The other day I was over at the publisher Scott Pack's website catching up with a few of his posts. There was one I particularly enjoyed about tattoos in which Scott asked folks to drop him a line telling him which literary quote they'd like tattooed on their body.
Well, I was just about to put down my own favourite but then I thought... What the hell, I can make a whole post out of this. You see, I'm one of those people who love quotes in general. I even, and this may come as shock to those of you know me as a lazy, good for nothing slob, (which is pretty accurate) memorized one hundred (Yes, one hundred!) quotes for my O level English Literature.
But do you know? Not one of the topics I learnt quotes for came up and I ended up with only a grade C.
How unfair is that? Huh.
Anyway, I can still remember a few - mostly from The Merchant of Venice. So don't get me started on old Shylock unless your some secret Shakespeare freak. Then we can compare notes.
Right, well, I read these other quotes folks had put down on Scott's blog. There were some good ones... but all so, so serious.
Question: Why are people are so serious all the time?
This is a problem I have - especially with my novel. I want to be serious and funny. But that doesn't seem to be what publishers want. They want clear cut, typical genre fiction. They believe that's what the buying market wants. So...there are relatively few cross genre novels and, in my opinion, nothing really laugh out loud unless it some sort of factual book like How to Kill your Granny at Christmas or 100 ways to avoid a Parking Ticket.
But what I want to know is:
How the hell do authors such as Tom Clancy and Patricia Cornwell write hundreds and hundreds of pages and sustain all that sincerity without cracking a joke?
I mean, life's funny at times isn't it? Why can't we have some of it in fiction?
Hmm...Do you think Tom Clancy actually gets off on describing supersonic jets? (Apologies for the language Ladies and Gents.) But do you think that after six pages of;
The supersonic jet-propelled missile flew through the air, the titanium outer casing red hot and the internal wiring ready to blow to a fuse...............blah, blah, blah...blah, blah, blah.....
Do you think he legs it to the bathroom ?
What about Patricia Cornwell?
Scarpetta looked at the maggots protruding from the body. There were worms too, wriggling and feasting. One was so big it looked like... a small snake. A small, pulsating, vibrating, writhing snake.Scarpetta crossed her legs, she needed to go the loo but the post mortem took priority...she would have to deal with the maggots first before taking care of the snake....
Anyway, long term readers may remember I used to put literary quotes in my sidebars. So I thought - why not stick a few of them down that you might have forgotten. I will, of course, be putting my own reworked quotes underneath. Cos, your own quotes are much more interesting aren't they? I mean, quotes, unless they're really, really good, are like looking at someone else's holiday snaps. Okay for a while - and then you want to slash your wrists.
So here we go;
Dennis Potter wrote:
The trouble with words is that you never know whose mouth they've been in.
Mrs T says;
The trouble with chocolate is that you know its always been in my mouth.
T S Eliot wrote:
To become a great writer, whatever you do - avoid piles.
Mrs T says:
To become a great writer, whatever you do - don't get a big arse. It doesn't fit comfortably on a small chair.
George Bernard Shaw said:
I often quote myself - it adds spice to my conversation.
Mrs T says:
I often quote myself - it adds stupidity to the conversation.
Rudyard Kipling said:
Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
Mrs T says;
Chocolate, is of course, the most powerful drug used by women.
Good heavens! For more than forty years I have been speaking prose without knowing it.
Mrs T says:
Good heavens! For more than forty years I have been eating chocolate and now it bloody well shows.
Ursula Le Guin wrote in Prospects for Women in Writing:
If you want your writing to be taken seriously, don't marry and have kids, and above all don't die. But if you do have to die, commit suicide. They approve of that."
Mrs T says:
If you want your writing to be taken seriously, don't marry and have kids, and above all don't die. But if you do have to die, commit suicide by stuffing your face with chocolate; it's a lot more pleasurable than being hit by a train at 100 miles an hour. I approve of that.
And finally one of my favorite Churchillian quotes taken from my post The Rise and Fall of British Pants:
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the field and in the streets, we shall fight in our pants and our vests, we shall fight in our socks and long johns; we shall never surrender.
Quality quotes there from Mrs T. There must be a literary novel in me somewhere. Maybe in my butt.
Got a good quote? Leave me a comment!