I'm ill, screw you.
Gripped by lugubrious fevers, somersaulting fuzzily through the Paracetamol Nebula, I have ditched the idea of Real Actual Work and seized instead the chance to squirt, bleed and spume my self-pity all over you. Nothing helps a bad mood — as that sage and venerable prophet Calvin once explained to chubby love-interest Suzie Derkins — like spreading it round.
(Pause. So miserable is my mood that I find myself actually toying, sat here in an unpleasant little pub outside Liverpool Street Station, with the idea of pitching a comic series based around a thinly-veiled Calvin analogue, years into his adulthood. Divorced, denied access to his kids, unemployed — with his curiously attractive thin-armed Mom dead of a cancerous boob and his bean-headed Dad fucking a west-coast skank — and remembering in the midst of a Methadrone hospitalisation the cotton-candy happiness of his youth: determining then and there to plumb the depths of narcotic desperation until he either dies, suffers a bliss-out breakdown, or succeeds in resurrecting his long-lost tigery pal Hobbes; whichever comes first. HA.
The reason I will not pitch this idea is that a) some things, and C&H is definitely among them, are sacrosanct, b) it actually doesn't sound like a very entertaining idea at all, now I come to read it back, and c) y'know… Fight Club. STILL. I'm sick, also physically unwell, and I choose to treat the condition with self-scarifying love-napalm. Next week: Liono hits 50, gives Wiley-Kit A.I.D.S., and shits a lung when he catches Snarf tugging one off over an old picture of Mum-Ra. CORRUPT YOUR MEMORIES, LITTLE DARLINGS.)
I'm ill, screw you.
The Keyboard Is My FuckMonkey:
Punctuation and grammar are a divine tyranny. Love them hard.
I've been trying to get back into the novel this week, and here is what I've discovered.
Novelists, TRUE FAKT, are — every last one — hateful and obsessive demons. They have to be. They're embittered, those beasts, by the loneliness of their barren little spirals, untouched by that one merciful flicker of gregariousness which blesses (saaay) the typical ComicBook writer. He at least is forced — no matter how grudging — to communicate with editors, artists, letterers…
No novelist enjoys writing. No. No, they do not. Anyone who says different is a filthy black-hearted fraud: either so full of daffy romantic idealism that they haven't yet Supped Of The True; or else are just plain-out lying.
"Oh, but Si, wait! No, you see, what about me? I love writing! It's my passion! It's what I live for!"
No. No, you little SHIT. You are wrong and sick and incorrect, and your lies are beneath you. What you "love" is not writing. Not the actual thing. What you love is the end of the day: reviewing your creation like a petty little god, oh yes, distractedly stroking your ballbag through your toga and crooning, crooning, crooning to yourself. If you're enjoying the real-actual-hitting-keys-process-part, you're doing it wrong.
I feel like I've made this point before, but I can't remember. I'm ill and therefore automatically excused.
Anyway, thus all the existential grumpage infecting your average novelist. Thus the miserable crumbling life of discomfort and deep abyssal helplessness. And that — THAT! — is at the heart of it. Control! Lack thereof!
Me? I can't control fuck-all. My life is a collection of tiny yet (endlessly and rapidly) magnifying problems — multiplying like larvae in a septic puddle — perpetually on the verge of overwhelming their environment but somehow always just held at bay, and my abject inability to solve a single one, let alone all of them, provides the Rich And Powerful emotional backdrop to my daily grind. Plus, ah-hoo-hoo-hoo, all the distractions I could ever want.
"But that's just you, Si! That's just you, you big silly sausage! You big wrinkly cunt, you! That's just you feeling sorry for yourself — you're ill, you said so — and using it for, ahahaha, column material! Boy, you musta been stretched for subject-matter this week, huh? It's just you, man! You can't use your own dreary little situation as a yardstick, chum! Don't preach your retard-misery as a species-condition, Si!"
No, wrong, false, bollocks, fuck off. Every prose writer I know is fundamentally and taxonomically the same: Unequipped For Reality. We're the snide sods who make smarmy comments from the safety of the next room, because we can't find the door. We're that weasely little shit who leans round the bully's back when he's finished kicking the crap out of you — this kid who could've helped at any point — but instead just looks thoughtful and asks how you feel 'cos he's never been in a fight himself. You honestly think we'd be doing this godawful job if we had the ability to control, affect, adapt or alter anything remotely Real? Fuck no! We are the wordfilth! We are the exquisite Vocab-Cocks, yes we are! And (and here's my point):
Punctuation is our one and only means of manipulating you scumnozzles into reading shit the way we want it read.
Do Not Fuck With Our Instruments.
Oh, I know the arguments. "Too many silly rules, Si! Too many odd little symbols, man! Grammar's no longer relevant in an interconnected, spontaneous, intercommunicating world. Like, dude, would the cosmos really suffer if the semi-colon perished in ignominy? Who needs apostrophes in a 140-character conversation? And what've you got against ALL CAPS, man?"
Fuck you! Fuck you, fruit-monger, with your Apple's 30p Each. Fuck you, Powerpoint Presentation shitowl, with your inconsistent approach to periods and commas. Fuck you, TXT MSG CNTFLP, with your scrupulously-contrived RTRD TLK. And above all: fuck you, Facebook nobjockey, Twitterscum, email-satan, with your four hundred exclamation marks and fucking dreadful fucking smiley-faced fucking fuckwitted fuckery AAAGH.
Y'see, y'see, ignoring punctuation isn't just a matter of making things simpler. It's not just about decluttering an overburdened language for the sake of excusing communal ignorance. No: there is a Humanitarian stake here.
With every cockup you make, every wilful act of linguistic disregard: you Geld Me. You de-bollock the Writing Race. You're kicking the tramp, mate! You're stealing the cripple's wheelchair! You're robbing a useless and helpless breed of the one measly point of control it has.
Skim readers? FUCK YOU. You know how long it took me to think of that one perfect word, the other day? That one gorgeous vocabulary-stymieing adjective — tip of my tongue, tip of my tongue — to seal the description of that one perfect scene in literary gold? And here's you, AARGH, flicking through a bookstore like a Catalogue-hobo, hearing dialogue in your brain all wrong because you never noticed that line, back on page one, about the character being a Cajun/Scottish mix, and, and, and…
Oh, what's the point?
Do me a favour: next time a doctor bends over you — and that's someone else, right, same as a writer, who spent Way Too Long wasting their real life in pursuit of what they thought was going to be their dream job; but turns-out in fact to be a misery-fest of ridiculous hours, thankless routines and messy disappointments — yeah, next time this doctor's leaning over you, to tell you how important it is you take these pills at these times, or asking your permission to perform this operation in order to save this life, or providing instructions on how to Stay Alive next time this heart suffers this explosive spastic infarction and detonates your circulatory system—
…You treat his burblings the same way you treat Tasty Printed Prose. Okay? Pick'n'choose the parts you think Matter. See where it gets you.
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(Disclaimer: Secretly, I'm nice.)