A Life Of Fiction CLX
For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.
Whither writing? I’m not sure in what direction writing will go in the future. I have no faith that the future of writing and literature is in safe hands. Not in this incompetent government which we have in the United Kingdom. Not in the people who allow bookshops to close down. Not on the councils who close down libraries, as though they do not matter; as though you can find everything that you need on the internet. That is not yet true. My own research into Tibetan legends, for my Tibet gazetteer for my Gas-Lamp Fantasy RPG, proved to me that there are a lot of things which are hardly covered on the world wide web.
Libraries give us power – and not every household can afford to go on the internet. Not every household can afford a computer. When you close down libraries you deprive those people of knowledge. But perhaps that is what this government wants. Perhaps they want the voters to be stupid. Each library closed down is a dagger in the back of the future of literature.
I don’t like buying books on the internet. I like to go into second hand bookshops and brows through the books which they have for sale. The only problem is that all of the second-hand bookshops in my area have been closed down and replaced by charity shops. So I have to go into those places instead and browse. But they are nowhere near as good. Most of their books are crap: they are ones which people have given away for free, of course. You are never going to find a first edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman in a charity shop (as I did in a second-hand bookshop).
I can’t see any new second-hand bookshops opening in my area. They are gone with good. They cannot compete with places which get their stock for free; where they get their workers for free. It is a big loss. It is a loss to writers, for any prospective writers need to read. They should read a lot more than they write. This is another blow against the future of writing.
I won’t mention Creative Writing classes here. I have given my opinion on them in the past.
I understand from reports on my television that six-year old children are being taught exclamatory sentences. They are being told that, in their tests, they have to have a sentence beginning with ‘what’ or ‘how’ and ending with a question mark. I have a problem with this, for a number of reasons.
The first reason is that the English language is fluid. It changes over time, and its rules should be more like guidelines. They should not be set down in stone.
Another is that, if you do believe in hard rules, then what you are teaching these very young children is grammatically incorrect. The words ‘what’ and ‘how’ are interrogative, rather than exclamatory. They should start a sentence which ends with a question mark, rather than an exclamation mark.
Content should be more important than being one hundred percent grammatically correct, anyway. I saw some moron come on the television claiming that if you looked at published work that they would all be grammatically correct. That is rubbish. Some of the works of people who have won the Novel prize for literature would not fit into the Government’s proscriptive rules. Those works which are all the same, grammatically, tend to be by lesser authors. And, quite often, they are due to the work of editors, rather than the authors themselves. But the more important that you are the more that you can get away with bending the supposed rules of the English language.
Winston Churchill was one writer who won the Novel prize for literature who was sometimes criticised for not following grammatical rules. But you do not win the Nobel Prize unless you are a great writer. I worry, in being proscriptive about grammar and syntactical errors, that young children will find writing and literature to be a great turn-off. We should let our children be creative, and enjoy their literature. We can introduce these supposed ‘rules’ later, when they are already hooked on reading and writing.
Anyway, I think that is enough griping for one post. No doubt I will return to this subject in the future.