Earth Inc by Michael Bollen
Of course, after I’d written about no one giving me any ideas in yesterday’s blog, along comes Lizzie Sells with an idea that could turn out to be quite good. “Perhaps you could write about the mystery of inadvertently succeeding at those things you’ve just given up all hope on.”
This might be a good approach, because it’s basically what happened with Earth Inc. I had given up any hope of it being published, and was miserably trying to redefine myself without using the word ‘writer’. This was actually not that difficult – essentially I’m a very lazy man who avoids writing at every possible opportunity, and having my novel rejected by a string of publishers seemed like a pretty good opportunity to me. I would give it all up. As I say, most of my life as a writer was spent avoiding doing any actual writing, so an outside observer probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference.
(You might be wondering, if I hate writing so much, how have Picnic forced me to write this blog? Well, you may have noticed that there is no author’s photo on the cover of Earth Inc. That’s not because Picnic don’t have any pictures of me – it’s because the snaps they do have are so lurid and depraved that, had they adorned the book’s jacket, Earth Inc would have been seized under the Obscene Publications Act. If I don’t deliver a few hundred words of waffle on a daily basis, Picnic will go public with the pics. It’s probably best that you know that now, just in case one day you check on here and there’s no new waffle, but there is a picture that paints a thousand words you’d rather not hear, and a few nasty sound effects to boot.)
YUP. SERIOUSLY UGLY – SIGNED: YOUR EDITOR
Anyway, I digress…
(Of course I digress. Digressions are all I’ve got. There’s no actual subject matter here. This blog is like one of those Ronnie Corbett monologues, in which he stretched out a two line joke by endlessly going off on stupid tangents. Look at me, I’m doing it now. Quite what I hope to achieve with a Ronnie Corbett reference I really don’t know.)
Anyway, I digress. I had given up any hope of Earth Inc ever being published, when Picnic got hold of it, and the rest, as they say, is history. Well, that might be over stating it a bit. It wasn’t historic in the same way that, say, the Great Reform Act is history, or the Battle of Naseby. Maybe I should say the rest is a small footnote in an extremely comprehensive book about the history of publishing. In Brighton and Hove.
So, back to Lizzie’s idea. The one thing I would really like to inadvertently succeed at is the completion of today’s blog entry. So, if I just give up on it…
… No, sorry Lizzie, it doesn’t seem to be working this time. Looks like I’m going to have to put a bit more work in.
If you have any ideas about what I could write about tomorrow, please leave a comment. I’ve just noticed that yesterday Steve suggested I might like to talk about alternative energy sources. Unfortunately Steve, I wouldn’t. Mainly because I don’t know anything about them. Perhaps tomorrow I could do some research. I’ll get back to you on that one.
(Another digression. Terry Pratchett was once talking about a book he’d written that parodied ancient Egypt. He mentioned that before he started the book, he thought he’d better do a lot of research about pharaohs and sphinxes and that sort of thing. Then he realised that this was the last thing he should do, as he would end up making jokes that people would only understand if they’d done the same research he had. This has always stayed with me, partly because it makes sense, but mainly because I am always on the look out for good excuses to be lazy.)
So, bereft of ideas, I am going to go down the ‘public diary’ route that I decried in my first blog entry, and just tell you about something that happened to me yesterday. It may well be quite dull, so feel free to stop reading now and go and type your name into Google or something instead. In fact, don’t do that. If you must leave, do a Google image search for “Star Trek wedding”, that’s always good fun.
(I feel duty bound at this point to mention that I have just finished a bottle of very strong pear cider. Normally I never, ever drink while I write – perhaps together we can find out why.)
So, where was I? Oh yesh, yesterday. Well, yesterday I burnt my hand on a pie. True story. Let me tell you about it.
I had successfully removed the pie from the oven, and had placed the pie, still in its foil case, on a plate. So far so good. “Are you going to do the pie trick?” my housemate asked. I answered in the affirmative.
Until yesterday, I was very proud of the pie trick. As we all know, one of the most difficult things about serving a pie is removing it from its foil case. The pie trick, which I believe is my own invention, neatly conquers this problem. It goes a little something like this.
1) Place the pie (still in foil case) on a plate.
2) Place an inverted plate on top of the pie.
3) Rotate the plate/pie/plate sandwich 180 degrees.
4) Remove what is now the top plate, to reveal the pie standing on its lid, its foil case now very accessible.
5) Remove foil case.
6) Place inverted plate on the now naked bottom of the pie.
7) (See step 3)
Remove what is now the top plate, to reveal the pie standing proudly naked, its crown uppermost.
9) Hooray! Pie is now ready to be cut and served.
I still maintain that this is an excellent technique, BUT ONLY WITH SHALLOW PIES. Unfortunately, yesterday’s pie was very deep (it had some extremely interesting opinions on the metaphysical implications of string theory.) (If you don’t like this joke (and why would you?), please blame it on the pear cider.)
So, everything went swimmingly until Step 7, the rotating of the plate/pie/plate sandwich following the removal of the foil. At this point, the wall of the pie ruptured, covering my hand with a substance that appeared to be lava, but which, on later inspection, turned out to be gravy.
I think it is worth recording my reactions to this disaster, as I believe they may reveal something about the twenty-first century mindset. This is exactly what I did, in order:
2) Thought, ‘Save the pie!’
3) Ran cold water over hand.
4) Changed Facebook status to “Mike Bollen has really burnt his hand on a pie”.
Has it come to this? Are we really reducing our life experiences to pithy Facebook slogans? I think we might be. I certainly announced the fact that Picnic were going to publish Earth Inc in this way, and a friend recently told everyone that she is expecting a baby via a particularly cryptic status update. Is this a good or a bad thing? Frankly, the pear cider is making it difficult for me to care.
The main thing is, I still ate the pie. Remember people, if we stop eating pies, we’re letting the scalding gravy win.