Monday, November 16, 2009

When your life slows down you ...

... consider writing blogs about Channel Ten.

But really, in a blog where I try to practise my writing as often as possible, the difficulty is in cracking that little word "possible".
Give me an hour and I will give you a beautiful story.
Give me a day and I will present you with a hilarious novel.
Give me a week and I will begin to wonder what the hell you've done with my family. Then I'll do some editing and storyboard a short film.
I used to get all dark and resigned as I began receiving joyous emails telling me that my colleagues were finishing their Phds. How come they were finishing? They had it so easy ...
Then I realised: none of them were starting young families and working full time. They were just at different stages in their lives.

Probably the most creative and fruitful thing a writer who doesn't write produces is excuses:
I'm too tired.
I don't have time.
I have to do something on the internet.
I'm really looking forward to watching this show.
The housework isn't going to do itself.
The weekend is just so busy.
It's that time of year.
I've just got to finish this other thing, then I can get right on it.
An hour isn't long enough.

What's that?
Those excuses aren't that creative and wonderful?
Well, they're definitely more refined and developed than anything else I've produced lately. I'm sure the circadian Ninjacockle will agree with me that good writing takes more time than raising healthy children. Indeed, it takes about the same time.
And, as attractive as playing the role of whisky-soaked writer/father/life-long enigma to our little darlings is, it takes a special kind of arsehole and neither of us are made of that particular brand of sphincter.
Plus, we also know that in every story of writing success, the drunken scribe is never the actual successful writer; he or she is always the muse. They are the dark, howling backdrop to the intense life of artistic torment that is bestowed upon their brilliant children.
What's the point of devoting fifty years to raw, powerful manuscripts and liver disease if you're just going to let the eventual spoils slip through your gnarled fingers into the hands of your cowering children?
There you are, hunched over your netbook, drinkin', emotin' and ignorin', pumping out these spirit-strangling tomes, too raw and powerful for the times during which they were written. Meanwhile, the offspring are waiting in the wings for you to drop dead of an embolism or something so they can carefully delete all your files, identify your beautiful corpse and draft up their own sly little (raw, powerful) volume, which will be reverse-ironically titled Dad was a drunken arsehole. It will sell like half-price haggis and inject the English language with dozens of new idioms (none of which will refer to Celtic delicacies, all of which will funnel copyrighted royalties into your offspring's Rowland-sized bank account).
Your successful, wealthy child will fund various attempts to reanimate you, either for a final hug or something future psychologists will refer to as "cryo-closure", but your writing success will continue to be denied because the precious hour I mentioned above will be spent not at a keyboard, recording the raw, powerful philosophical keystones that will naturally flow from the reactivated regions of your frontal cortex. That one valuable hour will spent floating in a tank of positively-charged cryo-gel while the child you ignored some 150 years previously either tries to hug you while wearing a protective scuba suit or just gives you a right ear-bashing for drinking too much, not getting a job and not realising that "raw" and "powerful" in writing terms means "unedited" and "full of swear-words instead of proper exposition".


  1. If only there was some way you could be remunerated for writing a lot of excuses... say, 101 of them.

  2. Jono - Shucks.

    DK - I think it'd be difficult to find an illustrator for "I couldn't become a famous writer because I can't drink that much"

  3. I think it was FD Roosevelt (well it sounds good anyhow) who said:

    - If you want me to talk for 5 minutes, I need a weeks preparation.

    - If you want me to talk for an hour, I need a days preparation.

    - And if you want me to talk all day, I can start right now.

    And if it was not him it was somebody of similar stature in history.

    Brevity is jolly hard work sometimes.

  4. Your last excuse was utterly perfect. Even your ordinary excuses all speak volumes and as a 'follower' whenever you update (weekly, daily, monthly), I click on and always read it avidly.

    ....ain't that why you and I found myninjacockle had finally added something the other day?

  5. Ash - Er ... ouch?

    Kath - I've always got Google Reader fired up, so I know the MOMENT anyone updates!
    Plus, I think The Ninja is finally starting to come back to us after what feels like a 17 year absence.
    If we're very quite ... he might ... even ... post ... here ....

  6. Forget writing the great Aussie novel. Just compile all of your blog posts into a manuscript and get that published. Ten years from now, repeat the process. Spend the in between times enjoying your family and getting blog fodder from their antics.


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