Urgh, Writing: ‘to write the same way that you… are!’

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I saw this the other day on Shabby Dollhouse and it was one of those perfect moments. I started writing creative non-fiction memoir stuff on this blog kind of by accident, but it wasn’t until Ben Jenkins asked me to read a story at Story Club years ago, that I realised how much that type of writing suited me. Apart from the fact it is ABOUT me, it’s also the kind of writing which best expresses how the interior of my brain works – all seemingly random connections and memories of weird things.

Lately, inspired by the kind of stuff I’ve been seeing on Shabby Dollhouse and other great internet lit journals, I’ve been trying my hand at non-fiction microfictions/ flash fictions or whatever they’re called. The beauty about these Curriculum Worstae pieces is that they’re meant to live in Facebook statuses. Not only are they actually fun to write, but I’m getting to the point where I start to think in terms of that medium, structuring a story in miniature. And it’s also great because a lot of stupid things that have happened to me aren’t really deserving of anything more than 200 words, they can’t be contextualised into a larger concept, a larger narrative except for maybe ‘things that happened’.

A lot of people I’ve been reading lately who are experimenting with creat. non.fic are not only engaging with theme and tone, but also structure and presentation. It’s really, really interesting how the kind of experimentation often reserved for poems has made its way into presentation of prose. A lot of this takes the form of a literal interpretation of Ginsberg’s above quote, trying not just to imitate ‘speech’ or ‘stream of consciousness’ like we’re used to, but more common and contemporary forms of communication like txt speech, etc. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to embrace misspellings or leaving mistypes or grammatical errors in the text – but it would also be disingenuous of me to try, because it’s literally the opposite of how my brain works. When I speak, I am subconsciously spelling each word – when I ask for a person’s name, I need to know how it is spelled, because that’s the only way I’ll ever remember it. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the stuff OTHER people are writing. I get it, I’ve been on a chatty room.

Anyway, one of the few things I’ve learnt for certain about writing is that you learn the same lessons over and over again, so quotes from people like Ginsberg on writing the way that you are will mean so much to you and be relevant again and again, in different ways, and will follow your writing as you develop and unlock new meanings and it’s great.

*SIDE NOTE: I’m a big fan of the beats, and there are SOOOOOO many correlations between the alt-lit ‘movement’ and the Beats, and they are seriously getting almost EXACTLY the same criticisms, from the more established movements, from other artists accusing it of being nothing more than a ‘clique’. Lit movements are cliques, but the reason it’s a movement and not a club is that the message behind the content is transferable and will last longer than the spotlight on the personality of authors, which even then I’m not against. Authors are interesting people, I’m interested in them. Oh my god, I am so tired, I haven’t slept all night, this is an incoherent rant, is it not?

Lessons

Be yourself.
THE STARS:
The other day when exiting the cinema after seeing The Avengers, I heard a lady ask her three children if they could identify the moral of the movie.
“And what lesson did we learn from that?” she asked indulgently, her laser eyes flickering through the developing intellects of her children, desperately seeking to eliminate spiritual flaws. The faces of the children fell. ‘Um… friendship?’ ventured one. I think he was right.
A better answer would have been to bellow furiously ‘IT WAS SHITTING AWESOME, MUM! BLAAAAAARGH’ and jump from the roof of the carpark and destroy a bunch of cars or something.
If being unutterably lame was a superpower, then that Mum would have had a place reserved in the Avengers. Because, instead of allowing her child to get away with a perfectly plausible answer to a stupid question, she had to flex her lame muscles and provide her own moral for the Avengers.
‘Well, I think they learnt that it’s important to think about others.’
FRIENDSHIP
LACK OF STARS:
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t have kids, so if I accidentally give child-rearing tips in the stream of consciousness barrage that is this blog, you’re probably better off ignoring them. Then again, I used to be a kid, and then I grew out of it – which I believe means that I won childhood. But if I ever have to raise womb invaders, I’m not sure I would be so vehement about discovering lessons or morals in things. Much like Santa, this is a concept that the child will eventually learn is utter ballbags, and the world will be much harder to deal with from then on. Wouldn’t it be better to for that Mum to have come out and say
‘Gee fucking whiz, that Joss Whedon can write dialogue like a superstar.’
And the kids clamour around her like bats around a hysterical 60′s era starlet with big hair, and ask ‘But what was the lesson, mama. The moral?’
And she thinks about it, lights a cigarette and takes a swig from her flask of awesome and says -
‘I think the moral of the Avengers was that sometimes things happen, and people have to do something about it. And it doesn’t really mean much, except that it’s cool when Thor hits things and funny when the Hulk does.’
And instead of growing up in a world where they look for ethical guidance from the random chaos around them, they learn to enjoy the meaningless, like when Mark Ruffalo goes mad or Scarlett Johansen wears leather.
The lesson you should get from this article, is that if you haven’t seen The Avengers, you really should before some jerk spoils it, like I almost did in this article.
THE SCORE:
1.5/5 stars

Advertising

The act of convincing people to buy your things.

THE STARS:

A dear friend reminded me of this story the other night, which is probably the pinnacle of my career in minor retail heroics.

