Sunday, May 03, 2009

Occupation - waiter

Pretty much all I do, these days. If nighttime, I wait for the sun to come up. If daytime, I wait for sleep. Every fortnight, I wait for the bank balance to show some life. Wait two or three days for some life in the batteries so can turn on computer (nah, that's being a bit overly dramatic - and, as you'll see in a later post, somewhat untrue.) Can't think of anything to write .. well, also not true – there is TOO MUCH stuff that I want to write about; added to the fact that have been reading some very excellent examples of the “writer's art”, so have been putting things off and hoping “excellence” suddenly and magically appears on the blank page in front of me. This hope, of course, is absolute crap.

Once upon a long time ago, I attended a TAFE “creative writing” course and the subject of “writer's block” came up. The tutor said “easily solved. Just pick up a pencil (or turn on the computer, take the cover off the typewriter) and start writing. Doesn't matter what, just write”. So, this is what am doing. Under other circumstances .. or if I wanted to make sense .. there is always the “hard work” of editing, re-writing, re-writing again. However, since this blog is a sort of “workshop” cum, “notes to myself” cum “letters to friends” cum “am still alive, folks” without any sense or standard of “reliability” will just keep tickering away at the keyboard this morning and see what happens.

This post is also partly prompted by reading a biography of Clive Cussler. Not that want to use Clive Cussler as an example of literary excellence – since have always thought that his plots, storylines and characters are far too “unbelievable” - but he IS popular (and apparently very rich). It was interesting to note that he began his career when a “successful” (if erratic) advertising exec, and used the principles of “market research” and “salesmanship” to formulate his “style”. Anyway, that is sort of beside the point. Am really only mentioning it here since he says that he frequently has not the slightest idea of the plot or storyline when he begins – and frequently uses the “What if?” as a driver when he gets stuck.

Sort of happened to me when at the TAFE course. Was writing a 3000 word “short story” as an exercise, got about 1000 words in .. then clagged. However, remembered the tutor's advice and “kept writing”. Sort of 'shit, what happens next, can't think of a bloddy thing. This is bloody ridiculous. They got in the car and .. where did they go ??? What did they do???? Oh ...' and the story continued. That bit was edited out, of course, and no, nobody will get to read the Ms. Was rejected four times then given a dustbin sort of death. Er, no, think that I used it to light the fire one cold and wintry night in Melbourne some 20 years ago. Haven't tackled a “sensible” short story since then. I don't handle “rejection” very well .. heh.

Where am I going with all this? Er, dunno, yet, but while am on the 'early works' bit, will make mention of another fascinating book that have recently read. “Fleet Destroyer” (first published in 1961). It is, methinks, 'badly written'. Stylistically dreadful, but with many flashes of “promise”. It is, however, the FIRST book by J.E Macdonnell. Once again, as in the case with Clive Cussler's first two “novels” would never have seen the light of a publisher's imprint if these guys had not “kept writing” and developed a style and experience that made them “household names”.

OK, J.E. Macdonnell isn't quite as “famous” as C. Cussler, since he writes with a “quiet authority” using “real” characters” within “believable” situations. Having read several of J.E.M's 43 novels it was with some surprise to be reminded that he is an “Australian”. “Fleet Destroyer” is a sort of “enhanced” record of his experiences onboard a brand new RAN destroyer written “at sea. May 1944”

There is also another fiction novel that have just read, “The Malpas Legacy” by Sam Llewellyn. Gah! Too Brilliant. Deep, dense writing. Wonderfully quirky, but believable characters. The “dark secrets” of a crumbling mansion in Ireland. Timescale spanning back and forth over 90 years. How DO these people do it?? Not only that, he has twelve other novels listed on the frontispiece, and six for children. Bloody off-putting, but know that if I see his name on the spine of a book in an op-shop or library somewhere, that'll be a first choice.

Um, just had a sudden thought. What makes me think one novel – or piece of writing - is “more excellent” than another? Dunno; or haven't really thought seriously about it. Must do that.

Funny, really .. would I like to be an author? Umm. Should have thought seriously about that 40 years ago. Getting a bit late, now. Often think that I'd be a better “editor” or “critic” than writer. More “opinionated” than skilful .. heh. Those who can, write; those who can't, criticise.


Vincent said...

You have proved the point of that writing course, in my opinion, Davo, by just writing: for what comes through is the precise opposite of your starting premise - that you are doing nothing but wait. (Reminds me of an English sitcom set in an old people's home, called "Waiting for God"). What your piece shows is your sense of interest and wonder in life and literature, making it a damn good blog read, and clearly fun to write too.

Sometimes I think of writing book reviews, DVD reviews. I do sometimes, but the "life review" is best, for both writer and reader, I think: in this genre called blogging.

John L said...

Thanks for the tip!

Neil said...

I agree you've managed to prove the point made by that writing course! You've also encouraged me to keep an eye out for "The Malpas Legacy".

Davo said...

Vincent; have, oddly enough, just re-read your post Art/Nature on Wayfarer and there's a curious parallel between the two posts - though wasn't consciously aware of it at the time I wrote this one.

Neil, if you love "Well crafted" writing, you'll love "Malpas Legacy". 471 pages. Has more levels than a Sydney skyscraper.

Vincent said...

One of the beauties of blogging, Davo, is that we can influence and be influenced by one another, across the oceans, and if one person only in the entire world is affected (apart from the author) then it's all worth while. It extends our reach and scope; and through influence we help shape the entire universe of which we are a part.

Davo said...

It extends our reach and scope; and through influence we help shape the entire universe of which we are a part.Er, That sounds a bit ambitious, Vincent - but yes, dunno where I'd be without my little USB wireless modem .. heh. Nobody else here to bounce ideas off.

Davo said...

Neil, Vincent .. there is, within that enjoyable "mystery" novel; a recurrent, fascinating "clue" to the writer's art. Won't tell you what it is. Read the book. Woke one morning at 4am about four days after I'd read it ..OMG, I thought.

Anne Johnson said...

I can't tell you how often I wished I could come up with these plotlines that make bestsellers happen. I'll read a book, and I'll think, "How did the author think this one up?" I can't do it. Ah well, it's more fun being a reader than a writer.