Category Archives: creativity
Did you actually read that?
WE HAVE A BAND FOR WONDERLAND AT WOODFORD FOLK FESTIVAL!
I cannot believe it is happening – especially in light of the fact that the show itself is indeed about wonderful things happening – but in the past week, I have somehow managed to join forces with a drummer/guitarist, bass guitarist, saxophonist and keyboardist to do some musical comedy numbers AND improvised songs as part of the Wonderland show!
Excuse me while I geek out for a moment.
That these people are blisteringly talented individuals is a godsend. That they are all hilarious and awesome and nice and bloody great to work with PLUS I get to share the show with them AND Betty and the Betties, some of my favourite ladies on earth, well seriously…whatever happens, for me selfishly, THIS SHOW IS A DREAM COME TRUE.
I’ve honestly always wanted a band to do improv and comedy and jamming stuff with onstage but it seemed so “pie in the sky” ish that I never took it seriously enough to make it happen. But now it’s just fallen into place and I’m completely losing my mind about it with excitement.
After brainstorming last night with a couple of the gang after our Betties rehearsal, I was so inspired I stayed up way into the wee hours and wrote and wrote and wrote. It was honestly like I was possessed by some force telling me to not dare stop in case I woke up in the morning and the well was dry. This has NEVER happened to me before. I lost all track of time. I think it must have been three that I finally caved in and slept. I sure feel it now. BUT…I have a show!
Now to tweak, polish, rehearse AND finish writing that one pesky closing number.
I cannot wait to perform it though, and whenever I’ve felt like that about a new song/bit or whatever, like I am literally ITCHING to get up onstage and share it with the world, it’s been a good thing.
Not many sleeps now!
P.S. We have only 6 days left on our pozible campaign and I have the stomach ulcer to show for it. A few folks have told me they’re a bit confused by what this pozible business actually is! Honestly, the easiest way to wrap your head around it is to go to our page on the site, but the Reader’s Digest version is this:
- it’s not a donation site, you don’t “donate” anything (because we aren’t a charity!), rather it’s about pre-buying goods and services (like tickets to our early 2013 shows both in Brissie and Adelaide, DVDs, merch, etc.) so that we can afford to do the project (which in this case, involves us touring Wonderland to Adelaide Fringe!)
- if you go onto the site, you’ll see the different prices of everything you can get. For instance, pledging $30 will get you a DVD, $50 a DVD plus show ticket, right up to a $2000 business package!
- we don’t get ONE CENT of the money pledged unless our campaign is successful. Your pledge is not processed (i.e. your card isn’t charged) until we are successful, which, touch wood, will be in six days time!) We are currently at $3320 of our $5000 goal. If we don’t make it, we get nothing.
Hope that makes sense!
So as you may have heard, I’m putting together my new show about all things awesomely ridiculous and ridiculously awesome and I would love, love, love YOUR story to be a part of it!
During each and every show I will be reading out a letter from somebody – YOU?! – sharing a story about something fabulous, wonderful and/or awe-inspiring that has happened in your lifetime.
It can be about a place, a person, an act of random kindness, it can be hilarious, it can be heartbreaking.
Whatever your story is to share, it just has to be:
- true; and
- about something that made you feel – even for a split second – that the world was a wonderland.
I first got this idea of sharing audience-generated stories when I lived in Canada and was introduced to the work of Stuart Maclean of The Vinyl Cafe, who does this often at his shows and I immediately fell in love. Another massive inspiration to me on the power of storytelling is the fantastic work of The Moth. I highly recommend checking out both these links if you’re in need of some inspiration!
The plan is to record these stories at each show, upload them online and then send you the link (hopefully we will have you there in the audience on the night to enjoy it for yourself too, but worst case, you will get a copy of the performance!) plus we’ll send you a little pack of goodies as thanks!
Keen to be part of Wonderland? Email your story here! And please let me know when you write if you’re planning to be at this year’s Woodford Folk Festival, or next year’s Adelaide Fringe or Brisbane Comedy Festival. (Note: you do not HAVE to be at any of the above to contribute, but if you are planning to be at any, let me know so that if your story is shared, we can tee it up so you’re in the audience that night!)
