good magazine interview 2016
Q1: Your up-to-date bio (age, hometown, current location, education, current title, etc.)
CW: I am an independent writer/producer based in Sydney, Australia. Born in 1957 in the Victorian country town of Bendigo, I grew up in Melbourne (the 60s) and Brisbane (the 70s) in a house of women (single mother and three sisters), and I've been in the game, for good and ill, for four decades. I am an art school drop-out and a recovering rock critic. I learnt to write on my feet as a freelance journalist in the 80s, and I've built up a long long list across nine books (so far) and many television and music productions. Recently, in addition to continuing to try and push my wild and crazy dreams, I've fallen into teaching creative writing at Macquarie University (on the basis not of formal qualifications, which I don't have anyway, but my professional record). Even more recently, I've returned to doing some of the artwork whence I originally came (I was in my first-ever exhbition aged 58 in 2015!). I only wish I could do a bit more DJing, which I have done on and off over the years but not so much lately.
Q2: Please describe the focus of your work (you may also include specific projects/organizations, mission statements, accomplishments/milestones, relevant statistics, etc.).
CW: I suppose you'd say I'm a cultural and social historian and critic with an interest not in the big issues but the everyday, the underclasses and the lowbrow. I pride myself on my independence and integrity. Apart from brief stints as a paste-up artist, short-order cook and toilet-cleaner (true!), I've almost never had a full-time dayjob, and certainly not in the media. I pride myself on being a bit of a loose cannon, or lone wolf, since I have a deep suspicion of practically all institutions, because when I have found myself drawn into them, I've found they tend towards mediocrity. So I've just sort of had to run my own race, and while that can make it more difficult in a lot of ways, it also produces better results I think.
Q3: What is most important about your work to you? What is most satisfying?
CW: It's important to me that I find stories that aren't well-known - it's really important to me that I'm not going over the same old ground that's been gone over a hundred times before. I mean, the perfect example is my Buried Country project on Aboriginal country music in Australia - the main reaction from most (white) people was, I had no idea! And so to me it's just really gratifying to be able to get something out there that fills a gap like that, and pays justice to all these people who warrant this broader recognition but had never got it before. But then of course I wouldn't have done it if the music wasn't great! And so then it's just so gratifying to see these people enjoying some of the recognition they always deserved.
Of course, it's also important to try and make a bit of money, make a living, but I think if you do the good work, that will follow... eventually... I hope!
Q4: What are you working on in 2016 (include dates if available) and beyond?
CW: I always have a number of different projects at different stages of the juggle. So with the Buried Country book and CD having come out in 2015 in new editions (and that's obviously gratifying, to come back to life, or still be alive, fifteen years after first release), that's prompted the idea of a Buried Country stageshow or tribute concert to go on the road on the festival circuit in 2016. So that's one thing that's just sort of snowballed anyway. I'm also doing a sister piece or companion or sequel to Buried Country which I hope is now coming to fruition too, and that's the story of black women in Australian music, called Deadly Woman Blues, and it's going to be a book, but a graphic history, which I'm illustrating, sort of like a cross between Robert Crumb and Rock Dreams, and it's being developed as a film too. And I'm supposed to be finishing a PhD-cum-book too, though that one seems to just keep getting pushed back in the face of all these other more pressing things!
Q5: What/who inspires you the most right now? (Morally, creatively, professionally, etc.)
CW: I guess like a lot of artists I get greatly inspired by lots of other art, especially writing, painting and music, but in a way more than that, it's people I find inspiring, the people behind that art and just other people, I mean especially people I encounter and work with, young people and Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people just fill me with humility when they can have gone through so much in this country but still go about things generally with equanimity and grace and courage and good humour, it makes me feel like my problems as a middle-class whitefella don't amount to anything. And to see young, energetic, talented young people coming up, I just want to try and encourage them all the more. There's a footballer in Australia, his name's Adam Goodes, he's a great champion who plays for the team I support (go Swans!) and he's Aboriginal and he's just been standing up against racism lately and that's been at no small expense to him personally, and to the whole country actually, and so I just so admire and am so inspired by him - go Goodsey!! If I could get any odds on Adam Goodes becoming Australia's first black Prime Minister, I reckon it'd be a good bet, and remember you heard it here first.
And of course my family, my wife Debbie and two kids Lewanna and Earl - without them I'd be nothing.
Q6: What is the biggest challenge you face moving forward? What are you most excited about?
CW: One challenge is hanging on to my health and just staying alive long enough to do all the things I want to do! I've got no shortage of ideas, then, no problems with content, although it does amaze me that more people or writers or whoever don't notice more of these important stories I can still see that haven't been told - but I guess that's kind of good because it leaves them for me! One problem though is the mediocrity I was alluding to before, I have actually met an incredible amount of opposition and resistance over the years, there are things I've tried to do that have been stymied or foiled for that reason, and so I hope I can overcome those obstacles or even that some of this institutionalised mediocrity might start to drop away.
Q7: Anything else you would like to share about yourself/your organization?
CW: Not really short of writing a whole other book here now, and apart from keeping on trying to tell myself to stay positive, don't let the anger and frustration take over, be patient, don't let the mediocrity beat you down, look for the good (sorry is that a bad pun?) and, well, be impatient only with the bad, and just be methodical about getting through it all.