Come Home

The Long Road Home

Sitting alone with my thoughts
I feel the tears come again
They run down my face
Like rain in the desert
And I’m not ashamed
For I’ve seen stronger men cry
For far less than this
And so I cry and I cry
Until the tears fall no longer
And then I stare at your picture
And wonder where in the darkness
You have gone?

I just hope that
Wherever you’ve gone
You’ll come home soon

All I wanted was to help you
But you pushed me away
Time and again
Like I meant nothing
Until my tears became fortresses
To protect me from your armies of pain
You hurt me so much
That I didn’t think it could hurt any more
And now I know I was right about everything
But it brings me no comfort
I just wish that you’d heard me earlier
So that perhaps we wouldn’t be here today

And I hope that
Wherever you’ve gone
You’ll come home soon

And I know that deep in your heart
You didn’t mean the things you said
And I know that in your right mind
You never would have done it
But something deep inside
Has got its hold on you
A monster eating away
That’s filled you with lies and deception
But I know it’s not you
And so I forgive you
I just hope that in time
You can forgive yourself too

And I hope that
Wherever you’ve gone
You’ll come home soon

It would break my heart if you ended your life
So we’ll find a way through this together
I can’t promise not to be angry
Or not to cry or feel betrayed
But I promise to still be there
And I’ll take your hand and lead you forward
And walk with you through the darkness
Into the light
And whatever the future brings
We’ll face it one day at a time
And get through it together
So please come home soon

Please
Wherever you’ve gone
Come home soon


I wrote this poem over the course of the last week. I wrote it in two sessions and it’s probably the fastest poem I have ever written; it took about two hours to write and each time I sat down, the words poured straight out and needed very little editing, which is unusual for me.

The poem really started as a way of processing a very difficult situation my family has been going through these last few weeks. A member of my family tried to commit suicide two weeks ago; while I don’t want to say who it was publicly, it was someone who is very close to me and it was an extremely close call and it has left me absolutely devastated.

It came without any real warning and I’ve been going through a mix of different emotions since, predominantly shock, and also anger. The anger isn’t necessarily over the attempt itself but over other factors as well and while it’s a natural response, I realised several days ago that I haven’t really been processing it properly and the anger has been making my pain a lot worse as well and it’s something I have to try to let go of. So writing this poem has been my way of trying to do that and to accept what happened.

The poem is probably the most personal one I’ve written and is based on my own thoughts and feelings but I’ve also tried to make it so that hopefully everyone can see a bit of themselves in it too. I wanted it to feel personal but unique as well so that hopefully everyone who reads it can get something different out of it.

The photo by the way is one of the first street photos I took, of a man who seemed a bit lost in his own world. He didn’t even notice me taking the photo and I thought the scene suited the poem.

I hope you like the poem and that it brings some hope and beauty to a dark situation, one I know many people find themselves in. Mental illness and chronic depression are terrible ordeals, not just for those suffering them but their families as well. ~ CJ.


Photo: The Long Road Home © CJ Levinson 2011
Poem licenced under Creative Commons

5 Things (redux)

So this is my first post in a little while. Actually in a long while when I think about it… I’ve barely updated this blog all year really. I’m sorry for that. I still see blogging as a major part of my writing life and I keep meaning to update more often. I’ve just had other things on my mind, particularly for the last few weeks.

I haven’t been feeling that well recently. I’ve hardly slept and I’ve had an awful migraine for the last few weeks. I blame the weather; everything seems worse when it’s cold and it’s been bitterly cold in Sydney this past month. It’s the coldest winter we’ve had in a long time.

We’ve also been gearing up for a national election and it’s been kind of surreal. Just a few weeks ago Kevin Rudd was our Prime Minister; now Rudd’s gone, we have our first female PM in Julia Gillard (long overdue) and we’re rushing to the polls on August 21. It’s all happened so quickly that it’s almost draining.

Usually I quite enjoy elections but after the brutal way Rudd was brought down and how both parties have gone so negative already, it’s just ugly. Neither party seems to stand for anything and it’s more a battle of personalities than policy. The way both parties are treating asylum seekers is frankly appalling to me. I may have to flip a coin at this rate.

I’ve actually had some good news about my writing, though, during all of this which I’m very excited about. I was contacted by a scouting agency last week who sound interested in looking at some of my work. I’m thrilled… it’s just what I need at this stage. I’ve had some minor interest before as well, so I guess that shows I’m on the right track.

I haven’t worked out what I’m going to send yet. I’ve only just started working on my first novel so I haven’t really finished enough to show to anyone yet. I’ve been thinking about putting together a collection of short stories, so that might be an option instead.

Either way, it’s encouraging. I feel like I’m finally starting to get somewhere, so I think I’m going to focus more on writing my novel for the next few months. I feel like I’ve come far enough to seriously think about publication now and if I can have a draft finished by mid-September then at least I’ll have an idea of if it’s good enough to send away.

I’ll probably have to put some of my other projects aside while I work on the novel but I’ll be continuing with Sleepless at the same time. I may change a few things about how I’m writing the story (I’ll probably hold onto a few updates rather than posting them all live, so I’ll have something to post when I’m busy with the novel) but I’m still really excited about it and some of the ideas actually complement the novel, so it shouldn’t be a distraction.

If you’re following Sleepless, by the way, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t updated it for a few weeks. I took a break from writing to plan out the rest of the story but I’ll be getting back to it later tonight. With everything planned out now, there shouldn’t be any more delays. Thanks again to everyone who’s followed the story so far. I really appreciate it and all your feedback.

Anyway, as it’s been a while since my last post I thought I’d do a fun post to get back into the swing of things. So how about a meme? About two years ago I did the 5 Things About Me meme and as it was one of my favourite posts, I thought it’d be fun to do a follow-up now and see how my answers have changed… kind of like digging up a time capsule.

I’ve answered the questions differently where I can and I’ve added a few new ones as well to show what’s changed in the last few years. Just looking back at the original post now, it’s amazing how much has changed since then… we’ve changed Presidents and Prime Ministers, gone through the GFC, watched Haiti suffer, Michael Jackson become a memory… I’ve made new friends and lost others, watched from overseas as my grandmother nearly died… you don’t really realise just how much can happen in two years until you look back.

I hope you enjoy the meme. Has much changed for you in the last two years?

5 things found in your bag
I’ll use my messenger bag again

  • Camera
  • Glasses (mainly for reading these days)
  • iPhone
  • Sunscreen
  • Notepad and pen

5 favourite things in your room

TV Corner

  • Favourite pen
    I have a number of pens but my favourite is a custom-made Amboyna Sapwood pen that I’ve had for a couple of years. I tend to prefer wooden pens to metal ones; I write by hand and they’re just more comfortable when you’re using them for a long time. I use it mostly for writing letters and editing and I always use it for the first page of a new story.
  • Writing area
    My computer died earlier this year, so I took the opportunity to get a new desk as well. I loved my old writing desk but it was too small for the monitor, so I’m saving it for when I have more room. I’ve got a nice area set up now. Now I just need to get on with writing!

Computer & Desk (side on)Computer & DeskComputer, Desk & Chair

  • Memory box
    Everyone probably has a memory box somewhere. Mine’s mostly filled with simple things – photos, trinkets, my school prefect badge, a copy of my favourite book from when I was a child (The Velveteen Rabbit). It also has my first acceptance letter from when I was published and my first email from a reader.
  • Statues and figures
    I mentioned that I collect these in the original post as well but I’ve added a few more since then. The Egyptian figures are made by Veronese from cold cast resin; most of the pewter ones are by the Tudor Mint. The Le Morte d’Arthur piece (right) is my favourite.

Egyptian CollectionPewter Figures

Pewter Fellowship sculptArthurian Collection

  • Wall plaque
    I got this for a bargain $2 on eBay a couple of years ago. I love Asian-themed art and it’s one of my favourite pieces. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out much about it, though; I only know it came from Melbourne and has a “Partos” sticker on the back.

