July 2009

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 744.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 159.
  • warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/modules/node/views_handler_argument_dates_various.inc on line 72.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 24.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/standing/public_html/sites/all/themes/STP/node.tpl.php on line 7.

A Room of One's Own

I do love the concept of a writer flourishing with merely a modest wage and a Room of Her Own. It's a lovely idea, and it's true, of course. 

 

However, I believe it could be more true.

 

5 Proposed Requirements to be added to the List of Things Writers Need In Order To Write Without Hinderance:

 

1. Interesting stationery. Whether it's a pen, a new computer program, a spunky little notebook, or even a pencil sharpener that renders a pencil more pleasing to use: as a writer, I am much more productive when I am interested in the media/process. If this implies that I am not interested, while writing, in the outcome, and that in fact the outcome (my own writing) bores me almost beyond comprehension, then I can only apologise for this appalling misrepresentation.

 

2. Copious amounts of food. Again, the more novelty value the food has ("Ooooh! Cheese wheels with pictures of cartoon animals on them that are obviously designed for children's lunchboxes!") the more one can be convinced that a cheese-wheel is as good as a holiday and one doesn't need to go outside and rediscover the real world. 

 

3. A butler. Preferably one who doesn't think "I know! I'll make a cup of tea!" and then promptly forget this original intention and emerge, two hours later, having de-iced the freezer with a butter knife and cleaned the floor with the aid of a toothbrush.

 

4. Access to all media - internet, television, radio, books - but only (and perhaps this is a bit Harry Potter, but surely someone can have it arranged) after a series of tests verifying a real and urgent need to be informed, as opposed to a perceived real and urgent need, these things not necessarily being distinguishable during the process of writing.

 

5. A trampoline. I am of the opinion that brief periods of trampolining during one's writing day would solve many of the problems associated with sitting still in the one place, thinking about the one thing, and going completely mental due to lack of stimulus.

 

The sooner these proposals are introduced into some kind of legislation, the better for the state of the nation.

The Dramatic Timing of Life

Life has dramatic timing. Don't you think? It's tragic and vile and wonderful and funny and bland and confusing and then every now and then it raises its eyebrow at you and reminds you who's in charge.

 

I've had a few writing deadlines lately. One of them is this week. Usually, at about this point, my entire hard drive packs it in. That's happened two or three times now. Life, leaning back in its chair, shrugs sagely at me, as if to say, "Come on. I had to. You didn't back up your work! I mean, sure, you did, but that was before you wrote those extra specially good bits, in which you were so engrossed that you forgot to back them up, right? I mean, that's gorgeously dramatic. That's the perfect moment. It's almost ironic. I'd be letting down the team if I didn't swoop in and take advantage of your vulnerability there. You understand, right? You'd do the same."

 

And so I would. If I were Life, I'd do the same. Nobody likes a boring film where nothing happens to the main characters and nobody learns any lessons. If someone in a fim wrote something and got it in by the deadline without incident, or at the very least a montage of their lonely industry, staying up late and throwing scrunched-up paper towards (but never into) a waste paper basket, then who would care?
 

This week was a tiny blip on the grid, drama-wise. This isn't a main character dying, or a marriage being rent in twain due to the interference of a foxy Special Guest with ties to somebody's dark past. This is more like the level of drama that happens in a Seinfeld episode. But it has raised, for me, once again, the superiority of Life as an auteur with a fine command over genre.

 

On Monday, I became afflicted with the sore-throaty-sleepy-cough-coughy type of illness that doctors cheerily diagnose as "a virus" before telling you to get some lozenges and be on your way. I have subsequently spent the previous three days wondering things like "What's a sneeze FOR anyway?" and "Tonsils, eh? What are they playing at?" just as Life, I suspect, intended. And well within the Seinfeld trope.

 

The times when Life has been more dramatic, or less dramatic and more humorous, I have been less introspective about this "Life as artist" idea and more, you know, furious. This time, though, I have merely sat back and contemplated the beauty of a genius in action. And I've also googled "What are tonsils for?" Deliciously, they are described (here) as "infection fighting balls", or, to be more structured about it, the police force employed by the throat.

 

So Life has taught me something this week, for which I applaud it, although I do not appreciate the fact that the next few days are going to involve a lot of paper-scrunching.

Time Racism: the scourge of contemporary writing

So I guess I should admit now what I should have admitted in my previous post, which was written A BILLION YEARS AGO and is now of interest to anthropologists on account of what it suggests about ancient civilisations/use of language/eating habits etc.

 

I admit this: I am too busy at the moment. I am so busy that one of my closest friends ever in the world is having a baby in, like, half an hour, and I have seen her maybe twice since she found out she was pregnant. Being one of my closest friends ever in the world, she has not cut me off, been snitchy, or set fire to a paperbag with poo in it and posted it through my front door. She has in fact been entirely lovely and has introduced the provision of excellent cupcakes into the relationship as an added bonus.

 

But I have to be careful. I have to try not to say yes to things I might not be able to make. This weekend, Stew and I booked a flight to Sydney on the same day of the actual flight and rearranged our weekends at the last minute just so we could get a few meetings with Rita etc out of the way and get back to Melbourne today. It was all entirely worth doing and I have no idea how we would have done without it, but I had to cancel lunch with a friend I haven't seen for months, whose company I enjoy a great deal.

 

So I have become much better at managing my own expectations of myself, and the expectations others have of me. Today though, it all fell away. I was supposed to meet someone. I got the time wrong. She called after waiting for me, on the other side of town, for 20 minutes. I was about to leave the house. I just got it wrong. I wrote down the original time, not the altered time. I thought I might die of shame.

 

Writing is so hard to manage. It's solitary, it depends on you being in the right mood, in the right environment. It needs to be finished on time, but it also needs to be good. So you divide your other time around it, and that "other" time becomes like a whole other continent, foreign and distant and sometimes a bit scary or threatening. You can become, to extend the metaphor, a teensy bit racist. You resent the other time, you become afraid of it and over-sensitive and thin-skinned.

 

So there. Those are my admissions.

 

1. I'm too busy.

2. I'm a time racist.

 

I'm not proud of either of these things. I am hoping they will both cease to be true, certainly as much as they are now, and hopefully I will one day meet my friend's baby. Not, I hope, at the baby's twenty-first birthday party. I also hope to meet the abovementioned friend-of-a-friend, provided I can look her in the eye without wanting to defenestrate myself in horror at my own inadequacies as a human being.

 

In the meantime, I will try to love the complex relationship I have with the limited non-writing-time I experience, and hopefully the time-racism will lead to a mutual respect and I will learn to love again. Although I would like it noted in the minutes of this Time-Racist-Annonymous Meeting that I will never, ever love the hours between 4am and 9am. Under no circuspants.