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Taking stock

May 9, 2010

Another arbitrary date on the calendar rolls around. There is the New Year, there are anniversaries. Tomorrow is my birthday, heralding another round of introspective navel-gazing and a look at what I’ve achieved, and what I’ve failed to achieve.

By chance, it coincides with a search for a career, self-doubt over my capabiliites as a businessman and editor, the resurrection of a long-neglected joint writing project, and a new impetus to relaunch my blog, several months after I said I would be migrating from Blogger to WordPress.

There will be a cull of blog posts. Looking back at my early writing, it really is some dreary, self-indulgent nonsense. Or, to be blunt, crap. What stands out though is the difference in quality between the fiction posts. Some, where I was writing because I ought to write, are very weak.

But there are early posts that still stand up to my own self-criticism, that I actually enjoy re-reading. And I remember writing them. I remember the excitement. I remember enjoying the writing process. And that’s the difference between weak writing and excellent writing. It’s not technical skill. It’s passion.

I’d like to leave you with one of the earliest bits of writing I have left, and one that will survive the cull. In fact, it was my public debut on Write Anything (Write Stuff as it was then). It was the first [Fiction] Friday I took part in, and I still smile when re-reading the story, and the comments. In addition, I think it says everything you need to know about my interests, and the areas my writing gravitates towards.

The prompt was “Dirty Little Secrets – Pick a famous fictional character and give them a secret vice – at the very least it should be distasteful if not outright illegal. Now give the character’s rationale in their own words.”

I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. No, I don’t feel guilty about it at all. Why does he get all the attention anyway? That fat idiot. He gets all the attention, while we’re all relegated to bit players. Well, I’m tired of it. No more meek little Piglet. Mr Milne said that the book was all about me, not that overstuffed, brainless bear.

He was always there, sponging off the rest of us, contributing nothing. “Oh Piglet, I wouldn’t mind a little smackering of something, oh Owl, would you by chance have any honey?” And did he give anything back? Of course not.

It started innocently enough I suppose. It was more an accident than a deliberate plan to do Very Bad Things to him. Kanga gave it to me. I thought it was just the bottle of malt she gives to Roo. But she said it always helped her to calm down, then winked at me. I didn’t think much more of it until I got home and poured it into the honey. I only wanted to knock him out you see. He can be so infuriatingly tiring when he gets going.

Right on clockwork, the Bear of Little Brain arrives at my door, chancing his arm to see if he can get a free meal. “Oh yes Pooh, I have some honey right here” – and he eats it. All of it. The greedy swine. And that’s when I really look at the label on the bottle. It’s not malt. It’s opium…

That whole Heffalump chase incident? Yeah, wandering around a forest in circles chasing imaginary animals in a fugue of opium. The only thing you can do with him then is play along, or he gets spooked. The highs were funny – for a while. But the come downs… let’s just say that his temper is something that Mr Milne never wrote about! And of course, one pot ceased to be enough for him, he demanded more and more, to feed his dual addictions. The waist-expanding honey addiction, and the mind-expanding opium addiction. He ate so much once he got stuck in Rabbit’s doorway, and when we finally got him out he claimed he saw all of Rabbit’s Friends and Relations pulling on him. Honestly, it was just Rabbit and me, he hallucinated the rest.

So now of course we have a quandary. What to do with him? Keep him doped up? He had precious little Brain to begin with, now he just sits and drools. We can’t get him to go cold turkey – the last time he did well… let’s just say we haven’t seen Tigger in a long time. Kanga can’t keep getting hold of the stuff for us. She’s not as young as she used to be, and let’s just say that doesn’t get as much for her company as she used to, if you know what I mean…

I think the best thing we can do is take him to the Enchanted Place and be done with him. Like we did with Eyeore.

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me… Next week may see a review of my birthday present…
  1. May 9, 2010 5:37 am

    Loved it, Paul. It entertained me, yes; but it answered a question that has burned through my mind for many years:
    “How did Eeyore stand the pain of having his tail nailed back on when they retrieved it from Owl’s tree?”
    Thank you. Bless the Taliban for that.
    But don’t knock Kanga (pun not intended); she does provide something in the niche market that might otherwise be difficult to obtain. I saw her leaning on a tree in the Hundred Acre Wood, quite recently, and as Mr Gilbert was wont to say, “She may very well pass for forty-three, in the dusk, with the light behind her”.

  2. May 9, 2010 9:37 am

    *tears rolling down my face* Oh Paul – how I have missed your fictional writing… your wit. I didn’t have the pleasure of reading this when you first posted it – but it certainly hasn’t lost anything over the years.
    It certainly explains a few things with the Poo Bear.
    Happy birthday for tomorrow….

    As for writing ‘crap’ – the best advice I saw about this was – “allow oneself to write crap.. and then allow yourself to write better stuff.” ( paraphrased)

  3. May 9, 2010 10:28 am

    That is absolutely wonderful! I’m still laughing as I write this. I’m also very glad that you saw the value of keeping it.

    Don’t lose all your old stuff by deleting it. It may be of help to you in another project – or just serve as that reminder you mentioned of the difference between “have to” and “passion.” I recommend that you copy them to another folder on your hard drive.

  4. May 10, 2010 1:19 am

    I love looking through my old blog posts. I cringe a lot because I wasn’t the most nuanced of political ranters back then, but definitely had my moments.

    And I loved the piece. There’s a real streak of unbridled originality there.

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