Beach Boys, critiquing, Gelato Messina, Good Vibrations, H is for Hawk, hawks, Helen Macdonald, historical fiction, Ned Kelly, reading, Sri Lanka, Sydney Writers' Festival, The Secret Son, theremin, writing groups, writing retreat
Today the most important thing I’ll do is go here:
Kate has been talking about this place for ages, on twitter, and while I have done three drive bys in an effort to get a gelato, it just hasn’t worked out. I couldn’t see the shop, there were no parks available, and so on. But today is the day. I will report back later.
This is an article on a fifteenth-century dream-vision poem “Mum and the Sothsegger,” drawing comparisons between it and Game of Thrones. (I’m wondering whether sothsegger is Middle English for soothsayer (‘mum’ in this context means one who keeps quiet, is wise; and sothsegger is the truth-teller).
Mum and the Sothsegger from The Paris Review
I was on a facebook page yesterday, a Ned Kelly one, probably the NK one, and they were discussing a novel about NK and a secret son (ahem) and one commenter said ‘I don’t think people should write fiction using historical characters.’ I’m not active on the site, but I found it interesting. There are people who will think this (people who like to read pure history NF) and then others, like me, who want to draw on historical characters for inspiration for fictional ones. There’s no right and wrong here, only opinion, but I can imagine opinions being strong.
This article asks the question How True Should Historical Fiction Be? I think I agree with the writer here, especially when she says
But novelists are not history teachers. It’s not our job to educate people, and if we start using words like “duty” and “responsibility” about historical fiction – or any fiction – we’re in danger of leaching all the vigour out of it with a sense of worthiness. A novelist has no real duty to anything except the story he or she is creating, the characters who inhabit it and whatever view of the world he or she is offering with the novel’s ending. But if you are going to play fast and loose with historical fact for the sake of a good story, you’d better have done your research thoroughly if you want readers to take you seriously; only then will you have the authority to depart from those facts.
I think research is important, and it should be ‘meticulous’ as mentioned in the article, but if we are talking fiction, then anything goes, just as anything goes with other types of fiction. The litmus test of believability is whether a publisher will publish it and readers accept the story. But even in a novel where everything is invented, there still needs to be a logical coherence and plausibility for the created world of the novel.
My novel has been described as audacious, and it is cheeky, in that I’ve taken two of Australia’s ‘sacred cows’ and mashed them together. Does it work? You will be the judge of that. It’ll work for some and not for others. Like anything.
This is a podcast from Sydney Writers Festival (I think, I may be wrong, I’ve had these tabs open across my computer screen for about a week now) where the subject is Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk, and owner of goshawk Mabel, who she bought and trained during the time of grief after her father suddenly died.
I’ve raved about the book all over town, now here is a podcast of an interview with Macdonald. It’s wonderful. She talks with such passion and fondness, about Mable, about her father, about being a child who loved hawks.
I need to look up Macdonald’s closing address to the SWF, I know that’s been podcast as well. She’s a treat.
This is a provocative piece that feeds into the tall poppy thinking that does seem prevalent in this country. Why is it so? (BTW I’m loving Amy Schumer at the moment and so, it seems, does the world. But I’m waiting for her to be turned on. I don’t think tall poppy is exclusive to Australia and Australians.)
Fancy a writing retreat in Sri Lanka?
This looks really good. I’ve been aware of it over the last couple of years. One day, I think to myself. One day…
Writing groups and critiquing. It’s a logical first step or early step for writers who are serious about their work, and determined to get some momentum and finish some pieces. I was in a writers’ group for a couple of years and while it was good while it lasted, it is no longer a thing. That’s ok for me, I felt I had moved past needing that type of structure (I’d gotten* an agent) but I know established writers who are in groups and they work well for them.
I have offered to read a writing comrades novel manuscript, and I want to do a good job of that, so when I saw this article, I thought it could be useful.
I’ve done a bit of reading around this. I know that when I come to read the ms, I need to remember it’s about the author and her work, not about me and how I would do it; also to focus on things that are helpful to the author and deliver them in a helpful manner. Oh the pressure. But I do want to help!
Just found this this morning. It’s Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame, talking about the theremin in Good Vibrations. Good Vibrations is a song from my childhood, and the first one that I thought was really really amazing. I’d probably had Beatles songs as the backing track until then, and some jazz care of dad, and classical care of mum, and of course I had nursery rhymes set to music on record, there was Peter and the Wolf, Rolf Harris (yes); those broadcasts that came through the big box mounted on the wall up the front of the primary school classroom, which was ABC and for kids. ‘Let’s Sing!’ I think was the program, we had booklets with the words, possibly with the notes (for recorder?) and typical ’70s-style illustrations. But Good Vibrations and the Beach Boys. I remember where I was when I heard it for the first time (Mt Eliza, my aunt’s place) and who I was with (my tearaway cousins, boys who skated, swam, biked, drove cars way too early, crawled into tunnels with petrol bombs to ‘make the bats fly out’ and could run at top speed along their gravel driveway. THAT was my childhood. Back in town, it was a slightly watered-down version of the hijinks we got up to at Mt Eliza. I remember hearing the song, and finding the woooooo sound magical. It transported me, somewhere. It was amazing.
Pfft, like they even have to ask.
That’s it for me until Saturday. I’ve decided to post twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, a manageable schedule I think.
A question: does anyone know how ‘tags’ work, and categories too? What are their functions? What do I do with them? They seem to double up in purpose? thanks.
* I recently found out this is ungrammatical, but to write ‘I’d got’ seems so weird.