Thursday, 6 September 2007

Noggins, Ne'er Do Wells, Performers and Plowterers

First of all, thanks to Scott Pack of The Friday Project for taking a look at this blog and complimenting it. I'd emailed him to try to get a freebie CD of Oliver Postgate material (I never had time for the Clangers but I was a huge Noggin the Nog fan when I was young. Ah, the Land of the Northmen, the Nogs, Queen Nooka, Graculus the Great Green Bird, even Nogbad the Bad bwa-hah-hah-hah ...) - but I was too late, they'd all been snaffled up.

Secondly, my boys have returned to school - the elder one facing GCSEs this year, so God help us all. And I'm back teaching too ...

Take a look at the link to muvva's blog on the right - it's newly started up and looks promising. I especially like the cartoon she's posted on it - we can all relate to it, I think!

Items in the current world of book news - apparently a Polish author has been jailed for 25 years for murdering a man he suspected his wife was having an affair with. Later he published a novel with all the details of the murder, which led the police to arrest him. Not the brightest of bunnies, then. See

Richard Charkin on his blog talks about routes to market. Analysing the sales of a recent mass market fiction paperback he found 50% of sales were through the chains, 35% of the supermarkets, 9% internet, 5% independent bookshops, 1% libraries. You may find this scary. The 1% library figure was rounded up - even scarier.

A blog by Lee Rourke in The Guardian blames the influence of the Beat writers for the self-indulgence of young male writers who talk the talk but don't walk the walk and who worship at the altar of experimentation having never learned the basics of composition. It's the familiar point that you have to know the rules to break them.

An earlier Guardian blog discussed how badly writers tend to read aloud their own work. We've talked earlier on this blog about how writers are expected to be performing seals these days - and some are better than others at balancing that ball on their nose while slapping their flippers together. I've attended some brilliant readings - Philip Pullman and Carol Ann Duffy spring to mind - but also some truly dire ones (names withheld to protect the guilty). I do think that if the publicity people want to send the writer out to perform they ought to give him or her coaching in how to do it - and if the writer genuinely cannot do it, if they read in a flat monotone, looking at the floor as they do so, or mumble inaudibly, or drain the work of any colour and animation, then just don't send them out there: it'll do the work no favours at all. Get an actor to do it instead.

Here's a good quote from Leopardi on The Guardian blog: 'we are well aware of the unspeakable annoyance we feel when listening to someone else's work.'

I'm having real trouble today just typing - positively dyspraxic. Also the words are not flowing - which is a pity, because I need to put together a synopsis for the new book. All summer the damn thing has been giving me trouble in terms of making the elements of the plot hang together - but now at last it's seems to be settling into place and I want to formalise this so that it acts as my basic route-map. (Not that there won't be diversions and alterations of itinerary ahead - it's just nice to feel I have a general sense of where I'm going and what my destination will ultimately be. I don't like going into a book totally blind.)

As I say, the words aren't gelling well for me today - I do believe that we are subject to biorhythms or whatever you want to call them: sometimes there's fluency of brain and internal Roget's Thesaurus, sometimes there just ain't, and every last phrase is a heavy-booted clump through claggy mud. Do you ever feel that too?

In the dialect of the bit of northern Scotland I come from, to struggle through mud is to 'plowter through the dubs.' Thought you might like that.

No comments: