Saturday, May 19, 2012

I knew I was a writer

I knew I was a writer when I found myself one morning, perched on the toilet like a popinjay, reciting lines of the “Breakfast Club” over and over in my head. I knew that there are people in the world who do this and would understand and appreciate our connnection. What kind of writer, I thought to myself. Well not a writer of novels. That’s for sure. I could no more write a novel than I could climb Kilimanjaro with a penguin balanced on my nose. It takes a certain amount of focus, plot, theme, story – some of which is the author’s, but most of which is not. All of these essentials bog me down and I go back to reciting movie lines in my head. A very unprofitable way to spend time, I might add. A script writer then. No. Not a script writer. This involves rather a lot of good dialogue – all of it in fact and some stage directions. I tried this once and that was enough. It is actually pretty tricky to do well. And I enjoy doing things well. Or at least mildly appropriate. No let’s be clear. I like doing things well. So I decided to be a writer for radio – it’s a form of story-telling. It reaches a good number of people and there’s a fair amound of work writing for the radio because as my favorite author Douglas Adams, once said that the reason you can still find radio work is that it pays so badly. This is true. It does pay badly or in the case of my brief contributions to radio story-telling, it doesn’t pay at all. At least, it doesn’t pay in the monetary sense, which is pretty essential when it comes to buying groceries. Though it might be tempting to say to the grocery store clerk when asked if I have payment for the groceries, “Not in the monetary sense.” But only, in my mind. I did do some radio work for a couple of years, not as a writer, but as a recording engineer, which isn’t particularly rocket science, I just have a perfectionist streak when it comes to sybillance and plosives. This perfectionism is lost to many people who work in community radio, largely because people don’t know what a plosive or sybillance means. But we all hear the radio (host or guest) making that sound when they have the pasties and their tongues are glued to the roofs of their mouths and they have to unstick them and make a god-awful noise comparable to the image and sound of spit hitting the sidewalk. That’s what I think of when I hear it and it really puts me off the show, even if it’s about amateur dramatics in the sheep-rustling community. This is why community radio remains inevitably community radio. I was struck last night by a thought that momentarily escapes me. How often does that happen I wonder. How often do you think of somthing brilliant and decide to attach some kind of train of thought to it like a mental place-holder only to instantly forget it because you are looking for the milk in the refridgerator and you discover that your roommate has drank it all. It’s just maddening. This brilliant thought that could revolutionize the way we communicate or harvest renewable energy in exchange for what??!! – a totally useless, random discovery that there is no more milk in the fridge and you are going to have to drink your tea, your lovingly steeped black tea, flown in from England, made from purest tea leaves, picked and packed by some really underpaid, indentured Indian peasant farmer who works for 2 dollars a week – without milk. Now that I put it like that, it seems that there is a reason for that thought. Absolutely! The hell with renewable energy. There’s no milk for my tea!! Damn it! Who would do such a thing? What inconsiderate, selfish, mean, greedy, heartless bastard would finish off the milk, last thing at night, so there is none to be had in the morning? I probably do that all the time. The thought that did escape me was something to do with my roommate. It was something to do with cooking or eating or breaking up with someone. These are usually the topics of conversation in the kitchen – and dishes. Let’s not forget dishes. Though I do wish that I could forget them – most of the time. Yes, we chat about eating, cooking and breaking up with people. The reason being that she has broken up with her partner somewhere in the 10 times mark. And the only real reason to be in the kitchen is to cook and / or eat and gossip. The thought however reminded me of something DNA wrote (this is going to happen an awful lot because much of what I love about writing and books comes from Douglas Noel Adams and Kurt Vonnegut whom it turns out, was one of the things DNA loved about writing and books. So I’m just going to quote him again and again and you might as well get used to his initials rather than his full name), in a book called “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”. The quote is to do with someone breaking into someone else’s flat and doing a really bad job of it. The character Dirk Gently thought to himself (I’m paraphrasing here) “...that if we have to have burglars, they may as well be trained. I am there would be grant money available...” I thought of a similar thing that if we have to have (blank), there may as well be training, I am sure there would be grant money available. I just don’t remember what (blank) is, because as we now know – THERE IS NO MORE MILK IN THE FRIDGE! The thought that does really amaze me is how disorganized my brain really is. It’s just staggering sometimes. Interesting slipup here that as I was writing that last sentence, I wrote ‘who’ instead of ‘how’ twice. Could be some kind of Freudian slip or it could be nothing. Anyway as I was saying, I am staggered by how much information is filtered out, some of it vital information to my day, to my future, to my relationships, to my work, to my family, to my very survival in favour of information which has a half-life of a few (dramatic and egotistical) seconds. Usually this information has ZERO import. It’s just so meaningless. Life is. When examined more closely – the chemicals used to propel me from a place of profundity (saving the human race and so on) to total bewilderment as to who and /or why drank all the milk, is so meaningless. So random. This begs the ultimate question that we can never and I mean NEVER answer, which is: why? In coming to terms with this....situation, I wonder if there are patterns to my own behaviour which would help me find understanding of the chemical actions and reactions which so often lead me to this place of bewilderment. I have just discovered that the two words which begin the last three paragraphs have been: the thought. There is something to be gleaned from this. I’m sure of it, even if I am sure of little else at this juncture, save that I need more milk, I need to do some gleaning. More on this next week....

The problem with reading other people’s stories, especially conversations, is how boring they are. It’s annoying because I have so far spent more than 3 hours reading and editing a Douglas Adams Story I was going to send everyone for Christmas. I started editing out all the retakes and breaths and bits and decided that it was one of the most boring things to listen to despite the fact that the writing is excellent. Or perhaps because the writing is excellent. Because Douglas Adamses writing is so good, the enjoyment is reduced by reading it aloud. The only person who should read Douglas Adams, is Douglas Adams, because whenever I read it, I hear his voice in my head. I do not hear my own voice. Not that there is anything wrong with my voice. I don’t mind hearing it, I just don’t want to hear it reading Douglas Adams. I would much rather hear it read something I have written, because it sounds more natural. In fact I would rather quote Monty Python to you than read Douglas Adams. But don’t worry, I’m not going to do that because you would simply stop the CD player, eject the CD and lovingly and loudly began to stamp on it. I understand. I hate it when other people quote comedians to me, strangely enough I can’t help myself – quoting Monty Python. It’s in my head ALL THE TIME, even when I don’t want it to be. For example, when I hear someone say “What’s the Point?” All I can think of is, “What’s the point of him having the right to have babies when he can’t have babies?” See there I go again. I can’t help it. I need help. Help Help. You think you need help? If you need help, press the Help key. Didn’t there used to be a Help Key on a keyboard? There should be one. I could use one. I am going to add one later, when I have gotten to the point.