I took my six-year-old boy to the park the other day. There was only one swing and another boy wanted to play on it too. Without any adult intervention, the two boys decided sharing was the best option, and ended up taking turns, and becoming friends.
Then I read an article about a potential war between two nuclear powers over a piece of land. The war will lead to the indiscriminate deaths of millions of innocent people on both sides. The leaders would have us believe it’s a complicated issue, but it’s not. Break it down and the cause of the war comes down to insecurity and egos, traits that didn’t motivate my boy and his new friend in their decision making.
Poverty, pollution and overpopulation cannot be resolved without first creating a safe and respectful world in which ideas are exchanged between cultures without these dickheads sabre rattling. It is on them, and them alone, if war breaks out. Murder by murderers.
This world needs a collective voice, created by the hundreds of thousands of citizens in every country sick of the threat of war. Let’s call this collective COPE (Citizens of Planet Earth), and show our leaders that they are in the minority, that we can get along, that we want all children, everywhere, to have a bright future, that we can share Earth’s swings.
Regrets: everybody has them. They come in all shapes and sizes and can ambush you at any time. There’s a plethora of quotes about regrets. Here’s one from William Shatner: ‘Regret is the worst human emotion. If you took another road you might have fallen off a cliff’.
I often look into the past. I need my experiences to write. But personal history is a dangerous place to go fishing for ideas. Regrets lurk there, like sharks waiting to bite into the present. I used to have too many regrets. Groundhog Day was (and still is) one of my favourite movies. It’s a well-made film, but I liked it for different reasons. I wanted Phil Connor’s day to happen to me so that I could get things right.
‘I should have …’ I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve said that.
But something happened to me five years ago that helped me to overcome regret. When my first child was born, and I looked into his eyes, I understood that I shouldn’t regret a single moment of my life. If one of those moments hadn’t happened exactly the way that it had, and my personal timeline was different, I might never have laid eyes on Harrison. I wouldn’t give him or his brother up for all the second chances in the world!
So – I’ll leave you with someone famous to tell you exactly what to do the next time you feel a bit of regret. Click here
Feeling a little home sick: it’s times like this that I love being a Kiwi. Pink Floyd’s new album reached number one in NZ. I’ve always known Kiwi’s have great taste. My B’day is just around the corner and I only want one thing (apart from world peace and a candlelit dinner with Darth Vader): Floyd’s The Endless River.
It might seem like I’ve disappeared from the blogosphere, but I’ve been buried in my new manuscript, estimated date of completion February 2015. Loving this thing called writing.
I’ll blog more – promise.
I’m approaching the end of my new manuscript and I’m really excited. This book has been a collaborative effort – I’ve realised that you don’t have to write solo. My mentor’s contribution has been immense and I’m kind of hoping she’ll continue to work with me as my writing grows. I don’t think the manuscript will be ready until February but I can taste the final sentence. It’s not far off.
Which is the reason I haven’t blogged for the last two weeks. My apologies. It also explains why this week’s blog is short and sweet. My manuscript consumes me at the moment. Yesterday I managed to squeeze in a course at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival held by the energetic, witty and intelligent Lenny Bartulin – I was so impressed by him I raced out and bought one of his books. Infamy is the next book on my reading pile, behind Anna Dressed in Blood.
Here’s something I learned at the course – six questions you need to ask yourself when starting to write a novel. I can’t read my scrawling notes so I apologise if I am misquoting the source – I believes it’s Robert Mckee.
- Who are the characters?
- What do they want (desire – in its myriad forms – moves the story forward)?
- Why do they want it?
- How do they go about getting it?
- What stops them?
- What are the consequences?
Jonathan K Benton
I found this beautifully written article by Hannah Richell about the loss of a loved one and the impact it had on Hannah and her family. It was real ‘tissue box’ material, and reminded me how important it is to live each day like it’s your last. It also reminded me to keep on keeping on, no matter what life throws at you.
A deeply moving article. Peace, love and huge dollops of happiness to Hannah and her kids. Thank you for opening up about your loss. It will surely help others.
Jonathan K Benton
I was sitting on the train watching the suburbs pass by. Picket fences, parks, factories and commercial real estate. Someone was hanging washing on a tiny balcony in a tall apartment block. I felt alone. Insignificant. This is why we need an ego. It makes us the centre of the Universe, despite the Copernican reality of our existence. Egos are our existential gravity.
Problems occur – and I believe this is the root cause of a lot of humanity’s issues – when insecurity starts feeding the ego. It becomes difficult to see past our picket fences, if our existential gravity grows too strong. People and their personalities start to seem paper-thin, as the expanding ego distorts reality. It’s easy to neglect the one-dimensional.
In conclusion … Even the humble have an ego. It keeps us centred. The trick is to accept our insignificance. Then we can truly appreciate that each of us plays an equal part in a much bigger picture, in which even the smallest thing is perfect and beautiful.
Jonathan K Benton
There be good reviews, and there be bad, as the pirates would say. A critical review from someone who didn’t like your work is still a good review – carefully considered criticism can be extremely useful. I learn from some of the criticisms levelled at my own work. People must be allowed to have opinions, including whether they like, or dislike, a novel. The nasty reviews from people, who think abuse is some kind of intelligent criticism, are wasting everybody’s time. They reveal more about the reviewer’s character (or lack of) than the book itself.
I’m deep into my next book, using the five P’s to make sure my writing is improving, so it was a nice surprise to receive an email from my publisher advising me that an Amazon top 500 reviewer had read and reviewed A Wicked Kind of Dark (published by Odyssey Books 2013). Pop Bop has a way with words – I enjoyed reading the review for this reason alone. It was also nice to know that someone with such great command of the English language enjoyed reading my book.
So … A big thanks to Pop Bop and all those people who take the time to read and write carefully considered reviews. We authors appreciate it.
Jonathan K Benton
It’s not me for whom I’m scared. It’s my boys. I must believe there’s more good than bad in this world, but sometimes, jeez, it’s hard. Beautiful Alison was murdered by her husband: the media thinks it’s okay to splash his sordid past all over the papers and television so that Alison’s daughters cannot hide from the kind of man their father was. Lock him up. Forget about him. His daughters won’t. They’ll be scarred for life. Let them come to terms with what happened without having to hear it from their peers at school – inevitable now that the media have dragged out every last detail.
A terrorist thinks it’s okay to shoot down a civilian plane full of innocent men, women and children. Lunatics strap bombs to themselves and governments on all sides call blowing up children ‘collateral damage’. Economists are slowly coming to the conclusion that the widening gap between rich and poor is causing increasing instability spurred on by over-population, and climatologists have come to a consensus that climate change is a serious issue. No one listens. Not enough, anyway.
I know there’s beauty in the world. I hear it in a child’s laugh; I see it in their shining faces. Is it unrealistic to believe we can deliver them a safer world than this one? Are we big enough, are we strong enough? Simply put, are we good enough?
Jonathan K Benton
I was watching a documentary about Queen and realised that parallels can be drawn between a super group and a great book. Each member of Queen brought their own unique elements to the mix, that when combined, clicked to make extraordinary music.
A great book is a successful combination of elements too: Plot, Theme, Structure , Voice and Character. Think of these things as members of a super group. If you can successfully meld them into a novel, you’ll make ‘A Kind of Magic’ too.
Jonathan K Benton
Roger Federer inspires me. I admire Nadal’s snarling ferocity and Djokovic’s quirky athleticism and sense of humour. Both these players are great ambassadors of the game. But Roger Federer transcends tennis with his magnificent behaviour on and off the court. Give him a light sabre instead of a racket and he’d make the perfect Jedi. It might be because I love the arts. I remember watching the Paris Opera Ballet perform Swan Lake in Sydney – the principal dancer playing Princess Odette pirouetted onto stage and took my breath away. I’d only seen one other person in possession of that kind of balance and perfect poise. Roger Federer. At his exquisite best, he’s unstoppable. Approaching 33 years old – an age when many players have retired – he is still one of the best players in the world. That’s how good he is. I love those slow-motion shots showing Federer’s eyes never leaving the spot where his racket hits the ball. His face is serenely still: there’s no snarl or grimace – regular features on other players’ faces. He’s the only player whom regularly conjures this much emotion from the grandstands. Win or lose tomorrow, thank you Roger.