Say hi to our season 2 logo and get ready to meet Juliet Knives. Six Cold Feet Season 2 is coming soon.
You rise from your bed, shaking the embers of a hangover from your addled brain, look in the mirror and say “Well, this is it. This is going to be MY YEAR.”
“Fucking excuse me?” You turn around, 2017 looks very unimpressed.
“Oh! Hey there, I didn’t mean—“
“You don’t own me.”
“No, of course not! It’s just that, 2016 was awful and I’m hoping for a big change. This is the year I better myself.” 2017 grimaces, takes a step closer.
“So you want to build a cathedral to yourself on the ruins of my dead sister, that it?”
“No, you’ve got me all wrong! Like, I want to IMPROVE myself. I’m going to do a juice cleanse!”
2017 snorts reproachfully and says, “A juice cleanse? I mean, to begin with, maybe don’t take your health advice from models unless you’re going to also take make-up advice from your GP, but you’ve got a whole world teetering on the verge of widespread destruction and you think downing some liquefied kale is going to shake things up? Get a grip.”
“Hey, listen! I care about The World! I even, like, remember last year I raised awareness for—“
2017 throws its head back and laughs. “FUCK raising awareness. Raise funds. Raise fists. Raise your consciousness. Raze the palaces of the institutions that perpetuate the cycles of poverty and suffering to the ground. It’s all this fucking half-stepping that got you here in the first place. What else is on your list?”
You steel yourself, stand up straight, clear your throat and say, “2017, you are the year I finally quit smoking.” It nods in approval and strokes its chin,
“Yeah, fair enough. That’s a good one. I should do that too. I’m only nine hours old and I’m already smoking like Dante’s Inferno. That it?”
“Well, okay, I think you’ll like this one. This year I aim to be More Present.” 2017 manifests the physical representation of the concept of a wall for the express purpose of smashing its face into. It turns to you, nose bloody, and says, “Well, yeah, fucking for sure spend less time on Facebook and be more present, but maybe it’s time to put your face in a book and read some history? You’re all bumbling around like Cause and Effect are completely new concepts. ‘Oh look, we bombed this country and they’re angry at us for some reason! I hope they don’t retaliate like every single country that’s ever been bombed!’ It’s pretty embarrassing frankly.”
You stare down at the ground, saying nothing. 2017 sighs and says, “Look, sorry if I was a little harsh. I’m only brand new. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of year I’m going to be.” 2017 reaches its hand out to you, a hand that you instinctively sense could either crush or caress you.
“That’s okay. I forgive you. Hey! You wanna go get Fro-yo?” 2017 frowns and says,
“I can’t, I’m lactose intolerant.”
Over the last few years I’ve had many aspiring writers come to me for advice as they seek to make their way through the confusing labyrinth that is the publishing industry. Sometimes it’s simple queries like ‘should I get an agent?’, sometimes more bizarre requests like ‘for the love of God could you please stop talking about royalty payments and call an ambulance I think this man is having a heart attack!’
Many of these young, hopeful writers have subsequently released novels which have not only outsold mine but also been far more critically acclaimed. This means that they end up being given headline slots at literary festivals while I’m shuffling around in one of the weird rooms on the top floor of a secondary venue for a panel that is attended by half a dozen octogenarians who were expecting a workshop on efficient calendar management (it was actually scheduled for the following evening).
I thought for this reason that it would be a good idea to give some advice to my future
rivals peers. Follow these wise words and you too could become a New York Limes Bestsmelling Author!
Make sure all of your submissions are written in size eight and covered in glitter.
Here’s a little industry secret: submission editors actually want to read everything in size eight font. I know, I know, all the style guides say never hand in anything outside of 11-13, but this is actually an elaborate ruse to throw off the easily misled. There’s a saying in publishing: “If it ain’t size eight, it ain’t that great.” Remember to cover your submission in as much glitter as you can get your hands on, and spray it with the scent of old feet and mildew (submission editors have unusual olfactory senses owing to the fact that they spend a lot of time in tiny rooms reading size eight font manuscripts). This will give your submission the edge it needs to make it all the way to the publishing queue.
Industry etiquette and relevant blood-oaths and battlecries
When engaging important figureheads of the publishing industry in conversation remember that they are a bit like rare birds; they are easily scared off and they feed their children by regurgitating into their mouths. The key to making a good impression is to use the secret handshake: firm grip and two bone-crushing pumps as you conspiratorially whisper “The blood moon approaches!” while slowly pouring your drink on their shoes. Once this secret greeting is uttered, you will be invited into the hallowed halls of the Literary Industry’s Elite Sanctuary.
