Monday, February 6, 2012

Operation Democrat

A warning in advance: this blog post is written about politics, late at night, in a tone and purpose that wasn't effectively conveyed in my writing (this article serves as a place to explore ideas from an inquisitive perspective, not an expert one). Take everything written here with a grain of salt, and don't hang me if you don't like what's written here :P.

For those who don't know, I am a registered member of the Australian Democrats. After a brief flirtation with the Greens (and then learning what they're really like post-2010 Federal election), I found myself in somewhat of a political vacuum. After showing some interest in Katter's Australian Party (and yes, that was a potentially fatal mistake), I settled with the Democrats due to their strong social justice platform and practical (as opposed to the Greens' idealistic) grounding in policy.

Last weekend was the Australian Democrats' National Conference - the first in quite a few years. Whilst unfortunately I wasn't able to either attend nor follow it (the conference fell in the middle of nearly two weeks without internet due to a phone line in need of replacing), I have been keen on getting my hands on what went on at that conference. I am a very politically minded individual, and am very interested in what the Democrats are doing to get back in the game.

The first such piece of information coming from the Conference was Darren Churchill's (the Democrats National President's) keynote speech. It set the scene for the next 18 months to come, where the Democrats will replenish their armory and prepare themselves for war come the 2013 election. Whilst the speech in itself seems to serve only as the first bite of a ten course banquet, as a run-of-the-mill member it has provided me with a lot of food for thought. I want the Democrats to return to the political stage, and badly.

Which has led me to this blog post. There are a lot of questions that were asked and a lot of ideas thrown in the air during Churchill's speech, all of which add up to a tapestry of Democrat ideals, strategies and structure woven into a clear vision for all to behold. It is a lot for a person to wrap their head around, especially when most things are still shifting for the party. For me, trying to sort everything out in my head has proven thus far as useful as trying to find a second edge on a Mobius strip. Therefore, I'm going to put my thoughts down on here. If one of my politically minded friends/acquaintances/etc. wants to help unravel things or start debating ideas, at least I won't have to explain everything to them first.

I'll be exploring ideas in a Q&A format, as that I feel is how to best approach the threads that I have in my metaphorical little hand.

Who am I and what experience will contribute to how I view this information?
I'm a 22 year old Brisbanite. I'm a writer (which forms a significant part of my personal identity), trained teacher (for all intents and purposes), and hobby programmer (albeit a very mediocre one). I'm also the Coverage and Website Content Director for an independent hobby gaming website.

How will I be looking at Darren Churchill's speech?
As a registered member of the Australian Democrats, my biggest concern is how to reverse the image of stagnation within the party. I want to see clear direction from the leadership on the restoration of the party, and a plan on tackling the Big Three.

As a writer, I will be considering in particular how communication plays into the questions and ideas raised in the speech. This is crucial for the Democrats, as they will never get anywhere without being able to effectively develop a network of communication between the party, the public, and the organisations that have the resources and expertise needed to drive policy.

Where do I stand politically?
I've always considered myself as sitting somewhere between the centre and centre-left. I am overwhelmingly socially progressive, and believe in a mixed economy with government ownership of essential services economically. I believe in practicality over ideals when considering the policies of political parties, and prefer a measured approach when considering policies that have a large impact.

Who are the Australian Democrats to me?
The Australian Democrats to me are the People's Party. They have always sat as the attempted balancing force in politics, and most (if not all) of their policies are influenced by social justice and equality. The Democrats represent the only bastion of sanity in the current political landscape, and the challenge put to them is to make themselves relevant to the broader Australian public.


How do I feel about Darren Churchill's speech overall?
Churchill's speech came across as very uncertain. On one hand, he managed to carry the clear message that the Democrats find strength in Don Chipp very well. In a way, it feels like it is the 70s-era Democrats that the leadership seem to wish to return to (and I am in no way certain this is the case).

However, the myriad of questions asked add up to a picture that likens the Democrats to a blank canvas. Despite having a strong platform of social justice, the Democrats seem to have lost all sense of identity (even though they haven't lost their identity) in the years since they left the political landscape. This uncertainty makes me feel less confident about the Democrats (despite my desire for the Democrats to once again become a political force).

What are the Democrats' strengths?
The Democrats by and large remain an independent party - they have no vested interests influencing policy. The ability to develop policy on merit alone is the strongest drawcard the Democrats currently have. The ideal of intensively engaging with the broader community can also be a strength if it is developed correctly.

How does social media play into what the Democrats want to achieve?
With political memberships having declined constantly for who knows how long, online communication becomes a key tool in lieu of face-to-face communication for querying the public, providing visibility to the public, and engaging the public in the course of developing superior policy. Ease of access is a big thing towards engaging the wider community, and social media is one area that no major party has taken advantage of thus far (mostly because they're too old).

How to go about developing funding for the Democrats?
As a writer, what concerned me the most about this point in the speech was that it implies that the door to being influenced by donors is thrown wide open. Whilst donations of course are a wonderful thing to have, attempting to solicit them more or less blindly (even from donors who agree with the policies of the Democrats) is a recipe for disaster.

The more prudent course of action here would be to develop a network of communication between the Democrats and the mentioned groups that agree with what the Democrats stand for. With that, the Democrats potentially gain additional voices in the community, as well as potentially the expertise of donors that can be used to strengthen policy. Once those bonds have been developed, the chances of stable funding will be much higher (it is far easier to say 'no' to someone you don't know than to someone you do).

And to follow on to that point...

How can the Democrats re-engage with the public?
This will touch on the previous couple of questions. Social media is possibly the strongest method of networking a support base, whilst engaging both the member base and the broader community. In terms of funding, something as simple as a Bunnings bbq (although it wouldn't be a great source of funding) would give the Democrats an opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the public. It wouldn't even need to be a pitch about policy - just getting people familiar with what the Democrats stand for (sans rhetoric sil vous plait) can be enough to engage some members of the community if structured correctly.

One other method of engaging with the public involves taking advantage of online platforms to collaborate with the public when developing policy. This has the added bonus of potentially drawing in people with expertise in areas the Democrats are currently developing policy in, which in turn would improve the quality of Democrat policies greatly.

How do the Democrats sell themselves to the public?
Do not say that Australia needs the Democrats.

Now for the better answer (although the above answer is also correct):

I strongly disagree with Lyn Allison's assertion (which was mentioned somewhere on the Twitterverse if memory serves me right) that the party should campaign on one platform (in particular, climate change). There is no one platform the Democrats have strong enough to appeal to a broad voter base. Climate change would be a disaster because it paints the Democrats as similar to the Greens, and painting the Democrats as a balancing force in parliament would not be prudent for the same reason.

I think the best course of action here would be to emphasise the Democrats' sense of social justice and promote it in policy. This gives the Democrats an image of being the People's Party (which it seems very much to be), but gives it the flexibility to appeal to a broad audience through its strength in policy.

How do the Democrats convey the messages they need to convey?

The solution to this is similar to effective writing and successful teaching. It would be some combination of:

  • Engaging the audience. This may be as simple as being visible to the wider community, but could very well require a lot more.
  • Clear, concise, and direct communication. Whilst publishing policy is great for the politically minded, the political climate in recent years has been such that people have negative feelings about politics. To succeed in reaching them, it is important to be able to convey a simple message that they can digest. Then, if they wish to explore the message further the Democrats can provide them with increasing levels of information.
  • Take advantage of online media. I've mentioned this in an answer to a previous question, but social networking sites and online forums are but two ways to easily engage with the public. The key is to offer an open door without forcing things on the audience.
There's probably more, but it's getting late and I'm less lucid than I was when I started this blog post :P.

Who should speak for the Democrats?
Overwhelmingly, there needs to be an active and visible leadership - both at state and federal level.

Whilst the party has an Executive working hard at bringing the Democrats back into political relevance, it isn't visible to the general public. Even as a member today I have difficulty understanding the party structure. A strong, charismatic leader would do wonders for the Democrats (Jack Layton took the New Democrats in Canada from minor party to Official Opposition in last year's election).

A visible leader would be able to act as a voice for the democrats, provide an image of leadership and act as a rallying point for people who agree with what the Democrats stand for.

How should the Democrats structure their website to make the best use out of online media?
This an issue that can be viewed from many angles. As a member, I want to see the Democrats page as an active example of what the Democrats stand for - actively campaigning on issues important to the Democrats, engaging the community on a range of topics, and mobilizing the member base to work collectively towards preparing the Democrats for re-entry into parliament.

Offhand (again, it's late :P), there are a few ideas to contribute towards this however:

  • Online forums would be an excellent tool for integrating the member base into the development of the Democrats. It would also serve as an excellent platform to debate and develop online policy (coordinated by working groups I would assume)
  • A section dedicated to Keeping the Bastards Honest would both provide resonance within the community, and give the Democrats more information about the major parties to work with. It would require some investment in manpower however.
  • Online polling is more of a minor point, but would help increase the level of involvement from the member base through ease of access.
What strategies should the Democrats follow on the path to re-entering parliament and Australian politics?
This is the big one, and depends entirely on what the Executive wants the Democrats to be. Focusing solely on where the Democrats would potentially sit in the political landscape, it is reasonable to assume the following:

1. The Democrats cannot aim to become a 'balance of power'.
With the Greens replacing the Democrats in parliament on this front, trying to campaign on this or aim for this is not going to be effective no matter how strong individual policies are. Whilst being a balance of power will of course be a great boon to the Democrats and to Australia as a whole, being painted into this position will cause the Democrats to be seen as 'another Greens party'. Thus, their appeal becomes narrowed significantly. Which leads me to the next point:

2. The Democrats need to act like a party ready to assume Government.
If the Democrats cannot aim for the balance of power, they need to aim for the whole hog. This includes comprehensive policies on all issues relevant to the operation of this country, not just the ones nobody else will touch. A press conference to announce a party leader and a return to politics, press releases in response to government and opposition announcements, a visible pool of representatives that want to be elected to represent their fellow man.

If the Democrats act like a major party, eventually the media and wider public will see them as a major party - and thus will be more willing to consider them as people who want to vote for. If I recall correctly, the Democrats always suffered from a very narrow base in support. Broadening this will be a huge boon, which leads to:

3. The Democrats need to tackle policies in all areas
I depart strongly from Churchill's speech where he believes that major policy areas should only be developed once a broader member base and talent pool is resourced. The problem with that is without those policies the Democrats have very little political substance - they can easily be seen as nothing more than an activist party and thus be grouped by the public into the same camp as the Greens. 

The better strategy in this respect is to carve into broad appeal by developing policy in major areas to gain visibility (education, economy, employment, immigration), whilst continuing to branch out and fight the issues that no other party touches. With enough of these issues, the Democrats can draw in enough minority groups to develop a unique member base from which it can begin to attack the considered 'mainstream' community.


Looking back on this information, it seems that what the Democrats need above all else is clear party leadership and clear paths to contributing to the building of the Democrats machine. The passion is there, the political opportunity is there, the dedication is there. All it takes now is the ability to organise the resources and information available to the Democrats.

What will I do with this information? I want to see what the rest of the National Conference has brought with it. When I have a clearer picture of the direction the Democrats will be taking, I'll figure out how best to help the Democrats succeed (which is something I very much want to do).

In hindsight, I have probably been a lot less coherent than I would like to be. No doubt I will get grilled on this by one of my writer and/or politico friends ;).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Yes yes, it's a blog post about politics. Those of you who know me well enough should know well enough that this topic would come up eventually.

For those who don't know me well enough, I'm a very politically minded individual. I enjoy paying attention to how my homeland of Australia is being run, as well as nutting out how different people think. It's like a game of poker in some ways, although the stakes are much higher.

With the Republican primaries heating up, I feel now is a good time to bring up the state of Australian politics as I see them. Due to a combination of factors, politics here is degenerating. Given enough time, eventually our political system will become that of the US - dirty politics defined by misinformation, a public that generally doesn't care, and personal gain placed above the desires of the people you represent. Part of the problem is that Australians don't simply care enough about politics anymore. They take whatever is fed to them by the media at face value, and often don't have the initiative to research more about facts and issues to inform their opinions. Granted, there are some people out there who are genuinely engaged with politics, but people are by and large disillusioned with it.

The parties themselves are also to blame to a degree. None of our major political parties currently have demonstrated what is really needed to run the country.

Labor has managed some very good legislation whilst in government - the NBN, National Disability Insurance Scheme, and the carbon pricing scheme to name a few. It has a good Cabinet team, and the negotiating ability to ensure its legislation passes. However, it also has some serious flaws in its governance. Arguably the biggest is Julia Gillard's lack of a backbone in standing up for what she believes in. While she is excellent in navigating turbulent political waters, she has also sacrificed what she believes in for the sake of her party. She effectively has nothing going for her that makes her stand out from any other Labor politician. Part of the side effect of this is that Labor has been dragged further towards the centre (some would argue the centre-right).

In addition to Gillard's lack of backbone, the party is paralysed by factionism. You can argue all day long about how you have to play politics, but there is neither the drive nor the ability of the party to reinvest power in the party body. At present, the party is dominated by two major factions - the Labor Left and the Labor Right. Most unions belong to either of these two factions, and with it the union bosses gain an incredible amount of power within the party. This has led to policy being pushed by the unions rather than the politicians, and issues such as the mining tax have been watered down far more than they should be because Labor has been forced to kowtow to the minority.

The third issue is the need for Labor to follow the lead of the Opposition when it comes to public scrutiny. Gillard is not a big personality, so she needs to be able to sell her messages to the public on intelligence, good common sense and trust. Depending on who you talk to, Gillard can have all three or none of these - and this is why Labor has struggled so hard to even make a positive outcome out of their best policies. Their greatest mistake was to follow the Opposition Leader's lead in political issues he was trying to push, and Labor was drawn into a game they should never have tried to play.

On the other hand, the Liberal party have had incredible success as the Opposition, and in no doubt due to Tony Abbott's efforts. Tony Abbott has done a spectacular job in demolishing the Government's standing and whipping up dissent.

However, the only reason the Liberals are in this position at all is because of their leader. Tony Abbott is a man who has demonstrated nothing other than the desire to gain the top job for himself. He has used rhetoric, false information and a vehemently bitter tone to talk negative about almost anything going on politically. He is a pathological liar, but one who has shown he can capitalize on the government's own mishaps.

However, without Tony Abbott the Liberals would have very little to work with. There is no alternative leader - you could rattle off Julie Bishop, Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull as possibilities, but none of them have the ability to command the respect and leadership of the Liberal party. They have no policies to work with, and have no ability to present themselves as an alternate government. Since Tony Abbott came to power, they have been forced onto an overtly negative path, and even if Abbott were to be toppled they would not be able to change tact.

The Greens have only just started to pick up prominence as part of the outcome of the 2010 election. Arguably, they represent the entire left of the political spectrum in politics. Their clear message about the environment is one that can resonate with voters and mark clear political territory, whilst their left-wing position last election was able to pull in voters disillusioned with the other major parties.

However, the Greens are idealistic to a fault. Whilst what they believe in is noble, often they don't take into account collateral issues when arguing for certain things. With issues such as Tibet, the Greens have neither the tact nor negotiating ability to raise such an issue with the Chinese without causing a serious breakdown in relations. Australia has neither the political nor the military muscle to cause the Chinese to change their position on this, and attempting to do this would not achieve anything other than raising the potential for China to take military action on Australia should there be an act of war or anything similar. Also, the economic consequences of a breakdown in relations would be a significant impact on the Australian economy.

If the Greens could temper their ideals with practicality, then they would appeal to a far broader audience. However, the line they've drawn in the sand makes them a dangerous force in Australian politics for all the wrong reasons.

For any Australian voter, where do you go? Logically if you had to vote in an election tomorrow there is no reasonable excuse not to vote Labor, but a person's ideals could pull them in any number of directions to render that conclusion moot. To choose between a party of no ideals, a party of no vision and a party of no practicality is quite depressing.

I'm a registered Australian Democrat. After a long period of trying to find a party that I agreed with, I found a home with a party focused on social justice whilst avoiding the lack of practicality that the Greens have stumbled into. Granted, the party is a mere shadow of its former self and requires a lot of work to get back off the ground (I could easily point out what needs to change on the surface to make them seem marketable to the public). I am also saddened I won't be able to attend the National Conference at the end of the month barring an act of God, but I'm happy in doing what I can to help out.

But without a worthwhile major party, what balancing force do you have to prevent the see-saw from falling over?

