Friday, February 26, 2010

As Well As Can Be Expected

It was as if I had exhausted my way of writing. I became acutely self-conscious and started to question what I had done, what I was going to do next. I glanced at a page at random, and all at once it seemed naive, self-obsessed, trite and uninteresting. I noticed the sentences were largely unpunctuated, that my spelling was erratic, that I used the same words over and over, and even the judgements and observations, on which I had so prided myself, seemed obvious and irrelevant.

Everything about my hasty typescript was unsatisfactory, and I was stricken by a sense of despair and inadequacy.

Christopher Priest, The Affirmation, 1981.

I am going to quote this every time someone (like Dick) asks me how my novel-writing is going.

As well as can be expected given that:

I once thought that the emphatic nature of words ensured truth. If I could find the right words, then with the proper will I could by assertion write all that was true. I have since learned that words are only as valid as the mind that chooses them, so that of essence all prose is a form of deception. To choose too carefully is to become pedantic, closing the imagination to wider visions, yet to err the other way is to invite anarchy into one's mind.

Priest, op cit.


So what happens when *I* try to write?

I type away on what I think is going to be part of something longer, maybe not a novel as such but some form of discontinuous narrative (easier to envisage finishing) with the plot of a novel but the arrangment of a blog or something, only not, and things are going happily for a while... then I read it back, and it's godawful crap. Strained, over-serious, uncertain, puerile, pretentious. Nothing like the voice of E@L in this blog. Ha ha.

But then doubts arise from a different side of the penny. Is this the voice I really want for a longer piece of writing, the work on which to stick my avatar in perpetuity, or at least until someone buys a copy? Can the E@L persona work as the voice for a longer narrative, and could I sustain the E@L persona that long anyway? (How hard can that be? Everyone tells me when they meet me that I am EXACTLY as I sound in this blog!)

Is there a viagra for writers?


My reading is doing exceptionally well though. After finishing three (admittedly brief) books on the Phuket holiday (Trevis's "Queen's Gambit", Ana Kavan's "Julia and the Bazooka", Ryu Murakami's "Almost Transparent Blue"), and I polished off Dubus(III)'s "Garden of Last Days" last night. This latter book should have ended about 100 pages earlier than it did, when the enormous tension inherent in the main plot-line was resolved, but I doggedly read on, for what purpose, I am unsure.

Today, theres plenty of Christopher Priest (The Prestige, etc...) to be found in the 2nd hand stores here in Melbourne: he's the man of the moment, as you can surmise from the above quotation.. I have "The Affirmation", "The Seperation", and an omnibus of "The Inverted World" and "Fugue For A Darkening Island"... Excellent, I love that unreliable narrator stuff.


Oh, did I not mention that I am in Melbourne, cough working cough for a few days?

There has been a great deal trouble for Indians in Australia and in particular Melbourne recently. Serious stuff; knifings, bashings... One of my Singaporean friends who is of Indian heritage was treated fairly rudely in a Melbourne restaurant, she told me, when we caught up here yesterday (haven't seen her for ages in Singers - we meet in Melbourne, WTF?)

However, maybe things are on the mend...


Auckland next week. Look out Kiwis!



savannah said...

i *knew* you were in melbourne! (thank you FB)

given my current inabilities, i can not comment on yours with regard to writing.

check out the nz book council at mr. moose's place!


vw: hummo (which made me laugh!)

expat@large said...

Sav: See my quote by Thomas Mann down the list there on the right!

And that's an awesome find from NZBC! Guess where it's going?

Indiana said...

While I don't dispute that those "South of the Border" can be very rude and racist towards our cricket playing friends from the sub-continent, it is not without a certain smug gloat that I note that one of the so called incidences (widely reported in Asia, esp. in India) where an Indian man claimed to be set upon and then set alight was in fact a case of arson gone wrong. The Indian man facing some unpaid university bills as a response to his gambling tried to pull an insurance job on his car and managed to set himself on fire...

...but I bet somewhere someone is saying, "yes, but the car was a Holden, so therefore Australian and so therefore still racist..."

And while I do not doubt that Australians can be, and indeed are at their basest racist, having traveled the world I would say, no more, nor no less than anywhere else I have been or people I have met.

Basically Australian racism is unique just like every other country.

Michael McClung said...

"It was as if I had exhausted my way of writing. I became acutely self-conscious and started to question what I had done, what I was going to do next. I glanced at a page at random, and all at once it seemed naive, self-obsessed, trite and uninteresting."

This describes pretty well the last six years of my writing life.As for writer's viagra, according to Lawrence Block, it's called methamphetamine, but it'll make you go blind.

Isabella said...

Just write smut. Or video yourself all the time and say whatever you want and edit it later. Even in bed.

expat@large said...

Indy: yep the proportion of allegedly anti-Indian attacks is the same as for other minorities, even majorities!

Mercer: vision? Who needs it?

Iz: I think we should videotape you instead!

E@L line at lunch today: "her strong personality overcame her bad teeth".

Unknown said...

Your crappy writing is called a draft. Once you revise it you will be approaching something usable. Rome was not built in a day.

Joanne Casey said...

I'm jealous. I can't sentence two strings together....I mean....

expat@large said...

Nick: draft, more of a hurricane of bad writing. Like that was.

Joanne: if I had time (my sister's birthday brunch today) I'd create a shaggy dog story of a case of two strings accused of murder who are let off on a technicality.

dibabear said...

"Rule Two, no member of the faculty is to maltreat the Abbos in any way at all -- if there's anybody watching." Oh and of course "crack tubes!"

E@L: I second the motion for a video of Izzy. I'm thinking watching her might negate the need for ViagraCialis. :-)

expat@large said...

Diba: calm down!

knobby said...

i was in sydney a couple of weeks ago and it was great. customs guys idolised by fellow customs mates the world over for their irritability and general pain-in-the-arse-ness, treated me like i was their best bud. didn't even x-ray some of my bags.

"any contraband? no? on you go, mate! here, let me help you with that bag."

really happened!

i was puzzled until a friend reminded me later: "don't you know we're being nice to our indians right now?"


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