The Smell In The Boot (Both Literally And Metaphorically)

May 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve stopped to think on more than one occasion, “It’s just my luck to dedicate myself to some writing mere days before getting inundated with the heaviest work load I’ve had in years.” With a yoga retreat, a festival and a school group all spending consecutive nights at the resort, I’ve been clocking up seventeen or more hours most days. If I haven’t been looking after guests I’ve been sleeping.

But then I started to think back to when I was in my early twenties. Nothing was too much, ever. I had five jobs at one point and still went out every single night to see bands playing, creating a fanzine at the same time and playing in up to three bands at once. Does the problem lay not in a lack of time, but in a lack of motivation?

It’s something I’ve felt time and time again over the last few years, and variably attribute it to getting older, getting calmer, getting out of the city, getting a partner, getting something. Perhaps it’s more a loss that’s involved, although I’m not sure what it is I’ve lost. A sense of purpose? A direction? A plan? Energy? Willpower? Confidence? Belief? Space?

I had to drive our car into Wauchope today (I’m sitting in the Wauchope Public Library writing this) to have it cleaned of the overpowering stench that’s emanating from the boot. If I had started an underground business in body removal I couldn’t have a worse smelling car right now. On one of the recent shops a box seemingly leaked an unidentifiable potent fluid. It may have been juice from the bottom of a broccoli container, it may have been fish oil seeping from an otherwise sealed esky. I’m not sure. All I know is when I sat in the driver’s seat to come in a smell that reminded me faintly of rotting seaweed in the hot sun curled up into my nostrils and settled down like a cat in a cushion.

I drove in with all four windows down and the heater on to counter the cold air. It was strangely like being on a beach; a feeling of warmth on my skin, a cold breeze blowing my hair about (sitting in a car with the wind blowing through is one of those distinct times it is very clear whether or not one needs a haircut – I do), that seaweed stench marinating through everything. With a certain amount of creative willpower, it was almost pleasant.

So it appears that this creative drive is there when a demand is manifested, I just need to work out how to call up that demand with ease. I’ve been asked to write an article for a fairly well-read newsletter next week, so that’s something I can start with I suppose.

I hope that smell is a faint remnant clinging to my nose hairs and not in my jacket.

The Inner Arsehole

May 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Over the past few months I’ve been working hard to become a better person. It’s a generic, sweeping, anonymous statement that lacks any conviction, goal or strategy, but nevertheless it’s what I’ve been doing with all of those drawbacks in mind.

One thing I’ve been considering a lot lately is my tendency to be an arsehole. It doesn’t come up a lot, but when that sensation arises, when my inner arsehole takes over, it’s a nasty thing to witness. It’s like oil rising to the surface of a turbulent river, greasy and disgusting on the surface, with the pure stuff below getting smothered and churned to pieces.

Everything has its place though, and my inner arsehole is a wonderful measure against my indefinable progress toward bettering myself. Yesterday I ended up having an argument with my girlfriend’s sister who lives with us (in the same community, not house), and I didn’t treat her very well at all. But later on, I thought about how that situation would have played out a year ago.

Back then, I would have been an arsehole and not really thought much about it, other than how hopeless she was and how righteous I was. A little further along and I would have been an arsehole, but felt bad about it later. I would have had an indescribable clot of discomfort in my stomach with a root I couldn’t put my finger on. Further again and I would have been an arsehole and minutes later regretted it, looking back knowing how I could have behaved better.

Yesterday, I knew I was being an arsehole as I was being the arsehole. With a little more self control, enlightment, sleep or whatever the secret ingredient is, I could have stopped my inner arsehole in its tracks and instantly worked on dealing with the situation in a way that would have shown both of us a great deal more respect.

I’d like to think that the next step on the path to being a better man is to be able to make that instantaneous change, and eventually to evict the inner arsehole once and for all. I figure that at the end of the day, this little body just ain’t big enough for the two of us.

Faking It

May 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

I was thinking about potential story ideas today.

