Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Seven Days In, And The Screech Of Brakes Is Indistinguishable From The Roar Of The Engine


What a strange year this has been so far, with its flurries of snow, awkward new TV dramas and exciting microwave oven contents c/o Son Of Whirl’s thermal bedtime monkey.


In truth, 2009 has oozed from the tail end of last year like the innards of some poor dog splattered on the road by the stomping feet of revellers singing Auld Lang Syne, mainly due to all the business of my Dad’s death remaining unresolved. It’s taking me an average of a minute and a half to enter or leave my study at the moment, such is the obstacle course of unsorted boxes raided from his attic. Then there are all the letters to the various banks and building societies, the phone calls to well-wishers and relatives, and the life-draining hand-to-hand combat with the vampires of commerce sniffing at my Dad’s rotting flesh. I’ll be the first to confess that I’ve never signed my name to the list of the world’s most sensitive souls, but I do know what a heart is. One of the last things my Dad did was to switch phone company, and his new contract came into operation on the day he died, but in spite of him never making a single call (that’s lying in hospital gasping for breath for you), the miserable bastards are billing him for line rental. And this is c/o no default computer-generated statement, note. I rang the company concerned and told them and spoke to a real person. Truly, I despair. There may be a global financial crisis and we may all be in the same boat, but if this is the future of sailing, I’m jumping ship and swimming with sharks whose blood is mostly their own.

Sorry if I sound bitter and twisted — it’s because I am.

(Pause)

So, now onto some obscenely flippant stuff. Because that’s what you’re here for, right? Unless you’re a shameless mock kilt enthusiast — in which case, just email me.

Today, I managed to set all of the aforementioned bleakness of being to one side for a moment and get down to some serious writing on my WIP. Sadly, my Whirl socks were in the wash, so it wasn’t that serious, but I did wear a silly hat and warble like the horrid midget from The Communards. Actually, if truth be known, the socks themselves belong to Girly Of Whirly and have to be stolen from her knicker drawer before I’m able to draw upon my full range of superpowers. But I digress/confess/OK officer I’ll come right along. I’ve been concerned for some time that the second chapter of my novel is a weak link in the opening trio that may at some stage be demanded by a suitably wowed agent. When I read it through this morning, although I still liked some of its coarseness and wit, I realised I was sitting on 1600 words of backstory. Plus, the POV character is neither of the three MCs. Am I digging a hole for myself here? The more I read on, the more I thought exactly that, so I’ve reworked the scene with the transformational gusto of an obese mother of ten pumping iron, combining it with one or two other stray chapterettes to produce what I hope will be an engaging soupcon of narrative, to be slung neatly as enhanced and active backstory between chapters 1 and 3 in a way that ought to convey/foreshadow what’s to follow in the rest of the book. Yeah, I struggled with that last sentence too. (Oh, what to do with an ‘order of events’ in a universe of simultaneous glut). Upshot: I managed 500 words in 55 minutes (with likely subsequent work requiring a filling in of gaps rather than cuts, edits and rewrites), which is a shitload better than I was managing prior to Christmas, when whole LOTR-style generations of slugs could have been born and died in the time it took me to scribble a sentence. So the juices are squirting, so to speak, and when I can direct them through the tip of my pen instead of haplessly witnessing them streak from my tear ducts, I’m looking forward to tearing my way through my manuscript and finishing the fucker off. When Spring arrives and pumps me full of its usual adrenaline, the last thing I want to be doing is dragging a mule round between the daffodils and crocuses. Nah — come April, I want to get writin' me a whole new hoss.

As for the forthcoming 100th post, unless the laws of mathematics have been overturned like the cast of Cats dancing their way through the final number just as the future Captain Gallons Of Spontaneous Grease is bitten by a radioactive seborrhoea sufferer in the audience, I’m guessing it will follow this one some time soon. I’m very grateful to all of you who choose to spend the odd moment here for the plethora of suggestions you’ve made regarding the form of said post. What can I say? I’ll get back to you shortly with news. And if your heart has just skipped a beat, remember, it’s neither evidence of an impending heart attack nor the attentions of an infatuated anonymous telepath: one of you will soon be in receipt of a crap crap crap crap crap prize...

31 comments:

freddie said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad, Whirl. I hope that phone company gets its collective face shoved into a dirty toilet.

Glad to hear you're still working on your WIP. Good for you!

JaneyV said...

I moved to England 20 years ago today. I was supposed to be spending 6 weeks here and then going to Germany. I haven't been back to Germany since. This has nothing to do with your post other than I saw the words '7 days in' and remembered!!

It's an emotional roller-coaster dealing with everything after someone passes on. You go from nostalgia, to sadness, to irritation at bureaucracy, to anger, back to nostalgia, full force in to full flaming rage and back to sadness again. Plus all the paperwork is a big ol' nightmare. I'm just glad you're finding the time to wrestle with your WIP as well. I have had so many POV problems I've decided to ignore them completely and hope that by the time I've got to the end I'll know what the hell I'm doing.

Looking forward to the next one Whirl. I cant wait to see who gets all that crap!

Whirlochre said...

Interestingly, it's only just occurred to me that the wheelbarrow into which I'm shovelling all the crap not only has a rusty wheel, but also can't be mailed first class to anywhere closer than the end of my street.

OK, so scratch my old settee as a crap crap crap crap crap prize.

Kiersten said...

I hope the whole phone company goes under.

And you'd better not just pick the guy who lives at the end of your street as winner, because HE DIDN'T EVEN ENTER.

Robin S. said...

Handling the paperwork is such a pointless-yet-necessary death-defying endeavor.