Asian Wall Art

5 things that have changed in the last two years

  • My writing
    My writing’s come a long way in the last two years; I’m much better at editing in particular now and finally feel confident enough to try a full-length novel. Also, I’ve really taken to poetry, which has been a surprise. I’ve never really thought of myself as much of a poet.
  • My philosophy
    I’ve been an atheist for about two years now. It was a gradual thing; I lost my faith after 9/11 and Bali and considered myself an agnostic for several years, before I started to drift towards atheism. Atheism isn’t what a lot of people think it is; it’s a philosophy based on the absence of personal belief, not the worship of science. I don’t pretend to have all the answers but I feel more content now. Most people seem to respect that.
  • My family tree
    I’ve always had an interest in genealogy and I started researching our family tree last year. So far I’ve found several distant cousins and an entire side of our family we knew nothing about. I’ve also learnt a lot about Isaac, my great-great grandfather.
  • My taste in music
    I’ve never been that into modern music but I’ve found myself drifting more and more towards indie and alternative artists and music from the 60s and 70s over the last few years…. I can’t even remember the last pop song I bought. I’ll take Sarah Blasko over Katy Perry any day.
  • My hair
    I guess it’s just a part of getting older but I’ve started to lose a little of my hair over the last year or so. It’s not that bad but still, I wasn’t expecting it just yet! And the icing on the cake? I found my first grey hair the other day as well…

5 things you want to do in the next year

  • Finish my novel
    I feel happy with where I am with my writing at the moment, so I finally started work on my novel a few weeks ago. I’ve been developing the idea for almost a year; it’s a modern fable exploring racism, terrorism and religious extremism. I won’t know if it’s good enough to publish until it’s finished but I think it could be excellent if it all comes together… something quite different to what’s around at the moment.
  • Study
    I’ve been thinking about this for a while and at some stage during the next year I want to get back to studying. Now that I’m finally working on a novel I want to have something to fall back on as well and I think now’s a good time to think about studying again. I’m looking at library studies atm; I could do a Masters later as well, which would allow me to teach, something I’ve always wanted to do.
  • Meet someone
    I don’t talk about my love life that often. I don’t date that much but the last time I had something close to a relationship was about two years ago, when I met someone I became very close to… I’m not sure if it was “love” but it was certainly the most intense connection I’ve ever had with someone. It ended quite suddenly; I don’t know why exactly, though I suspect it was because I became an atheist as she was quite religious. I haven’t really been looking to meet anyone since then, but I’d love to meet someone during the next year, someone I could be myself with. I don’t know if it’ll happen but it’d be nice if it did.
  • See the Australian Open
    I love tennis and I’ve been wanting to go to the Australian Open in Melbourne for years. Hopefully 2011 will be the year! It’ll probably come down to whether I can afford it closer to the date but it’s something I’d love to do to start off the new year. I’d love to see a cricket match at the MCG if there’s one on as well.
  • Get a good night’s sleep
    I’ve had insomnia for about three years now. I only get a few hours sleep a night and frankly it drives me nuts. I mean, what are you supposed to do at 4 in the morning? Just once in the next year I’d love to get a good night’s sleep. That’s not too much to ask, is it? 😕

5 things you have always wanted to do

  • Perform a poetry reading
    I’ve always enjoyed poetry readings and I’ve often thought about sharing some of my own work in public. I’ve always been worried about embarrassing myself as I’ve not taken my poetry that seriously before but I still love the idea. I’ll have to do it one of these days.
  • Learn to play the piano
    I’ve never been that talented as far as music goes; I’m completely tone-deaf and the only instrument I used to be able to play was the little plastic recorder they made us play in school (I still wasn’t very good!). But I love music and if I have the time and money one day, I’d love to learn to play the piano. I’d have to get soundproofing for the neighbours first, though.
  • Travel to Egypt and Japan
    There are a lot countries I’d love to visit one day – India, Canada, New Zealand, the US – but if I had to choose two, I’d really love to see Egypt and Japan. I’ve always loved the idea of trying to find my way in a completely foreign city, of seeing the Pyramids, the Asakusa temples in Tokyo. Hopefully I’ll make it to both one day.
  • Be an extra in a movie
    I’m a big movie buff and I’d love to be part of a movie as an extra one day and see how they’re made. Maybe I could be a red shirt in the next Star Trek film and die a horrible death. What do you think?
  • Ride an elephant
    I’ve always loved elephants. Some treks in India and Africa actually allow you to ride on the back of an elephant and I’ve always thought that would be an amazing experience. I’d only want to do it if it was safe and the elephant was comfortable with it, of course, but it’s something I’d love to do… a real once-in-a-lifetime experience.

5 things you are currently into

  • She & Him
    I’m a big fan of M. Ward’s and one of his side projects is a folk duo with Zooey Deschanel called She & Him. Deschanel reminds me a little of Julia Stone (who I love as well) and they’re kind of a throwback to 60s music with a modern twist and sound refreshingly different to anything else out there right now. Their latest album’s one of the best I’ve heard in years.

  • Scrabble
    I have a kind of ritual I go through before I start writing; I do a word game or a crossword to start thinking about different words. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Scrabble and I’m hooked. I got my highest score the other day (425) and still lost! I’m still not quite sure how.
  • The West Wing
    I’ve been working my way through all the DVDs of The West Wing over the last few months and it’s become one of my favourite shows. The writing and acting are incredible and it’s interesting, seeing the parallels to both Bush and Clinton administrations. It’s brilliant. I can’t believe I missed it on TV.
  • Catherynne Valente
    I hadn’t heard of Catherynne Valente until recently but she’s quickly become one of my favourite authors. The best way I can describe her is that she writes modern fairy tales, with some of the most beautiful, haunting prose I’ve read in a long time. If you like Margaret Atwood or Kelly Link, you’ll love her books. I can’t wait to read Palimpsest next.
  • Natalie Portman
    Because she’s Natalie Portman. What? Some things never change. 😉

5 people you want to tag

I won’t tag anyone as I did it in the first post. But if you’d like to do the meme yourself or do it again, feel free to use it… I’d love to see your answers.

Do we rely too heavily on technology?

GPS Locator Device

Technology is a wonderful thing. In many ways it’s why we enjoy a high level of comfort in our lives, improving our working and living conditions. But do you think our reliance on technology goes too far? Or is technology merely a tool for social development?

As a writer I’ve explored the moral and ethical use of technology quite heavily in my work but I’ve always had a favourable view of technology. However a recent experience has made me question that. I was shopping the other day, getting a couple of DVDs, and I was thrilled when I saw they were on sale; buy two and get 20% off the second. Perfect! So I grabbed both and queued up.

The woman who served me took the DVDs; the first one was fine but the second scanned up at full price. She didn’t know it was on sale, so I told her it was 20% off and she scanned it again but it was still the same price. She started to do it manually but said she didn’t have a calculator, so she didn’t know the price.

I was stunned. First, how can you work there and not know what’s on sale? But even worse – didn’t have a calculator? It was 20% off $30, hardly rocket science. Do we rely on calculators that much? Finally she fixed it and I paid for them and left.

I know it’s just a small thing but I can’t help but think that it’s symbolic of a larger problem. Just because technology is there and makes something easier doesn’t mean we should rely on it so much that we can’t think for ourselves. What happens when the technology fails? In April this year the London Stock Exchange was closed for 8 hours when a glitch shut down its system. They lost millions of pounds and all they could do was sit and watch. Should any piece of technology be so important that we can’t function without it for 8 hours?

It’s not just the way we use technology, though, but the way people obsess over it. Have you noticed how people can’t live without their mobile phones? If they’re not talking then they’re checking for a message that wasn’t there two minutes ago. Can’t we be out of touch for even a few minutes? And that’s not even mentioning the hype surrounding the iPhone. Or the Kindle. I don’t understand the fuss about the Kindle. I like ebooks but I can’t justify the price of a reader and I’m sure long-term I’d miss the touch and feel of real paper.

My point is that technology seems to have become more of a convenience than a tool. Let me ask you this. If civilisation were to fall tomorrow, could you survive without technology? How would you cook without electricity? How would you get clean water and travel without working transport? How would you stay warm? How would you protect your family and teach your children?

I’m not sure I could survive in that world; I doubt most people could. The civilisation that survived would be very different… but isn’t that the same argument pessimists have used against change since the beginning of time? Weren’t there doubts that other inventions would destroy society and take away our humanity just as people talk about computers and the net now?

