Kathryn Hore - Writer

Tag: Writing words (Page 2 of 3)

Me and blogging; a damned mix

This isn’t a very good blog.

Oh, I know what you’re all thinking. You’re all so horrified I could even suggest such, as you collapse back with wailing tears at the thought I could so demean this wee site of mine, crying out in hurt anguish “but no, it’s perfect, we tell you it’s perfect!”

Yeah, well, thanks and all, but you’re talking basic bollocks. (Yes, even the imaginary people in my head talk bollocks, freaky huh?)  See, I do everything wrong on this blog. I write too much, for starters – blog posts should really be between 500-800 words at most, not essays of well over a thousand which meander all over the place, as if getting to the point and sticking on it was some kind of writing cliché those really good writers who really know what they’re doing all try to avoid.

And then I don’t write enough. Blogs are content hungry little buggers and really should be updated ever 2-3 days, not merely once a week. Mind you, it’s hard enough to work, study, build a portfolio of photography, another of professional writing, and occasionally remember to say hi to family and friends, as well as write over-long, meandering, digressive pieces for this blog more than once a week.

(Brings up an interesting mental picture, though – Hungry Hungry Blogs, much like Hungry Hungry Hippos. See a bunch of weirded out, cyber geeks obsessively typing with their backs to each other, each trying to capture illusive, moving, slippery content first, before everybody else gets it. Hmmm…)

Another thing wrong with this blog – it’s physically not the right shape. Sure, that’s true of most of us (hmmm, some of us more than others, of course), but in the big wide world of blogging, it tends to be crucial. For starters, the type font is too small. You’ve practically got to squint to read it, and if you do that too long, you’ll prove your mother right. It does prompt readers to decide it really is best to stop now, before they go blind.

The layout, though admittedly pretty, forces the posts into long, elongated text which readers have to scroll down to read. Hyperlinked words simply won’t show underlines no matter which dark god I sacrifice to, it’s part of the coding of the theme, so I’ve compromised by just sticking them in bold. I don’t use enough images, except when talking about my own photography, which is only occasionally. There’s heaps and heaps of problems here…

Look at it. It’s big long chunks of text on a screen, when it should be openly spaced with lots of reader-breathing room.

And then there’s the content…

Look, you can’t say you weren’t warned. The name of this blog is Let Me Digress – digressing is what I do here. In fact, there’s more digression than there is point to it all, and surely you realise by now that’s deliberate. I crap on here once or twice a week for a thousand words or so about whatever issue has caught my attention in a light, sarcastic and occasionally amusing manner. If I feel it’s something worth looking at in more depth, I’ll provide you links so you can go do that serious business elsewhere.

But it’s not the way I write everywhere. And it’s probably about time I showed a little versatility up here. Or something. I feel I’ve been neglecting one of the three self-proclaimed purposes of this blog, which if you cast your eyes upwards you will remind yourself are: writing (self evident), photography (got it in the galleries) and unsolicited opinion (ain’t no escaping it here, clearly.)

Writing is the biggie. It’s my passion in life. Stringing words together for one purpose or another, it’s what I do. And while in one way this blog is all about writing, in another way it’s totally unrepresentative.

See, I do sometimes actually write, you know, seriously. Trusies. I can put together entire pieces of serious work, with serious intent, and with serious research backing it up. When I feel like it. Or if the fancy takes me, I also write real film and book reviews, with real review content, in which I don’t just crap on about whether I liked something but actually consider it with, well, seriousness.

And not a single flippant comment undermining any of it inserted anywhere in any of the text.

All totally true, I swear it

Anyway, somebody asked the other day and sounded doubtful when I said as much, so I figured I better stick some examples of other stuff I’ve done up on this site, if only just to prove I can. I’ll try to keep the boring corporate stuff to myself, I promise – no sense inflicting that on the rest of the world, I’m not that evil – and only put up that which is vaguely interesting and which I’m free to stick out there. So will just be a handful of bits and pieces as I find them, really, I’m not promising much. But I have added on a page to stick other non-blog writing stuff onto, the one marked, suspiciously, as “Writing.”

Heh, ain’t I just so clever with the word-play?

So go on, look up again, see, up there, near where the other headings are on the navigation menu… see the one which actually says “writing”..? You do? Well, it’s in there. Complicated, I know.

Oookkkaaay. All of that little digression later and I could start to proclaim that I’ve seen the light.  This blogging thing is something of a science, I’ll have you know.  There are whole blogs just dedicated to, well, blogs.  Yes, it’s all very circular and post-postmodern, but hey, that’s what the internet needs more of, after all: self concious writers posting up self referencing material.

Um.

Anyway, I could promise I’ll fix it all and do it right and make this the bestest blog ever.  I’ll alter the layout, make the font size bigger, use smaller paragraphs.  I’ll “put myself out there” into the blogosphere and drum up attention.  All the rules you’re told you should be adhering to as a blogger.  Hey, if you’re really nice, I’ll even promise to never, ever, write blog posts longer than 800 words ever again…

Only you’d know that I was merely lying through my teeth just to get the naysayers to shut up.  Don’t have the time, don’t have the care.

It’s all about the digression, peoples, but I promise you fun if you come play with me, heh…..

Kath

Me big career girl now

In case you hadn’t noticed, I work in the corporate world.

Well, mostly. I do a bunch of things really, especially these days when I’m branching out more, but traditionally I’ve been a corporate whore… oh, sorry, a loyal corporate employee doing my utmost to increase my employer’s profits for the good of all humanity… no, that’s not it… for the good of the environment… um, still no… what was it again… oh that’s right – for the good of all shareholders.

Ah, yes, the personal satisfaction is just so supreme.

Okay, so I’m in a sarky mood this morning. Sue me. It’s a Monday and I had to get up even earlier than usual because somebody – and I mean, which bright spark thought this was a good idea? – set a meeting for 9am on a Monday morning. Can I just repeat: 9am. Monday. Morning. What? Huh? Grrrr.

My brain does tend to only work in single syllable outbursts pre-mocha on Monday mornings. (And yes, I know 9am Monday morning is a tautology and I don’t care. See the kind of mood I’m in?)

Anyway, back to the garden path, because how could we ever start wandering off it if we aren’t quite sure we’re going down it to begin with?

The corporate world. My current employer will remain entirely nameless here, indeed, my current employer’s industry, vision statement and city of incorporation will remain entirely nameless. Hell, I’m not even going to tell you the colour of the logo at the conference half the IT team took off to in November of last year right when I really, really needed them (can you spell junket?), let alone the hemisphere in which our head office might be located. I’m even not going to tell you the title of my job, though that’s because it’s a completely wanky job title and I squirm in embarrassment every time I have to hand out a business card.

Just assume that anything I say in this blog which might on a slight chance be taken as vaguely critical of the corporate world is in no way a reference to my current entirely nameless primary employer and is instead based on previous work experience in the corporate world before I found the marvellous home of sheer employee happiness that is my current workplace. And also let me just say that everybody I work with is extremely nice, they’re all lovely people and we all working exceptionally hard for the company because it is the kind of place we all feel personally invested in and it brings us complete bliss. Absolutely nothing I might say in this blog refers to any of them whatsoever.

I luv yous all, and all that jazz. Group hug, everybody. Group hug.

Now, I don’t care if you don’t believe me, I’m stating the above disclaimer for the record anyway. See, I know I’m going out ice-skating during the thaw just by even mentioning the word “company” in a blog these days, at least by what I’ve been reading in the daily broadsheets. I read the blog post which ostensibly got Leslie Nassar (of Fake Stephen Conroy fame) fired from, well, we’ll not name the company but we will say it’s a major telecommunications organisation 51% owned by the Government. That post was very funny. It was also so mild in its corporate criticism that I am somewhat awed of the sheer imagination and fictional creativity it must have taken those who fired him to find something to be offended at within it.

Okay, so there was more to that situation than one blog post and Telstra’s henchmen (okay, we will name the company) had been scouring the interwebs to find anything to sack Nassar for ever since he made Stephen Conroy do the angry dance before the parliaments. But it’s not just one case, is it? There seems to have been a whole litany of corporate big brothers vying for supremacy in the media recently. And yes, I know Twitter-leads-to-sacking stories are the new black in technology reporting at the moment, and that some employees who comment on social networking sites to which they’ve invited work colleagues to be ‘friends’ are just plain stupid, but that doesn’t mean I’m taking any chances.

I work in the corporate world and that’s all you’re getting out of me, at least in the way of specifics.

However, in the way of gross generalisations…

I’m over it. No, not over all corporates as such, just the crap that goes with them. The murky office politics where the loudest gets the biggest budgets and the most sensitive get bullied and it all starts to imitate the primary school playground. The emotionally charged, shrill-voiced debates about standard font sizes and bullet styles and email signature blocks for internal communications, you know, the stuff the client never sees anyway. I’m over the arrogance, the snide remarks about perceived government sector inefficiencies or academic sector narrow-vision, accompanying the implication that the business world is the real world and if you’re not in there you’re not really contributing to society.

Most of all, I’m over having to drag myself out of bed early on a Monday morning to get to someone’s idea of a meeting at 9am all the way in town, when I could have achieved far more today by working from home like I’d planned.

Oh, look, it’s not all that petty, obviously, and in all seriousness my current employer really isn’t guilty of the above, that’s why I’m still with them – I chose to move on pretty quickly from those workplaces where I was not impressed with the corporate goings on. But sometimes I just wonder – what would the world have been like if I’d never done any of the things I’ve done over the last ten or so years?

Probably not all that greatly changed, really. Not that I want to give the impression my working life to date has been so much meaningless bollocks, or anything.

Look, my corporate career has been good to me. It’s provided me a middling salary, vaguely interesting work and many, many, many skills learnt. My research skills are sharp indeed and my analytical ability could be lethal in the wrong hands (you know, like in the hands of somebody who actually put effort into using it), all thanks to the experience of my working life. Without my career to date I would never have developed the truly honed sixth sense for ducking just moments before the brown and sticky hits the broad base cooling device, and that’s a transferrable skill if ever I’ve found one.

Without the corporate world I would never have learnt to appreciate the power of style over substance and understand that communication about something is often far more important than the actual something itself. Or is that just me being cynical?

Well, it is a Monday morning, after all.

Thanks to my career I bought a house when I was a single lass with a very single income, I returned to study and now I’m starting to branch out into the kind of writing I’m truly passionate about. That kind of opportunity is rare. So I’m thankful, truly thankful.

But if such branching out leads me to less time spent in the more toxic corporate environments, then let’s not think of it as a betrayal of my corporate roots. No, lets imagine it instead as a kind of decade-long one night stand with the corporate world, one where I skulk out silently the morning after, dreadfully hung-over and with sensible heels in hand, crumpled suit jacket flung over one arm and trying desperately not to wake up the career I’ve left snoring behind me.

I swear it looked so much sexier in the drunken haze of the night before, I swear it.

‘Till then

Kath

150w review – attempt #1

Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones

Okay, am I being ambitious to think I can review anything in only 150w? Let’s give it a go:

Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones began powerfully, but quickly melted into the kind of trite, mediocre literary-comfort food which seemed the worse for its excellent beginning. Opening with Susie Salmon’s declaration she was murdered at 14, the first chapter goes on to describe in plain, unerring language, but without dwelling in sensationalising detail, the teenager’s rape and murder from her own perspective. It is more powerful for its simplicity and straight forward approach, conferring unflinchingly the brutality of the act, but without alienating the reader.

Unfortunately from that point on it pulls almost every punch, gradually declining into merely the trite and sentimental until a point near the end where the novel loses it almost completely. The narrative point of view of the story as told by Susie in her heaven works to skip through any potentially dark or dramatic moments, avoiding almost all serious conflict except on the most superficial level. Ultimately, there is nothing challenging nor thought provoking on offer, despite the promise of the opening chapter.

