Posted on February 13, 2011
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.
Posted on April 23, 2010
Lets get this absolutely clear. I love America. Many wonderful and amazing things come from there.
The world invents something, often Japan, the plucky Brits, the odd Frenchman – and America runs with it and turns it into something amazing.
Take the modern internet (but h/t to top Brit Tim Berners-Lee for actually inventing it) for example – there’s no doubt that the US is the centre of the internet these days – I have no idea where this page is actually physically hosted, but I’ll bet it’s in the good ole USA.
This trusty and very desirable MacBook Pro that I am typing on – it’s a computer, invented in other places, manufactured in China or Japan or Taiwan or someplace, but designed (by an Englishman as it happens) and lovingly created in, yup, you guessed it, America. You don’t see the Brits or the Spanish or the Australians doing stuff like this. I don’t know why really.
Anyway, on to my point, and this is where many of my American friends will have to take a breath and realise I am not having a go at them, not at all. I love you guys (to coin a phrase). So, the story:
My wife (tee hee, still makes me giggle) is writing a book – it’s an Australian book, Aussie characters who say Aussie things. She went on a forum for critique, and got slammed for stuff that really highlights something deeper.
She got big red underlining and very rude comments for spelling. Words like neighbour, colour, realised, specialised, mum (I’ll come back to this one) and recognised.
Now, lets just take a minute here – these words are actually spelt like this everywhere outside of America – its quite well known. The dropped ‘u’ and ‘z’ instead of ‘s’ are American specific spellings. Now, when we get books and magazines from the US over here, we don’t melt in a puddle of rage at the misspelling, so why should everyone else in the world have to pander to them?
She also got slated in her book for things like when kids leave school, when they get a driving licence, car types and names, the use of the word ‘Ma’ when describing your mother (it ‘has’ to be Mom, apparently, ‘Ma’ is too redneck). Well, I’ve got news for you, America – people from Yorkshire who have emigrated to Australia often call their mothers ‘Ma’ – more to the point – no one outside of the US calls their mothers ‘mom’, but somehow in books and films that get exported around the world from America, we can get past this fact as we know that’s just the way it is in America, things are different, its ok.
So – why do we have to change stuff that’s not American? Why does Hugh Laurie, an English actor famous for his voice, have to play Dr House with an American accent when it’s not relevant to the story?
Listen up America – there’s a whole wide world out there that does things differently, spells stuff the differently (some may even say the correct and original way, but you’re big enough and ugly enough to have your own way if you want) and speaks differently. This is a good thing and we’ll be buggered if we’re going to change stuff to suit you.
Celebrate the differences, understand there are differences for good reasons and don’t try to make everything uniform American colour. I want to see actors from Australia (Sam Worthington in Avatar for example) speak with an Aussie accent in films – why should he have to speak with an American accent – hell, other people in the film speak with different accents – I don’t get it.
So, America, I love you, but I will never spell colour as color or attempt to disguise my (very) English accent. It’s what makes me me.
Posted on October 9, 2009
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.