I don't know about in Britain, but I had to order extra death certificates after my Dad died, and send them all over hell's half acre. It was so odd, having to repeatedly proved he was dead.

I'll be thinking about you.

And about your new vision for the early part of your WIP - sounds like a good one.

Whirlochre said...

It's true the guy at the end of my street didn't enter, Kiersten, but he sings to me whenever he varnishes my toenails, so I kind of owe him a favour.

As for the death certificates, they currently retail at £3.50 each — £7 if requested posthumously. In the days when scribes had to etch the details onto vellum in pigs' blood, I suppose this makes some sort of sense, but the three copies I paid for were run off on a laser printer right in front of my eyes. Maybe it's time to do away with 'administrative costs' on the grounds that most of them are now a racket.

Kiersten said...

My sisters worked in a dermatology office and they regularly had patients' family members call in to tell them that So-and-So with the massive, unpaid bill was now, in fact, dead.

They never were.

Sad that the scammers of the world make everything harder for the rest of us.

BBJD said...

Hello.

I don't remember if I've actually posted here before, so I will tell you I found you through Evil Editor. You have been kind enough to help me with my writing.

So very sorry about your Dad. May the comfort of your family and friends sustain you.

Glad to know you are back on your WIP.

Bevie

Whirlochre said...

Hi Bevie

Always nice to have people parachute in from EE's.

Glad to hear I supplied a useful critique — I can be a little scathing if I'm not careful.

Come back soon. My 100th post beckons...

fairyhedgehog said...

I'm really sorry about the shit you're having to deal with around your father's death. It's bad enough when a parent dies without stupid, mean-spirited people making life more difficult for you.

The whole business with the death certificates seemed quite surreal to me. I think we ended up with the wrong place of birth on my mother-in-law's certificate but as no one noticed at the time we're not going back to change it now.

I hope you're not having to do all this by yourself and that you've got support available when you need it.

I would send you hugs, but if you're like me the last thing you need when you're angry is to be touched. At least the WIP is going well from the sound of it.

Whirlochre said...

No! Send hugs! I'm bloody frozen!

writtenwyrdd said...

Well, hugs from Maine, too, then, Whirl. (Are there enough commas in that sentence?)

I think that every company that you owe needs a death certificate, every contract, even the bloody post office. The amount of stupid things you must deal with while grieving for the loss of a loved one is ridiculous, and I'm sorry you have to go through it. Besides which, Christmas won't be quite the same ever again becauase now it's an anniversary, too...

Sigh. On a slightly bizarre but related note, the house I bought was from an estate sale, and I am getting lots of mail for the 97-year-old woman who died. It seems they don't forward mail for the deceased, even to her relatives... We have to manually write the new address on.

Dave King said...

I can sympathise - it's not so long ago I was sorting out my Dad's things.

Mary said...

I knew those socks weren’t yours! Thief! ;)

When one of my relatives died, it took almost a year to convince his electricity supplier he had ceased to exist. It got very, very upsetting. They wanted to take him to court.

It is almost unbelievable that phone and utility companies do not have a more realistic system in place. They may not like it, but customers do die. Not everyone is a crazed liar who will fake his own death for the sake of avoiding a bill.

Good luck, Whirl. I hope you have a smoother ride with bureaucracy than we did.

BBJD said...

"I can be a little scathing if I'm not careful.

I have no trouble with scathing, as long as the administrator of said lashes knows what they're about. You do, by the way.

I agree with FH. I hope you have siblings, or other relatives to help you through the clerical requirements. But even if you don't, allow yourself time to grieve when the mood strikes.

You know you can count on your blog visitors to uplift you in their hearts and prayers.

Here's hoping for a good day to you.

Whirlochre said...

Hey, my blog regulars have been providing me with such an uplift over the past few weeks I've had trouble talking without choking on the gusset of my almost airborne underpants.

Kiersten said...

I was going to offer you a hug until that underpants comment. That creeped me out just a tad, so instead I'll wave cheerily at you from a safe distance...

Whirlochre said...

Note to self: stop talking about your underpants.

Robin S. said...

Are you kidding me?

Underpants are one of my favorite topics. I don't know if you remember or not, but at EE's party last year, we even asked HIM what he wore. Or didn't. Ya know.

Whirlochre said...

Underpants are one of my favorite topics.

I'd love to take a look at your reference library...

Kiersten said...

I knew I could count on Robin to counter my comment ; )

Leon Basin said...

Hey, how is it going? Great post!

Whirlochre said...

Hi, Leon.

The truthful answer is 'subdued' at the moment, but I'm sure I'll fix that soon enough.

(sighs/smiles)

Robin S. said...

How are you, Whirl?

Whirlochre said...

It's as if all sensation has been sucked from me by a giant vacuum cleaner, whisked in a giant bowl by an angry Gordon Ramsay, and forced back up my rear end by a tractor tyre pump.

So — not too bad, under the circumstances.

Whirlochre said...

On a cheerier note, I've just found a box of artsy postcards that have been missing for at least 8 years.

McKoala said...

Aussie hugs. Extra hot.

ril said...

My every sympathy to you, Mr. W. I have not had to go through that experience yet, but the reality that I will fills me with dread.

And of course, the unsympathetic bureaucracy of incompetent, money-grabbing companies is universal: I guess we should face death not with the fear that we may be going to Hell, but with the hope that we may finally be escaping it.

Whirlochre said...

Very true, Ril.

And — ouch — was that static electricity or merely killer fur?

Robin S. said...

You're starting to sound more like your old self, sweetie.

Whirlochre said...

The happy-go-lucky blogger or the axe-wielding maniac I was before?

Dammit, Robin — how much do you know????!!!!