Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
Two pairs of glasses, actually.
I've not long acquired a new pair, much stronger than the old pair. With the new pair I can see detail in the distance but things close by are small and hard to focus on. With my old glasses I can see close up but things in the distance are a bit smeary.
Although I see myself as a Big Picture person, and mindless detail bores me, I prefer the old glasses.
Is this because I really like mindless detail after all?
Or because I prefer my world a bit out of focus?
Does this say anything about me?
A cliche, that, a saying that turns up after a close-fought sports win. 'We won because the boys did the hard yards.'
Well, I'm doing the hard yards right now. Literally: in the last week I've laid a path, built steps, dug a trench and laid a drainage system for our driveway, put in a punga retaining wall and drained our pool ready for cleaning. We were quoted $6000 for professionals to build the path and steps. Horrified, I decided to do them myself. They took me four days and cost about $400. I feel vindicated - but sore. Our yard is very hard.
And I'm doing the hard yards for my next novel, Dark Heart. The second in the Husk trilogy, this one involves plenty of research and planning. I've begin to write, but I'm still researching.
180,000 words to go ...
A short note to record my thanks for Davina McLeod's editing of my second and third novels. Not only did her work tighten the stories, but she also offered encouragement at a time when I wondered about the advisability of what I was doing.
I spent Friday morning entertaining (being entertained, more like) by Les Petersen, fantasy/sci-fi cover artist for writers such as Trudi Canavan and Fiona McIntosh. Born in NZ, Les now lives in Sydney but has relatives over here, and he stopped by Hamilton to visit his sister, a make-up artist. Talented lot.
Though don't tell him he's talented. He'd much prefer you to call him a hack. Wonderfully modest and sublimely gifted, Les is great company and three hours with him was not long enough. I can say these things because he doesn't know I have a blog.
I've been talking with other writers recently as well as reading widely on the Internet. What I've been wondering is this: many people seem to be arguing for an almost inverse relationship between book sales and quality. That is, the better-written a book is, the fewer copies it seems to sell. The inverse is implied; that if a book sells very well, it must be poorly written.
Now, I've been wondering about this, and here are my questions for you.
• what do we mean by 'well written'? Does it have anything to do with authorial facility with language, beauty or economy of expression? Or is it about character, plot or the originality of the ideas? Or are we drawing a distinction between entertainment and education - that is, the purpose of the book?
• does anyone see any similarities with other entertainment industries? The two that come to my mind are the movie and music industries. Can much the same be said about them?
• is this all about stuck-up, intelligent people despising the unwashed masses, and thereby separating themselves from the majority? Or is there really some objective way of quantifying what comprises a 'good book' and 'crap' writing? How many people have to express an opinion before it becomes 'fact'?
Just wondering ...