Saturday, December 10, 2011


As I'm writing this, I am making a mad attempt to begin my next manuscript.

I am stumped after twelve words.

For any writing that isn't in the same vein as Catcher in the Rye, trying to structure it is about as challenging as trying to climb a wall without any hands. I know what I want to say in my head, but the difficulty comes in trying to convert my thoughts to words on paper. It's not something that's new to me - whenever I've had to do writing for school, uni or other things it usually takes me a while to kick into gear and get what I want to write down.

I have tried different things in an attempt to get me to write - summarise what I want to write down, jumping around to different scenes and chapters and trying to write them first, leave it for a while and come back to it later - but there are still times (like now) where it feels like I've hit a brick wall.

I'll still try and get something down on paper today, if only so I have something to work with, but it does feel like a royal pain when you've hit a block on the first scene.

For everyone out there in writing land, how do you get through writers' block?

In the meantime, I'm going to have some lunch. My lovely Municipal Liaison just got served hers and the smell is too tempting to pass up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Requiem for a Broken Dream

Whilst I didn't finish my NaNoWriMo novel this year, people were rather interested in my writing. Thus, I have decided to acquiesce to requests that I provide samples of my writing for all to enjoy (or vomit over). Some of the excerpts are examples of absolutely godawful writing, whilst others aren't so bad. Keep in mind that I was using November to reacquaint myself with my writing style, so take things with a grain of salt and you shan't be disappointed :).

(also, keep in mind that this is only a draft, and has not been reviewed or edited. You have been warned)


I spent the rest of the afternoon sprawled out on the lounge in my boxes drawing various people. Some people have strange obsessions with porn, dolls, and/or staring at people on the street untilt he become uncomfortable and ask you if you need help with anything. My obsession is with drawing people. Sometimes they're people I've seen previously on the street, while at other times they are whatever comes into my mind.The person on my paper was one of the latter. It was a woman wearing a blood-red evening gown, sans sleeves. I let it flow to her ankles, but left her barefoot. she wore a couple of large black bangles on her wrists, and her nails were the same shade as her dress.

Moving towards the top of the page, an oval face was set on top of an elegant, swanlike neck. Her eyes were a blue so pale it was almost grey, and her hair was a spill of auburn curls.

Once I had finished the drawing, I sat up and looked at it for a while. Although she was only someone from my mind, there was something about her that bore an uncanny resemblance to the girl in my dreams. Her wide eyes seemed tormented, like a lost soul wandering the darkness of a mind not quite unlike my own. Her feet were bare like the girl's too, although I have no idea why I didn't draw her with shoes. With a jacket and some high heels maybe, she could've passed for an actress or a high-class call girl. However, the way I had actually drawn her suggested a mix of fragility and power that I had never seen in anybody before.

It perplexed me - normally when I draw people I take great pleasure in finding their greatest characteristics and twisting them to the point where their selves were far darker than they actually seemed to be. Even the people in my mind often came out like a Tim Burton-esque transformation into darker, more sadistic individuals.

I put my book down and went to make myself a cup of coffee. I needed a break from where I was going.
After a coffee, I came back to the book and started drawing more people. Successful businessmen, children playing at a park, prostitutes...all took on the same tormented visage that seemed to silently scream something at me. It was as though I was in a dream, and the people in my book were parading in front of me.
I closed my eyes.

"Isn't it a bit early for you to be sleeping?"

I opened my eyes again, and as sure as night follows day I was back in the room with the girl. There was no furniture this time, and the walls were completely bare.

The girl giggled. "I see you're a bit lost."

Lost was the understatement of the century. I felt like I had been wrenched from one nightmare and thrown into another. My throat felt like I was drowning in milk, and I was shaking all over.

"I see."

The girl walked over to one of the walls and stared at it. "You seem to hate people. Why?" I didn't respond. The girl walked over to me and stared up at me. She seemed a lot shorter than I remembered her to be. "Do you hate me?" I shook my head.

She stared at me for a while then, as though I was a subject at the zoo to be studied. I grew uncomfortable at her staring at me, but I felt like I couldn't move.

Eventually, she took a step back from me. "Why are you dead?"

I was perplexed. "I'm not dead though."

She smiled and turned back to the wall. "You should wake up. You haven't eaten dinner yet." With that, she walked through the wall and disappeared. It looked strange seeing her walk through the wall. You would expect to see her fade into the wall like a ghost, melt into it, have it shimmer like water - you know, what you see in the movies. However, it was completely different to that. It was like an optical illusion where someone was walking into a closed door, but walked through as though it was open.

I blinked, and I was back on the lonuge.

Once chicken salad later, and I was sitting on the lounge staring at the TV like a mindless zombie. While looking at the people on the screen, I tried to picture them as though I had drawn them in my book, but every single one of them took on that same tormented look that the characters drew earlier. I don't know why they were all looking like it.

At one point, someone on the TV said, "I am a destroyer of dreams and harbinger of souls." That sounded so much like me at that moment in time, I shivered.


Thank god for weekends.I awoke feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck. After taking a shower and padding naked into the lounge room, I flicked on the TV and decided to watch some cartoons (I have the maturity of a hormonal teenage girl if you haven't figured that out by now).

After consuming a healthy breakfast of fried spam, poached eggs and bacon, I slipped on a pair of shorts and a nondescript t-shirt and gave Drake a call. I decided that Barbara was right and I should try to be more supportive of him.

It took a few rings for Drake to pick up the phone. He sounded slightly groggy. "Hello?"

"It's me, Reid."

"Reid? Why the fuck have you gotta wake me up at this hour man?"

"I wanted to talk. Are you free?"

