Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

What Michael Jackson and I Have in Common

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A little demon copy editor is jumping up and down on my shoulder, madly waving his arms, telling me I should rewrite the title. I should put it in the past tense, since MJ is deceased and I am alive. It should read: What Michael Jackson and I Had in Common. I will resist the urge. I can do that – this is my author’s blog. The present tense is so much more immediate. I love writing in the present tense.

By making this post I’m confessing something that isn’t too hip to confess. I’m confessing that I followed those pretend news articles and telecasts that appeared in legion after Michael Jackson’s death. You know the ones I’m talking about; they were cloaked as news, although they are better called entertainment. I balk at “A & E,” arts and entertainment. Just plain entertainment will do.

Several focused on MJ’s oddities, and it is in this area that Michael Jackson and I share something in common. No, it is not the glove, nor the mask, nor the armband. I am definitely not the surrogate mother of his children. Neither am I the Billy Jean in the song, nor do I have a tendency to grab my private parts. I can’t dance like MJ, nor moonwalk, nor sing. My singing is so atrocious that when I was a child and our class competed in the Kiwanis Music Festival, the music teacher told me to lip sync the words, although in those days, it wasn’t called lip syncing, but pretend singing.

The pretend news article I am thinking about in particular reported what the police found when they entered Michael Jackson’s bedroom. MJ had strewn his clothes messily across the floor, but even more odd, the article reported, he had stuck Post-it notes, about a dozen of them, across his bedroom walls, bearing little notes to himself.

I stick Post-it notes across my walls. I stick them in other places too, on my computer screen, by my keyboard, on my computer desk. I hadn’t known my Post-it behaviour was odd, until I read that article.

Sometimes I resort to writing a note on a serviette at a restaurant, and tucking it in my purse. Sometimes I use the Notes feature to jot down reminders to myself on my iPod. It’s a coping method. To put it more nicely, it’s a writing strategy. I’d go mad otherwise. The best stories are ill behaved. They pop up at the most inconvenient times, seldom when I am sitting down with everything in order and ready to write.

I also use a giant white board. Each morning, I stand in my writing room, at that white board, and wipe off the notes from the previous day that are no longer pertinent. And I add new notes, both things I need to accomplish, but also story thoughts, strands of story I don’t want to lose track of, and could very easily, those little details that add substance to a piece of writing.

I’d readily share that white-board idea with MJ, if I could.

~ Marianne Paul

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Marianne Paul

Marianne Paul's is the author of the novels Dead Girl Diaries (BookLand Press, 2009), Tending Memory (BookLand Press, 2007), Twice in a Blue Moon (BookLand Press, 2007) and The Shunning (Moonstone Press, 1994). Her fiction, non-fiction and poems have appeared in publications such as Vox Feminarum, Cahoots, Canadian Author, Western People and The New Quarterly.

Go to Marianne Paul’s Author Page