I guess I’m conflicted. While I do feel that we’re starting to lose ourselves, I am also a big fan of the potential of technology. I have an extreme sensitivity to noise and being outside is like torture when I’m not feeling well. But a few years ago I found a pair of earphones that use sound isolating technology to block noise and they’ve been a godsend. So I know firsthand what technology can do for someone’s life.

If you think about it, the advances in technology (particularly recently) have been astonishing. Technology has brought us DVDs and iPods, microwaves and cameras. It’s taken us to the Moon, brought us images from Mars. And then there’s medicine. It’s not just the instruments and techniques but the way medical science has advanced. We’ve cured diseases, mapped the human genome; our quality of life is better than any generation’s and we live longer than ever before. And people who never believed they could have children now can. Looking at technology that way, how can anyone deny its impact?

And that’s not even touching on cyberspace. There are a lot of bad things about the net – porn, viruses, spam – but its benefits are far greater. While the net is primarily an information resource, its true power lies in that it connects people in ways we’ve never seen before. Previous inventions have brought us closer together (trains linked cities, planes linked nations) but the internet is the world’s first global community. The net is the future and that’s the real power of technology, to show the way forward.

But even in moving forward it’s still important to hold on to our values. Some advancements make me feel uncomfortable: gene therapy makes my skin crawl and I find the developments in artificial intelligence, while impressive, ethically troubling. Are we ready to create life? Like many people I’m also worried that our social skills are deteriorating. I’ve heard of people texting each other when they’re in the same room instead of speaking – and then there’s the Euricase, which allows you to propose to your partner without even being in the room.

So I guess when people say that we’re losing ourselves to technology, I agree to some extent. But I see the benefits as well and I don’t see why there can’t be a balance. If we can respect our past but embrace the future at the same time, I don’t see why we should ever lose who we are.

That’s what I try to do. I think I’ve found a balance and I’m not afraid of an iPod or an ebook; I just try to buy a CD and go to the library as well. I send emails and texts, but I don’t forget to say hi to my neighbours and turn off my phone. If we can do that then I don’t think we have anything to worry about.

The future will take care of itself.

Obsessions and habits

Do you have a favourite love song? Perhaps the song that was playing the first time you fell in love, or a song that means something special to you and your partner? For me I’d have to say Be My Baby by The Ronettes. Not for any particular reason; I’ve just always liked the song. Whenever I have a crush, that song starts playing in my head.

I’ve asked a few people about their favourites before and the most common answer has been Every Breath You Take by The Police. Apparently that’s a common interpretation of the song, but it always makes me cringe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great song; I love Sting and The Police. But it’s not a love song. It’s a song about obsession and the lyrics are actually quite sinister.

Every breath you take/every move you make
Every bond you break/every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single day/every word you say
Every game you play/every night you stay
I’ll be watching you

Sting wrote it during the collapse of his marriage and said he was thinking about Big Brother and control as much as anything else. I’m not sure why so many people think it’s a love song but apparently it’s still very popular at weddings. That just seems creepy; is a song like that really one we’d want to use to mark a union? It’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high.

It’s funny, though, because I’ve been thinking about that song a lot lately. When I was putting together my song list, Every Breath You Take just missed the cut. And recently I’ve been obsessing over things more than usual, so naturally started thinking about the song again. Mostly it’s little things but I can’t get them out of my head; a couple of things I said which were taken the wrong way; memories from years ago that keep popping up; paragraphs I keep rewriting because they’re still not right… it’s annoying and not like me to obsess over them like that.

I’m retraining myself to stop it but in a strange way it’s actually been quite useful. It’s made me look at myself in a different way, ask myself why I’m thinking those things… something I wouldn’t have done before. What it’s made me wonder as well is, is obsession actually such a bad thing? We’re told that an obsession is irrational, an unhealthy preoccupation with something or someone. It can be, but does that mean all obsessions are bad? I tend to think that sometimes focusing on a goal is the only way you can achieve it; like an athlete training for the Olympics, if it didn’t become their focus, would they have the drive to succeed?

Perhaps obsession is a relative thing. Let’s say someone wakes up at the same time, has the same breakfast, follows the same route to work each day. Does that make him obsessive and stubborn because he never changes his routine? Or does it make him sensible, because he knows what he needs to be effective? What if someone always checks the lights before they go outside, even when they know they’re off; if they do that a thousand times but it stops a fire once, does that make them obsessive? Or is it a precautionary habit?

I’ve often thought that there’s a thin line between an obsession and a habit and really they’re much the same. A habit can become just as much of an obsession over time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad either. If checking the lights repeatedly gives you peace of mind, is that so bad? To me a habit or an obsession can serve a purpose – it’s when they begin to interfere in our lives that they become unhealthy. That’s when we need help.

Whether I’m that obsessive myself, I don’t know. I do keep to a routine; I try to eat at certain times, I’m usually online at the same times, and I write at night. But then I’m not afraid to break the cycle either… so maybe I am a little obsessive, but you probably need to be if you’re creative. How else can you stay motivated through the writer’s block?

I wonder what you think. Do you obsess over things? Is obsession necessarily bad? Can it be a good thing? I’d be interested to see what you think. 😉

Dreams

Fields

Do you ever have strange dreams? The kind that seem so real when you’re asleep but when you wake up, they make no sense? I’ve had a few; being chased by wild animals, finding myself in a different body…. they can be quite scary sometimes.

The strangest dream I’ve had involved clowns. I’ve never liked clowns. When I was a child I used to think they were evil… something about the way they could all fit into one car really freaked me out. In my dream I was standing in a field surrounded by clowns. There were dozens of them all moving in sync; they’d take several steps, stop and harvest the corn, then move on. They’d do it again and again, not knowing I was there. It was all so eerie, so quiet…

When I woke up I remember lying there, trying to work out what I’d seen. But it made no sense! Were the clowns supposed to be some metaphor for illegal immigrants? For cloning and genetically modified foods? I still don’t know now but in the end something about the dream stayed with me and a couple of months later I turned it into a story. I took the clowns and the fields and created verandis, a drug which gave people a high of fear; in small doses it was a cheap thrill, but in high doses it proved effective for torture. The Drug of Fear was one of the first stories I had published and it’s funny to think that without that dream, I’d never have written it.

I had an experience earlier this week which made me think of the clown dream again. I was getting the bus home and listening to some music. Usually I like to watch what’s going on around me, but this time I was staring out the window. There was a seagull flying overhead and one of its wings was bent; I watched it for about a minute, wondering if it was broken, how it might have happened. When I finally looked away I caught the gaze of a girl a few seats in front of me.

She was watching me, smiling slightly, and she didn’t look away like most people do when they’re caught staring. She just smiled again and the funny thing was, I knew what she meant. She wasn’t smiling at me, but she knew what I was doing; it was like we were the only two people on the bus who had noticed the seagull. It was a moment we shared and without words, it seemed special. We got off at the same stop and neither of us said anything, but it was a nice feeling, like for a moment we’d been linked in a dream…

But then in a way it was a dream, a daydream. While I was watching the seagull I wasn’t aware of anything else… I was somewhere else, far away. The strange thing is that usually I don’t dream when I sleep, or if I do I don’t remember them. But I daydream quite often during the day, and since I’ve been having trouble sleeping I’ve actually been dreaming more than I was before. Whether that’s a good thing or not I don’t know – maybe it means I’m too active and carrying my thoughts into my sleep.

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting. Dreams fascinate me; we know so little about them, but they’re just one example of how amazing the human body and mind can be… even if sometimes your dreams are of fields of clowns. 😉

What makes you beautiful?

I hate having my photo taken. I’m one of those people who either comes up well in a photo or very badly; if I have warning then I’m okay, but if you spring it on me I end up looking like Quasimodo. It’s worse at Christmas; there’s always some party to go to or family coming round, and there’s always someone with a camera lurking around waiting to steal my soul.

A lot of people feel like that with photos, but I probably take it a step further… what’s interesting though is that most people seem to come up better when it’s a spontaneous photo than when they’re posed. Catching someone in a moment just makes them seem more natural and it’s closer to the memory we want to keep.

