Thursday, June 28, 2007

Silly choices surrounding nomenclature

By their very nature, posts on this blog tend to be Dan-centric.
But this post is going to take the biscuit.
You see, when I was filling in all my paperwork in my "The West Australian New Employees Kit" there was a little note asking me whether I wanted to be known as Dan or Daniel. They needed to know so they could set up my email.
Well I don't know why but this sent me into a bit of a crisis. I hadn't thought about it really.
I became Dan when I started in radio as it was easier to say "Dan Hatch" than it was to say "Daniel Hatch". I had always tripped over my tongue with the longer name.
I kept it when I went to the paper and now it has stuck. I've built my reputation as Dan Hatch.
But for a year or more I've been wondering whether it was kiddie and it was time to change it.
Hence the quandry.
So I sought advice from friends.
"I say embrace the status quo, and keep that laid-back attitude that exudes with the shortened name. Also, Daniel doesn't quite fit with the rhyme.... Dan, Dan, he's our man......".
"Dan. I like Dan".
"Well you're already known as Dan Hatch so I'd stick with that. I like it. It's immediate and no-bullshit....".
"i think daniel becomes you very nicely".
So yeah, the response was reasonably overwhelmingly in favour of maintaining the status quo.
Which makes the fact I've decided to change my byline to Daniel Hatch all the more interesting.
I just imagined the front of the paper and couldn't see "Dan Hatch" written on it. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't imagine it there. So I had to change it. It was too strong an omen. I feel like Daniel Hatch might succeed. But Dan Hatch will not.
Told this would be an indulgent post.
And what a ridiculous thing to worry about.

How the bloody hell are you?

A couple of mates are about to become Australian citizens.
One goes in for her operation today. The other goes in on July 4.
Why do I have visions of it being like on Dr Who when people get their brains chopped out and become cybermen?
I wonder if it will mean another write-up in the Preston Journal for Lindsay?
I wonder if it will be declared a regional holiday in Rural Suffolk when Emma gets hers?
Anyway, just wanted to say good luck my darlings, and welcome to the fold.
Now you can vote out that nice Mr Howard.
Before he sends the army in to your community to stop child abuse.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Last night I had the strangest dream

It wasn't an actual dream.
More of a nightmare.
You see I dreamt I got this really cool job at a major daily newspaper. It was an exciting, beautiful sweet dream. A huge life goal achieved. The big end of town wanted ME! I gave little yelps of excitement when no one could hear. I grinned like a Cheshire fuckwit. I danced a little in my own living room, scaring bah-jesus out of the lil woofer.
But then I began to doubt that I was up to it. I got nervous about the need to prove myself. Was I up to the challenge? I became terrified. Worried. Concerned. Nervous. Twitching and shaking nervous.
Because I realised... IT WAS NOT A DREAM!!!
I DID get that job at a major daily newspaper. And I had every reason to be terrified and nervous and worried and concerned and scared.
My friends have been wonderful and supportive and surprisingly few seem to want to scratch my eyes out. And I know it seems like false modesty to say "I'm very nervous". But believe me. I am. I am very nervous indeed. If I fail at this, I don't know what I'll do.
So the trick will be simply, not to fail. To succeed and do well and get some runs on the board early.
Piece of piss.

Oh God.

Friday, June 22, 2007

It's Time, Malcolm, It's Time

Today is, possibly, the best day of my life.
This has been a great week, all up. But today. Today is the best day of my life.
See you all for a drink soon.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The call came

I no longer need to work. I am rich.
Not Liberal-voting rich, but rich nevertheless.
It feels very liberating.
I could have resigned two hours ago, but I didn't. I'm kinda savouring it now. Knowing I don't have to work but still am is kind of an empowering experience.
And if I work an extra couple of weeks now, I won't have to work at all until the exciting things down the track come up.
Good times. Good times.
My heart is still set on spending some time at home writing, so it's not that I won't be resigning. I'm just rather enjoying the feeling that I could resign at any second. If I felt like it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

In other news..

The gym business goes well. I'm permanently adding a fourth visit a week into the routine. Not with a personal trainer for this one, but just going in and doing my own thing on a Saturday.
I've put on about three kilos and am proudly developing bumps in the spots I was hoping for.
My weights are going up every time I work out and I now have the motivation to go in there and work hard.
I mean I really, really enjoy it. It has taken over my life. Being at the gym is the time of the day I am most happy. I'm really enjoying the physical exertion and the fact that my brain totally tunes-out from my life for an hour.
I don't really want to drink that much any more in case getting drunk affects my ability to work hard at the gym. And I'm eating heaps. My appetite is out of control.
I've six weeks into my six months of personal training and I'm very happy with the results so far.
This is the best decision I've made since randomly going to Geisha one night back in September.
So yeah. Anyway...
Go get yourself some tickets to the Gun Show. LOL

So today was supposed to be the big day. Only the plans were predicated on receiving a particular phone call. That hasn't come as yet. It won't be far away, but it hasn't come yet. So I have to be a little bit more patient. But it is easy to be ninja-style patient when know what is good and what is right is coming to you.

