“She gave me water,” Quasimodo.

September 1, 2008 at 7:29 pm | Posted in writing | 27 Comments
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Australia is a dry country. There is a point at which writing becomes the art of manipulation. At the very least you need to capture and hold the reader’s attention to the end of the piece using some degree of craft. Practice makes the necessary techniques instinctive and the choice becomes only where to lead them. More practice enables more voices, she says. Why should I trust you, peering over her sunglasses and sipping her drink, you’re a writer and I know how unstable you people are, and how clever and cunning.

I, the Paul Squires, was a very normal person. At best he was less ‘good’ than most, being far too lazy and undisciplined to be considered moral. He drank and made a living in a job. He was not poor as some point of monklike honour, he was poor because he was an anarchist with a dislike for authority and a laziness which precluded any position of responsibility. He was lecherous and had been known to indulge in the most pornographic of thoughts concerning the most innocent and unsuspecting passersby. He had poor posture as a result of a broken back caused by throwing himself/falling under a train when younger.

I don’t even consider myself particularly intelligent, he thinks. As a result of many years of slow, monobrained study he knows a lot about a very small area of interest and he trusts his instincts. The one ability he has which he worked very hard for a long time to achieve is to manipulate the language and in so doing to manipulate the reader. He tried to use this skill to make things of beauty and to induce a sense of the miraculous and perhaps divine behind the concept of beauty and to persuade people that social life is not particularly difficult if based on compassion and respect.

These ideas and most of the others you may find drifting around this hospital bed are not particularly original and I don’t think this makes me a particularly wonderful or good person either just more deeply manipulative for one very simple and overriding reason. I like to be happy and it is far easier for me to be happy if the people around me are happy. All the male animals here are fictions because the writer’s voice is always an artificial construct, it is inevitable. And all the female creatures could be the language, the divine other, she who gave me water, nurse, he says, pushing the buzzer again,


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  1. i enjoyed this. honest and laid out on the table without any expectations. in fact, i enjoyed it alot. now i can’t wait for your book to arrive. did you scribble in it?
    Thanks, Aefiel. As honest as possible within certain aforementioned parameters. Yes, I scribbled in it for you. It should arrive this week, I imagine. I hope you like it.

  2. ah contraire mon frère
    twas not difficult to read
    revealing perhaps…
    Perhaps, thanks, Ozy. And then Simonne disagrees, so there you go,

  3. Actually, it was difficult to read. No paragraphs and no commas make for several readings. But I loved the tense changes, they worked extremely well. Your brain is a fascinating place Mr Squires…
    Thanks Simonne. As a general rule, I am avoiding the comma where possible. In fact as a point of style I always do one rewrite to remove as many of the little hiccup, buggers as possible,

  4. my favorite bit: no matter the ideals we hold ourselves to as ‘writers’, what we are basically talking about here is manipulation, and enjoying the manipulation of others. maybe this is why i feel vaguely dirty when i share my writing – in the contract we are engaging in, i always come out ‘on top’ whether the reader enjoys what i wrote or not.
    Hello, Jason. You sound a little sadistic, haha. I’m not sure the point for me is to enjoy the manipulation, just that it is inevitable as part of the process. Thanks for dropping by,

  5. I’ve never thought of writing as manipulative. It’s not a very romantic view, but maybe it’s a little true. Hmm.
    Hmm, hello Jessica. I’m glad you got a new thought to hmm over. That makes it worthwhile,

  6. a country surrounded by water, a point where writing is just writing, at the very most you need to release the captured, practice is only practice etc etc etc, even in traction there is another way to everywhere – a drop of compassion in the water is what quasimodo drinks in quasimode, thoughtful and provoking gingatao
    Tipota, a drop of compassion, thankyou, that quasi half pun is a tiny signal of your brilliance,

  7. 3 days paid off; extraordinary work! Touches the heart despite it’s complicated exterior… Bravo!
    Bravo you too, disturbed one. Not so much a stranger anymore, more a friend I would say,

  8. so, hang on, you’re just trying to manipulate us?
    Not really, Juliet, not ‘just’. But that part of the process between writer and reader is manipulation. Just as when you write one of your beautiful poems you are trying to create an effect in the reader’s mind, you are using your skill to create a mental event, an appreciation of the beauty of the bird, or to convince them to be more green, there is a sense in which you are using your skill with language to manipulate the reader. But as I said to Jason above, the manipulation is not the point of the exercise, the result of that manipulation, communication, is.

