Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Writing, Writers, and the Written

It occurs to me that the people who are signed up to this blog as members / commentators / friends are also writers of one description or another. In fact, it occurs to me that everyone I know is, in reality, a writer.

When The Radio Network kicked me in the arse last year - on December 2nd, at 9.37am, but who's bitter? - I was actually given an opportunity to flex a few writing muscles.

Those muscles had been getting flabby: several years previosuly I had made sure that I wrote every day (and not for work. Writing as a job is exhausting. Writing for fun is refeshing.) and I found that I was able to slap around 1,000 reasonably well-crafted words words onto my 'pooter in an hour. 6,000 words a week, 26,000 words a month. They start to stack up after a while. Upon my redundancy, I resolved to write every day again. To stretch my imagination, to let my thoughts flow free, and so on.

Of course writing for a living got in the way. Actually working hard to get to write for a living got even more in the way.

But I think I've put together a few good things. I hope my friends are enjoying similar success. Paul has a Vespa, and plans to ride it around the North Island, writing reports as he goes. What a fucking brilliant thing. Stu manages a newspaper, and tends, I think, to write things when a predetermined number of Crowns have hit the back of the navel.

Two of my favourite females, Gillian and Fiona, are among the cleverest copywriters it's been my pleasure to know. Gillian's busy being a splendid human being (remember I occasionally scribble about nobility? Meet Gillian. Enviably noble. Make that Noble.) and studying Law. There's always one who proves the point. Incidentally, the word "proves", in this context, means "tests". Just so you know. I don't know what glorious plans Fiona has for life right now, but they're sure to be colourful, and involve extravagant adverbs. The Lovely Leah is no fool behind a pen, either: hugely creative, a magical woman who truly can think in four dimensions. I have two "folowwers" who hide beind psedoplumes, or nom de nyms. That's as should be. I, however, know them to be unearthly people. One of them is definitely of the Sidhe. Yoy know who you are. Then there's Roland, my step son. Probably has never, and never will, write a dramatic sentence. But he shows the way to lesser beings like myself, by his indomitable (yet casual) courage.

We all write, in our own ways. We write our stories as we live them. And sometimes a half-blind observer will write us. Consider yourselves written.

LISTENING TO: Duffy,"Rockferry". Great fun.

READING: "Lancaster", Leo McKinstry. The biography of the great RAF WWII bomber.

WORD OF THE DAY: Bastard. Sorry - I just heard the name John Key, in asociation with the letters A, C, and C.

RATS. Installment Number Two.

Even in this dim light the old devil would see that tiny pale flash, and would be even more wary.
Arthur Tomlinson normally wore his hair long, but this morning the thick dark locks were a hindrance to him. Slowly, very slowly, he gathered it together, and pushed it away from his right eye. It took him a further five minutes to uncover the rifle, and check it visually. He had loaded the magazine with two 7.62mm bullets: he would be disappointed if he needed the second round, but he always loaded it. Mistakes can happen. He could miss. The Second Coming might be trumped. Northridge might be swamped by a tidal wave.

Grampa Smith had bought the Mauser from the Farmers catalogue just two years earlier, for Arthur’s 25th birthday. He'd paid £6/6/0, or six guineas for the rifle, and he'd then spent two months working on the weapon, refining it. He’d worked at the trigger action, so it would break at an even six ounces pressure. He’d carved and sanded away at the stock and butt, taking an astonishing 17 ounces of weight from the rifle, without weakening it at all. The rifle was now perfectly balanced, and as accurate as the old man could make it. He put two hundred rounds through the barrel, checking and re-checking his results. In the old man’s hands, the weapon was consistent out to eight hundred yards, deadly at six hundred. Arthur was two hundred yards better with the Mauser. It’s the way it is, sometimes. Arthur yawned, his jaw cracking, and he winced. The sound could have been heard.
The grey and yellow down light was seeping down into the valley now, and Arthur could see the stream that flowed at the bottom of the gulley. The stream had been in his ears and mind for two hours, chuckling and dancing over the rocks, hopefully masking any sounds that the hunter may have foolishly made. Arthur’s quarry on this Spring morning had been hunted by the tribesmen from the pa, and the men and farmers from the twin villages of Northridge and Southridge for nearly twelve years now. He had survived all their best efforts, because he was old, wise to the ways of the hunters, and cranky. More so, now, because that fool Jim Towney from Southridge had put a bullet into Tom’s flank last Thursday.
Arthur had first seen the stag over eight years ago. He had been here, where he had now placed himself for the mercy shot. It had been a misty Waikato morning, the water-vapour skeining over the toi-toi and ferns, and the animal was suddenly there, a presence that dominated the gulley, and made Arthur feel insignificant. Tom – at that time he hadn’t yet earned the soubriquet “old” – had high-stepped out into the tiny clearing, and stood and tasted the air. Arthur could see, even at a distance of over a quarter-mile, that Tom’s great shoulder and haunch muscles were bunched, ready to spring and fly at the slightest hint of danger. On that occasion Arthur had been hunting with Grampa Smith’s old .50 calibre Sharps, and he had put the front sight over the great beast’s right shoulder, and visualised how the shot would fly. It would have been so easy.
He hadn’t taken the shot. Tom had simply been too beautiful. Arthur had told no-one of the sighting, and had since seen the animal on dozens of occasions. He had seen Tom in the roar, with a full fourteen-point rack crowning his proud head. He had gazed upon Tom in the shivering winter, and on lazy summer mornings. He had seen the great deer grow older and wiser, slower and craftier. Stalking Old Tom had been a constant test of Arthur Tomlinson’s skills, and he had no idea how many times the deer had bested him. This spot here – ah, this was where Old Tom had taken to breaking his fast over the past couple of years, and on this morning Arthur Tomlinson’s heart was breaking. Today he would have to kill the animal.

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