I am grateful that you have visited my blog. I hope your visit is a successful one. Please feel free to comment, contact or otherwise interact with the site and with me. I'm beginning to spread my wings photographically, so please take a look at Paul's Photos on Flickr (on the right). which will lead you to my presence on Flickr. Again, your comments, feedback or whatever are very welcome. Let us assist each other in our pursuit of our own truth, our own Dreaming. Peace!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Is Life Too Short for Perfect Writing?

Having heard of an interesting piece of graffiti, I went to see and photograph it just the other day. It is a statement that reads, simply, Life’s too short for perfect writing. Simple on the surface, but it is a deceptive idea, and one that I at least should examine carefully.

The first thing to say is that the statement does not say that life is too short for goodwriting: in my opinion there is no place for any other kind. Here good for me refers to the intention of the writer: not all of us are gifted authors (though some of us can dream!). So, it is the word perfect that gives us trouble here. Of course a thing-whether writing or any other thing- might be perfect by its nature or by the way in which it is able to express its purpose. It is the persuit of perfection (as opposed to the persuit of excellence: the two are not the same) that life is too short for I think.

Perfectionism is a curse! At least it has been for me. Nothing has ever been good enough, mainly because I have never been satisfied with my efforts. Of course being cursed with perfectionism doesn’t only apply to oneself: all people and all things in one’s life are affected and the curse rolls on and on doing its damage and preventing authenticity, full truth and life to express itself.

The other part of this statement worth looking at is Life’s too short. By itslef it is not in dispute: life is what life is; it can be niether too short or too long, it can only be its perfect (you see? here is a use of perfect in a natural and correct context) length. And this is precisely why it is too short for perfect writing that is created via a perfectionist attitude.

Life is for living. There is no meaning to it outside of that which we create during our time of living, and then it is only for the duration of that life (as far as we can know of course). A part of that meaning, for me as for many many other writers, is to write. And it is required of us to make that writing as good (however we define that) as we can. If our writing communicates the intended ideas in a way that our readers can relate to, then it is perfect. There is no need to think about it anymore.

Thank you

PS My partner says that maybe I have taken this graffiti message on board: she says my writing is getting better and better. I am not concious of letting go of my perfectionism, but it is one of those things that lives below the surface and it isn’t always available to scrutiny. Time will tell. By the way, the statement appeared at the bottom of a cafe menu scrawled onto an old iron sheeting fence behind the cafe, near the river near where we live. It, I think, refers to the untidyness of the handwriting on the sign. A sort of apology I guess. Interesting.

PPS This post has been copied from my other blog over at Wordpress. Not that I am being lazy, just that I want to share this post with more of my legions of fans!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Most News in not good news

It's almost a cliche (actually it is definitely a cliche) to say things like, the media is full of horror stories, it's all bad news, can't they report the good news? On and on, we've all heard or even said these or similar things ourselves. Of course it seems to be a perfectly natural reaction to newspapers, TV or Internet news that seems to only report the negative side of life.

I was reading the weekend paper today (typically full of the bad stuff) and came across a profile of a journalist who has just written a book about his adventures as a 'foreign correspondent'. For a little context, this journalist is from a western European country and has spent time working in Africa and the Middle East.

The piece begins with a report of some of the advice this guy received when he first 'fell into' journalism. I quote it more or less directly. And I hope any potential readers of my blog (there aren't many so far are there?) will not associate the views expressed with me. I find the attitude reflected in what I'm about to quote extremely offensive and repugnant. In fact, I think in some places making these views public is (rightly) illegal. Anyway, here is the quote:

'Stumbling into Africa as a young foreign correspondent (the name is withheld by me of course) consulted a colleague in his head office about how to rank news. The reply was frank, but brutal: "If it bleeds, it leads". The colleague even offered a formula: "Divide the number of deaths by the number of kilometres from home (that is, the European country they worked from); dead whites are bigger news than dead blacks or Asians, and dead Christians are bigger news than dead people of other faiths."'

There followed a reference to a particular religious and national group that I find so offensive I can't bring myself to actually type it. But I think the message is clear from what I have quoted.

