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Friday, January 26, 2007

Avoiding Premature Burial - A Writers' Guide

Dead Beat like all good writers has a fear of premature burial (see The Book of the Dead). You don't want to bury your book before it has successfully died. So a few pointers for those other writers out there concerned enough about their craft to share the same worries.

First off, this is not a recent trend (indeed it has rarely been a trend among 'writers' at all - so many are happy to bury their work and move on without bothering to check for a pulse - many don't even bury it - just leave it to rot unattended) the fear of premature burial became more common amongst Nineteenth-Century Americans and Europeans. The fear arose out of the reputations of physicians who, lacking modern medical knowledge, (and often a medical degree), occasionally pronounced comatose or unconscious patients dead prematurely. The deceased would mirculously revive during funeral services, much to the dismay of friends and family.

Amazingly, despite modern medical knowledge (often accompanied by a slew of English and Creative Writing Degrees) many bodies of work pronounced dead are in fact still comatose, unconscious or downright upright dancing the polka in full view of everyone.

What to do about it?

Resurrect The Society for the Prevention of People being Buried Alive who recommended leaving the deceased lying in their caskets for days or weeks on end before being deemed sufficently dead to bury.

Other options include placing crowbars and shovels in the deceased's caskets; if they revive, they can dig their own way out. Also, recommended is a pipe that goes through the ground and into the casket, to be used for emergency communications.

Bateson's Revival Device is Dead Beat's preferred method to ensure that his work does not suffer a premature death. This device consists of an iron bell mounted on the lid of the casket just above the deceased's head. The bell is connected to a cord through the coffin that is placed in the dead's hand, such that the least tremor shall directly sound the alarm.

And yes indeed Dead Beaters, you ought to be alarmed if you bury your work prematurely.

(postscript: Bateson himself feared premature internment so powerfully that it is thought he was driven mad by his preoccupation. In 1886, he committed suicide by dousing himself with linseed oil and setting himself on fire

- always another option for work poorly prepared for death.)

1 comment:

AL said...

I tell ya Dead Beat, last week I was sure my story was deceased. I performed the necessary rituals, then laid the work to rest. I tied one end of a string to the forefinger of its right hand and the the other end of the string to a bell, just in case I was mistaken. Then while working the graveyard shift(?) I heard a faint but clearly audible ringing. The story, she was not deceased, had not passed on, didn't die, she was... a... dead ringer.