Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Friday, June 28, 2013

Pants on fire

I  responded to a post on FaceBook. What's the novelty in that, you might ask. True - we respond to stuff we see all the time.

This time, it was a statement by my good friend and collegue Duncan Long  - illustrator and author par excellence. This is what he wrote:

Every successful novelist
must first be a good liar.

Pic courtesy
This of course set me thinking and writing. But let's face it, how long and hard does one think when one taps off a response on Facebook? Not terribly long at all. This was my response:

It's not lies we tell, strictly speaking, although tradition has it that it's what we do. We invent, create, and build a whole world on top of a fabrication. How thin, or how implausible, that fabrication is largely instils in the reader the necessity to suspend disbelief. If, however, the fabrication is so strong and feasible that debate is taken up among readers, or real-world belief becomes attached to the tale, it constructs around that author the ability to "pull the wool over readers' eyes" and when the obvious revelation is made that it's fiction (duh!) the easy decision is made to dub the author a liar. This happens with authors who use gaps, loopholes, and mysteries in history to devise a rollicking story ... it's my genre, so I think I know of which I speak. As long as the reader sits back and breathes in awe, "Wow - what a lie. What a great liar!" I do not mind being called that one bit.

Then I stopped to think again. How many authors truly sit and think of the "lies" around which they build their fiction? How many - like me - latch onto some gap in history, and use the spak-filla of words to create a tale for readers' edification and entertainment?

If you are an author, tell me whether how you build stories feels like lying.

If you are a reader, tell me whether you regard authors as being great liars.

And then look at my novels, especially, to see how I love to find a bit of a blank in history or literature, or art, or music, and insert into it a story worth telling. And worth reading. Many have done it before me, and perhaps better. AS Byatt, Hugh AshtonMeredith Whitford, Anna Jacobs, Mel Starr, Brian Kavanagh,  and other authors do this regularly. And how can we not love what they do?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Writers' Mayo

What has mayonnaise got to do with the price of fish? They go well together, mayo and fish, I hear you exclaim.

Yes, well - apart from that, there are huge health benefits to be had from what I call the writers' mayo. And author Dan Mader at Unemployed Imagination, reminded me of my remarkable discovery this morning.

He spoke about writers' eyes, and how they suffer from day after night after day of looking at a screen. We peer at words, words, words - editing and composing. Some even do their own typesetting and formatting. That scrolling is cruel to the eyes. You're nodding. You're with me. You're peering at my words wanting to be able to read on for longer each day. You want that headache over one eyebrow to melt away.

Eat more carrots!
Well - eat more carrots. Raw carrots. Lots. Every day. Grate a mound of carrot into a bowl. Add some finely shredded cabbage of all colours. Yeah, go ahead - grate a zucchini too. Finely dice a red capsicum if you want. Brightly coloured vegetables, in their raw state, is what you are after.

Now what?

Now drench the lot with a huge amount of mayo and combine. But not just any mayo, dear writer. You must make it yourself. "But I want to get back to writing!" you shout in dismay. Wait - remember the eyes? This is for your eyes. You will write longer.

You must make your own mayo because it's the only way you can guarantee it contains no sugar, of any sort. Of any kind. Of any variety. No fructose, no glucose, no lactose, no corn syrup, no granulated anything that ends in OSE. Yeah - no sugarOSE, either! No honey.

Here's my famous Writers' Mayo recipe you are going to thank me for, on bended knees.

In a clean and sparkling 800 gm glass jar (that's 25 - 30 oz), that has a nicely-fitting lid, put a teaspoon of made mustard, a raw egg, half a teaspoon of salt, a good splash of white vinegar, a couple of teaspoons of real lemon juice, and a spoon of ground garlic (optional).

With me so far?

Good. Now grab your magic wand. (Some people call it a stick mixer, others call it a wand blender. Whatever you call it, it looks like mine on the left here. Its head fits through the mouth of the jar, see?

Whizz the stuff in the jar until it's light yellow and frothy - under a minute. Now start to add the oil. Any kind of oil is okay ... canola, soybean, vegetable, sunflower. (Corn oil and olive oil give you a heavier texture and stronger taste.)

Keep whizzing - did I say you could stop whizzing?! Whizz.

Add oil and whizz until the mixture starts to thicken - about a minute. The more oil you add, the thicker your mayo. Stop whizzing when you have the thickness you want. It'll never be more than the jar will hold if you use the right amount of vinegar and lemon juice. (If you want really white mayo, add a spoon of very hot water for the last few whizzes.)

Shake your blender so it all falls in the jar. Rinse under tap. Wash it later. You want to taste that mayo. Mmmm.

Put the lid on, and refrigerate until you have grated your vegetables.

You will notice an improvement in eyesight and health in about a fortnight.

To gain the most benefit, NEVER eat this with bread or anything made out of grains. I know you'll be tempted but that'll make you gain weight. This is Writers' Mayo - for coleslaw, okay? Oh, well ... okay then. You can put it on steamed vegetables. On salad. But do not put it on anything that contains processed grains or starches. No... not even potato salad. Uh-uh.

Let me know how you go.

What? None left to store in the fridge? Thought so. Start again.

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