Of course there has to be some sort of criteria for reporting news, or when choosing what to write about. We all have our own set of rules or guidelines-either imposed by employers or developed by our own experience and priorities. The advice given to the journalist seems quite harsh and cynical. But it does seem to be the way in which a lot of news is reported in the "West". I use the quotes because I always find such terms problematical. It's all about ''them and us'', whoever we are or they are.

In a way I guess that's the principle behind the formula quoted above: clearly the quote is from someone who is probably white, from the West and has been around too long! But what other options are there? How else is the Media to choose what to report? And of course the really BIG question, why should they do it any differently? If it 'ain't broke why fix it. Right?

I don't want to get into a rave about the crisis facing many of the mainstream media outlets around the world (or rather in the 'west'): I'm not qualified to make such judgements. But two things struck me when reading the paper today: one, the horror is on every page. Not just as in reporting of the facts and so on. It's funny how we writers often claim to be objective and only interested in reporting the facts, but so much of what you read in the papers (or watch on TV news) seems to dwell on certain gruesome or sensational aspects of a story, while at the same time neglecting some other aspects that, while just as relevan to a balanced story, don't have quite the same shock or scandal or horror value.

The other thing that struck me as i leafed through sections of the paper and accompanying magazines, was the number and size of advertisements for consumer goods ranging from luxury cars, fashion (including a full page ad for a department store selling a shirt and shorts for men for several hundred dollars...my partner thought the ad was saying get your man to get rid of his scruffy clothes by going to...the store. Then she saw the prices in small print), furniture, cruising. on and on. I am not suggesting that advertising is bad, nor am I saying that newspapers have ever been any different. After all, without advertising, how can they survive? They are businesses after all.

And of course haven't newspapers and other media always reported war, violence, horror, scandal and so on? Seems like nothing's changed. But, maybe that's the problem: readers are being swamped by advertising for luxury and other material goods at a time when there is supposed to be a global financial crisis, at the same time as being overwhelmed by news that seems to be nothing but a repetitive regurgitation of all the horrors.

If you don't like violence, horror, scandal, and repetition of same, and you don't like being bombarded with advertising for stuff you either don't want, or do want and can't afford, then why would you continue to read the paper/watch the TV program/visit the website/whatever?

Is the solution going to be found in cutting the ads and reporting 'good news'? Maybe. But that seems to be too simplistic to me. I guess one of the huge benefits of the Internet is that you can find both the bad and the good on it. Maybe over time, the good will get a bigger audience than the bad and the advertisers will follow that lead. Of course there is always the fact that some people do like the blood and gore, the scandal and titillation, the war and killing. So there will always be suppliers to meet that demand.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I am growing more impatient with the bombardment of bad news, advertising, hype, noise. Mind you, I think a lot of people are; problem is, a lot of people just won't say anything. Maybe they're the ones not buying the newspapers, turning off certain TV shows. Who knows?

I am no airy fairy ''new age'' dreamer; I don't pretend that life would be perfect if we only had good news in the media. That would not be real life; it would not be a true reflection of the way the world is, they way we are. But perhaps a criteria which begins with some other guide than If it bleeds, it leads might be a good start in shifting the balance a little.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's with the name of this blog?

It's a good question. But it's one that is pretty easily answered: just see the description under the title of the blog. This blog is about a writer's (that would be me) experiment with, or exploration of, truth, or rather the search for truth.

I only write the truth; I've already done a post on just this topic. But the actual words, Dharma Dreaming are interesting. The Dharma of course is a word you find in Buddhism and it refers to the teachings of Buddha or, to put it another way that is to my liking, the laws of the universe. Same thing really... in a manner of speaking. Easy to see how this might apply to the blog of a writer who is seeking to find and to tell the truth.
Dreaming is also interesting. Of course there is the obvious meaning related to the kinds of dreaming we all do when asleep (or sometimes when we're awake!). In the context of the blog title, if we are to use this meaning it's saying that I have a dream (to steal a phrase) that I can find and tell the truth.
In its other meaning, Dreaming is the more correct term for the Dream Time of Australia's Indigenous peoples. It, as with Dharma, refers to the law of the universe; it also encompasses the story of a people or culture ... or an individual. For example, if you were to make a scrapbook or a photo album that you believed contained the full story of your family history, then you can say: 'This is my family's Dreaming'. That isn't a terrific or totally accurate example, but I think you get the drift.
So, Dreaming here for the purposes of this blog is the attempt to explore the truth in the context of my own personal story as a writer ... of course this is going to be in the context of my life story. Also there is an element of my resolve to stick with the Dreaming as in the law of the universe.
All this sounds very grand doesn't it? It's not meant to. It is simply the convoluted and even confused explanation by this writer and dreamer.
thank you for reading this.

NOTE: There may be some people who might take offence at my interpretation of the term Dreaming (or other of my writings of course). Any offence caused is of course entirely unintended. At the same time I apologise unreservedly to anyone genuinely offended by what I have written regarding this sacred and important concept and tradition. I am naturally open to any feedback regarding this issue. I have only attempted to make an explanation from my own feelings and all I do is motivated by a genuine search for truth and a desire to do right by all beings. Thank you

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

See my blog posts via Twitterfeed

A good excuse for a post! Much to my frustration, I am still not doing a daily post as I've promised myself. Now I have decided to advertise to the world every time I write a post. Maybe that will get me going! So, you guys out there in Twitterland, you will be able to read my blog posts. Not that they are especially wonderful, insightful or anything. But, you never know do you ? Hope you enjoy anyway.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Write the Truth. What else is there?

I'm reading Jack Kerouac's On the Road: The Original Scroll at the moment. Now, this is a very groovy book: so much of what Kerouac wrote didn't end up in the published version of the novel. The names are real (a whole lot less confusing for sure) and there are many scenes, different sentence structures, lots of stuff, that make it a whole new and exciting experience to read.

Anyway, one of the features of this book are the essays in front of the novel itself. They are by all sorts of Kerouac scholars, literary types etc, and they give some interesting new perspectives on this very famous, very cool and life-changing novel (as well as others by Kerouac such as The Dharma Bums, Big Sur and others). In one of the essays there is a quote from Kerouac's diary or from a letter he wrote (I forget which):
"There is nothing to do but write the truth. There is no other reason to write."
That's what he said, and to me it seems a pretty succinct way of putting my own writing philosophy (well, a part of my writing philosophy at least).

Kerouac's quote says two things. First, writing the truth is the only thing to do. And, second, writing the truth is the only reason to write. The conclusion one could draw from this is that all of his writing was true, or the truth. Of course, as we know, Kerouac wrote novels (among other things: his poetry is pretty wild also) about his own and his friends' adventures and lives as part of what became known as the Beat Generation of the late 1940s and 1950s. And, as one who has read the biographies, I know that what he wrote in his novels wasn't always factual: he made stuff up, invented characters and events and so on. Just like any novelist does.

You notice I said his writing wasn't always factual. That's not to say he wasn't writing the truth. Another of Kerouac's quotes (again I have no idea of the exact source, sorry) says, "The truth is the way consciousness really digs everything that happens." In other words the truth is in the eyes of the beholder. Anyone who has read Kerouac will tell you that he always went for the essence of whatever was going on; he was very intense, always open and looking for the heart of the matter - and the people, places and goings on he was involved with.

Now, if that essence of heart of the matter stuff had to be dressed up or disguised for whatever reason, then it was okay as long as it, to quote from another quote (the author of which I have long since forgotten. I collect quotes but often lose the bits of paper I wrote them on), "serves some notion of truth''.

There is obviously room for manipulation here isn't there? What if I as a writer tell you that what I've written is true, and I lead you to believe that this ''true'' means factual? It's easy to do and it's done all the time (no need for me to point out the litany of literary hoaxes from over the years that gets trotted out in discussions of this sort). And, the manipulation may not necessarily be deliberate: I could by innocent omission give the impression that what I've written is fact. Again, it's been done.

What it boils down to for me is pretty much what I refer to in the description at the top of this blog: we are all searching for truth, artists perhaps more than most people. but the only truth we can ever know is that which comes from our own exploration of ourselves and the world. It doesn't matter how we dress it up or in what terms we define it or whatever; all that matters is that it is our truth. And that we are honest with ourselves too. If we are honest with ourselves, then we are by default being honest with our readers (if we are lucky enough to have readers that is). As writers, as artists, that's all that is required of us. Like Kerouac says, let your own unique consciousness really dig exactly what happens.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Writing Routine? I don't have one!

A lot of writers swear by routines: they say it's not possible to get anything done unless they have a routine. The routines vary of course: some like to do the 'nine to five' thing or some variation of the theme so they have a set time they 'go to work'; others have a set place they write in, whether it's an office at home, their local cafe, the shed out the back yard, wherever it is they associate with writing; others still have rituals they need to follow before starting on a writing session. These could be anything from a period of meditation to a coffee in a specific cup or mug.

Then there are other writers who don't have any routine at all: they just write when, where and how it comes. Or, it has to be said, they don't write. That's the problem with routines: if you don't have them it all gets very unpredictable. This isn't to say that following a set routine will gaurantee that words will flow and writing will flourish. Equally, lack of routine is no gaurantee either. The difference lies in the idea of going to work doesn't it? With a set routine we can atleast do something related to our writing work, whether it's reading, research, filing, or as a friend once put it, 'shuffling papers'.

Of course we can do all that without a routine; I guess it's just that without a routine we can allow time to just pass on by without anything in the way of writing done to show for it. Choosing to have a routine in place or not is an individual choice obviously. And in part the decision will have a lot to do with aims and goals and what we want to achieve on a given day or within a given writing project. Then there are those writers who no matter how hard they try to establish and stick to routines just can't do it. I think I fall into this latter category.

Sometimes the mundane things of life take over and time just goes by without me allowing myself (or being allowed by the chores or whatever) to sit down and get stuck into the work. Other times I pretend to myself that I am awaiting inspiration. (of course sometimes I really am waiting on inspiration). I'm working on a project at the moment for example, that's taken years so far and I'm still only about a quarter done. Up until recently I have insisted to myself that the nature of the project is virtually completely reliant on inspiration. That's probably why it's taken so long.

Anyway, lately I've decided to sit down with the project and push it a little. I'm not saying I really force it to come, it's more that I focus on it for a time. And I've been surprised and pleased by the results. It hasn't worked every time, but I have made more progress in a few shortish sessions than I have in a year or two. All I've done is sit, focus on ideas for moving the thing forward, and then somehow, it comes. Sounds easy doesn't it? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

As I think I mentioned, so much of the decision to develop routines or not is dependent on the nature of the work and of course deadlines ... whether they are self-imposed or dictated by some outside entity. And many writers do have deadlines if they are writing for magazines or newspapers.

The fact that I don't have routines does bother me. In a sense I would say that this fact alone is responsible for me not having produced more writing than I have. This blog, in its way, will be a help in this: I will write at least one post a day and that alone will give me a routine. It's only a small routine, but it's a start.

Looks like, from reading this that I am in favour of routines, and that I simply haven't been able to implement them for myself. I think this is probably correct. A failing on my part I suppose. Of course a writer's life isn't confined to just writing: there are other factors impacting on and influencing our lives. But that is a whole bunch of other stories.

So, would I recommend working routines for others? I think I probably would. Now the only problem remaining is for me to find ways to implement some routines of my own, and to start getting the writing done that I know I want to do.

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A First Post. Blogging provides wonderful opportunity

Yes indeed: the first post in a new Blog. A nice thing to anticipate, to consider and to then embark upon. I'm pretty new to this blogging caper, so I guess that there will be a lot to learn. But, how hard can it be? I am a writer after all, and posting on a blog requires some writing, some words that say something at least remotely sensible. Well, perhaps not necessarily sensible; I guess they at least have to say something that someone out there might want to read.

I think the very notion of blogging is a miraculous thing and provides us with amazing opportunities. So many cliches around today about the Internet and blogging allowing us to connect with the whole world, linking everyone, advancing knowledge and the spread of ideas. It goes on and on. But, you know the thing about cliches is that they have become cliches because they are at least in part, true. And so it is with blogging; what a wonderful thing it is. And I for one do not intend to take this opportunity, this gift, for granted.

So, I don't have much to say in this initial post. Its purpose is mainly to get it all rolling. I hope I will be faithful to this blog, and I also hope I will have something useful to say, something that someone will gain from by their reading of my words.

With that I close for now.
Thank you.