Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Forewords and introductions


I'm listening to an audio book with an extensive author's foreword.  In this case it makes sense to have one as the book itself is a collection of short stories and the author is detailing how many of them came about.  I do find it fascinating but would consider it moreso if I'd hear a snippet about a particular piece, then heard the piece, then another snippet followed by the piece it concerns.  If I were reading the book in the normal way, I might have skimmed the foreword but probably would have come back to see what the author said about each piece directly before reading it.  That isn't possible when it is an audio book, I'm afraid.   You are stuck going through it in linear order.  It's a pity.

I have a bit of a confession:  I often skip over an author's foreword or introduction in an effort to get to the book that I'm looking forward to reading. I feel slightly guilty doing so as I know that the author went through a certain amount of effort to write the foreword but I still do it as I figure the author need never know.  Hopefully.

Some forewords are... difficult to work through.  I remember reading a novel a while back where the author pleaded that we read the foreword before starting the story.  I complied - or tried to - but... well... the novel was based on a true story and the author used the foreword to explain what was accurate and what was not.  In painstaking detail.  I believe I made it through half of the foreword as I was ready to just give up on the whole thing if I didn't get to the book soon!

So, in a somewhat related matter, I'm writing a short story. It is based on an old tale - perhaps you'd call it a fairy tale.  I'm not sure what the official criteria is to call a story a fairy tale but anyway... as I was listening to the aforementioned foreword of the audio book the author clearly stated that one of his stories is based on the same tale.  I rewound just to make sure I wasn't imagining things and yes.  That is what he said.

I am hopeful that his story is nothing like my story.  I mean - not enough like my story...  You know what I mean.

<small rant>I swear!  Sometimes I think there might be maybe 50 basic stories in the world and people who write are simply re-writing one of these stories and there is nothing original left in the world!</small rant>

I may simply have to give up on that story and move on to something else.  I'm really afraid I'll unwittingly pick up pieces of this author's tale and use them without meaning to!  I do that.  Well, not quite but sort of.  I pick up accents. When I'm talking to someone with a pronounced accent, I'll pick it up and start talking like them.  I don't mean to - and I hope they don't think I'm mocking them - but I do this.  I'm afraid when I write my tale, it'll be too similar to this author's tale.

Of course my tale would not be as well-written as this man's tale...  Perhaps I simply need to read (listen to) his tale and make a concerted effort not to approach it the same way.  We'll see how that goes.  If not, I'll have to try to come up with another idea that I like and go with that.

But... how freaking annoying is this?!?  I mean, seriously!

Image courtesy of NASA

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