That meme is defective

The book meme:

The Rules
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth full sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don't search around for the coolest book you can find. Use what's actually nearest to you.

Okay, I'm running into a little problem here. My main bookcase is just through the door in the neighbouring room. The nearest book from where I sit is any of the books at the end of the shelves - or any one lying on top of them. All sorted, of course, by the scientific system of 'whatever anywhere it'll fit but try not to break up a series'. Just for the hell of it, I'll take the instructions literally and give you all of the 'nearest books' from top shelf down:

"When he finally tries to open up with Sharon, this." - Dream Park by Larry Niven & Steven Barnes

"The type was relegated to second-line service in 1940 as the Battle (T) trainer and Battle (TT) target-tug, of which 100 and 266 were built to supplement conversions." - Aircraft of World War II by Chris Chant (it's a catalog and page 123 is the entry for the Fairey Battle)

"We're on our own now: hundreds of thousands of people, millions of bugs and beasts, more millions of humans and other animals in potentia as frozen sperm and eggs, in vitro as cell samples and recorded brain-states; countless digital ghosts; together they make up the space-based fraction of the biosphere." - The Cassini Division by Ken MacLeod

"She's in." - Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson

"There was a newcomer in the village." - Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (actually the opening sentence on page 127 - page 123 only has four and is the end of that chapter)

"A miasma of watery smells, issuing from gutters and crevices in the pavement, told him he'd crossed over the entombed Fleet." - The System of the World by Neal Stephenson

"On August 30, 617 Squadron moved to Coningsby, another bomber airfield in Lincolnshire." - The Dam Busters by Paul Brickhill

"There was the old plan, formulated by Barclay, Bennigsen, Bagration and others in the previous year, of a strike into Poland followed by an advance into Prussia to liberate it from French domination." - 1812 - Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow by Adam Zamoyski

"This enabled General von der Tann, commander of the Ist Bavarian Corps, to cross by the railway bridge at 4 a.m. on September I, under cover of a dense fog, and penetrate as far as Bazeilles." - Decisive Battles of the Western World, volume III by J.F.C. Fuller (it's debatable whether this is the fifth full sentence since the page starts with a list of orders for the German armies)

"Morgoth had then not long come back into Middle-earth, and his power went not far abroad, and was moreover checked by the sudden coming of great light." - The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is actually a quite representative selection of what's on my shelves.

On not writing

I know posting on LiveJournal can lead to blogging, but I have been wanting to say this for some time.

I have a terrible, terrible secret to reveal. It's something that made the later years of school a personal hell, and has undoubtedly messed up my education and career.

It's something I haven't seen anybody admit to - at least in writing. But I'm sure there are others out there. My secret is this:

I can't write worth a damn!

Oh yeah, I hear you say. Lots of people don't write too well, just use a spell checker &c &c &c.

I don't need a spell checker (says he, knowing there's bound to be some error somewhere). I write perfectly good Norwegian (Bokmål, and if I brush up on the grammar and have access to a dictionary, Nynorsk) and English.

It's finding the words I suck at. It was like that at school, where writing essays were always a pain, unless there was some easy way out (I have no idea how many times I wrote the 'analysis of argument' in high school exams, but it wasn't few).

Have you ever had a blank sheet of paper mocking you? I have, trying to write an essay at an exam. That's a large part of why I took the 'trade and office' high school - to the surprise of the people who expected me to do the 'science and mathematics' thing. I couldn't stand the thought of writing those science reports and all that.

'You should go to university, Roy. Be a student, enjoy life.' Yeah, right. Sets my stomach churning, it does, the thought of it. Not only being broke all the time, but all the writing of Stuff, on a small or large scale. I've tried economic college, and it was hell. Project work and impending exams.

Well, okay, exams are easy, as long as there's no essay writing. There's usually actual questions to answer, and you've usually absorbed enough of the lectures. A few hours of regurgitation on some subject, and you're on your way home.

A vanity search on Google gives me 1670 hits for 'author:ovrebo'. Some of the posts are mediocre rubbish, some of them make me downright ashamed at form or content, some are still funny, and a few still give me a feeling of satisfaction at a well-crafted post, years down the road.

But none, apart from the one-liners or the 'Test, ignore', ever came easy. I may want to say something, but not know how to say it. After a while of the text editor mocking me, I may give it up. Sometimes I go back to it. Sometimes I even get a post written out of those.

But it doesn't get easier. One-and-a-half thousand Usenet posts, and my mind is still empty when I look at the blank page.

A friend of mine once talked about how he'd write stories all the time as a kid. I have never written a single piece of fiction outside of schoolwork in my life. I envy those of you who can do that. How the hell do you do it? Where do the words come from?

I'm a reader, not a writer. I'll post more to this LJ, though. Tomorrow, maybe. Or next month, or the year after next. Don't hold your breath.
  • Current Music
    The Stranglers