Pratchett down one place, Rankin up. Sunday, Oct 28 2007 

I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett’s latest book, mostly because I can’t read a series of books without finishing it and unfortunately Terry Pratchett never stops. There are a lot of things I like about the Discworld novels, but there’s also this slightly arrogant, patronising undercurrent that puts me off. I just get the impression that Pratchett uses his books to look down on the world.

Take the qualities of eccentricity and irrationality, for example. Douglas Adams and Robert Rankin embrace those qualities and write from the perspective of people who are, just like their characers, flawed. David Tennant as Doctor Who spends a lot of his time infatuated with human foibles. He doesn’t look down on them, he admires them.

Terry Pratchett, on the other hand, seems to write from the perspective of someone who is entirely flawless himself, who sits smugly in a throne overlooking the absurdity of mankind, and who from this position is qualified to cast judgements. I’ve always found it hard to explain this impression I get, mostly because I think a lot of people can read exactly what I read and not see the same thing. It’s in the way the major characters are always superior to the minor characters who quite often seem to be entirely unaware of their faults.

On page 144 of Making Money, as a prime example, Moist doesn’t ‘understand’ the behaviour of the masses. They attend an event, and then want to read about it in the paper… why do they need to read about it in the paper if they were there? Moist is apparently so far above normal human mentality that he can no longer comprehend it. Am I the only one who sees the arrogance of the writer in this sort of ‘blindness’ of the protagonist? Especially since the ability to ‘not understand’ human behaviour always seems like an annoying affectation. I don’t see the point in watching sport, but if I pretended not to ‘understand’ the sport-watching mentality then I’d be fatally disingenuous.

I don’t know I’m the only one who sees this, though. Either way, I’ve promoted Robert Rankin to the status of my favourite living writer. He can write some dire unreadable crap and I haven’t dared to read any of his latest books, but I’m very fond of some of the older ones. Terry Pratchett never writes unreadable crap, but I can’t stand the patronising, superior attitude that comes across. ‘Unreliable quality of writing’ wins.

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Girliness. Saturday, Oct 27 2007 

According to the internet, I am 6/8ths girl.

Girliness

I am quite proud of this.

Cover design. Saturday, Oct 20 2007 

I’m trying to design the cover of my book, because I’m going to try experimentally printing it myself with a press made of meccano. A while ago I came up with this idea for a cover, and a year later I still quite like it… the right-hand side is the front cover and the left-hand side is the back… I’ve just redone the image in a higher resolution with the angle of the texture matching the angle of the skull. I don’t think the look of the image matches the style of the book, but I don’t care… I really like the simplicity of it. My favourite book design is probably this one… it’s probably insanely boring to most people, but most book covers seem unnecessarily cluttered to me with pictures AND text AND colours. Since you can’t get rid of the text… get rid of the other two.

Now that I’ve done the image, I need to figure out what goes on the image. Words and stuff… how should I do the title? And my name? And what on earth am I going to write on the back? I hate the back covers of most books, if I’m going to OWN a book forever I don’t need the advertising that goes along with it. Just like I hate to buy clothes that advertise the brand of the clothes. But what else is supposed to go there? I don’t even HAVE any generic praise.

Maybe I’ll just put an excerpt there… or some other piece of prose… or something outside-squarish…

Oh good. Friday, Oct 12 2007 

Finally heard back from the agent! It’s the response she gives to everyone who doesn’t immediately grab her attention, so I don’t know why she took eight days to send it.

“Thank you for your enquiry. I’m not taking on clients at present so can’t help. I suggest you contact a free lance editor and with a stunning assessment report you might impress either an agent or publisher. Check the link page on my site (below) for NZ Manuscript Assessors page.”

Oh well. Guess that’s my next step then. It’s nice to have some kind of plan. There’s a whole list of Manuscript Assessors, so I’ll have to do some research and choose the one who my work is most likely to appeal to.

The Doctor. Saturday, Oct 6 2007 

What I find strange about watching Doctor Who is that I can never quite get over the fact that they’re all travelling around in a blue police box. It’s seems like an idea that probably made sense at the time but which has been incongruous ever since. But it’s infinitely preferable to some kind of futuristic alien space-egg.

Directionless. Ness. Saturday, Oct 6 2007 

I didn’t expect the agent to reply on a Saturday, but I hoped they would anyway. I need to know what to do now. If my book is too flawed for publication, then I want to start writing another one without further hesitation. If the book might be acceptable, then I want to start working on my youTube serial thing without further hesitation. The more I think about the flaws in my book the more I’m leaning towards the first option, but I don’t want to start anything new ‘just in case’.

I’ve been thinking about what I would write about if I started a ‘new’ book. It’s an exciting and scary thought. I’d write the book in the same completely chaotic way, starting with a simple idea like ‘pirates in the modern world’ and seeing where that takes me, but what simple idea would I use next?

“I am all alone in the universe”. Friday, Oct 5 2007 

I’ve been watching the Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who. I don’t think he’s as charismatic as David Tennant, and on occasion he’s an outright dick. The politics are amazingly transparent, though. I guess the more stupid the people of Earth are revealed to be, the more necessariy it becomes to spell things out for them.

I can’t believe they really thought it would be a good idea to travel back to the time of Rose’s father’s death. It’s like they don’t even know how time-travel storylines work.

Still no reply from the agent. Le sigh. I can’t contact any other agents until I hear back from this one because of some kind of moral code.

Pessimism. Thursday, Oct 4 2007 

No replies from the agent today. That was my third worst case scenario. The second worst case scenario was that she did reply, but told me that there isn’t a market for books featuring pirates. The first worst case scenario is similar to the second, but in addition I get called an idiot.

Blag. Wednesday, Oct 3 2007 

Almost three weeks after I last called my book ‘finished’, I have finished ‘finishing’ it. Again. Part of the ending is slightly different and there are a lot less errors. So now I feel comfortable submitting it to whoever.

And now I’m going to finish that email to the agent and post it. Tomorrow morning I can wake up knowing that I’ve done all I can do on my book for the time being.