Musings: Writing in the Negative Space

I’m baaaa-aaaaack!

G’day!

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine, recently. This friend is insanely talented (he writes and draws), and we were talking over a collaborative idea I’d had for both of us to work on (said collaborative idea involving a graphic novel/comic style book).

This led us into a discussion of the sort of illustration style I had in mind–which, to be honest, mostly served to illustrate (ha! see what I did there?) how little idea I had of the style I wanted, and how little I knew about drawing and graphics as a whole. One of the art styles I brought up as something I liked was the art of Hellboy, which led off into another discussion–this one about the use of negative space.

Negative space.

Mike Mignola's Hellboy

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy

It’s a concept that I’d heard of before, but not in a while. The concept, like the style, is deceptively simple: negative space is the space that surrounds an object (the positive space) in an image. In the concept of negative space, this space is just as important–and in some cases, more important–than the positive space. It defines the positive space. It gives the positive space its meaning and boundaries. As a method of illustration, it brings a certain starkness and boldness of style that I love.

After discussing this with my friend, it occurred to me that I’m fond of negative space in more than just illustrations. I’m also a huge fan of negative space when it comes to reading–and writing.

On the face of it, you’d say that it’s not possible to used negative space for anything that isn’t visual. I would then say that you’re dead wrong. (If, on the other hand, you’d say that you agree completely, I’d stutter around a bit because the conversation was not going the way it went in my head and I was now flailing while my brain re-routed it.)

Because of course it’s possible. The execution may be slightly different, but the idea of presenting a concept, world, or character by using factors and indicators outside of the actual concept, world, or character, is a totally legitimate form of writing. It’s also a very effective one.

So there you have it, guys.

Basically, if you ever read one of my books that doesn’t make sense to you, or where the world-building, characters, or concept is never fully explained, it’s just me writing in the negative space and you obviously haven’t been clever enough to understand my genius *snark, snark* (IT’S ALL THERE IN THE SUBTEXT, GUYS.)

Seriously, though.

Negative space is one of my favourite styles of writing–was even before I thought of it as an actual style–and I typically try to explain as little as possible, leaving the reader to figure things out on their own by the way the book is written and the way the characters act and react. (“Never apologise, never explain”, as Antonia Forest says through her Navy-trained characters).

Because I trust you guys to be clever enough to get it. Sometimes, of course, that backfires on me, because sometimes I forget how much I know about the story as a whole, and don’t give my readers enough to work with.

In other words, negative space can be a double-edged sword, which means it needs to be handled very carefully (especially if you’re inclined to clumsiness, like me). But when done well, it’s delightful to read.

My favourite users of negative space: Antonia Forest, Ronald Kidd, Diana Wynne Jones, and Nicholas Fisk.

Antonia Forest uses her negative space in the form of conversation: aka, what is often not written in the form of narrative is given to the reader just as clearly by effective dialogue. It shapes the narrative rather than the narrative shaping it.

In a similar fashion, Ronald Kidd (especially in the fabulous Sizzle and Splat) writes whole passages of dialogue only, and it is amazingly effective. Seriously, go and read Sizzle and Splat right now.

Diana Wynne Jones uses her negative space more in the way of spare, no-nonsense narrative that in its simplicity says a lot more than another writer would say in twice as many words. She uses simple words and easy sentences, and they’re superbly  effective.

Nicholas Fisk, now: he’s the the really interesting one. His negative space is more of an idea than an actual thing. It’s the adult perspective. See, he writes children’s books. I could read them easily as a child and understood and loved them. Now that I read them as an adult, its as though there’s a second layer there: a layer just for me as an adult, that shapes the story into different–and yet they’re just the same–lines than it had when I was a child.

I don’t always do it well, and I don’t always do it effectively, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop using negative space.

10 Worst Book to Screen Adaptations

The movie is never as good as the book. Never. Sometimes it comes awfully close, but it’s never quite there. (Except for AUSTENLAND. Book and movie are even stevens.)