There was a muffled argument on the phone. Clearly Drake wasn't being exactly responsible with his newfound medical knowledge.

"Not today. Can we talk tonight?"

I was the slightest bit pissed off at that. Even though I knew what Barb said yesterday rang true as a church bell, it was still difficult to deal with someone like Drake. "Sure. Where do you want to go?"

"The Velvet Lounge?"

I groaned loudly into the phone. Drake laughed. "So is that a yes?"

I sighed. "Fine. I'll see you when you decide to get your whore ass in there."

Drake laughed. "Sure thing."

After hanging up, I headed into the bedroom and turned on my computer. It had been a while since I'd been on last, and like most women if you didn't engage with them regularly you tend to get lost in the wave of things said and done quite quickly.

A quick look at Facebook confirmed this. There were that many updates from people that even scrolling through it looked like it would take at least an hour to get through everything. Instead, I made a quick status update of 'Still alive. Glad to see everyone loves me' and turned my computer off.

I spent the rest of the day being a good little housewife and cleaning up the place. Among my notable achievements was rescuing the Kingdom of Stacked Plates from the furry green monsters invading their land, and making my way through Clothes Country to the Land of Clean Floors.

By mid-afternoon I was feeling a little sleepy, and clearly didn't want to go tonight. However, if I'm nothing else I'm a stubborn little son of a bitch, and having committed to tonight I wasn't about to back out. I ended up taking a shower and popping a couple of caffeine pills in an attempt to get myself through the night without passing out (which would be a Very Bad Thing™).

Padding my way naked to the wardrobe, I mulled over what to wear for the night. I wanted to dress stylish enough so I didn't feel even less confident about myself than I normally did, but didn't want to stand out like a lamb in a flock of hungry wolves. It was one of those first world problems that really shouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that peoples' self-consciousness can grow to the point where it consumes you over the most trivial of issues.

Eventually deciding on a set of skinny black jeans, black shirt and blue flanelette shirt (left open), I looked at myself in the mirror. My hair was a tumbled mess of black, and the beard was at the point where it looked feral. The bags under my eyes weren't quite so bad today, but I still looked like I had better days.
After a quick shave so I looked at least somewhat presentable, I made my way on the train into the city and the ominously-named Velvet Lounge.

It had been a good long while since I last walked into that place, and now I remembered why. After greeting the bouncer on the way in (who was a huge Samoan guy that I hadn't seen before), I was hit with a wave of sweaty, barely clothed bodies mixed with alcohol and heat. Seriously, didn't the owner think about adding a bit of air conditioning into the place?

Well, considering I know the owner quite well, I already knew the answer to that.

Whilst there weren't a lot of heads that turned my direction when I first entered, the ones that did made me feel like fresh meat being eyed up by a hungry animal. The room was cavernous, which added to the feeling of being trapped in a cage with a horde of hungry lions.

I made my way past the table exhibit, which marched off either side of me along the walls like a row of cats hunting in the shadows. In the middle of the club, past the free-ranging predators on the dance floor, stood the feeding booth for the animals. Serving radioactive coloured drinks to the punters was a girl in a short red dress carrying a riding crop for her circus of underwear-wearing animals.

She wasn't paying attention to me as I made my way up to the bar. Taking a quick glance along the side I could see, I didn't recognise any of the scantily clad, crotch stuffed (although one guy certainly didn't need it) men pulling drinks behind the bar. After pulling a drink for some thirsty gazelle that was all glitter and no pants, she made her way across to the opposite corner of the bar, straight past me.

I put on my most innocent smile (which looked like a fifteen year old who was about to tell a guy she screwed that she was underage and about to call the police), turned to her, and said "Vagina not very moist tonight?"
She turned, face as red as the fire she looked about to breathe on the disgusting individual who said that. When she saw my face though, you could see the fire becoming harmless.

"Only because cunts like you aren't worth my time."

She grinned then, like the evil little bitch she was. An evil little bitch that I loved like a dysfunctional wife in a bearded relationship, but an evil little bitch nonetheless.

I jumped over the counter and gave her a hug. "Where the fuck have you been Reid? I haven't seen you in months" she said in the middle of crushing my ribcage.

Rachael was The Velvet Lounge's owner. With long brown hair, brown eyes and a slender build, she often didn't stand out in a crowd unless she was wearing one of her incredibly tacky bright dresses and skirts. She was one of those people who you'd say hi to on the street and then forget five minutes later even if you walked straight past her again.

For those in here though, you knew who she was. Moreso, you respected her.

Case in point: After I hugged her, one of the scantily clad barmen (whose stuffed crotch looked like he had three testicles) tapped Rachael on the shoulder and whispered something into her ear. I followed Rachael's eyes across to the dancefloor, where a couple of guys had graduated from 'bump and grind' to 'slip and slide'. The top hadn't done a bad job of hiding what he was doing - the jeans were still up arond his waist, belt buckled, and was making it look like he was dancing with the guy. The little guy however, gave it away like a poorly shot infomercial. His shorts were around his waist (even though he managed to keep his crotch covered), his belt unbuckled, and panting like a dog in a desert. If he shoved his ass any further into the guy behind him, it's likely it would disappear into some strange other dimension.

If you were the owner of a nightclub and saw this happening, would you:
A. Walk up to them and threaten to boot them out of the club if they don't immediately stop.
B. Call over security and have them escort them to the fuck room out back.
C. Grab your giant purple dildo, storm over there and beat the living daylights in them until they got the message.

For those that said A, we cannot be friends. While it is a professionally correct option, clearly you are too much of a drag.

