The suppliers of South Africa’s electricity are very happy with their loadshedding these days. The lights are going out whenever they fancy – sometimes up to three times a day, which is a large pain when you live online. Not to mention that winter’s pretty much here, and my feathered horde don’t take kindly to life without heat. Button’s taken to sitting next to me on my chair for leg warmth, with Jelly now a lap bird and the parrots feather boas. Anyway, moving unreasonably on to the totally unrelated topic of typos.
Not all typos are created equal. I know that some people are infuriated having a single one assault their sensibilities, but I think that some of them are so much more fun than the real word they’re impersonating. The problem is that sometimes after seeing a particularly cool one, they can put the brakes on anything else you’re trying to get done.
I was zooming through a fairly serious book for research purposes, when I was Earth-stoppingly (not a typo) struck by a little typo that now refuses to leave my mind, surfacing all the time and stopping me from doing anything constructive. A couple of typos in the books I read don’t generally bother me, and neither did the fact that this book had a typo in it. It’s the actual typo itself that won’t go away because of my weird and abnormal sense of humour. I know it’s weird and abnormal, because every time it strikes, and I’m laughing so hard that I cry, people always look at me in confusion when I try and share the funny – which is probably what you’re about to be doing right now. In this case it was –
Images of wontons being destroyed keep pushing my own sentences right out of my head. Destruction of wontons by flood, fire, and terrible cruelty. Even if I could eat gluten without fear of much pain and illness, I don’t think I could ever eat a wonton again. Crunching the poor little guys up – wanton wonton destruction. Perhaps there’s a whole world out there somewhere in the multiverse, where wontons exist peacefully, trotting about on their little legs and reciting beautiful wonton prose, but unbeknown to them, a fleet of spacecraft is preparing to enter their atmosphere carrying thousands of alien wanton wonton destroyers. Good! I think I’ve got it out of my system now by sharing it with you. Thank you.
I think that in a couple of years Indie books are going to be much less likely to have editing issues than traditionally published books, because of the need to prove ourselves up to the actual work of publishing. Gordon Ramsay with his name spelled wrong in the front matter of his memoir is alright for him, but as an Indie you would get properly pummelled for getting your own name wrong in your book. Even Stephen King had a problem in one of his short stories – Autopsy Room Four – which I absolutely LOVED until I got to the bit about an American golfer being bitten by a Peruvian Boomslang. My beloved Stephen actually mentions how much he enjoyed putting that imaginary snake in the story, because he loved the name Boomslang. Most people probably won’t see a research problem there unless you’re a South African King fan (and we are LEGION by the way), and know that Boomslang is an Afrikaans language word meaning tree snake, so any Peruvian snake is highly unlikely to be called by that particular moniker. You’d think that a top editor for one of the most legendary authors on the planet would have picked that up, but still not a big deal for him. The new breed of Indie would have researched a little more, I like to think, and not made that mistake.
So. After sharing all of these highly intellectual things with you, thereby proving that I really am a very, very serious author type person, back to work for me. Before the lights go out again.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Nigella Lawson programme that I didn’t like, and I’m sure I’ve seen most of them. I really enjoy spending time in the kitchen. Cooking is a favourite hobby, and so is watching foodie programmes on TV. I love Gordon Ramsay’s toe-curling rudeness and Guy Fieri’s anaconda-like ability to unhinge his jaw and pop massive burgers in his mouth.
Earlier this year I really felt for Nigella when I saw the photos of her husband, Charles Saatchi, throttling her and horribly twisting her nose for all to see in a restaurant. Such appalling behaviour, and justifiable by absolutely nothing. He originally attempted to condone this unforgivable behaviour by saying that she regularly did these things to him. Sorry lovely guy, but nobody’s going to be able to picture Nigella throttling anyone. Now, in the true form of gentlemen everywhere, he’s calling her “Higella” and trying very hard to completely trash her reputation by spreading the word that she’s some sort of rotten, spaced out, drug addict who encourages her daughter Cosima to snort cocaine.
He laid charges against her two personal assistants, Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, last year after he found out that they’d been having a ball with his credit card – to the tune of £300 000. They used various reasons for their thievery, including the fact that they used some of the money to buy up piles of his own books – on HIS instruction – to give them a boost in the league tables. WHAT?! Then, after not mentioning a word until about a month ago, Mr Saatchi receives notice of a new statement from the felonious two that Nigella was totally cool with them using her credit cards to stock up on their Chanel and Prada collections, just as long as they kept mum about the fact that she and her daughter spent their days smoking pot, sniffing cocaine and taking prescription pills.
I really hope that any books he published, and is apparently in the process of buying up for himself, aren’t whodunits, because any scribbler, and most people with the smallest capacity of logical thought should be able to see exactly what’s going on. Seriously? Nigella on drugs? I don’t believe it for a second. You don’t get to build an empire the way she has when you’re stoned out of your mind all the time. And that’s a pretty big secret to keep from your husband for ten years, which he claims she did. Not many real addicts are likely to encourage their children to join them on their painful trip, and anyone as obviously loving of her brood, and more than intelligent enough to know just how bad that would be, is most definitely not going to do anything as stupid as that.
