Furious Eye

Month: July, 2012

Shut up Brain, or I’ll stab you with a Q-tip.

As many of the long-standing sufferers of my company will attest to, there is an appropriate Simpsons quote for any situation you find yourself in … ever. In fact there’s probably several. Indeed I can still dredge one up at a moment’s notice, and I haven’t watched a new episode of the show in a decade … at least1,2. If I’d been keeping up with the show over those last ten years or so, I’d probably be living in my own little Springfieldian nightmare … and nightmare it would be. I should know, I’ve been there … to the actual Springfield I mean, but more on that another day …

I doubt I am actually capable of counting high enough to cover the number of times I’ve said “hahaha that reminds me of this Simpsons episode” … This morning alone, I’ve been put in mind of at least half a dozen, probably more, I’m not sure, I get confused when I run out of fingers on one hand and have to move to the other. Unfortunately for me they have, one and all, been scenes in which Homer is arguing with his brain … or having it attempt to edumacate him.

“Aw, twenty dollars, I wanted a peanut.”

“Twenty dollars can buy lots of peanuts.”

“Explain how.”

“Money can be exchanged for goods and services.”

“Woohoo!”

And like my three-fingered counterpart, I too have been grubbing about under the couch, searching for a tasty morsel, another little nugget of plot to chew on. Unfortunately my twenty dollars doesn’t get me shit.

You can’t go and buy a good plot … or well, you probably can actually, but then you might as well go and buy someone else to write for you, in which case why fucking bother? So, I’m beating my head against the plot wall again. I’ve spent more time over the last week or so doing this than I have in a long while. That’s not to suggest that this is in any way an uncommon problem. Far from it, in fact. It’s a path I have not yet learnt to traverse, a fine line between giving a story’s plot enough consideration that it doesn’t read like it was written by a chicken with an extra chromosome, and over-thinking the fucking thing until continuing to write becomes like snorkelling in a sewage plant, where you can’t see shit for the amount of defecate your swimming through.

And it’s not helped by frequent bouts of psychosomatosis—I’m not even sure that word exists, or rather, I’m sure it doesn’t, but it’s what I mean, so I’m using it … or coining it even. For the last week or so, I’ve been living in a state of disrepair—and I don’t mean the sort of disrepair I was in yesterday morning, after having spent the night in Philly with a stereotypical I’m-Irish-I-can’t-fucking-get-drunk-but-I’ll-do-my-best-to-prove-myself-wrong Irishman, and his highly amusing, pregnant wife, who I can only assume looked on in horror as we consulted Dr Whisky … repeatedly. No, I mean the sort of disrepair where your brain, aggravated and disheartened by your/its inability to nut out the details of various plots you’re desperately trying to turn into an actual story, decides that it’s a great idea to convince your body that it feels like crap, and therefore the organism as a whole is justified in lying on the father-in-law’s fancy leather arm chair all day and staring blankly at a 55-inch television that’s playing re-runs of re-runs of Law & Order that said organism has already seen at least three times each.

Of course, there’s an argument that states the past five-odd weeks of deviation from my usual diet of rolled oats, salad, twigs and nuts, and the gluttonous consumption of bagels and meaty, cheesy things might have something to do with the state of disrepair also. But in all likelihood, that’s less a factor than the conspiracy my brain and my body are hatching to keep me firmly seated in my comfort zone (or, more accurately, my father-in-law’s), thus relieving my brain of having to do what it’s fucking told.

Now, I’m hardly alone in having a raging cluster-fuck of ideas, characters, and half-stories waging a lengthy war inside my skull. And I’m probably nowhere near the only Field Commander who refuses to give any of his word-troops a moment’s R&R, and as a result, they refuse to form ranks like they should … in fact, most of them have gone AWOL. The only reason I even know they’re still in there at all is because there’s only one way out (apart from an ice-pick or a Desert Eagle .50), and that’s by getting onto the page … which they’re blanket refusing to do.

You know—or you would if you had read my past rant about sheep and stuff— I don’t generally hold much with writing advice—because, you know, I’m better than … oh … right … yes … sorry. So sometimes also, you know, I’ll just go and read stuff, because I’m tired of beating my forehead to a bloody pulp against that plot wall. First stop, is usually the Profanity Prince of Pennsyltucky, because, well, he swears a lot, and he’s funny, as well as insightful, and hard working, and all that shit. And sometimes I’ll find my way elsewhere, and sometimes not, because I don’t really think writing advice gives you a fix for your writerly ailments, but like a fucking horoscope reading, or the tarot, or the runes, it casts your shit in a different light, and you already know the answer to all your problems anyway, you just have to find where you stashed it—which for me is usually somewhere in my pile of lacy, frilly undergarments—but different lights maybe confuse your brain momentarily, if you’re quick, that’ll give you the chance to sneak around the back of your brain and slip it one between the cheeks before it realises what’s going on.

I don’t know, I’m still trying on different solutions. Sooner or later, I guess, I’ll find the dress that fits nicely, and hopefully it’s one that complements my figure nicely, accentuates my curves in all the right places… of course, that might be easier done if I go back to the afore mentioned diet of twigs and seeds and shit… And if not, there’s always that backyard lobotomy option.

1. Not including the movie, which despite essentially just being a really long episode, doesn’t count. I do, however, reserve the right to quote from it whenever I can, especially if it involves Spiderpig.

2. In fact that’s no longer true. It was written a few days ago, and I just watched two new episodes—or at least ones I hadn’t seen before—a day or so later. No particularly good quotes were forthcoming though.

… and his men get all the crooks they’re after.

I‘m a great one for working in cafés. I’d hardly be unique in that amongst my writerly brethren (and sistren, ok, Jones?). There’s just nothing to induce the vomitous spread of words across the page like the mass-consumption of caffeine – or the consumption of mass-caffeine? – and watching people intently without them having any clue they’re on display. It’s easier to be surreptitious about this in the pub, of course, what with the narrow field of vision provided by beer goggles, but it’s easier also to go from healthily indulging my voyeurism, to become a leering, slobbering specimen of some of the finer tendencies of the male species.

Note to self: Don’t sit in the pub on your Tod, and think that you’re being subtle.

Anyway, people-watching aside, the anonymity of public spaces is great for ignoring and being ignored, for hammering out a few thousand words. It’s an interesting contrast to working at home, where a single other person in the house… at the far end of the house… making no more noise than a fart in someone else’s spacesuit, will wreak absolute destruction on your ability to concentrate… to say nothing of a single other person in the house who cannot work out that it’s fucking impossible to pay attention to the television when they insist on standing by and talking incessantly, let alone a piece of fiction you are attempting to work on.

Thus I have, of late, in my confinement to the summery land of pizza, firecrackers and better, cheaper beer – it’s fucking tough, I know – taken to escaping the interjections and the constantly running diatribe of Fox “News” and working in a particular café. It is usually (as above) a perfect environment in which to get shit done. Unfortunately, that environment has suffered some degree of degradation over the last few days.

In fear of the massive increase in bigoted epithets that surely afflicted Fox on 4th of July, I made my escape nice and early. I’ve been in the US for the national birthday before… once… I knew what to expect… flags and tears and well wishing and all that…

– Insert something about the mother of all fuck ups here –

Jesus Christ! I’m all for patriotism, and even American patriotism – it tends to be a little overt and flag-wavy for my tastes, though fuck, at least it’s a little less exclusionary than Arsetralia Day’s flag fascination tends to be – I’m even all good with patriotic songs, though my preference would be for jumbucks and billabongs rather than Yankee Doodles, but this was like being run over by a fucking ticker tape parade.

I should have taken the hint, I should have just turned around, abandoned any hope of work, of people watching, of subtlety, and gone straight for the ample supply of distilled and fermented grains. I did not. I was stubborn enough to sit through well over two hours of rampant, high volume, musical Americana – and not that most excellent, deep south, twangy, bluesy Americana neither.

Subsequently, I’ve spent the last three days with the theme song for Roger Ramjet stuck in my fucking head.

And down at the café things haven’t really improved. There must have been something of an ebb, prior to the 4th, in the flood of teenagers with nothing better to do with their summer than hang out in the café and simulate Ramjet’s Proton Energy Pills with hefty doses of caffeine their underdeveloped little bodies neither need nor are able to cope with, because the tide-line is way above my ears, and doesn’t look to be going down any time soon. What ever happened to trying to find some dodgy old Noodles Romanoff to buy some booze for you, or raiding the older sibling’s stash of ganja and fucking off somewhere where the adults wouldn’t find you?

I begin to wonder if Australia’s various civil-liberty-suppression groups introduced all those anti-loitering/crowd-dispersal laws, not to fuck with perfectly legal and legitimate protest groups, or get rid of all those unsightly people wearing hoodies in our public spaces, but to allow for a little peace and quiet in places where little people like to hang out in groups of more than one.