6MS: Herself

For reasons beyond my feeble understanding, I’ve been exhausted for a few days. But now I’m back, and full of pep and vigour! Here, have a six-minute story. I quite like this one.

Until now, she’d never thought of herself as pretty.

Truth be told, until a year ago, she’d never thought of herself as all. The concept of self was one that she’d been struggling with for the past twelve months, and she was finally starting to get a grip on it.

The first step had been coming up with a name for herself. Her entire life, she’d been referred to as “that lot”, or, at best, “the taller group”. She’d been part of a team…a slightly taller team than the other teams, true, but a minor difference in height does not self-identity make.

When the Crob had come and shut down the entire operation, they’d been let free.

Most of the girls hadn’t coped well.

But her, she was resolute. It was a quality she didn’t know that she had, but now she was starting to recognise that it had been within her all along. She was going to make it through, and if that meant coming to terms with her own identity, then that was what it was going to take.

“We’ll make it through,” she’d told herself for the first six months, before finally breaking the habit. The rest of the group, the other very-slightly-taller girls, they weren’t with her any more. It was no longer “we”, it was “I”, and that was the hardest thing to cope with.

The advantages had been hard to notice, for a long time, but eventually she had begun to take delight in her talent. She had skill…she did, individually, personally. It wasn’t her team that were responsible for the fact that she could do things well, it was just her.

And so she’d come up with a name. “Talent”. It was perhaps a bit egotistical (another concept that she struggled to wrap her head around) but she’d been assured by the counsellors that if anyone could err on the side of arrogance, it was her. Her and the rest of the girls.

And today, for the first time, Talent had realised that she was pretty. Not gorgeous, not stunning…but definitely pretty. She’d been aware that some of the men her team served were more appealing than others, that subjective appraisal of attractiveness existed, and she even knew that the taller group were occasionally chosen for exactly that reason…but the idea of her, Talent, being pretty?

Until now, she’d never thought of it. But once the idea come into her head, it wasn’t leavin

Two things:

Two things today. Firstly, my morning sucked.

I had a dream that my father and two of my closest friends died, and had no idea it was a dream. Quite often I’m a bit self-aware while I’m sleeping; I can tell that it’s not reality, and sometimes I can even control the dream.

Not last night. I was there with my family as we dealt with my father’s death. I was uncontrollably sobbing at the waste of my two friends’ lives. I was raw and trying to work out what it meant and blaming myself and not coping.

And then I woke up, and for the first time in years, it took almost a minute for me to work out that it wasn’t a dream.

I lay there for the next hour, trying to work out what I wanted to do with this second chance at hanging out with my father, of getting to see my friends. That dream changed me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

And then our security system inexplicably went off.

I got up and turned the power off (the only way to disable the security system for reasons too long to list here) and was going to go hang out washing and other fascinating household tasks, but Sarah Jane wanted cuddles, and so I returned to bed and went back to sleep.

Until 12:30.

It’s been a hell of a morning.

Thing 2: I don’t know how common this is, but I have to remember to be good at something.

When I lived in Brisbane, I was taking an improvised theatre class, and we were learning how to improvise songs. I got up, and had a below-average attempt.

I sat down, and thought “Wait a second…I’m good at this!” – I’d been improvising songs for several years at that point, as part of an old stand-up comedy routine I used to do.

But with all the rules and the lessons and the general mentality of “you are new and won’t be good at this to begin with” I’d forgotten that I actually had skills in that area. Toward the end of the class, I volunteered to go again, and sang a country song about my dog.

It was, in all modesty, excellent.

The power was in me all along, I just had to believe remember.

I’ve been writing erotica for fun for a few years now, and publishing on Kindle for just over 3 months.

In all that time, not once have I remembered that I’m a good writer.

The erotica thread that I frequent is quite playful at times, and today two of the best writers on there tag-teamed a piece about letting go. It’s magnificent, really draws you in, and is not at all erotic. (unless you have extremely unusual proclivities when it comes to erotica)

Reading it, I thought “Wow.” Then I thought “I wish I could write like that.”

Then I thought “Wait a second, I can write like that.”

I’m possibly not as good as those two, but I’m actually quite a good writer. I’ve been honing my skills for well over 10 years, and been officially recognised as “quite good”. But my brain has been going “erotica? That doesn’t deserve your A-game. You are new at this. Just get words on paper, publish, and repeat.”

There may be a very good reason I’m not selling as well as I want to. That reason may be that I’m an idiot.

So here’s my public vow: as of today, I’m going to start writing better. I’m going to start writing well. I’m going to give my erotic writings my A-game, and see if that affects sales.

I suspect that even if it doesn’t, I’ll suddenly start enjoying it a lot more, and work will suddenly stop feeling quite so much like work. I’ll be writing something of quality, and isn’t that reward enough*?

*the answer is no. I need money if I want to keep doing this.

Ambition Is

It’s a writing day today! The current trend in erotica is BBW – Big, Beautiful Women – so I’m going to try my hand at a story about a large woman having some sexy, sexy times. To warm up, here’s a six-minute story about death:

The chill of the water slowly crept up his trunk, until it reached his tusks. He couldn’t move…not that he even wanted to, any more.

They had won.

He’d faced adversary ever since he’d announced his intentions. At first from his parents, then from his friends, until he was the laughing-stock of the whole herd.

“How are you going to pole-vault?” they’d sneered. “You don’t have any arms!”

“You think they’re going to let you in the Olympics!? Ha! You don’t even speak the same language as the humans…how are you even going to communicate your intentions?”

His parents had tried to discourage his dreams, and eventually turned away from him in disappointment. His friends had laughed, and soon been joined by others, until it was no longer the friendly laughter of mates, but the cruel jeers of a group of bullies.

But Trey had been undeterred.

He’d left the herd, he’d started off towards the nearest human village, and on the way he’d practiced. He’d vaulted over ice banks, and walruses…he’d vaulted over everything he could, and tried to vault over several things that he couldn’t.

The mammoth had been so enthused, so blinded by his passion that when the snakes – mortal enemies of his kind – had promised him that they had an “in” with the committee, he’d believed them.

And look at where it had left him. Under the water, freezing to death.


A while ago, I started a blog called Kiandacorp. I called it a “Let’s Write”, and the intention was to talk about the process of developing and writing a sitcom.

I put four posts together, uploaded the first one, and then the world never heard of it again.

Unlike many projects that I start and never return to, Kiandacorp has never left my mind. I’ve been thinking about the show for years, and the blog for month, and I’m reasonably confident that I will return to (and finish it) before the year is up.

I was slowed down by ambition (like many of the projects I start and never return to). The second post was a brief recap of the other TV pilots I’ve written and filmed over the years, and I wrote about my regret that they weren’t online for easy linking.

I’m a big believer in not having regrets, and it occurred to me that this was something wholly in my power to fix. And so I’ve been slowly (incredibly slowly) putting together my old TV pilots and getting them ready to upload. One week I’d find some footage, another week I’d get an old computer or hard-drive up and running, and so on…

…right up until yesterday, when I dedicated the whole day to editing. I now have a copy of The Map Shop, the second TV pilot I ever shot (the first is Robbie and Peter, which has been online for a few years now) and it’s actually quite watchable.

It’s not great, but I’ve cut out all of the bits that didn’t work (including a plethora of needlessly offensive jokes, a romantic subplot that made no sense, and more than half an hour of scenes inexplicably featuring a wizard) – I’m not going to upload it until I’ve let it it sit for a while, maybe shown a few friends to see if there’s anything obvious I can change to improve it.

As well as the obvious “having it out there”, I’m really glad that all the people who put so much effort into it (not least of which the actors, who took a week off work to get involved in my silly little sitcom, and my cousin Gav who didn’t take the week off, but worked and studied full-time while helping me out with it.)

I’ve filmed 5 TV pilots so far – Robbie and Peter and Help! are both online already, The Map Shop will be joining them in the next week or so, NAP-Time (my first kids’ puppet show) shouldn’t be far behind  – I was watching some of the footage with Sarah Jane last night, and it’s beautifully shot – I’m particularly looking forward to this one going up.

The big one, however, is Frank. Shot with a proper crew, from a script I’m still happy with, this show had all of my friends on-board helping (and lost me a few of them) and it’s gone through two rounds of editing and had an premiere.

Once NAP-Time is up, I’ll have run out of excuses not to put a final cut of Frank together, and once that’s done I’ll no longer have any  reasons not to start pitching it, and truly try to get my start in television. I find it truly daunting.

For someone as ambitious as I am, I sure can be afraid of success sometimes.

But once all the pilots are up, two things are going to happen: I’m going to start pitching, meeting industry contacts and making a heap of two-sheets…and the Kiandacorp blog will start again.

There’s something a little bit fucked up about my brain that the second of those two is what kicked all this into gear. I guess creativity inspires me, whereas terrifying new processes…terrify me.

Wish me luck!

My Reddit Adventure

As I’ve spoken about before, I really like reddit. I treat it like a personalised newspaper-with-comments, and I enjoy a lot of the discussion over there – especially since it strongly rewards/leans toward humour. It’s rare for me to spend more than a few minutes on reddit without laughing.

I don’t submit a lot of content, but when I do it’s either because I’m curious to see how high on the ranks I can rise.

This is not only a fun little game, but it’s a useful skill to have, especially as a creative professional. People don’t see your stuff unless they’ve heard of it, and learning to get people’s attention on reddit is a transferable skill.

Currently as my day-job, I professionally write erotica. I self-publish over at Amazon.com (and other places) as “Pandora Box“. (this is the confession that I alluded to last week)

I’m making about $20/day with around 30 titles out. This is okay, but not great – there are people with less titles who make more, and a few with more titles who make less.

It’s not the best writing I’ve ever done, but it’s erotica that…serves its purpose, let’s say that. (you are absolutely welcome to buy some and see for yourself)

Self-pubbing erotica is all about rising the ranks – the correct combination of keywords, title, cover and content can turn into quite a bit of money. There are writers over at the forum I frequent who make $80 000/month.

Per month.

I’m sitting at a bit over $500/month, hoping to double that in the next month or so, and then hopefully double it again until I’m a millionaire. I’m confident in my writing abilities, and the more stuff I have out there, the higher my chances of hitting it big.

So rank-rising is something that’s extremely relevant to me at the moment. The ability to market cleverly and provide quality content is, I believe, the trick to success.

And so reddit is fascinating to me because you have to have content, and you have to headline it well. Thus far I’ve made it on the front page twice – once through /r/atheism, by posting an average picture with a clever title and just yesterday on a smaller subreddit by posting a collection of advice I’d saved to my hard-drive a while back. (with a purely descriptive title)

The first time I made it to the front-page, I didn’t even notice until a few days later. I’d posted it, forgot about it, and then came back a few days later to notice my “karma” (reddit’s measure of how popular your posts are) had gone from a few hundred to a few thousand.

This time, however, I was there for the full ride. I watched it creep from a few hundred to the front page, I watched people be rude in the comments and posted some snarky replies (my “no arguing on the internet” meant that I probably shouldn’t have replied at all, but I couldn’t help myself. One guy was just being so rude.)

Some day, I’ll make it to the front page with actual original content of my own. But right now, I’m happy enough to use other people’s work to gain imaginary internet points.

6MS: Hardly Daring, But Daring Enough

Today’s SixMinuteStory. This is the first time that I’ve reached the end of one of these and gone “Oh man, I want to know what happens next!”. Here’s the prompt:

The daring were punished.

It seemed almost contradictory, but that was how They wanted it. Ever since the capital-t-They had taken over it, a systematic reduction of risk-taking had been put into place, until the daring were trained not to dare, the mavericks removed and replaced with the mundane.

My sister Joan had wanted to be a baker. You would think that was sufficiently uninteresting for Them, but you’d be wrong – I have no idea how They found out, but after a few bottles of wine at my house, she told me her dream of opening her own bakery. She hadn’t even applied for a loan yet, but They took her.

They took her, and They whipped her.

My sister Joan came back broken. She still smiled, but the laughter was gone, and so was the dream. When she was offered a position at one of the big chains, assistant baker in the back room, she leapt at the opportunity, and she even seemed happy.

Fortunately, I’ve never been daring. I’ve never had lofty dreams, never wanted to fly too close to the sun. I’ve always been happy enough with the status quo, and so for the longest time I assumed I was safe.

And then, of course, I met him.

He wasn’t even a high risk, but if Joan’s experience had taught me anything, it was that barely daring is too daring, and so as soon as I saw him, as soon as I realised my heart was fluttering and nervously wondered if he’d noticed me noticing him, I knew I was screwed.

He worked in painting, I was an accountant. It’s not Romeo and Juliet, but it’s daring enough…


I don’t think that I’ve ever been accused of being lazy.

I’m not (just) writing that to brag, I was genuinely thinking about it over the weekend, and I don’t recall it ever coming up as a descriptor. I’m ambitious, and I’m completely aware that nothing worth happening happens (especially not lofty dreams such as mine) without a lot of work going into it.

I’m also a big believer in doing things that I want to do. It’s my favourite part of being an “adult” – if I decide that I want to have biscuits for breakfast, I can. If I want to spend the weekend sleeping in, that’s entirely my choice to make. And if I decide that “batteries” are the best possible use of my money, then by golly no one and nothing is going to stop me spending my money on batteries.

(it’s 9:30am on Monday morning, and after struggling to wake up after a weekend of sleeping in, I’m now sitting at my computer next to a pile of breakfast-biscuit-crumbs and…batteries.)

Combine these two facts about myself, and things have a tendency to get a little hectic. I do things that I want to do, and work extremely hard on them. I decided a while ago that I wanted to make a panel show, and so We Should Know Better has been going for almost 6 months now – it’s getting better each month, largely because of the huge amount of effort that the team and I pour into it.

Similarly, the impro troupe that I run had two shows on at the Melbourne Fringe Festival this year, because someone in the group suggested it and so we put the effort in, and ran two shows (that I thought were actually quite successful.)

And for several years now, I’ve had the idea of running a comedy gala/variety night, with the intention of raising money for charity.

On my birthday.

This year, I found the motivation, said “hashtag you only live once” and assembled a team to get it off the ground. It’s on the 8th of November, it’s called Chocolate Coated Evening, and like all good events of this magnitude, putting it together is a lot of work.

Inevitably, work on all three of these YOLOs needed to be worked on at once – the impro shows were on at the same time as the gala needed assembling, and We Should Know Better needs to be put together afresh each and every month.

I like blogging for a lot of reasons; there are a lot of bloggers I really admire, I think it’s a nice outlet for putting thoughts out there, and it’s a nice warm-up “each” morning.

Another thing I enjoy about it is that I think you can chart how hectic my life is by how frequently blog-posts appear. I’m hoping to get a post up every day this week, simply because the storm has passed and this is my week of catching up on all the things that don’t get done when life becomes unbearably hectic. (also topping the list: going to the gym, and doing washing.)

I sometimes question my lifestyle, as a part of that “question everything” philosophy that I’m so fond of, but I always reach the same conclusion: being productive, sometimes insanely so, is genuinely what makes me happy. If I’m feeling burned out, I can move things around and take a break, but that typically only happens after something that consumes my entire life for more than a month.

Part of the reason that I am the way I am is a simple fear of death: I want to leave my mark, and productivity contributes to mark-leaving much more than sitting around and masturbating is ever likely to. There’s so much that I want to do in my brief time on this planet, and I like to spend my time doing it.

A lot of it is because I have no idea what I’d be doing if I wasn’t working on things. I sometimes wonder what other people do with their time (and then realise how patronising that sounds) – but I only know a few people who seem to output as much as I do (and not coincidentally, they’re some of my closest friends/collaborators.)

And I think part of it, in what seems like a contradiction to my friends, is because I believe in having no regrets. If I want to do something, I do it, and if doing it turns out to have been a bad idea then I learn a lesson from the experience and take solace in the fact that I used the best available information to me when I chose to do it.