Nonetheless, it’s a book which reads very well and certainly keeps the reader’s interest. I was continually interested in what would happen to the characters, what was to come next, and how the presented situations would unfold. It could have been a truly excellent book, and Sebold has the writing ability to make it so, but in the end, that made it the more disappointing. The bad guy is recognised as the bad guys because he is simply “creepy”, high school sweetheart teenage love is always deep and sincere love for life, and a first kiss is a truly meaningful moment in a girl’s life. The material offered more, the writer’s ability offered more. But in the end, it just didn’t deliver.

3/5

Oh, okay, so 290 words. Approximately twice as long as it should be.

More accurate than a blood test

Hey, here’s a new experience. I went to see a naturopath the other day.

Um. Look, I don’t want to undermine an increasingly popular form of complimentary medicine, especially one some very dear and highly respected friends of mine swear by, but… uh… really, I just don’t think it’s for me. I can see why some people find it totally beneficial and I certainly am not against it, but… um…

See, most of the previous calendar year I spent fighting off the flu. Usually I’m a once-a-year-cold girl, with the occasional sinusy-thang thrown in every now and then just to remind me what it’s like to be sick. You know, so I can be sympathetic and stuff to others when I need to be. But last year my immune system was struggling as badly as if it’d gone three rounds with Rowdy Roddy Piper in his heyday, and I’m talking before he made Hell Comes To Frogtown.

So I took a recommendation from a friend a few weeks back and booked in to see a naturopath.

Look, it started off well. She asked me about my medical history. That made sense. She asked me about my diet and the amount of exercise in my life. I lied about both, but that’s not the point. Sure, she seemed a bit too focused on, uh, stools – and I’m not talking the three legged variety – but it was all vaguely health & wellness focused so all seemed to be appropriate.

Then came warning number one (oh dear, that’s not a really bad inadvertent pun or anything, is it?)… The iris checking.

At first, I just blithely went along, toddling over into a dark room so she could stare into my eyes with a bright light. This is the sort of thing medical type people do, so who was I to argue?

Then: “You have an excellent constitution.”

Huh? How could she tell that from my eyes? And what does that actually mean? I figured it was probably something good because she seemed impressed and all, but I doubted she was referring to any personal documented system of governance I may have set up. She probably meant it in the old fashioned sense, as in, you know, I was pretty healthy overall.

Or to look at it another way, old fashioned as in nineteenth century. But while I’m a cynic, I’m not a bastard cynic, and I do try to keep my mind well open. My well meaning naturopath did not deserve to be judged based on my own linguistic prejudices, even if she was using terminology I thought better suited to Jeeves and Wooster (okay, I know that’s twentieth century, but you get my drift.  Oh and while on the topic, do go watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIsSBDMuXRQ). Maybe she was just a Wodehouse  fan and we had something in common after all. 

It was only when she started diagnosing potentially severe gall bladder problems based on the colour of my eyes that it all got a bit too Phrenology for me. If I tsk-tsk contemptuously at the primitive ideas of those past-history-people who believed criminal tendencies were written out in the shape of the skull, have I really retained any moral right to a concurrent belief in a modern understanding of innate health issues based on colour variations in the eye?

I do not think so.

Still, I am not a medical practitioner. How am I to know if the patterns of colours in the iris of my eye can indicate an issue elsewhere in my body? And hey, it’s billed as alternative medicine, it’s not even trying to dress up in the white-lab-coat of hard medical science, that’s the entire point. I didn’t go along to be a sceptic. So while I didn’t necessarily believe, I could accept and choose not to disbelieve the iris as diagnostic tool / eyes as window to the soul thing. All good and who knows what else there is to this heaven and earth, Horatio, hmmm?

But then came the… wait for it… drum roll… The VEGA TEST MACHINE.

Yes, it’s the machine which goes boing! Which is the same as the machine which goes ping!, except this machine was being taken with complete seriousness and John Cleese wasn’t hanging around in the background grinning maniacally (mores the pity). Though the chap who invented this thing probably is.

