Listen. I’m nearing the end of Project If (as yet, still untitled) and Project Unicorn Poop is shaping up okay – I’ve just figured out what was wrong with one of the characters (he lacked conflict, if you must know) and I can’t wait.
I just cannot wait.
I can’t wait for draft one to be over and done with. I can’t wait to plunge into the editing, the butchering, the going over everything with a fine tooth-comb, the polishing, the looking for an editor to do the job for me, the second edits, the line edits, ALL THE EDITS and then the front cover and then the publishing.
It isn’t that I want to be famous. It isn’t that I want to make pots and pots of money through this – though, I’m sure, I wouldn’t refuse if you really insisted.
It’s just that I want to sniff my book. I want to see it done, in the hands of the person it was written for. I want to hold it and stare at it and admire it and tell people I wrote a story that I wanted to read and I wish – oh I wish – you’ll read it too.
I want to have something that I’ve birthed. (Not literally birthed. I mean, maybe that will come in the future but not right now.) I want to see a beautiful book and pick it up and be surprised that oh this is something I wrote – something I wanted to read but couldn’t ever quite find.
It isn’t for pride, it isn’t for fame, it isn’t for anything except a single thing: I want to take joy in what my imagination has produced.
Right now it’s in my head and imperfectly on a page. Right now it’s rough – like a block of marble that hasn’t been shaped and chiselled. Right now, not even a proud mother could come up with a positive adjective to describe it.
And when it’s finished, it won’t be perfect. I’m no Heyer, no Sutcliff, no Sayers, no Wynne Jones, no Wodehouse.
But oh – if it’s a tiny bit beautiful, if it’s a little funny, if it’s moving, if it’s a wondrous adventure, if it makes you see a glimmer of something you can’t quite name, or startles you into a laugh; if it’s something that I can be pleased with then, I would like to share it with you.
Let me regale you with the adventures I’ve somewhat recently taken between the pages of books, thundering away at a keyboard, and – memorably – in a cinema seat.
YOUNG ADULT NOVELS AND I STILL DON’T GET ALONG
I DNF’d A Curse So Dark and Lonely – it wasn’t my cup of tea, and … I forgot that YA novels and I aren’t always the best of friends.
ALSO I HAVE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT IT but they might have to hold until another time.
LORD OF THE RINGS – I’M READING THEM!LE GASP!
Though I have watched the movies, I hadn’t read the books. But now? I’ve read the first two and have almost finished with the last. Reader, I cried.
Just … Sam … Frodo … the bittersweet scent of change that permeates everything … the lore … the world … the friendships … ugh!
Also, I love the Ents and WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ENT WIVES I ASK YOU. WHAT. HAPPENED?!!!!!
TOLKIEN – THE MOVIE
I watched it. I thought it was pretty okay. I was confused for a bit because there was a man named Chris and I only worked out that it wasn’t C S Lewis near the very end of the movie. The actor did a fabulous job as Tolkien and though I enjoyed it, I thought that it lacked a wee bit of substance.
Like a cream tea without the tea. Scones and jam and cream without the jam. A body without bones. That sort of thing.
ENDGAME – MY EYES AND HEART ACHED
I went twice. My heart hurt. My eyes hurt. My soul ached at some points. And though part of me questions the treatment of one of the characters (Thor, FYI), I am – as a whole – satisfied with the ending of an era that has had a part in shaping my life.
ROMANOVS – THANKS, I HATE IT.
I’ve been reading a book about the Romanovs – and though it’s wonderfully written and fascinating – I’m just about ready to throw in the towel. (Trowel?) I feel very done with them. I had hopes for one Tsar – that he might be a decent fellow. But then … UGH. A ranting entry in my diary, and (if I recall correctly) a rambling conversation with my sister (or was it a friend? I’ve blocked the memory. It was a terrible time.) later and I feel quite finished.
History is wonderful but I’ve only so many hours and I’ve got a hundred other books which are all clamouring to be read. I think I might give it a pass.
