March 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
Quite a few years ago, M., an associate of mine in the t-shirt game started talking to me about a Dr Seuss book called The Lorax. I have a lot of Dr. Seuss books, but this wasn’t one of them. Her environmental t-shirt company (to whom a certain Hugh Jackman was a patron) were somehow part of the production team who were planning to, in conjunction with Jackman’s production company, film a movie version of this book.
The reason M. was talking to me was because she wanted me to write a script for the movie. I was, as you might imagine, a little taken aback. After all, it’s not every day that a representative of a Hugh Jackman endorsed project asks for my services. I immediately went out and bought the book, then in one night put together just under 7000 words as a starting point.
A few days later I handed M. a copy. She read it on the spot and told me it was exactly what she had been thinking as well. My naive enthusiasm was such that I do not remember how much longer it was before she called to let me know that other, more seasoned and recognised writers had been assigned to the task, and I would unfortunately not get a look in.
As it turns out, Hugh Jackman’s company closed up shop and another company did it. Ken Daurio, who also scripted Seuss’s Horton Hears A Who and a bunch of other animated films (Hop, Despicable Me) was the writer.
But as the movie‘s about to come out in Australia and I just found it on my hard drive, here’s the original thing I wrote and gave M. all those years back (on Saturday June 7, 2008 according to the file info). Apologies to the good doctor for any appropriation, I wasn’t sure at the time how much dialogue I was supposed to be utilising. I also doubt the movie uses so much rhyme, but I love Seuss’s rhyming with a passion, so it wound up all through what I wrote.
Oh, and for anyone who actually knows how to write a script, I’m aware that I don’t. Please forgive formatting, technical and any other errors, they’re all born out of ignorance.
Young boy Max, about seven years old, walks home from school through the city. Overhead the sky is grey, but from smog rather than clouds. Buildings loom everywhere, a forest of concrete. Max kicks empty cans along that roll away to nestle amongst chip packets and plastic bags. A dog finds his nose caught inside a tab of plastic beer rings. A car backfires at the edge of a lake, a duck coughs and splutters, gargling water to soothe her throat. Max constantly sniffs, wiping his nose absently on the back of his sleeve. Credits finish as Max walks inside his house and shuts the door.
MAX: Mum, I’m home!
MAX’S MUM (from upstairs): Hi Max honey, I’ve left some food on the table for you!
Max walks into the kitchen, dropping his school bag on the couch as he walks. Sitting on the kitchen table is a sandwich that looks like it could talk. In fact, it does talk.
SANDWICH: Hey Maxy-baby, how was school? Did you learn a lot, or stay a fool?
Max recoils in shock.
SANDWICH: Aw don’t be shocked, you won’t be mocked. My awesome jokes will rock your socks! Before you leave and call the end, I’d ask, just won’t you lettuce be friends. (The sandwich laughs uproariously at its own joke, displaying its lettuce filling.) Lettuce be friends! Get it? Get it?
Max runs upstairs. He wanders the halls looking for his mum. He finds her in her bedroom, packing a large suitcase in a fluster and running about the room picking things up and putting them back down. She’s a tall, attractive woman with sharp eyes that never rest. Her very movements speak of power and passion and purpose. She probably tips lightly and complains loudly.
MAX: Ah mum? I think the sandwich has gone off. It was talking to me.
MAX’S MUM (obviously paying very little attention): That’s nice dear, do mummy a favour and zip up my dress.
She turns around and Max climbs onto the bed and zips her up.
MAX’S MUM: How was school today kiddo?
MAX: Well, at lunch time Reese said that…
MAX’S MUM: Honey, have you seen mummy’s brush anywhere?
MAX (looking around in bewilderment): Um, no, I don’t…
MAX’S MUM: Oh where on earth is that dratted brush? I swear I had it just here a moment ago.
She starts rifling through drawers, throwing things out behind her like a dog digging a hole. Clothes, underwear, spanners, coins, a small mouse, a dining platter all come flying out around Max like shrapnel. Max can see the brush caught up in her hair like a fly in a spider’s web. He reaches for it as she turns around, resulting in him swinging from the brush like Spiderman.
MAX’S MUM: I know I had it somewhere! Max, could you… Max? (She violently spins left and right, looking for her son, who is still hanging on for dear life from the brush in her hair.) Oh, I need to find that brush!
She turns sharply, shooting Max off against the wall. He lands on the ground in a sitting position, the brush still in his hand, long hair wrapped around it like fairy floss. Max’s mum notices him and, more importantly, the brush.
MAX’S MUM: Oh darling you found mummy’s brush, what a good boy!
She takes it from him and furiously starts brushing, hair showering out around her.
