Allan Takes Aim Blog

Writers’ Block and Talk Back

Posted on: 2 December 2009

First published The Chronicle, Tuesday, 24 November 2009 

Have you heard of writers’ block? No. Well it’s not like an executioner’s block on which writers, including writers of letters to the editor, metaphorically lay their head to get it chopped off because they’ve upset readers, it’s when they can’t think of anything to write.

The real root of the problem however, is not upsetting readers but the fact that many writers labour under the delusion that everything they say is wise, illuminating and important, and if they don’t get it down on paper the world will experience catastrophe.

And when inspiration deserts them only a few days before having to submit something for publication, imagine the panic. Worse still, in their panic they write something they later wish they hadn’t.

More important, people who read what they’ve written also wish they hadn’t. I know making this statement will give my critics the opportunity of putting in their two bob’s worth to the effect that I have been in a permanent state of writers’ block for years.

All I can say in reply is: as critics always know they are right, this is an argument I will never win.

That said, you might ask how could anyone get writers’ block in Canberra, a city full of politicians who never seem to stop talking and, like writers, think what they say is important.

At times indeed, one might wish that they would suffer from a talking block. But politicians are not alone in this regard. Hosts of radio talk back shows have the same problem to the extent that it wouldn’t do some of them any harm if, like politicians, they suffered from a talking block.

Indeed if a talking block did nothing else it would help them stop propagandising listeners with their personal views.

Others who have a problem are the victims of the Andy Warhol Syndrome who want their fifteen minutes of fame, something easily achieved on talk back radio.

This becomes more obvious with particular subjects. A recent example: Civil Unions. As an agnostic, but not a contributor to talk back radio, let me put my point of view: I support civil unions for same sex couples. However, Marriage is different.

Apart from being founded in love, one of its main purposes is the continuation of human life. Unfortunately, much as same sex unions can be founded in love, they cannot do the latter.

And nor can this function be conferred by human rights and equality laws.

That said, because marriage is different does not make it discriminatory of same sex people.

Another issue that pops up regularly on local talk back is the Arboretum. Again speaking personally, this is an issue that attracts a lot of propaganda from some talk back hosts who support it and give its supporters a voice.

Unfortunately the voices of non – supporters are noticeable by their absence.

And much the same can be said about Global Warming. While Al Gore may be finding it an inconvenient truth, more and more people are becoming sceptical of his doomsday scenario.

Indeed Gore should understand that most sceptics actually believe in global warming: what they don’t believe in are the Armageddon prophecies of Gore, his evangelists and those working in the media and politics who support his views.

One of the latest issues to take up time on talk back is the old Bus Depot, home of a one day Sunday market. While I can understand a few people getting emotional in letters to the editor and on talk back radio about it disappearing, as a long time resident of Canberra, I cannot recall it ever being talked about as a structure of significant heritage value.

And while the one day Bus Depot Market has been mentioned as a tourist attraction, having long been involved in ACT tourism (for years longer than most talk back hosts and some tourism “experts”) and formerly General Manager of the Big Pineapple, one of Australia’s biggest tourism attractions, the Bus Depot Market’s capacity to attract tourists is limited.

If the reverse is true then a move to a new area nearby should not be a problem. By the way, this column is dedicated to my critics.

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1 Response to "Writers’ Block and Talk Back"

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