Tag Archives: J.K. Rowling

Some Eyeball-Tickling Links

Today’s post, dear ones, is a wail of desperation from the uttermost reaches of my very soul.

Image: flashpacker.com

Image: flashpacker.com

Writing today’s post has been a challenge.

First, I tried to draft a piece about how I will, in all likelihood, miss a submission deadline today because my brain feels like a pumpkin at Halloween, but I failed to complete said post. In short: I have written five pseudo-stories for this particular competition, and none of them will do. The deadline is tomorrow. Draw your own conclusions.

Next, I tried to draft a few hundred words about how I’m feeling re. waiting to hear from some of the places to which I have submitted work, but I also failed to complete this post. In short: I have no fingernails and very little hair left and I’ve started drinking caffeinated coffee once more, having been on a healthy ‘decaf’ kick for some weeks (but then, this was sort of inevitable.) Again, with the conclusions thing.

Finally, I considered, briefly, writing about the blasted landscape of my thoughts but soon gave that up as a bad idea.

So, instead, I have done something dreadful. I have stolen an idea – brazenly, and shamelessly – which I have seen several other bloggers use, and one which I’ve always thought looked like far too much work to be bothering with. I’ve rounded up some links to the stuff I’ve read recently which I found interesting, hilarious, touching, scary, airpunchingly brilliant, or otherwise emotionally affecting.

Turns out, it’s not that much work at all, and it was rather fun.

Not as much fun as this, admittedly, but pretty good all the same. Image: franceinlondon.com

Not as much fun as this, admittedly, but pretty good all the same.
Image: franceinlondon.com

First, the emotional stuff.

Foz Meadows is a writer and blogger who I turn to whenever I need a shot of intellectual brilliance, clear critical thinking, and perfectly constructed argument. This utterly incredible, elegant yet rapier-sharp blog post (a response to an infuriating sexist who made the most inappropriate remarks I’ve ever heard to a bunch of schoolgirls) made me want to weep with pride. It’s long, but really worth a read.

In fact, while you’re there, stick around and have a pootle through Foz’s past posts. There’s always something worth reading – and most of her posts are masterclasses in how to write, too.

FGM (or Female Genital Mutilation) is something which exercises my indignation, and I try to follow developments relating to it in the media. This article from the UK Guardian made me very pleased when I read it the other day, and very glad that there are young women like Fahma Mohamed willing to stand up and say ‘FGM is wrong, and needs to stop.’ I am not a fan of Michael Gove, the UK Secretary of State for Education (for so many reasons), but I am glad he’s listening on this issue.

I was sort of torn about the next link, because while I fully and wholeheartedly support the idea that adults should support children’s reading at all times and in all ways, I’m not sure that it’s a good idea to shape what they read. I know the tone of the article is light-hearted (and I think the book choices are excellent, for the most part), and I realise that a child encouraged in such a way would grow up to be a very interesting, well-read and broad-minded person indeed, but still… shouldn’t they read what they want? Plus, I’m not sure I agree with keeping children away from Jane Austen – once they’ve reached the appropriate age, of course.

Anyway. I’m still not sure what I think about this article, but it was interesting, and I’m still thinking about it, so it’s included. What do you think?

I love the blog of Maureen Eichner. She is a wonderful book blogger and reviewer, and a huge advocate of children’s books and the importance of good writing for young readers. I turn to her words at least once a week for guidance and inspiration. One of her recent blog posts about fairy tales, and their retellings, has stuck in my mind because I love fairy tales (as does any right-thinking person), and it’s great to have a resource like this list to hand. So, thanks to her for compiling it.

It can’t have escaped your attention that, in recent days, an article was written exhorting J.K. Rowling to stop writing because – and I quote – her books have ‘sucked the oxygen from the entire publishing and reading atmosphere,’ thereby making life impossible for any other emerging or ambitious authors. I don’t want to link to the article itself because, quite frankly, it’s bonkers – and I can’t understand how anyone who works as an author could write such a piece – but I thought this open letter to J. K. Rowling was interesting, so I’ve included it instead. As far as I’m concerned, Ms Rowling can keep writing until the sun falls out of the sky. End of story.

All Hail! Image: telegraph.co.uk

All Hail!
Image: telegraph.co.uk

And now for a bit of fun.

‘Frasier’ was an amazing TV show, as I hope you’ll agree. Recently, I’ve caught a few old episodes of ‘Cheers’, and they’ve aged extremely well. I was a bit too young to appreciate ‘Cheers’ first time ’round, but its spinoff ‘Frasier’ was a huge part of my cultural life. I found this post on Buzzfeed which gives you a list of quotes from ‘Frasier’ to cover any possible social situation – so, you’ll never be stuck for a pithy comeback ever again.

You’re welcome.

And finally – the best one of all.

I love the work – and the blog – of YA author Kristin Cashore. She seems like an awesome lady with excellent taste in everything from books to holiday destinations to nail polish to TV shows, and she recently posted up some footage of Benedict Cumberbatch on Sesame Street. If this doesn’t make you laugh – or, at least, entertain you even a small bit – there’s something deeply wrong with your insides.

