Saturday, December 30, 2006
Seven Thoughts for 07
2007 will not be a year, it will be a dimension. It will be the dividing line between my career as a moderately successful writer to a journeyman hound-pounder and puppy-poker, to wit, an angry old blogger, the old flea with an erection, floating down the old Suez canal and demanding they raise the drawbridge.
One has had a terrible bang in this up-and-down year of 2006.
I had found out, finally, that to seek a high literary prize, one must have pedigree, high academic credentials and a sizeable body of distinguished work in another field, like medicine, say, or politics.. One must also have connections.
What is especially puzzling is that I had some of these things in my thirties--independently wealthy, a sexy job as head of creative writing at Seneca College, and award-winning columnist for the now-defunct TOPIC Magazine, a great "in" with the TORONTO SUN, fearless psychic researcher for the Nationl Enquirer, top-drawer humourist for The Globe and Mail. I also had a book out, whose name was The Black Icon.
The last few years have not been entirely sweet, but what a ride!
Whereas most authors seeking the Giller prize were extremely versatile and established people, I was being Ferdinand the Bull, afraid, I suppose, of success, sleeping in laudromats, writing great sprawling novels atop dumpster ledges, the poet in the gutter, which, as any cad knows, is hellishly attractive to women. As in that old Skiffle song, "he was dirty and lousy, and full of fleas,
But he had his women by twos and threes."
Flat broke? No job? Low on the self-esteem scale?
That's when the women come. Trust me.
My friend says, "You know, most of us when we leave one spouse, we go to another and the relationship becomes parmanent. With you, it's seven permanent relationships. You're right off the scale, buddy."
A bohemian lifestyle like this does not bode well for you as a tenured teacher, or, for that matter, a Giller prize winner. I had repeatedly tried for tenure or some important literary prize. They pretty well laughed in my face and slapped my back. But every time they "uncontracted" me, the other teacher was not up to his/her job and I would be hired again. When you publish, you don't perish and I'd publish a lot, even from the bars and the garbage cans.
It all came from a rent in The Important Relationship.
In the course of one year, I had earned an advanced degree, gotten my novel published, was making scads of money at the college--and I was all but insufferable. I would begin to lecture my wife over the dinner table, about oysters having eyes, feet, elaborate digestive systems. I would sally forth on any subject with convincing authority, whether I knew anything about the matter or not.
Everything was feeding ones ego and it is small wonder that the poor wife enrolled in the local nunnery they call a university, took women's studies and well, and well.
I was suddenly reduced from Top Dog to Huckleberry Hound.
"Out, damn Spot."
Fido on the front lawn.
Hit the road, Jack.
Which, I must confess, I was happy to do.
I was a duffer at dates in high school, the guy eliminated on ElimiDate, awkward with girls and now was the time fo all good men to come to the aid of the party.
Thirty years on the edge. Thirty years a dreamer with a practical bent.
Thirty years a sex maniac.
Well. This is Gillar Prize material?
So it should have been no surprise to me, that when, in my own sneaky way I tried for the Giller, I was turned down flat and pretty well called a prick.
But one can not take this lying down.
In the past I used to be pretty good at rolling with the punches, doing the old psychic karate each time to colleges and universities fired me, lying low until rehired because of some splash I'd make with the Toronto Star or the local slick magazine.
This time, this year, I'm not going to roll with the punches.
This time I'm going to be Teflon. I shall be Mylar.
And so, with the arrogance of a young fool of 68, I propose the following seven thoughts for 2007:
1) No matter how many affairs one has had, one is-- in one's own head anyway--undivorced and undivorceable.
I am carrying a torch that would gut the innards of a GO-bus and sear the ass off any suitor.
2)There comes a time to stand and fight. Set yourself up so you can write, not just blog, but write.
3) Take the professional attitude you once had about your career and stop clowning around.
4) This is the year of the promotion of the foreigner.(I thought I had this covered, being multicultural and all, but
Prime Minister Trudea is dead.) The huns are surely at the gates and the native son as achiever is reduced to a colourful oddity.
5) Our civilization is dying and only a kook, a Frank Zappa can save it. I qualify as kook.
6) This will be the year to appreciate other people's abilities--like two ladies who visit this blog, and one old pro of a writer and he knows who he is. I stand in awe of the bastard.
7) All things the medical-industrial complex deems bad for you is good for you. Drink and smoke your brains out.
Goose liver, wine and cigarettes are good for you.
So, a happy and ambitious New Year!