Back Referencing.

Sometimes after posting an entry, I decide or realise I should have added some more information. To that end, I have addenda for two recent posts.

 

After putting together last week’s top tips for public speaking, I think I should slot an extra one after Think about your introduction.

Avoid too much alcohol and/or a heavy meal before speaking. Both of these slow down the thought process. I recognise the meal often comes before the entertainment so try to leave sufficient time for it to digest. Being drunk at an organised event rarely makes a good impression on the audience, and is inexcusable if you’re paid to perform. I often have one coffee before I speak, which speeds up the thought process.

 

A few entries ago, I also discussed how to set or avoid setting a story in a particular era. Yesterday, I finished the Anthony Burgess classic A Clockwork Orange, written in 1962 and set in a near-future society relative to that year.

To avoid the problem of including dated slang, Burgess opts instead to invent his own jargon partly based on Russian. It’s easy to see why he chose that language, as the Cold War was at its height then. Many of the words have to be inferred through their context, as most editions deliberately omit a glossary.

He does, however, also use English words in an uncommon manner. A couple of these words have made their way into modern slang and these passages read as though they’ve been written recently. A case in point is like, with which the main character Alex peppers his speech not only as a comparison but when he’s struggling to remember the words he means.

There is another example, but I’m not sure whether it’s intentional, when he describes a stereo, “playing a very sick electronic guitar veshch,” the last word meaning thing or stuff. There is only one instance of it in this context, and it sounds as though it has the modern slang meaning that’s used alongside wicked and cool. For the rest of the book, Alex only uses the word sick when he’s feeling physically ill, and the Wikipedia appendix doesn’t list it.

 

Finally, yesterday marked the birthdays of three very famous writers. Robert Burns is the most obvious – I read To a Mouse to an audience in honour – but Virginia Woolf also burned candles on 25 January, and one of my major influences John Cooper Clarke turned 66.

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The Paper Trilogy.

I intended to make only one entry on the theme of paper, which turned into a second post. This entry will be a short third and final update on this topic, as I just keep finding more material.

I’ve discovered more notebooks, including some early drafts from my second novel, and a review of Tron: Legacy for my old LiveJournal blog. Once again, I’ve never reached the last pages of these pads. I find this rather strange, as I’m not the sort of person to leave a job half-finished. Once, I would have preserved them as they were, but I’ll use the other pages in the future if I need to.

My pencils are a different story. I have dozens of them around the house, and I don’t like to waste them. In fact, here are my two smallest ones joined by a rubber grip. I’ll use them until I physically can’t hold them any more:

The world's smallest pencil

I’ve also discovered from Mental Floss that every new prime minister leaves a handwritten letter about what to do in the event of a nuclear conflict if both he and his assigned second-in-command are dead. It seems a little strange that such a format is still used. If I was PM, I’d make sure I spelled it out in 16-point Helvetica so the commanders aren’t standing around asking, “Does that say, ‘load weapons,’ or, ‘lower weapons?'”

More poignantly, ListVerse posted a collection of last words written by people facing certain death. Not all of them had the luxury of pen and paper, including the prisoner of war who scratched out a memorial on a rock, and a diver who wrote his on a slate.

Lastly, I’d like to show you the paper books I plan to read throughout the rest of the year, including modern writers such as John Twelve Hawks and Richard Dawkins, a selection of Penguin Classics, and a number of local anthologies:

Paper books to read this yearIf you want more information on any of these, let me know.