MAX’S MUM: Now honey you know mummy’s got her conference on this weekend, and I’m going to be away until Monday. I’ve left a sandwich on the table for you though, and there should be more food in the refrigerator. Daddy’s down in the study and can fix you something later on if you get hungry. (She spins and thrusts her face down into Max’s, who is still sitting unable to get a word in edgewise on the floor.) Now remember what I’ve told you about the Grickle-grass, I don’t want you wandering down there in that filthy stuff while I’m gone. You know how bad it is for your complexion. (She spins back to the mirror to see her hair is all tufted up on one side from the brushing. She lets out an exasperated little grunt of annoyance and furiously works on the other side.) If you need anything see your father and if there’s any emergency the phone number of my hotel is on the notepad by the phone. But don’t call me unless it’s an absolute emergency, I’m going to be terribly busy trying to make some sales and I really need every last ounce of energy.
She whips back around, her hair dazzling, her business dress gleaming, looking the very picture of success. She beams at Max.
MAX’S MUM: Oh darling I’m going to miss you! I’ll bring you back something special. You know I love you little guy, now give mummy a kiss.
As Max leans up to kiss her she suddenly remembers something.
MAX’S MUM: Oh drat, I nearly forgot the business cards! (She spins again, leaving Max to fall forward and kiss the lamp. He screws his face up in disgust. The lampshade smiles, which is quite hard for a lampshade to do. His mother runs into the cupboard, throwing more random objects out behind her (coat hangers, a mop, a tall hat that looks suspiciously like it belongs to the infamous Cat in the Hat, a bicycle wheel, an anvil) and finally emerges triumphant with business cards in hand.
MAX’S MUM: Found them! Oh dear, I have to go or I’ll miss my flight! (She sweeps up her luggage in one hand and barrels out the door, singing out over her shoulder…) Bye honey, I’ll see you on Monday!
The door slams shut behind her and everything settles slowly. Max sits on the bed looking very small in that cluttered room and quite alone. The mouse struts about, indignantly picking up some coins and small bits of clothing like a disgruntled maid and storms back into the cupboard, turning his nose up at Max as he passes.
Max walks back downstairs and past the kitchen. Inside, the sandwich is still at it.
SANDWICH: Hey pal, it’s awkward but must be said, I need some bucks, I’m short on bread! (It guffaws with its own cleverness.) Get it? Short on bread? Ha!
Max continues on to the study and peeks in. It’s a forbidding room, dark and lit only by a desklamp, bookshelves towering on either side, full of anonymous, dusty tomes. A gigantic polar bear skin rug with the head still on covers most of the floor, and all sorts of animal heads peer sadly out from their mountings on the wall. The desk at the end beneath the bay windows is huge, taller than Max, and the leather chair is turned away from him. All that can be seen of the occupant is a thick arm stroking a white cat that lies on the armrest, its tail arcing in the air. Max approaches cautiously, a little afraid of his father. He can hear him talking, presumably on the phone, from behind his massive chair.
MAX’S DAD: I hear what you’re saying Frank, but you’re missing the point. What’s the point? The point, Frank, is that I don’t CARE WHAT YOU THINK! You heard me! Keep your petty little ideas about human resources and fair wages and ethical issues to yourself! Unless you can point it all towards the profit and loss sheet and prove it’s making me money I’m NOT INTERESTED!
The phone slams down and the cat jumps. Max sidles up to the desk, barely able to see over the top of it.
MAX: Er, dad?
The leather chair spins slowly around, creaking like an old knee. It reveals a huge bear of a man, suffocating in a tight suit, neck tie curled around his throat like a noose, his bulbous face red and sweating. You can see he’s been angry on the phone, but in recognition of his son his frown about faces into a huge grin.
MAX’S DAD: Maaaaaax! Son! Nice to see you! What’s happening? You been kicking goals at work?
MAX: I’m at school, not work.
MAX’S DAD: Great, great! Great to hear! That’s great! Now son, I’d love to chat some more but I’ve got a call coming in from Tokyo in ten minutes, a spreadsheet on sales data to look through and (phone ring interrupts) GERRY! Why don’t I have the logistics report in my inbox? You know how I know it’s not in my inbox? Because I’m in my in box and there is nothing in there, that’s how I know Gerry!
Max backs slowly out of the room, leaving his father to scream into the phone. He wanders back through the kitchen.
SANDWICH: I apologise for my ridiculous pranks, I’m a ham through and through, all I ask is for thanks!
(Collapses into itself in fits of laughter.) Ham it up! Get it? Bah, you’re probably thinking I’m just a big phoney! You’re wrong, I’m much more a pile of baloney – HA! Baloney!
Max goes upstairs to his room, closing the door on the sound of the laughing sandwich. His room is a normal, little boy’s room. He has a goldfish in a bowl on his desk, lots of posters of cartoon characters on the walls, Dr Seuss books on his bookshelves, and clothes all over the floor. He sits at his window and looks out. Far away, beyond the edge of the town, grows the Grickle-grass; tough, green and very, very itchy. Max loves to wander through the Grickle-grass, although he always ends up with red welts all over his skin and a sniffle. He leaves his window and picks up a toy car, pushing it around aimlessly, obviously hopelessly, incurably bored. He moves back to the window and looks out again, as night begins to fall. Suddenly, far off in the distance, he notices a light flicker on and off. He pulls out his trusty binoculars and has a closer look. It’s a cottage! A weird and wonderful cottage, out past where any building should be, in the depths of the Grickle-grass! Max gasps, and puts his binoculars down. He looks at his toy car. An image of his mother appears above his head, warning, “Now remember what I’ve told you about the Grickle-grass, I don’t want you wandering down there in that filthy stuff while I’m gone.” He grimaces and squashes up the image with his hand, throwing the goopy mess under the bed.
MAX: So I’m not allowed to go out to the Grickle-grass. But if dad says it’s okay, then…I won’t be doing the wrong thing!
Max runs outside and down the stairs, through the kitchen, past the giggling sandwich and into the forbidding office. His dad is still on the phone.
MAX’S DAD: Listen Bill, there are three kinds of people in this world – those who can count, and those who can’t. When I say I want a courier in Tanzania by 11am tomorrow morning, do you know what I mean by that? It doesn’t mean by Thursday, it doesn’t mean by tomorrow night, it doesn’t mean by 11:01am tomorrow morning! Now, do I have to…
MAX (in a rush): HeydadcanIgoouttotheGrickle-grasstoseeacottageIjustdiscoveredI’llbehomereallyquick?
MAX’S DAD: Wait, hold it Bill, my son needs something. (He cups the phone in a huge, meaty palm.) Did you just say something son? You mumbled. You know what I think about mumbling, don’t you? (He rises up, much, much bigger than he seemed when he was sitting down. The cat yelps and leaps behind the chair, and the light from the desk lamp glowers over his face, turning it into a rictus of evil. Max reels back, horrified that his plan has backfired.
MAX’S DAD: I LOVE IT! A good mumbler can get away with almost anything! Keep up the good work son, you’ll be running my business by the time you’re thirty. Now scamper off like a good lad so I can get back to this phone call (without even pausing for breath or a full stop he launches back into the phone conversation) now do I have to come over to London and show you step by step how to do your job or should I just hire a platypus to do it for you?
Max feels a smile spread out over his face and he knows he’s won. He turns and heads back to his room. Grabbing a backpack from the floor, he throws in a red and black striped jumper, some chocolate, a handful of nails, a ball of string, his piggy bank, the binoculars and a comic book. Thus armed, he descends the stairs and sneaks into the kitchen, creeping up behind the sandwich. Before the sandwich knows what’s happened, he throws a tea towel over it and bundles it up, thrusting it into his bag. His work complete, he stealthily slides out the back door and into the night.
Max walks through the town by moon light. Similar scenes unfurl such as those in the opening sequence, just darker, being night and all. As he moves away from his house, he pulls the sandwich out of his bag.
SANDWICH: My dear boy, why would you stick me in a bag, was it simply because of my strong wont to gag? I’ll try to contain it as much as I might, for that stint in the bag gave me such a great fright!
MAX: I did it to keep you quiet, you silly sandwich. Anyway, how come you can talk?
SANDWICH: There are secrets about that you’d never believe, and I’d rather not tell you of mine, by your leave.
MAX: Do you always rhyme your words when you talk?
SANDWICH: Oh Max, yes I must, yes I mustedy-must! For in rhyming there’s magic and beauty and trust! If I weren’t to rhyme I would simply be bread, and in that case, my dear boy, I’d rather be dead!
Max considers this and tries a rhyme of his own.
MAX: Well if that’s the case then I’ll rhyme along too, so everything I say from now on is… Oh this is really hard!
SANDWICH: Don’t worry about that, it will come with time, for now just concentrate on stepping in line!
Max looks up to see that he is well and truly off the beaten path. He turns about and can see the lights of the city, hazy through the thick sheen of smog that is always hovering like a bad smell. Max looks back the way he was walking – his path is utterly surrounded by Grickle-grass. He bends down to wonder over it.
MAX: Wow, Grickle-grass. There’s never any Grickle-grass back at home.
SANDWICH: Grickle-grass grows where the ground is not trodden, where the dirt is real dirty and the water real sodden. It doesn’t care much for your roads or your houses, it much prefers space and the whispers of mouses. It’s found where the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows, and no birds ever sing, excepting old crows.
Right on cue, a huge black crow flutters down and lands on the ground next to Max. It is almost half his size, with beady little eyes and beak so sharp it could probably tear through metal. Max looks at it a little fearfully.
CROW (in a thick, husky voice – think Tom Waits): I believe my name was mentioned in relation to song. Would you like to hear one?
MAX: Um..gee, I ah…er…
CROW: Let me see, I know I’ve got something you’ll love. Oh here’s a good one, the humans can never get enough of this little gem. (He very loudly and at great length clears his throat, coughing up a small beetle in the process. He pulls a top hat and cane out of nowhere and begins to strut.) Okay, this poem I entitle, ‘Ode To The Concrete Wall That Fences You In’. It goes like this: Oh concrete wall with your shadow of doom, your presence of gloom, your mushy of shroom. Oh concrete wall with your cold stones of grey, as you darken the day, as you make the light pay. Oh concrete wall with your towering shame, your hate and your blame, your…
MAX: Excuse me.
CROW (Obviously disgruntled at the interruption): Yes?
MAX: It’s rather depressing, isn’t it?
CROW: Depressing? I like to think of it as a lift to the spirit.
MAX: But it’s all about a horrible concrete wall that makes everything seem dull and nasty!
CROW: I thought that’s what you humans loved! You build them everywhere! In the parks, by the streams, in the woods, in your dreams! You build them so high that they block out the sun, and build them so wide you can’t catch them at a run! Hmmm, that needs some work, but I think it might make a suitable poem for my next anthology.
MAX: Humans aren’t all like that. I for one hate concrete walls. That’s why I came out here, so I could walk through the Grickle-grass and search for the weird little cottage!
Crow leaps back in surprise at the mention of the cottage.
CROW: Cottage? How do you know about the…I mean, there’s no cottage out here in the Grickle-grass.
MAX: Yes there is, I saw it through my binoculars earlier this evening. The light was on.
CROW (looking more and more uncomfortable): Well, well that could be any light! It could have been light from the Snazzy Snap Sno, the beautiful night butterfly all aglow. Or you may have seen beams from the Trilltetter Teams, who drive all around in their diesel machines!
MAX: No, it was definitely light from a cottage, the binoculars made it clear as day. It was a weird cottage, and the light was shining from the upstairs window.
SANDWICH: You might as well tell him, my fine feathered friend, he knows that you’re stalling, no more need to pretend.
CROW: A talking sandwich? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen!
MAX: No more ridiculous than a talking crow!
CROW (with an icy stare): I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. Fine, have your way if you must. The light you saw came from the Lerkim of the Once-ler.
MAX: The what-ler?
CROW: No, the Once-ler, listen up lad! That’s the problem with boys of today, too much ear wax that just gets in the way. You thought that my poem gave you the heeby-jeebies? Well, the Once-ler knows a tale that will give you the greebies (the greebies are like heeby jeebies, but meaner, and smellier, uglier, and much more uncleaner).
MAX: Wow, I want to go and see the Once-ler!
CROW: You won’t see the Once-ler. Don’t knock at his door. He stays in his Lerkim on top of his store. He lurks in his Lerkim, cold under the roof, where he makes his own clothes out of miff-muffered moof. And on special dank midnights in August, he peeks out of the shutters and sometimes he speaks
and tells how the Lorax was lifted away. He’ll tell you, perhaps… if you’re willing to pay.
A crack of thunder erupts, and a bolt of lightning strikes down near by, lighting up Crow’s face into a similar rictus of evil as Max’s dad displayed earlier that evening. Max feels his lower lip quiver slightly.
MAX: Who…I mean what…is the Lorax?
CROW (grinning the conspiratorial grin of a storyteller who is all too aware of the power he has over his listener): What was the Lorax? And why was it there? And why was it lifted and taken somewhere from the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows? The old Once-ler still lives here. Ask him. He knows.
Crow lifts a long, velvety black wing and points up to a sign post illuminated in the moonlight and lightning. The sign post points along a small path that leads through the grass, that Max missed earlier. The sign post reads: The Street Of The Lifted Lorax.
MAX: Well, it’s August, and it must be getting close to midnight by now. But…how much do I have to pay? I didn’t bring much money with me.
CROW: On the end of a rope he lets down a tin pail and you have to toss in fifteen pence and a nail and the shell of a great-great-great-grandfather snail.
MAX: Oh I don’t believe it!
He reaches into his backpack and pulls out his piggy bank. Crow looks carefully at it.
CROW: Good grief, Percy, what have they done to you?
MAX: It’s not real, it’s just a piggy bank!
PERCY (for possibly the first time in company deciding to talk): Well if I’m not real you can give me a stutter and send me to Hollywood.
MAX (in utter amazement): Oh dear, I’m terribly sorry. Um, would it be impolite to ask you for my money?
PERCY: Sure, but I ask only that you turn around whilst I get it. A pig deserves his privacy.
The small party turn respectfully around, and after much grunting and squealing, the deed is done.
PERCY (panting): Okay, here is the grand sum of your remarkable fortune.
