A CONGREGATION OF CANTLETS

1. I’m sick, Connor is sick, we go to the doctor’s for a checkup. It’s sniffles and running noses all round, so it’s bound to be just a cold, but Connor’s got a chesty cough and I need the sick note for work, so we find our nearest medical centre and make an appointment.

This is our first visit to a doctor in Mandurah, so Connor receives The Talk before we go. Once there we’re called up; enter the doctor’s room, and the doctor, who is the kind that keeps a big plastic tub of his jelly beans on his desk, turns to Connor first. After the usual “What’s your name? And how old are you?” pleasantries, and assurances that no needles will be utilized (Connor’s current doctor fear); he asks Connor what’s wrong with him.

“I have Spine Flu!” is my son’s cheery reply.

He earns three jelly beans for that one.

2. I’ve written the beginning of the novel. I’ve written the end. I’ve written 80 000 words of the middle. It’s just the remaining 20 000 words of holes that I’m having trouble with. Between work, overtime, the house, my family and my own natural inclinations I just can’t get it together to make a concerted effort at finishing it off. It’s enough to prove that I’ll never be successfully serious (or vice versa) as a novelist. I’d be less worried if I was any good at my job. Meanwhile, those whose career arcs roughly parallel my own sail into book deals with Orbit, Harper Collins and the like…

3. My third period of mentorship for the AHWA is drawing to a close, and third time is likely to be the last. Much as I enjoy it, I’m unsatisfied by my efforts this time round—disruptions have been plentiful, and I don’t feel like I’ve given my mentees value for money. I do what I can, but am beginning to think that what I can do isn’t enough any more. It’s time to take stock of what I want to do, and what I need to do, and put one before the other.

4. I’d be able to get medication if I could translate all this ennui into full-blown depression, but it seems like too much hard work.

5. Every time I think I should just chuck it all in and become a professional poker player I go online and some bugger beats me with something like a 7-3 off suit.

6. We finally get around to watching the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. It’s enjoyable, for the most part, although I’m of the opinion that it starts fantastically well and then gets more and more ordinary as it progresses. Late that night, Lyn and I lie in bed together and dissect the movie, and I’m struck by an experience I’ve not had to such an extent since Independence Day—that of thoroughly enjoying a movie whilst watching it but then discussing it afterwards to the point of considering it a failure. It’s a strange experience, to persuade oneself of an opposing viewpoint after the direct experience. We are agreed, however, that Keanu Reeves has found his niche over the last decade or so. As Lyn said, after the Matrix movies, Constantine, and the terminally tedious A Scanner Darkly, she can’t think of another actor as suited to effectively playing characters so utterly removed from even the most basic of human emotions.

7. No such trouble earlier in the day, when we watched Igor with the kids—that one stayed ordinary all the way through…

8. If Captain Beefheart, Captain Sensible, and the Captain from Captain & Tennille were all on the same ship, how would they decide who got to steer?

2 thoughts on “A CONGREGATION OF CANTLETS

  1. Hi Lee. Great to see you posting again. 🙂

    Re the writing thing. I know you and I have gone around and around on this one in recent times, so I won't go on about it again. However, there's one point I should float past you: are you at all familiar with the marvellous work of Jorge Luis Borges? Brilliant writer, Nobel Prize winner (I think), much of his work leans heavily on genre tropes (notably detective fiction, but also stuff that seems like fantasy, myth, etc), and he never wrote a novel. All of his work is short fiction, poetry and essays. And by short fiction, I mean short: most pieces are just a few pages. Only one I can think of, the famous story, “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” (you'll have to imagine an umlaut over the o in Tlon, btw), goes to about 15 pages, but is dazzling in what it does.

    My point, and I do have one, is that you do not have to write novels. I agree that it's common for short story writers to go on to novels, but there's no big rule that writers have to do so.

    Like

  2. Timing, timing, timing …

    I, for one, am extremely grateful for your part in the AHWA mentoring programme. And, if you want to see just how grateful, get thee to http://midnightecho.australianhorror.com/ (fresh and sparkly as of right now–coincidence?) and have a read of Stephen Studach's New Blood piece (apologies now for my crapping on and on … and this is the short version. Sheesh!). As I told Stephen, I can't rave enough. You done Good Things, man. Thank you. And, if now's the time to step away, then do it knowing your karma bank is full.

    Jason C

    Like

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