After 24hrs, I'm still happy

I'm actually still happy with what I've written. I've tidied and tightened it a little, but generally speaking, considering it is a first draft I'm pretty happy with it. I've got a little book here about writing which I'm occasionally picking up and reading tid-bits from in the hope it will provide a value insight to the literary process at the exact time I need it. Mostly it's stuff I know, but it's nice to know someone else has words to describe the stuff you're thinking.
So I wrote a little bit more.
I'm very descriptive. You know the way you just want to stab Wilbur Smith because he gives every single object, person, place or thing two adjectives. Well I'm not quite that bad, but I'm close. In spots I'm a little pretentious. And I think eight years in journalism has significantly limited my vocabulary. Stuff is described as 'brown', not 'smoky hues of burnt umber'. I don't think there is anything wrong with my way, it just seems uninspired.
But the plot, I'm happy with that at this stage. So I will plug away at it and perhaps give it to Kate to read.
I've written about four pages I think and am about to describe the incident which should probably actually start the book. Only I'm too attached at this stage to the stuff I've already written to scrap it and start again. So I'll push on from here. A bit of discipline further down the track might see that change.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Update on the novel

The writing goes well enough. I've written a couple of short passages so I'm confident of my characterisation and my style. I think if I do that I panic less when all I have is a few plot points in my head. That stage always has me panicking because I feel I haven't written anything and if I've only written an outline it will never ever actually lead to any writing.
Of course, once you start writing, you realise you need to do more research in order to write anything meaningful. It's a great trap for young players that one.
So yes, I've written a couple of short passages and the plot structure is planned. It's pretty much a love story. With a historical ending. And, at this point, a tragic ending. Gay love in rural Australia in the late 19th Century wasn't a great place to be a homo. Hell, London in the late 19th Century wasn't a great place to be a homo, so why would the sticks have been?
Oh yeah. Obviously I know a lot about rural life in the 1800s, so my story is set there. At the moment it probably has homoerotic overtones which would make it suitable for publication by one of those gay Mills and Boon publishers. But if I made the effort and justified the homoeroticism, this could actually be a mainstream story rather than porn. LOL. At the moment, that could hang on the gender of one character. If I make him a boy, then this book will never appeal to Harper Collins or Allen and Unwin. If I make her a girl, then it will appeal less to the gay lit people.
I'm possibly getting a looooong way ahead of myself worrying about that kind of shit.
Really, it's just nice to be writing. Even if it never becomes more than a few passages and a rather tasty list of plot-points.
If anyone wants to read a bit of it... well I'll need someone to tell me it's shit eventually. It may as well be a friend.

My novel approach... to history

So last night I had an hour or two to myself after the gym and I began work on my masterpiece: The Definitive Australian Gay Classic.
This hasn't been done before, to my knowledge.
It fits somewhere into the same genre of those old Crawford productions like All The Rivers Run. A bit like A Town Like Alice (the second half). A feast of the Baz Luhrmann variety. With a bit of Brokeback Mountain thrown in.
Priscilla Queen of the Nineteenth Century.
In novel form.
Not a movie. Which the above would infer.
I plan to be the Colleen McCollough of homos.
I'm quite excited by the plot and narrative structure I've nutted-out. Hopefully the readers will be too. I'm not really going for literature here. Pulp faggot fiction is more what I had in mind.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Census for June

