Archive for August, 2008

Conversing with a Dead Man

It’s the weekend and I feel the need the relax, to take time out from forums and writing and programming and phone calls. So I take up Karoo and start reading. I read this:

It is relaxing, playing the image Cromwell has given me to play.
I had forgotten the mindless comfort of being an image instead of a human being.
It’s not a lack of willpower that makes me go along with the charade of playing the image I’ve been given to play.
There are benefits.
I need a break from being.
Everyone, I think, needs an occasional break from being.

In those few sentances, the author captures how I feel at that very moment. Writing, I often think, is a form of displaced communication. The author is displaced from the reader in time and space, but the aim is to communicate emotion, fellowship, and solidarity with another human being. It is the great honour of being an author that you can never know who is reading your work, where, or when.

The author of Karoo is Steve Tesich. He died shortly after completing it. I am having displaced communication with a man who knows exactly how I feel at this moment in time, a man I have never met, a man I never will meet, a man who is dead. I understand and feel now what he knew and felt then. Our conversation goes beyond time and space, perhaps to another dimension beyond any scientific understanding. It is magical.

Writing is magic; that’s why I love it so.

Add comment August 30th, 2008

A robot took my submission!

So, today is submissions Monday. I have a handful of them lined up to send out. I made one submission on-line. Normally I only like posting them, even though I am a techophile. I received an e-mail confirmation response from a robot:

“Thank you for submitting your work to us!”

with the subject title:

“Submissions Robot – Do Not Reply”

It’s the personal touch that really makes this writing business, and what a far cry from the faceless, cold IT industry I yearn to forsake someday! Oh, the humanity!

Add comment August 25th, 2008

Insight into publishing

I came across this little gem in the Times about the troubles at PFD literary agency late last year.

The part I found most interesting is this stinging but eloquently honest assessment of the state of affairs in publishing today.

The literary elite, increasingly depressed by publishing’s love affair with the mass market, its desertion of the mid-list, the relinquishing of their power by publishers to the booksellers, identified in this move a plan to further “streamline” this still vaguely eccentric and mercurial industry into a profit-driven conveyor belt in which authors and actors would be expected to become all-singing, all-dancing “products”. A world in which glamour models can dominate the bestseller lists with autobiographies that they happily admit to not having written. A world in which the oversixties, that is to say more than a handful of PFD’s leading agents, would be considered well past their sell-by dates and where authors such as Louis de Bernieres, who became widely read only with the publication of his fifth book, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, would, in these more marketing-orientated days, never have retained the complete confidence of his publishers unless by happy chance he had been discovered by Richard and Judy. The intellectuals hate to admit it, but this is what a meritocratic, market-driven landscape looks like.

Finally, the article links to a diagram with a fascinating insight into the connections between some major players in publishing in the UK.

It’s all eye-opening for the publishing industry outsider.

Add comment August 24th, 2008

Practice makes perfect

I was watching a programme last night called “The Making of Me”, about the violinist Vanessa Mae.

She was talking with a expert in some field or other (I can’t remember which), but something he said struck a chord with me. He said that professional musicians at the top of their game have one thing in common – they have expended at least 5000 hours each in practice before the age of 16.

It’s an old adage that to be a writer, you need to write and write. I suspect the 5000 hour figure might govern top quality authors too. I wonder how many hours I’ve spent writing so far? Now where did I leave that pencil and paper … ?

Add comment August 8th, 2008

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