Now, you don’t have to convince me of the effectiveness of advertising ploys. I succumb about once a day, and it’s only my borderline poverty that allows me to escape with a thousand trinkets, cleaning products and books stapled to my weeping face. But that doesn’t stop people from misusing the awesome power of advertising.

Case in point – at this particular stage in my Odyssean retail airport journey, I was working in the wine section of the store. This particular night was a late shift about mid year, when on average we would be lucky to get fifty customers after about 6pm. So what this could either mean was a bunch of standing around and looking at wine bottles (surprisingly fun) or if a motivated manager was on, cleaning and pretending to look busy.

At this point in time, we had one of our interminable and confusing special promo/advertising campaigns going. In order to somehow clarify the deal – Buy three (3) bottles of wine or one (1) bottles of spirits and over thirty dollars ($30) of perfume, receive ten percent (10%) off your next purchase.

WHAT A DEAL!

And how we advertised this was a little blue label that hung over the neck of a bottle of alcohol or perfume. The team leader who was on that night decided that instead of having the labels hanging off every other bottle in the store, we had to put it on EVERY. SINGLE. BOTTLE.

If you don’t immediately grasp why that’s the dumbest thing ever, let me draw you two pictures.

BEFORE

Discovered today – I can’t draw wine bottles.
AFTER
Hello sir, do you sell wine in your label store by any chance? 

So, after doing this, I looked around at the sheer madness I’d been forced to perpetuate, and decided that I would perhaps illustrate the absurdity of this a little more. So I then hung the rest of the labels on my own body, off my ears, off my buttons, on each of my fingers. I then stood still and blended into the sea of blue, ridiculous advertising.

When the team leader came back about an hour later, she looked around in a satisfied way for a while before noticing me, the retail chameleon. To her credit, she didn’t fire me.

LACK OF STARS:

However the store remained like that. My moment of rebellion passed unsuccessfully.
However when the store managers came in the next day, they quickly came down.

THE STARS:

1.5/5 stars. Why? I dunno.

Insomnia

When there is no logical reason why you’re up this early on a Saturday morning, but you’re so bored with your own inner monologue and have been awake all night.
THE STARS:
So I started off with a two hour hypothetical about which of the characters from Seinfeld would last longest in a zombie apocalypse. I won’t bore you with the details, but after being firmly in the Elaine team, I decided to go with Jerry. He is the protagonist, after all.
I then started panicking because I realised if Michael Bay approached me and asked me to pitch the trashiest film concept that I could think of, I wasn’t automatically prepared. 
Therefore I came up with two ideas:
Twi-Bot
*SIGH* I KEEP TELLING YOU HUMAN, I AM A TRANSFORMING
MOBILE BLOOD UNIT. THAT FIGHTS CRIME.
Turtle-Wizards… who race!
This summer, when sometimes the smallest packages hold the biggest surprises
and the true journey lies within us all. Turtles.
LACK OF STARS:
At the beginning of the night, I had ‘Terrible Love’ by The National stuck in my head, which I’ve been enjoying the wuthering shit out of. The lyrics devolved from ‘It’s a terrible love and I’m walking with spiders’ which is strange enough I suppose, to ‘It’s a terrible love because she’s made out of spiders.’ Which while giving me an amusing image, became a really annoying cycling set of lyrics. Over and over. So I desperately endeavoured to move on to the next song on the album (in my head, remember), aptly named ‘Sorrow’ and I realised I couldn’t remember any of the lyrics, just an old man’s gummy humming version of it. Eventually, however, I got the lyrics ‘cover me in Reagan bones’ to circulate through the old noggin.
The original hipster.

 Finally, through puffy, slitted, hateful eyes, I watched dawn seep inexorably through my curtains, the slow morning proctologist. And now I type away, knowing that I have work in an hour.

I AM INEXORABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE STARS:

I’m giving this insomnia two stars for being mildly amusing. Usually I just lie awake thinking of my problems! Lame. Then again, I haven’t even been to work yet, so I’m assuming this bout will just get worse and worse. Ok. Deducting another half for fearful expectations.

1.5/5 stars

Oprah

Corpulently wealthy day time television talk show host with more followers than Jesus.

STARS

1 Star: Not Hitler
If my maths is correct, and it usually isn’t, it would be impossible for Oprah to be the reincarnation of Hitler. On that note, it’s unlikely that an incredibly aged Hitler took refuge in the persona of a talk show host. Then again, it’s just so crazy it might work. But until further… or fuhrer evidence comes forth, I’m going to give Oprah one star for not being Hitler.
½ Stars: There’s something under your seat

Oprah’s patented hidden seat giveaways have imbued me with a childlike sense of wonder and optimism every time I sit down. However, I’m only going to award half a star for this, because as of yet, my under-seat explorations have revealed only gummy disappointment.
LACK OF STARS

A little tip for anybody trying to get into my good books. I’m not a fan of applause. I really hate being forced to clap, and I get teeth grindingly upset when things progress into hooting and hollering. The Oprah show seems to revolve completely around caterwauling and spectacle, which I simply cannot abide. Give me a show that greets the kind of exuberant histrionics that Oprah employs day to day with stony silence, spiced perhaps with a dignified sniff or two.

Now THAT’S a talkshow host I could get behind. “And today we consider emotions – useless fripperies or necessary evils.”