in Sydney it felt as though I was visiting, as though I was on holidays.

So would I move back to Sydney for love?

Honestly, I don’t know. I would like to think I am still adventurous and willing to take risks in my fifties. Then I think of my friends in Melbourne, my created family, and the thought of being away from them, even just in Sydney, makes me sad.

The other option is he moves to Melbourne. I’m not sure what he thinks about this idea. And honestly, it’s far too early in our relationship to even have this conversation. But it’s there, in the background, hanging over us. What if we put all this effort into creating a relationship, then can’t even commit to living in the same city?

How much is love worth?

That was me, then, but not me, now

Advice to writers often consists of ‘write what you know’ and ‘writer from the heart’. As both these things are inconsistent – that is, they change constantly – how difficult is it to be consistent in our writing?

Writing a novel can take anywhere from a few weeks to years. It is inconceivable to think a writer’s personality remains static for this length of time. Writers like to learn, change, and challenge who they are and what they think. Thus, at the beginning of a novel someone might write ‘what they know’ at that time. Twelve months later they might ‘know’ something different. If they are still working on the same piece, how do they ensure consistency in their work?

This is one of the skills needed to be a writer. The ability to ‘trick’ yourself into being who you were, in order to return to the time and place of your work. You may bring new words or experiences with you (after all, a work in progress often evolves) but the voice needs to remain the same.

I could work on a my novel today, and would need to find the voice I’ve been using since I started this piece a year ago. The narration, the voice, of the work needs to be steady so a reader can follow the story and not feel like they are being tossed around.

If I also wrote a poem today, I could use whatever voice I thought appropriate to that piece. This could be today’s me, yesterday’s me, or four year’s old me. Whichever voice I chose, I would then need to re-access that voice every time I edited that poem in future, to remain consistent.

Does all this sound confusing? It certainly can be. This process – finding, using, and re-using a particular version of yourself, your voice – is one tiny element of a great big whole that goes into writing, and is reflected in how writers relate to the world. There is so much going on in a writer’s head that they may come across as absent-minded, distant, self-absorbed, introverted, air-headed, distracted, forgetful, a little bit crazy, and a whole lot of weird.

All true. But that’s not all there is to a writer, who is just a person, like you.

Writers Victoria April Flash Fiction

Thanks to Writers Victoria, lock down in April was a lot of fun! They ran a daily Flash Fiction competition for the month. Each day a ‘prompt’ word was tweeted, and writers had until 9pm to tweet their flash fiction reply. All entries had to contain the prompt, and be less than 30 words long.

I didn’t manage to enter every day, but got there most days. I even won on day 19!

Here’s a selection of my entries.

Moving through the abandoned spaceship, Alana heard a rumbling growl. She unholstered her laser gun. There! She fired, missed. Her last thought – why is there a lion on this ship?

Day 18, prompt word – Laser.

A person forces spoons of mush into my limp mouth. I drift into memories.

You, me, swimming off the Italian coast. The sea sparkling, hypnotising.

The majesty of youth, lost.

Day 19, prompt word – Drift. The winning entry!

It’s here. I need it.

Tears roll down my cheeks, then a spotlight hits the memory.

There!

You, in bed, smiling sideways at me, face creased.

God, I miss you!

Day 20, Prompt word – Spotlight.

‘Theesway,’ she said.

‘Thee sway?’ I asked, confused.

‘Si.’

I swayed. She walked away. I followed, swaying side-to-side.

‘Your table,’ she said.

Oh! This way!

I stopped swaying and sat.

Day 21, prompt word – Sway.

They pushed me to the centre of the dais. Tears flowed. I smiled proudly and knelt, my head overhanging the block.

The honour of being chosen to appease the gods!

Day 22, prompt word – Centre.

I read the letter again; white faced, slack jawed. Lymphoma – confirmed. Words drift dizzily across my vision – radiation, chemotherapy, bone marrow. All I see is a death sentence.

Day 23, prompt word – Read.

‘Measure twice, cut once,’ my father always said.

Sage advice from the old bastard.

He screamed into his gag as I sawed his leg, exactly 25 centimetres from his foot.

Day 24, prompt word – Measure.

The mirror assaults me.

I pinch skin between my fingers but it’s stretched too tight.

