Is it because
- We admire others who have a way with words
- Quoting another writer is easier than writing our own words
- “Impudent criticism. No answer.” ~ Evelyn Waugh.
Reading Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale, “the untold story of the BBC series” by Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook made me think about how often we writers quote other people, simply because I found it so irresistibly quotable. This 512 page behemoth of a book came out in 2008 – how did I miss it for so long? The format of a year’s worth of actual emails from RTD, head writer and executive producer of Dr Who and creator of Torchwood keeps the content very much “in the moment” showing how a writer actually works. I loved RTD’s description of the head-desk times when ideas don’t come and deadlines loom. I‘ll start writing at 10am. Nothing. Okay, noon then. Still nothing. 4pm. Nada. I’ll start right after dinner and work till late. Every writer knows these times but rarely speaks their name. Discovering that such a brilliant writer experiences the same torments as the rest of us made me feel infinitely better. What’s that about a trouble shared is a trouble halved? Another quotation, although not always true in times when troubles shared can end up viral on YouTube.
My only problem with The Writer’s Tale is that it’s printed in mice-sized font. I had to keep resting my eyes by looking at the many pictures of David Tennant as Dr. Who. My story and I’m sticking to it. Despite the tiny type and sheer weight of the volume, I perseverted for the delicious glimpses inside a writer’s head, my most and least-favorite place to be. There are so many great quotes that I started tweeting them and I’m only halfway through the book. Examples:
“No one [character] is fixed. They are all capable of change – not just once in some plot-reveal, but all the time.” p.201
“Dialogue is just two monologues clashing.” p.207
“If a fault is fundamental, if it’s in the concept, you can never fix it up.” p211
“I’ll have to panic tomorrow.” p197
Follow me on Twitter @valerieparv to read more.
Last time, I posted about how much I enjoy how-to books on writing for the sheer joy of discovering some new glimmer of wisdom to add to my store. This books adds a whole galaxy of insights, not only into the writing process but how it is to be a working writer. To end on a RTD quote, “All the joy and fear and fun and despair is in the writing, not in the flow charts.”