Thursday, November 20, 2008

Farting and tap-dancing....Again

I am getting a lot of hits, even now on this old blog, so I think I'll brush it up and try it again.

The only thing I have in common with old Willie S. is that he said you can turn old gilt into new.

So would you take some old gelt from this epsilon semi-kraut?


A story is told, in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, of a little alien who communicated great danger by farting and tap-dancing.

He lands on a golf course frequented by redneck businessmen and is soon dispatched with a nine-iron.

Ah, how many of us are farting and tap-dancing these days.

So many budding authors waiting for The Call, the telephone message, the fax, the e-mail.

I fear I am one of them. Three million words in print and one novel jammed into the nervous system of a company that seems more into political correctness than literature...I have a sneaking notion that all fiction is politics in Canada. Poltics to get the grant, politics about being angry only about government-approved things, i.e., AIDS, the shoddy way we treat women, novels of reverse utopias set in the future usually better done by William Burgess or even John Updike. We have no imagination, it seems, but these are our novels, our Canadian novels, we with the garrison mentality (Damn Frenchies will come any day now to get their country back).

And yet, even when you produce government-approved second-rate work, there is some skill required, some bragging rights once the book is out, air time, you might get on CBC and CPAC and bore the hell out of everybody.

I have been waiting for a year now.

Friendly notes. One is advised to be patient. And all the while the AIDS and ANTI-SMOKING crowd is coming out with all sorts of titles. And they are from the publishing house you'd sent your novel to.... Those evil pharmaceutical companies, those demon tobacco giants. Everybody is making a fine living, and probably sneaking a smoke or a hooker, female or male, during the lavish food fests.

And we marginal writers still harbor the naive notion that if you speak from the heart, you will be heard.

The heart is left to the Health Care crowd and Howard Healthcare is fast beconing its prime novelist.

The rest of us dangle.

Dangling man.

Dangling woman.

How fingernail-on-the-blackboard a feeling. Either/or. Fame or nothin'. Heisenberg Uncertainty principle.

Well, myself being so old that I distinctly remember the fall of Rome, I've had it happen before.

A disastrous attempt at local politics had left me fired from two prime writing jobs (There are Masters and they don't like what you're saying) and working in a wood shop, my apartment consisting of a berth under the saw machine...The sawdust kept one warm....yeah, yeah, I know...mawkish, Dickensian.

The call came to my boss in his glass-ronted perch above the machines.

"Come on up, Ivan. I want to talk to you."

Uh-oh. Fired again.

But no. This was Hollywood.

This was The Call.

"It's Moira Dann. Globe and Mail. She likes your first-person essay.

The contract came in through the fax (so lucky the boss had a fax) and uh, the cheque was in the mail.

Sweet Jesus Christ. One million readers!

I had to do even better than this. I had to write another novel.

I now had a real friend in a real publishing world.

Sent Moira the part-novel. Nothing.

Nothing again three months later.

I checked out a proper publishing house and sent them the outline.


Hemingway: Y nada Y nada Y pues nada.

This is bullshit, I decide and immediately invest in a computer and run the damn thing off myself.

Luck. Another website picks it up and the book was, sort-of, published.

In the middle of all this, I set up a Creative Writing programme all by myself, actually putting up a shingle. "Put a Doctor in front of your name, one girlfriend advised.

It worked.

Soon I was making money, albeit on the backs of my poor students, largely seniors with time and money on their hands.

So many had so many good novels, but they would, some of them die before actual publication.

This tended to scare the hell out of me. A completed novel by 74, you are about to submit and you die.

"I am a failure, one old gent is lamenting on his deathbed.

I am an ogre, I say to myself, assuring the poor old writer that he had in fact reached me. He had reached another person. Yes you did, Mr. Maxwell. You can die with some comfort.

The dying and crying soon got to me.

I may well end up like poor old Bill Maxwell and die unpublished, or, at least, not published widely.

So I invested in this old computer, hoping Google at least would pick me up.

Google scoops up everything.

My poor novels are up and listed.

But I fear I'm still farting and tap-dancing.




Charles Gramlich said...

If you speak from the heart you'll probably be laughed at. Unless someone can make money off you. Then they'll still laugh but just not to your face. said...

There's much to that, Charles.

Better a craftsman of writing, I suppose.

Kimberly A. Suta said...

I would love for your blog to be a part of – the world’s first blog-to-film competition. It’s free! All u do is link this blog to for a chance to win 2,000!

– Kimberly (co-creator) said...

Thank you, Kimberly 'A. Suta.

I am experiencing severe browswer problems at this time, and I can't quite hold up this end.
Computer will be fixed by Christmas ( I hope) and we can move on.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Kurt Vonnegut Jr. when I was in college. Funny guy. As for BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, didn't really care for it, not even the cheesy asterik/star drawing that depicted what an asshole looks like.

Hey, did you know you could win 2,000 donuts at said...


That a heads up?

I was expecting Amway or something.

Sorry you didn't BREAKFAST, though you obviously liked the man

He did at first produce a series of
deep novels, but like Mordecai Richler here in Canada,satire and homour seemed to work much better.

Well, I'm a two-way man.

Yellow submarine can go up or down. Manic-depressive.
...Sometimes think this is the first requirement for a writer, certinly Brian Moore when he produced the Masterpiece The Third Man.
He confessed to being mad.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

How sad that we are so mean to one another.

soft love,

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

How sad that we are so mean to one another.

soft love,

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

How sad that we are so mean to one another.

soft love,

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

good grief it pasted me apologies. said...


No problem, Tara.

Fills the old comment space. :)

eric1313 said...

Hey Ivan

Fartiste numero uno here to let you know that your failure would be my crowning dream of success.

eric1313 said...

So if you don't like it, hand over that there crown of shit and plop it on my mellon, thank you very much!

eric1313 said...

Look at me! I'm spamming Ivan's comment section!


Did you know you can win 2000 used rubbers from blog4reel? ewwww!!!!


OK, seriously. I like the post, as always. Your writing here captures what you said to JR above: That people appreciate humor and satire more than they do what comes from the heart.

But you, Ivan, your satire and humor (humour?) does come from the heart. Yes, I will accept no alternative argument as to the origin of your words. They are too meaningful to be farts and too hilarious to be a Fred Astaire tap dance act.

So keep doing it.

I hope the quarks are still active and writing. Best wishes to all. said...



Some of the Quarks are on hiatus, but they're pretty active in emails back and forth to the mother ship, which is either Josie or me.
Josie is restructuring,Liz is writing a book, Donnetta still has her regular Friday 55-worder, Pam is trying to flog my poor work in Australia.
Everybody should have a brace of Quarks. said...


To my mind, you are the cleverest, most literary dude out there in blogland.

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