This place is too beautiful. I have to keep photographing it. I’m still sick with this cold so not able to do as much writing as I’d like, posting photos instead. Click on an image below to view as slideshow
Click on an image to view slideshow/larger images
It’s raining today, and I have a cold, so taking a moment to post photos, let you know what I’ve been doing. On Monday I went to an open mic night in an Irish pub, downstairs in a cellar with an arched ceiling. The place was packed. A lot of fun. Made some friends that I’ll hopefully see again this coming Monday, and maybe get to play some songs this time. There were a lot of acts.
After the open mic night, I went to the beach and played guitar for a while. This is my other method for meeting people. I chatted to some French Moroccan guys and found their taste in music amusing, Celine Dion? They asked me for Hotel California and I reminded them of the sign in the guitar shop in Wayne’s World – no Stairway to Heaven – in my book, the same applies to Hotel California and several other songs. Been there, done that. People just have to put up with my choices now – they didn’t mind the Brazilian jazz I played them.
I walked back to my apartment, past the Irish pub which is just around the corner and saw some of my friends from earlier in the evening. They asked me to play, so I did some more Brazilian and they were impressed, exchanged some contact details, notes about other open mic nights, etc. One of them will play me some manouche on Monday (French gypsy jazz - I’m a big fan).
Writing, Last Saturday, I finished my second novella, The Signwriter, as mentioned in the earlier post. I’ve spent the rest of the week cutting my novel from 460 pages to less than 120, and finding that even what’s left I will have to rewrite quite radically.
I have had moments of doubt where I have thought, ‘I’ve spent nearly ten years of my life working on this, spent thousands of dollars on courses, manuscript assessments, residencies, sitting in an apartment on the other side of the world thinking that I was going to finally finish my masterpiece to discover it’s a piece of crap and I have to throw it away and start again.’
I would go insane if it weren’t for the fact that I have learnt how to write through this process, and that I have produced some other shorter works of some merit that demonstrate this.
That said, I had a brainwave this morning when I got up so all is not lost – I’ve found a way every other time so I will find a way this time – some problems may be just a matter moving things around to pull the reader in, generate tension and suspense.
That was the week that was.
Last night I finished work on my second novella, The Signwriter (35,000 words, 106 pages). I have been working on this piece since September, 2012, when I completed my first novella, The Angel of Monaco (21,500 words, 76 pages). Both of these pieces are works in a series of romantic comedies that started with a shorter work, The Transit of Venus (4,500 words, 15 pages). My intention is to compile these into a collection of novellas and short stories and approach a publisher.
I have the good fortune to be on three months long service leave from my place of employment. I started by visiting my uncle and family in Richmond, Virginia, USA, where I discovered a body of counter culture urban art on buildings around the city. I have catalogued these in two photo galleries (see: http://mattralph.com.au/urban-art-ii-richmond-va/ and http://mattralph.com.au/urban-art-misc-richmond-va/).
I’m living in Nice, France, for three weeks, rewriting my first novel (>=150,000 words, 460 pages, >=ten drafts, nine and a half years), practicing my jazz and world music repertoire, and attempting to learn as much French as I can in between this work. I’ll then go to Paris for six and a half weeks and do the same.
Click on an image below to view photo gallery of Nice:
more amazing urban art from Richmond va
Urban Art Richmond
Other art & architecture Richmond and Washington DC
Click on images to view slideshow
I spent time in August and July 2012 writing an article for submission to The Griffith Review on the theme of Tasmania: The Tipping Point. The call for articles was to address concerns that Tasmania was viewed as a poor cousin to other states in terms of requiring Federal bailouts, particularly a Federal bailout of our State health system in 2012. I posed myself the question: how would I fix Tasmania?
I contacted every member of the Tasmanian Parliament about a controversial idea to ban smoking for people born after the year 2000, and spent time speaking to medical professionals, doctors, Tasmanian President of the Australian Medical Association and officials at Medicare.
I contacted people in the mining industry, the State Government mining authority, researched energy efficient and self sufficient housing, the fishing industry, read scientific papers, a mountain of news articles.
