Finally! the blog: The very hard work of doing (seemingly) nothing

Nothing renders one’s life quite so dull & empty as having to blog about it.  All of a sudden events that would be hilarious or observations fascinating if we were having a coffee together… vanish!  when I think about putting them on an electronic blank page.

But effort is pretty much the whole of the battle.  ACTION BRINGS ANSWERS, that’s my current favorite mantra.  And nowhere is this truer, I think, than in art production.

Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether blogging rates as “art production,” the point here is that in art-making, inspiration is usually the topic of fascination.  What inspires you?  What influences you?  Where do you get those ideas? — in short, HOW DO YOU DO THAT??  That’s the kind of question one usually gets.

When in fact, the more important, and way larger, component is the “99% perspiration” (as Einstein supposedly said) — the just-doing-it (as Nike says) — the willingness and the ability to sit there and rake stuff up and hope it takes shape in your mind.  The patience and faith and self-love, really, to go looking inside for the raw material with which to make something cool.

I have a magazine article I pulled before I came here — from of all places, the Jehovah’s Witnesses publication Awake! —  called “20 Ways to Create More Time.”  Item # 19 is germane:  “Work Like a Professional — Don’t wait for the right mood.  Just start working.”

As a writer, this is great advice, but also really scary.  It’s so much easier to write when inspiration is with you — a great or even a good idea makes the whole thing almost effortless.   You feel very competent, like you know what you’re doing — yeah!  All those nights reading in little storefront cafes in front of 15 people added up to something after all!

But when inspiration does not happen to be there, it’s a slog in an empty room.  Except for that certain type of demon that likes empty rooms.  Those demons come in droves to see the miserable show, set up folding chairs and text their friends and stomp and cheer every minute you do NOT have an idea, for hours on end.  Oh, you’re so old!! they holler, Such a loser!! Not THAT idea again, you’ve used that one a hundred times before!!  You were so much better when you were with [Nameless Ex]!!! [clap clap clap stomp stomp stomp]   You have no clue what you’re doing, do you??  Check your email!  Make some coffee!  Go for a walk!!

That’s the kind of thing we — well, I — am faced with during most of the writing process.  And people wonder why we drink! [or used to.]

But accomplishing pretty much anything, I am finally beginning to realize after how many years on this planet (never mind!), is almost entirely dependent on your ability to PUT THE WORK IN NO MATTER HOW YOU FEEL.  About yourself (that moment), about your life, even about what it is you’re working on.

A good idea, it turns out, is sometimes a gift but more often has to be accessed with the application of some force.   Like a walnut.  Discipline and consistency are the nutcracker.

[Demon audience:  Yeah, great advice — Go ahead and apply it yourself!!  You’ll see, it won’t matter — Your work will still be shite, no matter how long you sit there!!]


XYZ rocks at inspire gallery

Emily XYZ debuted her residency with an amazing solo performance at SpeedPoets yesterday. Cindy Keong was on hand to take these wonderful photos:

Where can you catch Emily next?

Check out the Events page for Emily’s public appearances. For a more intimate exchange Emily will be delivering a series of workshops at Queensland Writers Centre.

During this series, you can work with Emily to develop your poetic voice and writing practice. She’ll be focusing on a new topic each week and you can either enrol to the whole course or just a couple of dates. This series is designed for a small class so places are limited, best to book to avoid disappointment.

When: Tuesdays 13 July, 20 July, 27 July, 3 August, 10 August, 17 August
Time: 6pm-8pm
Cost: $5 a session or $30 the whole program
Bookings: call Queensland Writers Centre on 07 3842 9922 or email

And What Else? Follow Emily’s 90 Days in Brisbane poem on Twitter @xyzpoem.

It’s official … Emily XYZ is coming!

Internationally renowned performance artist, Emily XYZ, has been announced as the 2010 Arts Queensland Poet-in-Residence and is set to hit Queensland’s shores on 1 July. Emily’s residency is based at Queensland Writers Centre in the State Library of Queensland and runs until 26 September.

Hailing from the New York punk rock scene of the 70s Emily’s influences come from Patti Smith, the Ramones, and the anti-authoritarian ideologies cornerstone of the era.

Queensland Premier and Minister for the Arts Anna Bligh welcomed Emily XYZ as the 2010 Arts Queensland Poet-in-Residence. “The Poet-in-Residence program, now in its sixth year, has delivered real success in terms of education, cultural exchange and a fascinating view into the eclectic and ever-expanding world of contemporary poetry,” Ms Bligh said.

“This program has benefited Queensland audiences, writers and poets by opening up new opportunities and new ways of exploring poetry as an art form.”

During her time in Queensland, Emily will appear at the Queensland Poetry Festival and Brisbane Writers Festival – along with several other public performances in tow.

The first event of her residency is SpeedPoets on Sunday 4 July, audiences are encouraged to come along and welcome Emily to Queensland at her debut event.

Along with performances, Emily will be developing a twitter poem, adding a verse for each day of her residency.
Emily will also be delivering a dirt cheap workshop series in Brisbane, check out the events page for more details of this and all her other upcoming engagements.

Previous poets-in-residence have included acclaimed New Zealand poet, musician, producer and teacher Hinemoana Baker, German poet and translator Michael Hofmann, Irish poet Paul Durcan, British poet and playwright Louise Wallwein, and Canadian poet Jacqueline Turner.