Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You keep using that word

Just in case anyone here is confused about the meaning of the word 'love', allow the Australian Christian Lobby to explain it to you:

Brigadier Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby has no qualms about the law. The head of the influential Christian pressure group said a church school should have the right to expel any openly gay child.

"But I would expect any church that found itself in that situation to do that in the most loving way that it could for the child and to reduce absolutely any negative affects.

"I think that you explain: this is a Christian school, that unless the child is prepared to accept that it is chaste, that it is searching for alternatives as well, that the school may decide that it might be better for the child as well that he goes somewhere else. I think it's a loving response."

If you're wondering, it's here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Work: more smart, less hard

It was Oscar Wilde, I believe, who once said that he'd done a hard day's work: he'd spent the morning putting in a comma, and the afternoon taking it out. Whenever I have that sort of writing day, spent fruitlessly staring and tinkering and staring and tinkering, seeing a problem down a long vista of tunnel vision and failing comprehensively to solve it, it's Oscar Wilde who comes to mind.

But this morning I'm reading Daniella Brodsky's Vivian Rising and I've just come across this:
'... I'm not getting off the phone with you until I think of a good piece of advice.'

'We might be here awhile. Remember the Pacific Seafood Extravaganza debacle?' I say, recalling the day I was out sick and Wendy stayed at the office till after midnight thinking up a good rhyme for flounder.

'Right,' she says. 'I still don't know how your grandmother came up with "grab a pounder of flounder."'
Next time I'm having a day like that, I won't describe it to myself as the insertion and removal of commas, but rather as an attempt to think of a rhyme for flounder. In my family, any pointless endeavour is known as 'calling a Burmese cat', but the search for an impossible rhyme is a more fitting metaphor with regard to the writing life.

There are three different possible ways out of wasting a whole day in this manner, all of which involve reframing the problem rather than, erm, floundering around looking for a solution to the existing one, whatever it is, that you have idiotically set yourself:

1) Come up with an outrageous Ogden Nashish solution, as per 'pounder of flounder'.

2) Write blank verse.

3) Think of a different fish, but not lobster or oyster. Whiting, say, or shark. Better still, eel.