Some travel was involved, and more quiet time writing at the rangers’ quarters at Narawntapu. I went to Burnie to interview Bruce and Deb French. Bruce has devoted over forty years to cataloguing every foodplant on the planet, and detailing those that are endemic to each region/nation. He has travelled the globe, helping people in developing nations to recognise and cultivate food plants endemic to their area, those best suited for their region’s climate and conditions. Many people have benefited from Bruce’s selfless efforts; he has never accepted payment for his work.
I also interviewed Richard and Annette, who built their mudbrick house from materials on their own block for a fraction of the cost of building a normal house. Their house is energy efficient, beautiful and very comfortable.
The article wasn’t accepted for publication but I got some good feedback from the editor, who encouraged me to keep writing and submitting. I will tidy the article in light of this feedback, and then put it on this site. At the launch of Tasmania: The Tipping Point, I realised how ambitious I’d been not just in terms of addressing the issues and writing a well written article, but also in terms of getting published. My article was submitted alongside those of Order of Australia recipients, University professors, David Walsh of MONA and well-respected and established, published authors.
As a writer, I don’t hold out much hope of getting published anywhere at present. It would appear that one has to earn the right to be published by achieving something extraordinary. I don’t know what I can do about this. I love what I do and I’m not competing with anyone, but constantly learning from great writers, getting better at my craft, becoming completely absorbed in my work, sometimes to the point of forgetting about time, sleep, food and water.
In the coming years, I’ll continue the work detailed in my article, first by living it, then by writing about it. There is so much we can do to help ourselves live better than we do now in a way that benefits the environment and balances the books. Tasmania is a small island with a small population, the perfect place to use as a model of achieving something to help ourselves, and maybe others beyond our shores.
Things changed in my personal life recently. Now all I do outside of working and caring for my family is write, play music, create multimedia and exercise.
I have a newfound respect for Bill Cosby. Thank you, sir.
I just got back from a nine day residency in Narawntapu National Park where all I did was write, play music and go for a few walks and runs to stay fit.
In this time, I finished another full draft all the way through to the end of my first novel and completed 25% of the next draft. I’m sitting in the director’s chair now, cutting and moving scenes, changing lines, rewriting sections, getting rid of any dross, sharpening and honing it, polishing it pure. I know what the sequel will be like.
I realise what I want to do with the rest of my life. I realise I am doing everything I can. I realise that every single second of my life is committed to my purpose.
The peace and quiet were balm for my soul. My life at the moment is chaotic and tumultuous. I feel like a man sent into space on a one way mission, strapped into a rocket and fired at an exploding star.
Or a superhero at the point where he’s injected with radiation, blasted with gamma rays, drowned in a vat of toxic acid, then wakes up the next day feeling great.
Better than great; colours are vivid, he can hear the music driving deeper inside, sees things in others that were hidden. He has this massive amount of energy, confidence and strength. He is undefeatable. Regardless of what the forces of evil throw at him, he will stand.
To put that into perspective, I made a massive amount of progress on the ending of my book, nearly all the loose ends are tied off and attached to other loose ends trailing off into the sequel. I kicked off the week by completing a 4,500 word short story, The Transit of Venus, maybe my best finished story so far.
I am reluctantly putting this here as I don’t think my performance was up to scratch. Other recordings on this site are superior. But I promised to post something from the cave. So here is a version of Rosa Morena, by Tom Jobim, an interpretation modelled on Kurt Elling’s version:
A version of Corcovado, also by Tom Jobim, this version closest to that sung by Joao Gilberto on the original Getz/Gilberto album of 1963:
I had some other recordings that I wanted to put here, specifically a verion of Cole Porter’s Night and Day, but I hit the bridge slightly too hard vocally and so it got distorted in the recording unfortunately.
25th March, 2012
A very warm day for Hobart, distant haze of bushfire reddening cheeks of cloud, sun emerging amidst a blushing halo, water dimpled under warped, curved, wavy metallic sheen, crisp waves protruding tectonic plates thrust together, a hasty range of dwarf peaks.