Thursday, February 4, 2010

Labels (a.k.a. How to Look Like a Complete Nutcase, Part II)

In an earlier blog post I suggested to novice writers (and I include myself in that category) that taking time to participate in some writing courses might be a good idea. Now, I like to practice what I preach, so I contacted Queensland Writers Centre and booked myself on a course – Creating Narrative Suspense, run by the great Peter Watt (Cry of the Curlew, Eden, Papua, The Stone Dragon, The Frozen Circle, to name just a few.)

On the day of the course, I slapped on my sticky name badge, picked the seat at the front – the one with the biggest pile of chewy mints on its desk (my favourite ‘lollies’, as the Aussies call them) – and had a fabulous Saturday. I networked about a dozen other writers, and I learned from one of the best about how to keep a reader reading my work. If you haven’t yet thought about what techniques you can use to make sure someone who picks up your book finds it very hard to put down, I recommend you contact Pete and ask when he’s next running that course.

Anyhoo, when the course was over I popped the last chewy mint into my mouth, said my goodbyes and trotted off between Edward Street’s late afternoon shoppers to meet HRH Princess Alibal, who I knew would be hunting the vast plains of Brisbane for just the right...well, I can’t really recall, but it’s usually shoes.

The first thing I noticed was that some of the older women I passed weren’t so much glancing at me as giving me those long, sympathetic looks – the kind of look you’d give a cockatoo that’s cooped up in a cage. Odd, I thought, but I wiped the slavers from my mouth (the last mint wasn’t done yet, and mints always gets my juices flowing like mad) and trotted on at pace. A few more women gave me that look, and at one point I was sure one of the older dears was about to reach out to take my arm.

“Bunch of bloody weirdos,” I muttered to myself, causing a fresh dribble of slavers to cascade down my chin. I stopped to check my reflection in a perfume shop window, just in case my drool had pooled somewhere that might embarrass me, and there, big bold and bloody obvious on my chest was my nametag, not quite soggy...but getting there.

Okay, so imagine you’re walking down the street on a sunny Saturday afternoon and you see a bearded drooling idiot trotting towards you with his name emblazoned across his chest, glistening with some kind of goo. Wouldn’t you feel sympathy? Wouldn’t you want to help this poor nutcase called ‘Jack’?

Of course you would.

To all who received my very best scowl that day, I thank you for your concern, but I’m fine. Honestly. And I promise I’ll never grow a beard again. It’s great for scaring babies, but it also tends to mask the sensation of drool, and that’s never a good thing.

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