29 August 2007

The King and I...or is it me and King?

What I find really so very strange is this:

Since I’ve been old enough to know better, I’ve been working towards the kind of life I have now and going about things completely and haphazardly backwards. Battling my ego, battling individuals and institutions that only wanted to help and embracing those who would have liked nothing better than to see me fail, and then failing miserably anyway – I was the poster child for Wasted Potential.

And yet here it is, right on time – my perfect life, and rather than it being the culmination of everything I’ve ever worked towards, it arrived independently of any crooked path that preceded it. My lap turned thirty and into it fell the husband, the job and the big city.

So suddenly I’m one of the loved forevers, the ain’t life granders. And I have no idea what to make of this. If I lost my job tomorrow, if I never exceeded a 20k position or if we never managed to make it out of Bermondsey, life would go on as happily as it did the day I made the decision to come here.

I had to lock myself in a toilet stall for ten minutes because four key decision makers met to discuss my job role and the switch to a permanent contract, and I didn’t want them to see how shaken up I was about that. I don’t expect anything bad will come of it, but it occurred to me how much I like it here (despite the occasional rant) and how relieved I would feel if I could manage to lock down a good-paying position in a lucrative company that will support every life decision I ever make from now on.

At least until I write that book.

But I will have to wait until tomorrow to know for sure. In the meantime, I am updating several sites at once and also posing as our editor in the more schmaltzy bits of content our magazine produces and not letting anything go to my head. Once you do that, you might as well stop trying because you’re not going to learn anything new or make it any further than you are in that moment. I have to stop making unfounded generalisations like that, I know.

Last night I managed to play through the ballad of “Jesse James” and am trying to see practice as a fun thing and not a playground for insecurities and performance anxiety. I like my teacher but not so much that I’m too afraid to play for him, and anyway it’s pretty difficult to invest any sort of conceit in something as unsophisticated as the five-string banjo.

You know, the louder I turn up my music, the louder the sales guy speaks and the harder he pounds the desk to punctuate his tiresome stories. I’ve never met a more obnoxious, childish and clueless person in my life. Seriously. Why do I work here?

Oh yeah.

Anyway, I’m going to extract my eyeball from my bellybutton now and tell you all about Stephen King. Did you know that he was a better writer twenty years ago? Or maybe I’ve grown up as a reader. When he’s not trying to scare you skinless (to coin a nicer term), he’s toying with your compassion for humanity’s weakness. I much prefer scary to well-rounded, but he’s determined to make well-rounded work in Lisey’s Story, which I’m in the midst of reading for fun (well why else do you read?).

He attempts this with a series of ‘isms’ invented for his characters - overly precious in spite of their profound quirks. Characterisms, if you’d like. He takes these characterisms and uses them to create a kind of resonating, symphonic vibe throughout the novel by simply and varyingly repeating them ad nausium. At one time, this tactic would have served to suck me down into the narrative’s gullet where I’d happily dissolve in the digestive juices of the story. Now I just find it irksome.

Simultaneously, he’s decided it best to slough off the uncanny and instead adopt a more homely brand of terror. The effect is pretty underwhelming, as you can imagine. Do the resounding ‘isms’ of the characters at least make you want to cuddle them? No, you kind of hope whatever bland monster is in unhurried pursuit of them will hit its target, sooner than later.

At any rate, though I think Stephen King may be evolving in some way as a pulp horror writer, he’s heading off in a direction I don’t think I can follow. We’re like two ships passing in the night, me and Mr. King.

Incidentally, someone tried to jump off the millennium bridge yesterday. Two police ships circled ineffectively below and a single man in a dark suit stood reasoning with him. I know this because my colleagues were at the window in clusters of five and six, some with binoculars. Suicide is somewhat of a sport in these parts I take it. But the pay is good.

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