Mechanically Separated Chicken.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

A Day In The Life Of A Writer.

Young creative writing students, eager to emulate my successes, often write me letters asking about my daily routine. I am more than happy to describe it, though I doubt it will do any of you much good since each man must find his own path up the mountain, so to speak. All I can say is that for me, life is an unremitting struggle with nature, to the death. Or at least until tea-time.

Each day I arise early, and splash my face with water to the sound of the Upfield train thundering into Jewell station. I wrap myself in an old, threadbare woollen blanket and a tartan cap worn at a jaunty angle. I wear no other clothes at that time, since I find that my body is at its optimum and most masculine when cold and slightly itchy.

I sit on my front porch with my morning pipe and a full continental breakfast (including yoghurt, nectarines, yesterday's hard croissants and a pot of strong Turkish coffee) and nod a gruff Good Morning to the Greek family tending their tomato plants in the garden across from my own.

At around noon, I compose several letters to the editor, addressing the following topics:

1. The Pot-Holes On Grantham Street, And Why They Are a Menace To The Suspension Of My 1994 Nissan Patrol.
2. The Benefits of Poetry; More Particularly, My Poetry.
3. Why I Should Be Permitted To Walk About The Town Wearing Only My Tartan Cap, Woollen Scarf And Knee-High Football Socks.
4. Bull Fighting: Its Beauty And Why It Should Not Be Illegal.
5. My Neighbour Mister Barney Langham, And His Dog That Won't Stop Barking Even When I Poison It.
6. Eight Things Everyone Should Know About Pantoums.
7. The Corruption of Arts Funding Bodies By Economic Rationalism And Youth Culture.
8. My Books, And Why They Should Be Taught In Schools.
9. Osso Bucco, And How To Prepare It.
10. The Erotic Potential Of Librarians.

After posting these missives, I prepare myself for the hours of vigorous lovemaking which may be required of me at a moment's notice, depending upon the schedule of the nearby Young Ladies Writer's College. If it is Modern Poetry Day, I can expect several visits throughout the afternoon.

My preparation consists primarily of rubbing down my powerful body with a handful of coarse sea-salt or sand, followed by a quick shower beneath my fibreglass waterfall, a garden feature in my back yard roughly eight feet in height which I had a friend construct for me last summer. After bathing and perhaps a few push-ups, I coat myself liberally in a lotion of castor oil and lemon juice, a recipe I invented myself and find invigorating, and then dress quickly in a manly shirt of some kind and a pair of moleskins.

Then I eat a sandwich.

While I am waiting for any Young Ladies who may arrive, there are a number of writing activities I might pursue, including working on my column about trout fly fishing for the Moreland City Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter or perhaps jotting down some haiku or tanka. I may also continue my ongoing and extremely vitriolic correspondence with the poetry editor of Cordite magazine, who is an ass.

I then write ten thousand words towards my latest novel, which is about a young man with pleurisy working in a video rental store, and snack on trail mix I keep in a Groucho Marx biscuit tin beside my desk.

It's worth mentioning that any and all writing is executed via either a battered Underwood typewriter or my grandmother's badly leaking fountain pen. In fact, I have rendered many pairs of pants unwearable with smudges of indelible navy blue ink or the stream of hot urine I find myself unable to repress whenever I produce yet another Perfect Sentence.

The remainder of the day is spent smoking cigars, cracking walnuts open with my bare hands, and watching documentaries about the ancient pyramids on SBS. Eventually I fall asleep on the banana lounge beneath my hills-hoist, with a copy of 'Rex Hunt's Guide to Big Game Fishing' on my chest, dreaming of robust women.

Young writers, take heed: it's a rigorous life, full of socratic dialogue and firm erections and stamped, self-addressed manila envelopes; none but the brave of heart should attempt it.