Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sonya Hartnett, Writing, Fantasy, and Work

1. Dreamed that I got a photo from my Tassie friend.  I'm not sure if she sent me the photo directly, or I got it because she posted it somewhere, like on Facebook.  The photo is of her and her family at a Tasmanian tourist attraction.  It's some kind of animal thing.  It has animal statues, or maybe they're taxidermic type things. There's a polar bear, and some kind of large cat.  The photo is this type in which we don't just see it.  It comes alive in our house.  It's huge, three-dimensional, and we can actually touch the statues in the front of the picture.  It's like it takes over part of our house.  

I also had a dream inspired by the book my cousin gave to me.  I go shopping with some of my family. They pick out a shirt for one of my nieces, but they want my opinion first.   She's as sensitive about clothes as I am.  I tell them it's probably a bit too uncomfortable.  We go to search for super soft shirts. Later, we're all sitting and talking about clothes.   My family says I'm too sensitive (about clothes).  I get annoyed and say maybe they're too insensitive.   I try to turn it around so there's something wrong with them, something deficient, rather than there being something wrong with me.   My younger sister is very offended.  I try to explain that it's just as wrong for them to call me too sensitive.  I say it's better to just say I'm very sensitive.  

2. Saddened by this article.    It's about a nine-year-old Japanese boy, searching for his family.   Jack is nine; so of course I imagine it happening to us.  He's found his cousin, at least. That's good; although not very meaningful unless they're close.  I hope the boy is able to find his family. That would be great if they're all still alive, and they get to have a happy reunion.  

3. Decided to play my Adelaide/Hobart Flickr game again.  

For Adelaide, I got this photo.  I think it's a race car driver.   

For Hobart, I got this cool picture of a baby's eyes and nose.  I think I prefer this photo, so I'll give Hobart a point.  

4. Read the first chapter of Sonya Hartnett's Butterfly.   So far, I'm not very impressed.  It surprises me, because I've read some of Hartnett's other books, and I remember liking them.  Something about this one feels a bit off.  

When I used to write fiction, there was a term I heard;  On the nose.  It's basically when writing is not subtle enough.  I think a good example is a villain's speech; the one in which they brag about their brilliant plans, and their motives.   I think all writers are guilty of it sometimes.  I even see bits of it in the Harry Potter books.  But sometimes it can pull you out of the story.   My friend and I were talking about this recently.  She spoke about those times that you're reading, and all of a sudden you're conscious of the author writing the book. You're not in the story anymore. You're thinking about the writer and their writing process.  You kind of fall out of the story, and sometimes it's hard to get back.

This passage bothered me in Hartnett's book.  

Anyway, it is Plum's growing conviction that a mother and father have no right to feelings.  A parent should be a person the way a door is a door, something like the robot in Lost in Space-loving and providing and cleaning, not distracted by wishes and needs.  The only thing that really matters about a parent is the existence of the child.  If Mums and Fa ever were fourteen, they're well beyond it now; beyond the time when their lives are vital things.  Even when they were fourteen, it's unlikely that they had problems as grievous as Plum's.  

To me, this feels more like how a disgruntled parent would imagine that their young teenager is feeling. That's not to say kids aren't self-centered sometimes.  I just don't know if it's really to that degree; and whether kids would so openly admit it to themselves.  I shouldn't try to speak for all children.  I guess what I should say is that if I was the one who wrote the novel, I might write it down in my notes that this is how my character feels.   But I don't think I'd spell it out so clearly.

Hopefully, I'll start enjoying the book as I read more of it.  

5. Had a memory-feeling flash.   I think I just made up that term.   It's when you don't just remember an event, but you get a flash of the feelings you had.   It was that feeling I had when I first started becoming obsessed with Australia; around 2005-2007. I wasn't open about it yet.  It was my secret crush.  I love the feelings you get when a crush first begins. But then it often turns painful and lonely.  THAT is why it's better to have a crush on a country.   I never had to sit around waiting for Australia to call me.  I never had to worry about Australia saying Sorry, I like you.  But just as a friend.  

6. Consulted Lord Wiki about Sonya Hartnett.  She's younger than I thought; born in 1968. For some reason, I pictured her being in her 50's. 

In 2006, Hartnett published a NON-kids book with erotic stuff called Landscape with Animals. She published it under a pseudonym, because she didn't want that book being accidentally shelved with her kid's books.   

Lord Wiki has a list of Hartnett's books.  The one I read is Thursday's Child.  I remember liking it. I think I wrote a blog post about it, but I'm too lazy to try to find it.      

