Wednesday, 16 January 2013
My…. acquaintances… shall we say… for I no longer have friends, per se… can call me obsessive compulsive. I’m not. Just dedicated. Usually finish what I started. That’s supposed to be a good thing. Right? Granted they do try to counteract what is really intended as an insult by adding ‘…but in a good way.’ However, as I look around me, at my life, how it’s turning out since I started my writing journey about seven years ago, I think they might be spot on; I’ve let everything else slip… and not least of which, my physical self. This is an addiction, no joke about it anymore like I used to say; I'm being entirely serious; the effects as potentially damaging as many other, frowned upon, addictions.
If I have a resolution - which I don’t normally make simply because it’s a new year - for 2013, it’s that I have to balance my love of writing with what pays the bills, what inspires me… what keeps the weight of my erstwhile slim waistline – which is kind of funny because I don’t really eat, never have… but the old metabolism, that used to beat any amount of calories into submission singlehandedly, has started to turn traitor.
I've been 'binge-writing' recently, been obsessed, had one of those bouts that last a few weeks where everything else goes to hell and time has no meaning. The result... even though I have an ergonomic chair and desk, all the poise in the world, what feels like some kind of a hip displacement! That's new! I've found that kind of writing really is detrimental to my health: headaches, eye strain, tennis elbow, stiff joints, nodules in my right arm where it leans on the desk, weight gain (yes, despite the fact I don't eat) hair loss, baggy skin... sore ribs... or somethin'... I could go on. But that's all going to change; yes, this year I'm getting back into jogging and other stuff that will balance what should be my real life with my writing one much more fairly, much more healthily.
Today I have to do my taxes – an infinitely hated task that despite the relative simplicity of when I do get around to them, are seven months overdue - as reminded by Revenue Canada last week - a letter I’ve long since expected - insisting I file a return – and which I’ve resolved to do right now, today, but in my obsessive compulsiveness, well-versed in the art of procrastination with everything else these days other than writing - and especially when it comes to facts and figures - I’ve found myself compiling this article instead. Yes, indeed, a true addict.
But I will do them; I don’t want to get up in the morning anymore and dread having to, because that’s the first thing that pops into my mind, and I am, believe it or not, a responsible citizen… or at least I used to be... when I was part of society.
My taxes are filed in plastic bags, the odd liquor store and Safeway ones, garbage bags, even - perhaps the writer in me; a metaphor for what I really think of taxes - and, in ink, the year scribbled less than eloquently on the outside before being tossed into a little office in my workplace that I don’t use except to hide things I don’t want to see. If I’m ever audited, that’s what they’ll get; garbage bags and less than well-kept records that are, actually, probably to my detriment. Yes, I am a CRAP businessman. Hate that side of anything, even in writing… hate promoting myself, my books, hate having to do the marketing… all of that stuff. But there comes a time you have to bite the bullet. Today’s that day, and for all my love of sitting and writing, still trying to procrastinate even now, I'm glad I'm the kind of person that can kick myself up the arse before it's too late.
However, it’s struck me, if I were to put as much effort into my real life, my real relationships, my real business, as I do with writing, I’d probably be a highly successful, popular guy - at least in that weird way people used to be enamoured... or somethin'... by me. I’d be slimmer, able to wear the fitted designer shirts in 'medium' from Italy that've been abandoned to the darkest recesses of my closets, the pair of jeans I've never worn, all of which, in lucid, occasional moments in the real world, have become but a pipe dream; remnants of a surreal memory of a more dynamic me that would go out of my way to do photobombs. Not anymore; swiping away anyone's camera like Naomi Campbell to the paparazzi as soon as they come anywhere near me.
But that’s all going to change. Yes, cha-nge, I tells ya. I’m going to start eating again too, proper food. Maybe I’ll lose some weight; 20Ibs and climbing over what I should be; shocked to see too (as someone who didn’t lose or put on a single pound my entire life regardless of my habits) that even a ‘large’ won't tell the lie effectively. And yes, it may not be much, but I watch The Biggest Loser, that’s how they all start.
And so I feel I have been a bit obsessive, and, no; not in a good way at all - save your political correctness for social media - I see what writing is doing to me, how it's affecting me, snared me, literally, into its den, how my puppy looks at me, to say ‘oh, please, not again for fuck sake’ when I sit at my desk. Don’t get me wrong; I know what’s important; he gets his exercise, and plenty of it, lovin’ too, but going to the park is becoming more of a chore than quality time for me, if I’m being honest, and even then, my mind teeming with clever anecdotes that makes me wish I'd brought a pen. But that is the one thing that does make me sit and think about how much time I am spending writing, perhaps the catalyst that makes me come to this realization; for not only do I need to focus more on my lovely little dog, but on me, my old friends, my health, my business – which perhaps is in danger of being run so far into the ground that there’s an entrance into it from Australia, because I'm simply neglecting it in some ways. After all, it is life, people, and the very art of living that inspire my stories; staying indoors writing for years on end, even as a highly imaginative person, is like never maintaining your car (which I also let go for two years until recently, used to do that every winter and every summer). No, your mind needs ‘lubed’ as well, and perhaps parts of you too (get yours out the gutter) I mean like... aromatherapy... or somethin'... whatever, total relaxation, anyway. A mental vacation.
I think I’ve come far enough in this never ending writing journey, for it will be never-ending, apparently, that I can afford to calm it a bit now, stop obsessing, take time out every now and then, because I think I’ve become quite good at it, yes; I should really focus on doing that – however ‘taxing’ it might be.
So, in the process of going through every drawer, every bag, every room at both work and home, I not only got my 2011 taxes organised, but my 2012 ones too - six months earlier than I need to, which should make up for the six months I’m late with the 2011 return, don't ya think? But I did have a moment of panic, starting to absolutely freak out when I saw the piles of receipts and invoices before me, but then, with my newfound attitude, nothing else to do, methodically went through it all, and surprisingly, rather enjoyed it. I’ll file the return electronically tomorrow, for I most definitely have had enough now. However, in the process, I found two un-cashed cheques, one from my 2010 taxes from the government for $179,26, which thankfully I can still cash over a year later, and one for just under $30.00 from another company which is only a few months old. And if that wasn’t surprising enough, two of a number of old lottery tickets bringing me another $40.00 when I checked them - so I'm richer by $250.00 just by getting myself organized... the universe rewarding me for making the effort to come out of the dark shadows of my writer's mindset? Don't be ridiculous; merely coincidental, shows just what a CRAP businessman I am.
Now I’m off to have pizza and beer and watch the premiere of American Idol - the diet and exercise will begin after the taxes are filed; too much all at one time. Yes, too much, I deserve a bloody break.
Wednesday, 2 January 2013
You know, I actually felt a little bit of empathy for E L James when I saw Katie Couric interview her about her Fifty Shades series in front of a live audience; what struck me was, that here was a woman overwhelmed by the ‘relative’ success of her book.
Love it or hate it, and I have to admit the sample chapter was more than I could get through because of the writing, but it was kind of painful to watch her try to be interested in talking about her book at all, in fact she spent most of the interview squirming, hardly did any of the speaking; guests and members of the audience, as well as Katie herself, doing it all for her while she swung her foot constantly, scratched her head and looked completely mortified while unable to answer anything she was being asked, trying to come up with clever automaton answers that were obviously feigned… like, 'Oh… I wouldn’t be able to say that on national television’, while Katie pushed for specifics about what her favourite sexual fantasy, and the like, might be, to which she finally responded she couldn’t come up with anything off the top of her head.
The truth of the matter is, as perhaps, most writers will know, the worlds created in our books are separate from our real one, we expose our inner selves through our writing, cater to our imagination. Mostly we’re shy and don’t take our stories quite as literally as our readership can, and with all the work involved, can even become sick to death of talking about them without a sort of used up enthusiasm. There were spurts of E L trying to find a comfort level; joking around here and there with Katie in that English way that she would do more authentically with her best mates up the pub; 'Oh come on Katie...' she cajoled about something a tad risqué that seemed to be over Katie's pristine head despite her wearing a leather dress for the occasion - which actually she looked great in. And I don’t blame her; questions from the audience including asking her advice on what sex toys to buy and what shops are best to get them from, plus talking about her characters as if they were real people, like, 'How could he be so rich being so young?' & 'How could she orgasm, as a virgin in a way that women haven’t been able to do after years?', her response, evidently annoyed, perhaps having been asked a million times; simply, that it's only a story, she’s not a sex therapist, only wrote the book for her own enjoyment, jotting down her own fantasies, and then she said, 'I would just buy a tie' - which was perhaps the one good response she did give. Come on now... it’s fiction, people... learn to discern it from reality; after all, all those writers who have their characters hacked to pieces don't go around doing that, others not actually travelling to alternate fantasy worlds where people have names that could be across between Welsh and Klingon. Do they? She even said at one point that she really didn’t understand why there was so much hype surrounding this book; that it only started out as fan fiction after all... but that's mainstream publishing for you; people do get carried away because everyone else and their dog is; the art of brainwashing marketing techniques obviously still rife. Still effective.
But I think what is evident, the hype, the thing that has come from this series, is a liberation of sorts for women to say its alright to speak about these kinds of bedroom activities openly now, the book simply a portal to that; E L James just happened along the way; acceptable to like something other than vampires now... and for many who weren't already doing it, the opportunity to write about their sexual fantasies freely for, from what I've seen, erotica, and or porn, huge amid writers currently.
Small price to pay though, I would think, for this kind of success, to have to do the interviews, and so, while I do feel some sympathy for her, at least she can reap and enjoy the benefits when it's all over, even have a platform to jump from now to promote her future works. I think most writers would envy that.