And then there are those really, REALLY bad adaptations.

In no particular order, here are 10 of the worst book to movie adaptations.

1. Eragon

Or, yanno, good acting? Or good dialogue, for that matter...

Or, yanno, good acting? Or good dialogue, for that matter…

I’ll be honest here. I didn’t actually like the book/s. I thought they were poorly written and exceedingly boring.

But the movie. Oh my.

The movie was its own level of awful. From dreadful acting to abysmal script, this movie just couldn’t do anything right. Even the CGI looked embarrassed to be part of it.

No matter what I thought of the book (and I’m fully aware how many of my friends loved it), it certainly didn’t deserve the laughably dreadful movie that happened to it.

This one should die a quick, painless death.

2. Howl’s Moving Castle (Studio Ghibli)

I can’t accurately convey my sense of absolute betrayal when I saw this dreadful excuse for a Diana Wynne-Jones story. For a start, it was animation. Okay, I could deal with that. I prefer live action, but hey! some stories are worth watching no matter what medium they’re made in. And HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE is one of my all-time favourite books.

This movie, tho. This movie. It stomped on HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE. It took names and vague ideas and then made a horrible, pastel anime chuck-up all over my tv screen. It had the worst tropes you find in anime, the worst of the stupid gasps, shrieks, and little girl noises that anime is capable of. And it totally messed up one of the coolest storylines I’ve ever read to turn it into a caricature of itself.

I’m going to go all stern Mr. Knightly and say: “Badly done, Studio Ghibli. Badly done!”

3. HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I actually feel kinda bad about putting this one here. I mean, the movie was actually kinda fun. I mean, c’mmon–

Sorry, Movie HGTG, you're just not as good as Book HGTG!

Sorry, Movie HGTG, you’re just not as good as Book HGTG!

Martin Freeman, Zooey Deschenel, and Alan Rickman’s voice. You can’t ask for much more than that. And it was so ridiculously enjoyable!

Then I read the book.

Oh my. The book was fabulous. It made me determined to go out and buy all of the books.

It did not do the movie any favours. So, as book to movie goes, not a good job.

4. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

I waited for this one with barely contained excitement. The trailers, the tag-lines–everything about it was so beautiful. And with Tim Burton directing it, I figured there was absolutely no way it could be anything other than flamin’ fantastic.

I was wrong.

Well, I was right, too.

It’s seriously one of the most beautiful films you can watch. Gorgeous colours, fantastic outfits, kooky characters, and delightfully dark scenes.

Unfortunately, the movie had no plot. Unless that plot was to show how special and quirky Mia Wasikowska is, of course. She was a dreadful, smug, utterly boring Alice. Even Johnny Depp as the Hatter couldn’t save this movie from being a beautifully presented piece of depthless fluff.

If you love Alice, try the 2009 miniseries ALICE (my favourite. Oh! I could rave about this miniseries for hours!) If you’re more inclined to a traditional Alice, probably go for the 1999 ALICE IN WONDERLAND. It’s a little younger, but it’s quite lovely and mad.

5. Twilight

Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re saying. It’s TWILIGHT. Of course it’s rubbish.

Godfrey is not impressed by your scriptwriting...

Godfrey is underwhelmed by your scriptwriting…

I should say here that I actually enjoyed the book. (Actually, I enjoyed the first and the last. I’m not a great lover of love triangles, so I didn’t particularly enjoy books #2 & #3.) It wasn’t perfect, but it was enjoyable. And it was reasonably new in its time–something I think people forget now that we’re used to it and all its ripoffs.

The movie/s managed to take all the worst of the books without any of the good: we ended up with a sickly saccharine, badly acted, badly directed, dreadfully scripted mess. I won’t bash Kristen Stewart for that–I’ve seen her act amazingly in too many movies to think that she was the problem. In the behind-the-scenes features that I watched (what? I love behind-the-scenes stuff! I’m a writer, for pete’s sake!) all I could see was the director squashing any spark of life from the actors who were doing the best they could do with an abysmal script.

If you simply must watch any of the movies, do yourself a favour and stick to the first movie only.

6. Pride and Prejudice (2005 version)

I feel bad about this one, too. Much like HITCH HIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, it was actually a good movie. Great, even. Enjoyable, definitely. And the sisters were just so silly and young and beautifully done. I could even put up with Lizzy pinching some of Mr. Bennett’s lines. It was a good, albeit vinegary, version of Lizzy. This movie is well worth watching.

What it wasn’t, was PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I’m sorry, but I say no to the dawn strolls in nightclothes where the H & H meet and aren’t discomposed to find that neither of them are fully dressed while wandering.

No.

And down with the spaghetti straps of Caro’s dress. For pity’s sake, KNOW YOUR APPROPRIATE FASHIONS AND RULES OF SOCIETY, DIRECTORS.

NO TO THE SPAGHETTI STRAPS IN REGENCY PERIOD PIECES.

And make sure you watch the very excellent 1995 Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version (then the Grea Garson/Laurence Olivier version just for fun and kicks).

7. ShadowHunters: The Mortal Instruments (TV Series)

Oh. Wow.

Just wow.

I stopped reading the books because of this (apologies if there are any swear words in there, it’s been a while since I read these), and because some of the things in the books made me uncomfortable from a moral standpoint. I’d like to stress that I didn’t find the books badly written. They certainly didn’t deserve what has been done to them in this series.

tumblr_lm3dntYa7L1qbz270o1_500

Oh! The drama!

What has been done to them is much the same as what was done to TWILIGHT. Truly cringe-worthy script. Acting of the worst, overly-dramatic kind. REALLY bad wigs. The fact that Clary (a size 0 at biggest) fits the clothes of Isabella (a tall, curvy, busty brunette), just so that we can see her in ‘hot’ clothes that natch she wouldn’t *gasp* normally wear.

And then there is the hugely sexualised way in which every single teenaged character is portrayed and/or behaves.

Mostly, though, it’s just really bad tv.

8. Persuasion (2007 version)

I was so sad about this one. And really, it’s not a bad movie. It’s just that there is zero chemistry between the H & H. I also don’t think they could have made the pleasant-faced Sally Hawkins look any uglier if they’d tried. Seriously, her hair is pulled back so tightly that it looks painted on. As far as consistency goes, it’s very close to the book, and it’s beautifully set. It just…leaves me empty and unmoved.

This version of PERSUASION (the book of which is a huge favourite of mine) doesn’t have a patch on the warm, soft, loveable 1995 version with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. That’s the version to watch.

9. The Hobbit

I should preface this by saying that I really enjoyed the first two HOBBIT movies: they were too long, but they were fun and I absolutely love snarky Bilbo/Martin Freeman. I didn’t even mind the changes (aka Tauriel and Kili), since I thought they added a nice element to the story. 

sorry some dayThen the last movie came out.

For starters, with the lack of remaining material, it should have been about half an hour long. Then we have to consider the atmosphere of it all. In book HOBBIT, the atmosphere, although chancy, adventurous, and exciting, was always light-hearted and never heavy. When there was sadness it was dignified and valorous. The first two HOBBIT movies managed that quite admirably with just touches of darkness as appropriate. The last HOBBIT movie changed all that.

I liked you, Peter Jackson. Why did you have to ruin THE HOBBIT?

10. The Count of Monte Cristo

Which one?

All of them. ALL. OF. THEM.

Look, the whole idea of Edmund Dantes was that he was out for revenge on everyone in his old life who had done him wrong. And the whole idea of the book, as we follow him through his meticulous and terrifyingly clever machinations, is his redemption and eventual learning to forgive. To leave the things and people that hurt him behind, and to grasp those things which are ahead. A new start. A new life. A new love.

A giving up of hate and the old ways. A taking on of forgiveness and life.

Why, then, in every single movie version of MONTE CRISTO, do the directors/writers insist upon having Dantes get together with his old love, Mercedes? WHY?!? Why do they ruin the book?!?

Dantes gives up his last chance for revenge because he has been taught to love again. He falls in love with *spoilers* Haydee, the princess he rescued *end spoilers* Mercedes doesn’t even enter his mind. Why? Because she’s a part of his old life and one of the ones who (indirectly but certainly) did Dantes wrong. She was faithless and useless.

It doesn’t help that there’s such a depth and richness in the book that you simply can’t do justice to in a movie–or even a short tv series. 

I love you, Gerard Depardieu. But your version of MONTE CRISTO was just as bad as Jim Caviezel’s. 

Okay. End rant. what do you consider to be the 10 worst book to screen adaptations?

(And yes, in case you’re wondering: I did gif this entire post with MY MAN GODFREY. Why? Because MY MAN GODFREY is amazing, and they were just so appropriate…)

When in doubt, be Frank

When in doubt, be Frank

Musings: Why Won’t This Thing Die??

There’s this thing I see a lot in fiction. It happens in movie/tv series as much as in books, and it’s even more annoying there (for my long-suffering hubby as well, because then I remonstrate with the tv. At the top of my lungs.).

It’s the thing where the detective/cop/insurance investigator is too close to the investigation due to a personal connection (ie, investigating the death of his/her own wife/husband/brother/whatever), and throws convention and the orders of their superior officers to the wind to investigate and generally make a nuisance of themselves. The plucky detective then goes on to prove that he/she can handle the pressure and bring the murderer to justice.

It’s a reasonably irritating trope, but I can live with it cos I can sympathise with the desire to make sure justice is done by doing it oneself.

The thing I want to die? The episode further down the road where an officer from another precinct or a grieving father of a murdered/missing girl is determined to push themselves into an investigation. Same setup, same idea. But this time, the officer or father is painted at best as an interfering annoyance and at worst as a trouble-stirring ambulance chaser.

No. Just no. If something is laudable because your MC does it, it can’t become dreggy and wrong because a side-character does it. That’s flamin’ bad writing and needs to be fixed. Give your side-characters and walk-on characters a better form of conflict. Flip your point of view. Just because your MCs are bothered, it doesn’t mean the thing that bothers them has to be a bad thing. Maybe they need to learn a lesson. There’s nothing more annoying than a set of characters who encourage you to see only from one point of view, and automatically assign opposing ones the status of being wrong by virtue of disagreeing with them.

Repeat it with me: “It’s flamin’ BAD WRITING”.

Musings: Praying For World Peace

Image from 4THALUV's Blog

Image from 4THALUV’s Blog

It’s Easter, and a lot of my Catholic and Episcopalian friends are in church for the week, praying for world peace (along with other things, one presumes).

So I’m going to talk about peace today. Only since I’m Protestant, I’m going to talk about it slightly differently.

Essentially, Christmas (my favourite holiday) and Easter (2nd favourite- yup, I’m that predictable) are all about peace. It’s not, however, the sort of peace that you may be thinking about. Christmas and Easter are inextricably linked together: the one celebrating the birth of God in the form of a man, the other commemorating the death of Christ on the cross. The main link between the two is Christ. Well- obviously, I suppose. Christ is born (Christmas) and Christ is killed and rises again (Easter).

The other link between the two is the idea of peace.

When Adam sinned, both as a single man and as the head of the entire human race, we all fell with him- following our representative head. Thus, from then forward, every human born was born in sin, and at enmity with God: because how can a truly just and righteous God permit sin? If He did, He wouldn’t be righteous or just, nor would He be God. “For the wages of sin is death”¹ and somebody has to pay that price.

But because He is a God of mercy also, He made a way for  His justice to be satisfied; and in so doing, His mercy was shown as the great godlike quality that it is. Thus, when Christ is born, the angels sing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”²

The angels aren’t talking about men loving their fellow men, here. That’s a good thing, but it’s not what they’re talking about. The angels are rejoicing that at last, on earth, there is “God in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself”.³ God becomes man, being born as a human; and as a human (and mankind’s other representative head), dies to pay the wages of sin. God’s justice is meted out on God himself, so that God can extend peace and forgiveness to sinners like me.

