More KES forum
I wonder if something similar to this has ever happened to Robin…?
I really want to know how many times this has happened to Robin
Speaking of the Great Divide between writers and readers—which is sometimes there and sometimes isn’t, and sometimes talking to friends who have nothing to do with publishing I’m brought up short by the stuff they don’t know because why should they—it never occurred to me that you wouldn’t KNOW that of course this has happened to me. I hope this isn’t unbearably conceited. It’s just . . . my books have always roused strong emotional reactions in a visible, and frequently noisy, segment of their fans.* From the first con I ever went to I’ve . . . er . . . had people flinging themselves on me, more or less literally. I need to make a point here of again saying that THE VAST, VAST, VAST MAJORITY OF MY READERS KNOWN TO ME BY POST OR IN PERSON ARE PERFECTLY NICE PEOPLE. The problem is that the ones that aren’t are the ones that stick in your memory. I’ve told you some of those stories.
Stuff/situations/people like Hayley are . . . um . . . charming and authorial-heart-warming. In spite of the four inch heels she’s obviously a real person—and a feminist (in spite of the four inch heels). And—speaking of the four inch heels—I’ve told you already that I didn’t know Hayley was a fan till an ep or two before she pulls the book out—she’d been not meeting Kes’ eyes right along but I didn’t know why either. And I like that too—as a person who is a writer, who meets people who are readers. I like it that people surprise you. That people are surprising.
Okay, the worst? Probably the worst is when people love your books so much they cry on you. Oh. Gods. I mean, I’m an easy weeper myself, but having someone break down in the middle of telling you how much they like your work and how much it means to them and so on and BURST INTO TEARS . . . it’s not gratifying. It makes me feel half an inch tall, and I want to run away.
I always told myself stories, too. . . . the storytelling went on . . . day and night, in school and out. Told them, drew them, wrote them, got caught writing them instead of homework, learned to hide them better, hold them in my head until later…all that.
I think I’ve said on this blog more than once that the great shock to my system was when I found out not everyone was like this. I also needed to escape from my childhood and stories were obviously the ticket out. But it wasn’t like ‘oh, okay, let’s go live in a story I like better than my life.’ It was just there. Like walking or breathing. It was the way things were.
I know people who create stories because they can’t not.
Yes. As above. And I differentiate between daydreaming and storytelling. Daydreaming is yours. In storytelling the story owns you.
It had never occurred to me how stories might come to them, that they might have met the characters just as their audience [meets] them. What a thrilling (when it happens), frustrating (when it doesn’t), surreal experience that must be.
It’s only surreal later on, after you find out that not everybody is like this. Then you start thinking, oh, how surreal. Oh, I must be weird. . . . Sigh.
It’s a pity Kes had to be hit on the head in order to meet Flowerhair, but I’m quite glad she did! (Met her, not got hit on the head.)
I know this is not what you meant, but I’m going to make the opportunity here to say that I am strongly of the belief that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SUFFER FOR YOUR ART. Okay, so I don’t know if greeeeeeaaaaaaat artists have to suffer or not—although I’ll hazard an impertinent guess and say they don’t either—but the codswallop that is sometimes shovelled around about the Agony of Creation, oh, bollocks. Writing is very, very hard work, yes, and that other old truism about going out and having a life is the best thing you can do for your writing because you need something and somewhere to write from is hugely and thunderingly true. But the whole suffering artist thing gives me a sharp pain in the rear. I think it was Joyce Carol Oates I first saw protesting the idea that writers are all neurotic and that we write from our neuroses. We write IN SPITE of being f*cked up, however f*cked up we are. We would write BETTER if we were NOT f*cked up.
So it happens that Kes met Flowerhair the first time as the result of being hit in the head. But the Story Council already had Kes’ name on their books. She’d’ve met her one way or another.
Hmmm. I want to read about Flowerhair as well, but Amazon isn’t listing any books yet <g> . On the other, I have found an out-of-print series featuring “Hellflower” who looks as if she might be a temporary substitute….Robin, you’ve never written under an alias, right?
HELLFLOWER??!! Oh . . . dear.
At the torturously snail-like speed I write? Robin McKinley wouldn’t have a reputation (good or bad) if I were busy spreading her around under aliases. So . . . no. But you’ll see more of Flowerhair. I just don’t know how much more, or when.
I had a really rough day today, and opening up your blog to see the next installment of Kes was just what I needed. Thank you.
::Beams:: Many thanks to all of you who have posted, tweeted or emailed similar. What Kes says is true: it’s not just earning a living. Authors do long to feel appreciated.
I couldn’t respond to #21 right away…it punched me right in the stomach (not unlike Kes’s bully) and cycled together with memories of my own childhood, and the glorious escape my imagination was. Sometimes, just as described here — the only escape.
Yes. Isn’t this one of the reasons we have an imagination? To make us more than we are?
There’s a part of me that still opens closet doors and feels the back wall, just in case. You never know where the entrance to Narnia might be.
Yes. Around the next corner of this till-now familiar road . . .
I am also just now deep into the wonderful “Reflections” by Diana Wynne Jones, containing many of her essays and thoughts about writing, about writing fantasy, about writing for children. (Highly, highly recommended, by the way.) And one thought that keeps coming back to the forefront in her writing is how the imagination is our refuge and our strength; it is how we solve problems, when faced with them, and where we find strength, when life is too much. And therefore, how it should be encouraged, in children as well as adults, and not discouraged, as being childish or “not real” enough to be worthwhile.
Speaking of crying. I keep reading REFLECTIONS and crying. And putting it down. It sounds just like her. She really was that sharp, and that funny. It takes me drafts to look clever. She was clever just out of her mouth.
Hari and Aerin were very much in my mind, as I faced my own childhood (and adolescent) fears and struggles.
I get a fair number of letters and emails that say this. And I really appreciate them. Really. I’m cranky, but really I’m squishy as hell. I’m cranky as a defense.
I guess, to sum up — I love Kes — it’s making me laugh, and chortle (those are two very distinct reactions) — but this episode made me gasp in recognition and brought tears to my eyes.
Can’t wait to read more.
Coming soon to a screen near you . . .
* * *
* Also in a blessedly smaller segment of their—and my—anti-fans. Before the blog, when readers hated me, they didn’t have a lot to go on outside the books themselves. Fortunately most people for whom the blog’s humour (and crankiness and, um, narrowness of focus) is not to their taste, just go away and find someone who is. What kind of fascinates me, however, in a delete-it-fast sort of way, is that the people who are moved to write to tell me why they will never touch another of my books and have cauterised the blog’s address from their search engines, need to tell me this from a High Moral Plane. It’s not that my jokes are pathetic or that bell ringing/knitting bores them to death or that if I’m such a poor singer why do I keep doing it . . . it’s less often any more because my books have offended them, although this still happens too^ . . . it’s that I’m a Bad Person. What is it with the High Moral Plane? Is it just me, or is it the standard approach for telling an author you’re dropkicking them into oblivion?
^ Top Three Reasons for Never Reading Another Robin McKinley Book: (1) Aerin and Luthe (2) nonstandard Sleeping Beauty ending of SPINDLE (3) language (and sexual details!!!!) in SUNSHINE.+
+ The people who hate me for the ending of PEGASUS aren’t paying attention and don’t count.
Please join the discussion at Robin McKinley's Web Forum.