Wanna be part of it but just wanna share something short and sweet?
Share a short moment of awesome on my Facebook page or tweet me @jennywynter with hashtag #wonderland
Your post or tweet might be featured during the show too!
Woohoo! Yours in wonderlandish-storysharing,
Writing and performing An Unexpected Variety Show has been one of the hardest, most thrilling, painful and exhilarating experiences of my life.
The content of the show itself forms an emotional rollercoaster, so it seems fitting that my own ride performing it, from the insecurity of launching it at the Melbourne Fringe where nobody knew who the heck I was, to the complete out of the blue delight of it winning the Cabaret Award at that same festival, to a rocking season at Adelaide Fringe, to even being accepted into a festival in NYC this year (an opportunity it PAINED me to turn down, chiefly due to finances!) to sharing the show with my daughter in the front row for the very first time, to performing it in front of my brother and sister on the night of my 10th wedding anniversary, to having complete strangers email me with their own incredibly personal and heartbreaking stories saying how it impacted them (AMAZING, SO honoured), to the excruciation of performing the same painful portion of the show night after night after night, has been exactly that.
And it’s that last bit – the pain of performing the show – which has brought me to the decision to put it to bed.
At least for a LONG TIME. And at least for Australia. It would have to take something HUGE (like NYC and actually having the ability to take it there!) to bring it out of retirement.
Those of you who’ve seen it will understand what I’m talking about. When I was writing the show, I knew that I wanted to do something different from just pure comedy. I wanted to do something massively personal, something dark as well as light, something real, something authentically me. And when I first started performing the piece – and people started responding – I was so happy to go there.
But earlier this year it got to a point where I felt like performing this piece was starting to hurt me. I’m specifically talking about the material about my mum and her very sad premature death. It was like going over the same wound night after night after night – OR, I could switch off my emotions to protect myself, only then the performance itself felt disconnected. Do you suffer for your art or does your art make you suffer? Where do you draw the line?
Well, I’m drawing it here. I have started writing my next show – one which I’m already getting ridiculously excited about, it’s going to be massively musical, interactive and SILLY! – and in the name of moving forward, have decided that I want to give An Unexpected Variety Show a fitting farewell in front of a supportive homecrowd, record it onto DVD so that any who wish to see it, still can! That this final Aussie performance will be part of the Brisbane Cabaret Festival at the scrumptious Judith Wright Centre is just a GODSEND. It really is going to be magical.
To all who have supported the show thus far, I want to say a huge thank you. Whether you’ve bought a ticket, facebooked it, tweeted it, reviewed it, told your friends to come see it, messaged me, approached me, or even just sent a positive thought this way, THANK YOU!!!!!!!! Any performer who gets a show up and running on a shoestring knows how bloody all-consuming it is. When I’ve been on the downward spiral on the coaster, these little nuggets of support have totally gotten me through.
I’m so proud of the show. And I will be proud as I wave it goodbye.
Wanna join me?
Tickets here. (Just click on my head on the poster!)
Ever since I took to the streets – of cyberspace that is, paved as they are with glittery mountain dew – and asked for feedback on this blog, I’ve been taking some time to reflect on your responses and with those as a starting point, clarify exactly where I want to take things.
The thing is, as much as I dig blogging just whatever-the-heck-I-feel-like when I rock up here, it’s not a particularly well thought out or effective way of getting better. Of moving forward. There was one hunch I’d had which was confirmed by the blog survey. Again, I profusely thank you guys who took the time to respond to that, seriously, I am reaching through the screen right now and shoving a double slice of choc fudge cake down your throat right now (apologies to the gluten intolerant, feel free to spit it out once you’ve had a sufficient glimpse of nirvana to satisfy you). My hunch was that the majority of people reading this are people who I’ve actually met in person/at gigs. Which is lovely. Truly. HAVE MORE CHOCOLATE CAKE!
However, while I’m stoked to have anybody reading my little words at all, I do feel like I have a bit of a problem when it comes to reaching other folks who haven’t yet had the dubious honour of making my acquaintance, onstage or off.
I do believe part of the problem is that this started out as such a personal blog, without much thought. And I don’t think – with certain notable exceptions of bloggers I love, like Edenland – that many people are interested in knowing my personal ins and outs. I still want to keep a flavour of the personal in here for sure, but things are gonna be changing in that I want to make this whole blog thing much less about “me me me” and more about other things. Hmm, are there other things?
Having recently diagnosed myself as a Renaissance Soul (summary: somebody with a semi-ridiculous array of interests), I’m thinking there may be much musing on creative stuff, the biz side of being an artist (including promo, management, grants, planning tours, and more), comedy, improv, cabaret, writing, stuff that’s inspiring me, life, motivational stuff I stumble across, health (have I even told you I’ve joined the gym again? This possibly warrants a whole blog of its own. Hang on, narcissism alert! Move along…), travel and adventures with kidlets, and other ideas on attempting to rock the world and the baby.
I’ve got a designer on the mission to do an overhaul aesthetically – which I am super excited about, to see what she comes up with upon being briefed by my irrationally broad and crazy thoughts (part of my problem is that when it comes to the visual, often I don’t actually know what I want until I see it) – and am also finally pulling my finger out and working out how to do this podcasting thing.
Thank you to all who have supported me thus far, I love you long time and I do hope you’ll stay onboard the journey as things start to morph round here. I won’t thrust more cake in your face as at this point you probably don’t need it.
Image courtesy of Rachel Awes. Print available by clicking image.
In my recent call-out for help on the “where the heck is this blog going?” variety, one of the questions I posed was, “if you could sit down with me to talk about anything at all, what would it be?” The responses gave me just about enough material to fill at least a few self-indulgent volumes, however the one that’s really been niggling at me ever since it jumped off the screen at me was this: “What do you believe?”
My initial thought process in response went a little something like this:
“Hmm. I’m not sure I even know what I believe.”
“Is this even a problem?”
“Is it a greater problem that I don’t even know whether it is a problem or not?”
“Okay, settle down, Alice. Drink your tea and stop chasing the damn rabbit.”
The thing is, it is a bloody good question. Here goes.
- that life is short. My mum died when I was 5. From that point onwards, I have lived my life under the presumption (perhaps unhealthily so!) that it could be cut short at any time. As such I believe in not over-thinking plans too much, but rather, just doing it. Whatever Nike said.
- in taking the road less travelled. I believe that life is an adventure. I’m much more into accumulating experiences than stuff.
- in telling people you love that you love them. Unless you don’t, in which case they’re not one of the “people that you love” anyway, so why would you? Hmm. I am over thinking. Next.
- that people are generally good. I am sometimes insanely naive when it comes to this. I assume everybody is nice, has their heart in the right place and is going to do the right thing. I really have only been burned a very few number of times, actually, but each time I have been genuinely surprised.
- that if you are one of the privileged folks in the world who has enough to eat and drink without much stress, reliable shelter and safety, then you MUST help others who don’t. No question.
- what goes around comes around. Eventually!
- that magic does happen. Not in a “fairy dropping dust on your pillow” kind of way, but in people, just real human being average people, doing good things.
- that art – music, paintings, cabaret, poetry, writing, dancing, design, comedy… – is important and should be treated as such! Imagine a world without it. Shudder.
- there is always good that can come out of a bad situation. For example, my mum’s very early death. Of COURSE I am not glad that happened, not at all. But…as a result I became extremely close to and maternal towards my little sister in a way that I think only losing a parent can make you, it also hugely influenced my entire life view (i.e. that life is short and you should make the most of it) and I think, also inspired me to treat people better. To say I love you. To apologise. To be kind. Knowing that we’re not all going to be here for long. I think these are all good things that came from an otherwise horrific tragedy. The worst things in life can bring out the best.
- people irritate the living shizz out of each other. It’s just what we do. It seems in direct proportion to the ones we spend the most time with and/or the ones who are in our family. That reason alone is not enough to warrant walking away.
- there will always be reasons not to start that project you’ve been thinking about. Just do it. You’ll work out the details later. Just start.
- in always striving to get better and to be better. I believe in being a lifelong learner.
- that you can still follow pretty wild and crazy adventures with kids. It’s definitely different from how I would have done it solo style, but it’s doable. Hard. Expensive. But doable.
- that travel is one of the best educations and life-transforming experiences ever. For everybody, no matter what their age. I hope to be travelling regularly until I die.
- that living a life is like sewing a giant tapestry quilt, with each patchwork piece representing an adventure/experience/friendship/good thing you did or nurtured during your time here. I imagine myself sometimes as an old lady on her death bed, pulling this gorgeous and amazing quilt over herself and think about what I want it to look like.
- whatever you believe in in terms of spirituality, it’s all pretty crazy. No matter how firm your beliefs (or non-beliefs), at the end of the day, nobody KNOWS. Me? I believe in God, what exactly he/she/it looks like I don’t presume to know. The religious stuff does my head in most of the time. But I am okay with my jury being out. My belief is mine and is held with the full awareness that I KNOW nothing.
- that sometimes when a door shuts or something completely crap-balls happens, something amazing can be right around the corner. Truly. It’s happened to me so many times it feels like a cosmic joke.
- there is no perfect way to parent. I go into this gig knowing that I am going to screw them up somehow, I’m just trying to enjoy them, love them and hope that the rest gets picked up by the mudguards. (Not sure what that means either, but damn I enjoyed writing it.)
- in the power of laughter to heal: people, situations, relationships, hearts.
- the world is a freaking terrifying and horrifying place. But it’s also full of amazingness, wonder, heart, music, love, art and magic, sometimes you just have to seek it out. And make it.
- I believe we can believe very different things and still be friends.
- when in doubt, crank up Boogie Wonderland and dance, baby. It never fails.
One massive thing I haven’t even told you about yet is that I have been working my BUTTOCKS off – all seven of them – lately on re-writing my entire book proposal. Do you remember I told you yonks and yonks ago about the book I was writing about mothers pursuing big dreams, etc? (You can read one of the interviews from it here if you’re so inclined!) Well, that’s the one I’m on about. The whole premise has had a pretty major re-work, I’m stunningly happy with how it’s heading and for once in my life, I have decided to stop trying to chip away at billions of projects at once, and rather, focus on ONE AT A TIME UNTIL IT’S DONE. Then I have permission to move on to the next.
This approach is in no small way thanks to some very cool motivational resources I’ve been checking out lately. I thought I’d share them with you too, no please, don’t thank me (oh alright, if you must, but only if it somehow involves ice-cream.)
1. Ride the Wild Donkey by Leonie Dawson. Quite Sark-ish and new-agey in its presentation, the approach to getting stuff done is one I’ve totally adopted for this project and it is WORKING. Huzzah!
2. Your Big Beautiful Book Plan by Danielle LaPorte. I have been working through this in tandem with revising my entire proposal, it’s felt like having a coach right there with me. HUGELY recommend this if you’ve got any aspirations to write a non-fiction book.
3. One Bite at a Time, an e-book by Tsh Oxenreider. I am not personally one to follow “one week at a time” kinda books/programs, however the tips themselves are really very helpful in terms of running a family household. And it’s only five bucks!
4. You Are A Writer, an e-book by Jeff Goins. LOVE this, as does my hubby (we’ve been reading it together on recent school holiday car-trips.) It’s mega-inspiring, you just want to write, write, write once you read it. He was offering it free on his website for a while, not sure if that’s continuing, but either way you should check out Jeff Goins’ site (thanks so much to Buttercupples who put me onto it in the first place) as it’s filled with cool resources for those into writing.
5. The War of Art, a book by Steven Pressfield. I’ve been meaning to read this forEVER. I finally bought a copy from Amazon, am only a third of the way through and already am so very, very pumped (and so very convinced I will have to read the entire thing again. It really is good).
Have you got any resources to this end you care to share? You know I’ll love you for it. I really think I am a productivity nerd at heart…
I am slowly emerging from the fog that’s been the whirlwind – amazingly so and awfully so – start to this year.