Since this is Resurrection Sunday, no Easter blog post would be complete without mentioning the resurrection. Christ rose again from the dead, alive and changed, because His sacrifice had proved acceptable and fully covered all of those for whom He died.

There’s peace to be had from Easter and Christmas, but it’s not the sort of peace that’s usually peddled this time of year. It’s a better peace. It’s “God in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself”. It’s the peace of knowing that the divine justice of an angry God has been appeased by that God Himself, and that if we accept “the gift of God, in Jesus Christ our Lord,”¹ we can be reconciled to God. His peace has been extended to us.

So, this Easter, I’ll be praying for peace on earth, goodwill toward men.

 

{1} Romans 6:23

{2} Luke 2:14

{3} 2 Corinthians 5:19

Musings: On Hannibal The Cannibal

Okay, so first things first. When I talk about Hannibal I mean the TV and Movie Hannibal. I haven’t read the books. That said, proceed!

hannibal lecter

I’ve watched a few of the Hannibal movies (Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, and Hannibal) and I’m now in the process of watching the second season of TV Hannibal, which is slightly different again but just as compelling. (Also it’s fun to listen to hubby retching when he comes in sight of the tv screen for a particularly gruesome murder.)

The murders are one and all excessively gruesome and sometimes beautiful in that gruesomeness (for example, the guy with a tree wrapped around his legs, his arms in its cherry-blossom’d branches and glorious flowers blossoming from his split torso). They’re also almost completely unbelievable. I mean, seriously, what murderer has the uninterrupted time to set up a guy in a tree in a parking lot without being noticed? Or slice a girl into slides and arrange the slides so beautifully that it’s like looking at one of those books with the plastic slides of musculature? Not to mention the cops should have a field day with stuff as easy to find out as who purchased eight-odd MASSIVE FREAKING SLIDES OF GLASS.

That’s another story, though, and for the most part I suspend disbelief and just go along with it. The question that occurred to me the other night is, why do I go along with it? Why am I watching this show? Why am I even half cheering for this guy?

To recap:

  1. The bloke eats people. Yanno? He actually slices pieces of flesh and bone (though mostly, it seems, the soft organs like kidneys and brains and tongues) and cooks and eats them. That’s not okay. That’s gross and disturbing and completely alien to any right-thinking person.

  2. He murders on a whim. If he thinks someone is being rude, whether to himself or some other societal more he considers important, wham! That person is liable to end up dead, with missing body parts. That goes for any musician unlucky enough to disturb Hannibal’s enjoyment of a concert by playing a wrong note. I can only imagine what he’d do to someone whose mobile phone went off in the middle of said concert.

  3. He’s been known to wear people’s faces. Seriously. Like, tearing off a dude’s face and wearing it to escape (if you want to know how that happens, watch the movie yourself). And he tends to disemboweling and other gross stuff like that. He seems to prefer his victims alive, too. That is also not okay.

There’s more, but those are the main things. This guy is a predator; a terrifying, alien, other predator with no normal human morals or perceivable conscience.

So, the question remains: Why is he so compelling?

And I can’t deny that he is compelling, because despite the extreme violence in the movies/tv show, and the (for me) more than usually allowable bad language, I found it hard to stop watching. Why is that? Since the moment I watched The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal (my favourite of the movies, if ‘favourite’ is quite the word to use) I’ve puzzled to myself about why I find Hannibal so compelling. Watching the second season of the TV show Hannibal got me wondering again.

This morning, in the middle of my devotions, cuddling my cup of tea, I got it.

