Friday, April 06, 2007

The Way of the Pear





















I try never to get too comfortable with the idea of being accepted, no matter how prosperous my prospects seem. What always happens is that the minute I get complacent about my right to ‘be’, it always gets challenged so it’s better if I just assume that, sooner or later, I’ll be found to not be a proper person and politely asked to leave. It’s partly my rebellious nature – I have an inbuilt aversion to blindly carrying out orders if to do so would be destructive to my own interests or the good of humanity. Some people interpret that as unreasonable. But also, it’s to do with assumptions and impressions that are beyond my control. To wit – people often mistake me for someone who is cool that they would like to get to know.

Believe me, I do everything possible to dissuade this impression from forming as I am all too familiar with the consequences. When I meet new people, I am often prickly and monosyllabic. I am not a cool person. I am in fact a jerk. Always have been. Always will be. I try very earnestly to convey the reality of my true self but it mostly just doesn’t work. Since I have been living in England, the phenomenon has been exacerbated by the English habit of fast befriending anyone with the vaguest sheen of exotic newness and involves them being all over you like a rash for a week or two and, just as you’re starting to get used to having them around, they decide they don’t like you that much after all.

Another factor is the English trait of presuming that they are able to tell in an instant your true character and resist all attempts at clarification. They know you much better than you know yourself. You know this because they are constantly upbraiding you about your pronunciation of your own home town or surname. This can be both annoying and undermining, particularly if your identity equilibrium is a bit on the shaky side. Although it seems a strong feature of human communications in England, I think it’s probably an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon generally. The Americans seem also quite obsessive about unveiling the person (often a child), within and have created an entire media industry around it. Australians are very keen to know all about others too but with us it’s probably just that we are nosey and have to be talking all the time to remind ourselves that we are alive.

I once briefly had an English boyfriend who was very polite and quite nerdy. It was going rather well until he got it into his head that women like men to be ‘a bit of a bastard’ and suddenly became sullen and moody. I assured him that I was really quite happy with polite and nerdy which was why I had responded to his romantic overtures in the first place. The whole episode was made even more excruciating by the sheer implausibility of the sullen moody routine. He was like a child pretending to be angry with you and completely unable to resist the urge to break into a smile. I spelt it out, explaining very carefully that I did not want to have one of these stupid English relationships where you have to pretend you’re not really into each other. The whole idea of it sounds exhausting and self defeating. You’re doing this because it is optional – unlike your tax return – and should be fun – unlike your tax return. Suffice to say the conversation didn’t go well. He knew me better than I knew myself, obviously.

Yes, all this is sort of going somewhere. The last couple of days I’ve been extrapolating the mixed blessings of my having finished Draft 3 (yes, it is 3, I’ve triple checked) of my book. To recap – head down, tail up - no time to contemplate, finish, euphoria, reflection, doubt, begin again. It’s a circle of life, as ‘Sir’ Elton so eloquently put it in his classic Lion King, except without nature being involved. Reading the Signs suggested I post excerpts of my previous novel (current working title - The Way of the Pear – I’ve always been terrible at titles and change them all the time. I hated the name of every band I’ve ever been in – the one exception being a women’s jazz band called Shrew. You have to admit that is one hot name. Obviously, I was not responsible for it). Some of our fellow bloggers have deservedly found a publisher this way, most recently my blog friend NMJ for her wonderfully titled The State of Me. You can read some excerpts here.

I have decided that I will take Reading the Signs’s advice and post a couple of chapters. All I have to do now is work out how I’m going to do that. My preferred method would be to provide a link rather than put it up as posts. Any ideas on how that could work would be most welcome. So now you’ve probably twigged as to why this long-winded lead-in. I write like a jerk. Hey, if I was the next Zadie Smith or Ian McEwan someone would have noticed by now. Seriously, if you’re expecting cool, you’ll be sorely disappointed. I’m really not being self-deprecating here – I’ve been in England a long time but not long enough for that one to have taken root. Jerk is good. Magnus Mills writes like a jerk (no offence Magnus – I adore your books), as did one of my great literary heroes John Kennedy Toole. Supreme being Jack Kerouac was king of the jerks. Gawd, now I realise I’ve got myself in a hell of a mess because I’ve just name-checked three great writers that you’re all bound to think are cool. I give up. Let the work speak - or whine as the case may be - for itself.

Coming soon to a screen not a million miles from your fingertips

The Way of the Pear – by Noosa Lee

One woman’s struggle to deal with the ruling cuntocracy by writing a musical about Ivanhoe. (In a weird way, it does sort of work)

What the people that really matter said about it :

‘When the going gets tough I put a little more mascara on’ Julian Clary.

‘I throw a custard pie in your face.’ Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney – I know he meant it as a complement. Rex Harrison’s annunciation was open to interpretation.

‘There ought to be clowns’. Stephen Sondheim.




Gorgeous picture entitled 'Teorema Metafisiro (oil on canvas 1978) from www.josephcusimano.com

18 comments:

Ms Melancholy said...

Book extracts - yes please....

That's so pants said...

Hi Ms M - you have my word - just as soon as the technology catches up with it.

Reading the Signs said...

Excellent news - I hope someone comes up with link advice soon.

Shrew is definitely a hot name - has there been a book of that title? There should have been.

About the cool thing: I really do believe (well almost) that you try to convince people of your uncool jerkiness, but the "reality of your true self" maybe just is, you know, cool. And the way you just wrote about it is. Dead cool, actually. Sorry. But as someone who has always wanted to be and isn't, nor has anyone mistakenly thought so, I've picked up a few possibly useful tips, so thanks.

That's so pants said...

See. SEE! This is what I'm up against. Talk about set me up for failure. Title wise, The way of the pear has been a favourite expression of mine for some years. As far as I know it does not yet exist as a book title. If someone else gets there first then I'll just have to think of another one. It won't be the first time.

nmj said...

hey pants, you are so sweet to be advertising me like this! hopefully, all will be signed & sealed next week, & i will believe it is all true, still expect it to fall through...glad you like the name, names are tough tough tough ... i would LOVE to read your book extracts (and i think 'the way of the pear' is a great title), if you don't want to cut & paste, maybe this will help...i found it in the bowels of blogger help . . .

Meredith said...

You could just set up another blog for the excerpts. Each excerpt could be a post. And just link to them from this blog.

That's so pants said...

Hi NMJ - pleasure.

Hi Meredith

Thanks to both of you for your ideas. NMJ - I tried to follow the instructions on blogger but it was all a bit complex. I think what I've done is good enough for the moment.

Reading the Signs said...

I also (and meant to say) like The Way of the Pear - have never heard it used as an expression, though and am intrigued to know what it means.

Lovely picture.

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs - I've posted an extract now. You are perhaps more familiar with the expression 'it's all gone pear-shaped?' I am never satisfied with things the way they are and find I have to customise even language to suit my own world view.

nmj said...

hey pants, yeah, they are a bit complicated, i think maybe they were written for old blogger? meredith is right, just make a new blog, & link to the posts, but you have done a great job, whatever you ended up doing, it looks great, i will read as soon as i have paper to print on, i can't read from the screen when it's something i want to focus on...have a good weekend, pants.

That's so pants said...

Cheers NMJ. I probably could have worked it out given more time but, when I thought about it, it hardly seemed worth the bother for the sake of having the chapters separated. It'll do

The Moon Topples said...

In order to post some excerpts from my NaNoWriMo piece, I set up a separate blog that contains only that. I linked to it for a while and then took the link down. So I could more or less control access and not have huge chunks of fiction choking up my blog. Anyway, that was my solution.

As to the whole cool thing: while I don't think I am a jerk, I am decidedly not cool. And yet I have been called such on my own blog by none other than Reading the Signs this very day. I keep correcting people, but I suppose if people want to believe something they're just going to believe it.

Anyway, I really just wanted to say that I'd like to read some of your fiction...

That's so pants said...

Hi Mr Moon - It is done - see sidebar.

Re cool - Signs is just plain subversive if you ask me - but in a nice way obviously.

My problem with it is that sooner or later people realise their error and blame YOU for it. It's very unfair.

Reading the Signs said...

Damn right I will. But then I give you and Mr. Moon full permission to sing "I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden" etc.

I am reading and enjoying. Read Australia on the screen and printed the rest off.

Ms Baroque said...

I was also going to say start a separate fiction blog, but I see the others beat me to it! Also, you clearly started one blog so you can't find it as difficult as all that. Of course you can start another! I wonder if sometimes you aren't over-egging the pudding a bit. Goping the way of the egg.

And btw of course you're cool. Durrr.

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs - I beg your pardon, I never promised you Elizabeth Arden.

Welcome return from your holiday Ms Baroque - sorted now I think. Thanks.

Ms Baroque said...

Going, of course I meant. Even I don't know what "goping" means.

Yes, I'm back, and glad to see that That's So Pants is in fine fettle this Easter season!

That's so pants said...

Hi Ms B - I knew that - although goping is a good word.