In trying to get my head around what the heck this second half of the year is about, I’ve entertained the notion more than once of getting a life coach. In fact, it’s been at the point for a while where I’ve known deep down that it’s exactly what I NEED, but the cost just seemed so prohibitive. Well, last night I signed myself up for the When I Grow Up Coach’s Clubhouse, a very inexpensive and seemingly cool way to test the waters in the life coaching arena. I will let you know how it goes, I’m pretty chuffed though that I’ve FINALLY taken action on this area of my life that’s been niggling at me for some time.
As it seems, has much of my to-do list.
One of the things I want to work on is getting a bit more systemised in terms of how I approach these projects. I think tackling one at a time until it’s finished (like Monsieur Henry Miller) is definitely the way to go, and definitely one of my greatest challenges. I have a dreadful habit of getting so distracted by the new shiny ideas, getting a thought on that project, having a stroke of inspiration for another, then sitting down at the piano and writing a chorus, only to then think about the article I wanted to write about blah…I am digging a lot of holes in the ground, yet none of them are seeming to get very deep!
I also sat down the other night and wrote out ALL of my projects…current and future and was equally impressed and mortified to realise that I have enough work to keep me going for six lifetimes.
Time to start drinking my coconut water.
How the heck do YOU stay on top of all these exciting things to do in this lifetime?
I know I joke a lot onstage and off about how hard is is to raise kids and how much effort is involved just in keeping the damn things alive (this from a woman who has managed through marvellously minimal effort to kill 100% of all plants that have ever been bold/stupid enough to enter her household.)
However, what I haven’t spoken often enough about is the sheer awesomeness that kids bring into your world. Really. It disturbs me how as I even write that I feel a knee-jerk reaction to justify it somehow. Or to apologise for saying it, lest I look like a self-righteous super-earth-mama who pounces through fields of daffodils while a Vanity Fair-esque photographer captures her inner luminosity while photoshopping out her flaws and funkily-fonted photoshop words splatter across her “I just find motherhood so…FULFILLING!”
Blegh. (Okay, fine, I’ll admit that actually sounds kinda nice. Note to self: call photographer.)
I’m not dismissing the hard stuff.
But right now, I’m just focusing on how freaking amazing they are.
And I feel like I’ve never really spoken about that side of them here, or if I have, it’s not nearly enough. If you have zero interest in reading on, by the way, I don’t blame you. But, if you are, as it would seem, am I, in the mood for a gush-fest, then please. Accept my cup of cyber-chai through the screen here, give me a juicy platonic cuddle and let’s be friends.
I am pretty disgustingly in love with my kids. I mean to say, I don’t JUST love them, but I genuinely like who they are.
And I think I’ve figured out why I’m enjoying them even more these days…I’m really getting off on watching them explore their passions. As somebody who is pretty much obsessed with following passions in life, I am finding it so incredibly cool and inspiring to see what those passions are and how they are pursuing them.
Ella, our 9-year-old going on 89, is mad about writing. We started going on writing dates (i.e. us in a cafe, her with a hot chocolate, me with a cappuccino, dag that I am, both of us with journals open and scrawling away) in Canada and she hasn’t stopped. Just minutes ago, I opened my computer and discovered an open document containing a story she is currently working on. I beamed, uttered “Awwww. Ella!” and was instantly inspired to write this very post. She also reads voraciously, to my utter delight. Right now she is all about “The Famous Five” and “Secret Seven” series by Enid Blyton. She also LOVES the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice (we can both recite almost by heart the final 20 minutes of the series), Franco Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet and Anne of Green Gables. I could fall in love with somebody based on any one of these shared passions alone.
She is also currently obsessed with kick-boxing. Yes. Kick-boxing. As is much of the family. It’s crazy. And new. But now that all four of my house-mates are now into it (even littlest has started putting on his gloves and asking Daddy to spar with him) I have to admit that this new addition to our family’s culture looks like it might have staying power. So I need to wrap my head around it. This will possibly merit a series of posts on its own.
