Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Clutching my Smith-Corona on Planet Porno
Like many another compulsive-neurotic, I decided some weeks ago that I would go back to my old Smith-Corona, back to the days of the hot-lead writer, back to the days when I was a smashing success, and it was all coming out of the typewriter and not a computer.
There seemed to be more time to think, to revise while on the typewriter. Your work came out in pure, black proof copy once you were ready and it seemed almost written in stone.
You were usually dealing with an editor who knew you and your work, and though you were not a fulltime staff writer on that magazine or newspaper, the work would generally get published.
This tended to lead to a kind of hubris. Even groupies.
I had slyly let out, in an article on the making of model airplanes, that airplanes are symbols of the spirit, and the writer, though writing about model airplanes and then real airplanes, hinted at the fact that the author's spirit was somewhat droopy, and maybe what he needed was to get laid.
The article was published in the Toronto Star Neighbours section.
Suddenly I was hot stuff.
Two women mobbed me at my subway stop on my way to my editors.
They knew who I was through my previous work as a teacher of creative writing.
One of the ladies seemed extremely fidgety, playing with her purse, rubbing against me like some really lonely, cute little animal, she had just lost her boyfriend and "Gee, you'd only been with The Star for a little while, and you're doing so well. How about dinner?"
The three of us went to lunch, at least. I forgot about my meeting with the editor and I ended up having dinner with the fidgety girl.
Dinner led to a dance, and well.
Always happens. You were clawing for the middle--not the top--in your career and ambushed again by a beautiful woman.
Still, the old Smith-Corona had done its trick. You had succeeded, and you got laid.
Nowadays, in this computer age, it's not so easy.
You thought you'd get the work out faster--what's speed got to do with writing?--you'd thought a web page would help you as a professional writer, you laboured mightily and you had produced an entire family of mice, your speedily keyboarded short stories and articles.
Frigging rejections. Tons of them.
Who me? God's chosen?
(Chipmunk chorus here: "Yes, you!")
It was now time to pay for all those vanities and superiorities. You were just another blogger now, and not a very popular one at that.
You try to pass off some of your awesom erudition and experience to other blogs.
"Learn some manners. It's my blog, Claude!"
And: "F*ck- off with your ad hominem remarks."
I was just another blogger among millions.
I would have to freelance something to established publishers just to school some of those snarky literary bloggers, largely unpublished, who thought they were such hot stuff.
I finally got a short story published.
I put it up on my blog.
That'll learn ya!
Silence. Dead silence. One comment, and this one from a Jesus freak.
I needed to take Jesus as my personal saviour.
A university professor took a shine to my blog. We corresponded often.
He suggested I apply for a scholar's grant as a textbook writer for his university.
He sent me the forms.
New to the computer, I screwed up the forms.
My professor stopped commenting and emailing me.
A clerical idiot might not be someone you'd want to have around a university.
I blogged on mightily for two more years.
Put up most of my published work online.
One offer from a publication of my Ukrainian tribe. I gave them the piece. They would not pay.
Shafted by your own people!
Who's got time to be prejudiced against anybody?
I'm starting to dislike my fellow Ukies.
Anyway, blogging, blogging, blogging. It is addictive. I feel out of sorts all day if I don't post something.
But then the truth sneaks up on you. This is all great for the ego, but you're getting nowhere professionally.
Last week, I got off the computer and onto my trusty old Smith-Corona.
Satisfying bit of work. All those usused synapses, the mistakes, strikeovers, the erasor, the white-out, all those procedures and tools Rudyard Kiplins said are the true smithies that together produce the work.
Well, I got to page one.
Damn, this is hard work.
On the keyboard, I'd have to entire story done now.
Reduced to the computer, I finally finished my documentary/autobiography.
My inteniton had been to submit hard copy to the publishers, typed on my Smith-Corona. This had worked in the past; it had even gotten me laid.
But though the spirit is willing, the flesh and the fingers were weak.
I ended up doing it on my computer.
I submitted it.
And now, where she goes, nobody knows.
I've got the nagging feeling that I should have stayed on the typewriter. This had been the tried-and-true in the past.
I am convinced that I had somehow failed a test of character. I should have done the whole story on typographcal characters, on white paper on a mechanical machine.
Ah well. Professional writing is like a dartboard anyway.
You double in and you double out.
Nagging voice: "You didn't really double-in....Or did you?
A hilarious opening scene out of last Night's Blue Movie is rubbing agains the edge of my consciousness.
Blue movies alway rub against the edges of my consciousness. "The hero, MegaDick, accompanied by his faithfull comapnion Jerkoff, land on a strange planet, Planet Porno, in fact, full of beautiful women.
"Jerkoff! Foxy chicks. Gotta get!"
Heaven forbid that this is really what I'm writing for.
Or the way that I'm writing.