Dress to depress!
So you’ve managed to arrange a meeting with your dream publisher. Wow, things are really looking upwardstyles!!!! Pay close attention to these dress tips and you could soon be a best-selling author like Stieg Larsson, Margaret Atwood or that girl who was on the Jersey Shore. Men: make sure you are showing as much chest hair as possible, preferably arranged in braids. If you are lacking in chest hair, you’ll want to shave a large jungle cat or Sumatran orangutang and glue its hair to your chest. Ladies: it’s a sad truth that women are always judged more on their appearance than men, but for job interviews you want to look serious, professional and intelligent. This is why you should wear whatever the hell you want AS LONG AS it is accompanied by a sign hung around your neck that says in large red letters I AM VERY SERIOUS, PROFESSIONAL AND INTELLIGENT.
Contract non-negotiables: Attack helicopters et al
If you’ve followed all these steps, then it must be time to sign that contract. Hot diggity Dogstoveksy, the dream is real! Your mum was right, you really are special! Maybe that weird old martial arts expert you met in the cave was also right about you being the Chosen One! Now, I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve signed some less than perfect contracts in the past, so let me help you avoid the same mistake by looking out for what pitfalls to avoid. Aside from minor details like royalties and film rights, you’ll want to focus on making sure that your contract includes both an attack helicopter with twin laser canons as well as one of the rings of power.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to ask for the ONE RING, because that is just a dick move. However, there are many rings of power and it is standard that each new author receive one as part of their contract with any respectable publisher. They may try and throw you off by saying ‘The rings of power aren’t actually real?’ or ‘Are you completely insane?’ or possibly even ‘Have you been listening to that idiot J. M. Donellan?!?’ But stand your ground and tell them: ‘Gimmie that ring, or this contract ain’t a thing.’ If your potential publisher is not willing to give into these perfectly reasonable demands then the only honourable thing to do is set that contract, and possibly their building, on fire and walk off into the sunset.
Next week: J. M. Donellan’s guide to INSTANT weight reduction!!!!! (STEP ONE: cut off your legs.)
Well, I guess I ended up doing the thing I’ve specifically told numerous people you should never do; I’m releasing two books this month. One is the poetry collection Stendhal Syndrome, the other is a collaboration with a world renowned and highly talented artist who also happens to be my mother, Wendy Donellan. She sent me twelve of her paintings and I’ve written a dozen stories to accompany them. We are presenting this collaboration in a variety of formats including an exhibition at Woolloongabba art gallery, audio recordings (available to purchase and download on bandcamp or stream for free via soundcloud) and a limited edition book.
The book is going to have a print run of just 100 copies, 20 of which have already been sold. The mathematically gifted among you will of course realise this means you should get busy if you want to get your grubby mitts on one of these beautiful books.
You can purchase them at the gallery during the exhibition or click on the button below and we will send one to you via a postperson (that’s a person who delivers mail, not someone who is no longer a person, although sometimes the two overlap).
My dearest Vodafone,
You have wounded me, right in the very centre of my coal-black heart. We’ve been together for six years now, ever since way back when Rudd was PM (the first time round). Back in those youthful halcyon days I always swore I’d never go on a contract. All my friends were settling down, signing their lives away while I was living free and easy. I casually switched month to month from Optus to Virgin to Telstra. It was a beautiful, debt-free era and a part of me thought it would be like that forever.
But then you came along, and I committed to two years. And another two. And another. Before I knew it we’d changed PMs four times and you and I were looking at our 6 year anniversary. I’ve never even rented the same house longer than 3 years, so you should know this is a pretty serious commitment for me.
I thought that meant something. You always there for me when I called, unless I wanted to call anywhere outside the CBD and then your coverage would be as absent as dignity at a frat party, but I accepted that you just weren’t the outdoors type. I also accepted that you didn’t even know how to spell ‘phone’, despite the fact that the primary purpose of your existence is to provide telephonic services. I forgave these faults and plenty more besides, because I thought you cared.
Lately, however, things have taken an ugly turn. First, I find out that despite earning 3.6 billion dollars in13/14 you paid no tax whatsoever. Sure, the tax evasion hurts, but you know what really twists the knife? The fact that you kept it from me.
Finally, you decided to check in with me, to see how I’m feeling about you. I respect that you care about my feelings, but I wanted clarification on the nature of our relationship. Here’s what happened:
I’m hurt Vodafone, I’d call one of my friends and cry into the phone at them if not for the fact that I just KNOW you’d listen in. We’ve had some good times, but I’ll be keeping our relationship strictly business from now on. You can assume my reply to all future surveys is ZERO, unless of course the question is ‘how much tax should Vodafone pay after earning 3.6 billion in profits?’
