Beating someone up is bad enough. Beating someone up while hurling bigoted abuse at them is even uglier socially. Beating someone up for bigoted reasons and sounding like an absolute moron while doing so is simply peak stupid.
His assailant is hardly the only dimwit. Days after September 11, 2001, a Sikh was murdered in Arizona in “reaction” to the attacks. In 2012, in Wisconsin, another idiot shot up a Sikh temple, killing six, after having reportedly mistaken it for a Muslim mosque. Sikhs in the U.S. have caught all sorts of other stupid nonsense, and likely most of it never gets reported.
At the start, in 2013, I knew I was writing for only a minuscule group of readers, most of whom I knew personally. That is scary in its own way. Leaving yourself on the page creatively to friends and family is actually much more intimidating than doing so with “strangers.”
The “strangers” reading numbers have grown quite a bit since then. Yet I’d never expected to write for gazillions of readers, and I realistically still don’t. I suppose that actually helps me relax in my writing. It’s freedom, and even in its way it’s like a small – even exclusive – escapist “reading club”: the rest of the “ugly world” is out there…. someplace.
Most of us get some stage fright if we have to give a speech. I used to do politics lectures for a hundred or so college students, so I wasn’t too fazed by public speaking. Yet that was talking to a subject; it wasn’t talking about “yourself.” Moreover, university students have to listen to what you say and pass the exams to get their degree, so they’re “a captive audience.”
Novel writing is decidedly something else. No one has to read a word of your tales. Yet if you think about all of those who might read what you’ve invented, you could freeze up in abject terror while sitting at the keyboard.
Proofing Distances, I’ve also been referring at times naturally to the first two volumes: Passports and Frontiers. When you write a series, continuity issues become huge. After all, as an author you don’t want to make even one silly mistake.
Because, of all that you write, you KNOW someone will pick up on any error. ;-) By now, there are A LOT of characters – parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, college chums, girlfriends, boyfriends…. and they are all distinct people. And there are varied settings, happenings and other background that must not be “misremembered” either.
Amidst all of it, there are lighthearted moments. Life isn’t always “heavy.” I thought I’d pull some excerpts from Passports and Frontiers and (in no particular order) “rapid fire” share them here. Something a bit different. I hope you enjoy them!:
That retired English literature professor’s disdain for “social media” embraced by “young people” led me to thinking. How much has changed in novel writing over the last few generations. One aspect of such change has zero to do with annoying kids insisting on using Twitter on holiday when, AS WE ALL KNOW, they should be sitting on Bournemouth Beach immersed in The Great Gatsby.
I don’t write my novels longhand. True, there is nothing new in someone doing that of course. We know typing has been around for over a century.
But a typewriter is just another form of physical writing. What’s changed in the last two generations is increasingly everything is on computers. And those computers are becoming ever more sophisticated.
As you may know, I’ve been proofing the Distances manuscript using a Word file emailed to my Kindle. (The last part of that sentence would’ve totally baffled F. Scott Fitzgerald.) I’m not inking out lines and words and scribbling in planned changes above them or in the margins and handing those changes to my devoted secretary…. who is invariably a lovely, ever-helpful woman who works for close to nothing because I can barely pay her, and she can type, because, being a man, as you know I’m a pathetic typist….
In a world full of young adult fiction readers who are also “social media” users, who could seriously argue the likes of Twitter are destroying novel reading among the young? For the two streams of entertainment aren’t mutually exclusive: reading a novel is one thing, while networking and socializing is another. Most people can walk and chew gum at the same time.
His summation of novels in single tweets is amusing. However, his tweets are obviously not replacements for reading the full novels themselves. That said, I’ve also never seen the issue positioned before in that thrown back on itself manner.
The net is wonderful in so many ways. It brings together those of us who otherwise would never have known each other. It allows us to share so much with others who may be equally enthusiastic about…. whatever it is we’re enthusiastic about.
I’ve read quite a lot of Thomas Jefferson over the years. You may know the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. diplomat in France from 1784-89 (a period of his life that, you may not be shocked to learn, has always been of particular interest to me), first Secretary of State, Vice President, and finally 3rd President, even gets casual mentions in my novels. That’s because, unsurprisingly perhaps based on my real-life interest, I’ve made “James” something of a “fan” too – and by this 3rd novel it’s well-known among other characters, who sometimes have some fun with it:
So when I saw this quote on Twitter a few days ago, I’d thought: How interesting? Hmm. I’ve never seen that before?:
July 7, 2005 was like any other normal day. A few days a week I took public transportation – either overground train, or tube – to my university office in north London where I then worked. Other days I drove. I liked to vary the commute.
That day, I’d pre-booked the car in with a dealer for a routine service, so drove to work a bit early. Being near the college, they would send someone over to my office, collect it, work on it, and return it by the end of the workday. Ho hum.
As usual, by 8:30 they’d picked up the car and taken it away. I think it was on my desktop sometime around 9:30 when I first saw the BBC web site update: there were rumors of electrical fires/ explosions in a couple of tube stations.
Very odd stuff, to say the least. I remember colleagues shaking their heads.
And I remember one – the first one to suggest it – saying these sounded like bombings.
The other day Kindle sent out a note suggesting we authors optionally “age rate” our books. I thought I’d share it. I’ve removed the superfluous and “personal” parts and screen captured the core of it:
Kindle sends out lots of stuff – some useful, some not. But this just seems a sloppy tech issue from their end. There’s a straightforward reason I haven’t chosen an under-18s level for my novels and Kindle knows it already.
Singer James Blunt has been in the “non-musical” news here in Britain in recent days. He got into a dust up with a Labour MP over that politician’s assertion that artists from elite educational backgrounds disproportionately dominate the U.K. entertainment scene. Many onlookers have sided with Blunt.
One of Blunt’s statements in his very public reply published in The Guardian:
….I got signed in America, where they don’t give a stuff about, or even understand what you mean by me and “my ilk”, you prejudiced wazzock, and I worked my arse off. What you teach is the politics of jealousy. Rather than celebrating success and figuring out how we can all exploit it further as the Americans do, you instead talk about how we can hobble that success and “level the playing field”….
Thus perhaps another difference been the U.S. and U.K. In America, I believe a politician would have instead at that point sought to “tone it down” and “make nice.” Advisors would have been nervously at him, warning, “Don’t alienate his fans! They’re potential voters!”