My eye’s reality is distorted in my mind.

I’m so fat!

My body consumes itself.

Day 27, prompt word – Distorted.

Lashes dipped seductively over smoky eyes. Lips licked in anticipation. Elation a dance beat in the veins.

Fixated on you.

Magnetic gaze drawn together. Breathing faster. Velvet touch.

We crest.

Day 29, prompt word – Fixated.

‘Paola! Focus!’

Paola pushes the tablets away, fear scowling her face.

‘I don’t want them! Leave me alone!’

Her mother sighs, exhausted by this daily battle with a damaged mind.

Day 30, prompt word – Focus

Promoting Mat Clarke

Please check out Mat’s short stories from my collaborative website “https://www.worldwriterscollective.com/mat-carke“, there are also many great authors to chat to and other stories to read.

Mat Clarke | free-stories – Read Great Stories

This makes sense considering it requires no research. If it happened to you then you are the best person to write about it. The only thing you need to do then is make it interesting for people to read and put it in a format that people will want to read.

http://www.worldwriterscollective.com

I will be promoting a different writer from the World Writers Collective each week, as a plug to my fellow collective members, to promote our work, and provide entertainment and inspiration for everyone. Enjoy!

This is sooooo boring

There’s a lot of people complaining online about being bored right now, what with all the restrictions, social distancing and closed attractions. That’s part of the reason we are seeing a more of restriction breakers in public places.

‘Boredom: the desire for desires’ – Leo Tolstoy

I’m feeling it today. I have editing that needs to be completed, which I am steadfastly avoiding. It’s boredom, born from procrastination. I’ve vacuumed, mopped, shopped, and had three coffees. I might be bored, but I still find plenty of things to do whilst feeling bored. The problem with doing all these avoidance tasks is eventually I’ll run out of distractions and be faced with nothing but the original task. Oh well, at least the house will be clean and well stocked!

Why do so many people have such difficulty sitting with their own boredom? Have we, as a progressive and connected society, lost the ability to entertain ourselves? Many people are going shopping because they are bored. It seems shopping has become one of our society’s greatest recreation activities. All I can say to that is – boring!

‘I’m rarely bored alone; I’m often bored in groups and crowds” – Laurie Helgoe

Here’s my issues with people going out and about, and declaring their boredom online for everyone else to see.

Firstly, we are in a PANDEMIC! Going shopping because you are bored puts you and everyone else at risk.

Secondly, use your MIND! Using shopping to fill your boredom is lazy.

‘Life is never boring but some people choose to be bored’ – Wayne Dyer

This ain’t so bad (except for all the dying)

Take away the illness and death and economic recession, and this isolation/distancing thing ain’t so bad. Alleviates most of my social phobias. My counsellor was like ‘I knew you’d be enjoying this’ and I’m like ‘Well, the government said I can’t go out, so it’s not my fault’ and he’s like ‘You don’t have to sound so pleased about it’ and I’m like

Arnold Schwarzenegger Smiling GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I hope everyone is doing ok.

How many Twitter followers do you have?

I’ve been a Twitterati for a few months now. It is an enthralling, engrossing and enriching place to make contact with other writers – new and established – particularly at this time of social isolation when I don’t have access to my usual writing groups and supports.

I’ve learnt most writers on Twitter are generous with their time, feedback and ideas. Even in Twitter-speak (240 characters, including spaces) they manage to convey a sense of welcome and belonging to others.

What I don’t understand is the constant push by some writers on Twitter to increase the followers for all writers. Does having more followers equate to increased book sales? And if you are a new, as yet unpublished, writer, does having more followers equate to increased interest from agents and publishers?

Does having more followers even equate with increased popularity?

I’m not sure any of this rings true. This could be an indication of my ignorance for all things Twitter related, and the importance of Twitter popularity for publishers. Maybe someone will put me in my place about it, and that’s ok.

I don’t have that many followers (95 at present) and I’m sure I am not that interesting that they all pay close attention to every post I make. I follow 146 Twitter accounts (most are writers, but some are publishers or magazines) and I know I don’t pay close attention to every one of their feeds. I just don’t have the time.

