Monday, September 26, 2011

Channelling the Duke

I was indulging in a two-minute hate directed at the utterly humiliating number of Discworld novels I have consumed over the past several months, weeks, days, sometimes hours. I have no income, therefore I have no entertainment budget, but thanks to my Connection (the Kindle I received as a very ill-considered Christmas gift), those $8 e-books just keep appearing in my hand.

I was in the middle of the above-mentioned self-flagellation (how many G's in flagellation? I think just one.) when I started to read Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, and it hit me: I am not alone. Wasting one's time, money, talent and physical and mental well-being on brain-rotting substances is traditional in my chosen profession.

It's practically required.

I wouldn't be much of a writer without an addiction, would I?

Sennyways, good old Hunter turned his addictions into literary greatness. Or at least literary coolness. Which would be just fine. As established in previous posts, I've given up on greatness.

What, then, does this mean for Terry Pratchett and me? It means I must somehow make sitting around reading lightweight fantasy comedies a key ingredient in my Art. To follow in The Duke's footsteps, it is first necessary to splash all one's flaws down on the page.

Or at least successfully pretend to. It's probably safe to assume that if Hunter had opened up completely, his self-destruction would begin to be too depressing to sell. So what we're after here is not so much a confessional as a con.

A substance-abuse based con, turning bathos into style, contemptibility into cool, mediocrity into the superfly stylings of a brand-new literioso hep to the real score.

Yeah, that wasn't it.

How about this?

I was sprawled in my grandmother's plush rocking chair, lost in trying to plot out my fourth un-optionable and un-finishable screenplay, indulging in a two-minute hate for my [I AM TOO TIRED TO THINK OF A CLEVER WORD FOR MY SHORTCOMINGS. ADD SOMETHING LATER. SHOULD INVOLVE IMPOTENCE.]

I had had more than enough time and money to finish all four, courtesy of Visa and Mastercard, but the funds had already been spent on Discworld paperbacks and new shoes. (The shoes were on sale.)*

The sun blazed in through the chintzy curtains, highlighting the tired leaves of two once-proud orchids. I hadn't misted them in days.

Suddenly, a flock of overweight comically pontificating wizards flew across the pages of my unassuming shoot-'em-up space opera, dexterously illustrating the most incisive, acid-tongued conventional wisdom to ever come from a couple of knock-knock jokes and an old-fashioned dirty limerick remixed with a dragon and an ironically self-aware technology reference.

I screamed like a girl.

The cat looked up from the sunny bit of the carpet in front of the orchids. “What the hell?” her bloodshot eyes seemed to ask.

Oh nothing,” I said, trying the shake the trite social commentary out of my head and off my defunct Dell Inspiron.

She hadn't seen the wizards, but she would.

Whatever,” she said, rolling over to catch the fading rays. “Anyway, you are a girl.”

Moving on, I would have to illustrate the tragic waste of my innate genius through the corrupting influence of fantasy adventure novels, sci-fi TV series, an astounding number of sitcom reruns, and even (shudder) used Star Wars Extended Universe paperbacks; to show, not to tell (never, never to tell!), that the true culprit is not the drugs, my laziness, or inability to finish anything, but The System.

Do you have any idea how easy it is to buy a book on an e-reader? Do you? Easier than buying crack, that's for sure. To download The Hogfather, you push just one button. Just one. Just like the rats in the cocaine experiments.

Why didn't they have the rats have to go out and find a dealer, anyway? That would have been much more realistic.

And don't say I had to take the first step, I had to go out and buy a Kindle. Don't just act like you know my story, just like that. It was a Christmas gift.

Yeah. You should be sorry.

Not bad, huh?

*In true “gonzo” style, I'm calling my drug of choice “paperbacks,” because “e-books” falls flat—in this way I force the greater meta-truth into the reader's soul by glossing over the actual “true” truth. Also, because needless footwear has become the culturally acceptable shorthand for how women waste money, I say “shoes” instead of “a weird no-button blazer I didn't need, and a pair of navy sateen American Eagle shorts with a bow.” Hunter would be so proud.