For those that said B, we could be friends, but it is not the most correct option. I'll give you half a mark if you chose this, and an additional quarter mark if you decided to follow them out back like a Peeping Tom on viagra.

However, for the mistress of The Velvet Lounge, nothing sends a loud, clear message like an eighteen inch neon purple dildo of death. Reaching under the bar for the sex toy aptly named Cassanova, she leapt over the bar, stormed over to the fornicating couple on the dance floor, and proceeded to belt them over the head. For those who haven't been whacked over the head with eighteen inches of gel, it hurts .

After getting their attention and pointing to the door, Rachael came back over this side of the bar.

"I see Cass is still getting plenty of mileage in the Lounge" I said, grinning.

Rachael nodded. "When you get fags hot, sweaty and full of alochol, sooner or later somebody is going to make things hang out."

"Is Drake around at all?" I asked.

"Yeah, he's upstairs, why do you ask?" She responded, with an ever so slight quizzical look on her face. By 'ever so slight' I mean 'looks like a duck trying to solve the Da Vinci Code'. Rachael was very abrupt and straight to the point usually - and didn't tolerate any beating around the bush.

"Has he told you anything recently?" I tried to tread lightly around the situation, even though Drake had been a dick to me. It wasn't my place to disclose his status, and I knew that if Rachael felt I was hiding something that she would jump on me like Kirstie Alley on a Christmas turkey.

Rachael looked at me intensely. "No, he hasn't said a word. What should he have told me?"

I was cornered. When Rachael wants something, heaven have mercy on the poor soul she will inevitably mow down on the way to getting it. There was a reason The Velvet Lounge had remained open long after all the other gay spots had migrated to a strip further away from the centre of the city.

"Honestly, you need to talk to him about this one. I'm not trying to back away from this, but it's not my place to say."

Rachael smirked.

Fuck. I blew it.

Rachael tilted her head in the direction of the spiral staircase that wrapped itself around the centre of the bar like an Egyptian pole dancer.

"He's up in the VIP area. He had a real dopey look on his face when he came in, but I left him alone. Now that I've talked to you though, I'll make sure to grill him when you leave."

I rolled my eyes. "Thanks Rach, you're my best friend" I said dryly.


I thought about it for a while, even though I didn't like it. He did have a point though - if there was a guarantee I was going to die I should be preparing the will, putting money aside for the funeral, things like that.

"You know, I should" I said (at least, insofar as I hadn't had enough time to formulate an appropriate response as to why I shouldn't), "However, I'm simply content to float on the sea that is life until the currents decide they want to pull me under."

He seemed to enjoy the awkwardly philosophical answer. I have to admit I felt like a Confucian fraud in formulating a response like that. He seemed to be pleased by it though. "Dude, it's awesome that you're not caring about dying! It's like, you're a totally free spirit or something."

"I'm about as free as I want to be. I don't take crap from people, and I make sure I'm always doing what I want to do."

He eyed up what I was wearing then. Admittedly, what I was wearing was more appealing than his faded brown cargo pants and black band t-shirt (it was so faded that I couldn't exactly identify which one it was). "Is that why you're wearing that?" he asked.

"Yeah. I felt like looking good today, so i decided to wear a suit to work."

"So why the white dude?" He asked. "Looks like you're going to a wedding or a funeral or something, not to a freakin' job."

"Because I felt like it. I don't see the point of conforming to society's expectations." I responded. It was bullshit, but he seemed to appreciate it. He nodded knowingly, like a philosophy lecturer to a crop of pigheaded students. "You're right dude" he responded, "Nobody should have to conform to The Man. He's up there you know, watching all of us." He pointed to the roof, but I'm guessing he meant up in the sky. "They got sattelites you know. America, China, Russia, they all got ways of watching all of us. Every time you pick your nose, bump into someone on the street, jerk off on the beach, they're always watching!"

I wasn't exactly certain that people masturbated on the beach, but it really wasn't something I wanted to to think about.

"I think the government has more interesting things to do than be a voyeur for the goings-on of random people walking down the street. Because, y'know, they have other countries to spy on."

"Good point." He said. "I suppose we're insignificant in the greater scheme of things, right dude?"

"I suppose it depends on how you define 'insigificant'." I felt like an imposter talking philosophy, and I was half-expecting someone to snort in disgust at me as though I was an arrogant dick. "Are you insigificant in the eyes of a greater power, or insignificant in the eyes of the people you interact with? In that case, are you living your life with purpose, or are you living life for the sake of being alive?"

He toyed with his hands then, as though he was expecting to see a ring on his finger. He started muttering to himself then, and as much as I tried I couldn't make out anything he was saying. I looked up to one of the men travelling to work sitting across to me, and he shook his head in dismay, as though he was sorry for having to put up with the creature sitting next to me. Strangely enough though, LSD junkie did remind me a little of Gollumn from Lord of the Rings .

He looked up abruptly, as though he was slapped awake after falling asleep in some woman's breasts. "Sorry dude, they were talking to me."

"They?" I hadn't the slightest clue as to who 'they' are.

"The midichlorians. The freakin' force dude."

I can't believe what I was hearing. Here I thought the acid had given him some sort of sagely powers, and now he had to go and change topic to fucking Star Wars. I was not impressed.

"Don't worry about me dude. I know I'm hearing things." I can't believe he was lucid enough to actually understand that. I'm not so sure he was actually on LSD anymore. "It's just nice to know that you've got someone to talk to y'know? Like you dude. You've sat here and talked to me, and that's a good thing. I love you man."

I decided to be nice and smile. When I didn't say anything, he continued, "The midichlorians, they've been with me for as long as I can remember." I decided not to interject by correcting him in that they had only been with him for as long as he has been taking drugs. "They help me dude. They help guide me the right way in life. They won't make me a jedi, but that's okay. I love them dude, and they love me."

He was really big on the love stuff.

"What matters dude is that I've got someone to talk to. You can't go through life like a loner, y'know?"

I nodded. "You can't. I'm glad for the people I have in my life, even those who drive me absolutely insane."

That was mostly true. I was still quite happy to show up to work this morning and discover Jerry resigned, and I still wouldn't mind slapping the ever-present smirk off Carol's face, but most people I was happy to have. Even if they drove me insane. Pricks.

The train began to rumble to a stop then. The guy stood up, took a pill out of one of his pants pockets, and shoved his hand down the pack of his pants. Just before he got off the train, he looked at me and said, "Dude, next time you take drugs, take them as a suppository. Works way better than if you swallow them." He got off the train them.

I leaned back and made the most of the piece that was the remainder of my train trip. I hope the rest of work is as interesting as this train trip has been.


After getting out of the shower, I padded barefoot and naked into my bedroom and checked the clock.

9:30am. I was supposed to be at work half an hour ago.

Fuck me. I can't seem to get a break lately.

Sighing, I doggedly covered myself with a pair of faded jeans and a tight black t-shirt. If I was going to have to go into work today, I might as well piss off Jerry by attempting to look professional.

I decided to take the bus in today to drag it out a little longer. If I was going to be late, I might as well be really late. There was a good chance I was going to end up fired in any case considering I hadn't turned up to work the previous two days, so it wasn't like Jerry didn't have a good excuse to.

The trip into the city wasn't a half-bad sightseeing expedition, mostly because the suburbs had changed significantly since I had last visited them. A lot of places were run-down, especially the suburban commercial and industrial districts. What were once family-owned manufacturing businesses were replaced with dilapadated buildings, and the houses had the signature living room on the front verandah that signified housing commission specials.

At one of the stops, some woman garbed in fine-cut clothes got on the bus and sat across from me. You know those clothes that look like they were custom-cut from the catwalks of Milan? One of those types.

Immediately upon sitting down, she wrinkled her nose. "Have you had a shower this morning?"

Not a good way to kick off a conversation.

"No, I haven't" I said. I had, but if this bitch I had never met before was wanting to give me shit from the outset, then I was going to give her shit for it.

She snorted at my response. I had a feeling this was going to be a particularly enjoyable conversation.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Scribblings #1


At least, I think that's what her name was.

I was at my favourite hangout the night before, a seedy dump known as the Queen and Sword. The missus had come home from work in a really foul mood, and I didn't want to be around for any of it. Her work had exploded in the Christmas rush, and she was having to field complaints more often than a fat man eats chocolate. Considering how fat the bitch was, she probably was eating chocolate in between handling complaints.

But this isn't about her. This is all about me.

Like I said, I was at the Queen and Sword, sitting at my regular place at the bar. The guys all liked me, although lately they've been looking at me differently. I konw why - it's because they think I'm becoming a depressive drunkard. I mean, maybe that has a little truth to it - I was going through at least a hundred pounds a week - but it was worth so I didn't deal with that bitch of a wife.

Oh yeah, I said this wasn't about her didn't I? I really need to stop talking about the bitch.

Anyway, I was nursing my fifth or sixth pint of the evening - I can't remember exactly how many it had been at that point. The pub had all the regulars: Bazza with his eyepatch throwing darts and groping any woman dumb enough to move within arm's reach of him, Darryl with his sleeves and pierced nose and eyebrows, Charlie the bartender with grey hair and bowtie, and all the other pricks I couldn't care less remembering. The pub always had shit entertainment, so it surprised me when this gorgeous bird with huge tits walked through the door with a couple of the pub boys flanking her and up to the stage.
I think my heart skipped a beat. Blonde hair, green eyes, with a healthy bit of meat on her. Not enough meat to fill a butcher, but enough to make things interesting.

She got behind a keyboard - the place wasn't big enough for a real piano - and belted out a few chords. Nothing flashy, just checking to see if all the equipment was working. One of the boys tapped the mic and introduced her. I couldn't hear too well because i was focusing on the glass in front of me, but I caught a 'Joy' somethingorother.

Even though I was nursing the glass in front of me, it was impossible not to be caught up in the siren's song. As the waves of her melody washed over me, I was lifted up and carried off to a magical land where I didn't have to worry about a damn thing.

And it was amazing.

I spun around on my barstool and watched her entranced, taking occasional sips from my glass at intervals like clockwork. She looked angelic as she spun, dove and weaved through her set. Even the bikers that always occupied a table in the corner were silent while she made her magic.

As she moved from song to song, I automatically called for more drinks. I don't even remember asking for them really, although I remember drinking them. At the time I didn't really care, because I was fixated entirely on her.

At some point late in the night she finished her set, to rapturous applause and whistles. I did my best to clap too, although at that point I had lost track of how many pints I had downed. I had pretty much lost track of the exact sequence of events that occured after that. I was starting to feel fatigued from the alochol, and all I was thinking about doing was heading home and passing out in the loungeroom so I wouldn't have to climb into bed with the bitch and hear her nag about why I'd been out drinking all night again. If the fat bloody cow listened to herself she'd know bloody damn well why!

Anyway, I think I remember her giving me a kiss on the cheek on the way out, like she did to the old bartender. After a little while I decided to head out too, since I didn't have any more money anyways. I found her bent over the bonnet of her van around the side of the pub, looking at the engine or something.

