So, the Melbourne Writers Festival starts this week …
Let me tell you my sad back story, which happens to be a story about my sad back. Years of writing at the computer made me slouchy and sore, so I started wearing elasticised strapping to straighten my back. It goes over my shoulders, around my waist, and fastens at the front – I look like a trussed loin of pork, fat layer left on, and the butcher forgot to burn off the bristles.
The Melbourne Writers Festival in happier times…Credit:Timothy Scott Herbert
Also, the Velcro fastener has lost its stickiness so I have to clip it together with a serrated bulldog clip, which keeps my back even straighter, because when I start to slouch I get lacerations to the lower abdomen.
Let me now share a spectacular folk tale, which happens to be a tale about my folked-up spectacles (I can do this all day, I really can).
Years of writing at the computer made my eyes really weak, so I wear a pair of big clunky Jean-Luc Godard vulcanised ’60s-retro glasses that are so heavy my face would be resting on the keyboard if my elasticised strapping wasn’t holding me up.
Also, they’re reading glasses, I can’t see in the distance with them, so when I go get a snack or take a toilet break, I have to swap to my regular glasses or else I might accidentally eat a cheese-coloured sponge or pee in the neighbour’s birdbath.
OK, I am now going to deliver an awfully hilarious stand-up routine, which happens to be about my hilariously awful routine of standing up (OK, struggling a bit now, didn’t expect that).
Years of writing at the computer made me unfit, so I started standing up while I worked. I balance my laptop on the edge of a pulled-out cupboard drawer (my undies drawer. It used to be the T-shirt drawer, but I find undies get my synapses firing. Undies are my muse).
Also, I wedge two planks of wood on either side of the drawer as armrests, with thick woolly socks on the end of the planks for elbow-comfort – it looks like I’m typing between the legs of a skinny shoeless hiker.
Let me finish with a tragic little footnote, which happens to be a note about my tragic little feet (I’m back baby! Back, and better than ever!). Years of writing at a standing desk made my feet ache, so I started working barefoot, standing on a scungy old bath mat, folded in half (it seems indulgent I know, but I feel my bare feet deserve a bit of folded-scungy-bath-mat luxury).
Also, every time I go outside, I have to put on shoes, then take them off because I forgot to put in orthotics, then put the shoes back on again, then take them off because I put the wrong orthotic in the wrong shoe, then put them back on. But that’s a whole other story for another time: The Old Ugly Saga of the Saggy Old Uggies (Pushed it. Sorry. No more. I promise).
Anyway, the reason I’m sharing my back story, my folk tale, my stand-up routine, and my footnote is because the Melbourne Writers Festival is on this week.
It’s a home-based festival, so I thought I’d reveal the unglamorous writing life of a home-based writer. It’s not exactly Hemingway in Havana, typing on an old typewriter. It’s me in Caulfield South, Velcro-ing on strapping, clipping on bulldog clips, opening an undies drawer, balancing a laptop, pulling socks onto planks, swapping pairs of glasses, laying down folded bath mats, taking off Uggies… then closing the door tight and pulling down the window shade, because nobody should have to see me work. Not human, beast, plant or virus. Nobody.
Danny Katz is a Melbourne humourist.
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