Getting into their heads

I’ve just finished reading Kelvin Cruickshank’s autobiography Walking in Light, which (being a big fan of Sensing Murder) I found fascinating. The strange thing is, I cannot shake the feeling that I’ve gotten to know Kelvin by reading it. I feel like I should say hi if we were to bump into each other on the street –which seems to me to be just a little bit crazy.

That’s when I realised the real difference between an autobiography and a biography. When someone else is telling the story the belief systems and/or prejudices of the author (which will always come through) have no real bearing on your feelings toward the subject.

Yet when you read an autobiography everything said, even the phrases used to say things are all from the subject (Kelvin regularly uses the word ‘choice’ which took me straight back to my youth in the 80’s and always made me smile). It is more like sitting down for coffee with someone who just opens up and lets it all flow out.

To be honest it feels a little bit strange.

It reminds me of how I felt when talking to an author at World Con last year and I made a comment about the beautiful view near her house. Now yes on first pass it sounds like I’m a stalker, but the fact is I enjoy reading her books, so I started reading her blog and she keeps posting pictures of these amazing views from her house. But the creeped out look she gave me made me wonder who she was actually writing these blog entries for?

Which obviously begs the next big question; who am I writing this blog for? Perhaps a post for another day…

Do you believe in magic?

I am a great lover of magic. You will never hear me beg a magician to tell me how they did their trick; I want to believe they actually did it. I would rather consider the possibility that their years of practice had brought them to an enlightened power over the physical world, rather than a power over every muscle in their body so they can shift, sort and switch things without me seeing.

That’s why I wrote ‘The Amazing Salvador’.

I know a lot of people won’t like this story; a lot of people who beg the magician to tell them ‘how they did it’ and who Google the explanation behind David Copperfield’s amazing walk through the Great Wall of China or Criss Angel’s superb disappearing Lamborghini stunt (so good I’m going to insert it rather than reference it).

So thank you Title Goes Here for seeing the magic in my story, and not telling me magic is ‘so yesterday that it is in the same category as vampire stories’ – I hope you all enjoy it.

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Stuff

Okay, I’m going to get a bit existential here, but do you ever wonder why we want so much stuff? Every day we get catalogues pimping lost of shiny, colourful new stuff, and we bring bags of it into our houses, bought both on-line and in person. Our houses are overflowing with stuff, but we still need more.

Don’t you wonder if maybe, just maybe, what we actually have is an emotional gap that needs filling? And because we are so time poor or so stressed we try to plug that gap with stuff instead of substance.

I wonder if I spent more time writing and less time trawling websites to get the right price for that vital stuff that I need, then perhaps I wouldn’t actually need so much stuff?

After all, the stuff of today is generally the landfill-clogging waste of tomorrow, but I know my words will be cherished, even if only by me.

Re-reading

This is not the blog post I was going to write. To write that one I needed to read a story I have had published previously, and as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

That got me thinking about why I didn’t want to re-read it. It is a bit of a no-brainer; as the author you will always find something you want to change, and once it is published it is too late to do so.

But the explanation is not that simple, because I don’t like to re-read my story when it comes back to me before it is published as a proof. That is the time when it can be changed, indeed you need to find the errors, so you are forced to read it. So with gritted teeth I always look through it, trying to put as much distance between me and the work, after all, by the time the story has got to proof status it is very annoying for the publisher to change it, so semantics are not well tolerated.

I also hate re-reading my stories before I send them out for consideration. Again, this is another must. You need to make sure that if there is anything a reader might stumble over, you identify it and fix it before you send it out. So again with the gritted teeth (and often out loud) the re-read begrudgingly occurs.

Post final-edit is also a pain for me. I’ve already read it what feels like a million times (and some paragraphs surely do come close to that), so once I get to the end I don’t want to look at a word of it again. But you have to. Gritted teeth…

Pretty much the only time I’m happy to do the re-read is after the first draft is completed and you write those magic words ‘The End’. Probably because at the end of every first draft I’m convinced I’ve just finished the best piece I’ve ever written.

The first re-read usually cures me of that misconception.

Maybe that’s why I don’t like re-reads?