So, there you have it. A blog post entirely pilfered (at least, in principle) from other people. Let’s hope my brain feels a bit less like someone has set fire to it and scraped out the ashes by the time tomorrow morning rolls around.

Adieu!

 

 

A Matter of Opinion

Monday is creaking itself into position once again, and another chain of days is about to start careering down the slippery slope we call a ‘week’. I hope you had a restful weekend and you’re primed and ready for it.

Good woman, Barbara. Image: funkmysoul.gr

Good woman, Barbara.
Image: funkmysoul.gr

This past weekend was full of bad news. I’m trying not to even think about some of the news stories that made me sad, or angry, over the last few days – and there were many. I’m not ignoring the fact that things happened in the world which made my red mist descend, and which upset me greatly, but this blog post is all about the positive. Right? Right.

So, let’s not talk about the sad stuff. Not today.

In the spirit of focusing on the non-enraging, one of the more interesting stories over the weekend centred on the kerfuffle surrounding ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling‘, a book which was published to no great acclaim in April. Purporting to be the debut novel of a former soldier and military policeman named Robert Galbraith, the book was receiving good reviews, but had not sold in any huge numbers – reports vary between 500 and 1,500 copies sold – but those who had read it, by all accounts, liked it. Robert Galbraith, the mysterious author, had admitted to writing under a pseudonym to, I suppose, protect his former colleagues and avoid any sort of security issues surrounding his foray into crime writing, but that was far from being the biggest secret Mr. Galbraith was sitting on.

Over the weekend, ‘Mr Galbraith’ was unmasked. Not an ex-military police officer, nor even a man, ‘Galbraith’ is, in fact, J.K. Rowling.

The most interesting thing about the whole situation, I think, is the fact that the manuscript of ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ was, apparently, submitted to at least one publisher (under its pseudonym, of course), and was turned down as being ‘not marketable’; it didn’t stand out from the crowd enough, apparently. It wasn’t head and shoulders above any of the other promising submissions received, and so it wasn’t picked up. I have great respect for the editor of the publishing company who turned the book down purely on its merits, and who is now brave enough to admit it, and to give her reasons for her decision; she could have tried to wash her hands of responsibility, or pretend the decision to turn the book down was a tortuous one. She could have fawned all over J.K. Rowling. She could (horror of horrors!) have apologised for her decision. Instead, she simply explained how she felt the book was solid, decent, well written – but nothing amazing.

I thought this was remarkable. Not only because the editor in question is a brave and principled person, but because it made me feel a whole lot better about the rejections I get which are worded along much the same lines: ‘Thank you for your submission; your work is perfectly fine, but just not marketable in the current publishing climate’, or ‘Your work is not suitable for us – but our opinion is not exhaustive, so don’t give up.’ Whatever your opinion of ‘Harry Potter’ is – whether you believe the books are good, or not – it’s beyond question that J.K. Rowling is the publishing sensation of our time. Anything with her name on it is a foregone conclusion, in terms of publication. It turned out that ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ was eventually published by an imprint of the publisher who handled her book ‘The Casual Vacancy’ last year, but it seems that she submitted it to other publishers, just like any debut author – but found, apparently, little success. The book has received very positive feedback from readers, so it’s not necessarily that her work was not good; it just wasn’t good enough for a publisher to take a punt on it, particularly in the crowded crime/detective fiction market.

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Image: en.wikipedia.org

This news story has given me a lot to think about, and no mistake. The first conclusion one could draw would be this: what’s the point of anyone trying to get a book published, as an unknown debut author, if a writer with the ability of J.K. Rowling can’t get picked up? Well – yes and no. That’s an insidious and dangerous way to think; it erodes hope and chips away at the future, and should be avoided. There are always exceptions; there are always chances worth jumping at. You’ve got to have faith in your own work, and keep on going with the submissions even if there seems to be no light on the horizon. Rowling herself was turned down by twelve publishers before she placed ‘Harry Potter’ with Bloomsbury. It can happen. People get published every day. They can’t all be world-defining geniuses. Sometimes, a submission will be good enough – not the best submission in the history of writing, but good enough for a particular agent or publisher, and that’s all you need.

So, instead of being disheartened by the saga of ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ (in hindsight, rather an apt title), I’m choosing to be encouraged by it. A submission is never going to hit the mark with everyone who reads it; not every publisher is going to like, or even tolerate, some of the work you produce – and that’s not a personal thing, despite how hard it can be to separate yourself from your creative work. It doesn’t mean that if you get knocked back by two, or five, or ten agents or publishers, that you should give up the search – there will, hopefully, be an appreciative ear out there for what you’re writing, and what a shame it would be to give up before you find it.

Of course, if every person to whom you submit your work says something along the lines of: ‘In our opinion, a novel about interstellar time-travelling leprechauns written in rhyming couplets which can, due to the fact you’ve written it in disappearing ink, only be read on the first Tuesday of every month in full moonlight is not exactly the most market-friendly thing; perhaps you should consider submitting something else, or reworking this entirely,’ then maybe it’s time to start thinking: it’s not them. It’s me.

Until then, keep the faith.