Just goes to show that money and power can’t make people believe that you’re a nice fella, no matter how loudly you tell the world that your wife is a horrible junkie. To be honest, the thing that really got up my nostril and made me pay attention was the bit about him buying his own books to push himself up the rankings. FOUL! FOUL! Even though I don’t believe that she has done any of the awful things he’s accusing her of, I’m pretty sure that I for one would turn to hard liquor at the very least if I was married to someone like that. Anyway. I’m sure that Nigella Lawson will make it through this horrible attack, and come out smiling and with her head held high on the other side of what is clearly a vengeful plan to terminally embarrass her.
The closer the publication date for African Me & Satellite TV comes, the more nervous I’m getting. The unusual thing about the editing of this particular book is probably that it’s not typos that worry me as much as getting arrested, stalked and pelted with eggs, or generally attracting the interest of secret agencies around and about.
One of the lightest things about it has been my argument with Princess. Intrepid cook, vocal contributor of gems of knowledge on any subject at all, and loud detractor of any sort of animal abuse. My argument really is her obsession with Gordon Ramsay. I’m fond of watching cooking programmes myself, but my tastes run more to Rick Stein, Guy Fieri, Jamie Oliver, and of course Nigella, mainly for her good taste in footwear. I do admit to enjoying watching Gordon abuse restaurateurs and hotel owners – but that’s only because absolute rudeness and terminally foul language make me giggle. I don’t like his endorsement of certain foods obtained in ways that are unbelievably inhumane – inhuman really. But that’s not what my point is today. Princess refuses to give in and let me change her crush to a less controversial chef. So I suppose I have to accept that we can like people in general without agreeing with all of their beliefs. Simple. Gordon stays.
Not so simple are the rest of the people in this story. Their strong views from all angles on racism from both sides of the fence, and the graphic descriptions of actual and possible events will most certainly draw some flack I’m thinking. I just hope that any powers that be who may perchance lay their hands on a copy will read it right through before hoiking out the handcuffs and heading forth into the African wilds to have a little chat with me about – things. That’s the problem with this proofing. When I say that this story wrote itself, I really mean it, and no matter how hard I try to tweak things in it – only looking out for my innocent hide – it just won’t be tweaked. So. I’ll concentrate on the grammar. And of course the poems. These are not going so well I’m afraid to say. Amazon will be pleased at all my “How To Write Poetry” purchases though. These books haven’t helped at all. Once again these things are writing themselves, and they’re more ode-ish than anything else.
On the subject of Amazon. It has a lot of critics. Writers complain of the percentage of their royalties that big A takes, the removal of reviews and tag buttons, and all sorts of other real or perceived affronts. I still say that the opportunity to instantly publish a book, for all the world to read, is something worth paying for. If agents were lining up at your door, waving fat advance cheques and booking you a slot on Oprah, you probably wouldn’t be using Amazon as your first choice to publish I’m thinking. Having said that, pretty much all of the great and famous writers have their books there now. So you’re in pretty good company. Yes, it requires quite a lot of hard work to even get your book to the notice of readers of the millions of books available out there. But that’s a choice you make. You don’t have to. You could try the traditional route, get discovered, and knock J K Rowling right off her perch. Unlikely for all though.
Imagine for a minute that all the self-publishing houses were to disappear. There would be a lot of dusty manuscripts in bottom drawers, never to be read by a soul. So I bravely say – I really do love Amazon. I don’t mind their cut of my royalties. I don’t mind doing the work. And I love the people who have bought and read my writing. You may not be millions, and I may not be rich and famous, but that’s never been what my trip has been about anyway. If one person reads and enjoys any book I write, then I say my job is done. That’s probably the reason for my blog obsession. I love reading blogs, and probably spend far too many hours of my days doing just that. Without expectation of financial gain bloggers, to me, are classic authors. They write to share what they’re passionate about. They don’t care about “show don’t tell” or “dialogue, dialogue, dialogue!!” So – stop whinging author guys, and appreciate the fact that you have the best job in the world, and the opportunity to share your work with a large chunk of the occupants of that world. Do the work, and with a bit of luck, you will reap the rewards.
Gratitude to Amazon for being my publisher, and kudos also for publishing all the old classics, and leaving them permanently free. It’s nice to know that those stories will never be lost. I love the fact that when I’m just a memory, my books will be there in their virtual home, and my worlds will be visited, and my people heard, long after I’ve laid claim to my personal cloud and harp. I do wonder sometimes about those lonely writers who’ve published books, and then depart this mortal coil unnoticed and un-mourned – it does happen I’m afraid to say. Do their books lurk in Amazon’s maze forever? And who gets their royalties?