Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Plus ca change and the Moment of Aaaah!



Many writers are less than adept at adapting.  We struggle - oh, how we struggle - with changing technologies.  And yet, in spite of this, we do, all, sometimes, find our way to a moment of Aaaaah!


In the past, it was no different.  Read on, and you will see what I mean ...


P.G. Wodehouse has left behind his trusty typewriter and the crick in his back that attends its use, considered briefly (and with horror) the idea of dictating his book to a stenographer, and bravely opted for ...


"... one of those machines where you talk into a mouth-piece and have your observations recorded on wax, and I started Thank You, Jeeves, on it.  And after the first few paragraphs I thought I would run back and play the stuff over to hear how it sounded.


It sounded too awful for human consumption.  Until that moment I had never realized that I had a voice like that of a very pompous school-master addressing the young scholars in his charge from the pulpit in the school chapel.  There was a kind of foggy dreariness about it that chilled the spirits.  It stunned me.  I had been hoping, if all went well, to make Thank You, Jeeves an amusing book - gay, if you see what I mean, rollicking if you still follow me and debonair, and it was plain to me that a man with a voice like that could never come within several miles of being debonair.  With him at the controls the thing would develop into one of those dim tragedies of peasant life which we return to the library after a quick glance at Page One.  I sold the machine next day and felt like the Ancient Mariner when he got rid of the albatross.  So now I confine myself to the good old typewriter.


Writing my stories I enjoy.  It is the thinking them out that is apt to blot the sunshine from my life.  You can't think out plots like mine without getting a suspicion from time to time that something has gone seriously wrong with the brain's two hemispheres and the broad bank of transversely running fibres known as the corpus collosum.  It is my practice to make about 400 pages of notes before starting a novel, and during this process there always comes a moment when I say to myself 'Oh, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown.'  The odd thing is that just as I am feeling that I must get a proposer and seconder and have myself put up for the loony bin, something always clicks and after that all is joy and jollity."


from the Preface to Thank You, Jeeves


So raise your glasses and join me in a toast - here's to the shuffling off of albatrosses new and old, and joy and jollity for all!


Cheers, Joan.



Joan Lennon's website.
Joan Lennon's blog.

5 comments:

Sue Purkiss said...

Cheers, Joan!

Carole Anne Carr said...

Very interesting indeed, very reassuring. I'm struggling to make a video trailer of my books, wonder what he would have thought of that!

Susan Roebuck said...

Oh I so love Wodehouse and his quirky quick mind. Looks like we all struggle with technology. I'm not sure I'd like to hear my voice reading my books either!

Lynda Waterhouse said...

it's always a shock to hear my own voice - soft and soppy and nothing like the rich sounds that echo inside my head.
Can also empathise with the crick in the neck at the keyboard.

madwippitt said...

I love this post! Hands up everyone else who is mortified by the sound of their own voice!