Max takes the coins and counts it up slowly. His face brightens.
MAX: There’s fifteen pence here! That’s exactly enough to pay the Once-ler!
CROW: You’re forgetting a few things, my excited young friend, a regrettably common and recurring trend.
Max reaches into his bag again, his hand emerging with a clump of nails.
MAX: I have nails as well! Now, if only I could find the shell of a great-great-great-grandfather snail.
Just then a snail passes by near his foot.
SNAIL: Snail shells, snail shells get ‘em while they’re hot! They won’t last long at these prices people! Snail shells, snail shells, I don’t have a lot!
Max bends down in the Grickle-grass and looks inquisitively at the snail.
MAX: I’m interested in a snail shell. How old are they?
SNAIL: Oh, brand new, barely any miles on them. You won’t find a better snail shell than these!
MAX (looking disappointed): Oh, new? I’m actually looking for…
SNAIL: Did I say new? Okay, they’re my father’s shells. But he didn’t use them, he kept them inside. He hated shells, yes he did. Good as new, that’s what I mean!
MAX: Well I don’t think that…
SNAIL: Boy you see right through me don’t you? Okay, I’ll be straight with you, they’re grandfather shells. But my grandpa, he always used to drive it real slow, know what I’m saying? Never marked it, only took it out once or twice…
Max just looks at him. The snail stops and looks back.
SNAIL: Okay, okay, fine. They’re shells from my great-great-great-grandfather, okay? You happy now? You wanted to make me feel small, well, you’ve done it! Here, just take one. Never mind I have fifteen kids to feed, just take it! Geez, some people! Never deal with humans, that’s my motto.
The snail crawls off, muttering to himself. Max is overjoyed, for he now has the required payment to hear the Once-ler’s tale.
MAX: Well, looks like we’ve got the payment! Come on sandwich, let’s go!
SANDWICH: If it were up to me we’d head back to the fam, but as I can’t walk I’m in a bit of a jam. Ha! Jam! Get it?
Max picks up the sandwich and bows clumsily to the crow.
MAX: Thank you Mr Crow, it has been a pleasure meeting you.
CROW: And you too my dear boy. Send the Once-ler my regards, though I doubt he cares. He never was a patron of the arts.
With that, the crow flies off. Max looks back up at the sign (The Street Of The Lifted Lorax), and makes a move into the night. He eventually comes upon a small clearing, at the edge of which is the beautiful, weird and wonderful cottage, or Lerkim as the crow called it, that he saw through his binoculars. It looms up in the moonlight like an ancient, forgotten monolith, its wonky architecture snubbing its nose at gravity, time and anything else physics can throw at it. As Max steps meekly toward it, he stumbles over a large tree stump. It is almost as big as a small car, and he would have trouble climbing up on top of it if he so desired. He stands before it, and notices a plaque embedded into the bark. There is just one word on this plaque, and that word is: UNLESS. Max has no idea what this means. As he ponders, he hears a squeaky noise from above. He jerks his head up to see an open window and a pale, dirty light creeping out almost bashfully. As he stands there looking up, a pail on a line of string falls down and stops short just in front of him. Max thinks for a minute, then remembers the payment. He drops the items into the pail, reciting as he does so:
MAX: In you go, fifteen pence and a nail, and the shell of a great-great-great grandfather snail.
As soon as the items are deposited into the pail, it shoots back up into the night. A low snuffling sound can be heard from the window, and it’s not entirely pleasant. In fact, it’s downright disturbing. Max cranes his neck, trying to see in, but the window is too far up. All he can see are two long, green, scaly arms, with long, green, scaly hands attached. One hand is inspecting the contents of the pail. The other is outstretched. One by one, the coins and the nail are dropped into a hole in the top of a finger. It really is quite bizarre to see. The snail shell, however, is taken out of view and presumably eaten, for that is what the smacking and chewing sounds must surely be.
MAX: Excuse me, Mr Once-ler, I was wondering if you might tell me the story of the Lorax?
The gobbling sounds stop immediately. A scaly hand clenches into a fist in the window. A low growl replaces the snuffling. Max swallows hard, but then his face finds a little bit of courage that his stomach otherwise lacks.
MAX: Excuse me, Mr Once-ler! I paid you the fee, I’d like to hear the story of The Lorax please!
The scaly hand opens up and long, dirty nails squeal down the window pane. It makes a sound that causes the hairs on the back of Max’s neck stand on end, then leap off in terror. It makes his heart beat quadruple time and his toes try to curl up into the legs of his pants. It finally, thankfully, stops and the window is dragged open with much the same squealing sound. A misshapen head leans out, its features obscured by the shadows and the night. It speaks in a low, gritty tone, but Max can clearly hear what he says.
ONCE-LER: I suppose that you did, you did indeed pay the fee, and the great-great-great-grandfather snail shell agreed. Okay, I will call you by Whisper-ma-Phone, for the secrets I tell are for your ears alone.
MAX: A Whisper-ma-wha?
From the window a long thin hose falls down with all the grace of a blind, three legged mountain goat. It miraculously avoids hitting Max in the head and, like the pail before it, dangles directly in front of his face. Tentatively, Max puts his hand out and grips it, then brings it slowly to his ear. A small, foul-smelling waft of air blows forth from it. Max recoils, then, determined, puts it back to his ear.
The voice of the Once-ler comes out gnarled and knotted, like an old tree.
ONCE-LER: Now I’ll tell you – so listen close to what I say – how the Lorax got lifted and taken away… It all started way back… such a long, long time back…
BACK IN THE DAYS
ONCE-LER (narrating): Way back in the days when the grass was still green, and the pond was still wet, and the clouds were still clean, I lived a simple life at my sewing machine…
We can see the Once-ler as a young…thing, green and handsome, working busily at a sewing machine in his bedroom. His walls are adorned with knitting patterns and photographs of models, and there are mannequins and clothes draped everywhere. Not your typical clothes that you and I wear (well, you perhaps, I wear some weird stuff), but bizarre clothes. Dresses with no room for the legs, shirts with three arms and no neck, pants that were designed for your ears. It is all very intriguing and useless. The Once-ler finishes his sewing and holds up the results, a strange looking garment that’s part tie, part mechanical bull. He grimaces, his face ticcing horrifically. His teeth gnash, his eyes water, then he screams out:
ONCE-LER: I love it!
He tosses it over to a mannequin then stands up and walks over to the window. Outside the sky is blue, Swomee-Swans are flying through the air singing their Swomee-Swan songs, little kids are playing in the grass outside, and everything reeks of the sweet smell of happiness and cleanliness. Just then the door opens and Mrs. Once-ler walks in.
MRS ONCE-LER: Hi honey, I’m sorry to burst in like this, but our son is now talking, his first word was Gis!
ONCE-LER: That’s great honey, great, but I’m busy right now, I’m trying to create something to make me go WOW! Something that surpasses these clothes and these styles, a wonderful garment to surpass them by miles! It has to be practical, comfortable, light, it has to be sexy and look outta sight! It’s something that everyone, everywhere needs, my very own patented, valuable Thneed!
Mrs Once-ler shakes her head sadly and walks back outside. The Once-ler keeps on, consumed by his idea.
ONCE-LER: A garment to make every hair stand on end, a garment to make every customer my friend, a garment to wear in all weather all year that fits well from the toenail right up to the ear! The Thneed will replace every jacket and hat, every coat, glove and sock, every this, every that!
He seizes up, caught in his own imagination, then suddenly – inspiration strikes! A gigantic grin breaks out across his face and he leaps to his designing desk, drawing furiously.
(Not) to be continued…
November 4, 2011 § Leave a comment
I am so ready to fall asleep.
I knew that keeping up the commitment while working a ten day retreat would be challenging, and here I am on the first goddamn day of the retreat, after working in the restaurant for the past twelve hours, and wondering how I’m going to do it.
Then I think about Haruki Murakami, who would work longer hours at the jazz club he owned, then come home and write at the kitchen table until he fell asleep on his arms.
Then I think about Stephen King, who I think was working two jobs and writing in the hours between.
I think somewhere between the days when I had five jobs, two bands and a fanzine and now I got really soft. Those days, if the clock ticked closer to midnight like it does now, I’d be thinking how many more projects I could get started before 4am when I might think about going to bed. Now, I think of my girlfriend asleep in the room and wonder what I’m doing down here, still in the restaurant, writing the first draft of a 50,000 word novel.
It’s definitely challenging me. I’ve always been a bit of a control freak and a bit of a perfectionist, which means that when I write something, I have an almost obsessive compulsive urge to re-read it a hundred times, each time making little tiny changes. I don’t tend to do that on my blog though, interestingly enough. You can probably tell.
But NaNoWriMo abhors the edit! Editing to NaNoWriMo is like a big sandwich to a gluten intolerant person! And so I must just write and write and write and do my best to ignore all the little changes I want to go back and make, because they won’t do a thing for my word count. In fact, when I do occasionally submit to the pressure, I end up deleting lines. I have one paragraph of about 50 words that are struck through, simply because I can’t bring myself to axe them from the word count. I’m waiting until I kick the daily limit’s quota by at least triple that before I’ll be happy enough to get rid of them and yet, they eat away at me.
And the funny thing is, here I am writing away when I could be writing my novel. 395 words that was, all in a few minutes. It took me about half an hour to write that many earlier tonight.
Ah, although I do love the challenge. There’s nothing finer than throwing oneself outside one’s comfort zone and into new and unchartered territory. That’s where I am now, the mysterious land of daily writing. I just might learn something from it all.
