If you were to interview yourself, what would you ask? One day I sat down and d just this. I wrote exactly what came to mind, with no editing nor much forethought. The result strikes me as a snapshot of my life and my interests at this moment. It is a petri dish, if you will, full of all that is festering in my mind at this point in time. Ew, gross.
I quite enjoyed the result though. Take a look:
I ask myself questions.
Who is your favourite author?
Author? Or writer?
Is there a difference?
Well, an author I relate to books specifically. A writer, to me, could be any medium. It’s more of an umbrella term (although there are a few authors out there who I would certainly hesitate to call writers).
But anyway. My favourite writer is Heather Hogan. She was plucked out of the comments section of my favourite website, Afterellen.com, and began writing for them. She’s so amazing. She has such a sensitive, magical way of putting things. Even when she recaps TV shows, she sees things that most of us didn’t, but when she talks about them we realise they were there all along and we just weren’t looking hard enough. She does have this strange ability to make what should be just an ordinary piece of writing magical.
Wow. So you’re pretty passionate about that?
Yes. Sometimes I get so passionate about it that I make myself want to cry.
Because I have no one who understands my passion. Well, who feels it like I do. There probably are but they live on the internet as commenters and bloggers and fan fiction writers. And also because of frustration that I can’t express well enough why I’m so passionate about it. I’ll just be stuck with this passion burning me up, or I might write it into journals that no one will ever see and then I’ll die and that’ll be the end of it.
Right, so, next topic. What’s your favourite media?
Hmm, that’s a difficult one… I’m going to have to say the internet, but the internet would be nothing if it didn’t have the other media to comment on. What I mean is, all the sites I love the most spend a lot of time talking about television and media representations and the like.
If I had to choose another one it would be television, for sure.
You could argue that television would be nothing if it didn’t have life to comment on. But anyway, why television?
That’s not true, there would still be vampire shows.
In terms of why television, I guess it seems a lot more natural to me than the format of a film. Or a novel. TV shows, they just kind of pop into someone’s life, show it to us, then pop out again. It’s not like a complete story that has to be crammed into an hour and a half of film, or 500 pages of a novel. I know that’s a huge generalisation about those media and not entirely correct. But I can’t explain myself further.
Well, what’s your favourite television programme then? And why?
I love a lot of them – 30 Rock in particular I find so groundbreaking. The humour is so fast and I love that it was created by a woman. Tina Fey is amazing. But overall, the TV show I respect the most is Skins. The UK version. Don’t even talk to me about the other one. Anyway, Skins to me is so much of what I’m into. They get young people to write it, they have all this interactive media for fans, and extras for characters, like they have video diaries or they might post YouTube videos that were ‘made’ by the character. Things like that. It’s the only mainstream thing out there that I really feel embraces youth culture and the way people consume these days. And then there are the actual characters in the show, and the themes they cover without ever seeming try-hard.
Well, the one that springs to mind – because it’s most relevant to me, is the Emily and Naomi romantic storyline. They build this relationship, and they struggle with labels and what their feelings mean and homophobia and all that… but at the same time it’s never a story about a lesbian relationship. It’s a story about the struggles of love. It just rings so, so true. And then when I thought the Skins writers could never do anything that topped that – it truly was a groundbreaking representation of a girl-girl relationship – they bring in Franky Fitzgerald. A genderqueer character. I guess I should clarify that. In Franky’s case it means she dresses traditionally masculine, but doesn’t identify as male, and as far as we know she’s not lesbian or anything. I think she’ll end up being a straight character who just happens to dress rather like a boy. So that’s pretty interesting. And again – they’re showing something that has never been seen before on television, but it’s completely normalised. Not like Glee, which feels like an after-school special. The disabled kid, the gay kid, the black, fat chick, the ambitious chick… I know that Franky has made as much of an impact for genderqueer people who have never seen themselves reflected before on television as Naomi and Emily did for me.
So there are still stories left to be told?
