Unsocial Occupation

Writing. An unsocial occupation if there ever was one, for me at least. I know there are writers who take their laptop to the local café and write there, watching the goings-on, meeting friends now and again as they sit and drink their coffee, greeting, conversing, laughing, saying goodbye, but that’s not for me. I’d hardly get a single word down that way. I need the silence I can only get alone in a room of my own. Its only then that the single-minded concentration comes, and the ideas start to unfold in words.
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The ideas are already there. They’ve budded prematurely, fooled by the long summer, been hit by frost and fallen to the ground, where they’ve fermented during those two wonderful warm October weeks. They’re waiting for me. All that remains is for me to let them unfold in nice little words that most people, I hope, can understand. All those little words are like notes in a song, to be arranged in the best possible way I can conceive of. It’s a real bitch sometimes, but basically I enjoy it so much I can’t stop doing it.
It makes me something of a recluse at times, but then again, perhaps that’s the way I like it. Not always, mind you; I need human contact, God knows. What would my stories be, without the interaction of human beings in them? Sterile things. But I need that sterility in order to focus. I need calm and silence in order to think. I can’t let ideas unfold when I am surrounded by people, because I am then always thinking about what they are thinking. About what they are doing, and why they are doing it, and what they are thinking while doing it.
Well, not always. Sometimes I just don’t give a fuck what they do or think (pretty often; that is to say… almost always, actually). But you get my drift.

Nice Car

To me, writing science fiction is like driving a car I like the look and feel of. I really, really like this car, man. It has these super-charged computer controlled motors, you see, and the seats are so comfortable, you feel like you’re a part of the machine. The displays are totally futuristic, all in damped glowing colors, and a thousand little buttons at your fingertips… it’s all so psychedelic I haven’t yet fully grasped it. But what’s actually important is driving, getting somewhere, or, in other words, telling a story. In the end I don’t really give a fuck if it’s a Ferrari or a Hyundai.
Most good books, from my point of view, don’t fit a single particular genre. If anything, they start a new genre because they are so good. Mostly they are a mixture of genres, a new synthesis.
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In any case, I love a good story. It’s the story that counts, and of course the writing style, but not the genre. Am I making myself clear here, you know, not the genre…? So try reading a couple books outside your usual genre. If you read sci-fi, try Neville Shute for a change. If you’re a hardcore horror fan, start reading some –I am tempted to say Dostoyevsky here– uhm… Patrick O’Brian. Okay, maybe I am insane for suggesting such divergent things, but, try my car.

The Room

After having lived and written in the room in your head for some time now, I thought you might want to know how it looks in there. I am sure you’ve never bothered to look yourself.
Surprisingly, the room is furnished. It is not as bare as I had thought. There’s even a bed. I am very thankful that I don’t have to lie down on the hard floor, or, if it is too drafty (which it is), on the desk. The bed, who would have thought it, even has sheets, and a blanket. Luxury, pure luxury.
The room is held in complementary tones of… I’ll let you decide which color. It ain’t pink or lavender though.
There’s a wicker chair in the corner opposite to the desk, a chair I never sit on. It’s not like it isn’t comfortable, but for some reason I just don’t sit there. I toss my clothes on it when I go to bed.
There’s even a little balcony where I can take a breath of fresh air and watch the neurons glow. That’s where I go when I am sick of writing, to drink a drop and smoke. I don’t smoke in the room, because I hate the stale smell of it the next day.
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I am sorry to say there is no bathroom. This requires me to piss off the balcony, in to your brain. Sorry. But what am I sorry for, actually? It’s your fucking brain, and if you don’t provide for the basic amenities… well, whatever. Maybe you want it that way.
The coolest thing is the television. I hardly watch TV, so it’s no problem for me that the thing doesn’t really work. Or does it? Generally there is just grey fuzz on it. But sometimes a picture appears, usually just for a moment. The pictures are so vivid… I have to admit I occasionally spend an hour watching the grey fuzz in the hope that something will show up. No dice. I give up in disgust… but then, once in a great while, something comes after all, for a split second. A skull, screaming, or a rose dropping a single petal in slow motion.
I was right about the picture hanging in the room though. There is dust clinging to the frame, just as I thought. Anyway, there is just one favor I have to ask: could you send up a fresh bottle of rum?

