Saturday, August 14, 2010


Just finished reading Abhorsen, the last book in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series. It was one of those books I didn't want to finish, and now that I have, I get this vague feeling of emptiness, and I suspect the next book I pick up will have a hard time catching my attention, no matter how good it is.

Aside from a thoroughly enjoyable read, I learned a lot from the three books in the series. The principal lesson was that it's easy to slip into the habit of over-editing. There were many times when I read sentences in the books that I know I would have reworked had I written them - there were obvious ways they could be made sharper, more direct, more impacting. Except they couldn't, because somehow they worked perfectly as they were. It left me wondering how many times I've edited the soul out of a perfectly good sentence, in a vain effort to make it that much better.

From now, I think I'll try and be a little more relaxed in my editing, and perhaps allow a few more 'rough' sentences to remain as they are.

The other thing I found challenging in the books was Garth's use of omnipotent point-of-view. I've seen it used in other books, but never quite as smoothly as he did it, with transitions occurring in a way that was both obvious and seamless. It made me realise the tremendous power of that POV - how handy it is to be able to jump into someone else's head when convenient, and also to be able to describe things that none of the characters is actually witnessing. My usual POV choice is through the head of the protagonsist, and I'm noticing particularly with MMA that that can sometimes be quite restrictive. Not that I'm about to leap into omniscient - I don't think I can, seeing as GPL was written in third-person limited. But it's something I'd love to try in future books.

Overall, I had a fabulous read, and learned some important lessons at the same time! It doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Strange, But True.

My Monday morning so far...

At 7am, I head out to the car, rubbing my hands together against the cold and breathing fog into the crisp air. I hop into the sky-blue laser and turn the key. Nothing but a hideous clicking noise. It's no problem; this has happened before. I head inside, grab Pip's keys, open the bonnet of our second car, and jump-start the laser. My ears fill with the delightful sound of an engine running.

I get down the hill, park the car, and take out my bike for the rest of the journey into the city. I feel the weight of keys in my pocket, but there shouldn't be any keys in my pocket, because there's already keys in my hand.

I've driven off with Pip's keys.

I pull out my phone to ring her and let her know. She has a dentist appointment at 10 and I don't want her scouring the house at the last moment looking for keys that aren't there. My phone rings twice, then cuts out, the screen totally blank. I only charged it on Friday, but the battery has decided it's time to retire.

Uttering a few choice words, I hop on the bike and ride to the gym, then to work. When I emerge from the lift, I hit the combination on the door to get in. But the door doesn't unlock. I try again, then a third time, but the door has made up its mind. Like Gandalf on the bridge at Moria, the gleaming steel seems to cry out "You ... shall ... not .... pass". One of my colleagues sees my pathetic expression and comes to let me in, and tells me the lock is playing up.

I get to my desk, and fire up my computer, only to discover that the network is down. There's no internet access, and no access to the computer systems of our customers in the United States. It's all on the blink.

They say there's some strange electromagnetic effect that surrounds some people, that makes light bulbs die when they walk beneath them. I wonder what the name is for the electromagnetic field that's obviously surrounding me this morning.

And it's only 11am, too. Thank God the coffee machine still works.