Oh gods, look, I’m not trying to bag out naturopathy here. Some of my closest friends and comrades swear by it. Highly educated, highly intelligent, professional people I admire a great deal. And it works for them, really works. All I’m saying is that I’m that bit too cynical by nature to be able to run with it.

So don’t feel bad. It’s me, not you. I really mean that.

The Vega Test machine tests body-electro-currents. Or maybe it was electronic fields. Or something electro anyway. In one hand I had to hold a metal tube which looked suspiciously like those things scientologists use to measure whatever it is they measure and in the other the naturopath pressed a bit of metal with a ball on the end. Each time she pressed down the machine made the boing sound (think Magic Roundabout) and she would listen intently. Before each test she would fiddle with the knobs and buttons on the machine to set it to different settings. Or something.

The science behind the machine was never explained to me. Hmmm.

Then the naturopath mentioned that it was “more accurate than blood tests”. Double hmmm.

Then she wanted to test which medicines would be best for me, so she put the cardboard box containing the plastic container of tablets on top of the machine and did the test on my hand again and that was when I finally gave up trying.

I’m sorry. I can stretch to the testing of electro-currents emanating from a living creature, I can handle acknowledging acupoints about the body and I can totally go with there being more to physical health than merely the physical. What doctor doesn’t support the idea that the non-physical mind packs one hell of a punch over the physical wellbeing these days?

But I can’t, just can’t, believe in the cardboard box containing the plastic container of pills placed on the same machine and testing said electric currents against said cardboard box with said plastic pharmaceutical container within it, to see if they are the pills which are most suited to my health needs. Did I mention it was a cardboard box? And a plastic container?

The psychic down the road from me told me once that my aura is overwhelmingly pink. He charges barely a third of what the naturopath does and I suspect I’d get about the same level of science. Even my hairdresser tells fortunes (I live in the hills, remember), but at least he doesn’t claim to have a machine which goes boing! which can diagnose cancer long before traditional medical science.

Hmmm in triplicate. See, I’m happy to get new age spiritual advice from my hairdresser. I just don’t want it from my doctors.

I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer by the way. Though I was told I might need to be careful of my liver, which coincidentally is the same thing the barman down at my local tried to tell me the other day too. Uh, so maybe there is something in all this, after all…

Look, I do not want to turn anybody away from naturopathy, nor any other complimentary medicine. It really works for some people. But for me… Well, I just started taking a multi-vitamin and upped the levels of citrus fruit in my diet and I haven’t come down with the flu since. So no, I won’t be going back. Naturopathy clearly does not work for me, even if only because I can not find it within myself to take it seriously.

Blame it on my over-engaged cynicism. Or maybe my bright pink aura.

’till next…

Kath

Welcome to my ego…

Okay, so I set this blog up a couple of days ago and in the usual manner of the universe loving to whack me over the head with coincidence – or rather, it just being the subject of the moment to which I’m no more immune than anyone else – I stumbled across Brigid Delaney’s opinion piece in my local broadsheet today, Oh Vanity, thy name is all over Facebook”   (Click on it, read it, go on.)

And for Facebook, you can pretty much substitute blogging as well.

Delany was commenting on the warning delivered by leading neuroscientist Lady Susan Greenfield last week, “who warned that social networking sites ‘risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind’ and leaving a legacy of short attention spans, trouble empathising, sensationalism, and a shaky sense of identify.” Both Greenfield and Delaney are concerned, informed, intelligent commentators who make serious points which you should all think carefully about.

<<insert your own picture here of yourself thinking very seriously, just to prove you can>>

All very good, but when Delaney pointed out that Facebook, Twitter and blogging et al are effectively all about managing your own public image online, I just found myself shrugging and wondering who didn’t understand that, already?

