Thursday, September 29, 2011

Queensland driving lesson

I have long suspect that hooning, i.e. street racing, pealing out or driving like an idiot is not only legal but mandatory in Queensland. This conversation came to mind this morning after I saw this car go by with the car's name smartly painted on the door panel just above the trim-lights.

“May I see your license sir?”
“Certainly constable. Was I doing something wrong?”
“You are aware of the hooning laws in Queensland?”
“Why I wasn't speeding or anything. I was going 5k under the posted speed.”
“That is exactly what I am talking about.”
“You mean I am supposed hoon? Drag race down main street?”
“Especially in the school zones.”
“Fish tails and doughnuts?”
“The more tire smoke, the better.”
“But that just seems wrong.”
“It's the law sir. I will have to write you a ticket.”
“But I didn't know I was doing anything wrong.”
“Ignorance of the law is no excuse. You do have a Queensland drivers license. What is the name of your car sir?”
“Like Holden?”
“No, like 'Eat My Dust' or 'Lil Speed Demon'. For the ticket I need to know the name of your car. It should be clearly displayed on or under the drivers door panel.”
“I didn't know my car needed a name.”
“An unnamed car is in violation of local motor vehicle law. Your car also appears to be unmodified, is that true?”
“Oh yes, my car is as pristine as it was on the show room floor.”
“Unmodified vehicles are not considered roadworthy in Queensland.”
“What should I do?”
“You will need to have your car towed to a local mechanic to affect repairs.”
“What kind of repairs?”
“You will need rims, high performance mufflers, shocks and window tinting. I would also recommend you have the engine bored and a nitrous tank installed just to keep you out of further trouble.”
“It sounds expensive.”
“If you are on the dole, the government will pay for the modifications out of your hoon allowance. Except the window tinting.”
“Why not window tinting?”
“The tinters didn't have enough money to bribe the MPs.”
“People accept bribes here?”
“How else do you get things done?”
“It sounds screwy.”
“Sir, have you had anything to drink today?”
“Oh no. I never drive after drinking alcohol.”
“I was afraid of that. Please step out of the car sir.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Depression, Mania and Novel Writing

People think of bipolar disorder as a bad thing. Well, maybe it would be an improvement over depression. No doubt I would jump at the chance to be irrationally happy about something. Writing a novel can be lonely, depressing work.
When you think about it, how does the human race go on without some mania in the mix? If everyone were completely logical, would they have taken the risks people took for air travel, space travel or jump rope? And what about enthusiasm? Isn't enthusiasm just a bit of hypomania anyway? For that matter, what about optimism?
I stipulate that sometimes we need some irrational hope or false optimism. A touch of mania here and there to keep us going when we have the urge to quit, to give us hope when things are down.
In fact, I further suggest that a degree of mania is required to be a starting writer. When you are a first time novelist, you know vaguely what the end product should look like; an idea turned into a book with beautiful sentences which people want to read. You don't know what the road to this goal will be like nor do you have any idea if anyone will actually want to read your book a-priori.
Consider that 95% of novels never make it to publication. It takes either a lot of conceit or a lot of self confidence to sit down, write a book, and think that anyone will want to read it. What is self confidence after all, but the rational self assurance, based upon previous achievement, that you have the skills to finish the job and finish it well. Any belief beyond that is irrational or should I say some kind of mania?
Does success have no other definition than to sell your novel? You work on this novel for a year or three, mostly without feedback. The grade is either pass or fail. You have a 5% chance of passing. Add to that the capricious nature of the publishing industry where good writing can be rejected and bad writing can be put upon a pedestal. Admit it, you have seen it!
So I say, you should be fitted for a straight jacket if you presume to set out to be a successful, published author.
Where does that leave us? Well, there is evidence which suggests that persistence, more than any other ability, produces successful authors. In the face of the odds, what is persistence here but an irrational belief that you will succeed. A mania, a faith, an unreasonable notion that you will produce a novel worthy of publication. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Writer's WRage!

Recipe for Writers' Wrage

Mix 2 bushels of frustration with 1 peck of raw irritation. Simmer until it smells unpleasant.

Slowly stir in a handful of isolation

Add, alternating, massive amounts of self doubt with freshly scaled floundering. Mix until scabrous between each addition

Simmer until unbearable, skimming off any bits of hope which may float to the top

Take a sack full of recriminations and whip until bleeding. Fold into other ingredients and slowly grind until you stare out the window in apathy.

Take resulting mixture and push into casings made from bitter inner voice.

Basting with pity, bake in a lack of measurable success for 12 months or until entire thing explodes.

Serve on a bed of shredded self esteem; garnish with wilted ego.