Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do you believe in magick?

Magic is still a part of world, despite ancient fears and attempts to discourage belief in it. Just because we cannot see as we would a material object, doesn’t mean that it isn’t there, just out of reach unless we are open to it. These beliefs were once the norm before they were repressed and hidden from persecutors who didn’t want to understand what it was all about. These practices became obscured, still practiced but rarely spoken about except in kindred company.
Despite the repression, belief in magic has prevailed. As people rebelled against their government, they also rebelled against traditional religions by looking for alternate options. Witchcraft saw resurgence as people, not satisfied with mainstream religions, started studying it along with other mystery religions. They read books and magazines or attended rituals designed to worship and inform. Those were the people that wanted to learn, to expand their spiritual horizons.
Fiction writers saw this interest and realised that they could increase interest in such topics by including magical elements in their writing to generate interest from their readers. It is possible that fictional magical worlds, like those created by writers like J. R. R Tolkien and J. K. Rowling are in some part responsible for the resurgence in magical beliefs. When the Harry Potter series was first published, there was uproar from religious communities because of its portrayal of magic. They only saw the magic, and not the themes hidden in the subtext of the books, such as friendship, loyalty and living by an ethical code (all of which are universal).
There is no longer a fear of being hunted down and killed because you believe in something different to other people. Witch-hunts are no longer part of the norm. While people are still reluctant to accept witches as part of their society, they are not willing to hurt them for being different.
It is that desire to believe in magic that shapes us as children. It fuels our imaginations and makes us seek out fairies in the garden or chase pirates away from buried treasure. These things, while acceptable when we are children are frowned upon if we were to do so as we get older. We learn as we grow. We stop believing in Father Christmas, The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and instead worship other new gods shown to us on television or in the pages of glossy tabloid magazines. Rarely do they show interest in expanding their own spiritual horizons as teenagers out of fear of being cast out of their friendship circles. Instead, they wait until they are adults and then, slowly, that interest returns and they spend copious time learning all they can from the internet and books published on the topic.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Monster at the End of the Book

Are young adult books too dark and too confronting? According to Meghan Cox Gurdon, author of the article Darkness Too Visible (featured on the Online Wall Street Journal), they are. Of course, it would be easier if young adult fiction only depicted happy shiny lives with no pain or relatable issues, but there’s no such thing as completely happy people, even in fiction.
The article is quick to point out that books where a character self harms or goes through other self-destructive behaviour is giving voice to issues that would otherwise be silent. It posits that these behaviours might become a choice for young people if they read about it. It’s true that there is reason to be cautious as an author writing about self harm, abuse, sexual behaviour, drug or alcohol use that you might lead someone down a path that was otherwise unknown to them.
That being said, if a parent is aware of the issues that come up in the book, it could open up discussion within the family about healthy coping mechanisms and where real help can be found. These issues will always be around us, they’re just not being talked about as openly as they should be.
Young Adult fiction books reflect aspects of life that some teenagers endure. The monster at the end of the book is ignorance if we pretend otherwise. Yes people are hurt by others. They also hurt themselves. They use drugs or alcohol to escape from their pain and they question their sexuality. Refusing to read a book that depicts these things will only help you to remain ignorant to them.
Just because you read about these things does not mean that you’re going to make the same choices as the characters. That should be the message that parents should try to share with their kids when they ask questions about the issues raised in fiction. Being aware of how and why these things happen will help people to be more socially aware and able to cope when or if they are ever confronted with these issues in their own lives.
Literature needs have changed. A genre that didn’t exist until the 1960s is now a prevalent part of the bookstore. Young readers are being drawn to the dark gritty covers, hoping to find within them a world that they can somewhat connect to.
Maybe a rating system or warning label on the cover of books is where the publishing industry is headed. I wonder though if it would make a difference to the reader?

Yeah, that happened to me

I've been accused of being a liar, performed demeaning duties under the guise of education, discriminated against and told that what I want for my life doesn't matter. As a result of this, my self-esteem and self-worth have wiltered while my bank account dwindled.
So, why did I subject myself to these horrors on aq regular basis instead of walking away?
Simply put, because I had to. There wasn't a viable choice. That's what long term unemployment is about. You have no real options other than to do what other people tell you to, become who they tell you to be. If you don't want to do what they say and pull out of the system, you have no income at all, which in my case, would have led me to move back in with my parents. That's so not an option. Love them, but I think we'd drive each other mad within a week.
The system has its benefits sure. You get cheap public travel and medication and a meagre income as long as you do what they ask of you, but that's about it.
I've heard stories about people who've cheated the system. If these stories are true then the system DESERVES to be cheated. After all, who would believe a long term 'dole bludger' from regional Victoria really applied to NASA to be an astronaut. Yep, apparently that happened.
In the past I've been afraid of speaking up about the ill treatment I've undergone through these institutions because I was told "That's the way things are" and I believed it.
Over time I've realised that other people have been subjected to other ugly behaviour from these institutions (up to and including religious descrimination). I even tried to write an article for the local paper about all of this, but it was never printed. It was possible that it would run, after all the editor asked me to rework the original piece, but in the end it never ran.
People on the dole are referred to as lazy, self indulgent and unwilling to work. That's the stereotype that my job networks have fallen back on in order to define me. For the record, I have never been that person.
I want to work, I just want to be in a role where I'm happy and respected, not demeaned and will eventually quit because I'm not happy.
I refused to change who I was to get a job. That included a staunch refusal to kiss ass to get a meaningless job.
I regret little. Only the not speaking up part.
But yeah, that happened to me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Print Ninja

I'm a print ninja. That was my first status yesterday on both facebook and twitter this morning while I was at my ex-job network.
Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating.
And I'm also probably not supposed to be even considering using their printer anymore, but the way I've got it figured, they owe me that and a hell of a lot more.
See, a few years back I heard a rumour that job networks get paid $5000 when they first take on a client and get another $5000 when the client is put into full time work for longer than six months. That applies to job seekers who find work without any 'help' from job networks.
And here I was thinking that I wasn't worth a dollar amount...
I'm now wondering if they get paid this money now that I'm off the dole and technically self-employed. I'm supposed to be on their post-placement-support program for the next 23 weeks you see which is the same program that employed people fall under.
If they get that money and I hear about it I'm gonna be pissed. At least 70% of that money should be mine.
I decided without their help to apply for NEIS. I decided that my business would be based on the skills I already have (the same skills that they scorned). I filled in the application forms without their help.
Now, they get the kudos and the money?
I'm bitter, yeah. But seriously, how do they justify all that money?
Guess they're okay with being paid for doing next to nothing. I wonder how it is to be that arrogant?
That's why I don't feel bad about ripping them off when it comes to paper and ink.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Get it clear in my head

I've been writing for a long time so I know what it means when a story isn't coming together. The same goes for an article.
It means it's time to reboot and start all over again with a new approach.
I've hit a wall with the article I'm working on. I can't get past the opening paragraph. This used to happen some times when I was working on essays for uni.
It still happens occasionally when I'm creating a novel. I'll get up to 20 000 odd words and then realise I've got about three or four subplots going on and no real plot or way to reconcile any of them.
I need to get my arguments clear before I start writing. My head's a little messy about it because I've got three different points or arguments to make within a small space. I have to clear about what I'm saying and what message is the most important.
Oh the joys of being a writer.
It's never as easy as it seems is it?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Big news!

So, big news. Bigger than big actually.
I landed my first client for the media sector of my business.
I know, shocker right? I actually didn’t expect it to happen, but I think I got in contact with them at the right time for both of us.
So, who is my first client? It’s Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council and I’m helping them get as much press coverage for Refugee Week 2011.
I’m the first to admit that I don’t know a lot about refugees and what they must go through in order to make it over here, so it was a bit of a challenge at first to do some research on the topic, just so I sounded like I knew what I was talking about in the press releases. I didn’t want to rely upon clich├ęs or stereotypes because that wouldn’t be a great way to show my skill level on my first job.
So while I’m playing the waiting game for them to approve of the work I’ve just sent in, I can play catch up on my other three projects: keeping the website up to date (www.patriciakekewick.wordpress.com); working on the new novella and also trying to write an article for the Ballarat Independent.
Yup, I’m a busy little writer girl.

Monday, June 6, 2011

No more bitch work

I don't put my hand up to be someone else's bitch, to do the work that they are chosen to do. Especially when they think that they are doing me a favour by asking me to do so.
I do not have a "why yes, I am your bitch" button pinned to my top, but there are those who seem to think I do.
No one puts value on my skills unless they want to make use of them, but then they balk at the cost. And yes, now there is a cost to pay for my skills.
They assume that I have the time to do what they ask because I don't work for someone else. They don't see the time I put into every single project that I take on. They don't know how difficult it is to delete a file that is going nowhere, or even harder to still to recognise it without getting all "but this is the best story ever".
I don't like using sob stories to get what I want. I think it's kind of tacky. I mean, I had a bad year last year, tons to deal with and I still did everything that I was expected to do and then some without the aid of a bitch to do some of it for me.
I guess not everyone is as capable as I am.
The totally screwed thing is that I'm the one with low self-worth.
Strange, isn't it?