November 1, 2011 § 3 Comments
Well, it was a little uneventful.
I had a very busy day with domestic duties, mainly cleaning out a commercial cool room in preparation for a retreat Angie and I are catering at the end of the week. There’s nothing like throwing out mouldly, hidden away leftovers to get the creative (and digestive) juices flowing.
I finally got hunkered down just after 8pm to begin. I had a vague idea but not even a character name. I sat there and stretched and thought and refused to go online and finally the words started flowing.
It’s amazing how the writing process can work sometimes. I went from having no name for a main character to having four characters with names in under a minute. The story has already, in just over 1600 words, started forming in ways I hadn’t seen in my vague imaginative plotting over the past couple of days as well. My working title is Quiet. I won’t give much else away just yet, mainly because Angie is waiting for me.
At any rate, I’ve begun, which is a good, yet strangely intimidating feeling. It means I’m on the path, and one rule I made while walking the Camino last year was Never Go Back. Even with this busy month ahead, I’ll be getting to those 50,000 words if it kills me.
But for now, I have to finish writing November’s newsletter for Angie Gluten Free. A different but equally enjoyable kind of writing.
October 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
Last week I did something a little silly. I signed up for NaNoWriMo, a challenge for people like myself who claim to be interested in writing yet seem to find daily excuses for not doing any.
By midnight November 30, for me to proudly call myself a “winner” of NaNoWriMo, I must have written 50,000 words (beginning tomorrow). This works out to around 1667 words per day, or around two and a half pages if you happen to use my default word settings (single spacing, Calibri font, size 11).
From what I can tell reading the forums (the NaNoWriMo brigade are my kind of people – super passionate about it and nerdy as hell, lovingly posting no end of nonsense online), it’s not necessarily about quality but more quantity. Editing of any kind is frowned upon, the idea is to line yourself up with November 30 and run like hell. If you’re happy with what you’ve done, there’s always December (or the rest of your life) to go back and craft that sucker into a real book.
I have an idea of what I’ll be writing about (it involves a musician – not based on anyone I know [at least not yet!] – who realises he is slowly going deaf), but not really any idea of how it’s going to unfurl. I don’t even have my character’s name yet, or a title for the work. (The website actually asks for a title up front, which I find difficult. I usually name my writing once it’s done and I can see what might fit.)
I concocted myriad excuses as to why I couldn’t do this in November (the main one being Angie and I are catering not one, but two yoga retreats during the month), but then realised that making up excuses was my own death sentence in the matter. I promptly logged on and signed up and ignored the cold sweat that broke out on my back.
So this is what I will be doing every day as of tomorrow. I will try to slot it into my daily circus which also includes a two hour yoga session (well, it incorporates some meditation and a shower), a one hour kickboxing drill session (with a run), time for reading, the ten hours or so of catering I’ll be doing for about 16 days of the month and other things like writing newsletters and doing some work around Jaspers. I could always cheat and just write anything at all to get to the 50,000 words but then, where’s the fun in that?
All fears aside, I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it tomorrow. And with any luck I’ll at least have the guy’s name by then.
October 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
I don’t have a lot to say, but a need to say it.
I’m down in Sydney, virtually overnight again. The flash visits are fun and sometimes tiring, sometimes saddening. It’s long enough to take care of a few bits of business, see the family and just escape from home for a short period, but not long enough to visit friends without the visit turning into a chore. That’s not meant to sound horrible, but adding in a social visit means about two hours of driving and rushing and no down time, which is really my life at home most days. I think I need to start scheduling social visits that last a week. All I will do is come down and visit, and really enjoy my time with my friends.
I went to my kickboxing class last night in Port and then drove down under cover of darkness, just the way I like to roll. Munching on chocolate ginger balls, listening to Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s haunting and gorgeous White Lunaralbum.
I woke at 6:30am and did some yoga, then went to the city, followed by Homebush (for business, not sports). This is what I spent copious amounts of money on:
- The new Tori Amos album, Night Of Hunters. I thought I’d given up on ol’ Tori after her last album but I heard most of this online and it amazed me.
- The Oncesoundtrack, by The Frames’ front man Glen Hansard. I bought this for Angie, but I love it just as much as she does. Plus, Hansard looks and sings and shakes his guitar quite a bit like my friend Ben Fletcher.
- A collection of Coen Brothers movies that I don’t have yet: Raising Arizona, The Man Who Wasn’t There and their first, Blood Simple. I am very excited to watch these.
- Some iPod speakers for Angie for her birthday. It’s okay, she doesn’t read this. In fact, I’m not sure she knows I have a blog. She definitely wouldn’t think I’d be writing in it, so my secret is safe here.
