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Monday, 7 January 2013

OBITUARY. MISSY BIOZARRE.

“George Gershwin died on July 11, 1937, but I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.” (John O’Hara.)


You mustn’t believe what you’ve read about Missy Biozarre’s death at the hands of genetically-engineered zombies. That report in the New York Times was faked. The dead-giveaway was the news that her shorn dreadlocks were found deep in the Biozarre Lair.
   Stuff and nonsense. The year 2012 will go down in history as the year of the Maya non-apocalypse. And the year in which Missy chased a word-count goal. Falling short of that word-count, she declared her dreadlocks would simply be shorn. The Penance of the Follicle.
   So pay no attention to that bedomed personage behind the curtain in the Biozarre Lair. She’s no Forensic Scientist. The circumstances of Missy Biozarre’s death are far more mundane. She died in a Zombie Apocalypse? Ha. She wishes your belief to flourish.
   I have the obituary here.

*

The sudden semi-expected death of Missy Danger Biozarre at the tender age of 21 has robbed American letters and the world stage in one fell swoop. La Biozarre was found crushed beneath the manuscript of a gargantuan Young Adult novel she’d secretly been working on. Associates knew only that she was really stoked, had gone all covert-ops, and was looking forward to mashin’ me up some spiddies.
   Born off-world in an orbital weapons platform/budget-price genetic lab, Missy was sold to Thomas and Martha Wayne of Goth…wrong file. She was looked after by her sick Aunt May and Uncle Ben…wrong file. Made a ward of court in the care of Alfred J. Pennyworth, butler. No. Raised by wolves and forced to murder her twin sister in the insane pursuit of power over newly-established Rome
   Details are hazy. La Biozarre leaves behind a Morbidly Obese Twitter following, and her much-abused pet spider Humphrey. In attendance at the empty open casket ceremony, Missy’s writing buddy Kacey Vanderkarr wept buckets, waited tables, coached teams, and wondered – just exactly what are the 39 steps?
   Who was Missy Biozarre? Astronaut. Time traveller. Gibson Girl. Debutante. Crime Scene Instigator. One of Edward Gorey’s favourite models, she’s credited with inventing the striped-stocking look Gorey adored. La Biozarre vanquished Picasso in a canoe duel, dined with Sidney Bechet in Paris, and taught Cary Grant how to tango upstairs in the aisle of a London double-decker bus.
   Hitchcock considered her for the lead role in North by Northwest, but hired her ex-tango partner instead. She can be seen, briefly, in The President’s Analyst, Save the Tiger, and the lost silent movie, Quarz. (Of which, only her first-reel appearance remains. The cinematic gnomes of Transit Film GmbH went to some length to show that the uncredited camera operator was Karl Freund.)
   Of her time travel, she was coy. She spoke little of her movie appearances, noting famously that most could never be shown – as history would be rewritten. Her favourite role was in a short movie filmed during the destruction of Pompeii in AD 79. (She’s shown larking around at the temple of Apollo, mock-bitching about the outdated Sony Walkman on her hip. Missy warps out just as Vesuvius kicks off in the background.)
   Her criminal record was destroyed during the Great Fire of London. Missy spent sporadic years as Eastwick or Jane Doe, peppering the mid-1900s with appearances under those guises. I first met Missy on Moreau’s island, and had iced lemon tea with La Biozarre and a nervous lady who introduced herself as E. Borden. Cutlery was notable by its absence.
   When next we met, in London, we spent the summer of 1889 tracking the Whitechapel Murderer. Our paths rarely crossed, so thin were we spread across the rambunctious East End. We communicated by semaphore-wielding street-urchins or, when available, sea-urchins.
   Rumours that Missy Biozarre was Kacey Vanderkarr’s part-clockwork father are simply no more than that. It is true that the liquid tones of hyperfast California-speak ran through Missy’s voicebox. She attributed the sound to noises absorbed from a mechanically-recovered Boy Band, raised in pitch to female level.
   Those who met her were surprised to discover that she was six feet tall. Overly-engineered boots were to blame. Missy deflected the conspiratorial truth – short people secretly rule the world – by pretending to be taller. In private, she acknowledged that she was shorter than she was unwise.
   Her legacy? Missy inspired rage in vegetables, rust in iron, and poetry in snow. She walked between the raindrops only to slush through mud with a mischievous look to the eyes in the back of her head. The notion that she is sadly missed will, itself, be sadly missed – for that notion was kidnapped by her minions and held to ransom for the ransom note.
   She no longer works for the CIA, which the CIA is forced to deny at non-periodic intervals. One of several authors known to hire actors as impersonators, it is not clear just exactly who died in her place.
   In attendance at Missy’s funeral, Kacey Vanderkarr was impersonated by Missy Biozarre – saving the real Kacey Vanderkarr impersonator a journey. The real Kacey Vanderkarr was left feeling miffed at that, as she’d turned up to impersonate me.
   “Ah spent a’ week rehearsin’ yon Scoattish accent an’ ev’ry’hin’, but.”
   A veil was drawn over this scene, as a pipe-bearing scaffold was moved in to provide fake rain.

