Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why I Write: To Grow Myself

I’ve been realising recently that I really love growing myself, or helping others to grow.

What do I mean by ‘growing myself’? I think it’s about deepening my understanding so I change the way I relate to others, my environment, and even myself.

I love this process of progressively understanding something at a deeper level. For instance, I’m really enjoying working on The Gap, the script I’m writing. As my understanding of the script develops, the way I relate to it changes. I become more and more capable of writing it!

(Plus The Gap is all about people who are growing themselves. So in the process of writing The Gap, I am growing myself by writing about people growing themselves...)

This is also something I find hugely rewarding about my day job. I am encouraged to grow in my job and develop my thinking, and I’m also asked to coach other people to help develop themselves.

I will not be tomorrow who I am today – though mostly it’s hard to tell any difference! I have trouble remembering how I’ve changed. Writing this blog is one way for me to remember who I used to be...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Albion - Don Quixote

Warning: Contains spoilers from a 400 year-old book.

I’ve recently finished reading Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes. It’s amazing how a novel so old can seem so fresh. I guess that’s why they call it a classic.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to explore the similarities and differences between Don Quixote and my (as yet unwritten) Albion project.

One of my concerns going into Don Quixote was that I’d find all the ground I wanted to cover in Albion had already been done. Luckily I’ve found these two are not covering the same ground at all. In fact, I think they’re from opposite sides of the planet.


Both stories are comedies about mad characters who embrace a chivalric identity – Don Quixote de la Mancha in Don Quixote and King Arthur in Albion. Both characters are so strong in their convictions that they are able to draw others into their madness: Don Quixote has his faithful squire, Sancho Panza; King Arthur has an entire town (and even a country in one iteration).


Don Quixote is a sustained work of satire. The intention is always to lampoon notions of chivalry by exploding them against the real world. Don Quixote holds up our romantic notions and asks: do these hold up when you test them against the way the world really is? Or are we just making fools of ourselves?

By the end of the novel, the romantic ideal of the pastoral life (a common theme at the time Cervantes was writing) is skewered in precisely the same way as the romantic ideal of chivalry. In Don Quixote, illusions mislead us into folly. Those follies are amusing for the reader, but are a warning against taking our illusions literally. Don Quixote is a comic novel with deeply serious intent.

Albion is more forgiving of illusion – in fact, foolishness is more likely to arise from being unwilling to embrace illusion. Albion is dealing with a world in need of romanticism. The spreading madness of the King goes to the heart of that – chivalry in Albion is an idea whose time has come. Romanticism may not be enough, but it’s a needed step.

And Albion isn't a satire. A comedy, but not a satire.

So ultimately I feel Don Quixote and Albion are quite opposite in intent and approach. Which makes me feel better - I’m glad I’m not in competition with Cervantes!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What are my goals as a writer?

I came up with this question for discussion at our most recent NZWG Wellington Writer’s Group. Having set it, I then had to try and answer it!

I came up with these answers:

In one year

I want to have finished a first and second draft of The Gap (the script I’m working on), and started to assemble a project team that can actually get it made.

In five years

I want to have a slate of projects with some level of funding attached, so I can reduce the level of non-writing work I have to do.

In ten years

I want to be able to make a good living out of writing things that I want to write!

Now that I’ve defined my goals, I want to think further about how to achieve those goals, and what the obstacles are.

How about you? What are your goals? And do you find goal-setting useful?