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Book Review: Iain Banks – “The Wasp Factory”

The Wasp FactoryThe Wasp Factory by Iain M. Banks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It would do this book a great injustice to say that one of my favourite parts (of my edition, anyway) is the selection of reviewers’ comments in the opening pages – especially the negative ones! They are hilarious, and are followed up by a highly enjoyable, if controversial, story. Yes, it is a challenging read. But, heck, I am a total animal lover, a pacifist and totally unimaginative when it comes to human cruelty, and I love this book. Somehow, Iain Banks writes a character who regularly sets wasps up to kill themselves in his little “factory” (sometimes with a helping hand), and has no trouble setting alight a rabbit or a sheep, and is, yet, not a total turn-off to read (and it’s written in first person!). I don’t know that I would say that I could identify with Frank, but I could handle going along with him on his misadventures. And that last page makes it all worth it…

You know what? I haven’t read this book in YEARS… I think it may have to go back on the “to-read” list…

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“Writing is easy…

All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”  ~Gene Fowler

I had to look this quote up.

This one is very similar: “There’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”  ~Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

Basically, this is how I have been feeling of late. And, writing is hard. And, just because a scene or chapter isn’t flowing out of your brain easily does not mean that it is flawed. It just means that you realize how important it is to get that scene just right.

I had a discussion with a friend the other day. A friend who has taken writing courses (I’m learning as I go). I was struggling with a scene. After many discussions on what I could do with my characters, and how ‘because you make the rules for the story, you can change them’, I was ever so close to scrapping everything and embarking on an epic fantasy tale not unlike “The Balgariad” (which I loved as a teen, by the way). But, when I got to that point, my instincts kicked in. “Hold up!” they said. And then they went on to explain to me that if I tossed the rules that I created in order to write the story I am writing, and if I changed the histories of my characters to more fully fit this epic fantasy idea that my friend had in her head (please note, she hasn’t read any of my actual story), then I wouldn’t be writing my story, I would be writing hers… in which case, she should write it. She told me I could either stick to my ideas and write my story just for me, or I could write a story with a hope of selling… (all without reading a drop of my tale) Yeh, she did. We’re still friends, too…

Read more…“Writing is easy…