M.A.C. Farrant has written over a dozen books of fiction, non-fiction and memoir. Her play, My Turquoise Years, will premiere with the Arts Club Theatre, Granville Island stage, Vancouver, B.C. April 4 – May 4, 2013.
Farrant’s contribution to the Dr. Johnson Caper gives a glimpse at once affecting and hard-edged into the realities of the writing life. In introducing the piece below, she says:
Here’s one of the stories that didn’t make it into Down the Road to Eternity – New & Selected Fiction (Talonbooks, 2009). My editor felt those stories detracted from the overall tone of the book and in the end I agreed. But I’m still fond of this one because it’s from a particularly hard-up (but resilient) time during my writing career. I was working part-time at Sandown Racetrack as a Simulcast mutual clerk. It was a sad, dreary place and many of the customers were worse off by far than I was.
Drought on the Cash Flow River
What I’m doing in this room will not make us rich. Sorry about that.
A black Jaguar will not park in our driveway unless it’s that magical one from South America that eschews all reason. Instead, our 1982 beater, overflowing with reasons, like us, will have to wheeze through another year.
There won’t be long vacations or two hundred dollar shirts or savings accounts or new bar-b-que’s, either. But what if I write a story in which you’re a tanned and elegant aristocrat sipping rare Bordeaux on a yacht anchored in some Mediterranean bay? Will that do? Fiction to the rescue again?
Our children, naturally, will have to make their own stories. “Look,” I’ll tell them, “start right in the middle, forget about beginnings and endings. Cash in a lifetime of love and full attention. It’s worth something. Really. No, I mean it, really!”
I mean this too: it’s a mystery. As ever, the doors of lucre are closed to me. I’ve stopped knocking. Dollars flee from me like panic’d birds. There’s a terrible drought on the Cash Flow River.
I’m enslaved to a vagrant art that rewards fine sentences with a nod of recognition only. There really is a gun to my head. I put it there myself.
I hate to break the news but here it is: Eliminate the idea of retirement. That concept will be the death of you. Please don’t pull the trigger.
As it is, bitter old people scream at me in my dreams. They want to be cradled and entertained. I tell them to shut up. I tell them it’s a crapshoot. I tell them to go hungry; I can’t feed them. Sorry, but this is the nightlife I’m offering right now. As much fun as playing volleyball against a team of cadavers, I know.
Okay, let’s shake things up, take a ride in the wreck. Go to China Beach for the day, groove like the times when it was all clearly the middle, bitterness and want sliding past us like an Otis Redding song.
We’ll cash in the beer bottles for gas.