Saturday, November 1, 2014

My Life in Dog Ears

I'm back from holidays having all sorts of thoughts. Going away always makes me want to redo my life. Travelling makes me want to write non-fiction. So I've been having a spring-clean, trying to cull. Books, of course, are impossible. For the archives: this article about reading, published about a month ago in The Age, is my favourite thing I've written this year. In other news I was very heartened to hear that Mountain Girl has a memoir coming out mid 2015.

My Life in Dog Ears
I was living back at my parents' after another failed share-house, when my father brought the World Wide Web home. My 'tech-est' moment up to that point had been reading William Gibson's Virtual Light – but I had mostly done this because it was set in San Francisco, where I was planning to live one day when the clouds rained money. 
At the time I was working in a bookshop's short-lived music lounge. We had few customers and little supervision so I spent my clock-able hours reading. Every now and then I catch myself wondering what I did with my 20s, but if I think about it, I know exactly what I was doing: I was reading books, watching movies and drinking beer. These things are not easily quantified. Back then I wore liquid eyeliner. I hung around the edges waiting to be noticed. I felt out of time. Not old, not young. Not quite X and nowhere near Y. I read deeply because I had more time and less choice. I was a late bloomer; or maybe there's no such thing as formative years. Maybe we never stop forming.
At 23 I wanted to write but I didn't know any other writers. I'd been to exactly one poetry reading where a scary woman stood before a microphone and rotated the words: Dick, Suck, Lick, F--- until I thought my brain would bleed. I had clapped politely along with the other patrons. Was she not brave, after all, to get up there even if what she'd read was meaningless? Whoever expected to find meaning at a North Melbourne pub anyway? 
I wasn't at university. I was attempting to school myself. I read beyond my brain, collecting words in my black and red index notebook. I would write the definition then attempt to use them in a sentence. Macadam. Transubstantiation. To this day I don't really know what inchoate means. Or nascent. The smart choice would have been university leading to a proper job, a down-payment, superannuation. I wasn't not smart; I was searching. And it's very hard to look for something when you don't know what that something is.

Read the whole thing: