Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wet Writing

Who else suffers in the heat? Is it just me? It's 1am and I'm exAAWWsted from a day of playing cricket, driving, hockey, more driving and stuffing myself with Greek food but I can't bear to lay down on a thick mattress because the sweat demons will get me. Sweat has only become an issue with me since my early-to-mid twenties. It must be hereditary because I have a very clear memory of going with Dad when he played squash and looking at the plastic chair that he sat in after a tough game and being amazed at how his sweat actually left a pool in the concave seat.
When I took up netball a few years ago I used to play it in a large tin shed without much airflow. After a forty minute game (36 minutes? Help me out here Moifey) I would literally be dripping. The moisture would run off my nose, eyebrows, elbows and knuckles and hit the floor as though coming from a leaky tap. I used to put away a two litre bottle of water per game.
That seemed to start the next stage in my development. Since then, I've become a sweater. All clothes, once worn in anything other than chilly weather, need laundering. When I first moved in with Mele this created a few arguments when she would do the week's washing and find herself hanging up ten or so t-shirts. The
arguments ceased when she encountered one of my just-worn shirts.
At hockey today, an opposition player had cause to put his hand on my back during the second half.
'That's disgusting!' he cried, wiping his palm on his relatively dry shorts.
'That's what you get,' I replied. 'And good luck getting the stains off!'
I thought I had grown out of waking up wet, but here I am some undisclosed years later, coming to in the early morning literally drenched. I often have to shower twice in a row. Once to wash myself and again to rinse off the sweat that instantly covers me from head to toe when I step out of the shower to dry myself.

Since I'm still up late I'll relate a little writing story that I've been practising on a few friends over the past couple of days. I'm not satisfied with the way I tell it, so maybe just explaining the events will illustrate it better. I see as a fine example of the unique juxtaposition of internal lives that writer experiences. I hope I can get it out before the laptop shorts out from my leaking wrists.

I have taken to writing in cafes recently. Despite the noise and the people and the cost of a cup of coffee, my work-rate increases hugely over whatever I achieve at home. I believe that this is because at home, no one is watching me so I can get away with checking my email, the weather, the news, eBay, my downloads, my email again, watering the plants, making a sandwich, stirring around pieces of important paper and checking my email for the third time in ten minutes.
At a cafe however, I am sitting there with my silver laptop open at a table and when people look at what I'm doing, if I don't at least appear to be hard at work, then I am just the wanker who brings his laptop to a cafe to check his email and look cool. I chose a particular cafe in Norwood primarily because it has no wireless internet and a comfortable row of bench seats along one wall. I generally sit next to the little staff table for no reason other than I'm a stubborn old creature of habit. The owner of the cafe recognises me and says hello on occasion, but none of the other staff really care to engage me otherwise (also a good work motivator).

This little scene happened just this week. I'm sitting at my table and working over a scene I've written out, but needs going over and tightening and finesseing. Missing words added, tenses fixed, over-long sentences torpedoed with a full-stop or two, that sort of thing. The owner comes and sits down next to me at the little staff table and this time he does engage me in conversation. He says that he has seen me working there a lot and asks me what I do (politely, not what I'm doing). I tell him I'm a writer and a student and he tells me that he likes to read and often thinks that he would like to tell a few of his own stories. I tell him that telling stories is why I'm studying writing and the craft of it is mostly down to hard work and slogging it out at the computer every day. We exchange further platitudes and he wishes me well in my work and I turn back to the sentence I was working on. I read it over and notice a missing piece.
'Aha,' I think. 'I know what this character needs to say to make this little remark make sense.'
I add in the word 'fuck' and feel very pleased with myself.

And that, my friends, is where twenty years of writing craft has gotten me: knowing when to schmooze and when to insert the word 'fuck'.

GTH - The points must go to Milly for the sad story.


  1. Header - you with your book? Love the long eyelashes - are they courtesy of Maybelline?

    SWEAT - yes, I'm one of those too. I trace my aptitude back to when I started running in 2001. I think that the fitter you get, the quicker the body starts to sweat in order to help you cool down quicker. Coming back this morning from a 6am/6km with Dogadoo my pale blue singlet was dark blue - NOT a good look on a pale female....

    Tonight it's karate and it will be in a sweltering hall wearing a pair of long, canvas pyjamas that literally drip sweat onto the floor from the hems of the trousers.

    Let's just tell ourselves it's our bodies' ultra-quick air conditioning systems.

  2. Me again - how's this for humiliating. After an hour of karate with Sapph and LC, Sapph looks at me and asks "Mum why are you so sweaty?"

    Wow, what a role model I'm becoming...

  3. That's when you scream "BECAUSE I'M WORKING!! KEEEEE-YA!!" and take down everyone in the room.

  4. The when is often the most important, right up there with the why and possibly even the how.

    I really hate to sweat nowadays so I avoid all forms of unnecessary exercise, yet years ago when I worked in a shoe factory I actually enjoyed giving the job 110% and feeling the sweat running down my back.

  5. To keep on about sweaty issues, go and see 'Every Movie Ever Made' on at the Fringe. Very funny, exuberant stuff and Robby sweats like a trooper. He must be getting the ultimate workout right there on stage.

  6. Or, Iota in Hedwig - he must lose about ten thousand kilograms per performance.


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