Also – my bookmark got knocked out and I can’t bring myself to go through it all again and find my place.
^VERY valid reason. Also an actual reason.
My next factual book will probably be On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society which looks incredibly interesting.
WRITING: FREELANCE, THE LARGE PROJECT, AND OTHER THINGS
I was doing some freelance on fiverr – it was an adventure, for certain. I’ve found that there isn’t enough time to complete freelance work AND to write my own projects. Honestly?
Procrastination + deadlines = sleep deprivation.
So I’ve called it a day on most freelance work.
Here’s something that I’ve recently discovered though: word sprints. Do them. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, knowing that there is someone else writing and comparing word counts etc is enormously invigorating and words are always added. It’s great. Find someone who writes. And do it.
So far, I’m just over half way through IF – a project that was supposed to be an action packed mash of a Jackie Chan + John Wayne sort of adventure.
… it hasn’t ended up quite that way. I’ve ended up with a man bogged down in paperwork who then hurtles off on an accidental and reluctant adventure.
And then there’s Operation: Unicorn Poop which is tickling my funny bone.
BOOKS I WANT TO READ IN THE FUTURE
I want to reread my Georgette Heyers. Desperately. I’ve got a book on the Spanish Inquisition which I wasn’t expecting.
… but very much would like to read.
And then there’s The Poison Maiden by Paul Doherty which looks amazing and I want to read it straight away and My Plain Jane which I SWORE I wouldn’t read but … GUESS WHAT ARRIVED TODAY IN THE POST?
Also: a thousand other books but *sigh* life.
ALSO: expect a blog post about the MOST excellent ‘The Emotional Craft of Fiction’ and ‘Steal Like An Artist’ and ‘Keep Going’ because those three books are the bomb*.
I haven’t yet saved the world or slain a dragon, but that’s alright. We can’t all be heroes but we can be kind to each other. It’s more achievable.
Now, you know I like Georgette Heyer. And I like everyone else who likes Georgette Heyer. And I especially like authors who like Georgette Heyer. And most of all, I like authors who write books inspired by Georgette Heyer.
So – here I find a book – and I demand from the all the world to know: how did I not find this before?!!!
THE WEAVER TAKES A WIFE
by SHERI COBB SOUTH
LET’S BE REAL …
It wasn’t perfect. But most things in life aren’t. My azaleas, for instance, are slightly wilting. Is it because I placed them in the sun too much? Probably. Is it because I haven’t wooed them with Mozart? Most likely. I’m not perfect. They aren’t perfect. This book isn’t perfect. It doesn’t quite reach Georgette Heyer’s glorious heights – but there’s so. much. to. love. Anyway.
(And She wasn’t perfect either. I’m listening to Sprig Muslin at the moment – it’s my ‘room cleaning’ book. I have many books for many different occasions. My ‘I’m sitting on the loo’ book is about the Romonovs and lemme tell you Peter the Great was WILD. But I digress … Sprig Muslin? Not my favourite. Possibly because of the narrator. Possibly because I’ve read negative reviews about it. Possibly because I’m not approaching it like C.S Lewis told me to – with an open mind.)
Other things that aren’t so perfect:
the heroine’s father is basically selling her off for money to pay off his debts. So. Ew.
while there is character development with the heroine – she does a complete 180, but I wish it had been … slightly slower. Some things require time. For instance: your entire world view changing.
MY AZALEAS ARE BASICALLY DEAD OKAY?!!
Mr. Brundy. Mr. Brundy is the bomb.
I’m going to be straight up and honest with you: I’ve vast plans about marrying Mr. Brundy. Yes. They are a little inhibited by the tragic fact that he’s fictional … and also fictionally married [dang it] but true love always finds a way. Just like Mr. Brundy. And his heart.
He takes one look at the heroine and BAM! Cupid’s dart doesn’t just strike him. Oh no! It bloomin’ well drops a nuke on his poor little heart pumping organ. Think Paris and Helen but with less … bloodshed, immorality, Greek gods, and arrows-in-heels happening.