That’s why I moved in with my girlfriend after only knowing her for a few months. (best decision I ever made.) That’s why I told one of my closest friends something she neither wanted nor needed to know about her ex (we’re no longer friends, and boy did I learn a lesson from that one – but not the lesson you’d think…)

As an atheist, I firmly believe that you only get one chance to stand on planet earth, and that it will be over all too soon. I plan to spend the years I have left working hard on things that I love, and spending time with the amazing people I know.

More often than not, those two are the same thing.

I like working hard, I want to work hard, and I don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t working hard. I spend my time working hard, because I have no evidence to suggest that it’s a bad idea. If I eventually learn that I “should” have been spending my time doing other things, I won’t regret it – when I learn that lesson, I’ll adjust my behaviour accordingly.

So far I haven’t learned that lesson, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to any time soon. Two-and-a-half breakdowns and over a dozen failed projects later, I’m still going.

I’m going to follow my dream if it kills me, because the alternative involves dying anyway.

6MS: The Sepia Girl

I like today’s. I didn’t feel any need to rush. It’s a repeated piece of stimulus, but quite a different story to the last time I used it.

The sepia girl smiled at me as I tucked her photograph back into my wallet.

I’d found it several years ago, inside a book in a box on a table at a garage sale. I hadn’t ended up buying anything from the sale, but I’d taken the photo. I suppose you could say it was stealing, but I’ve never thought about it that way.

She seemed lonely. I was just taking her from a life spent between pages on the Ottoman Empire, with me. I travel a lot, and a part of me wanted her to see the world.

I know it’s just my imagination, but ever since I’d rescued her from a life spent reading the same few historical paragraphs over and over, something about her smile had seemed more genuine, less forced.

The first time, I’d been in the middle of Morocco, and I’d pulled my wallet out to pay for a trinket or a coffee or something, and seen her there tucked between my US bills and the local currency. I’d pulled her out, and shown her the world, so different from the one she was used to.

Since then, any time I had to use cash or show ID, I’d show my sepia girl where I was, what I was doing. The photograph of the smiling girl had probably seen more of the world than the real girl ever had. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wasn’t sure about how I felt about how attached I was to her, either.

It’s just a photograph, I know that. But I gave her a name, and showed her the world, and it made me feel good. I’m not crazy, I’m normally not even sentimental. But why stop yourself from doing something silly and pointless if it makes you feel less lonely?

I call her Jane.


About once every few months, I get sick. I don’t know if this is a standard frequency of illness, or if I’m unnaturally healthy/unhealthy, but it never lasts more than a few days.

I’m sick now, and so Sarah Jane and I have basically spent the last two days watching Breaking Bad. (her for the first time, my first rewatch since I first saw each season as they came out.)

No regrets.

6MS: Snips and the Rats

This one started autobiographically but then the inspiration sparked and it went in a different direction.

When I was a child, we used to have pet mice. The first one was called Snips and I don’t remember how or why, but we had it for a few weeks and then it died.

According to Grandpop, who is not the most reliable storyteller…no, that’s not quite true. He’s a reliable storyteller, he’s just not the most reliable truthteller. According to Grandpop, Snips didn’t die of any ordinary mouse cause of death.

Snips died because he got in with the wrong type of animal.

Again, I’ll stress that this is all according to Grandpop, not something I saw with my own eyes. Grandpop will swear black and blue that it’s true, but he says that on the first night that Snips arrived home, the little creature found a way to escape the cage that my sisters and myself lovingly made for him, and worked out how to gnaw his way into the wall.

Into the wall where, in Grandpop’s words, “the rats abide.”

I never saw these abiding rats, but I did once or twice see mum putting rat poison out, so there might actually be a kernel of truth in the centre of Grandpop’s elaborate tale. Grandpop says (and I never questioned how he knew the details, but I’m sure he would have been able to give me an answer if I had) that Snips entered as the rats were playing cards in their abode.

Snips, being the friendly sort, asked to be dealt in, and to everyone’s surprise (not least of all Snips’) he was good. No, more than good. He was practically Rain Mouse. No matter what the game, no matter what he was dealt, Snips managed to bluff his way through, play the odds expertly, and by the end of the evening, the abiding rats owed Snips more than a house full of cheese.

The next morning, our first full day with Snips, I do remember him being tired, but I’m not saying that means that Grandpop’s story was true…