Friday, September 15, 2006

Is wanking wrong?

Certainly the nuns at my Primary School would have said so. And the Catholic Church definitely considered onanism to be a grievous sin, although it wasn't one I could ever bring myself to admit to at Confession (assuming that I did indeed indulge in this hideous practice). If I had done it (and I'm nor saying I did) I would have felt felt too guilty and embarrassed to own up to the priest on the other side of the grill. Even at that age I instinctively knew that bashing one's bishop could never be right. Although on the wickedness scale of original sin I guess a lot depends on the context. If you're married and you have a wank I don't suppose that's any better than committing infidelity. Or rather worse.

Or maybe indulging in the solitary pleasures is a victimless crime. Like insurance fraud. Except that isn't really victimless and somebody has to pay in the end (believe me - I've just had a quote for my house contents insurance - ouch).

On the other hand a friend of mine who was a keen masturbator used to defend the practice on the grounds that "You meet a better class of woman in your dreams."

It's not a subject you often hear debated dinner parties. I don't know why. Maybe because it's a solitary pursuit, spending hours alone in your room, fantasizing over something unobtainable.

A bit like blogging in fact. Except that blogging doesn't make you blind. Or deaf.

What? What was that? Speak up! For fuckss' sake's'. Jesus, where did I put the fucking keyboard?

At the end of the day whether it's right or wrong doesn't really matter. Just don't do it. Like taking drugs. A bit of self restraint. Come on guys, is that too much to ask? I bet women don't indulge in self-abuse. I can't believe they do. That really would shatter all my illusions. And without illusions onanism itself would simply die. Then there would be nothing left but blogging.

And what a terrible world that would be.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

On dying

I was educated in a convent school in Tilbury in Essex. Mostly nuns. The headmistress, Sister Bernadette, was terrifying - she truly put the fear of God into me. On the other hand Sister Dominic was beatific. I didn't ask to be a Catholic but that's what they drummed into me. I became an altar boy and although I regularly officiated at funerals, when my father died they decided that at eleven I was too young to attend his funeral. That decision still rankles. More than rankles in fact.

At fifteen I stopped going to church. I lost my faith. I became an agnostic. Sure, there might be a God but I didn't know if my God was the right one. Besides, I didn't like the way he operated, the way he ran the world. In the end I decided I preferred to make my own rules, write my own scriptures, develop my own modest morality.

I knew there would be a price to pay for my wilful independence. As a Catholic the denial of God meant that my soul was forever blackened with mortal sin. I didn't mind. If I died and went to Hell it would be a small price to pay for my principles. If there was a God and that was how he treated me then I didn't want to share eternity with him anyway.

Of course, now I'm older and death is getting closer I'm not quite so sure about my views. I'm not so sure about anything in fact. Driving home from work the other day I began to wonder what my death would really be like. Is there an afterlife? What if there is a God? What would I say to him? I hope I would ask him why he allowed the Holocaust.

On the other hand, maybe it was time to place an each way bet on eternity. A quick visit to the confessional perhaps. A few Hail Marys, an Act of Contrition. A sort of insurance policy. Just have to hope I'm praying to the right God. There aren't too many Muslim churches in this part of the world.

I don't think so though. You have to believe in something. At the end of the day I still believe in my own religion. It's not perfect, although no-one has died for the sake of it. Not as well-thought out as all those other religions either. Doesn't demand much in the way of faith. A bit of a joke religion really. You'll never hear me on Thought For The Day.

And of course, if I've got it wrong, boy am I going to have to pay the price in the hereafter. I'll pay it though. Like I said, you have to believe in something.

A Doctor Speaks

Here's an e-mail I received today


Are you alive and well? You haven't posted in almost two weeks. Maybe you're just on vacation, in which case I hope you're having a wonderful time and never have to come back (unless you really, really want to).I am missing your posts.

By the way, SELL yourself. I am learning, to my chagrin, that publishers look at YOU and your marketability more than the book (which is so sad). They should be ashamed of themselves. But image and packaging and marketability is the name of the game, I guess. You don't even really have to have any of that stuff, they (the publisher) just has to 'think' that you do, which is sadder still.

So pump it up, Baby! Buff and polish the package: potential sales, publicity, promotions, marketing, your ready-made audience, etc.


Randall Radic"

Doc (aka Daddy) Radic is the well-known writer, unfrocked clergyman and convicted felon. I guess he's still intent on saving souls. Well, he's come to the right place. Thanks, Doc, I appreciate the advice and the encouragement.

I've been silent recently for two reasons I guess. Firstly, I've been thinking. Secondly, I've had nothing to say. But, spurred on by the Doc, and the numerous other well-wishers who've left Comments on the blog, I've come to the conclusion that maybe it's time to stir myself again, cast off that old slough of despond.

Doc is right. Getting published - however you do it - is all about marketing. As I said in a previous post I've decided to hold back on self-publishing for a while (mainly because I haven't worked out how to market anything I might publish) and have another crack at reeling in an agent.

But getting an agent is all about marketing my book and myself effectively. So I have to get my query letter right just to get to base camp. Lynne Scanlon, the supercharged blogger better known as The Publishing Contrarian, offered to critique my current query letter so I sent her a copy. Well, she hasn't so much critiqued it as shredded it and put a match under it. The query letter is hopeless. It wouldn't sell ice-cream in the desert. It's amateurish, confused, unfocused and dull. And a lot more besides. Or rather, a lot less.

Lynne - yet again, thank you. I'm working on a completely new proposal. Something that actually markets my book. Something that will sell ME and my book to an agent.

So, in the interests of education and mutual self-help I'll post the original query letter and the revised effort over the next few days. Any suggestions or comments will naturally be welcome.

Oh, and Doc, you'll get your reward for raising me from the dead in Heaven. Er, well, maybe not Heaven. Somewhere warm and, hopefully, full of potential readers. Which sounds like Heaven to me after all.