I’ve just got the go-ahead for another book in Pearson’s ‘Brilliant’ series, this time on Academic Writing. Also, Helen Anderson, John Grant and others are pestering me to get started on the sequel to The Figurehead, so blogging has been shoved aside. But, since I know millions of people all over the world are waiting for the pearls of wisdom I dispense here, I really must write something.
If you want the thoughtful me, try Richard Sutton’s blog, Saille Tales. He invited me to say something about writing first drafts and, as is usual whenever I have to write and/or talk about writing, I had to step back from it and try to work out what I do.
I’m not an advocate of rigid writing techniques but producing anything worth reading calls for control, discipline and a respect for the medium. Nonetheless, writing for me is instinctive. With non-fiction, I have headings and specific areas which I know I have to cover, but with fiction, I dive into it and just let it carry me along.
Anyway, what was I talking about? Ah yes, pearls of wisdom. Well, for a start there are all the usual political and cultural axes I grind:
- the total lack of any leadership or credibility in any of our politicians, their undisguised scorn/contempt for us, the continuing expansion of the gap between rich and poor, the dismantling of the health service and education system;
- the very existence of reality TV, celebrity culture and the seeming refusal to require any talent of those involved in and/or aspiring to it;
- the abject acceptance that royalty confirms that some people are ‘higher’ than others;
- the fact that football is about money;
- Simon Cowell.
But that’s tedious, pontificating stuff that will bore and/or alienate some of the handful of visitors. (My earlier claim to serve millions was merely a hilarious joke.) So I’ll opt for a potpourri (which, given that the ‘pourri’ bit literally means rotten, is highly appropriate).
And that segues neatly into an aside on words and their meanings. If you sign up for the newsletter on the site wordsmith.org, they send you a word a day and some of them are fascinating. I now have, for example, three new words to use in descriptions of characters: callipygous, mammose and lissotrichous, the first being of particular interest to both male and female lexicographers and perverts.
Then there’s the word noosphere, which is pronounced No-us-fear, and either sounds the opposite of what it means, i.e. the sum of human knowledge, or is an accurate description of where we’ve reached on the evolutionary scale.
And if you have a tabby cat, you’re referencing a certain Price Attab who gave his name to al-Attabiya, a suburb of
. Silk was made
there and tabbies got their name because their coats were similar to the cloth. (I know, you're now asking yourself how you've managed all these years without knowing that.) Baghdad
What next? Ah yes, The Sparrow Conundrum was featured on the site addictedtoebooks and I contributed a guest post to Past Times. And the illustration at the top is for Unsafe Acts, the fifth in my Jack Carston series. It’ll probably be appearing towards the end of next month.
And, to end this ramble, two apocryphal items of news, both relating to last year’s (grits teeth, suppresses anger) royal wedding. It seems that Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline is one of William Windsor’s favourite songs and Mr Diamond would have been quite happy to amend it to Sweet Catherine for the occasion. Now, try singing the chorus using that substitution. See? It doesn’t work. The last syllable isn’t strong enough to sustain the note. But they’re the Windsors, our favourite German family, so it didn’t matter that, at Diana’s funeral, Elton John sang the praises of ‘
England’s rose’, i.e. the princess of . Wales
It seems, too, that the lyrics of Ubi Caritas were doctored to remove some reference or other that was deemed too risqué for the occasion. I can’t confirm this because my Latin is non-existent. It does seem absurd, but that’s what’s being claimed. The only glimmer of light it offers is that the couple may want to avoid the couplings so cherished by ordinary mortals and therefore will produce no offspring for us to support.
And 2012 is the year of the diamond bloody jubilee. I want to spend it in
the new Prime Minister will be declaring a republic. But, wherever you are, I
hope 2012 is healthy, happy, productive and successful for you all. Happy New