Sunday, February 10, 2008

At last, an entry that matches the title

I often find myself reading the (excellent) blogs of friends and becoming inspired by their posts. That inspiration generally manifests itself in a long rambling comment on their blog which they may or may not care for, but which I wish I had written on my own blog.

So when Shippy included a frankly glowing reference to me in his own blog I felt moved to respond. About halfway through my answer, I realised that it was actually full of things that I wanted to share with others and keep the glory for myself MWAHAAAGARH!! So, I present below my response to Shippy's post on Talent:

Mate ... I'm truly touched. And not 'touched' in the church carpark sense of the word either. It's a genuinely flattering thing you've written about me up there and I appreciate it.

What makes a writer? Writing.
What makes a talented writer? Work. You know that boring old saying about 10% inspiration 90% perspiration? It's bloody true. Michelangelo once said "If people knew how hard I worked for my mastery, then it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all". Then again, he was a mutated amphibian.
Most of the writers I know also share a thick skin. I've gone through undergraduate and postgraduate courses and the people who hung around through all of it were the ones who came back for more. Who were told "75% of what you've written here is bullshit and the other 25% is just boring" and took that as a challenge to improve, rather than a final statement on the very best their hearts had to offer.
I've also come to the opinion lately that every single writer is also, somewhere deep in their systems, an inherently selfish, self-absorbed personality. I just think that you have to be. You truly need a rock solid streak of unrepentant, blind self-confidence to believe that what you're writing down is interesting and valuable enough to other people for them to read it. I think it's called the shard of ice in the heart (or something more poetic). Every writer has it. It's that thin, dark flicker on the edge of one's vision in every situation that whispers 'I could use this!'. I think Jono would be able to tell me who the famous author was who recounted that even at his own mother's funeral (or some such personally traumatic event) he was still visited by that cold little flash that carefully noted down every feeling and emotion for exploitation on paper at a later date.

Shippy, I think if your talent lies with people and happiness you can't bloody lose.


GTH - Nice try, River, but no points I'm afraid. The header was a genuine, life-size car known as The Redback Spyder. An Australian-made two seater road-going (?) race car.


  1. GTH = Cover photo from Prowlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lighting"?

  2. A little clue is that I personally take every Guess The Header photo. Another clue is that Shippy will probably get this one.

  3. I dimly remember a case that's exactly what you're referring to, franzy, but the one I remember clearly is Peter Kenna, playwright of A Hard God fame and also an actor (I saw him as the journalist in Dimboola). He said that when his mother died he rushed from her bedside to the bathroom mirror so he could see what his face looked like in the first moment of intense grief.

  4. Hell yes, that's what I'm talking about!
    Another version is that book that was famous a couple of years ago that was about the composer who was off in the woods somewhere, writing the best symphony of his life, divine inspiration, all that shit, really putting down tunes, and he hears a woman getting raped. Only thing is that he knows that if doesn't write down this last couple of lines, he won't remember them well and they'll be gone for good. On the other hand, this woman is screaming and getting assaulted ...
    So he finishes the symphony, then goes to the aid of the woman.
    I don't know how they made a whole frigging book out of it though. Seems like the end of the story to me there.

  5. The scintillating sights of Whyalla?

    Agree with you completely Franzy re writing. I'm poncy and up-my-own-arse enough to have a little notebook with me, to jot down ideas. Trouble is, I'm too afraid of being seen as a self-absorbed wanker to ever remember to use the damn thing.

  6. Getting closer ...

    I have a tip for you re: notebook/wankerism. You have a mobile phone. Write out in text what you want to note down and simply save it as a draft on your phone. I do it all the time. It's often quite a delight to come back to those little saved pieces and discover "The essential selfish nature of process governs human understanding and comprehension of our own world".
    I only have the faintest inkling of what I meant.

  7. Actually, I don't agree with you, Milly. You're not poncy and up-your-own-arse. That's not what I meant at all by selfish and self-absorbed. You're a thoughtful and dedicated writer. The things you write are truly worthy to be read and enjoyed by other people. They are stimulating!
    Poncy and uparseiness denotes a definite delusion of own one's own character; the idea that one's ideas are worth more to others than they really are. A writer knows exactly what their ideas are worth and works hard at their craft to make them worthy.
    Milly - your ideas are worth something. That's why I keep coming back to read them, even if they are continuously self-deprecating and ultra-wary of the tall-poppy tag. Break through that. You deserve to avail yourself of the outward confidence that the inner confidence which makes you write provides. You don't need to defend yourself any more!

  8. Milly:- what Franzy said. The talent is there. I'm completely talentless and even I can see it.

  9. GTH:- Is that by any chance the Port Pirie smelting works?

  10. Oh Geez Franzy and River, I'm getting all teary now!


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32