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.



Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Wow Ivan. Sometimes I am speechless. I listen and I do mean listen and you come down so hard on yourself that you convince yourself ... you have once again screwed it up.

When are you going to see you are killing yourself before you even deliver the product. Sure I know nothing. BS! I know brilliance when I see it, or read it, whatever you wish to call it. Dang Ivan, focus. You have this greatness about you and then shove into a dark place as if you think you deserve to be in a corner like a punished child.

Okay you mess up, you take things for grant it, and think somewhere inside that either you are greatest writer or the biggest loser in the world. Just stop thinking altogether. That is your biggest mistake. Write without thinking.

I have faith in you, have it in yourself as well.

Soft love,

ivan said...

Thoughful of you, Tara.
Thanks for your concern.

I really think it's the unsmokable Native Reservation cigarettes and the dregs of wine bottles that is doing all this. One is a bundle of nerves.
Waiting for the mailman.
...The middle is the worst.

But thanks.

the walking man said...

Whether done on a computer or a Smith-Corona [which sound like a really horrid cigar by the by] either will get you laid which gives you the same fleeting good feeling of publishing.

With the exception of once a piece is published there is no nasty 'got to go's' as you rush to get your clothes back on.

Ah well slog on dear author till the sea[man] ends up in your drawers. We will all end up in the same place anyway we'll both be very famous, sexy and, get laid by 27 virgins as we reap the reward.



Monique said...

Mmmmm ... my sympathy Ivan. Am more or less on the same wave length. Why bother ... No one wants my work anyway ... Stop those stupid blogs ... No one is really interested in them ... s l o w l y g o i n g i n t o a d e p r e s s i o n n o w ...........................

ivan said...


Thank you.

I might engrol in Kamikaze U., but what's a randy man to do with a virgin, 27 of them all the worse.

Cycle sluts.
I want cycle sluts!

Benn slappin' leather too long. :)

ivan said...


I know a once very successful theatre director from London who came to Canada and Canada did not do well by him.
He now operates the snack bar for the Newmarket Theatre Company here, just to ah, keep his hand in.
This was a man who once directed "Look Back in Anger", the great Angry Young man play of a generation ago.
I once saw John Osborne's Look Back in Anger, and I for one, could really identify.
Lower-class kid with the rich puisillanimous wife.
Who in hell was writing my script?

Old Newfie expression here:
"Every man's gotta eat a tonna shit."
A lot of people (though strangely, not in my home town of Newmarket) are wishing me bon appetit .

It is my estimation that your work is at least as good as anything we're doing in Canada right now.
Maybe you could send to the CBC, though their script readers are largely idiots.
Luck sometimes comes in the stragest way though.
I once self-published a novel.
Who should come to interview me?
You guessed it. The CBC. Good things happened after that.
Come to think of it, do seind to the CBC. The American writers' strike is only now over, and they must surely need material, since a lot of the CBC stuff has now been snapped up.
You know what the Americans took?
"Little Mosque on the Prairie". LOL.

Break a leg.

ivan said...

p.s. to Monique,

E.A. Monroe, who sometimes comments here, writes beautifully about her childhood hijinks, though in memoir form.
Reminds me of some of the antics in your radio play, Silverbirch.

All in all, we seem to have a lot of talented people corresponding with this blog.

Middle Ditch said...

Little Mosque on the prairie? (hick-up... laugh ... you made my day ... wipe tears ...) They must be very short of material ... Thank you, Ivan, for that lovely comment on my other blog. You are such a lovely man and I sincerely hope that luck will come your way in that fickle world of film, TV, theater and publishing.

What I don't understand is, why does that director not return to London, hook up with a producer and find a good story instead of doing that stupid job?

A Dorset expression: Everyone has a bag of shit hanging on their shoulder.

Cheers and keep in touch :-D said...

Here in Newmarket, they've put up a $50 million civic centre that looks a lot like the Taj Mahal.
No need to go to India.
Canada is a Mecca!

Charles Gramlich said...

In response to Tara, I think Ivan is one of those folks for whom thinking defines them. As soon tell them to stop breathing. But then I could be a fool. It's happened before.

ivan said...


I am nowhere near that great Frenchman, as I found out when I myself was forced to teach math.

I guess we've both got to keep that old aspidistra flying, as old George O might say.

Sienna said...

What Tara said too, but I must say, you even write about about failure and rejection brilliantly!

Onward and upward from here.

I thought the Smith-Corona was a beer! A fancy hyphenated beer!


ivan said...



I like to think I write more for what is hopefully a style rather than subject matter. I think you know this. You a sharp woman!

Well, I managed to steal a chicken from somewhere and I'd better eat it bofore it all falls down.

Father used to say, in his inimical Ukrainian accent, "Man who has chicken in pot not yet down."

Cheers, mate.


ea monroe said...

Ivan, you finished your autobiography?! Does this mean Josie and I can stop bugging you about it?

I had/have an old Smith-Corona. I wore out the "e."


ea monroe said...

Ivan, since I'm out of the blogging business I couldn't leave Monique a comment, so I'll leave it here with you.

Hi, Monique. I'm visiting from over at Ivan's place. I've enjoyed what I've read so far and I'll have to come and spend some time catching up on the rest of your ongoing screenplay!

Hey, I've put my own pants on backwards plenty of times!

~Liz (ea monroe)

ivan said...


'Fraid it's only part my autobiography, the part where I stopped being a teacher and went off to be a fulltime novelist.

As you might estimate, the move was a disaster.
...Will be even more of a disaster if they reject the piece. We'll see.
Thanks for being interested.
I guess you and Josie could continue to bug me to write the whole "life story".


ivan said...

p.s. to Liz,

Monique also posts under "middle ditch".
I was a bit confused at first too.
Couldn't figure out where to find the radio plays she spoke of.
But I'm kind of zeroed in now.

Monique said...

Ivan, thank you for posting E A Monroe's comment on my blog and will you please thank her for me?

ivan said...

Hi Monique,

I will do that.

Liz Monroe writes beautifully about her childhood experiences.
I have read some of the exerpts and she so reminds me of some of the carryings-on and epiphanies of that great radio play by Dylan Thomas, Under Milkwood .
I am almost positive that somewhere in high school, you and I were both pressganged, scripts in front of us, to act out that great play for voices.
I was, of course, "No- Good Boyo". Heh.
I forget what little girl Dulcie Prothero said to me, but the name Dulcie Prothero and the great ormolu clock remain in my memory 45 years later.
Ah, that great alcoholic Dylan Thomas.
That, at least I share with him. :)

Monique said...

Hi Ivan, I have just visited Anne Lyken-Garner and she also writes beautifully about her childhood when she was a terribly abused child. Liz Monroe might like to have a look at that. Each time I read one of Anne's excerpts I am amazed that after such an evil childhood there stands now such a forgiving and amazing woman.

I have her link on my blog.

ivan said...

I'll check it out.