I might have read another one of her books.  I vaguely remember a hurt bird.  ???  Maybe it was part of Thursday's Child, and that's what I'm thinking about. 

You know what I did....I looked on my library's website. I was pretty sure that's where I got the book.  Anyway, I found a book with a hurt bird on the cover itself.  It's called What the Bird Sees.  Lord Wiki didn't mention it, but I figured it was an alternative title type thing.  I was right.  In Australia, the book is called Of a Boy.  

7. Found another Liberal Politician who believes that if you work hard enough, anything is possible.   Concetta Fierravanti Wells said, in her first speech to Parliament.   Mr President, with hard work, determination, dedication and the will to succeed you can do anything, you can be anyone and you can go anywhere.  

What if I want to be a house elf at Hogwarts. Is that possible? 

In a way, it's a theory that can't be disproved.  I get defensive when I see stuff like this. I think about my writing career, or lack of one.   I worked VERY hard on it.  I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen, and I wrote many novels and screenplays after that. I would spend hours after school, writing and writing.  I worked, worked, and worked.   I never managed to get anything published.  I feel I put my heart into it.  But someone could argue that I didn't work hard enough.  I didn't keep sending things to publishers.  I gave up too easily. 

My feeling is there're some things we have control over; and there're other things in which we don't have control.  I have control over my writing.   I can choose how hard I want to work on that.   I do NOT have control over getting people to read my stuff.  I worked very hard on rewriting my novel a few years ago.  I've tried very hard to get people to read it. Hardly anyone is interested.    I don't know if it's because my novel is not that great, or if I'm barking up the wrong trees. It's just....life.  

Personally, I think it's about luck.  My novel is not a masterpiece.  I'm not delusional about that. But I've read many other young adult novels....PUBLISHED ones.   Some are better than my novel, and some are worse.  I'm just going by my opinion, of course.  It's the thing about books though. It's impossible for any book to be loved unanimously.  So in the end, it's lucky if your novel finds its way to people who like it enough to read the whole thing.  You're very lucky if that person is a successful agent, publisher, or editor.  

Anyway, I think all of this can apply to many goals.   It's good to work hard, and it's good to have dreams.  But I think we need to recognize that some dreams are much more difficult to obtain than others.    

8. Decided maybe I believe less in goal-reaching work, and more in working because you love the work.   It's like this blog.  Sometimes I'll make goals about how many readers I get.  It's silly though.   I don't really have any control over that.  And when I do get extra readers, it's often nothing to do with what I wrote.  It's just because my blog happens to have a popular search term.   I do think that returning visitors are meaningful, and I pay attention to that.   Again though, it's not like I have that much control over whether people come back or not. I mean some of it is due to the fact that people like what I've written.  And that's nice.  But sometimes people are less busy than they are at other times.   

I think it's better to just write because I love writing.  I love writing and having people read what I write.  That's happening, so all is nice.

People might argue that I have the goal of doing a blog post everyday.  That's not really true.  It would be the same as saying my goal is to eat everyday or my goal is to sleep everyday.  That's probably too extreme. I'll just say it's more of a challenge NOT to write my blog everyday than it is to write it everyday.  I think some other bloggers might understand what I'm saying.  

9. Stopped at the British Emporium on the way to Dallas.  We didn't buy any Australian stuff, because they don't have much; and I can get the few things they have at other grocery stores.  We did buy a few British things.  

Speaking of British stuff.   I went to back playing on the Magic is Might site (Harry Potter thing). I realized I didn't want to miss out on the fun.  And it IS fun, and....weird.

I tried quitting for awhile.   I was bothered by some of the meanness; and  I was bothered by the fact that I kept thinking of the characters as being real.  I kept having to tell myself.   It's not really Snape.   It's not really Voldemort.  That's not really Flitwick.   But then it finally dawned on me.   There IS no real Snape, Voldemort, Flitwick, etc.    It's ALL fictional. In a way, the Magic is Might Snape is as real as the one in the book and the one in the movie.  

So now I just let myself think of them as all being real, just like I do when I read the books or watch the movies.  I embrace my imagination and embrace my inner child.  I tell my rational adult self to shut the hell up. 

10. Read the second chapter of Butterfly.   I'm liking it a little better.   It's interesting.  I'm intrigued by the fact that an adult character just told a child to lose weight by throwing her lunch in the bin.   Your mother won't know, so she won't worry.  You'll be slimmer in no time.  That was kind of surprising.   I have a feeling I know where this book is heading.   I think the stuff I quoted in #4 is pretty much the theme of the whole book; the discovery that the grown-up world is just as confusing and difficult as the child's world.