Flat White

Writers block

6 March 2021

4:02 PM

6 March 2021

4:02 PM

Was it Snoopy who said Being-A-Writer means never having to complete your novel? I’ve been thinking a lot about being a writer lately, what it means to put a pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, or your head through the windscreen as you search for the next anecdote.  

During lockdown I wanted to write a book about being in lockdown called ‘Victoria my Lockdown’; or  ‘Lockdown: my personal pronouns nightmare’, or, ‘Alcoholism a lockdown story’….  But then lockdown ended. So it goes. 

To be honest I do good lockdown. For me it means no longer having to apologize for your general unhappiness when your shopping trolley gets bumped at Aldi. The Aldi trolley-bump is the Proustian Questionnaire of supermarkets and yes; going to Aldi does make you more pretentious about people who shop at Coles. It’s like buying the books of failed former prime ministers and presidents at Readings for $53 when they’re available for half-price at Big W.  

People think writers make a lot of money but we’re actually the poor white trash of marketing. Apparently, the latest thing is to tag your article with a request to visit a crowdfunding site to ‘buy me a coffee’ if you liked the article. But this is just some bourgeois narrative about asthmatic writers with nebulizers.  

‘Buy me a coffee’ doesn’t really cut it for me anyway. How about ‘buy me a crate of Scotch’, or ‘pay for my therapy’ or ‘bring me the shotgun of Ernest Hemingway’. 

But the best thing about being a heavily medicated member of the cultural set is being able to ban things. I mean Voltaire and defending your right to free speech is all well and good, but banning people – well that’s the good shit you really want to mainline. Inside every compassionate creative type who used to get beaten up at school for pronouncing Descartes correctly beats the soul of a Fascist – just ask Ezra Pound or any Triple J booth announcer around Australia Day.  

At the moment banning Dr Seuss is all the rage and I must admit even as a three-year old I thought that Klan robe Yurtle the Turtle was wearing was a bit too much. Besides was Seuss a real doctor or what we in the trade call a ‘Dr Jill’?  

Meanwhile, Readings have read the self-flagellation zeitgeist and banned the books of feminist writer Julie Bindel because she didn’t say what she was supposed to say about the Trans Thing. Good for them. What Readings really needs is a monthly book-burning club for elderly Friends of the ABC wanting to relive their childhoods. They could host it in the empty space in the children section where the Dr Seuss books used to be. 

But most of all I think of Larry Flint, the father I never had. Larry is dead. Long Live Larry Flint. Not so much a writer as a magazine publisher with a permanent erection. Didn’t we love him way back when he stuck it to Jerry Falwell and the Christian Right and they made that charming movie about him and the right to offend. Whatever happened to that right-to-offend deal? Asking for the owner of Readings. 

Forget the literary set. The real free speech warrior of this dismal 2021 is FU Woman at the Australian Open with her quintessential statement of the human desire to be heard.  

Dishevelled, disoriented and giving the bird to Rafael Nadal in a half-empty stadium as the crowd jeered. This is what Australian culture used to be about before somebody bought a plane ticket and travelled to New York to meet Jack Kerouac when he was still performing with The Doors. 

If you like this article buy Michael Scammell a copy of Hustler. (He also writes at https://mdswords.wordpress.com and Tweets at @MichaelScammell, BTW)

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments