Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Home brew writing

'My education as a writer began when I took a leap of faith and began to committed myself to simply reading and writing as much and as well as I could. It had nothing to do with graduate school.' Peter Bricklebank The Portable MFA

So I'm making the commitment and home brewing my own MFA. I’ve got a slew of online resources and I plan to find a writing group to mimic the classroom critique & crackling conversation.

My Magnum opus is still my travel memoir, however I'm broadening my scope of study. The first teacher/mentor I've selected is John Steinbeck - I'm reading Journal of a novel in which Steinbeck wrote a letter to his editor as a daily writing task prior to commencing work on his novel East of Eden.

I’m only a few entries in and already he has laid out some cracking gems “One can go off into fanciness if one writes to a huge nebulous group” or “a good writer always works at the impossible. There is another kind who pulls in his horizons, drops his mind as one lowers rifles sights. And giving up the impossible he gives up writing.”

Steinbeck also offers up some quite frank insights “Last night I could not sleep out of excitement about my story. It was a strange voluptuous excitement and when I dropped off I had a quick sex dream, perhaps because my feeling was exotic.”

So why am I saving $34985 as opposed to a roundhouse $35,000? Well I subtracted the cost of one of my first resources - 'The portable MFA' – a book that aims to instruct people how to create their own MFA in creative writing.

In true arts degree style my MFA will most certainly be a jumble of mismatched mentors, conflicting literary theorem, outlandish idealism and overwrought enthusiasm. In short it should be exhilarating. This ‘semester’ I’ll be studying:

Fundamentals of writing:

Nonfiction texts:
-       The know-it-all
-       Journal of a novel

Blogging schedule:
Monday: Book reviews (every second Monday)
Tuesday: Tunes (mandatory study break!)
Wednesday: Writer’s wisdom (Given that Steinbeck is already talking about raunchy dreams I can only imagine what other pearls of wisdom he has in store)
Sunday: Craft session (writing techniques – hot glue and glitter are not compulsory!)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The art of imaginative vision

This week Ballpoint Arcade has saved me approximately $34985.

Since reading The Art of Non-conformity I’ve been thinking more about how I want to live my life. This quote that features in the book sums up Guillebeau's ethos: 

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slave of the ordinary.’ Sir Cecil Beaton

Creativity is of major focus in Guillebeau’s book (amongst other ‘non-conventional ideas’ which I’ll go into more detail in my book review) how to harness it in everyday situations to ensure you live your life to it’s fullest potential. 

An exercise early in the book has you imagine your ideal day – I sat down to complete this exercise in a diligent manner and discovered that my ideal day would be considered to be rather busy. Without going into too much detail I enjoy having tasks at hand. I like to feel productive. My ideal day won’t be just lounging on the couch, rather I get my kicks out of working on a new piece of writing, rushing for deadlines, brainstorming ideas, having heated discussions about literature – over a large mug of coffee of course.

So I’m going to make sure each day is ideal – I’m going to create my own MFA (masters of fine arts). The syllabus is a little bit fluid at the moment, but I have a wealth of resources that I am going to utilise to enrich my skills as a writer as well as create that sense of ‘productivity’ I crave.

You may be wondering why I’m going the DIY approach rather then enrolling in an institution. There are a number of reasons, at the moment I’m a bit of a pauper but I also get so much satisfaction from my job.

I’m also keen to prove that I can live the life of a writer whilst balancing the demands of full-time work. I want to prove that I can handle the rigors of an MFA before I consider signing up to a bona-fide MFA.

How is Ballpoint Arcade significant in my DIY MFA? Ballpoint Arcade will be my Pascal Covici. John Steinbeck inspired me “in writing, East of Eden, (Steinbeck) unblocked himself for the daily stint of writing ahead by writing a “letter” to his close friend and editor, Pascal Covici.” So at the risk of sounding vulgar, I’m going to be using Ballpoint Arcade to unblock myself during my DIY MFA. It’ll be my sounding board, as well as means of communicating with you – I hope that others join me or feel inspired to create their own MFA’s.

I’ll be posting up my purposed syllabus on Wednesday, along with assignments, end of semester ‘exams’ and  blogging schedule. Please feel free to follow along and post suggestions for suitable books to study – be that fiction, non-fiction, novels or writing manuals. As well as ideas for assignments or resources. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Awake is the new sleep

Good jolly my break from blogging somehow extended for longer then planned! A series of technical difficulties,epic working weeks and delightful distractions (snazzy new roller skates, hilarious housemates, homework, olympic fever) resulted in a rather long hibernation period for Ballpoint Arcade. 

Fear not I'm back with vengeance and perhaps a smidge more structure! 

I've pulled out my pens and paper & brainstormed the future of the blog. I've got ideas galore I wish to explore!

I'm going to post up more details on Sunday about the new posting schedule and how Ballpoint Arcade is going to save me a niffy $34985.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Paleo, Pilates and Physio

I've been dreaming about you...

It's been rather quite at Ballpoint Arcade, however things are firing at all cylinders in every other respect! Coincidently (or not) all these things start with the letter P. Which is ever so pleasing for someone who enjoys alliteration!

I'm into my second week of the whole30 (read more about paleo here). This has been something I've been something I’ve intended to do for ages. I choose to ignore my celiac crippled stomach whilst on the road last year – bread, pasta and noodles are basically the cheapest of food world over. My bank balance was happy for the decision, my poor rumbling stomach not so much!

I've made half-hearted attempts in the past, to get on top of my food intolerances, but this time I seem to be sticking to the no-grains, no-diary guidelines. Well for the most part*.

For a diet that eliminates so much food - it's bloody time consuming figuring out meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It doesn't help the fact that I have little to no kitchen finesse.

It took me a better part of two days to make soup (I made stock from scratch) and another two days to make grain-free granola (which incidentally got burnt to a crisp). But it seems like it’s worth the effort. I feel like a fog has been lifted. I’m actually waking up before my alarm and eager to leap into the day. I used to need more sleep than a newborn baby. This can only have a positive affect on my writing – well once I unchain myself from the kitchen stove top!

When I’m not at work, Pilates continues to take over my life - juggling study, personal practice and supervised teaching. I’m literally counting down the days until this diploma is over! I’m enjoying it, but I dread the homework assignments!

Needless to say, not only has the blog been quite, but also my writing desk. I haven’t produced much in the last fortnight. But with this boundless energy I’m planning on squeezing in a few writing sessions. I have some exciting ideas brewing away! And I have a bundle of books to review as well!

*Seeing that I’m laying it all bare at the moment – I did eat some feta on the weekend. Yup, call the paleo police! 

Tunesday #14 - Ben Lee

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rules of writing

There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are - Somerset Maugham

I think I learnt one of the three rules today -  constantly save the document you're working on. Every five minutes according to my techie brother, any less and you're a fool apparently.You may risk RSI, but at least your work won't be gone with the wind when your computer crashes! 

Tunesday #14: Armand Van Helden + A-Trak present Duck Sauce

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