At this point it’s probably safe to say that 2017 has been the busiest year of my life so far – and we’re not even halfway through yet.
A few months back I made the decision to no longer do any work that wasn’t in the field of writing. This was a bit of a dice roll as, while writing can be lucrative, it’s usually the exact opposite. Still, my assumption was that while I might be a little hard up financially, at least I would have more time.
Yeah look, it hasn’t exactly worked that way. I hit the ground running in January with the final rehearsals for Springsteen, and ever since then this year has been a non-stop marathon. We filmed and released Bogan Book Club, my first foray into a web series, we turned Springsteen into a very successful radio play (number 3 on the iTunes performing arts charts, not bad for another first crack at the medium), I returned to ‘acting’ for a bit part in my friend Sean Carney’s debut play Dracula: Last Voyage of the Demeter, which is also about to be released as a radio play, I was in another Sanspants Radio live show in Melbourne and two in Sydney, my play Heroes debuted to glowing reviews and is about to start touring the one act play circuit and the second Boone Shepard novel came out a day before it was announced that the first instalment was shortlisted for the Readings Young Adult Prize.
For a long time now I’ve maintained that busy is better than bored, and I hold to that but looking back at the last few months it verges on absurd just how much I’ve done. It feels like Christmas was only a couple of weeks back, and here we are in June. And even now things are happening; I’ve spent the last week up in the country doing talks to schools about Boone Shepard and I have more coming up in the next couple of weeks. And while it’s awesome that anybody would even want me for something like that, I can’t help but feel like I need a bit of a break.
Just to give an indication of how stretched my time has been; ever since I was ten I’ve bought and devoured every single issue of Empire Magazine. It’s a tradition I’ve sort of always clung to even as the internet became a thing and superseded my need to get film news from a magazine. But the last four Empires are sitting in my room unread. I just haven’t had time. Even the brief moments I get to sit and read have been consumed by finally being on the home stretch of The Wheel of Time, and I’m barely finding the hours I want to finish off that behemoth.
But I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The next few months are looking surprisingly empty, up until my next play The Commune in November. And while there’s a good chance that the third Boone Shepard will come out in that time, for now things are looking pretty free. Of course, as appealing as freedom is at the moment, I know that the second I start getting bored I’ll wish for busyness to return. So the key is to keep myself doing stuff, but not to drown.
Luckily I’ve got no shortage of projects that, wonderfully, don’t have a deadline. This means that I can work on them at my own pace while taking the time to breathe and regroup after the insanity of these last few months. Currently I’m working on The Girl From The Sea, the screenplay for a low-budget indie horror, a TV adaptation of Heroes which may or may not end up being a web series, a new novel version of Windmills, based on the script that won the Ustinov Award a couple of years back and a violent horror novella for an anthology that myself and my Movie Maintenance compatriots Tom, Sean and Drobb are gonna collectively self publish later in the year. Plus pre-production is starting on Moonlite, the bluegrass musical I’ve been working on with my friend Dan Nixon that tells the story of real life gay bushranger Andrew George Scott. It’s an amazing story that is begging to be told, and I’m very proud of the script and music we’ve come up with. At this stage we’re hoping to debut it at the Midsumma festival early next year.
So yeah, even breathing room looks a little bit hectic when you put in like that. But the truth is I don’t do well without new projects to work towards, and while my intention remains to spend some time relaxing and having fun with friends in the near future, I also want to find the time to just write for fun the way I used to, to write stories just for me that have no real purpose other than being a bit of a decent yarn. Because the more writing has become my livelihood, the more I miss the time when it was just something I did because it made me happy.
Telling stories will always be my favourite thing to do, irrespective of whether or not it’s for money, and ultimately the fact that I’m at a place in my life where I get paid for doing what I love is pretty much all I could ever ask for. But one thing I’m learning as I get older is that I also need to find time for myself and the people in my life. So that’s what I’ll be doing the next few months.
Well, that and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Writing words about writing words.