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Posts Tagged ‘Writers’

Forty-two years ago this month, we learned the answer to life, the universe and everything. Even if humorous sci-fi isn’t your thing, Douglas Adams’ work has permeated pop culture.

42 years later, how ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ has endured

The influence of the Hitchhiker’s Guide “is everywhere,” says Marcus O’Dair, author of The Rough Guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

“We can see it in culture, where Adams’ story is rumoured to have inspired everything from the band Level 42 to comedy show The Kumars at No. 42,” he says. “We can see it in tech: in the real-life ‘knife that toasts,’ for instance, or in-ear translation services reminiscent of the Babel fish. The most visible sign of its ubiquity, though, might be the fact that we can celebrate its anniversary not at 40 or 50 years but at 42 — and everyone knows why.”

This book let me know that there was a place for humorous absurdities in writing, and that it really doesn’t pay to take yourself too seriously.

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is an indispensable companion to all those who are keen to make sense of life in an infinitely complex and confusing Universe, for though it cannot hope to be useful or informative on all matters, it does at least make the reassuring claim, that where it is inaccurate it is at least definitively inaccurate. In cases of major discrepancy it’s always reality that’s got it wrong.

This was the gist of the notice. It said “The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate.”

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Cake with bypass, made by me. To scale.

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I spotted this article the other day:

What I Learned About My Writing By Seeing Only The Punctuation

Hmm, I said, “That’s interesting in an upside-down sort of a way. I wonder what my writing looks like without, you know, words?”

My first thought was that I probably use too many commas. I headed over to the site developed by the article’s author and lo! I was right.

Punctuation from “Just Like [Illegible] Used to Make,” about 5400 words.

My second thought was to see how that story compared to other authors’ work. I visited Project Gutenberg and evaluated first chapters from a selection of famous and/or cherished books. 

Now that was interesting, both for the differences in punctuation and for the variety and length of chapters. (Nineteenth-century authors also loved commas, it seems. Is it time to hang up my keyboard and pick up a quill?)

This approach certainly provides a new perspective on the building blocks underpinning different authors, eras and genres of writing. Will it help my writing? Maybe, maybe not, but it was fun.

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Photo by Nitty Ditty on Unsplash

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“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke

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Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

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A long-time family friend always says goodbye by saying “Be good!” My father always answers the same way: “Have fun!”

You can see which side Samuel Clemens occupied.

“Be good + you will be lonesome. Mark Twain” British Library digitised image from page 10 of “Following the Equator. A journey around the world [With a portrait.]”

I at least try to split the difference.

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I vote for this as one of the feel-good stories of the year. Because what’s happier than real-life hobbits?

‘What is this if not magic?’ The Italian man living as a hobbit

“I decided that I wanted to live my hobbit life to the fullest… I wanted people to enter my mind, my fantasy. Many make fun of us. Some think I am trying to escape from reality. Far from it. I am living my dream, my adventure.”

— Nicolas Gentile, hobbit

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Good for you, Italian hobbit man, good for you.

Photo by Andres Iga on Unsplash

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I recently finished a book that should have checked all my boxes, but in the end… didn’t. The characters started off interesting but came down with a case of the stupids and never fully recovered.* The characters also spent most of their time floating around like bobbers on an unbaited line. When they eventually found their purpose it was too late, and the book finished before actually ending.

When a story is like that I find my mind stays twisted up in it, fidgeting with its edges, trying to work out how it should have fit together rather than how it did. Like a jumbled Rubik’s Cube made of words. A stream flowing in the wrong direction. Or an itch I can’t scratch.

Sometimes that itch gets to the point where I find I have to Do Something about it.

Once upon a time I read a British coming-of-age novel called I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I remember it as charming and it mostly worked for me, at least until the end. I finished the book and thought, “Nope, I’m afraid that won’t do.” And as an exercise for the annoyed problem-solver at the back of my mind, I rewrote the final chapters.

I moved a stack of Jim Butcher books yesterday and happened upon that new ending. It now sits on my bookshelf next to the original book. 

I bound everything in gold-stamped cover stock and ribbon that year.

Sometimes what you need is to step back and think, “This little piece of the world could be better.” And then work to make it so.

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Photo by Thom Milkovic on Unsplash

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* This is, of course, just my opinion. At some point you may read the same book and think, “That was the most brilliant and lyrical story ever.” That’s cool too.

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“Never envy someone who is better than you. It will stop you from looking at how they do it.”

— Gianpiero Petriglieri

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Original Photo by Jim Tegman on Unsplash

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This is my (non-day job related) To Do List Action Matrix (sounds very official, amirite?)

Ooh, I feel the actiony energies bubbling up already. Wait, how is it lunchtime already?

Not the complete list, you understand, but a selection of the items I am most likely to tackle in the next few days.

He he. Let’s see how far I get, shall we?

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Photo by Omer Salom on Unsplash

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Good to Know!

It’s like this fortune cookie knows me…

A plan you have been working on for a long time is beginning to take shape.
Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

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“The truth is that the world is full of dragons, and none of us are as powerful or cool as we’d like to be. And that sucks. But when you’re confronted with that fact, you can either crawl into a hole and quit, or you can get out there, take off your shoes, and Bilbo it up.”

― Patrick Rothfuss

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Photo by Amanda Swanepoel on Unsplash

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