I’ve been printing some photos for a friend over the last few days and the same thing’s true again. There are over 160 photos and most of them have come out well, but the ones which are stunning were all taken when they didn’t know they were being photographed. There was one photo of a couple of my friends that just jumped out at me; it’d be impossible to make them ugly but it seemed to capture the smile in their eyes, and that’s how I’ve always known them. None of the other photos caught that.

You often hear people say that it’s what’s on the inside that makes someone beautiful. It’s said so often that it’s become a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. When I think of beauty I don’t usually think of someone’s appearance… well, that’s not quite true. My first instinct is to look at that, if they’re presentable, attractive, but I’m more interested in their personality and who they are. I think someone can be very attractive but not beautiful. Someone who is a racist or have repugnant ideas could be the most fair person in the world but would still be undesirable and ugly in a much worse way.

That’s one reason I don’t like it when people say someone is sexy. Certainly someone can be sexy and it can be a compliment, but I’m not a fan of how it’s overused; sexy, sexed up, I find that’s more about lust and desire than anything empowering. Hearing that governments “sexed up” reports just sets my teeth on edge. I guess I’ve always thought of beauty as what we represent as a whole, while someone’s attractiveness (or sexiness) is more related to their appearance.

Those photos seemed to capture that beauty; more than just the appearance, it caught the light in their eyes, a smile, a laugh… it transcended the rest. Unfortunately it doesn’t work for me, but I think those kind of photos definitely seem to cast most people in a good light.

What all this makes me wonder, though, is how do we define beauty today? Has it changed, the definition evolved? I think the way beauty and sexy are used interchangeably now suggests that it has. One example would be Maxim’s recent list of the world’s 5 unsexiest women; Sarah Jessica Parker came first. I still don’t understand that. Maybe Jessica Alba is the current It Girl, but I don’t find SJP unattractive at all. I think there’s something to be said for having a little elegance and class; calling her horse faced is just cruel.

But that’s part of the culture we live in now. Appearances matter more than ever and our definition of beauty is skin deep. As long as we’re presentable and look a certain way, then someone will like us enough that we’ll feel good about ourselves…

I wonder what you think. How do you define beauty and looks? What makes you beautiful? I’d be interested to find out. 😉

Sleepless in Sydney

This is just a quick post to let my blog friends know that I’m still here and I’m sorry I haven’t been around your blogs much lately. I’ve been flat out this past week and haven’t had as much free time as I’d planned. I’m looking forward to catching up with your blogs tomorrow. 🙂

I’ve got back into my writing again, which is the main reason I’ve been busy. I haven’t written much for the last couple of months and I hate it when I’m not writing; I feel restless and start turning things over in my mind, and it’s not a good state. A writer needs to read and write regularly to keep the flow, and I just feel better when I’m writing every day.

I had been trying to do a final rewrite of Shards, but I’m still not that happy with it and I decided I’m going to put that aside until the New Year. So I’ve been planning a new story instead which I hope to have finished by Christmas, or the end of January if I take my time.

It’s called Sleepless. Basically it’s about a man who wakes up from a coma after eight years and how he adapts to his new life. As he undergoes rehabilitation, he finds he has a son who is 7 and it’s their relationship that’s the main part of the story. It’s also a love story; he remembers his relationship with the boy’s mother and it’s told in flashbacks, and it’s a sad love story – we know how it ends before it begins.

It’s more what I used to write a few years ago, and it’s that idea of waking up in a new world I find interesting. What would it be like to suddenly find yourself in a world so different to the one you knew? To know nothing about iPods and YouTube and the War on Terror? To have not seen 9/11, Bali or London? What would we think of our world? I think that’s very interesting territory.

It’s still an early draft and there’s more to it than that, but it’s nice getting back into the flow again, seeing words on the page. It’s more what I want to be writing and that makes a big difference. The flip side is it hasn’t left me much time for blogging (and commenting) this week, but it’s always like that at the beginning. I’ll make up for it over the next couple of days (promise!).

Right now it’s 3.40 AM and I’m sleepless in Sydney, still writing away. But it’s a nice kind of sleeplessness; I know I’m getting somewhere at last and that’s the best feeling a writer can have. Like dreaming in the void.