It is with great pride and an appropriately stupendous array of confetti canon explosions that we announce that Poetry is Dead will be performing at this year’s Wonderland festival at the Brisbane Powerhouse! This year I’ve performed solo at Sydney Writers’ Festival, Brisbane Writers’ Festival, Noted Literary Festival, Ruckus Slam, The Australian Poetry Slam Finals at the Sydney Opera House and a ton of other places but this is the one and only time this year I’ll be doing shows with the supernaturally brilliant Mike Willmett as Poetry is Dead.
Mike and I are tremendously excited about this show, we are currently the only spoken word/electronic/live VJing/poetry band in Australia, possibly the world. If another such act exists, please let us know so we can either sue them or do a gig with them, depending on how good they are.
We are performing in the stupendously cool Graffiti room, which is a beautiful, intimate space and we’ll only be able to fit around 30 people a night in there. This means it’ll be close and cosy and delicious but also that tickets are very limited. We’ve written a ton of new stuff and we are as excited as a small child with a shiny jetpack and a metric ton of magic jellybeans to share it with you.
Our show will run from December 10 -13, but the whole Wonderland program is incredible and there’s lots of great multi-ticket discount packages. My personal recommendations are The Cindy Twitch, Best in Show, The Architects of Sound and Long Story Short (I’ll be performing at that one too, telling a story about the time I accidentally went to Singapore and got really angry at John Travolta right before there was an explosion on my plane.)
OKAY GREAT I’LL SEE YOU THERE Q: WON’T IT BE GREAT? A: YES IT WILL!
Why don’t you want my money? Is it a moral thing, are you worried that my income is derived from heinously unethical sources like contract killing, drug dealing or writing for Newscorp? Because I can assure you, all of my income is legitimately earned (well, assuming you can call art ‘legitimate’…)
Would you like me to pay you in bitcoin? Dogecoin? Maybe fucking DRACHMAS? And yes, I do know that Greece hasn’t used Drachmas in many years it’s just that 1) ‘drachmas’ is a funny word that sounds as though it might describe a Grandma Dracula and 2) Paying with an obsolete currency makes infinitely more sense than going to great lengths to prevent people from paying you.
“But silly Australian consumer!” you might say. “It’s easy to watch HBO in your weird, kangaroo filled country! Why don’t you just pay for Foxtel?” Let me answer your question in the form of opening a second window in my browser and searching ‘mercenaries located within walking distance of HBO headquarters.’
To sign up for the Foxtel package that includes ‘high quality’ content (why is there any other type being offered on a premium paid service?) including installation fees is $665 – a number so tantalisingly almost satanic that it suggests a bunch of board members sat around and said “Can we make it less than $666 because we don’t want to give away the fact that Satan is our lord and master but only very SLIGHTLY less because, I mean, you know…we love money.” This pricing is bullshit on a cosmic scale. For that kind of money, according to Ebay, I could buy the skull of an extinct Merycoidodon. I don’t even know what that is, but I know I’d rather pay for that than a bunch of crappy reality shows where they put models fresh out of rehab in charge of the economy of a small island nation or whatever dross comes packaged with the handful of decent shows on offer.
Have you ever walked into a coffee shop and had a conversation like this:
Do you know WHY you’ve probably never had this interaction? Because it is a batshit crazy business model that would only be cooked up by an obscenely wealthy oligarch at the nasty end of a six day coke binge. Last year, some of us were hopeful that the streaming service HBO GO would offer up some assistance, but instead you had served up a big old digital middle finger to the world and had everyone outside of the US screaming HBO GO FUCK YOURSELVES when they read this:
It’s well documented that piracy rates are extremely high in Australia. And look, I understand why you might be annoyed about that. I currently lose money to piracy even though you can literally get my books for free from the goddamn library, and that stings. Especially because my landlord refuses to let me pay in dramatic monologues or haiku for some stupid reason. It would probably break my heart, if not for the fact that I just have a fat black lump of coal where it used to be. But one of the reasons the piracy is so prevalent in this country is because Australians are sick of being constantly and consistently screwed on both the pricing and the availability of digital media. You might as well let Pirate Bay put up banner advertising on your homepage, given how much traffic you drive their way.
I want to like you HBO, really, I do. I even want to give you money. But you just make it SO. DAMN. HARD. I shouldn’t need to use a quasi-illegal ‘greymarket’ workaround to achieve this. Netflix finally figured this out last year, surely you can do the same. Or you can keep rolling along using your heinously outdated business model and people will keep stealing your stuff forever. Why don’t you ask your buddies in the record industry how that’s working out for them?
Writers are often asked: “What’s your daily process?”
I assume this is because many people entertain the outlandish fantasy that most writers wake up late, stare philosophically into the middle distance for an hour or two, do about twenty minutes of actual work and then spend the rest of the day hanging out in opium dens. I’d like to take a few moments to dispel these fallacies by offering a very rare and personal glimpse into my daily life as a New York Limes Best Smelling author.
START WITH A HEALTHY BREAKFAST
In my teenage years I began most mornings with a cup of Slurm or ambrosia alongside a large serving of fried unicorn. These days I’m trying to watch my figure (watch it EXPAND amirite?) so I stick to a nice cockatrice omelette. It’s important for me to use free range eggs, sadly in 2015 many farmers still engage in the barbaric practice of battery caging cockatrices. If you have allergies to cockatrice eggs you can substitute dragon or phoenix, but these tend to be a little pricier.
Next I have to get some ideas. Writers are often asked ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ and there are a range of sources, but I like to keep things simple. I use the classic monkeys at typewriters technique. The smell and noise can be annoying but it’s worth it. The recommended quantity is 100, but I don’t shift as many units as James Patterson (word on the street is that he has an international conglomerate of monkeys working for him) so I can only afford 43. Also, due to a purchasing error, I only have pygmy marmosets and they have to jump from one key to the next, so typing a whole book takes a really long time.
SOCIAL MEDIUM TIME
Often young aspiring writers ask me how much time you should ideally spend on social media, usually while they are tweeting from their phone and scrolling through instagram on their iPad. My reply is usually ‘Hey, do you mind? Are you familiar with the concept of eye contact?’ and then I tell them that social media is an important tool for tracking idiotic things that Jonathan Franzen has said recently, but what you really want to invest your time in is a social MEDIUM. The use of a psychic to spruik your books in the land of the dead is very important. The dead don’t really have much to do except bitch about each other, so they’re always hungry for reading material, plus their population is huge (and growing by the day!) so they’re an important market to tap into.
33 1/3rd PM SNACK BREAK!
Usually around this time I feel my motivation lagging and I need to perk myself up. I like to achieve this by enjoying my favourite beverage: The Tears of My Enemies. When I was a young rookie I had to collect these the old fashioned way, with baseball bats and threats. This obviously took a lot of time. Nowadays my schedule’s pretty crowded, so I use a tears exchange program. My tears are sent out to a central agency who in turn provide me with the requested tears. I’m not sure where mine are sent, because it’s an anonymous program, but Christopher Pyne has been throwing a lot of shade at me via twitter recently.
Yell at the walls.
Practise De Niro’s monologue from Taxi Driver.
Attempt to balance a spoon on my nose.
Get a good night’s sleep. Resting is important for a healthy mind and body. Unfortunately, all of the people I’ve wronged/maimed/imprisoned in magical cages over the years weigh very heavily on my soul, so the only way I can sleep is on a pile of money. Even more unfortunately, I am pretty broke, so I have to sleep on a pile of monopoly money.
When the magic’s all done and the book is finally complete, I have a really hard time waiting, so I like to cryogenically freeze myself until the night of the launch. This allows me to emerge from my stasis chamber to a round of applause. A word of caution though, I did once overset the timer and my publisher had to hire a model who was much better looking than me and, embarrassingly, was also a lot wittier and more intelligent. I think he’s just signed a six book deal with a Penguin. Not Penguin publishing, just a penguin named Steve.
Dearest Sydney Airport,
I like to think we know each other pretty well. You’ve made me remove various items of clothing and screened me for explosives many times. I’ve slept in your chairs, consumed your Krispy Kreme products with jet-lagged jaws and recently you’ve even been kind enough to stock my latest novel in your bookshops. Now, I’ll grant that over a breadth of time and experience a certain intimacy develops, but there are boundaries to such a relationship and one of those boundaries should very clearly be the bathroom. The shitter, the lavatory, the outhouse, the thunderbox, the bog, the porcelain wonderland. Whatever euphemism/dysphemism you want to employ for that tiled little collection of cubicles and piping where humans go to accomplish the natural – and completely disgusting – process of expunging waste. Our relationship is important to me, Sydney Airport, so let me state this clearly: When I am in the bathroom, LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE.
