Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rococo, Baroque, and, yes, broke and on the road.



Have you ever tried writing a novel? It is impossible. So you go through your files and come up with crap like the following:


While in the Air Force, we would have little memory aids when doing routine checks on station readiness.


For instance, we had to check the state of the tower, the lights, air-to-ground facilies, radar and all that.

These thing had to be itemized in your head by memory. You went Tower, Lights, Air Control, GCA, and so on down the line. You could not miss a single check.


So I would make up a little aphorism in my head, in which there would be the first letter of everything I had to check.

Mine went, Tom Loves a Girl, but he Rapes Repeatedly.


Tower

Lights

ACA/ Ground control

GCA


See?


Read the the first capital of each function. Tom Love A Girl...


Had a similar system to organize my blog drafts...Hey here is one that can be resuscitated!


Fact is, I am too hung over to give you a blog today, so I'll just sort of fill in the blanks on what I'd intended to talk about. So here goes:



Forty is a time to lose your adolescent self, but we don't.

Especially we men. O Lord we don't
So what if your wife is pregnant for the third time, so what if your son is challenging you to foot races that he is now starting to win, so what
if the people at work seem like droids, devoid even of common sense as they compete so fiercely for a management position that could have been filled by a chimp.

You want to get out to feel wonderful again, to be wonderful again, to be the athlete, to have any number of beautiful lovers, yeah, to be the cock of the walk you seemed to be just scant years ago.

First line of George Orwell's Coming Up for Air:

"Marriage to the joyless Hilda was becoming a nightmare for George Bowling."

You feel that you are George Bowling, and you don't even bowl, but that is certainly what it feels like to you, George Bowling, golfer, respectable citizen, DagwoodBumstead , a little bit afraid of Blondie who is also nearing forty and is for the first time discovering the sharpness of her wit, and that she is not all that happy in this domestic crapcan either. She too, might be scrambling throught the Yellow Pages looking for Dr. Kavorkian.

Is this all there is?

Marriage and I was not ready.

First child and I was not ready.

Second child and I was not ready.

Stress job at the college and I was not ready.

Wife knocked up again, and I sure as hell am not ready.


Where the hell are the three beautiful novels about Toronto when Toronto was so fine?

You gave up three beautiful novels about Toronto to teach students how to parse sentences.

Well, at least you felt useful. Poor students were largely idiots, the products of "open concept" learning, a cop-out if there ever was one, of letting the Alpha kids run things while you smoked in the faculty room.

You had met the head of the department, who would communicate only by videocam and pride himself in not being "a grammarian."

Well what the f*ck are you doing as head of the English department? And where's your sheepskin? Sneaked into community college teaching after having been an announcer for a Montreal radio station now defunct. Sir George Williams university for a semester, and you screwed that up too; those who can't, teach; those who cant teach, administrate.

You see the youngish colleagues around you and they are all the same way, a restlessness, a questioning of everything, a doubting of everything. "I know I want something, need something, but I don't know what the hell I want."

Garden variety mid-life crisis.

This is the time to pull ahead of the pack, this is the time to make you statement, this is the time to write that goddanm novel. You gotta do it by forty.

If you don't you never will.

Oh sure, there will be the palliatives, the little article in the local paper here and there. But the Big Book,she is not writ. Youngsters all around you cutting huge furrows, while you stuggle with the jubjunctive and the indicative.

"Take a sabbatical," says the Dean. "Fuck you," you mutter to yourself.

But you do take the sabbatical.

You behave foolishly.

You come back with an unfinished novel, even though the mighty presses are poised to roll at your command. The college has all the offset equipment and a huge budget. It was understood that you, as a star in the English department, was going to produce something fine. they had agreed to print your nevel on your name alone.

"Give us the book."

But there is no book, merely a first draft.

And you'd picked up a dose in Mexico.

You fuddle. You fudge.

Your wife wants to divorce you.
You can't concentrate on your teaching. You are not tenured, so everyone is watching you. The evaluations come in. Not doing such a hot job.
And there is someone new sitting at your desk now.

You start all the way down at the bottom again.

Rumpelstiltskin.

The students are still there, under the Chesnut tree, some even giving you applause as you pass, you had been a pretty good prof, but you are starting to know sin as not just an abstract. The teaching nuns were right. When you are pure, you have the strength of a hundred men. You've lost the strength of a hundred men because your heart is flirting with pure evil. There is a snake in the garden, and you'd had a scoff.

Everybody in the world is after you immortal soul and some woman has got it. She is not your wife.

You thought you had pain before, but this time it's triple. It's not ennui, not boredom. You are about to lose everything you had.

And you do.

Lost the old tenure.

Losing wife and family.

Isn't forty a shit-kicker?

"It gets better on the other side," says Jung.

"Where? When?

And then it suddenly become clear to you.

You somehow sell your book.

It is published before you hardly know it.


Back on the street again. Back on Boogie Street.

"I am an artist, Martha," you say to your wife.

"Oh yeah? Here is the vacuum, artist. Get busy. What were you doing galavanting areoud Mexico thesel eght months while I took care of the childen?"

Alanis Morisette is on the radio: "I am here. To remind you of the mess you made when you walked out the door..."

"What is your problem, you ask the wife.

"You," she says.

Briefing for a descent into hell.

And only a year ago, you thought you were in a nightmare.


Hank Williams died at twenty-nine, after achieving seventy years' worth of any singer's normal career.

A false goodbye, a life is shattered.
There lies the story on the rose.

And Hank Williams did it all in his twenties.

Gone by 29.

What is the message here?

A king like Bill Clinton could get away with it.

Another king like Hank Williams could elude it for a time.


Ah.

Tom

Loves

A

Girl,

But

He rapes

Repeatedly.


Poor Picaro, carrier of the pike.


Picaresque novel for you.


Art exacts some price!

-30-








11 comments:

Dr.John said...

Well that was interesting but I got just a bit lost.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

My fault.

I wasn't too sure of the way on this one.

Anonymous said...

---t: Don't say I didn't tell you so!


-----Original Message-----
>
> To my friends who enjoy a glass of wine ... and those who don't.
>
> As Ben Franklin said: In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in
> water there is bacteria.
>
> In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated
> that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would
> have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) - bacteria
> found in feces. In other words, we are consumi ng 1 kilo of poop.
>
> However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum,
> whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification
> process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.
> Remember: Water = Poop, Wine = Health
>
> Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water
> and be full of shit.
>
> There is no need to thank me for this valuable information: I'm doing it as
> a public service.

Donnetta Lee said...

Tripping out while tripping through Life. Hard to not get tripped up while on the Trip.

I'm tired.

Donnetta

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Goodnight sweet Ivan...


::pulls blankets up close:::

T

ivan@creeativewriting.ca said...

Donetta,

Yeah. Droll troll dept.

Don't blame you from feeling tired after a droll story.

Good night.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Don't let the bugs bite.

the walking man said...

This entertained me highly Ivan, yes I got the aphorism as the overall catch in the piece. Make keys to remember and you will not forget nor get raped.

At 21 I had already completed my military, and hit the road for five years figuring that I was taking my retirement then and would find and work at the indefinable something later. By 30 I was well on the road to divorce and career.

By 40 I was pure blue collar bringing a grand a week home after taxes which I mostly had returned to me through deductions. Took two jobs and the writing while still happening was more of the exercise variety, to not forget how.

By 46, fuck me, I had worked my spine out and they forced me into retirement and cut my income substantially but then I was able to write. Heh?

For the first time free of any constraints I was able to write as I wished, what I wished, at any time of the day or night. And I did. name the form and I have some of it I have penned; from haiku to full length novels. Oh whatta rush!

The pinnacle for me was being the 12th ranked slam poet before I was knocked out of the semi finals that year by a truck bigger than me. But fuck it I got there, stayed there for my time and now a couple of years later I don't care anymore.

For me, I don't even need an audience anymore, I will, if asked, stand and read poetry, because I love it and may do so again. But at 53 I feel like 73 physically and 23 mentally so I still have 17 years to go before I have to succeed, no?

Peace Ivan in your head where the pictures are stored and your heart where the seeming regret is. Fuck it, you've had a hell of a run and now just write and collect and assemble and let the rest think of itself. By the time you hit forty in your mind it will all lay before you like a field of green.

Peace

mark

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Thanks, Mark.

A rain of words can sometimes be a balm.

We do get it together at about 38, don't we.

"Rapes repeatedly" department:
I am really beginning to wonder if men f*ck women or women f*ck men.

Seems in Mexico it was the American women who f*cked the men.

No wonder the "Guess Who"'s and Lenny Kravitz' American Woman continues to be such a hit.
...That is not to say one doesn't like American women!

Lana Gramlich said...

The stuff about the sabbatical & whatnot--was that "real" life or fictional writing? Interesting & sad, regardless...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Lana,

Being grist for my own mill, I can't tell fact from fiction any more.
The sabbatical was real life.
Keep thinking of some l9th century Englishman's quote. "If only he'd stayed in his room!"