Perhaps the push for followers is a reflection of the need for external validation, a societal addiction to quantity over quality. It’s been ‘going around’ for a while now, the need to be publicly recognised. Perhaps all these writers pushing for more followers are literary influencers. Perhaps they believe if they have a thousand more followers they will influence which books are sold, which publishers are honoured, and which authors are followed. Perhaps by writing this, and questioning their motives, I have cut myself off from a well-spring of advertising and promotion.

Personally, I like to know who I’m following. I read their profile, read a selection of their tweets, and look at who they follow, before I follow them. There have been a couple of people who have followed me whom I have not followed back, because I did not think their interests aligned with mine, or I found something offensive in their posts. To me this is quality control, and I am mostly about the quality.

That said, once I publish my book, there’s a possibility I will become a popularity whore and pimp myself out on Twitter too! We all have a price, right?

A writer or a fraud?

I read advice once, on becoming a writer. I think it was in an interview with Matthew Reilly. He said – if you want be a writer, you need to call yourself a writer. On my way home from my last overseas trip (remember those, pre-corona?) I listed writer as my occupation on the immigration form. I called myself a writer, I thought. I’m a writer now. Right?

I keep looking for advice on how to become a writer. Many other writers say – to be a writer, you just have to write. So, I do. I write as much as I can muster, and the rest of the time I think about what I will write. Some days I write pages and pages. Some days it’s a few lines. Other days it’s edits and re-writes. And still other days it’s a desolate canyon with tumbleweeds lazily rolling past. I’m writing, I think. I’m a writer now. Right?

Still more advice promotes the need to learn the skill of writing. If you want be a writer, you need to perfect the craft of writing. I believe in the importance of honing my craft, and enrolled in (another) online writing course, this time with C.S.Lakin. It’s very good. I’m learning the craft, I think. I’m a writer now. Right?

Someone from my writing group said having a blog is a good way to raise awareness of your identity as a writer, and get your writing out into the world for others to read. So, I went on WordPress and created a blog – this blog. I make posts (though not as many as I should) and upload stories, flash fiction and poetry. I have sent my writing out into the world, I think. I’m a writer now. Right?

Just today I won a flash fiction completion through Writers Victoria, and received posts of congratulations from so many writers on Twitter. I won an actual writing competition, I thought. I’m a writer now. Right?

So why do I feel like a fraud?

Promoting Cecile Ravell

Please check out Cecile’s book on tainted love, of which has been published, from my collaborative website https://www.worldwriterscollective.com/cecile-ravell

‘Love on a Faultline’ takes you under the skin and into those intimate places where a woman’s vulnerability lies. It shows how her fragile sense of self-worth makes her a ‘sitting duck’ for a dominating man and how she eventually struggles to free herself. A manual for reflection and a testimony to resilience.’ Magz Morgan.

For more information: https://ravellc.wixsite.com/ravell-the-writer/more-info
Copies available at $25 plus postage, via email from website.

‘Dilemmas of a Middle-aged Madonna’ soon to be released, opens with:
‘Jessica Vale sat on the warm sand, her chin in her hands, and looked out at the pristine water. Her skin yearned for Jake’s touch. Tears welled as she watched the waves gently caress the shore, their alluring rhythm beckoned. How soothing it would be to rest forever in their comforting embrace, free of the unbearable pain that pierced her heart.’
https://ravellc.wixsite.com/ravell-the-writer/single-post/2018/02/05/Loves-dilemma

There are also many great authors to chat to and other stories to read: https://www.worldwriterscollective.com

I will be promoting a different writer from the World Writers Collective each week, as a plug to my fellow collective members, to promote our work, and provide entertainment and inspiration for everyone. Enjoy!

Dear World, are you dumping me?

Dear World,

Are you dumping me? It feels like you are pulling away from me. I feel isolated and alone. I’m confused, to quote the Handsome Furs. Did I do something wrong? Did I offend you? to quote Lauren Ruth Ward.

I know I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to you lately. You know how it is – work is full-on, I got bills to pay, to quote LunchMoney Lewis. I try. Remember when I took you to Bali for a week, and we stayed in that luxury villa with a private swimming pool? You did like the beach and The Warmth Of The Sun, to quote The Beach Boys.

I strive to make time for you, and only you. I made a Date Night, to quote J Tillman, just for us. You know the one, Earth Hour. You said it made you feel special, but I guess with you feelings don’t last, to quote Six Part Invention.