There’s a catechism/truth/principal that is used in the Presbyterian church I go to, and in some of the older protestant books that I read. It goes something like: ‘The value of a soul depends upon the object of its affections’. It’s used in relation to God and His loving of His own Self: ie, that His soul/person is of infinite value and worth because the object of His affections (Himself) is utterly beautiful, perfect, right, just, and unchanging. His affections are set on what is most right and beautiful. In that sense, God defines Himself. It’s also used with regards to Christians. We’re ultimately beautiful when we love that which is beautiful- in this case, God. Our worth is dependent upon appreciating and finding beautiful the things that are beautiful and ought to be appreciated. If we love wrong things and see them as beautiful instead, our soul is corrupted.

To tie this in, consider Hannibal’s main relationships. In the movies, it’s mainly Clarice Starling: an upright, righteous, and morally straight FBI Agent. There’s the sense that she’s a good copper, but the main idea that I personally got from their interactions on screen was her unwavering sense of right. She was morally upright.

In the TV series there is Will Graham. Now, as the series proceeds, he gets darker. But the thing about Will that I most appreciate is that he sees the darkness in the world and potentially in himself, and he hates it. Even the wrong things he does are motivated by a sense of right. He is terrified of the darkness, and yet he keeps fighting it in the world and in himself.

And these two people, in one way or another, Hannibal loves. He loves them fiercely, terrifyingly, and in some cases, almost entirely selflessly. It’s an alien and unfathomable emotion in him. He sees the uprightness in them and he loves them for it. He knows that if he gets too close he’ll be burned, but he can’t seem to help himself. He’s drawn to them.

And that, right there, is what makes Hannibal such a compelling character. In his otherness and alienness, he is terrifying. But in his love of these two people (and seemingly only these two people) with their uprightness and unwavering determination to do what is right at all times, there is something oddly good and worthwhile.

So while the violence turns my stomach at times, and I fully recognise that Hannibal needs to be shot quickly and efficiently, I can’t help but find him compelling still.

Mads Mikkelson as Hannibal Lecter

Mads Mikkelson as Hannibal Lecter

Strong Female Leads

I’m very definite about what I like in characters. I will very often put down a book without reading all the way through if I don’t like the main character/s, and I’ve been known to verbally remonstrate with TV characters who are doing stupid things. This holds true for all characters, but is more stringently applied to female lead characters I read/watch (mostly because I’m female and dislike seeing females made ridiculous without good reason. Men can mostly be as ridiculous as they like without upsetting me unduly).

If the female lead is, for example: a) Always relying upon the hero to save her, b) Always belittling/snarking at the hero, c) Making stupid decisions because the book/movie needs it for angst/danger, d) Always having sex because she’s a strong female lead who don’t need no man/rules/standards ETC, ETC, ETC-

I WILL BURN THAT BOOK/MOVIE.

(Actually, I won’t: I’ll probably just make a face and donate it to the op-shop/bin/a friend. But still. Ya get me. If I get really hot under the collar, I’ll compose snarky reviews in my head that will never see the light of a computer.)

There’s a lot of angst about Strong Female Leads. Someone is always trying to make sure that movies have enough Strong Female Leads, or that a book has a Strong Female Lead. It’s one of those things that you’re forever hearing about on the ‘net. I mean forever. There are tantrums and jumpings up and down, and accusations of misogyny etc, clouding the air and making things generally difficult to see.

I’ll admit, I used to roll my eyes about it a lot. (Actually, I still do at some of the more tantrum-like outbursts.) And then, the matter having been brought to my attention, I started noticing stuff.

It was most often in movies. (Books have weak, annoying, and/or stereotypical female leads, but they have an equal amount of weak, annoying and/or stereotypical male leads.) I’d be watching a movie, enjoying it more or less depending upon which one it was, and then BAM- there was a female lead wearing next to nothing. FOR NO REASON. Cos, trust me, if you’re a ninja/knight/samurai/whatever, you’re gonna want as much body surface covered. The male counterpart would be fully clothed. And then the female lead would fall/trip/get bashed and have to be rescued by one of the blokes for the seemingly sole purpose of being clutched to the well muscled chest of whichever one happened to save her.

So basically, the female lead was there for looks, and for the rush that the male ego gets for having saved a damsel in distress. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a female in a movie/book having to be rescued. But when it’s already established that she’s apparently the best/strongest/fastest, it’s really annoying to find that she has to be saved by the male of the piece simply because she’s female.

That’s not cool. It’s not cool to see female characters used in tv shows/movies simply for the purpose of eye candy. It’s not cool to see them always berating and/or sleeping with the male counterpart simply to prove that they’re a strong female lead who don’t need no man. C’mmon dudes, there has to be some middle ground here. And it’d be kinda nice to see female action figures, too (I’m looking at you Avengers. Yanno, while I’m on the subject).

It’d just be nice to see more interesting, reasonable females (action movies, I’m looking at you) who have their own stories and react to events/people/etc on their own terms and not merely with relation to the storyline of the main male character. I love action movies, but they’re the ones most guilty of female stereotyping (yeah, Taken.  I love you, but Liam Neeson’s wife needed to be murdered a lot sooner).

That’s all. That’s all I’m asking.

Inferiority Complex

We’re writers. We’re meant to be at least slightly neurotic. But there’s that day, every so often, when we’ll be reading a good book. I mean a really good book: solid to fantastic plot, fascinating characters we fall in love with and weep for, and the absolute perfect pacing; all wrapped in a superbly crafted structure.

You take a thought break to bask in the gloriousness of it, grinning foolishly to yourself. Then it hits you.

I’ll never be this good. This is the Van Gough of books. If I live until I’m fifty and keep writing better and better, I’m still never gonna be as good as this bloke.

And you know, that can be good. I’m not one of those people who thinks it’s damaging to the human psyche to admit to actual inferiority. You’re never gonna be as good as at least one girl or bloke out there, and sometimes that knowledge spurs you on to do better. Anything that gets us in front of that computer/notepad/whatever to write and grow, is a good thing.

But it’s also good to remember that writing is a growing thing. The first books of at least two of my favourite authors, had I read them first, would not have inspired me to read more of their work. I can literally see the growth as I read through those early books. You’re not going to be the best you can be right now. You’re going to have to work on it. Your first book is most likely not going to be your best. You’ve still got so much to learn. I’ve still got so much to learn- and practise, and put in to practise.

Who knows, one day we may be that good. But if we never had anything that spurred us on to be better, we’d probably never get there.

Embrace the inferiority. Just don’t let it stop you from being better.

Sound And Fury

I couldn’t really think of a blog post this week. Yanno: work, the dog, the hubby . . . a new tv show . . .

So you’re going to get 250-500 words of sound and fury, signifying nothing* about my week so far.

#1 on my list of nonsense is that my husband makes a great roast.**

#2 is that my dog stinks. I mean really honks. Can’t give her a bath because a.) no time and b.)when there is time it’s too late in the day for her to dry without leaving the whole house smelling of wet dog.***

#3 is kept for the smug, happy thought of the book I’m planning on reading next.****

#4’s job is to mention that I’m dying for a cuppa.

#5: Did I mention I really want a cuppa? A cup of tea is the best medicine. And I won’t say no to a couple of scotch fingers with that.

#6 would like to offer up the proud knowledge that I’ve figured out the kinks in a story I’ve been thinking about for years, making it properly writable at last *****

#7 is, happily for you, the end of this nonsense. Go do something productive with your day. I’ll be over here having a cuppa.

*Yup. You got it. I’m the idiot. You’re very clever.

**By this I mean that he cooked me a great roast, not that I cooked and ate him.

***Yes. Stinky dog smell is infinitely preferable to wet dog smell. Wet dog smell burrows into stuff.

****Re-reading Diana Wynne Jones’ Deep Secret, in case you wanted to know.

*****I have no time to write said book, of course. I have a schedule of four publications for next year, one of which I have yet to write, one of which is yet to be quite finished, and the third of which is on its last edits. The fourth is done, though. Go me!