Headline of the week

On the day after Australia voted with a resounding “meh”, I opened the weekend papers quite sick of the election. It’ll be days or weeks before our hung parliament is sorted out and I didn’t really want to read any more about it for the time being. Give me something else, I thought, something worldly, outside Australia and interesting. I got it.

It’s actually a story about the British government changing their minds about a big funding spend to upgrade the tourist facilities at Stonehenge. There’s a lot of people upset about it, not just druids. In all honesty, I imagine the druids would like all the tourist trappings taken away and the site left the hell alone. But still, that headline did put a smile on my dial this morning.

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Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus have a sword fight

I’m a big fan of the site 27b/6. The guy is very funny and sets up all kinds of awesome correspondence where his irreverance holds sway. I’m sure he’s actually a really annoying guy, as one of the commenters (fiona) on his site says:

“i have a feeling that i would want to stab you in real life but on the internet i want to marry you.”

He earns a place on my site here because everything he does is an example of great writing. His turn of phrase is often exquisite. He’s excelled himself with this one and I couldn’t help sharing. The exchange in question begins with this email to his kid’s school’s Christian Volunteer:

From: David Thorne
Date: Wednesday 10 March 2010 7.12pm
To: Darryl Robinson
Subject: Permission Slip

Dear Darryl,

I have received your permission slip featuring what I can only assume is a levitating rabbit about to drop an egg on Jesus.

Thank you for pre-ticking the permission box as this has saved me not only from having to make a choice, but also from having to make my own forty five degree downward stroke followed by a twenty percent longer forty five degree upward stroke. Without your guidance, I may have drawn a picture of a cactus wearing a hat by mistake.

As I trust my offspring’s ability to separate fact from fantasy, I am happy for him to participate in your indoctrination process on the proviso that all references to ‘Jesus’ are replaced with the term ‘Purportedly Magic Jew.’

Regards, David.

You can just tell it’s going to be fun, can’t you.

Read the whole thing here.

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Top Ten Reasons Not To Be A Writer

Top 10 lists are pretty popular these days. Do we have Letterman to thank for that? Anyway, in the interests of being in with the popular crowd, here’s a Top 10 list that seems blatantly obvious to me, but might serve as a warning to others. And before anyone accuses me of being all jaded and defeatist, I prefer to look at it as arming myself with the truth in order to beat that fucker down and prove every point on this list wrong. Wish me luck.

Top 10 Reasons Not To Be A Writer

10. For the chicks. Generally speaking, being a writer doesn’t get you chicks like being a rock star might.

9. For a sense of self-worth. Seriously, almost constant rejection is not good for self-esteem.

8. For the cool. Most people, when you say you’re a writer, will look at you with that when-are-you-going-to-get-a-real-job look.

7. For the influence. No matter how much we think we’re changing the world, people are pretty fixed in their own personal delusions. Anything we write is unlikely to affect them much.

6. For self-fulfilment. This one is slightly off-kilter. We require the self-fulfilment of writing, but most writers I know are rarely happy with what they put out there and constantly bemoan how crap they are and how they wish they were better. I’m like this. We’re all a bunch of fragile little flowers.

5. For the fame. There are a handful of uber-bestselling writers that you might recognise if you passed them in the street, but not many. Have a look along your bookshelf and think about how many of those names have a face attached in your memory banks.

4. For health. Sitting in a gloomy room hunched over a computer, spewing forth imagination from the deepest recesses of your mind. Not exactly a jog along the beach, is it.

3. For a social life. See above. I have to admit that there’s a vibrant community among genre writers in Australia, and presumbly elsewhere in the world. I’ve got some great friends that I’ve met through being a writer. We only tend to actually meet a handful of times a year, though, at conventions.

2. For the satisfaction. You’ll never be happy with what you achieve as a writer. Sell a short story? You’ll wish you could sell to a better magazine. Sell a novel? You’ll wish you got a bigger advance? Got a great big advance? You’ll wish you were higher on the bestseller lists. I’ve never met a writer yet, at any level of success, that is satisfied with their achievements. They’re all mighty happy to have got where they are, but they all want to achieve more. Every one of them.

1. For the money. Yeah, as if this needs explaining. There doesn’t appear to be any. Anywhere. This is the one thing on this list that I’d most like to prove wrong.

There are a handful of rock-star-god-emperor authors out there that prove every single one of these points wrong. People like Neil Gaiman or Stephen King. But for every Neil Gaiman, there’s a million mid-listers struggling to get by. And for every mid-lister like that there’s a million more hard working writers, wishing they had that mid-list level of success.

The truth is that there is only one reason to be a writer. Because you have to. We all do it because we have stories to tell and we can’t imagine not writing them down. If we can sell them, bloody brilliant. If we can sell them and have any kind of effect on people, fucking spectacular! But the single reason we do it is because we can’t not do it. Any other reason and you’re deluding yourself. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

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