What Would Wordsworth Do?

So enough with this footling around with the funnie radio personalities (or possibly more accurately, chronicling their footling around); it’s time to settle down to serious Life Lessons, boys and girls. No more whiling away the shining hours with the dulcet tones of a Jane Austen audio book – that hour is past due for improvement. For instance…

…Oh, hell, you don’t care, do you? And neither do I, really. At least, not enough to turn this blog into a self-help bestseller at this late date. As a previous commenter astutely mentioned, I do find myself standing at something of a personal and professional crossroads these days, and while that particular topological feature is invariably fascinating on the immediate scale, they do tend to lack severely in pure panoramic splendor.
If I’m dying, or the cat’s dying, or somebody from Random House offers me a zillion dollars to become senior editor, or anything else at Shoe Central is otherwise in danger of turning me into Mitch Albom Lite, I’ll let you know, OK? Otherwise, we’ll just skip the Harsh Reality angle for the time being. Possibly even the entire summer.

It doesn’t help that, when I went to compose a rant about the difficulties of a wannabe fiction author instead, I discovered I’d already covered that base six months ago. I mean, really, how pathetic is that? I don’t even have literary pretensions, I have literary diffident suggestions.

This is all I suppose what comes of developing my critical faculties before my creative ones; having honed to a fine – perhaps overfine – point the ability to tell worthwhile literature from drek, said faculty steadfastly refuses to allow me to put anything down on paper until it’s very very sure I’m not going to embarrass it.
It’s quite nice about the whole situation, you understand; willing to give me every chance to improve, even becoming rather fond of being taken for long walks while I try to unsnarl the logical tangles and become philosophical about genre cliches and all the other possibly-mildly-pretentious-after-all hooh-hah outlined in the earlier entry. But it’s absolutely firm in re: the production end of the thing, and really, I can’t blame it.

Oh, there’s been progress. The plotting thing is advancing fairly well, mostly by dint of forcibly sitting myself down and asking what, exactly, I want to write about, then waiting patiently while my subconscious unravelled what kind of story I’m most qualified to tell, by dint of enthusiasm and experience.

Unfortunately, the new problems arose out of the answers.

I can’t write what I know, because I have a horrible suspicion that’d only lead to one of those Confessions of a Cute Perky Commitment-Phobe whatevers, with pastel covers and ‘clever’ little name-drops, and….just…no. Frequent tags of ‘wholesome’ aside, it’s the Pearls Before Swine strips that go on my fridge, not Cathy…OK, occasionally Garfield. But I don’t see why I should be penalised forever for that. The fat cat strip used to be pretty damn clever, really it did, back before Jim Davis suction-cupped his soul to the corporate ladder.

Next option: Writing what I don’t know, except inasmuch as my reading has taught me to vaguely yearn towards as having Gritty Authenticity. As alluded to in the previous entry, I have quite the little epic family drama in my head that I’d love to just launch right into, except that when I try to pin down a detailed starting-point I realise the whole is cobbled out of bits-and-pieces of Catherine Cookson.
This is the sort of thing you need to get right, absolutely authentic, or else you end up…well, you end up with the possibility of one of your covers featuring a heroine with three hands, is basically what happens. My critical faculty looks at this stuff and just wanders off chuckling quietly to itself. You remember back when you were a teenager and had to admit that your parents had been totally, 100% right? This is the relationship my brain and I have, these days.

Option #3: Making it all up out of whole cloth, ie. fantasy or sci-fi. This I have tried, quite seriously in fact, only to discover that there’s a certain sort of literary authority required in constructing a fantasy world that may involve even higher standards than one based in reality. You are, you see, expected to have Imagination, and Rise Above the Tired Cliches. And a hearty ha ha ha to that, says the faculty. Perhaps me mate you have forgotten that you were still cheering on the Challenge of the Superfriends until well into your teens? (That my critical faculty sounds like a random London pub crawler is but one of the many mysteries of existence I’ve given up trying to solve).

Yes, well, I protest, I’ve actually written like whole chapters of this attempt, and it got pretty darn good reviews if I do say so myself. Right-ho, says the faculty, smiling kindly; you mean the one where you started off with what you thought was a fierce gritty wholly adult scenario and everyone praised it as the ne plus ultra kiddie novel?

This is about where I usually decide to stifle all rational thought entirely with a great honking wad of chocolate, and it shuts up. But never for very long.

No, about all I can see clearly is that there’s going to have to be a bold strike in some wholly new direction. Brace yourself: I’m thinking of slapping the Cookson-esque characters down into a fantasy/sci-fi setting. Seriously; that’s where they came from in the first place (very long story, the telling of which would convince even me I need therapy pronto), so why shouldn’t that be where they go? Other than, y’know, the whole “basing a serious adult attempt at fiction on my twelve-year-old psyche” thingy. Seems to have worked out OK for Steven Spielberg, though, all things considered.

The upshot of all this is that this blog is going to be all about distraction for the time being. Or, depending on your POV, like it always has been, except for those annoying emo digressions the author insisted on shoving in there.

During this season of warmth and light I shall skip merrily thru my not inconsequential field of bright and cheery inconsequentialities, strewing happiness and good humour and possibly actual poppies all round, hey nonny nonny no. (Nu? Ney? Neener neener? I think I might have a plausible subject already.) Lists of favourite Backyardigans eps are not at all out of the question. You have been warned!


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