Caleb, our 8 year old comedian-in-waiting, is crazy about performing. I read once that Jim Carrey’s mother said that even as a baby, Jim would sit in his high chair pulling ridiculous faces to make her laugh. Oh yes. Oh heavens yes. Caleb told me recently he wants to be an actor. And a businessman. And live in a mansion with a dog. He also wants to move to Hollywood and make movies, in fact he’s already working on a sci-fi action flick about a little boy in outer space and somewhere in there are dinosaurs. It’ll be epic.
Caleb is also passionate about superheroes (it’s The Avengers central over here right now), soccer, kickboxing (naturally, we’re just that kinda family) and action movies. When he began announcing his arrival into any room of the house by bursting into the Darth Vader theme, I nearly burst an artery in sheer pride.
Cassidy, our 3-year-old rockstar, is just passionate about life, in that way that only young kids, as yet untainted by life’s weaponry, can be. He doesn’t over think it. I mean, sure, he’s got his things he loves: Olivia, books, puzzles, swings, the trampoline, kickboxing (duh), the library, his cousins…but his passions are constantly changing, he is always open to new things, he is just into taking one day at a time and enjoying every moment. Why else would he be so angry every time he has to wait a few minutes for his egg to boil? Because that’s THREE MINUTES OF MY LIFE I COULD BE ENJOYING, MUM!
Point is, I’ve been so focused on nurturing my own passions in the midst of motherhood that having my kids’ passions emerge so visibly came as a bit of a bonus surprise – a pleasant one! I have always wanted them to grow into passionate people who pursue their purpose in life, rather than just take the road well travelled. However up until now I realise I’ve just been operating on the assumption that my decision to practice what I preach would be a good example and that would be it.
But now I’m excited on a whole new level. Now that their passions are taking shape, I can make conscious efforts to encourage them, to help stoke their fires and to share each other’s excitement. Already I feel so selfishly inspired by my kids and their sheer joy in the process of doing things they love.
Right now that’s the beautiful thing about it: NONE of their passions even have any thoughts, hopes or attachments to building an income out of them. They are free – with no worries yet about the responsibilities that come with adult life – to explore their passions just for the sheer love of them.
Two thoughts on this:
1) That is pretty damn cool.
2) They have much to teach me.
We’ve been in home-making overdrive here at CM headquarters this weekend. Ella de-weeded almost the entire garden and learned to whipper-snip! Caleb and my hubby made a book-case: out of Caleb’s old bed! Cassidy cheered helpfully from the sidelines (code for “wanted to do everything himself”) but took satisfaction in his new “art corner”. But what I want to share with you is my own selfish triumph: my new office!
As some of you may recall, I did have a little office in the city last year for a while, however unfortunately – SUPER unfortunately as I adored it – I just wasn’t getting in there often enough to justify the rent. With three days a week to make it in, all it took was a kid to get a cold, or an appointment near home, to mean that I was only averaging getting in there once a week, and sometimes not even that.
So…back to the home office it was.
Until, of course, the home office got all Prince on me and decided it would become “The Room Formerly Known as Home Office.” In other words, Cassidy needed to move into his own room. Some of the office stuff stayed in Cass’s room until I could
defeat my laziness muster up the will to sort out a better designated space into something functional.
Unfortunately this “designated space” became the room which runs off the kitchen, which is not unfortunate in itself, only that every time I looked at it – covered in unsorted papers, office bits and pieces – I was reminded of my FAILURE TO SORT SHIZZ OUT. Until this weekend. And I am proud.
Without further ado, THE BEFORE SHOT.
THE AFTER SHOT.
Two desks! Huzzah!
One of the biggest challenges I stumble upon almost every working day is trying to balance the admin/promo kinda of work (i.e. the “Management” side of my career) with the creative side (i.e. writing, song-writing, rehearsal.) I’m seriously hoping this strategy of having a separate physical space – even though they are closely located – will help me to:
a) be more aware of the balance of how I’m spending my time, by having a physical representation of which area I’m working in; and
b) be more organised in my paperwork, by having designated spaces to deal with admin/organisational bits and pieces, separate from my endless notes of writing snippets, which were previously flitting around together like a bunch of prepubescent teens from same-sex schools who’ve met up for a school social and don’t quite know what to make of each other.
It already feels so much better!