Being unfaithful to my story

I have been slow this week in my efforts to make Langoria into a workable story. I am half way through the chapters, but now I have some serious competition in my head. I am being unfaithful to another competing story. The Dark List is clamouring for attention.

This is certainly distracting. I find myself wondering whether it is a better story than Langoria. Would I be better served by dumping the old story for the new story? Am I currently wasting my, at present, limited time on a dud, when I have a potential gold mine festering away in my head? This new story is exciting, makes me laugh at my own jokes (sorry about my ego!), and is trying to entice me into its clutches. So what do I do?

As hard as it is, I am concentrating on Langoria because that story is a finished draft and it s therefore a product, something that may be saleable. The other story is just an idea at present – 5000 words of prose that has potential, nothing more. It’s damn good-looking, though, with a sexy plot and great sense of humour.

Add to this that I do not earn a living from writing, and the priority becomes clearer. There is no imperative for me to get a bestseller, or even a seller, because what pays my mortgage is something else. I do, however, have a strong desire to publish a book that sells. I do enjoy writing. And I do want to finish what I start. Langoria is a good story, albeit with some flaws that need attention, and I believe it is worth my time. I will undoubtedly keep getting moments of inspiration for the new story, and I will write them down, but they will stay in my notebook until Langoria is at a stage where somebody else is reading it.

So, back to it. But only after I get out for a walk. Speaking of walking – this is a little article I wrote a few years ago on a now ignored blog about the joys of walking – http://itsthesmalljoys.blogspot.com.au/

No morals? No ethics? No conscience? No problem! Become a politician

Want to become a politician? Then More Gravy Please! (the politician’s handbook) by George Fripley, is the book for you – available through numerous Amazon pages. It will take you through what you need to know. Here is a little taster

 

How Parliament Works

As a new Member of Parliament you should spend some time getting properly inducted into the basics of the system.  This will allow you to slide smoothly into your new role with the minimum of fuss.  It would be a mistake to think you know much just because you have read the papers, seen official reports, and watched Question Time on the television. All of these are just for the public to provide assurance that the government is working and there is healthy debate both between parties and within parties. To help you out, this chapter will take you through some of the underlying principles and processes that occur on a daily basis – those that are not reported on in the media.

 

Mutually Assured Distraction

Most parties are reluctant to make actual decisions for fear of making a mistake and causing themselves angst; they prefer to rely on government departments to provide advice about what should happen. As most people know, government departments are also reluctant to make decisions. This leads to a vastly increased likelihood of embarrassing stalemates and inaction, together with a very short list of achievements for that particular sitting of Parliament – usually consisting of the easy no-brainer decisions (although there is no guarantee there will be quick agreement on these) with difficult decisions postponed until the next sitting, or the next, or even the one after that. The theory of Mutually Assured Distraction (MAD) prevents such inaction becoming embarrassing. It is implemented by both major parties and it protects them from a conspicuous lack of progress that will look bad to the electorate…well alright then, worse than it currently does.

MAD ensures that when difficult decisions have to be made, and there is potential for both parties to look incompetent due to their complete lack of ability currently sitting on the front benches, one or other of them will suddenly bring a new issue to the fore. They will flood the media with quotes and headlines. This distraction will, ideally, be a very minor issue that has been blown out of all proportion and / or be an issue that is global and beyond the control of a single country. It may even be time for a skeleton to be let out of a closet and to have a scandal. Whatever the distraction, it will bounce around in the media for months before there is finally a coordinated agreement on what to do. By the time this has happened everybody will have forgotten about the difficult problem that needed to be avoided.

The Party Whips

The Party Whips are not ladies dressed up in leather and thigh-high boots, as most of the public would think when this term is mentioned in the same sentence as politicians. No, they are senior politicians with a distinct and essential role. Because the party hierarchy knows that the general level of understanding of most issues is not that good among most of their Parliamentarians, they employ the whips to run around and tell everybody how to vote. Now, you could be a little insulted by this and feel aggrieved that they do not trust you to make a good decision, or, and I highly recommend this approach, you could be happy that someone else has decided to do your thinking for you and turn your brain to less onerous activities like what you might have for lunch that day. Who wants to have to wrestle with complex and divisive issues if someone else does it for you? Anyhow, if the party whips start getting you down, you can always go and visit the leather-bound ladies with the real whips who really know how to party.