Well, some, I know, who get onto Facebook or the like and somehow forget that their current employers (let alone future potential employers – this stuff sticks around in caches around the world, you know) are listed amongst their hundreds of closest online ‘friends’. I’ve seen them do it myself, those “fuck I hate work” status messages which go out to everyone including the boss, and hey, I’m sure we all read about the chap who pulled a sickie and was busted thanks to his Facebook status (though is that just an urban myth? Hmmm, might have to check Snopes on that one.)

But hey, if you’re stupid enough to forget that your online presence is a public presence, then redundancy is simply going to be your norm and that wasn’t Delaney’s point, anyway. Rather, Delaney was discussing the far more self aware nature of social networking, where we are all very conscious of the image we present to the world. We are our own PR agents, our own personal brand marketers. And it’s all very ego driven.

Well, uh, sure. I’m just not sure where the problem is. Okay, so rampant egos are generally dull and boring, but I don’t find most people online are all that obsessive about their own brilliance, actually.  There is often a bit of vanity involved, but that’s because online it’s simply easier to pretend to be that uber-cool, super-efficient, really nice person you want people to think you are.  Online, you generally don’t stuff up that conversation with someone you’ve been dying to impress by metaphorically sticking the ends of both legs all the way down your throat in a demonstration of your really well controlled gag reflex.  Online, you don’t trip over your own clumbsiness and end up sprawled in front of a crowd with your skirt hiked up around your waist and your worse nanna-undies on right when the truly cute lad or lass walks on past.  Online, you can manage your presentation of self so you don’t stuff it up, at least to a certain extent; it’s easier to control your online presence than your real life one, anyway.  And that’s why online personas, sites and social networking will always be so wonderfully tempting. 

And it’s also why we as human beings will never forget the difference between online and real life, either.

Greenfield was warning we could all turn into infantilised, ego-driven melodramatics without any true sense of community or empathy and she probably has some very good, well researched, hard science to prove it, or something. But frankly, every technological advancement since the development of the printing press has been accused of something of the kind and we’re not dead yet, people. Our own egos haven’t swallowed us whole in great gulping chunks of self cannibalisation of self or anything.

(Woowa, girl. Pause. Put down the surreal imagery and step away before someone gets hurt.  Heh, had a Dali moment there, or Hunter S. on one of his drug trips. Apologies for the unnecessary extravagance.)

Look, I don’t have the peer-reviewed research findings or the intricate scientific understanding of the brain to want to get into a real debate with a leading neuroscientist – though I do think that sometimes leading neuroscientists would do well to collaborate with social theorists and cultural studies experts (by which I do not mean me, for I am neither). And Delaney makes some truly valid points. I’m just not sure the negative tone is all that warranted.

I’ll let you in on a secret. I set this blog up to learn how to set such blogs up and then transfer those skills to my dear partner’s photography business, but I’m still incredibly conscious of my online apearance here. This whole site is an exercise in my making conscious, considered, deliberate decisions about what I presicely want to present of myself to the outside world and how exactly to go about presenting it, right up to and including which cynical marketing techniques will work best for my purposes.

I’m a writer. I’m a photographer. And I want more freelance work, which is ultimately what this blog site is all about. I am my business and this is my business.  And I’m really bloody careful about how I market myself.

But is that a bad thing? Well, at least I’m not telling the world in 140 characters or less about how I’m brushing my teeth right now, and I’ve seen worse on Twitter. So does it only become a bad thing when you start believing the rest of the world really is interested in knowing what you had for lunch via your Facebook status updates? Are we all really causing our own sense of self and identity to implode in an online cacophony of lost reality?

Probably not.  While we all remain imperfect, fallible human beings capable of stuffing the moment up really really badly, then the difference between online and reality will always be stark. 

And while we all remain imperfect, fallible human beings, that need for real, human, face-to-face social interaction, real world friends, physical hugs, the sound of laughter, love, pets, family and true human society will always, always kick the arse of any online communication.  The online world may be fun to play in, but it is a fantasy and it won’t ever be as wonderful as the real one.  Not while we’re human.

But is it still an ego-driven exercise in vanity and self promotion, regardless?

Ahhhh… Oh what the hell. Cue Regugitator’s My Ego. Lets go dance…

Kath

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