Thursday, April 05, 2007

Chop, Chop

Yesterday I reported that I was nearing the end of Draft 4 of my book. This was pants. It is Draft 3 that I have been working on – and incidentally finished just minutes ago. Draft 3 is what is written in the funky little Microsoft Word header that I cleverly created rather than getting down to the hard graft of laying down words and sentences followed by more words and, ho-hum, sentences. What is happening to my mind? Draft 3 or 4, it hardly matters. It is rubbish. Don’t worry, this is not just me having a crisis of confidence - what is on the page is genuine dross. Everything up to Draft 6 is with me. I don’t know how I persevere. I wish I’d chosen to be an artist working in elephant dung, it would have been more rewarding. Still, it’s done and my Arthur/Martha identity issue is all part of the process which, apparently, I must trust. Whatever.

Someone I seriously don’t trust, as you may recall, is Home Secretary John ‘Chopper’ Reid who today had everyone roaring with laughter at his latest suggestion to roll out the barrel of monkeys that is ‘talking’ CCTV. As we know, Government is very fond of trawling the archives of film and literature in search of satire, fantasy and exploitative comedy that can be recycled into innovative government policy, stripped of its irony and morality. British readers will recall Beadle’s About, a television programme in which sane and decent people had their faith in humanity shattered by an experience which involved their prized Cortina being removed and crushed by an officious cunt claiming to be an authority of some kind. Permanent damage was rendered by the knowledge that the victim’s entire family conspired to demolish his self respect. For American readers think Candid Camera. For Japanese readers – any of your television actually.

Britain has the highest concentration in the world of CCTV cameras cruising the general population without any cause whatsoever, so it was only a matter of time before motivation caught up with opportunity and ability. In a ‘successful’ trial in Middlesbrough, an army of gainfully employed citizens on minimal wages holed up in dark and dank monitoring stations, grabbed the chance to broadcast what they’d always wanted to say to the scallywags that threaten our peaceful way of life, by snapping anonymous orders into microphones. The only reasons they hadn’t already done so was that they were afraid of reprisals or constrained by that great British tradition of harrumphing rather than confronting people pissing them off. How great it must have been to finally get the opportunity to use millions of pounds of technology to utter those words you’d always been afraid to say,

‘Attention, child of three or possibly four, wearing a pink Barbie fleece, PICK UP the wrapper of the confectionary item that your harassed single parent on the edge of suicide has not noticed you dropped because she is unable to navigate the minefield of Child Benefit and is terrified that you and your younger siblings will be removed by Social Services with neither explanation nor cause. Your behaviour is unacceptable to the law abiding majority of Britain. Consider yourself named and shamed.’

Outraged of Outer Hairpiece and Appalled of Apple Amstrad jammed the mobile phone of our BBC’s News 24 with their txt msgs. Obviously they would have preferred to present a considered treatise on the futility of pursuing a political policy that divides and conquers an already oppressed underclass by hiving off a section of said underclass to spy upon and torment anonymously via technology their friends, neighbours, children and lovers. The limitations of txt msg-er-g being what they are, this msg invariably arrived as,

This is Big Brother gone mad.

Shame really because it wasn’t Big Brother that went mad but rather the ordinary citizens of Orwell’s Oceania, principally one Winston Smith. This presented us with something of a mxd msg. Not to worry. Chopper soon cleared it all up by appearing on our GMTV – like the BBC’s Breakfast Programme but with blonde people and advertisements for diet foods and a decided absence of baggy eyes and conversations about how dreadfully difficult it is to get up in time for the BBC limo every morning. Chopper explained the motivation behind paying some citizens a tiny amount of money to terrorise their fellows,

‘It helps counter things like litter through drunk or disorderly behaviour, gangs congregating. They are the sorts of things that make people's lives a misery. Anything that tackles that is better.’

Very convincing Chopper. Since you’re able to articulate so succinctly the benefits of having a voice on a stick tell us off in town centres all over Britain as opposed to, say, offering us a society of which we feel proud enough of our environment to care for it without being ordered to, please do proceed.

‘We've got more powers than ever before, more resources than ever before. This is just an additional thing.’

Seriously, Chopper, we couldn’t be more reassured. Do go on.

The vast majority of people are pretty decent. But if people persistently refuse to do this we have got pictures, which provide evidence and the police can be called.’

Well, we would be scared but we know that voice on a stick is instead of the police, right? I think there may be a tiny hole in your plan Chopper.

Well, having got all that off my chest, I feel a whole lot better. My sentences may be crap at Draft 3 but at least they’re whole and I’m not recycling someone else’s plot. Please excuse me, I now feel able to get down to some serious editing of my own...

Barbie barbarised by - the swine!


Ms Melancholy said...

Yes, the voice on a stick - as you so wonderfully put it - really is what we all need to move out of utter despair and into civic pride. That will do the trick, won't it? Incidentally, do you think the poor bastards holed up in the control room will have a script, like those dreadful tele sales people that call you just when you have put your tea on the table? Or will they be able to spontaneously swear and shout at people? That could be fun. I might apply, and quote Marx at people.

That's so pants said...

Good Golly Ms Melancholy - you really worry me sometimes.

Reading the Signs said...

hey ms P,about the draft(s): surely you can't say it's dross or anything else now because you're much too close to it. Anyway, I can't believe you write dross. And that other work, the one you liked but isn't yet published - couldn't you post some of that on your blog the way nmj did with hers (and it was then spotted by an agent)? Because I would love to read and I bet others too.

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs

No - it is dross because that's just the way I do it. I think because I wrote music and poetry before prose that I am one of those people who prioritise getting everything down. It helps me to scope the work to do it that way. I know people who work the opposite way and won't move on until they've perfected a sentence. I suppose it's a bit like doing a silk screen print - you have to put down so many layers before it starts to make sense. There are advantages to working this way - you amass 100,000 words quite quickly and therefore something to mould. The disadvantage is that you're reading back drivel when you get onto the next draft and you have to work quite hard to overcome the embarassment that you committed it to paper in the first place. I worry that someone else will read it and think I meant to say that. I'm a rewriter. Even my blog posts usually go through quite a bit of refining (how SAD is that?).

I was thinking of putting extracts from No. 2 on the blog. I know it has paid off for some people. I will give it some serious thought - thanks.