She was wearing a short little dress with nothing on underneath. Must've been chilly on her bum in the cold London night. Anyways, I called out to her and waved hello, and she turned around and waved. She said something about going in somewhere nice and warm.

I ambled up to her, wanting to get a bit friendly with her. I remember going on about her needing to be somewhere nice and warm too, and her going on about she's already got something nice and warm behind her. She was sounding incredibly saucy.

We spoke like that for a while, then she waved at me and said something about if I needed anything she'd be more than happy to help out. Then she turned around and went back to her engine, little bum in the air.

Well, considering the way I was feeling and the way she was showing, she could certainly give me a helping hand all right.

I unzipped my pants and came up behind her, peeking over her shoulder as I did so. She was looking intently at the radiator fluid, which was up way too high. I wrapped my arms around her and whispered into her ear what I wanted. She melted at hearing what I wanted to do with her. I was a little surprised that she was so willing. Maybe she hadn't had a hard cock up her in a few years, I dunno.

Anyway, I gave her a good hard shagging with her bent over the car, while she was moaning all the while. She was moaning pretty loudly too, which really got me going. I always loved a bitch who wasn't afraid to show she liked it, unlike my fat at home. 

Afterwards, I must've passed out because I woke up in a jail cell at some cop shop. My cock wasn't hanging out of my pants, so I must've buttoned it up at some point. I still remember how delicious that bird was though.

She was completely worth the shit I'd have to deal with when I get home to my bitch of a wife.

This was a piece written for Sunday Scribblings, a blog site for writers. Every week they put up a word, and you create a piece of writing inspired by that word. This will be the first of hopefully a long and happy line of scribblings!

P.S. Chris, I'll put excerpts from my NaNo novel in my next post. Promise :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm A Junkie

It is currently 5am on the 1st December that I am writing this, and I have a major urge like I should be writing at this ungodly hour (which is why I suppose I'm writing this now). It presses on me like a cheap whore, and I have to resist the urge. As much as I'd love to write, I need to force myself to take a break lest I find myself burnt out.

I once heard writing described as a 'state of being'. It hasn't been until I've done NaNo that I understand how true that is. When the words have been flowing, it feels like I'm in two worlds - the world in my novel, and this world. It's like looking into an aquarium in a way, except you can make the fish play underwater soccer with a rock picked up from the bottom of the aquarium.

The ability to have complete control of a story is an incredibly seductive one. Essentially, you have the power to make the characters do anything you want them to. The novel The Night Circus was created out of the mind of an author whose characters she decided to ship off somewhere interesting because they were too boring. As a result, a living, breathing setting full of whimsy to draw you in was born. The greatest settings are those that you can see yourself becoming lost in - The Seventh Tower, The Infernal Devices and Dune to name a few.

When I write, often I will stare into space for extended periods of time. While it looks strange to observers, my mind frequently takes me into the world of the characters I sculpt. I walk with them, talk with them, and we discuss things like hopes and fears, dreams for life, even what they had for breakfast. It's my way of being able to discover what makes my characters tick, and what parts of their persona best represent them. It means that as a side-effect I write a lot slower than I should be (I struggle to hit 5000 words a day), but I feel that my settings and characters are more genuine as a result.

I know I'm not the most coherent writer when I create my initial drafts (which makes editing a nightmare most of the time), but I like to think I make up for it in my ability to be able to connect to the audience. Looking back on my own writing, often I'm in disbelief at how awful the words I put down are. And yet, at the time I don't really care, as I'm playing out a story that's wanting to be told. While I'm telling that story, it's as much a part of my life as eating, showering and doing the laundry. Currently I feel like I'm lost in a way, because there's no story that I'm trying to tell. Still, it will only be a couple of weeks before I get back into the swing of things.

Maybe it's a good thing I wasn't working in November. I feel like I might have needed to call in a couple of days 'writing'.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is where I shall end my NaNo journey for 2011.

For those who haven't participated before, trying to write 50000 words in 30 days is a tall ask. It equates to 1667 words every day of the month. If you want to try and leave yourself a buffer, you're looking at roughly 2000 words. For some people, this is an easy feat - the words come easily, and there's always something for characters to do. For others, it's about as painful as trying to push out a uni assignment every day of the year, albeit nowhere near as boring.

For me, flying by the seat of my pants without any planning whatsoever made the pursuit incredibly difficult. I found my stride somewhere around day 19, but a few days where I hadn't had any opportunity to write quickly knocked the goal far out of reach.

Reflecting on the month that has passed, I've learned an incredible amount and gained some wonderful friends in the process. I now have a finger on the pulse of the Brisbane writing scene, and inroads into becoming a professional writer. Whilst I still have a long way to go to get to where I want to be, I know how to get there now. I also learned a lot about my own writing abilities over the month, especially now I've honed my writing and gotten back into the swing of things. I suppose if I had to put down to it, my two greatest challenges are developing my technique for writing dialogue, and developing a way to write in third person that I'm comfortable with. I'm comfortable writing in first-person, but I also know it isn't the most common perspective people write from.

To Mel, Tara, Sean, Steph, Bianca, Shantell, Ray, Winnie and everyone else who I met along the way (and I'm really, really sorry if I forgot anyone, but I promise I was thinking about you!), thanks for making NaNo 2011 an absolute blast! I'll definitely be back next year (with Nancy!), and I definitely won't be leaving ausnano while people are still poking around on there. I'd also like to thank Tristan for putting up with me this past month. He's had to make some sacrifices and put up with my antics on some days while I put myself through the ringer, and I am incredibly grateful for it.

As for me, I'm going to spend a couple of weeks off before getting back to it with a vengeance.

This time, I'm gonna kick some literary ass.