January 28th, 2006


Nathan Ballingrud Says

I quite like Nathan Ballingrud's blog. So should you:

Serious writers have an obligation to empathize. If you can't do that -- if you can't make an effort to feel the experience of another person, no matter how cosmetically and culturally different, then who exactly are you writing about? Are you writing the same set of characters over and over again, only with different names and in different settings? Am I?

Recoiling for fear of fucking it up is unhealthy for the writer, unhealthy for the genre, and unfair to people who find themselves either under-represented or all-but excluded from the genre. It is also downright criminal for a category of fiction which styles itself as forward-thinking, and culturally literate.

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    shihad's love is the new hate on the stereo (the word is oddly old fashioned today)

Five Weird Things About Me.

So I'm behind in my memes, so what. It's Saturday and the heat is rising in Sydney and I'm catching up on my blog reading. This is the one where you list five weird things about yourself. Once I've finished I'm going to go read a bit more of Lydia Millet's Oh Pure and Radiant Heart and just chill.

Five Weird Things.

1) I don't drink much. I've never had a taste for it, that's all. No philosophical debate. Just taste. When I do drink, however, I like mescal. You know, the tequila like drink that comes with worms in it. I just love it. I drink it straight, no lime, no salt, nothing. Just straight down, wait for that flush of warm relaxation through you. Like most of my weird things, I don't think this is weird, but numerous people have taken time out to inform me that yes, it is weird.

2) I cannot handle tucked in beds. If I get into a bed and the sheets are tucked in, I kick them out. Likewise, when I get into a car, the first thing I do is wind down the window. Only heavy rain makes me wind it up and then I'm always uncomfortable with it. Yet, small cramped rooms suit me just fine, really, and I have no problem with tiny, enclosed areas, though I do prefer them with a window that I can open and occasion sit out on.

3) I pretty much wear black all the time. I'm fine with this. There are numerous reasons, having to do with fashion, judgment, whatever you want, pick a reason, maybe it's simply being comfortable in what you wear, and that's it. A bit of colour sneaks in nowadays (I own red boots for example) but mostly, it's straight black, and this is also apparently weird. People tell me this. I don't know why they suddenly feel as if they have a right to tell me how to dress, but considering I'm a big, bald guy dressed in black and often described as mean and nasty by strangers, a lot of people feel comfortable telling me all black is bad for me, like it's their business. Some even go as far as to suggest that this is why people call me mean and nasty as if being a big bald guy has nothing to do with it (maybe if I wore kilts). I really don't understand the fascination with my colour, myself, but it is pretty common thing for people to tell me. When they do this, it's time to point out that their shoes clash with their handbags and that peach coloured top doesn't match their skin/hair and how that t-shirt looks like it was designed by a monkey on speed and how, y'know, those pants look like something your parents wore. Or I just ignore them. Either way. Depends on the day.

4) I hate paying for parking and will not pay for it on the street. I will walk four blocks, thus removing the point for owning a car, rather than pay a meter. I think I've fed coins in there maybe half a dozen times in my life, and each time I've felt morally offended, because I am paying for simple space, with no service, love, anything. Just an empty space. It galls me even now to write about it.

5) I cannot do two projects at once. Take for an example my thesis, which contains a novel, A Year in the City, and my disseration, called Dissertation on A Year in the City (classy, yeah?). I cannot work on both in the same day or, indeed, the same week, due to the brain space they occupy when I'm in them. For me to work on one or the other, I have to ditch the information out of my mind, free it up, have reached a conclusion point, and be able to move freely to the next. It's like this for every project: a short story will occupy my entire head for however long it takes me to write it, as will a review, anything I create. Consequently, I structure my time well in advance, so my head can go, "Friday, Saturday, Sunday: short story. Monday: rest. Tuesday: review." I can never mix. I put this down to the fact that I am simply not very intelligent and that to keep up with everyone else, I've got to focus on my work to the point where I neglect people, time, everything else. I'm very poorly structured with everything else in my life, really, to the point where I often decide to do things on the day, much to everyone's frustration.

So, there you go. I'm actually much more neurotic than this (which is pretty normal, really), but I'll spare you it all.