“It’s all a question of point of view.”
Back in the dark ages – 1980’s in South Africa the BBC Radio News reported on a labor dispute/picket protest led by the ANC aligned organizers in a fishing town up the West Coast of the Cape. The picket line had been savagely broken up by the police with dogs (the BBC reporter of the time was a passionate promoter of the anti-apartheid cause, and as his media was not within the country could report whatever he liked without any form of censorship.) The local Afrikaans press reported on the incident too. There wasn’t a lot to report on from one horse towns on the West Coast, and the Cape Town Riot squad dispersing a protest with dogs was news, if not big news. The one set of media carried it from their point of view as a bad thing, and the other as a good thing. Read more
So I was having a dose of the black dog – the beast behind your shoulders – that stalks every writer I’ve ever met. Sometimes they’ve turned on the beast and driven it back to its cold lair… for a while. But in the small hours when you’re looking at that blank screen, when that royalty statement that shows the book you thought bound to break out sold far less than you dreamed, when the words seem elusive and meaningless… take a sniff. You’ll smell his fetid breath, as he creeps closer. Read more
The answer ‘whatever someone will pay for it’ is as true for liberty or access to a toilet or price of books.
The former many people have paid everything they had for. It was that priceless to them. It’s the latter I’m writing about however, and the answer is ‘not much’ a lot of the time.
That’s a depressing answer, when you’ve put months or years into writing a book.
Look –it’s one of those variable answers depending who the answer comes from, and just who wrote the book – and how keen they are to get their hands on it. But the answer – compared to the rate pay per hour for your labor – must be well under South East Asian Sweat shop rates. And the skills required are possibly higher. (I’ll go with possibly). Read more
“Always write about what you know about”
That’s standard advice to writers, doled out like the wisdom of the ages to aspiring writers trying to write about the wilds of 1970 Irian Jaya, and the charm of the young nurse working there and the mechanics of the genetic illnesses in isolated tribal populations there… when the wilds of Poughkeepsie would be a bridge too far… and the nursing profession as alien as paleo-botany. As for genetics… they are almost sure it had something to do with genes. Or maybe jeans.
To the average mine of useless information (AKA professional writer) it shows, painfully.
Like most writing advice (actually, make that most advice) –it’s a crock… with a tiny gem of truth somewhere near the bottom. Read more
Much, I am sure, to the vexation of the various juvenile canid haters, I was not carried away by an inflammation of the lungs this last week.
And it is a base canard to imply I was as sick as a dog. You’d have put down the dog as a kindness. (Yes, I have been reading Heyer again). Read more
I see a dark sail on the horizon
set under a black cloud that hides the sun.
bring me my broadsword and clear understanding.
bring me my cross of gold as a talisman.
Jethro Tull, Broadsword
It was a dark and stormy knight… ahem. My wife often watches TV (and as often as not reads and knits at the same time, leaving me in awe) while I cook in the evening. Now that’s around a corner, and I can’t – most of the time – hear the dialogue or see what is happening. This is good. Never watch a car chase while dealing with hot oil. Read more
No I was not talking about my head the morning after. (I used to have a T-shirt as a young climber that said ‘Does the noise in my head bother you?’ just for Saturday mornings.) or about the delicate tissue-fragile feelings of snowflakes, sent hurtling for their ‘safe space’ and their blanky and the play-do by the possibility of a pico*-aggression.
I was talking of our society and our civilization.
Now, as Somalia, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and North Korea illustrate, societies continue to exist and function – in a fashion – WAY below what most westerners would consider ‘survivable’. The gap between a pretty comfortable society to live in, to one where people die of starvation but the state still exists some form of society continues is HUGE. Humans (at least as a species, rather than individuals) are amazingly tough and adaptable. Even the cockroaches are impressed. Read more