Reading: Not a lot at the moment. I'm kinda into some websites.
Watching: Can't wait for Torchwood tonight, and the new series of Dr Who.
Listening: Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams albums, freshly purchased. Looking to buy other sounds of my youth as well.
Downloading: Nothing at the moment.
Website du jour: Oh probably one of the hundred or so gay-themed blogs that keep me entertained for hours each day.
Café: Went to Coode Street on Sunday for breakfast. That wasn't too bad.
Pub: Scotto. Always the Scotto. Comedy is coming to the Scotto in August and I'll be right there with my comrades, hoping people will laugh at me.
Club: Haven't been to one for so long, not sure I could find my way into one.
Eating: Il Mondo does me up a special protein-rich sandwich I think my colleagues hate.
Drinking: Dutch chocolate flavoured Sustagen. It's also high in protein.
Wearing: Well to be honest, I'm making the most of the fact that going to the gym for personal training three times a week has given me an arse for the first time in my whole life. So I'm wearing jeans.
Last show: Unidentified Human Remains at WAAPA. I saw willie.
Next show: I actually don't think I have any tickets to anything pending.
Can’t wait ‘til: Wednesday. I should know then that finance has been approved for the woman buying my flat and when settlement should be. After that, I'm free as a bird.
Most recent scoop: Well it ain't great, but I got the hop on everyone else and announced the State Government's new approach to the trail bike problem.
Most recent purchase: A Hank Williams compilation. I'm so happy. This music genuinely makes me happy.
Want but can’t afford: To stop working completely. Until Wednesday, perhaps.
Need but can’t afford: To stop working completely.
Last nice act: Eh, I never said I was nice.
Last bad act: Eh, I never said I was bad, either.
Bad news: Someone I love very much is going into hospital this week.
Good news: A total fuckwit is moving out of home. We think.
Goal: To be buff for summer. And let me just say, I think it might actually happen, at this rate.
Yesterday I: Had lunch with a heap of Thom's friends. When I say "had lunch", I mean we turned up and waited for two-hours and had to leave and lunch was still in the oven. LOL.
Right now I should be: Doing an interview with an FHM model. If only it was a DNA model, I might not be procrastinating.
Later today I’m: Going to the gym, then meeting my potential new father-in-law. Cannot wait. I'm going to give Robbie such a ribbing.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The times they are a changing...

I'm about to say goodbye to my comfort zone. I'm very excited.
Wednesday should be the day it all happens. But I may drag it out until Friday. Depending on circumstances.

If you love yourself. Set yourself free.

I know that sounds ridiculous but for me it's actually a good bit of advice on self-preservation. And also, if you're suddenly seriously cashed-up, why spend every day somewhere you totally hate working for fucking retards you do not respect?

With the possible exception of the fact I think management actually knows about this blog and some junior management actually read it, and therefore know about all my whinging (and still have done nothing about it), I plan to leave with a bit of dignity.

I'll keep you appraised of details as they come to hand.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

Last night I watched a movie, Stranger Than Fiction.
I didn't expect it to be great because Will Ferrell plays the lead, but convinced Thom we should watch it because:
a) Emma Thompson is in it and she is always great, and
b) It is about a guy who can hear Emma Thompson narrating his life... so it could be funny.
It was. Not cack-your-dacks funny, but it had some great heart-warming moments, some genuinely witty dialogue and some very clever writing.
The best bit of all was when Ferrell's character tracks-down Thompson and begs her not to kill him off.
It just reminded me of that technique authors often talk about where they interview their own characters to see how they would react in various situations. I always thought it sounded odd-yet-genious. And here it was, a simple premise that seems to have been the inciting idea for an entire movie.
I. Fucking. Loved. It.
Thompson, Dustin Hoffman and Maggie Gyllenhaal gave great performances, and I didn't even want to kill Will Ferrell.
Made me feel like writing again though. Really putting my shoulder to the wheel this time and trying to actually complete something.
It won't happen. But it might. It could. And I could have conversations with my characters.
And lay on my desk, smoking, wondering how many innocent people I've killed.
Oh yes, if I was a writer, I'd want to be as scatty as Emma Thompson.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I'm happy again

I won't pretend there aren't several reasons why.
It's good to be me today.
I love you all.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Soundtrack of my life

Or call it Desert Island Discs, whatever cliche works for you.
I'm on a mission and that mission is to collect the music of my childhood. Stuff that hasn't been in my life certainly for the past decade or so since I left home.
I started tonight by buying a Loretta Lynn CD and a compilation of hits by Dr Hook. I know most people either won't have heard of these artists or if they have will be cringing like wild things, but these are two musical influences of my youth.
Mostly these are bands and singers from my mother's collection. Which I imagine was mostly influenced by her father who had a truly wicked music collection.
So I'm compiling here a list of albums/artists/groups I need to collect. If anyone spots albums by any of these artists you are duty bound to text me immediately:

Donna Fargo
Dolly Parton
Kenny Rogers
Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
Loretta Lynn
Conway Twitty
Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty
Tom T Hall
Lynn Anderson
Burl Ives
Charley Pride
Hank Williams
Dr Hook
Credence Clearwater Revival

There will be more, many more. But these are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Obviously they're mostly the country artists I remember because I'm listening to Miss Lynn at the moment and that's where my head is. But there are a lot more 70s artists I will include when I'm in the right headspace.
It's a funny thing, to not be embarrassed by once musical past any more. To feel the need to revisit it. To yearn to hear the music of your past. I'm fucking gagging to listen to Donna Fargo, if anyone spies any. Hello Little Bluebird, You Can't Be A Beacon, and United States of America are three tracks that particularly enter my head fondly.

Some time ago

A lil while ago someone I love had a birthday. I gave her a scooter. I wrapped it in orange paper.
I forgot I had a photo of it. So here is Thom and I with Emma, and her birthday scooter... presented by the Air Scooters Association of Rural Suffolk.

I think the photo is a Will Russell special. Thank you kind Sir.
You have no idea how much work went into wrapping that thing. Or unwrapping it, apparently.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Interesting times

I have an offer on my flat. I'm waiting to hear if the person has got their finance, but all things going well, in about a month settlement will go through and I'll have a wad of cash.
What to do? Oh, what to do?!
I also went for a job interview today. I don't know that the job is the perfect one for me, but it is $60kpa-$70kpa... so we'll wait and see what happens. I have several other irons in the fire anyway. It was nice to be considered worthy of interview.
At very least I feel like the ball is rolling and changes are coming in my life.
If the flat definitely sells, then I'll quit anyway. Frankly I could live off the interest for a little while.
Might also go on a holiday. I haven't had one of those since March. LOL.

Friday, June 01, 2007


How do you know whether you don't love your profession any more, or just your place of work?
I started in the media in 1999. My first full-time job was as a lunchtime radio announcer on 6VA RadioWest in Albany. Ah, heady days. I've dabbled in everything since then but for the bulk of my time I have been a journalist. I loved my cadetship and thought I'd found the thing I wanted to do with my life.
But now, eight years later, I'm more than a little despondent. I'm sick of fire fighters and policemen getting long service awards. I'm sick of Queen's Birthday Honours. I'm sick of fucking Not In My Backyard stories. I'm sick of subs' phone calls and errors being printed where facts used to be. I'm sick of being answerable to an entire community for every tiny scrap of information (and therefore my working day). I'm tired of rude people. I'm sick to death of placating idiots and apologising to people who have built themselves up to be something only to shy away from it when it goes to print and all their mates have started poking fun at them. I'm sick of typesetting diary items. I'm sick of pretending like I give a fuck about anything and everything.
My profession - our profession, as I know most the people reading this are journalists - is very vocational. You do it because you love it because the money sure as hell ain't much chop.
What happens when you fall out of love with it? What do you do?
Well, go off and earn some actual money somewhere sounds like a nice idea, for a start.
But have I really fallen out of love with being a journalist or is it just the kind of journalism my present employment allows me to do?
A very wise man said to me not long ago, "no story is too big for us, young sir, but no story is too small for us either". And I think that has become a serious problem.
I would hate to give up on journalism and go into Government or public relations and then discover I miss it and have to come skulking back to where I am only to have to start all over again. But then what are the chances of getting into a bigger paper? It's not like I can just "try that first".
Here's my conundrum. I need to leave and I need to leave fast. This morning I so desperately didn't want to go to work that I cried a little in the car on the way. I don't want to spend my day sighing with a heavy heart and choking back tears. That's not life. That's not what I want for my life.
There are only two times I'm truly happy at the moment. One is when I'm with Thom and the other is when I'm at the gym. Both are totally fulfillling experiences. Thank God for Thom. I love him. Ironically, he keeps me sane and grounded. (If you know him, you'll understand). He just makes me smile. He's so beautiful, so funny, so smart. God I mustn't fuck that up.
And the gym? Well it's a bit of a total surprise that the gym has become such an outlet for me. But getting in there three times a week with Paris has become crucial to my sanity. The exercise is good, but it's also some kind of debrief on life. Small talk with a blonde big brotherly character who doesn't know my people or my shit. We natter about irrelevant stuff and do some serious exercise at the same time. He encourages me and supports me. It's amazing how good that feels. Perhaps that's what is missing from work. No one actually says "you did a good job". I mean in fairness to my editor, she does actually SAY that, but not in the way I need. What she means is, thanks for filling the paper with minimum fuss. Which is fine. But I need to do something more productive and important with my day than just write everything that comes across my desk to fill the paper.
I've been struggling with this since I came back from Europe. I've had good days and bad days but generally speaking I am very very unhappy with my work situation. I've spoken to management about it repeatedly and SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS, but nothing has ever come of it. Nothing. One person in particular keeps saying "what's needed out there is a fresh start and everything will be okay". WTF? Yeah. Sure. Okay. How about you actually arrange a fresh start.
Just go work out what it is first.
I know this is a total fucking rant, but hey, it's my diary and you don't have to read it and you don't have to care. I'm just putting it out there into the universe "the secret"-style. Today I was so upset I couldn't even hold down a conversation with the chief-sub for fear of crying. She hadn't even asked me anything particularly hard - it was just a normal journo v chief sub conversation. (That said, she will get people's backs up if she will continues to re-write perfectly good leads for no reason).
I can't do this any more. I don't have to. I won't. I'm moving on.
The question is... do I wait for something to come up at the bigger papers, or do I leave my profession?
If only I knew whether I hated my job or my profession it would be so much easier.