  9. What a wonderfully written stream of consciousness- images cascading profoundly into each other. You took me on a journey with this piece, the way in which you control the eye of the imagination….and the reader. yes, one’s skill with language does manipulate the reader, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be in the negative sense, but that is what we writers do. Cheers.
    Cheers, you too, wonderful Harmonie. Are the casts off yet. Soon you will be dancing and swimming again. Thanks so much for commenting through the difficulty.

  10. “Why should I trust you, peering over her sunglasses and sipping her drink, you’re a writer and I know how unstable you people are, and how clever and cunning”
    good point, why should I?

    Now I see it -the connection between my poetry writing and my studies in marketing. Though through poetry is another kind of manipulation I am practicing – the art of seduction. You see, I want to make them fell inlove with me and that is asking for a more personal note.
    Ahha, you understand, Annamari. In the end trusting the writer is not necessary for a reader, good writing isn’t really about who the writer is, it’s about the ideas or the effect, I think. I have also worked in marketing for some years. I’m really glad the idea seemed to manage to sneak through this piece, thankyou so much for your comment.

  11. Hmm, I should be able to understand (at least partly) …Or I’d put that “tremendous” intelligence to shame.

    It is a good piece, if this idea would be to obvious and let no place for interpretation we would not call it art.
    Hmm, I read your blog, Annamari, every piece and your intelligence is beyond question, it soars. You are too intimidatingly smart for me to even dare commenting there.

  12. Now, now…nobody is that smart.
    As much as this : “too intimidatingly smart for me to even dare commenting there” tickles my ego, it is an overstatement. I am sure there is plenty of questionable writing on my blog.
    or, in your words, I say. “Why should I trust him, peering over my sunglasses and sipping my drink, he’s a writer. He probably just makes fun of me and thinks I am dumb.”
    Annamari, you are writing in a second language, you quote Heidegger, Saenz and St John of The Cross in the same post. You are doing an MBA, you read the Wall Street Journal, you use proper comprehensive footnotes and references on your posts. I think it fair to say that you are a lot lot smarter than I am. And a lot more humble too.

  13. It is always inspiring to read what you write. But I really connected with the honesty in this post. I will be quitting this blogging business soon- but I hope we can stay in touch.
    Thanks, Randall. Quitting the business, whyever for? You are one of the best in the business, a true threecard legend. There’s not many of us oldtimers left, my friend.

  14. This piece and the last could perform as some sort of social study on the human race don’t you think? I mean, not just the writing but the way that people have reacted to it and of course that is the underlying message in your writing here. Some people will take what you have written as you, as themselves, perhaps a piece of fiction or as a puzzle for them to think on and learn from.

    But you see, the point (ultimately) of art is to appeal to as wide an audience as possible – to provide many layers to what you do to allow the reader or viewer to either grasp one single point or another without it depreciating the actual work as a whole.

    I think this is maybe where your work appeals to such a broad readership because you are a chameleon, Mr Squires,with subtle changes depending from which angle you are viewed.

    (Oh and yes, I enjoyed this piece very much, haha)
    Haha, what a wonderful comment, Mary, thankyou. “to appeal to as wide an audience as possible”? hmmm, I know better than to argue with you but wouldn’t make that Brittany Spears a more ‘successful’ artist than…someone else less popular? I am probably misreading you, sorry. If people are viewing ‘me’ from all these angles, I best put some clothes on, excuse me,

  15. I think I’ve only ever returned a comment publicly once before, haha, but here goes. Britney Spears is actually a terribly interesting subject. She appealed to the teeny market when she was launched (purposefully marketed with a mix of sex and school uniform) and became a personality in much the same way as Madonna, without the skill in her music but as a ‘character’. But she was only projecting one objective, which quickly tainted when she lost her looks… why do you think Madonna works so hard to maintain hers? It’s certainly only because she can’t rely on her vocal skills. However, Britney spawned a new generation of female singers being taken as a profitable opportunity for the marketing machine. She was followed by Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne et al, which in turn meant that female artists became mainstream rather than a ‘genre’. This then allowed people like Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, etc., to step into the charts as viable challengers to the previously male orientated world of ‘popular’ music. No, Britney singing career was not successful in any other than flash in the pan monetary terms, but she was crucial to the overall process of women singers breaking away from the mould of R&B or ‘quirky’ status, allowing other artists to step forward and enjoy the success that their mix of talent and ‘star quality’ bestows on them.

    Wow, haha, I cannot believe that we are talking about Britney Spears *sniggers*.
    Uhoh, at the risk of being unnecessarily contentious, Ms P. I will take your word on the history of modern popular music, my knowledge of anything post 1977 is extremely limited but I am still not sure if this makes Brittany Spears an artist in any meaningful sense. But never mind, we shall agree to disagree and I accept that you almost always end up being right and it is my dinner time. Thankyou so much for your amazing comments. You always challenge me in the best possible way.

  16. this has an echo to it paulS. it makes everything else stop in order to listen.
    i enjoy the unified structure and change of person. it wasn’t hard for me to read, but maybe thats because its usually how i write and then i seperate the paragraphs later when i absolutely have to. you touched on a lot of important matters here that are sure to swirl around in my subconscious as i enter into many hospital rooms today and give people water.
    Thankyou, Mrs Ott. Nurses are the most important people in any hospital. One of the most important jobs there is, I think. I know you would be a fantastically wonderful one.

  17. the best part… As a result of many years … he knows a lot about a very small area of interest and he trusts his instincts. …
    Thanks, Ms Pie. It is a very very small area of interest and my instincts often veer toward the base,

  18. Mr. Squires, you’ll never guess what sort of package arrived in my mailbox after work today. a box in a book in an envelope. : ) very exciting!
    Woohoo. I hope it’s a good book and not some tiny collection of old pieces from a half mad blogger, Mrs Ott.

  19. in your assessment it may not be particular original, but it’s paul squires, and you’re a genius at being paul squires… and i can certainly vouch for many of your observations and expressions regarding the business of self and the self as writer…

    this one ranks as one my favorites…
    Chico! Always great to hear from you. Another one of the old timers. We’re all hanging in there. Your writing often deals with that theme and usually with a lot more humour and emotional engagement than mine, my friend. I loved that last piece about the blogger busted at work. Look out there’s the boss, gotta go,

  20. Have you seen the broadway Hunchback of N.D? It’s a must see!

  21. By the way have you seen the broadway Hunchback of N.D? It’s a must see!
    No, I haven’t, I’ld love too. Maybe there’s a DVD? I will check it out. Thanks.
    No, I haven’t, I’ld love too. Maybe there’s a DVD? I will check it out. Thanks. hahaha,

  22. I think someone has ripped off both your name and one of your divine others, the character of Saudades. I was meandering trough the creative writing section of Helium, and I found this link:

    It’s a story about a Brazilian woman and a character named Ginga, plus the author had the nerve to actually attribute the story to you! Maybe you should complain to Helium.
    Wow, that’s amazing Christine. That’s an old version of one of mine. I put that in Helium (which I think now is a waste of time) nearly two years ago. And it’s still there. And you read it! How incredible. The internet is infinite for all practical purposes but these kind of wierdnesses just keep happening. Thanks for the tip off Christine, I really appreciate it.

  23. Thanks for all of your great comments on my page my friend. Your words are always inspiring my friend. Rock on. And thanks again Paul…..WIL
    No problem, Wil. The food at your place is always fantastic and creative. One day there won’t be a screen between me and the plate, and whoosh, stand back,

  24. Manipulation conjures such heinous calculating images in my mind. I much prefer Persuasion if you will and persuade you do. I must add to your revelation though, for the most effective manipulation, as you well know mr. clever the writer’s voice must begin with truth.
    Yes, persuasion would have been a less (something) choice of word but manipulation certainly hit home. Which is kind of a case in point I guess. By choosing the stronger word the reaction changed. And there has to be some truth at the heart, you’re right about that too, La Lunatique,

  25. revealing. provocative. you, at your g-tortional, tense-taunting, screw-the-rules, best. i think esmeralda would have enjoyed the piece greatly.
    Thanks, Sarah,

  26. very interesting piece. that line about throwing himself off the train when younger particularly caught my attention. i missed coming here. i see you took a little time off from your blog too.
    Thanks Lissa! I missed you too. Yes, I took some time off for good behaviour too,

  27. […] worth of poems about dogs and love, frogs and fish and how amazingly beautiful my wife is. In Australian pubs we used to turn the empty glass upside down and slam it on the bar. In the bad old days, that […]

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