obsessive compulsive perfectionist disorder


I made that up, but it fits. I spent this last weekend (a) searching for my daughter’s most beloved and currently-still-missing cat; (b) trying to console said daughter (c) trying to read; (d) trying to write; (e) failing everything else, spending many hours tweaking the stylesheet for the various websites. You’ll see that this one looks somewhat different. Of course there’s always something wrong, in this case the spacing between date and entry. Isn’t obsession interesting? I can stand back and look at how ridiculous it is to worry about something like this, and then blithely go back to worrying.

Then there’s the subsidiary reviews & recommendations blog that I’m trying to get to work, with help from Martin at Legends of the SunPig. Thus far, no joy, but you can have a look at it in its less than perfect state, if you like.

I did get some writing done yesterday, and a lot more today.

Also, a Big Discussion is brewing with my editor and publisher, who, it turns out, really really dislike the title for the new book. Thunder at Twilight. Which, I hasten to say, I love. I adore this title. But they don’t. They worry it is too romance-like. Huh? To me is sounds far more military than romance, and in fact it has to do with the launching of the Bonners into yet another war. So the negotiations begin, again, and I’m very sad about this. But I haven’t given up hope completely.

A note: as of today, thirteen of you voted in the Farscape poll thus: Farscape?

You must, all thirteen of you, report after school for tutoring. I’ll bring cookies and milk while you go back through this blog and read all the carefully constructed, thoughtful essays I have written about quality storytelling and support for storytellers.

One more Farscape note: the nominations are now open for the annual Sparkey awards, which brings recognition to the folks who write fan-fiction. There are some really, really good writers of fan fiction, and I’m gonna bring a few of them to your attention. Note: I am not one of them. My own characters give me enough grief.

first person narratives

There are fads in storytelling just as there are fads in clothes. A visit to any bookstore makes that clear; if you pick up a dozen new novels in a row a couple of things will ump out at you right away.

First person narratives are very popular just now, and have been for a while. The narrator tells the story to the reader, and thus we live in the narrator’s head and see the story only from the narrator’s limited point of view. I don’t particularly like first person narration, for exactly that reason. I think of it as the Charlotte Brontë approach, or the Reader, I Married Him school. In addition to writing first person narration, Charlotte Brontë was quite nasty about Jane Austen‘s work. Thus my scorn. Sniff. Scowl. (Quotes from Miss B about Miss A in the extended entry below.)

Okay, so I’ll admit there are many excellent first person novels out there. I just can’t think of a single one at this moment.

Now here’s the rub: the one place where first person narration works for me (in a limited way) is in epistolary form. If Character X writes a letter to Character Z, then I get to hear X’s voice, and I learn a lot about the relationship between the two of them. I am very fond of doing this for my own characters. It helps me figure them out in a way nothing else can. If Curiosity sits down to write a letter her voice sounds very clear to me, more so than at any other time. If the character wants to write a letter, I am very pleased to take dictation.

In general I love novels that mix up forms. Third person narration interspersed with letters, newspaper reports and advertisements (there’s another topic to write about here, old newspapers), legal documents. In my own work I don’t often use poetry as I’m not very good at it, though once in a while I have made a small exception.

Possession: A RomanceA.S. (Antonia) Byatt is a superior novelist and she also writes some of the very best literary criticism and analysis. For people interested in thoughtful, intense discussions about storytelling, her collected lectures are really worth reading. Otherwise I love her Possession: A Romance. Byatt is a former academic, and she dissects academia with laser-like precision in this novel. It’s everything in one: a well-plotted mystery, an intriguing love story (times two), an academic satire, a wonderfully done historical, a clear and striking picture of the lot of women (and especially women artists and writers) in Victorian England, and an ode to the poetry of that period. How this book didn’t get onto the lists of the century’s best is beyond me. Stunning prose, and first class storytelling. Possession is a demanding novel, one that has to be read closely and re-read many times to get all the complexities, but it’s so worth it. (I have also listened to it on tape, which was another wonderful experience).

Unfortunately, I can recommend the movie, which was a terrible disappointment.

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