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…

Back Again

I’ve spent the last few weeks travelling, but now I’m home again, and ready to blog!

My girlfriend Sarah Jane and I went on a lovely trip to all my home towns…Glenbrook, where I lived up until I was 14; Toowoomba, where I lived from 15-19 and Brisbane, my home from 19-21. If I’d stopped in at Canberra (where I lived from 21-22, before moving to Melbourne) the trip would have taken us everywhere I’ve ever lived.

We got to hang out with my brother, sister and cousin for extended periods of time, Sarah Jane met my mother/extended family, and we celebrated both my sister’s 21st and my grandmother’s 90th.

There are certain parts of my life that I have been keeping relatively secret, because certain members of my family weren’t aware of them and I didn’t want anyone I love to learn about it through Facebook/other people telling them after seeing it on Facebook. I’ve now “come out” to all the people who are important to me (I like to do these things in person!) however, and so the list of topics I’m able/willing to talk about online has now grown a bit longer.

This will probably lead to either longer or more frequent blogs, because I (like most humans) like blogging about what’s going on in my life, and on days when that’s all that is running through my mind, I don’t really want to blog about anything else.

October is, according to Tumblr, Bold Moves Month and so this is my bold move. I’m a huge believer in living with nothing to hide (I believe Kevin Smith refers to it as “owning your shit”, because if you tell the world your secrets then no one can hold them over you) and now that my family are caught up with my goings-on, I’ll inform the rest of the world.

Not today, mind you. I’ve got work to do. But in the next couple of days.

Maybe next week.

6MS: The Girl At The Market

I’m in a strange mood today, and don’t really want to do anything. So I’m forcing myself to write; I think today’s 6MS reflects that, not in quality, but in tone. Enjoy?

Sixteen years, almost to the day. He wasn’t sure what was worse: how sad it was, or the fact that he knew how sad it was.

If only he could be one of those losers who didn’t know they were losers – a self-deluded idiot. Sure, they get laughed at by the world, but at least they’re happy in and of themselves. They don’t know that their dream is unreachable, that they’re doomed to spending the rest of their life watching something they can’t have.

Tom Hamil had been selling flowers for sixteen years at the same shop, in the same market, staring at the same girl. At first it had been a sort of cute crush – he’d look at the tanned beauty, imagine what it would be like to go over and talk to her.

Once the six-month mark had passed, he knew that he couldn’t go and introduce himself now. It had been too long, and he was okay with that. He didn’t know her name, but in his mind, he’d summoned up the courage to go over and chat, and now they were dating, “going steady”, maybe even talking about love.

After two years had gone by, Tom had started to grow aware of how sad his crush was. He’d started dreaming about the girl, picturing them moving in together, getting engaged. He sometimes wished that the dream wouldn’t end, that he didn’t have to wake up to a world where he’d never even said “hi” to the girl, where she knew him only as the guy in green…if she even knew that much.

After five years, she’d disappeared for a few weeks, and he’d simultaneously been crushed and pleased – he missed her, sad though that was, but maybe now that she was gone he could move on with his life.

When she’d returned, it had been with a wedding ring on her finger, and he knew that whatever infinitely small chance he’d ever had was now also gone.

6MS: The Gift That Wasn’t

Forgot to blog this morning! But it’s a writing day, so here’s a six minute story:

Black and white. I couldn’t believe Dad had done it again.

I know I’m lucky, I do. You can say I’m spoiled if you like, but it doesn’t matter – I’d asked for ONE THING this Christmas, and it was colour.

I looked up at my father, tried to fake a smile, and said ‘Thanks’. As soon as he turned away, I rolled my eyes, and unwrapped my next present.

A sweater. Great. I wondered what colour it was – if I went out wearing this and one of my friends actually GOT what she asked for and could see whether or not it matched my jeans, my hair…I was screwed.

My brother Billy opened his present next. A jigsaw puzzle. Thanks Dad. How are we meant to do that when we can’t even tell which bits are sky??

Maybe it would be better, I sometimes thought, if we weren’t even in a privileged family. Maybe if I knew there was NO chance of getting colour, even for a few days, it wouldn’t bug me so much that we didn’t have it. Maybe I’d consider myself lucky to even have black and white – I know that some families have to rely on government hand-outs, and they only get two-tone. At least our black and white is greyscale.

But it’s just annoying, when your Dad works at the company, and makes enough that they could easily get it for the whole family.

I forced a smile again as I opened a gift from Stacey, Dad’s new girl-of-the-year. It was a hat. Great.

It looked like it was patterned, but without colour, there was no way to know for sure. I put it on, and saw her start to correct me, before guiltily stopping.

It took me another present or two to put it together, and then I exploded.

“you got HER colour!? HER!??”


6MS: The Disco Bull

Um, so I'm not really sure what happened here. Sorry about this. That's the nature of six minute stories, I guess – even if you have nothing to say, you have to keep writing. If you'd like to read something that's actually good, I recommend this short story by my 15-year old brother.

Prompt: “The disco ball was turning.”

The disco ball was turning.

The Mighty Fwarriors turned in shock. Their ambush on the Gold Chain Club had been going well – too well. Now they watched, as the disco ball slowly turned…into Disco Bull.

“Curses!” shouted Melissa, leader of the Fwarriors. She'd hoped that just once, just this one time, they could have a successful ambush, but she knew that it was probably too much to ask for.

Superheroes, supervillains – these are normally pretty clear cut terms. One group fight on the side of good, the other on the side of “evil”. But in the real world, such terms are never as clear-cut as they appear in comics.

The Mighty Fwarriors considered themselves good, of course – who doesn't? Their attack on the Gold Chain Club to take out Disco Bull and his reign of capitalism came from nothing but the best of intentions.

But Disco Bull wasn't enslaving orphans, or planning to destroy the world. His focus was on bringing back the disco, bringing back the traditions of his parents' generation, creating a place where people could come and groove without the trappings and complications that the modern day had brought.

He'd banned drugs and he'd banned sex. But had he gone too far by banning mobile phones? The Mighty Fwarriors thought so, but without the clear division of “good” and “evil” it was hard to say.

Life is hard.

I Want To Be A Producer

In the words of Mel Brooks' disappointingly not-as-good-as-I-thought-it-was-when-I-was-a-teenager musical, “I want to be a producer.”

As a kid, I always wanted to be an actor. (except for a few months when, as anyone with a decent teacher does, I wanted to be a teacher.) My friend Brent, in the last year of high school, said something that has always really stuck with me – “I always thought if you were going to make it, you'd make it as a writer.”

Maybe I'd just never even considered it as an option before then, but as soon as Brent suggested it, my brain started ticking, and I realised that I really enjoyed – loved, even – writing.

And, more importantly, that I was good at it.

(like all writers, I look back on my old stuff and cringe, but there's definite potential in most of it, and I was spending my time the two things you need to do to improve – writing and living a lot of life)

Now, seven years on, I've shifted my thinking again. I love writing, and I love being in front of the camera, but I think my real skill (and passion) lies in producing. I enjoy almost nothing more than helping to shape things, whether it's working with a collaborator on my own ideas, or being brought in to help knead someone else's brain-child into being.

I can think of nothing I'd enjoy more than spending the rest of my life as a producer, working on half a dozen projects at once, helping other people rewrite scripts, or pick actors, or tweak games for quiz shows, or just plain ole doing whatever needs to be done to get a project happening, get it working, and make it great.

“Unfortunately” isn't the word for it, because it's a necessary fact that I agree with, but…unfortunately, you need to have some success of your own before anyone will bring you in to produce their work. No one's going to listen to someone with a string of failures behind them, and I think I'm not sure I'd want to work with them if they did. So right now, I'm working on getting something working, trying to get make something that will get a name for myself out there.

I'm working on a dozen projects at once because I love it, and because there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. I'm trying to make them great because that's how you learn what works and what doesn't. And I focus on trying making them successful because I want to position myself as someone with a history of making successful works.

It's always seemed strange to me, that the only path to no longer being the person who prints the posters and buys the props is to first be the person who prints the posters and buys the props, but that's how the world works. We do the little things so that we can stop being the person who has to do the little things.

Me? I write because I don't necessarily want to be the person writing. I start projects that I think will work because I don't necessarily want to be the person starting the projects.

I want to be the person who helps other people get their projects off the ground. To do that, I have to first work on getting my projects off the ground. It's the only way to accomplish my dream of helping other people accomplish their dreams.


When my girlfriend first saw my old webcomic, she had the same reaction that most people have. She read a few, and went “Oh.”

Some people really get into them, but most people? “Oh.”

The “I don’t get it” isn’t explicitly said, but it’s there. I made the amateur mistake of trying to explain one of the jokes to Sarah, and got the response I deserved:

“No, I get that.”

See, Giant Bee comics aren’t funny exactly. On occasion they’ll make me laugh, but more than anything they’re just weird. It’s a brand of weird that I enjoy (it’s pretty heavily influenced by Nedroid and Daisy Owl, the latter sadly no longer running) and it oscillates from dark to light in a way that I find amusing, but I completely understand why many people don’t like it.

A few months after showing Sarah Jane my webcomic, my little sister came down to stay with us. She enjoys my Whiteboard Comics (or at least she cleverly pretends to) and she also loves referencing obscure things, so when she made a joke about there being “fleventy minutes to go”, I was wracking my brain trying to work out where “Fleventy” came from:

For some reason the number stuck in Sarah Jane’s brain as well, and ever since then, whenever I ask her anything involving numbers (including the incredibly corny “How much does Peter love you?”) I always get the response “Bleventy*!” in response.

*close enough.

So while SJ will probably never sit down and read through my old webcomic, I enjoy the fact that a tiny part of it has permeated our day-to-day life.

Whiteboard Comics has been on hiatus for a long time now – with my new-found “routine” (and the fact that I now own an iPad, which would make colouring and possibly even drawing a lot easier) I’m considering getting back into them. Drawing one first thing in the morning each day, and colouring/uploading them whenever I get a chance.

That’s not a promise, but if you see new comics arriving in the next few weeks, you’ll know why.

(actually it’ll probably take longer than that. Our next WSKB show is in 9 days, and organising that inevitably takes over my life for two weeks out of every month.)