Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wild horses couldn't keep me away


My late father-in-law, himself a large writer, had advised me to do no itellectual work late at night.

"Otherwise you won't be able to sleep, all those ideas and griffons tumbling about in your head.

I never took his advice. With me, writing is a little like sex. Give it all you got unto sheer exhaustion.( {Heh, that's in the times when I had lots of sex, and not like today, the subject of an old in the campfire song, "the font of my passion had not yet become a waterspout."}).

The writer, more often than not, is a maniac. He's got to finish what the hell he is doing or worms will crawl out of the ground with their accusations: "Couldn't get it up this time, huh?"
Bad performances, in my younger days, were unnaceptable. You had to write straight and clean even as your tired brain seemed to toss and pitch helplessly beside you . Mental blocks? Never happened. You were a pro. Pros do not get mental blocks. So put the blocks to that writin' and take to mind that there is a reward at the end of it, sex or booze, it didn't seem to matter.

Ah the mystique. Deadly with women. Didn't matter what your sexual performance was like. You were, after all John Pope, rock columnist. You could make or break a band or any number of girl singers.
You could get somebody offed.
So many Mafiosi around the business.
You didn't work for Rolling Stone, but you could get people on the cover of Starweek magazine, and with a circulation of a million, that could be enough for both you and them.

How cool it was to be in Toronto's entertainment district, dining with bandleaders and movie stars. You were not a milllionaire, but your patron was. And all he had to do is just talk to you at the bank and you could get huge lines of credit.
So why did you give it up?
The intention had been to write a novel.
Earlier,you had produced something like a novel, but the critics (as if I had been doing rock?) missed it completely.

The rock critic work was heady and exciting. The platform boots, the Batman outfits. But you were still not the novelist you had hoped to be. You had produced a fragment. That's all. Just justification for having tried at all. Sure. You were ahead of the pack. Your friends had all hoped they could be novelists. Every jounalist wants to be a novelist.
Well, I had worked mightily and produced a mouse. But at least it was in print. And bankers had it up on their walls, for some reason. "We supported this guy!"

Ah, Simon Cowell, junior grade. And the sarcasm and ego to go with the job.

So one day you quit cold.
"Take a leave of absence," says the kindly editor. But you were hot stuff, and couldn't do that. Had to be a real ass and go the poverty and angry landlord route.

Six months later, you come back with your tail between your knees, asking if you can even operate the snack bar at the magazine office.
"Give you some entertainment features you could do around here," says the old editor. But just for the summer!"

Ah, stories of little baton twirlers forced by their fathers to practise in the basement, hockey mouthguard on so as not have teeth knocked out by richochetting baton. Interviews with Canada's original hippie,who takes you out for a game of snooker and takes all your money.
Fun project like interviewing a troupe of topless-bettomles rollerskating wrestlers.

Still, at night, the novel.
"You picked a hard thing to be, baby," the wife is saying.
"Stay with entertainment writing."

So I did. But the magazine folded.
Shut down. Rotogravure advertising wasn't carryin the glossy maganie any more.
Technology lag.
Offset printing won the day.
But I myself was offset.
Suddenly knocked out of the business.
Too many enemies on the way up. Fastest mouth in town. "F*ck-off, garbagemouth. Can't you see I'm busy?"

Reduced to factory labour.
Intead of being called sir, it was now "Skipper".
Ah, but the call came.
As it always did.
Got my own column in TOPIC Magazine.

But my novels kept dying.

Felt like an Aspirin carricature in MAD Magazine. "Tradest thou a headache for an upset stomach?

"Loren," i said to my wife. I am a failure.
"I know, "she had said "But don' t vorry, Ivan.
"There is enough money in the family for all of us."

So I became rich.

Ah, surely there was some way to screw this up too.

Fools are ingenius?

A rock song is playing in my head. "Ever since my masochisti baby left me, I"ve got nothing to beat but the wall."

Now I write all night, hoping to get some of that old glamour back.

And, lawdy, lawdy.

I just had my first mental block.

The father-in-law's warning. "No intellectual work late at nigh. You won't live long."

A seventy-year-old rock critic?

Stranger things have happened. The Stones? Wild horses?

Wild horses. Yes. That's it.

The woods are polluted with them!

##

12 comments:

the walking man said...

"Wild horses. Yes. That's it.

The woods are polluted with them."

Fucking A.

mark

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Thanks, Mark.

benjibopper said...

oi. i felt this one. the obsession, the insecurity, the need to not only be perfect but to be noticed as being perfect. hard living indeed.

i think you might enjoy the novel 'teeth' by Hugh Gallagher, in which our hero's magazine goes under and cuts him loose from his precious identity as a writer, forces him to get to work on his manifesto, which is going nowhere at exactly his same rate. he was practically a kid when he wrote it but it's filled with a lifetime worth of angst and sarcasm.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ivan, you give a very good look at the Underbelly of striving for the writing dream. At one time I had dreams of giving up work to write full time, but the demands of family always outweighed that, and now I'm kind of glad I didn't. I still get my writing but I'm pretty much clear now at 49 that making a living solely as a writer is not in my cards.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Thanks, Benji.

I'll look up this Hugh Gallagher.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Ah well.

The social sciences are something like art.

Monique said...

He was right of course. Don't write in the evening. Take a rest, tomorrow it will still be there. Making a living of writing I can forget about too and I don't care. I have my loved one and my health and my colleagues and my job and my cats and my children and my everything else. How's facebook?

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Moique,

Yes, sometimes the samurai can go forth and come back badly cut up, maybe even an ear missing.

re Facebook.

Samurai thing again. I had been dealing with them, they seem to want my original email address, which is accessible anyway to my current email address; there is confusion all around and the last email from the supporte team was a blanket standard form that Facebook uses for general inquiries.
It is now not a team I'm dealing with, but some kind of mindless robot.

All this has put a serious ramp in things I want to do.
Seems I have baffled Facebook, or they have baffled me.

Perhaps it's my son's "fist", a kind of way he has set up my site.
I notice that when I give trusted friends access to my website http://www.creativewriting.ca, they cannot make changes such as deletions or addends to my blogs.
Everything seems in reverse.
...I guess with four novels in their entirety up on my web, there is a possiblity that Steve had to use ingenuity and his particular way has somehow begaffled Facebook, at least in my various email addresses.

Arg.

Donnetta Lee said...

Rock and roll. It's been an interesting trip to say the least. Keep on ridin'.
Donnetta

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Donnetta,

Durn mustangs almost threw me, but thanks for the encouragement.

Donsie said...

wow!!! So much power in your hands... to make or brake someone. Sounds like an amazing experience.

Late night work... Aggh who cares about sleep anyway...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Donsie,

I know late-night work can leave you feeling spacey in the morning, but it seems for me the best time to work!