Sunday, April 15, 2007

Gonzo Writing

#1 Son and I had a long discussion about Hunter S. Thompson last night, and of course discussing Thompson means segues with pit stops on the likes of George Wallace, Jann Wenner, and Johnny Depp.

I won’t delve into the hours we spent thrashing about politics and writing, but I will comment on Thompson’s death. I told Son that when writers don’t feel that they can write what they want, it’s pretty much over. I remember Wallace saying that he started out a decent politician (this is paraphrasing him), that when he realized that nobody was listening, he started saying the word nigger, and he said people started clapping and stamping their feet agreeing with him when he rode in on that card. He found religion, apologized decades later, but…at what cost.

Yeah, Thompson killed himself, but my theory is that it was because he felt he could no longer impact his readers. He said that ours was the generation that finally took more than it gave back, that we dropped the ball.

So who sold out? Wallace, who played the bigot to gain political clout, or Thompson, who killed himself rather than fight against willful ignorance?

What of each of us? Do we write what we want because it makes us happy, because we think we’re influencing others, or do we do it strictly for the money? I’ve read Danielle Steele beating her breast, proclaiming that her publisher (Avon, if I’m not mistaken, at least at the time she wrote this) refused to let her write anything else but what she wrote. She also defied anyone who claimed she wrote romance. *picture me rolling my eyes here*

I think about things like this, for some reason. People still fascinate me – I can’t recall ever being bored. There’s just too much to see, do, and think about for that. And I question my own reasons for writing what I do. I’ve asked myself if I’m some sex-starved maniac that I have to write smut for release. I’ve wondered why I write about sisters, when I have none. I’ve wondered why I’m such a sarcastic bitch, why everything’s a fucking joke, that I take few things to be sacred and make fun of the majority of subjects.

And I think back on Hunter S. Thompson, who’d said thirty years prior to his suicide that if he couldn’t feel he was free to kill himself at any given moment, he couldn’t go on. I don’t feel sorry for the bastard – I envy him in a way. The last line of his suicide note was: This won’t hurt.

That’s the way I feel about life, not death, though…I feel a Gonzo connection from a polar opposite perspective. The Auntie Mame take on life, I suppose. This won’t hurt. Living won’t hurt – writing won’t hurt – and if it does, then so friggin’ what? Beats the alternative.

I just wish there’d have been Fear and Loathing in Guadalajara, or The Margarita Diary, or Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail ’08. I know I can't write what he did, can't thrill myself the way he could when he made me think. I'm not ready to give him up.

Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride, I guess. Or as Hunter would say, Call on God, but row away from the rocks.

Just for the sake of personal icons, which writers made you think, or still do? My others were and always will be Sidney Sheldon, who could write in damn near any genre he wanted,

Molly Ivins (if you haven’t read Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She? – go get it – then there’s this quote that just slays me: On Bill Clinton: "If left to my own devices, I'd spend all my time pointing out that he's weaker than bus-station chili. But the man is so constantly subjected to such hideous and unfair abuse that I wind up standing up for him on the general principle that some fairness should be applied. Besides, no one but a fool or a Republican ever took him for a liberal." [Introduction to You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You] – that woman’s take on Bush (Shrub) and Perot were what sold me on her, though),

cartoonist Gary Larson, cartoonist Charles Schulz,

and my son, who has yet to submit anything for publication – but I love reading him.

Have a nice day, ya’ll. And if the Gonzo bug bites, scratch it, feed it, let it take you to a feverish pitch in your least once, so you can say ya did it.



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