The stories that have always worked for me – at least, in my opinion – are stories with a reasonably ridiculous theme. I wrote one a little while back about a guy who is being harrassed by his angry, snobbish landlord for having pets in the house, and as she wanders through the corridors she comes across more exotic pets at every turn until finally falling down an immense hole to become lunch for a burrowing dinosaur of sorts. I once gained entry into a published book of poetry with a lengthy (mine was by far the longest poem in the collection, clocking in at nine pages) Seuss-style missive about a chicken that went in search of a fried-chicken factory and took her bloody revenge.

These are the stories and writings I enjoy reading back to myself from time to time, when I am procrastinating and pretending that reading my own work somehow counts as “hours”.

Why then, do I feel a constant urge to write something “literary”? I love reading literary books – I’m only a cardigan away from being a fully fledged Jonathan Safran Foer fan club member, or that of his wife Nicole Krauss, I devour Lethem, DeLillo, Nabokov, Fowles, Banks and anything and everything McSweeneys put their name to. Yet my forte seems to be in the silly and irreverent. This is like yearning to cook like a Masterchef but finding your most delicious dish is a cheese sandwich.

In any event, I was thinking about story ideas and started to think about a guy who was sitting on a beach (it’s amazing how many of my story ideas start with a guy sitting on a beach, considering not one story I have ever written has started that way), considering ways in which he could fake his death. I wasn’t sure why he wanted to fake his death. At first I thought he would be the only character, but every bit of prose that occurred to me was as droll as most of the “literary” threads I’ve attempted. So I started him talking to someone else (another guy, but I’m not sure who, perhaps a fellow, lonesome beach bum).

This guy began talking him out of faking his life. He insisted that designing an illusory ending was such a waste of spirit and creative ability as to be almost criminal. If this sad sack character was enduring such a miserable life (I, like his beach bum interlocutor, simply assumed that if he wanted to fake his death that his life couldn’t have been all box seats at the grand final and supermodels and coke every night), he had a grander, more enlightening option available to him – he could fake his own life.

This seems very interesting to me, now I just have to work out how to walk the line between what I know (farcical, dad-jokey) and what I aspire to (beautifully written, intelligent, thoughtful). I think it’s a cool idea though.

The Write Stuff

May 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Nothing better than some terrible play on words to get a blog rolling.

I’ve been wanting to write more for quite a while now. Like many writers, the motivation comes and goes in a tidal fashion; crashing in unexpected at times and pushing water up my nose with giddy excitement before sucking out again, leaving only my shivering torso and sand in my underpants.

Lately the pressure I’ve unknowingly been building inside about writing has reached nearly fever pitch, to the point where I’ve almost felt some kind of strange neurosis over writing. I planned to write a short story every week. I planned to enter a bunch of writing competitions. I planned to write letters to people, some who I know, some who I don’t. I planned to start a novel. I planned to start a thirty part series (no, really, I did). I planned to start a blog that documented my writing a novel and maybe even write it on the blog in real time as some kind of masochistic, voyeuristic experiment.

Instead, I kept getting stuck reading blog after blog after blog about writing and how to be better at it. This didn’t help. I began to feel more and more incompetent at the craft, and less like writing than I have at almost any time in my life.

This afternoon, I found a file on my computer that I forgot I had, a collection of tour diaries from my time spent on a few different tours with bands. Reading some of these made me smile. Occasionally, they made me feel somewhat skilled. Now was the time to do something, anything – and although I have always reserved a warm, comfortable, cynical spot deep inside for personal writing in a public forum (not that it’s ever actually stopped me from doing it, mind you), I figure that at least with an (however) imaginary pressure of potential public scrutiny nipping at my heels, I may keep up some sort of flow.

So here we go, christ knows what will result but with any luck it will at least be entertaining for you, who are reading this right now. Thanks, I’ll try to do you proud.

Oh, and I’ll change that heading sometime soon. Probably.

Where Am I?

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