Jul 21, 2005

We've been ratted out, boys!

Beat it, scram outta here, and regroup at West 45th and Congress. Get woid to Jimmy "The Knuckles" Wyckowski that we'll need all his boys for a little visit.

Sylvain, you busted me. *grin* One of the most difficult things about playing internet pranks is that you can't use expressions, tones of voice, or any of the thousand and one other tiny, near unconscious facial and physical clues that people pick up on to believe that you're sincere and not selling them a dead fish as a diamond ring. And no, it was nothing harmful, just in case you guys have been waiting for someone to comment back from a public access rig, screaming and yelling that I linked to some sort of super virus. It's just a cute joke which is actually rather hard to pull off if anyone actually reads the text of that post instead of just blindly trusting me and clicking on it.

And if it makes you feel better for just trusting me and clicking on it, don't feel bad. I found it on a complete stranger's weblog, and clicked it myself. Granted I clicked it with all antivirus on full alert and with my finger poised over the "Destroy My Computer Now To Prevent Widespread Infection" button. Imagine my chagrin to find it was...well, I'm not gonna ruin it for you, you'll have to see it for yourself.

So, onwards and upwards.


The Writer's Peril.


Today being the birthday of Papa Hemmingway (Why can't Ernest Hemmingway drive a train? Because HE'S DEAD!) I think it's only mildly appropriate that I made a terrible joke about him (*making checkmark in book...done*) and write a bit about the art of writing.

If Hemmingway had been a joke writer, his answer to the joke "Why did the chicken cross the road" would have been: "To die, alone. In the rain."

I know, I said only one bad Hemmingway joke, but that's not a Hemmingway joke, it's a chicken-crossing-the-road joke. Vital difference.

The main problem is that I'm easily distract...oooh, a cloud shaped like a monkey!

Writing is tough slogging sometime. I know there are people who write like other people breathe, but for the rest of us, well, we're the ones who have to work at it. Raymond Chandler's birthday was past us just a day or so ago, I think. Chandler was one of those writers who had the knack of making writing SEEM effortless, but he was one of those folk who really had to work at it. For him writing was something to be done with utmost care, placing words like a bricklayer builds a house, until the entire structure was not only strong and efficient, but lovely to look at.

Hemmingway I don't know a lot about. I read The Green Hills of Africa once on an airplane flight to Oregon, and was mildly unimpressed. Oh, I know he's the Great American Writer, but it simply didn't get under my skin the way, oh say, Franz Kafka can. *shrug* To each their own. What I was getting at was that it's been my impression that Hemmingway wrote what he felt, what he lived, trying to get the very essence of a life lived onto paper. That is, if a life lived was mainly about killing very large animals and drinking excessively. Which it was, for him.

There have been writers like e e cummings who have approached writing as though it were a child's game, with the idea that how the words look on the paper were just as important as what they were saying, and things like punctuation and capitalisation were unimportant and therefore could be discarded, and when you read that sort of work you realise that the hooks carefully hidden under that playful exterior have already been set in you. And what's wonderful to me is that there are so dang MANY marvelous writers; Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, Rex Stout, J. R. R. Tolkien, Harlan Ellison, Sir A. C. Doyle, and the list goes ever onward.

Did you notice one thing about that list above? Wonderous diversity. Those gentlemen (just an oversight that I didn't list any female writers,) both living and dead and across many genres all have their own unique, distinct voice. That feature of writing - that the writer's personality comes out in his or her writing - has been one of the things that has kept me slogging away at my own writing for lo these many years. That, and the fact that my handwriting is so astoundingly bad that it's necessary for me to type so I can make my written missives understood. The idea that you can pick up on the feelings, the voice and cadence and personality of the writer from their works opens my eyes even wider when I read a book like The Hobbit, and in the gathering of guests at Bilbo's eleventy-first birthday I can pick out Mr. Tolkien himself, barefoot, pipe in mouth and ale in hand, huge grin across his face. His hand is obvious in everything he's written, in just the same way that Ray Bradbury's life is spread out before us across his words, bits and pieces here and there, but all together making an autobiography of a man's dreams and ambitions, his fears and his joys.

I'm getting a bit purple, aren't I. No tea yet this morning, that's the problem. Hold on a mite, we'll fix that in a tittle.

Roight, that's more like it.

So perhaps I write so as to give people a glimpse into my own life, or at least the bits of my own life that I want people to see. That's the other edge to the knife, the fact that even a mediocre writer can circumvent the appearance of his or her personality. The best writer I can think of in that category would be Clive Barker. Utterly delicious horror, and the writer's personality, at least to me, is as elusive as the Wendigo. The moment you think you've spotted it it turns sideways and dissapears.

So, am I showing you the real Irrelephant, or as the name implies, am I showing you a playact using smoke and mirrors and a little distraction...hey, look over there, a flock of turtles!

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