8.1.09

I am a Writer

The thing of it is is that you need a career. Or something like that. Something that puts food in your belly. No! Beyond even the food in the belly bit, you need an answer to the cocktail/dinner/sausage party question of "what do you do?"


-What do you do?
-Architect. What do you do?
-Plumber.

Best friends.

You need an answer to the "what do you do?" thing, or you need to go off the grid and live in a fridge box in the woods. But even then, you best be careful no one knows you are there. If you have a neighbour, and they see you, and they see another neighbour, and they get to talking, it'll inevitably go like so:

-Who's that?
-Some crazy mutha who lives in a fridge box.
-Oh... What do they do?
-Eat children and poop in a microwave box so far as I can tell.

No one likes a child eater, and no one especially likes a microwave box pooper. And if you ever want to somehow convince a lovely other to come back to your fridge box and make fridge box babies it'll be a much longer uphill slog if everyone in the county thinks you are a crazy kid eating box pooper. And even if you manage to corner another it'll inevitably go like so:

-Hi.
-Hi.
-What do you do?
-Eat children and poop in a microwave box.

You, my friend, are never going to get laid.

As it always does, it always comes back to figuring out ways to get laid. The thing of it is, THE THING, is you need an answer to "what do you do?" so that you might have a chance at getting laid. (Somewhere beneath the sophomoric snickering there is profound propagation of the species gibber-jabber).

Now I can't help you with that. I can't even help myself with that. I joked with my friend Aaron in grade 9 about how we should co-author a guide to picking up girls. My contribution was the chapter on "is it hot in here or is it just [insert girls name here]?" That worked so well I never even had a pretend girlfriend until 3rd year university, let alone one who'd be in the same room with me. All I might be able to co-author with any authority is a guide on how to avoid girls, perhaps as part of an anthology on how to avoid humankind while living in a fridge box and pooping in a microwave box in the woods. That I now happen to have a lovely lady in my life is beyond me and I try to be really nice to her so she doesn't catch on. Ssssh!

But, the thing of it is, if you want to get laid, you need to do something. You need an answer to "what do you do?" that doesn't scare everyone off, all the better if it is something that is mildly impressive. You need a career of some sort. And it is best that you decide the career, and not the other way around. You can say, "I am going to be an architect!" and then go out and order an architect degree online and BLAM! there you are an architect. Or you can sit around until your mom kicks your ass out and you end up working as a landscaper for cash, and not much of it. Or you could deal drugs, that seems like a pretty glamourous trade if you are to believe The Wire. But I don't know nothing about architecture, landscaping or drugs. I've done my damnedest to avoid anything that resembles a career. Careers are a drag. Ambition is a drag. I see now why it took so long for a girl to bother with my lazy ass. But I do know a secret. THE secret.

The secret is to declare. You won't get anywhere in university or life undelcared. But you need to be careful how and what you declare. Often times, if you stretch the truth far enough, it will recoil and kick you in the ass. The secret is to declare a career that requires no specific training, follows no particular career path, confines itself to no particular personality type. Yet it has to be something intriguing enough to hold a conversation past:

-What do you do?
-Eat children and poop in a microwave box.
-Oh...[runs away].

If you have a legitimate answer to that question, then usually you can manage with the truth. Even if it is something most people consider unglamorous, like plumbing, if you are passionate about it and willing to convince someone that draino is your paint and the plunger your brush and the collected feces of humankind your canvas, I am sure someone, somewhere, eventually, will find it endearing and will go back to your fridge box with you.

However, if you lack a legitimate answer to "what do you do?" You need to come up with something before something comes with it for you. Let me share with you my secret. THE secret.

Tell them you are a writer.

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I didn't invent this idea. I personally stole it from Bukowski. And even he didn't invent the idea. I am pretty sure this idea is a bastard--fatherless. As soon as men folk could walk upright and began trying to convince the women folk that'd be worthwhile to fornicate, you know, for the species and whatnot, I am pretty sure there were a lot of the men folk who neither hunted, gathered, farmed, fought, built, plumbed, or dealt drugs who went around getting into and/or out of things as they saw fit by telling everyone they could that they were writers.

There are alternatives, most of them far sexier than writer. Musician, for instance. (Name me one musician who has made music, for fun or money, in the last million years who didn't get into it to impress the opposite sex? Name me one. Just one! If you just did you are naive or a liar or a naive lair. Shame on you.) But saying you are a musician or a painter or a sculptor or a sexy, struggling, starving artist of any colour is risky. Eventually, if you go around running your mouth enough, someone is going to call your bullshit, and it'll be time to put up or shut up and go back to pooping in a microwave box.

Being in a band is impressive, but only if you are actually in a band, if you aren't it is lame like a teenager movie and you probably should have learned your lesson by now. Shame on you! And bands play shows, so if you aren't a terrible lying sack of crap, you'll have to eventually play a show and whomever you are trying to impress might happen to be there and they might not be impressed. What kind of pervert, after all, gets pleasure from amateurish ska songs when the world is awash in perfectly good rock music?

Not to say that writer is not also risky, but it is far less risky. People like music and pretty pictures, rarely do people like to read. And if some strange soul does like to read, they surely don't want to read some mediocre aspiring writer's shit. What kind of pervert gets pleasure from amateurish run-on sentences when the world is awash in perfectly good literature? Sick! Shame on you!

The beauty of declaring yourself a writer is that it is impressive, yet completely meaningless. What the hell is a writer? I ask you. I am serious. What is a writer? One who writes? Shit! Everyone is a writer. But being the sort of writer who people give a shit to read is no small feat. It is a kin to winning the lottery. If the lotto was based on equal parts skill and luck. Until then, you can be an aspiring writer. And EVERYONE is a goddamned aspiring writer. Even if you are a full time administrative assistant for some horrible polluting, Mother Earth raping and pillaging, firm in a downtown office tower, you can still declare you are an aspiring writer. No one will doubt you.

You see, you don't have to actually write anything to declare yourself a writer. You need to carry yourself in a writerly way--"observe" more than you talk, carry a pen. You need to furnish your home with writerly things--many tattered notebooks, even if none of them have anything written in them, real books by real writers, buy them used and they'll look read even if you weren't the one who read them, lots of pens. You need to, on occasion, but only very briefly, because it is god awful boring, speak in a writerly way--paraphrase Wikipedia introductory paragraphs on Hemingway, Steinbeck, Bukowski, Kerouac, etc., preferably while holding a pen. You need to dress in a writerly way--rumpled hair, rumpled shirts, rumpled corduroy sports coats, rumpled corduroy trousers, rumpled brown shoes. You need to feign that there are monsters deep in your soul that you are in pitched battle with, and while you battle you are an aspiring writer, and when you overcome you will be a great writer--even if that is all bullshit. If you are really good at saying you are a writer you will be able to avoid writing anything, and when asked "what do you do?" you can answer, "I am a writer." And when their eyes light up with intrigue (because they don't know what the hell writer means either) your eyes will become like an abyss of emotional torment. Because in the depths of your soul, your eyes will say, there are monstrous ideas and emotions just waiting to be spewed out in words all over pages. And now their eyes will respond with more intrigue and also sorrow, and there is nothing more convincing that you are worthwhile, even if you are a little rumpled, than intrigue and pity. And if at all possible, stare your writerly stare while sucking on the end of an unusual but inexpensive pen, even if the ink has dried up from years of disuse.

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Film clips from: Factotum, Directed by Bent Hammer, 2005.

3 comments:

Mark said...

This is a very well written post...you ARE a writer!

Anonymous said...

This was the worst blog post I've ever read in my life. I sincerely wish I was kidding, but I'm really really not.

jillian said...

I think you just called me a pervert.