Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Delusion or self-belief?

At what point does self-belief become self-delusion? The simple answer is, when the vision comes to nothing. For example, Columbus sails west, trying to find a way around the world. A difficult and perilous journey - even if the world is round. If it turns out the Americas don't exist and there is just one huge ocean, he runs out of food and fresh water before getting anywhere near landfall. Everyone dies. He was deluded. He was like the man who made a pair of wings and jumped off the battlements of a castle and fell to his death. But if the Americas do exist and he makes it - he's a visionary, full of drive and self-belief.

What about writing a novel? Is anyone out there writing a novel right now without a contract? It could take you a year or two and at the end of it you might not get it published. Anyone out there writing their second after failing to publish the first? Third? Fourth? I had five shots at it before getting my publishing deal with Simon & Schuster. Deluded? Visionary? Probably best not answer that. But it felt the right thing to do at the time.

I'm sure of one thing. I REALLY admire people who decide for themselves the right way to go, and then work towards it, in spite of the fact that other people are walking in the opposite direction, and then achieve what other people would have thought impossible.

Such a person is Chris Jones of Living Spirit Pictures. If you want to know something of his inspirational story, get a copy of the excellent Guerrilla Film Makers Guide. Suffice it to say, he quit from the third year of a film making degree because he felt it wasn't teaching him to make the kind of movie he wanted to make. Then he went out and made one. When that wasn't a commercial success, he made another. Then another, each time to increasing critical acclaim.

Chris is now on the verge of another project, even more exciting than his previous ones. It is all described on his website. And he is looking for people to get involved. I've jumped at the chance.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Memory Tricks and Dyslexia

This is a short post, particularly for anyone who came to my presentation on Dyslexia today. In my talk I mentioned a memory system that has been helpful to me. Several people came up and asked me about it afterwards. For those of you who are interested, it is a version of the loci system. The basic idea and its history is described in an article here

If you'd like more information on the way I use it, feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment below.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Filmic Writing

That was the strangest thing - when someone told me that my writing was filmic. "I can see it all in my head."

Curious, because I can't see any of it.

I'm not sure what the reason is - perhaps it is an aspect of my dyslexia - but I don't see much in my head at all. When I am describing a scene in a novel, I am certainly in that scene. I know exactly where everything is. I could reach out and touch it. I could feel its texture, feel the heat and the cold. I can't see it though.

Here is the alchemy, then. The descriptions someone uses in writing a scene can act on the mind of the reader to produce a visual impression. With each descriptive detail, the mind of the reader is dipping into memories of similar things and assembling an image. Since people's memories are different, it seems reasonable to suppose that each person is "seeing" in their mind's eye a different picture.

Which is why adaptations of books sometimes upset readers. The image projected onto the theatre screen won't be the same as the image they projected in their heads when they first read it.

Maybe that's why they say the pictures are better on radio.