I wasn’t going to write another post for a few days but
there is an idea going around in my head at the moment and resisting is
impossible. In some ways it is as much
about life as it is about writing. In
fact it is, about the different ways we look at things, topics, points of
views, music, and of course books. Many
of the people that follow my blog (yes I do have some although they still fear commenting) have often suggested
that when I combine writing and life in general it often touches a nerve with what is happening to
them. The fact that I relate what I say to
writing gives them a breather or space to look at it from a distance and so it
is most welcome. I honestly don’t know
if that is true of my writing. I do know
it is too often true of what I read. Insight can be found in the most unlikely
places if we are open to it and are prepared to apply it to our lives.
Just a short time ago and I mean that literally Kay (https://kaywantcheung.wordpress.com/)
sent an email to Alison (https://blueinkonadragonstail.wordpress.com/)
and I about books to read. Kay wanted to
try something different. The three of us
have become more conscious than ever of the competitive market place now that
we are closer to publishing our Stories of the Dark and Light and
our own separate works. Consequently we have upped our research into
marketing in general and also have become more active on Goodreads, a process
we enjoy greatly. Goodreads is a lot fun
for the reader and I would imagine for the author it would be very uplifting (except
for last night when I realised I had two profiles and could not figure out how
to merge them. This is a Barb technology
problem however and not Goodreads lol).
The three of us write in specific genres although I probably
vary a little more with mine. The
romances are only one small part of what I do so in some ways my reading is a little more
eclectic but for all that Alison was quicker to answer the call and much more
self-assured in her reply than I could be.
I hesitated and it took me a while because I wasn’t as confident to
recommend. Don’t misunderstand I follow some wonderful people so it wasn’t from
a lack of confidence in them per say or even in my own ability of choice but
rather that I have become very aware, almost hyper aware of differences in the
way people approach differences. It is natural that everyone has their way of doing things but often what is
supposed to be a celebration often is more of a bone of contention, and a
reason to criticise.
A great example was a conversation I had the day with someone
much, much younger than myself regarding tattoos. There is a rule that when serving customers (hospitality)
tattoos must be covered. This is not
about whether I agree or disagree with this, or whether or not I like tattoos. It’s about whether or not differences make
something less than it is. It’s about
whether following the rules is a real measure of what value something has. For instance if an employee, say a bartender rolled
up their sleeves so the tattoos on the arms were visible and this person was
well-groomed and very efficient, and also friendly and courteous then would the experience provided for the
customer be less because of those tattoos? Would arms, bare of design and
ink, make water taste like French Champagne?
Isn’t everything relative to time and place and choice? My young friend was all about following the
rules and the reasons they are in place and because of my age I think he
expected a more rigid outlook from me, a more black and white approach. I wasn’t questioning the rules. Rules have their place. I was looking at the bigger picture but my
young friend wanted to stay on the narrower path about the rules.
I let it go, the conversation that is at least with
him. The principle however stayed in my
head. I like tattoos. Do I like a body
covered from head to toe in them? No,
probably not. Would it stop me getting
to know the person? Probably not. Would
I seek out the experience? Probably not!
Would I refuse the experience if it came my way? Probably not! I have a small butterfly tattooed on my
shoulder which I had done to symbolise something very dear to me. I was forty at the time and my mother did not
stop lecturing on what people would think for months. She did the same about a
piercing my young cousin Alessio had on his eyebrow. She had seen it in a photo months before and
had not gotten over it. Despite constant
reassurance that he was lovely (I had lived with the family when teaching in
Italy and was their devoted slave) in the end I caved and I asked Alessio to
remove it whilst he visited with us which he did willing to save arguments. He would put it on when he and his buddy Marco
were doing the tourist thing around Sydney. The irony is that I arrived home
one day and the boys were sitting having
afternoon tea whilst the queen of the house entertained or should I
say regaled them with stories of her youth.
Italian boys are very polite and very charming to the elderly (it is
drummed into them) and my mother could be very funny. It seemed the boys had been sitting there for
hours and Alessio had forgotten to remove the piercing. Mum hadn’t noticed too entranced with her captive audience. She was a wonderful lady but wore blinkers, a
lot. It was that generation and being
Italian. Needless to say we quickly fixed the problem. And it is a great
memory. Alessio, practice your English
and read this blog! You second mother demands it.
Differences in how people dress, what they listen to, what
they enjoy and what they read is what makes us fascinating as human beings. I do believe there are conventions to go with those choices that give a
grounding on taste and appropriateness and to be honest are just plain common sense.
Whilst exploring Goodreads I had come
across some reviews of books I had also read.
The comments were at total odds with my impressions of the same book. It really resonated. What makes a book a good read? If you were to check my reading choices you
would find a variation of genres and often a high rating for books some might
consider lighter reading. You would find
many romances, paranormal and contemporary and so you might question what
knowledge base I come from particularly since many of my comments centre on the
warmth of the characters and the nice feel of the plot. It doesn’t sound very earth-shatteringly
intelligent especially since that book may also contain syntax and grammatical
errors. But, wait a minute my tattooed bartender
served me French champagne with his smile and genuine desire to please. He added lemon, lime and mint leaves.
Having gone to what could be considered a classical high school,
Latin and Greek ruled along with the Sciences and Mathematics and of course
English it was only fitting that we studied books like Silas Marner, Tess of
the D’Urbervilles and Pride and Prejudice.
Authors like Dickens and Shakespeare were staples as were poets like
Keats, Tennyson, Yeats and TS Elliot. It gave me a platform, a wide one with
treasures of the past encouraging me not to read the same but to read. Growing up and away from school I was a big
fan of Wuthering Heights and novels like The House of Brede, The Nun’s Story,
The Well of Loneliness and even Erich Segal’s Love Story, and one of my
favourites To Kill a Mocking Bird. Authors like Pearl S Buck, William Faulkner,
Rudyard Kipling and Ernest Hemmingway also graced my bookshelves but I admit it
freely so did Mills and Boons. And yes it was quite a mixture.
One of the experiences that stands out the most is reading
authors like James Joyce. I wonder if he was self-published how well he would
sell on even a big space like Amazon. Would
he make the top of the leader board with that very individual style? It is
so subjective. Classics don’t make for
easy reading despite, in most cases, a better command of language manipulation. The breathing of life into their characters,
the complexity of plots and the uniqueness of careful creativity is what makes books
stand out. Can we forgive grammar
errors, phrasing and syntax? Some of the
indie authors braved it out to start with and I confess to overlooking those
sorts of faults in favour of imagination and storytelling. I still do.
Do I think the author has a responsibility to improve those things? Of course I do. I am aware every post I write that I may have
done a million and one things wrong and I check and double check but know I
have missed things. I try. I don’t always succeed perhaps, well maybe I
don’t succeed a lot but I keep trying. I
mean there has to be a certain standard, there is a huge place for rules and
conventions but let’s not forget the
beauty we can find in being open minded and looking beyond what is in front of
you, and employ some faith that that person is trying to get better every time
the possibility crosses their path.
I only live on the moon because I choose to have an
adventure but I’m still human.