What do you want me to do now? I don’t want to just be somebody that you used to know, to quote Gotye.

I’ll keep my distance for a while, if that’s what you want. I’ll respect your desire for breathing space. I won’t grab your hand if I see you in public. I’ll keep my tears to myself as they flow like the ocean, to quote Clean Bandit.

Please World, please don’t leave me this way, to quote The Communards. Give me one more chance, to quote Jackson 5. I will always love you, to quote Dolly Parton.

Come on World, baby, boo. You know I love you, and I’ll make it up to you, to quote Imagine Dragons.

Just don’t talk to me about the environment, ok?

Love,

Humanity.

Jericho Writers Twitter competition

All right, here’s what I submitted.

For the first novel:

She cares for the wounded & dying. He’s suffering a mysterious illness. The war gave them opportunities outside their normal lives. Their friendship will give them solace they never anticipated.

A story of unexpected comradery during misfortune. Based on actual letters from WW1.

And for the second novel:

My heart is broken but the condom’s ok! An erotic & neurotic journey through a gay man’s life.

A corpus of funny & disturbing anecdotes on life as a gay man, from a teenager to fifty. A mocking array of relationships–infatuations, one-night stands & boyfriends. I dare you!

I think that’s pretty creative for 2.26am. Maybe I am a night-scriber. Now if I could only get my mind to stop thinking about this damn virus and GO TO SLEEP!

Day-writer? Or night-scriber?

I’ve figured out I’m more productive when I’m alone; now I’m figuring out if I write better during the day or at night. Why? I here you ask. Well, it’s 1.36am and I can’t sleep. So I did what many of us do in such a situation – I checked Twitter. Lo and behold, what do I find – a writing competition!

Jericho Writers has challenged authors to pitch their novel in one tweet by 5pm today (Thursday 26th March). I know I said I wouldn’t do any more competitions, but this is too much fun to ignore.

It’s micro-writing. Twitter allows 280 characters, including spaces, per tweet. So far in this blog post I have used double that allowance. You see the challenge in this? Delicious!

What am I going to promote? As it happens, I’ve been working on two novels for the past year.

The first novel is based on letters my great-grandmother received during world war one. The story is a fictionalized exploration of the friendship that develops between an English Red Cross volunteer in an army hospital in Oxford, and an Australian officer admitted to the hospital with a mysterious illness. In the story, their friendship helps her deal with suppressed emotions from her brother’s death earlier in the war; while it helps the soldier deal face the prospect of his death, and the stigma of being surrounded by soldiers injured in battle, whilst having no war injury himself. Their friendship is platonic, which adds another element to the story.

Hmmm, difficult to encapsulate in 280 characters – including spaces!

My other novel is bit more risqué. Ok, a lot more risqué. It’s a collection of inter-related short stories about my experiences as a gay man, from a teenager to my fifties. The stories examine the relationships I’ve had in my life, from infatuations to one-night stands to boyfriends. The working title of this novel is My heart is broken but the condom’s ok: An erotic and neurotic journey through a gay man’s life. That one should be easier to tweet about, as that’s a tweet right there!

Let’s hope writing this in the middle of the night sparks some extra creativity in me.

Production? or Procrastination?

As I previously stated, I find being alone to be more conducive to productivity. As I am currently in two weeks solitary confinement for the crime of traveling to Bali, I wondered if this would make me more productive? Or if I would slip into a stupor of procrastination, fueled by Netflix, books and chocolate?

Well, I’m halfway through my confinement and I have to say, so far so good. I had a couple of days where nothing could tear me away from binge watching an Icelandic crime drama on Netflix. But other than that, I have managed to balance Netflix, reading, and writing.

As of today, I have entered seven short story or flash fiction competitions in March. I have one more to complete to round it out to eight. These writing competitions run throughout the year, so here are their details if you are interested. These organisations/companies also offer editing and other services for writers. They are really good resources to keep for the when you need them, or join their mailing lists.

So, I’d have to say isolation suits me, creatively at least. I’m fairly happy with my output in both quality and quantity. I think for the second week of my confinement I’ll focus on my book(s) and give the short stories and competitions a rest. Let’s see if I can keep the momentum going without a deadline to meet!

Promoting Amanda Burchell

Please check out Amanda’s book on smoking with funny anecdotes, which has been published, from my collaborative website https://www.worldwriterscollective.com/amanda-burchell

I Like Everything Smoked by Amanda Burchell. Available by request, (please enquire via email). Languages: English. Published 26 – May – 2010.

Research on taxes from tobacco and comparisons with other pollutants were used amidst funny anecdotes and short stories and accompanied by photo/graphic- creations by Mike Cook.

http://www.worldwriterscollective.com

I will be promoting a different writer from the World Writers Collective each week, as a plug to my fellow collective members, to promote our work, and provide entertainment and inspiration for everyone. Enjoy!

Isolation Poesy

Alone, alas, alone is the call from above –
Travel from afar? Then for all the one’s you love
Stay indoors, you moron! Keep of the beach
And out of cafes and beyond an arm’s reach.
 
Is that your grandma, behind the safety-glass?
Celebrating her birthday all alone, alas!
Alone, like a country full of spinsters and
Bachelors, introverts and school bands.
 
My only relationship of any worth right now
Is with my Dove and water, as I faithfully plow
Through the CHM advice for best sanitation,
After every face touch and lonely masturbation.
 
Alone, alas, alone with no relief from Scruff
Or Grindr! Where can I find love, or enough
sex dates? Why seek a companion?
For years I’ve been alone, no ‘other’ to hang on,
 
No lover, no partner, no spouse, no ‘mate’,
Just sex with what’s-his-name (man, he was great!)
In a long line of what’s-his-names found online
Who cum to fill this empty, lonely soul of mine.
 
So alone, yes, alone is not that big a deal
When you’ve got solo experience to wield.
I can do this easily, I’m not worried - fuck it!
I have unlimited data and lube by the bucket!

More time to be productive!

After my previous post, where I concluded I was more productive when alone and the environment did not necessarily have any relevance, I find myself in another situation where I can put this theory to the test.

I returned yesterday from a week in Bali, to enter the two week self-isolation phase introduced by the Australian government for EVERYONE entering Australia from overseas. I now have an enforced further two weeks off work. To protect my housemate, I have come to our beach house in Inverloch for the two weeks. Beautiful environment indeed – as you can see by the photos I posted in February.

So, I am alone. Will I be as productive as I was in Bali? More productive? After all, in Bali I could go out to restaurants, shops, and bars. In my current situation I am forbidden from leaving the house. I’m allowed a night-time walk with no-one around. And, as Inverloch is pretty much deserted at the moment, I’m sure I could get to the beach for a walk (or swim – weather permitting!) without running into anyone, but basically I am house-bound.

We’ll see how this pans out, and I’ll keep you posted on my productivity levels over the next two weeks.

Does a beautiful environment promote productivity?

Over the last few weeks I’ve posted about the beautiful environments I’ve been in, and the hope that being ensconced in those surroundings would inspire me to write more and be more creative.

So, as I come to my last couple of days in Bali, has it panned out that way? Basically, yes. And no.

When I was in Inverloch, I was with my friend. Whilst he would never impinge on my request for writing time, I found it more difficult to focus on my writing with him around. We would talk, go to the beach together, walk the dog together, go to town together. It was more a social type of holiday.

Also, Inverloch was the first two weeks of my four weeks away from work. This meant there was some innate relaxing, decompressing, de-stressing, and unwinding that was desperately needed that did not lend itself to sitting still and writing. These needs were met through gardening, walking, going to the beach and doing odd jobs around the beach house.

The yes part comes is about my time in Bali. Here, I am alone. I still talk to people back home over the internet, and I have met great people here to hang out with, but there are no social expectations. I can go out alone for the day, sit in a beach-side cafe, and write to my hearts content. Which is exactly what I have been doing.

In the time in Bali I have completed some editing on my submission for the Limnisa Short Story Competition; completed a first draft on a travel article for Global Soup Travel Writing Competition; completed half of the first draft of my submission for The Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize ; and sketched the outlines to three more short stories for future development. All in the last 5 days. I’d say that was productive.

Thus my reflections on my productivity seem to show I work more and I am more creative when I am on my own. I guess I just can’t handle distractions!

Promoting Angelique Fawns

Please check out Angelique’s stories on my collaborative website “https://www.worldwriterscollective.com/angelique-fawns

Planet Nine by Angelique Fawns A Journal of Magical Realism Anthology by The Gateway Review: gatewayreview.wordpress.com The story is Planet Nine, actually written under her own name. It will be in the Fall/Winter LGBT issue. It is set in the same futuristic society as “Live Free or Die” and follows the adventures of an adulterous wife and her decision to move to another planet.

http://www.worldwriterscollective.com

I will be promoting a different writer from the World Writers Collective each week, as a plug to my fellow collective members, to promote our work, and provide entertainment and inspiration for everyone. Enjoy!

How’s this for an office?

Beautiful Bali. From relaxing in the pool with my book, to writing on the patio as a thunderstorm rages. Awesome!

I arrived yesterday (11/3), a brave solo traveller in these uncertain times of a world pandemic. So far there are no confirmed cases of the virus in Bali – fingers crossed this continues! It’s very quiet here due to the downturn in traveling across the world. The balinese people are very aware of the virus and advise me about all the precautions I should be taking (e.g. washing hands frequently), but there’s not a sense of panic. My flight from Australia was full, so obviously a lot of Australians agree.

I’ve managed to write for several hours so far, even though I’ve only been here for one day! Well done me! I’ve also managed to meet some locals, have a massage, and move villas (there was a stuff-up with my booking so I had to stay in a different villa for one night).

The environment here is amazingly conducive to work. And afternoon naps! We’ll see just how much I get done by the end of the trip.

Promoting Jacqueline Cripps

Please check out Jacqueline’s two books on transforming your life, which have been published, from my collaborative website, where there are also many great authors to chat to and other stories to read. //www.worldwriterscollective.com/jacqueline-cripps

Jacqueline Cripps | free-stories – Read Great Stories
Jacqueline holds degrees in Social Sciences and Psychology and has a genuine love of humanity. With a straight-talking style, Jacqueline teaches others how to empower themselves; by shifting the lens on life, owning issues and moving forward.

I will be promoting a different writer from the World Writers Collective each week, as a plug to my fellow collective members, to promote our work, and provide entertainment and inspiration for everyone. Enjoy!

Promoting Louise Crossley

Please check out Louise’s children’s stories, of which several have been published, from my collaborative website https://www.louisecrossley.com, there are also many great authors to chat to and other stories to read: https://www.worldwriterscollective.com

Great news!  Ella’s Handbag, Lollipop Whistle’s Woes and A Birthday Boy Named Jesus, already published in Oz, are contracted to an off shore publisher and will be translated, reprinted and published in Malta. 

I will be promoting a different writer from the World Writers Collective each week, as a plug to my fellow collective members, to promote our work, and provide entertainment and inspiration for everyone. Enjoy!

Inspiration vacation

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Here I am in beautiful Inverloch, in the south of Victoria (between Phillip Island and Wilson’s Promontory) for a two week vacation. I’m swimming as much as the weather permits, taking lots of walks, and trying to get my writing mojo flowing.

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It takes practice to balance being relaxed and being inspired. It’s easy to look at my surroundings and think ‘This is the perfect writing location – away from the hustle of the city and distractions of my every-day life’. It takes a little more effort to actually do the writing.

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So now I look at these beautiful pictures, and remember the day that gifted me these experiences, and turn that emotion inwards to fuel the creativity needed to produce a story. That, and having a ‘to do’ list to keep me on track 🙂

Promoting Peter Wigg

Please check out Peter’s short stories, of which some have been published, from my collaborative website “https://peterstales.home.blog“, there are also many great authors to chat to and other stories to read:  https://www.worldwriterscollective.com

‘I established this blog in order to publish the many short, pithy stories I have written,’ Peter says. ‘These vary greatly in length and subject matter. Some have been published elsewhere, in magazines and anthologies. Some have been short listed for prizes. Most have not previously been available. Scroll down and you will find thirty stories posted so far. I have also posted a non-fiction account of my time working as a psychiatrist in Iraq in 2009

I will be promoting a different writer from the World Writers Collective each week, as a plug to my fellow collective members, to promote our work, and provide entertainment and inspiration for everyone. Enjoy!