[As a side note … there’s this BBC adaption of Troy and I loathe Paris. He’s just so bleh and ugh and argh and *smash face on desk*-esque … if you know what I mean.]
He – Mr Brundy, not Paris. Yuck and BOOO! – looks at his beloved and locks on her with all the focus of one of those dinosaurs from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. You know – the killing ones: where you’d put a lasor on the target and pull the trigger and the dinosaur would just. Hunt. It. Down.
He does that. But in a less dinosaur-y fashion.
Mr. Brundy is an illegitimate orphan who’s worked his way up from the workhouses. He’s now one of the richest men in England. He’s honest and hardworking. He also can’t pronounce his ‘h’s.
“Mr. Brundy,” she said with a nod, making the most perfunctory of curtsies to her father’s guest. He made no move to take her hand, but merely bowed and responded in kind. “Lady ‘elen.” “My name is Helen, Mr. Brundy,” she said coldly. “Very well- ‘elen,” said Mr. Brundy, surprised and gratified at being given permission, and on such short acquaintance, to dispense with the use of her courtesy title.”
THE CHARACTERS AREN’T ALL DUMB (!)
I was worried. I’m not going to lie. At one point, I was cringing. You couldn’t tell. It was 2:00am and my kindle light was on low but my gosh, I was worried and cringing and inwardly mildly screaming. (Picture Darth Vader with his ‘NOOOO’ but he’s a disappointed but resigned mother hen looking at her son. She knows he’s not all there but she’s so invested in his life that she can’t help cringe and he’s hopping in slow motion and she’s all: nooooo, Kevin.]
But FEAR NOT … there’s a character with his head metaphorically on his shoulders and he Gets Help! so it’s okay.
[There are mild spoilers for the book. I’m sorry. I should have warned you.]
ONE WORD SUMMARY:
Pinch-its-cheeks-adorable. I adore it. You’ll adore it. Sometimes it’s a little too simplistic, but I was reading it at 2:00 am, so some of my impressions may be a leeetlle askew. (Also I wrote the majority of this review at a similar time on a different night. It’s when I do my best work. You probably can’t tell. HAHAHAHAHA.)
If you’re familiar with any of Georgette Heyer’s books – you’ll be familiar with some aspects of this storyline. You’ll forgive this book because this is such a wonderful take on a woman realising that it’s not all about appearances, and a man who learns to dance for his wife and ARGGHHH BE STILL MY BEATING HEART!!
I know what you’re thinking: oh my gosh! Is she doing a numbered list!?!! Yes. I am. I’ve done itbefore – and I have no regrets. And also JOKES ON YOU. I didn’t number the reasons so HA! You’ll never know if reason one is actually number seven.
Bad Decisions Will Be Your New Aesthetic
(Not ‘anaesthetic’. This is a different thing. I’ve never made this mistake. *cough*)
And by ‘aesthetic’ I mean you will have huge rings under your eyes. Because you’ve been staying up reading until one, two, or three o’clock in the morning. ‘Just one more chapter …’ will be your death knell.
You hate it, but you know you love it too.
You Will Have A Vast Vocabulary But Can’t Pronounce Any Of It
I can’t pronounce anything. There!I said it! Who knew that ‘dexterous’ rhymes with ‘mysterious’? No one. No one knew. Because no one pronounces it like that. Apart from you.
You’ll crack out a new word that you are pre-t-ty sure will BLOW EVERYONE’S MINDS BECAUSE IT IS SO APT TO THE SITUATION and crickets chirp. Because no one has a clue about which word you’re using.
You Will Have No Space
Charity shops and Amazon and bookshops and just … you’re doomed, okay?
Accept it. There’s no way out.
Fact: you will run out of bookshelves.
Fact: you will have to stack
books on the floor.
Fact: you don’t regret a thing.
You Will be Frustrated (You Can’t Resurrect Dead Authors. Neither Can You Make Live Authors Write Faster)
Lots of my favourite authors are dead. Georgette Heyer, I’m looking at you.Also, the ones who are alive write. So. Slowly.
The frustration is real and terrible, my friends.
Your Bank Account Will Hate You
Kindle is evil and Waterstones is worse. That is all I have to say about that.
Packing Will Be A Nightmare
Packing for a trip. Fun, huh? Some people agonise about which outfits they want to take. Should I take this dress or should I stick with t-shirt and jeans and maybe another pair of jeans and another t-shirt? You … might do the same. But choosing which books to take is far, far worse. ‘What ifs’ haunt me and suddenly I’ve blinked and there’s seventy books in a pile and what if I need a Complete History of Medicine? Huh? WHAT IF I NEED IT???
The tragedy is … you’ll probably
end up reading a book on your kindle.
Your books are well-travelled though. That’s a plus.
Movies Will Never Be The Same
If you’ve read a ton of books, you’ll have become an expert. You know exactly what is going to follow what, when the dramatic moment when all hope is lost and ahhhh they’ve taken the Hobbits to Isengard!!! and – best of all – when everything will pick up and either a) the characters will die, b) the bad guy will get what’s coming to him and c) when the heroine realises that perhaps the hero wasn’t so bad after all.
Or something like that.
(I have no idea if the taking of
the Hobbits to Isengard was the
beginning of Act Three or not. I haven’t read Lord of The Rings. *GASP* I know! Can you even trust me???!!)
My point is: if you’ve read loads of book, you’ll have cracked the story code. And only the Very Badly Made or Very Brilliant Movies will surprise you.
* * *
Anything to add? What about the unrealistic expectations books give you – dead bodies, handsome heroes just everywhere basically, world portals though pieces of furniture etc etc etc … ?
It feels like there’s never enough hours in the day to read everything I want to. I know. It’s a trial and a burden. I don’t know how I bear it.
Also, this isn’t technically a ‘TBR’ list. This is a ‘I’m trying to read all these books at once WITH VERY GREAT SUCCESS’ list.
Unholy Spirits by Gary North
This was recommended to me and so far I have read the dedication and the part of the introduction. I have a free afternoon coming up on Saturday. I intend to devour this book then.
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden
Honest to goodness, though I adore the Princess Bride, Cary Elwes name drops so. many. times. He’ll say someone’s name and then give you their wikipedia entry. Also: a history of Haddon Hill. Or Hall. I can’t remember. I had to put my kindle down and stare blankly out into the ether after that one.
I thought I left that all behind when I stopped reading G. A. Henty.
Superfreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Sephen J. Dubner
It’s fascinating. It’s wonderful. I’m learning about Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. Also: it’s taking me forever to finish because I keep forgetting that I’m reading this book.
What Love Is This? by Dave Hunt
I started reading this book, oh, years ago. I’ve restarted it. I read a chapter each morning. I think I’ve been in the middle of it for eons. EONS!!! It’s got to the stage where I’m ticking off chapters, just to feel like I’m making progress.
It’s a good book – I’m enjoying it, it’s making me think (… no jokes, please and thank you) and does raise big questions but at this moment … I’m convinced that it’s like the NeverEnding Story. As in: it never ends.
The Candy Machine: How Cocaine Took Over the World by Tom Feiling
I am half-way. I have been half-way through this books for a long time. A longggg time. That is all I wish to say about it. At one point, I picked it up and thought: huh, this is really concentrating on cocaine … I wonder if it’ll discuss other drugs?
It is literally entitled ‘How Cocaine Took Over the World’.
A Wind From The Wilderness by Suzannah Rowntree
This is probably me being a coward. I read the first chapter, which was ace. HOWEVER, I then started the next one and realised that I was probably going to be emotionally scarred by the book.
I grow too attached to the characters, you see. It always happens. I don’t like it when a) bad things happen to them or b) they make bad decisions.
And guess what? No matter how many times you glare and cringe at the characters … they don’t respond. They don’t change their minds or get out of harm’s way. Ugh. I know. Who’d have thought?!!