- The third book in a series by my friend Edrei Cullen. They’re written for young folks, presumably with a female focus, but I love them. Possibly partly because I love Edrei, but also because I’ve always loved a good kids fantasy adventure. This coming from the person who hasn’t even seen a Harry Potter film let alone read a book but hey, I read Lord Of The Rings before I turned ten, so bite me. I nearly bought Will Self and Ralph Steadman’s follow up to Pyscho Geography, but I couldn’t go past a friend’s accomplishment. Edrei’s third book is called Scatterbungle, and it looks like this:
- A hell of a lot of bulk organic produce for Angie Gluten Free. We’re going to be taking orders for Christmas cakes this year, so baking will start soon.
- New shoes – I haven’t worn converse in way too fucking long. For some reason I was convinced when I became manager of a resort that I needed to dress a little more appropriately. Many was the day when I thought that my conservative footwear was affecting my disposition in a way that was not to my liking at all. Now I have resigned, so the converse are back and you know, I feel good about that.
Despite the fact I’m now a wannabe country eco living boy who publicly deplores the city pollution and overcrowded trappings, sometimes I really like the hustle and bustle. Today I felt positively energised. As I waited on the platform at Town Hall Station, ideas were tearing through my head louder than the train thunder screaming out of the tunnel, faster than I could possibly catalogue them in the leaky vessel I keep upstairs.
When I got home, I went for a run around my old stomping grounds, The Crest. When I was younger and a runner I would routinely get attacked by magpies there. I heard recently that it is the males that attack in order to prove to the females that they can take care of business as the nest protector, and that they also focus their aggression on people who remind them of past tormentors. It makes sense, the magpies at home have no tormentors, and the only time they interrupt our day is to try to cajole food from us. I ran for quite a bit longer than I do at home. It felt really good, and maybe I was being fuelled by reminiscences rather than oxygen. I waved at a landscaper as if I did this every day. I’m working on that, the kickboxing classes pretty much demand it. I can either turn up once a week and crawl out of class, or run and skip and drill a little every day and walk out sweaty but smiling. And when I think about it, I can’t think of a better way to live than sweaty and smiling.
Speaking of kickboxing, according to the statistics that wordpress helpfully provides, most people come to this blog on a search for “jason statham girlfriend”. I was thinking about that earlier today, and about how disappointed those people must be when they find me.
Also, another book I’m about to start reading but haven’t yet is Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I feel I will really enjoy this short book.
Tomorrow morning, after I get up early for yoga, I’ll go and see my brother play drums for forty five minutes. He has been studying at a college for five years, and these forty five minutes are what it all comes down to. There’s some kind of moral in that, I’m sure. I’m looking forward to hearing him play (and seeing how much of my editing suggestions he kept on his program notes), but I’m really, really looking forward to seeing my little niece. Christ I’m sounding clucky lately. It’s a shame I live so far away from them, I would totally dominate the babysitting scene if I lived nearby.
After the recital, it’s five hours of driving, then working a dinner, packing the car, going to the Gladstone markets the next morning and then five wonderful, blissful days of holiday; just Angie and I and the forests of Bellingen. I might even do some writing while I’m there.
September 3, 2011 § Leave a comment
I will be the first to admit that I’ve been doing a very shitty job of writing since I started this blog. Things get in the way, and when there’s space to write I generally want to do nothing more than kick back and read something that someone else has written.
But there is hope yet. Jaspers Village Resort, where I live and work, will be hosting a creative writing workshop for novelists on the first weekend of December. The tutors haven’t been revealed to me yet, and I also hear there may be a special guest writer coming along. The most bewildering thing is the price – it’s only $300.00 per person for the weekend. I know what we’re charging the organisers and I can tell you that for accommodation, freakin’ excellent food (courtesy of my brilliant wholefood chef partner Angie) and two days of writing workshops, this is the best deal workshop I’ve seen anywhere. Of course, they haven’t told me the tutors, but I figure they’d have to be pretty terrible to not make this a good deal.
Not that I’m trying to sell it here. No one reads this blog for starters, and I have other avenues to do that in. I’m just excited that there’s a writer’s workshop being held virtually in my own home. I’ve also resigned from my job as manager here, effective as of October 1, so I really have absolutely no excuse then not to start putting pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard as the case may be.
Write side of the brain, time to wake up!
August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
This is my latest newsletter piece for BodyMindLife. I thought it would be much easier, given that my brief was to write about Muppets. But as it happens oh so often, trying to adapt a passion into something like a list that has little to do with the passion can be difficult. It didn’t really turn out nearly as fun as I hoped, but, them’s the breaks. I tried to refrain from rehashing the standard tips and instead wanted to offer a few solid suggestions of places and websites to look at. I dislike lists that are airy with no leads as to what they’re talking about. Anyway, here it is!
WWKD?*: Seven Top Tips for Green Living
By Craig New, Jaspers Village Resort