Recently I visited your fair city in order to attend the Sydney Writers’ Festival. How was it you say? Why, it was wonderful, thank you for asking! I spoke on some panels, signed some books, performed some poetry and got to meet many of my favourite writers. I did accidentally smack someone’s microphone out of their hand as I exited one performance but I’m going to pretend that the audience thought it was just a sort of hip-hop ‘dis’ move rather than the clumsy flailing of a terminally uncoordinated man. Plus, I got to see the Vivid festival and the luminary Sufjan Stevens. What a magical couple of days, what a grand, kaleidoscopic adventure, what a shame it had to end with a robot asking me “Wanna get naked?” in the airport bathroom.
I applied Occam’s razor to the situation and logically concluded that someone had slipped me a drug from a Phillip K. Dick novel. It turns out, however, that a video vending machine was attempting to sell me Four Seasons Naked condoms. You’ve crossed a line Sydney Airport, the bathroom line. You see, the problem is, I’m unable to boycott the use of these repugnantly invasive machines. Sometimes, I have to use airports, and during my time in said airports I have to use the bathroom. There’s no ‘ad-free’ option. There is no opt out.
Also, Four Seasons, what the hell is wrong you with you? You have a product that prevents diseases AND is directly related to sex, surely that’s got to be a marketing agency’s wet dream? Whatever agency landed your account must have wept into their champagne and sacrificed a few goats in celebration when that deal got inked. How hard can it be to write some ads that move product without invading bathroom privacy? Look, I’ll write some ad copy for you right now:
“The cost of raising a child in Australia is $300 000+. This costs $2. Enjoy your flight.”
“Hi. Buy one of these for $2 and it could stop you from dying of AIDS. I like your outfit, have a nice day.”
“If you don’t have one of these s/he won’t have sex with you. Thank you.”
Seriously Four Seasons, most ad agencies fall over themselves trying to tenuously connect sex to their products. Just look at this:
You can just imagine the conversation that preceded it can’t you?
“Morning Terry, what’s the new account?”
“Hearing aids! Dumb, stupid, bloody useless hearing aids! I mean, how are you supposed to sell a technological marvel that does nothing but restore one of your vital senses?”
“Yeah, I reckon I’ll go with sex.”
It’s worth noting that condoms can also be purchased from pharmacies, at a better rate and with a superior selection. I wouldn’t dream of discouraging anyone from using such a vital and important product, so I’ll just politely remind people that you’d have to be a complete moron to buy a single condom for $2 from a robot with no sense of bathroom decorum when you can buy a whole pack for just a couple of dollars more from an actual person.
Whilst shopping for reasonably priced prophylactics sold by humans who haven’t harassed you in the bathroom, you might also want to pick up some chewing gum. It’s an inexpensive and delicious treat that if chewed during takeoff helps reduce that irritating popping in one’s ears. Also, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but once chewing gum is jammed into a small space – the coin slot of an outrageously invasive video vending machine for example – it serves as a surprisingly effective adhesive that would likely be very difficult and expensive to remove.
Now, I know what you might be thinking, if it was so bloody awful and invasive why didn’t I just take a video of the damned thing to prove it? And the answer is BECAUSE RECORDING ANYTHING IN BATHROOMS IS A DISGUSTING THING TO DO (much like using sexualised robots to solicit you to buy products.)
We’ve had a long history together Sydney Airport, so I have every confidence that you’ll rectify this error soon. I look forward to shitting in peace next time I visit your otherwise fine facility.
J. M. Donellan
PS I’m very curious to know if the vending machines in the female toilets have been displaying equally aggressive behaviours. Visitors to Sydney Airport drop me a line if you have a similar story to tell.
I’m very excited to announce that the wonderful Microplane has remixed one of the songs from last year’s Poetry is Dead EP. I had the pleasure of meeting Fancisco aka Microplane in Porto a couple of years ago. I was already hopelessly in love with Portugal and visiting this city, home of one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores and the birthplace of port wine, only deepened my adoration.
Microplane’s new EP is based on the idea that ‘planet Earth is becoming a huge “waiting room”. We are spending more and more time seated on chairs, downloading stuff in our mobile devices to help spend time and smiling to touch screens…’ which fit perfectly with the track Mike and I put together for our Cycle One EP. We’re very excited to have it reincarnated here. Plus having my voice transformed so I sound like a philosophical supervillain is pretty great. Also, having one of our songs released on an Italian label by a Portuguese musician makes me feel muito exotico.
If you want to check out the original recording you can get it from Poetry is Dead’s bandcamp page.
PPPS Black flamingo.