writing

The observant among you might recall that I have a romantic notion of being a writer.

I have lots of good ideas for book, some fully imagined and started but on hold, some as shells of a vague plot outline, and some as nothing more than words in my head.  Trouble is, I keep getting more ideas than I can actually write and sometimes, the new ideas burn brighter than anything I have in progress.

Well not this time, I’m carrying on with what I’ve started no matter what.  New ideas are written down, filed and forgotten for now so I can concentrate.

I’m setting word goals, have chapter outlines and a very definite perspective from which to do this. Also, unusually, I have no clear idea of how I’m going write the detail.  I know what the plot is, well, kinda, I know some of the events that are going to happen at the start and at the end, now I have to join them together.  Which is interesting.  I love to have all angles of a problem bounded before I can fill in the details.  It’s what I do for my job and it’s very much how my brain likes to work.  So having to fill it in as I go means I have to pay very careful attention to making sure I don’t waffle (unlike this post then!) and always set something up so I can carry on with the next chapter.

I’ve already been back to the first few chapters a dozen times and chopped, hacked and butchered them to make them flow with what I is unfolding on paper and I kinda like it this way – its a bit more organic, less pre-imagined and more natural as a result.  It’s going to take a herculean effort to whip it into shape once it’s all written, but I can actually see this one being finished one day.

And now, back to Chapter 3, I need to fill in the view of the world according to the mind of one of my characters and it’s proving to be a bitch.

For company though, I have The Jezabels – a Sydney based band with the most incredible sound and soaring vocals from a very interesting singer.  I can’t guarantee you’ll like them, but it’s definitely worth a listen if just to hear something new and different.

story time

I have a dream

No, not that kind of dream, as good a dream as that might be, I’ll leave that up Martin Luther King.

A writing dream.  I really want to write books, but I find it hard to keep motivation going.  I have too many other things to do, day to day, including photography, my day job and my family.

So as a result, I have one children’s book that is complete, but still in the editing stage, one novel that is one third done, but I’ve kinda lost interest.

But now I have two brand new ideas.

Work on new book one starts tomorrow 🙂

Five get a makeover (and go for a KFC)

I’ve been building up a head of steam about this all day, so you’re getting the full monty, on my soapbox, high horse, both barrels blog post.

This is about the news that the publishers of the legendary Enid Blyton stories, Hodder & Staughton, have decided that the language in the books is a little outdated and needs to be edited to bring it upto date.

So all the ‘jolly japes’, ‘golly goshes’ and ‘lashings of ginger beer’ will now be replaced with ‘fun’ ‘oh’s’ and ‘guzzled a can of coke’ (ginger is a pejorative term and is now forbidden)

Apparently, they think children will stop reading the books as they won’t be able to understand this ‘old’ language and they need to do this updating to ensure the continued success of the books into the future.  They are starting with The Faraway Tree and Famous Five.

Well what utter shite.  Utter utter UTTER shite.

When I read the books in the 1970’s, the words and phrases were already long gone from pouplar English and did it matter to me?  No, it did not.  Did it matter to Jay when she read them, even though she grew up in working class Sheffield in England’s industrial North?  No, it did not.

Did it matter to Anja and Piper, who have never left the state of Western Australia, let alone been to England, when they read them in the 2000’s?  No, it did not.

Did it matter to a generation of children in-between?  No, it did not.

They still sell 500,000 copies a year of the Famous Five series alone and it is the number one book on loan in libraries.  Hardly a book on the verge of going out of print.

So why then, is it assumed that children of the 2010’s are suddenly of such a reduced intellectual capacity that they cannot understand the phrase ‘how peculiar’ when the likes of books by AA Milne, Beatrix Potter, Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss etc haven’t been changed at all, even though the language is old and context of the stories is long gone.

So, Hodder and Staughton, you are wrong about this.  Totally and utterly wrong.

It is not just about the nostalgia, or language and the capability to understand it, but also about where this leads us to.  Do we need to change Shakespeare, Keats, Chaucer and Jane Austen for modern audiences too?    Leave them alone, celebrate their language and their setting and the context in which they were written, they are history and should never be rewritten or we will lose the whole reference for that period in time.

storytime

I’ve been writing on and off for years.

I wrote 1/2 a novel in 2002 but ran out of steam and actually, I had trouble writing dialogue.

The idea for that one is still parked and I’ll probably have another crack at it one of these days, sooner rather than later I think. I was a little disturbed to rent a DVD with a similar plot line (although different setting) which tells me I’m on the right track anyway.

So, back to the story

I’ve been telling my daughter bedtime stories since she was in a grown up bed at 2 years old – by chance, I hit on a formula first time that really worked for her and I made up a ton of stories around a theme (most of which I’ve totally forgotten but they can be recreated easily enough). They even work for my 9 year old step daughter, although her imagination runs wild and she wants the story to go places I don’t think of (magical horses, mostly). Its good material though 😉

My father used to do the same for me and my sisters when we were little (although I only recall him doing that when we were on holiday, possibly because he was working late and didnt get back for our bedtime when we were small) but he did them in nightly chapter format with a classic cliffhanger so we always wanted more.

Well, mine aren’t like that – they’re one-a-night, simple five or so minute stories that would be good for children to have read to them until they were about seven ish, when they could read them themselves.

I finally wrote one of these stories down and it was much harder and more time consuming than I thought – its hard to know where to draw the line between simplicity and colourful description and scene setting dialogue. Do kids even care about that stuff? So its done, second draft (Jay did the first review and I’ve made those changes) and now I need to write a couple more so I can have enough material to approach an agent to see what they think.

I know getting a book published is a matter of persistence and not worrying about rejection, but even so, this is the daunting part.