Absolutely. There are so many stories. It doesn’t seem like it because we see the same characters and the same storylines over and over again. And again, something ‘different’ doesn’t have to be an extreme or something rare, like a gay cowboy in the US wilderness or something. That’s a bad example. Maybe something like a pregnant drug-dealing clown who struggles with Tourettes. Something ridiculous like that. I guess I’m trying to say that there are characters who can be subtle but also groundbreaking.
Do you think that you have a story worth telling?
You mean, do I have one in me that I should put ‘on paper’? Or are you asking whether I think my story is worth telling?
Huff *holds breath then exhales slowly*. Well, I have a gazillion stories in me that burn to get out. But whenever I start writing them they kind of just turn into a version of my own story. I mean, a version of the narrative of my own life. I guess I’m not a very good fiction writer. All my writing is really just a version of a true story.
What’s wrong with that?
Well, yes. They say to write about what you know. But J.K. Rowling didn’t necessarily know about wizardry and magic. Although… they also say that every character is just a version of the author. No, what is it? That every character is not necessarily the author, but that the author is in every character. Something like that. My point is, when you listen to J.K. Rowling talk about the Harry Potter series, all those creatures and situations have come from somewhere. Like the Dementors in Harry Potter, she talks about them being a representation of her own depression. So maybe I’m not stuffed yet. Maybe one day I’ll be able to write fiction.
What kind of a writer do you see yourself as?
You know, I remember the first time I heard the term ‘writer’ applied to me. It made me buzz with this extreme feeling of happiness. A writer! Me! Mind you I very quickly reminded myself that I was only an advertising copywriter and we don’t really deserve to be called writers. I still don’t really feel like I deserve to have that descriptor attached to my name. Even thought I’ve tried my hand at rather a wide range of types of writing and writing mediums!
When do you think you’ll be able to comfortably call yourself a writer, and truly believe you’ve earned the title?
I don’t know… I mean, I feel like you have to be continually writing to call yourself a writer. If you wrote one play, would you call yourself a playwright? Could you only call yourself a playwright if that play got produced? Then there’s the fact that being a ‘writer’ is such a general term. Most people are ‘novelists’, or ‘playwrights’ or ‘journalists’ or ‘copywriters’. What kind of a tosser would just call themselves a ‘writer’? It’s actually quite a romanticised term.
You’re really making this a lot more difficult than it needs to be…
Sorry. I guess I would call myself a writer if I were employed – and paid – to write.
But you are.
Yes but we’ve been over that, that’s only copywriting. It doesn’t feel as honourable. Like anyone could be a copywriter.
But I think you know that’s not true.
Okay, so that’s not true. Copywriting is a particular skill. Not all “writers” – there’s that problematic term again – could be copywriters. Copywriting is often about just being able to strip things down to their most simplest, so that the average joe can understand what you’re trying to get across without straining himself. And sometimes there is a clever play on words. But it can’t be too clever, because you’re talking to a mainstream audience most of the time.
And on the whole, they’re dumb.
Yes, yes they are. Hard writing for easy reading. There’s another thing they say.
You really are full of helpful quotes and sayings.
I know. It’s a fault. Many people think it makes me smart, but in fact it just makes me unoriginal. If I was really clever I’d be able to think up my own way of saying it. It’s a bit like writing fiction that’s just me telling my own life story with embellishments, really. And it’s like fan fiction.
Fan fiction? Tell me about that.
*Sighs* That’s quite a long story.
Go on. If we haven’t already lost everyone with your rambling, they might stick around a bit longer.
Okay. Well, fan fiction is where fans of a particular TV show, or movie, or book, take certain characters from within that TV show/movie/book, and write new stories for them. Like, I love Emily and Naomi from Skins, so I write fan fiction about them.
That’s rather weird. What do you write about?
Well, the technique in fan fiction, I think, is that you can mimic the characters that already exist in this TV show, and you give them life in different settings, contexts etc. Like, Emily and Naomi in a fan fiction story could be in their twenties and aerialists in a circus, instead of 17 year old British schoolgirls like they are in the original Skins TV show. But you’d still recognise them because they keep their speech patterns, or their personalities, or their values… which then informs how they react to things in this fictional story you’ve written them into.
That sounds kind of complicated.
It’s not really. It’s more like the TV show never ended, it kept running and you can follow what happens to these characters as they continue living their lives. Your favourite show never has to end. Your favourite characters live on forever. It’s rather wonderful.
I’ll take your word for it.
Don’t be rude.
You shouldn’t be rude about other people’s passions. No matter how weird they are. Because if you tried them you’d probably get into them.
Do you think so?
You’d be surprised. If something is worth getting passionate about, there’s usually something interesting about it I think.
Can you give me an example?
Okay… okay I’ve got one. My business partner is into throwing knives. And I thought it was a bit weird when he showed me all these different knives he has, even a meat cleaver and a tomahawk. But then one day I had a go at it.
And you liked it?
Yes. I wasn’t, like, crazy passionate about it like he is. He gets drunk sometimes in the weekends and spends hours throwing these things. I’m bored pretty quickly. But I liked it enough to want to share it with other people. So far I have bought two other people meat cleavers to throw.
What was the reaction like?
Well, like when talking about your own passion, you have to choose your audience. The people I picked totally got into it. But I was slightly worried – I gave one to my sister’s boyfriend and I thought he might think I was a weirdo. But I packaged it up with beer and a CD of bogan songs so there was an idea behind it, which was ‘get boozed, act like a bogan and throw knives’. To show I was aware that it’s a bit of a weird gift.
You over-think things a lot, don’t you?
Hmm, I don’t know, do I? I guess I do… let me think about that, I’ll get back to you. *Smiles*
That’s good. I like that. You think you’re pretty funny, don’t you?
Yeah. But I don’t necessarily think that I’m a funny person.
Can you explain that to me?
You know… some people can be funny sometimes. But you wouldn’t necessarily call them a funny person. I mean, I have a lot of funny friends, but only a few of those I would label as a ‘funny person’. Not everyone likes a funny person. Because they tend to also be the people who need a lot of attention.
Ah yes. Would you say that many ‘funny people’ – as in people who are consistently funny rather than just funny occasionally – are also largely the most insecure people?
Yes. Often. Humour is a defence, as we all know. So you could almost say that to be a funny person is a double-edged sword because it might also mean you’re insecure.
Yes. However, not all funny people are really insecure. Look at stand-up comedians, they have to be pretty secure to do what they do.
True… I guess that means they’re just arseholes.
Haha. So if you’re a ‘funny person’, you’re either insecure or an arsehole?
Exactly. I think that’s the conclusion we’ve reached.
I’m glad we’ve reached a conclusion.
Me too, because my head is starting to feel crazy after all this talk. Having a conversation with yourself if quite draining.
I would agree.
Shall we stop then?
Okay. Do we say bye?
I guess so. Bye.
Bye. See you round ;)
There you go thinking you’re funny again.
I know. Shut up now.
Back in April I was interviewed for a segment on TV One's "Close Up" about how young interns are treated in advertising agencies while they're on trial placement or internships. The 10 minute piece aired on July 18th, around the time that our government is reviewing employment policies.
I was lucky enough to avoid this period that many newbies go through - being paid $100 a week and kept on for up to a year with no guarantee of a job at the end. And quite frankly, I don't think I would have put up with it for more than a couple of months.
The journalist who interviewed us asked a lot of leading questions and was obviously out to collect the evidence for only one angle: that is, us telling him all about the exploitation that goes on. Of course we were all a lot more diplomatic than he wanted; in fact my friend Jono who was also interviewed tells me the journalist kicked a rubbish bin in frustration because he wasn't getting the juicy gossip he expected. Media, huh.
The end result wasn't as bad as I expected, but it wasn't great either. For a 10 minute piece there was a lot of repetition, and they cut out a lot of my comments that offered the other side of the story. That is, while there is definitely exploitation going on from the agencies' end, young creatives play a part too. It's their responsibility to ask for more money or to walk away when it's obvious they're being used. Instead of just bitching about it and stealing booze from the agency fridge to make up for it. That's the only way we'll change the internship system from our end - by just saying no.
I'm glad the piece aired and I hope it starts the wheel turning for change. I'm not holding my breath though!
Another link to the piece here: