Agitated into Renewal

June 4, 2010 at 2:01 am (Uncategorized)

Another notably dismal day here in Sydney, groovers… I was saturated on my walk yesterday, thanks to leaving my good umbrella on the ferry Tuesday night, thus being left to contend with a back-up brolly that offers as much protection as the soggy newspaper fish and chips come in. I finished walking bedraggled to the point of some curious satisfaction. There’s something strangely empowering (slim pickings these days, but I’ll take my scraps where I find ‘em) about pressing on even after the path has completely emptied of people, all the less unhinged members of the community having sensibly taken cover. I was all alone out there, well, with the always hardy surfers, and I returned home feeling much improved.

Then I sat and worked on my MS until nearly midnight – Llew was working back so there were no interruptions, and I ate dinner at my desk. I am pleased to report that I have finally (can this rain get any heavier? No, really. Can it? Is it possible for rain to fall from the sky any harder than this?) finished phase one of the redraft. It’s taken me quite a bit longer than I expected, but, really, I should have known better. Each redraft is its own beast entirely, there’s no set course to follow because the work is a slightly different thing each time and must find its own altered logic. This is true even though the story is essentially the same as it’s been for a long time – although I did have one especially radical idea last night that may bear thinking about… except of course that may have been the delirium talking. I’ll take a long sober look at it in phase two and see what my less exhausted calculations suggest, because you can be sure I was in no condition to make such a colossal decision at 11:45 last night. Llew arrived at midnight, took one look at me and said, “You look shattered”: ironic coming from him. What a pair of hollow-eyed wrecks we are.

Speaking of which, I must tell you about the Skeleton Gallery at the Australian Museum, and the wonderful exhibition we attended there on Tuesday night. It made such an excellent venue for artist/comic creator/illustrator Matt Huynh’s purposes – it was the most complementary space for his Asperatus series to meet its public that I could imagine, especially as one of the works prompted instant associations with the River Styx.

We never really have an unmediated reaction to art, do we? As viewers, we can’t help but bring such a lot of our own conscious and sub-conscious threads to our interpretations. One of Matt’s other works sparked Lord of the Flies correlations for me; another, Gulliver’s Travels, and yet when I asked him if he was deliberately alluding to these works, he said he’d never read them, but that he’d heard other people say the same thing. Interesting on both counts, if you ask me.

Some of you may recall I first became aware of Matt and his work when I attended a UTS lecture on comics (I am now on a terrifying fast ferry ride across Sydney Heads – oh my god, is this swell frightening…). He’s an impressive Gen Y-er, Matt, with what Llew so aptly identified as a ‘Vietnamese Steve Buscemi’ intensity and charisma, one of those super talented over-achievers who never switches off. His mind is always roving ahead at a hundred miles a minute – trust me, you can hear it breaking land speed records from across the room. I kept hoping he’d speak to the assembled guests in the Skeleton Gallery, and perhaps he did later in the evening, because Matt in full flight – as he was at the UTS lecture, the only time I’ve seen him before – is something to see. But moving around the gallery was more than enough to satisfy us – Llew and I both love his work, it inhabits exactly the kind of lawless territory of which I am so fond. Asperatus, Matt says on his website, loosely translates from the Latin to agitation, and for me that specific site, the place where friction lives, is the most compelling creative space of the lot. It was good to meet Matt face to face after our emails back when I was searching for an illustrator – I was so pleased he thought to invite me – and more than that, the new series just highlights why I came away from UTS so excited about the possibilities of the comic form. Marcelo Baez, with whom I used to work and whom I did end up commissioning thanks to Matt putting him back in my path, sadly couldn’t make the exhibition Tuesday night, but he has completed the limited commission I was able to afford: three spot illustrations. These accompanied my Penguin Varuna Scholarship application, so we’ll see how we go.

So yes, I guess I have hauled myself out of my despondency by sheer force of will and work. Keep calm and carry on: words to live by, what.



  1. Norwichrocks said,

    Firstly, yes, this weather is BONKERS. And is rapidly sending me the same way.

    Secondly, I LOVE graphic novels (one of my favourite things on the iPhone are the graphic novels – they look so cool on the screen, panel by panel) so now I’m going to go and check out Matt and Marcelo’s stuff. 🙂

  2. doctordi said,

    I picked a FINE day to commit to traipsing around three corners of the city – I’ve already had two water-related near misses (big scares!) with my computer and have gone into shock. BRING BACK THE SUNSHINE.

    There’s another website – his agent’s? – that really displayed Matt’s work well… I’ll see if I can find the address for you.

  3. litlove said,

    MH may well be a fabulous artist, but anyone who produces a whole website of white type on a black background goes down a notch in my estimation. It is unreadable to my poor, middle-aged eyes. Still, I do agree that other art can be really motivating. It’s funny the things that get me back in the saddle again – Shrek the movie, the first one, is so joyously playful, and Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway. Jack Kornfield’s buddhist-inspired books (which I’ve been listening to on audio CD) have been very good too. It doesn’t matter what it is, does it? So long as it does the job.Very glad to hear you feel you are getting your mojo back. It doesn’t have to be an immediate thing – you can take your time over it. Just plod along in the meantime. Hugs to you.

  4. doctordi said,

    Yes, I know, LL, I don’t really understand that decision myself – his old website was much more user-friendly… it’s bugging me too. I think I’ll see if I can find that alternative and link it in instead.

    I think some of the other art that helped was the selection of prize-winners in the most recent competition in which I failed to make an impression (and I *really* failed to make an impression: Darkling JB was shortlisted, so she was able to tell me that of the 550 entries – the new average it seems – fifty made the shortlist. Fifty! I couldn’t crack a list of FIFTY stories!!!! Wow, that smarts!), because it was obvious the judge was looking for stories that were a) exotic, not domestic, and b) tricksy. Both the winner and the runner-up were set in foreign lands and broke lots of rules of form. Mine is set in Sydney and has commas.

  5. doctordi said,

    Okay, I’ve changed the link, but here’s his agent’s site, which shows a decent gallery of images:

  6. Lilian Nattel said,

    Di, thanks for the links. I’m so glad you have all that will! (I like Kornfeld’s books too.)

  7. Grad said,

    I’ve been so out of touch lately I’ve been racing through all the blogs I’ve missed over the last two weeks. Wanted to touch base and say way to go. Sheer force of will and work sounds good to me.

  8. Grad said,

    Oh, one other thing. Not ignoring the Bodacious Blogger award. I’ve been really slammed at work (God bless the man that sues our client), but will get my life back together soon.

  9. Dusk said,

    […] Crunchy Tiger Kevin Tran Design Doctor Di « […]

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