The House Bubble

Contrary to what you are probably hoping, I have not mis-spelt bubbly; I am talking about an imaginary force-field that surrounds Parliament. This bubble prevents politicians getting into too much trouble. It separates them from the outside world. This bubble is to protect you by preventing annoying journalists from pestering you for quotes on a matter of current policy, and to stop members of the great unwashed asking you difficult questions. It also helps keep you at least a decade behind the time, where social attitudes are concerned.

Speeches

 Every now and then you may be required to make a speech in Parliament. This is not a cause for concern or embarrassment – every politician has to do this once in a while. Your speeches will be written for you by people who are skilled at keeping you out of trouble and making sure that what is on the paper in front of you is what your party whips believe is what should be said. On rare occasions you may be required to speak to the general public. In this case the same process applies, except that there is the additional aspect of looking like you are genuinely concerned about the subject matter. This can be quite challenging.

The Committee System

 The committee system is how issues debated within the Parliament are resolved – at least far as possible given that we are talking about politicians. It has always been done this way and it will always be done this way, so don’t argue – unless you are the Prime Minister. If you are in the top job, then you will probably be so assured of your infallibility that you will make random statements without committee oversight – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. The committee system is another way in which the political machine stops you from making an idiot of yourself in public; it hides your stupid comments in the minutes. It also hides you within a larger group of idiots, so you won’t be revealed as the class dunce and get voted out by your electorate at the next election.

Your Office and Appearance

 As a Member of Parliament, you will get an office, along with money to employ an assistant. Your office is where you hide when you’ve had enough of life and don’t want anybody to find you. Your assistant is there to repel any attempts to enter your office. Furnish it with some comfortable chairs and a minibar and you’ll be on your way. Where your attire is concerned, you should always dress very smartly and use your allowances to get top-of-the-range suits. People want to see their elected representative cutting dashing figures on the camera. No matter what you do and say in the House, people will have more inclination to support you if you look the part.

 

The Official Politician’s Prayer

I don’t know if this will ever become out of date…probably not – so here it is again

The Official Politician’s Prayer

Our government, somehow elected,
Delusion be our game.
My god we’re dumb
But there’s work to be done
And blame to be deflected.
Delay us today our daily decisions.
And forgive us our empty promises,
As we forgive those who make empty
promises in response.
And lead us not into innovation,
But deliver us from progress.
For we have the Politicians,
With the power and the will
To speak bullshit
For ever and ever.
Amen.

 

Taken from Grudges, Rumours & Drama Queens (the Civil Servant’s Manual)

A moment…

On the run in the harsh glare
of the sun,
blinded by intense clarity,
each sense
overloaded, ears ringing,
reality decoded
in one thunderclap moment,
torn asunder
with just one revelation;
comfort’s gone
and I’m free, but it scared the shit
out of me

Economics 101

Is economics a science?
I think not, more like a loosely formed alliance
of economists and bankers,
of lobbyists and self-interested wankers
who assume things based on fantasy
to skim the cream, fleece you and me
providing for just them and theirs
uncaring as the world despairs.

Weekend Break

 

The chatter of Cockatoos

is a sure sign of escape,

they soar past the balcony

just to show sympathy

for the less fortunate,

 

the weekend wastrels

away for two days of

anything but the city

they flock together in their pity

‘You poor things. Make the most of it.’

 

Across the valley, their voices echo,

‘Visit a winery – it’ll help,’

they squawk before gliding away,

out here remote from the grey,

fading into the eucalypts

 

But with a Cabernet Merlot,

a view across the forests

pleasant company, the dull steel

spires of Perth although still real,

seem like distant ships

 

at least for now.

Writing a novel – progress made!

No poems or music today. Today I want to relay my experience in writing one of the novels I am working on. I finished it, or so I thought, three years ago and foolishly sent it out to agents. They all gave me less than encouraging responses, if indeed they responded at all.

I picked it up again about 6 months ago and on reading it realised that although the bones of the story were still good, there were so many holes in the plot, too much rubbish in between the good writing, and some good writing and great lines that were simply surplus to the story (they added nothing, just took up space).

I spent sometime noting down what I thought needed to be done and then went on to reading some books for no other reason than to give my brain a break from the story. I spent some time writing some songs and music as well. Then I went back to the book and began to re-write it during which time I have found more holes.

Rather than be disappointed about this I have found it very liberating and motivating because I think the story can only be improved.

And many thanks to John Harman, Stephen King, Garth Nix, Peter Temple and Phillip K Dick for their assistance in getting to this point. Their writing, in most cases, and verbal advice in one, has been very useful.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: