Sunday, 25 April 2010
Sunday, 18 April 2010
What is it about books that brings out the worst in otherwise honourable people?
Sunday, 11 April 2010
Sunday, 4 April 2010
It was breakfast time. Mother's face was very bright as she poured the milk and ladled out the porridge.
"I've sold another story, Chickies," she said; "the one about the King of the Mussels, so there'll be buns for tea."
I was misinformed at an impressionable age about the saleability of fiction: I picked up the idea that if you wrote well, you could sell your stories and earn a living, albeit a modest one. I risk your laughter if I tell you that I wrote my first novel, Torbrek...and the Dragon Variation under this misapprehension.
Today I name the two main books that gave me this notion (there were other novels, less memorable, amusingly catalogued under 'Careers' in my school library). All that can be said in their defence is that they're pretty ancient, and were even when I read them as a child; it probably was possible to eke out a living by your pen back then.
- Little Women. Jo March, every reader's favourite among the four sisters, hating housework and loving books, getting inky fingers from her writing and making her first sale to an editor before she was out of her teens. Also, poor soul, being expected to forgive Amy for burning the only copy of her manuscript. Darned if I would.
- The Railway Children. There are no fewer than EIGHT references to 'buns for tea' - which is how Mother celebrated with the children whenever an editor was sensible and accepted one of her stories for publication. Editors are a good deal less sensible and much harder to impress these days, alas.