*

What to say of the death of Missy Biozarre? Those of us who talked her down off the literary ledge the first time pretty much knew there’d be a second time. And she’d jump while we were on a break. Missy’s writing persona wasn’t sitting well with the fiction she wanted to write, or her wider aims in writing. My response, the first time she reached for the self-destruct?

WTF! Am I seriously going to have to dress up as the anti- Peter Cushing, vampire-hunter in reverse, standing ready to pull the stake back out of La Biozarre’s smouldering corpse? That’s forcing me to look out a whole load of capes, waders, Gladstone bags, and other arcane accoutrements. Stay off that ledge. Publish as Biozarre. Bleed words.

   My advice to writers is so boring it is worth repeating the mundane truth of the writerly life. Keep writing. Never give up. That’s it. There’s no secret to writing. You have to keep at it. There are elaborations on the basic advice.
   If you genuinely feel uncomfortable with a writing persona, find another way that works for you and your writing. The opinions of others will never trump your gut-instinct. Go with that. Feel good about writing, and you won’t go wrong.
   Change what you are doing if it is unwholesome. Find another way. And this is what Missy Biozarre did. She was a writer who popped up in 2012 to thank me for helping her author friend Kacey. I gave Missy no great advice and she swore at me. She decided to pack it all in and start again with a new identity. Kacey and I had words, and Missy held back.

Without your blog, your internet presence fades and you become yourself. Missy Biozarre reaches her write-by-date, and goes the way of all replicants. While the human version slips out of that crumbling shell and has a different life to lead. As another writer, with a new blog.

   My crystal ball was supposedly looking a few years ahead, not months. I saw that Missy was a temporary commodity. A few months roll by, and Missy Biozarre reaches her write-by-date. What’s the purpose of this blog entry?
   Advice to other writers, of course. If you have concerns about your fiction, and feel the need to write as someone else – for whatever reason – then that is up to you. Experiment on a blog before publishing a book. Missy had a go, and, over the course of an apocalyptic 2012, she advanced so far as a writer that she outpaced her online persona.
   Writing is about change. No time to stand still. Keep moving. Type away. Get on with it. If you have to leave items of equipment behind in the rush, ask yourself if you’ll stop to go back for bits and pieces. And if you decide no, then you likely didn’t need that stuff anyway.
   New writers are often bewildered by the amount of learning involved. That’s true of old writers, too, so don’t worry overmuch about how much there is to learn. Or how to learn it. You are on your own, flying in loose formation with the rest of us.
   I’d said to Missy…

In letting Biozarre die you deprive Kacey of a book dedication, and force a tired Caledonian writer to spend days toiling at the coal-face of obituaryism. That is not a prospect any scribbler with a weak constitution wishes to face.
   As I enter my declining years, with the cold winds of winter circling my leaky castle and night falling hard on the icy cobbles (that was all fiction), I sense I could take a measly crumb of comfort from knowing that the younger generation didn’t piss writing up the wall.

   The first time she threatened to retire the replicant Missy, I made it plain that I’d be forced to write an obituary. For my blog. Which brings us to this blog. Missy found her writing identity less and less in keeping with her ever-evolving style.
   There’s no right way, and no wrong way. Pick yourself up every time you fall, or lean on colleagues for a moment until you are steady. But never give up writing. Missy Biozarre pulled a new mask down over her head. She’s still out there, in the radioactive wastelands, typing like mad and, to quote Kacey Vanderkarr, stomping the same furious path. That only leaves the end to this blog post. The one I never wanted to write – but I prepared for the moment, just in case.
   Missy Biozarre died today, but I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.

NEXT BLOG: JAZZ WITH MARJORIE ELIOT.

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