Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
A tui is a native New Zealand bird - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tui_(bird) - quite common in rural areas but relatively rare in urban areas. Three years ago we planted two kowhai trees specifically to attract tui, who are nectar eaters, and today we have glorious confirmation of our success.
The bird has a wonderful song - not quite the spine-tingling full-out song such as the bellbird has, but pleasant nonetheless - and distinctive. We tracked the song to a tall totara tree, and there they were.
So now we have tui to go along with our morepork (bet Terry Pratchett doesn't have one in his garden), quail, pheasants, kingfishers and fantails. I'd love to attract a bellbird or two, or even the rare kokako, which has the most evocative call of all, drawn from the mists of time.
Living here is like being on holiday every day of the week.
Back from my first weekend's representative master's golf, with mixed results - a win and a loss. To be truthful, I felt like a little lost boy having wandered on to the playing field of grown men. They are very, very good. Still, we'll see if we get selected for any more rep fixtures.
Been thinking about writing. As I've said before it's very difficult to avoid being written by the genre. You come to a point, and wonder what's going to happen next. The genre will always have a suggestion for you, will always want to tug you in the direction of comfortable expectation, of trope or cliche. It's very hard to resist. In fact, I suspect that pulp fiction writing consists of nothign mroe than stitching together a sequence of tme-worn phrases (an example of a time-worn phrase is 'time-worn phrase') which lead in a totally expected direction.
In my first trilogy I tried to overcome this by careful plotting. Characters and actions were subservient to the story arc. In this series, now that I've become more aware of the traps of the genre, I've been able to let the characters lead. It's much more interesting to write, but is far harder.
I've been reading a cancelled library copy of P.G. Wodehouse's 'Blandings Omnibus'. A previous reader has gone through and marked in pen any word he/she found too difficult, as well as changing all the 'pretty' as in 'pretty quiet' to 'very' as in 'very quiet'.
I wonder at the gall of someone who'd physically change the text of a master wordsmith. But I also thought hard about how readers might be alienated by the use of difficult words.
Here's the complete list of words s/he marked:
haled (as in 'haled him home')
lard (as in 'with a needle lard each tenderloin')
omelette aux champignons
succes de scandale
How many of these would you understand without having to look them up?
As Wodehouse says in his preface, 'The first thing an author must learn is that he can't please everyone.'