Friday, December 10, 2010

Nothing’s As Queer As Folk

The squeeze and I both write; or try to.  For inspiration, we often squeak off to the Writers Centre or a library to hear various writers speak.  This is a ‘motivation’ thing, as opposed to an ‘ideas’ thing.  If you are going there for ideas about what to write, I suspect you should just give up and become a fireman or something.
If you are lucky, the writer is well known, exceptionally witty and we sit there laughing or dumb struck with admiration.  I would put Lee Childs into this category; he was fantastic. 
Still, Lee is a rarity and there are a lot on the circuit that I find inexorably boring.  I am talking ‘just kill me now and get it over with’ boring.  And when you have your ass on that seat; you can’t get up and walk out. 
When ‘boring’ comes down like a shutter over my brain; I basically tune out.  There is no turning it around.  From that second on, I don’t want to be there.
I should probably clarify that these are actually not boring people.  It can be the acoustics are bad and so we can barely hear them; or there is no interviewer leading them so therefore no structure; they are instead, left to waffle on.  Sheesh, if I wanted to listen to a writer waffle on, I’d stay at home and listen to the squeeze.  At least then I have a glass of red in my hand that I can enjoy, as opposed to the Draino you usually get at these things.
So with ‘boring shutter’ in place, what else is there to do other than people watch?
Actually, ‘people watching’ is what you do when you sit in a window seat of a small Italian restaurant on your own, book in hand, glass of red and pause every so often just to look up and watch who passes by.  Writer events - that is more like ‘freak’ watching; and what an array of oddities seem to turn up at these events.
So I sit on a very uncomfortable chair, the Draino is empty but I can hardly stand up and stagger over to the makeshift bar, although I do not miss the fact that two others have.  Instead, after spending at least ten minutes mesmerized by the number of mosquitoes that are outside banging on the glass, I glance around the room wondering who the hell these people are.  Why are they here?  What do they want?
Who was the strange woman who kept slinking off for another glass of wine..?  When we arrived, she had perched herself on a step out the front and were it not for the glass in her hand, I’d have assumed she was a homeless woman.  She was large, with a puff of white/grey hair styled into some swirly thing like a wave on the top of her head.  Once we sat as an audience and the shutter came down, I couldn’t help my eyes returning again and again to the large mole on her chin that had a veritable goatee growing out of it – about two inches long.
Then there was the weird Jewish guy to my left.  I wasn’t sure if he had an accent or a speech impediment.  He sat on the edge of his chair with a serial killer smile on his face and rubbed his fingers in a strange way.  I almost expect him to shudder in ecstasy, such was his expression.  I felt my skin crawl whenever his eyes slithered over me; I couldn’t imagine how the authors felt.  Aside from the fact that I found him creepy, he was also one of those annoying fools that asks a million questions and then looks about the room to check that everyone is looking at him; raising his eyebrows a little, as if to question that we all understood how knowledgeable his is.  Mostly, he came across as insensitive and somewhat invasive. 
Frankly, I wanted to stand up and shout “Yes, we all came out in the rain and traipsed across town just to hear you speak.  Idiot…  Now sit the hell down and zip it!”  But managed to restrain myself (possibly due to the ‘serial killer’ vibe I was getting.)
Guy at the back of the room, directly behind me was the token ‘know it all’ who not only attempted to ask somewhat high brow questions, but corrected other people who asked questions and even at odd times, tried to actually answer for the female authors at the front – if not answer for them, at least dissect their answers for the hapless idiot who had posed the original question.  Astounding!
Fat girl to the left in the front seat; she had to twist her hair around her hand and then drape it over the left shoulder as she asked questions.  At least had a forceful voice so we did get to hear what she asked – even if I couldn’t remember what it was.  And her hair was nice, chestnut… Long, thick.
Sparrow woman and man – I suspect elderly husband and wife who had been together for so long they began to look like one another.  Tremulous voice, bird like features, thinning hair.  Questions regarding fiction writing and if there was a holy grail of books on ‘how to write a novel that is guaranteed to be accepted by a publisher.’  I wanted to put my hand up and say “yes actually, there is, it sells on eBay for $45.95 and I suspect the money goes to some guy in Nairobi”; but hell, who am I to wreck someone else dreams?  Let them continue to look for the damned book.
All in all, I felt as though I had just sat through two hours of my life that I was never going to get back.  I didn’t learn anything; yet left with a vague feeling of unease and depression and a healthy dollop of fear.
Are we one of the want-to-be-writer freaks..? 
What if we are and just don’t know it?


  1. the question is not are we... the question is are you.

  2. No honey. I'm pretty sure it is 'we'.


Thanks. Better check it out but it should be up today!