Interview With the Author No. 222 (x3)

Hellstrøm: God?
God: Yes?
Hellstrøm: Okay, just wanted to make sure you’re there.
God: Yeah, right. So what’s ’bout this new book?
Hellstrøm: Same old same old, man meets woman, good conquers evil, love wins over hate, indifference and fatalism.
God: Aha. Very original. You guys never do learn, do you.
Hellstrøm: Well, God, the human race is…
God: I wasn’t talking about humans. I was talking about authors.
Hellstrøm: … well. *clears throat* I always wanted to ask you a question, God.
God: Yeah?
Hellstrøm: What kind of music do you listen to, I mean like, when you’re chillin’, and have time to listen.
God: Jazz.
Hellstrøm: Fuck. I hate jazz.
God: No big deal.
Hellstrøm: D’ya mind if I ask some more questions?
God: *raises his bushy patrician eyebrows* If you must.
Hellstrøm: I must. Just wondering how long you’re going to go on like this, letting people kill each other in your name.
God: As long as it takes… *sighs* say, who’s interviewing who here?
Hellstrøm: Haven’t the slightest.
God: Me either. So, what else you want to know?
Hellstrøm: What is the answer?
God: What… to which question.
Hellstrøm: The question.
God: Oh, please…
Hellstrøm: No, really…! *clears throat* Really! *grins*
God: *frowns* You tryin’ to ace me out, man?
Hellstrøm: No, no, Jesus, heh, I mean God, no, I mean, uh… well, you know what I mean.
God: *laughs heartily* Yeah, I know. Thanks for the interview.
Hellstrøm goes home and listens to 100% Song from The Mekons.
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Music is Everyone’s Possession

Who said that? John Lennon, no wonder. „Its only the publishers who think it belongs to them.“
You know why? Well, you’re probably thinking about the artist’s right to make money from his work and so on. I can understand that viewpoint. But what you have to realize is this: I can take a song in my head, and play it for myself. Again and again. So who does it belong to then? Am I supposed to pay a percentage each time I listen to it in my head? Who is monitoring that? And when I make variations on it? When I improvise, based on the original, who does that belong to?
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The same thing applies to any book I’ve read. When I think of passages from a book I’ve read, do I have to pay the author something for those thoughts? There are people who can repeat a book they have read page for page. When they repeat that, do they owe money to the author? When I write, I often paraphrase things I’ve read, or use the ideas presented there and go off on my own little tangent. Is that plagiarism?
I am sure you would agree it is not. The question is, where is the border? The second question is, who should decide where that border lies? I’ll say this much: I do not believe a lawyer, or a committee of lawyers, can decide the question.
Music can be so beautiful, it straightens your lopsided head right on out. It hits you between the eyes and pierces your brain like a white hot knife. It sends you floating on high, transported from this world. and then it hits you low down, below the belt. Man, it hurts, makes you cry out like you’ve been stuck with a knife, like a stuck pig… and you have been. Music twists on knobs you never knew you had. Music can turn you inside out. I wonder, can you write like that? No. No author ever wrote something that can twist me like that.
Listening to Tea with Cinnamon from Katzenjammer. This song reminds me of two women at once, and that kills me. Depends on the mood though. Sometimes I hear it and just think: yeah, yeah, skip it.
Music kills me anyway. There are songs I can hardly hear without crying. Not while they remind me of anything, necessarily, but because the music speaks with me. It is so beautiful, so poignant, that the tears just plain squirt. It isn’t sadness, but rather an overwhelming sense of deep feeling that forces me to cry. The tears may be of joy, or fear, of love lost… or found.
Once, many years ago, I was in the cathedral in Cologne, seeing the bloody sights. As chance would have it, there was an amateur choir of five men there, who happened to be visiting, and spontaneously, right next to me, they sang a chant they obviously knew well. Some kind of gregorian shit, y’know. I tell you, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. It reverberated in those (holy) chambers in such a way that I burst instantly in to tears. I was in bliss, not because of God, God forbid, but because of the simple beauty of it. The beauty of their combined voices, those combined tones, in that incredible chamber.
The Germans say: he lives near water. Someone who cries easily „lives near water“. Well, I live near water, in certain situations, fucking badly damaged romantic that I am. Crash and burn, baby, crash and burn, says the little cynical bastard in me. It’s when you burn that you start to feel, and when you feel you realize you are alive, and that life is worth living. Life always begins in the ashes of death. So get up, and listen to some music. Listen to the tears. Listen to the water flow.
All those feelings… who do they belong to? Whose song is it, when you listen to it? Who wrote that song? Do you think those fellows in the cathedral knew what they did to me? Do you think they cared about making me pay for my experience? That is what John Lennon was talking about. He wanted to change the world, and that was all he cared about. He knew that every single person would make their own song out of what he created.
Listening to Come Together as rendered by the Butthole Surfers. But it doesn’t matter what I am listening to, really. The point is that I am listening.

Dreams of Life

Drinking in the taverns
Talking with the slatterns
Asking what they’d dreamt of being

I wanted to be a dancer, one said
But not in bed
She laughed

I wanted to be an author, said the next
Buried deep in text
Telling the stories that need it… gimme another one, will you Joe?

The third left with a john
A sweaty little Don
Before I could ask

the fourth cried… I wanted to be a housewife
That’s the life
One man, no cares

One said, with an uncertain smile, how the hell am I supposed to know
That’s all so long ago
Le’me be

twenty for a ‘job, fifty for a bang, and if you want my backside it’ll cost you a hunerd
Said the sixth, and I wondered
If she’d even heard what I’d asked

I wanted to be a whore, said the last
No future, no past
And here I am, living my dream