Meanwhile, I am slowly writing through Kylie's Big Book of Monsters after such a long time, but in the past two months I have picked up the pace from 0 in three years to 3 chapters in two months.
What do you mean, even George R.R. Martin shits words out faster than this?
Actually, in a way Kylie's Big Book of Monsters might be the most difficult thing I have ever written, since I think (rightly or wrongly) that a book to be read to kids has to leave the impression of being effortlessly written.
I have read tons and tons
(that is a lie, by the way, tried to read them)
of the "modern" children's and YA lit over the past couple of months, and I found myself very disturbed by the overall lack of stylistic sophistication. Not that I am going to sit here (on a Friday night, no less) and tell you that I am sophisticated, because I am sure as hell am not, but the things I read, they were written in a style that - while it can be called efficient and maybe even effective - lacks a certain poetry, the idea of word play that made me read as a child in the first place.
Granted, I started with both Alice in Wonderland and Winnie-The-Pooh, both examples of how to tell a story in a voice that should or at least could be your Dad's voice while he was reading the adventures of a little girl in a mad, mad, mad, mad world or a cuddly teddy's lazy exploits in a forest full of adventures.
(since were are now in the age of perpetual outrage, I will say that of course it could be your Mum's voice as well, otherwise some retard will point at me and scream I am a sex-racist-vegan-hating conservative)
For me it was always my Dad's voice I heard. Which is odd, since my Dad never read anything to me when I was young. Dad, he was not much of a reader, never had much use for it, he said. He taught me how to build things, how to use a saw, a knife, how to make entire space stations from Lego and how to build my Fortress of Solitude in the middle of our little hometown's forest
(no, I am not going to tell you where it is, because it is still there, 40 years later, and I will have you shot if you come near it, no, wait, I am not allowed to do that as a German, bugger, where is a 2nd amendment when you need one?)
in such a way that it would be cool on a hot summer's day and dry when the inevitable July showers would come, keeping my comic books that I had stacked up there, together with small cartons of durable chocolate milk, chocolate bars and... boy, that sure was a lot of chocolate, no wonder I got diabetes now.
But reading to me?
That wasn't Dad. But in my head, it was. In his soft, slightly growling voice that could have been a monster's, that never was that, that was always quiet and came with a smile and a tousle of my hair.
That's how a kid's book should read, I think.
That's what I am aiming for. Now, I might miss that aim by a mile or two, but I figure, if I drop a nuke at that aim, I'm still good. That is what matters, that you at least aim for something better than the lowest common denominator, and hopefully it will be liked when I am finally done with it, and hell, I figure even if people don't like the writing, they will love my trusted partner Edo's art, so I win either way, because as any good writer knows, if you have a partner illustrating, you can hide behind that and every now and then come out and shout "Me! It was all me!" and run away laughing.
But it is hard. The writing, I mean.
The damn diabetes took as big a chunk out of my mind as I did out of those chocolate bars as a little boy, and even on the best of days, my brain can sometimes feel like molasses (hey, what the fuck is up with all those sweet metaphors?), it is sluggish and slow.
Now, try to write funny word play on that. I have, and the past three chapters I squeezed out of my brain like the last remnants of an empty toothpaste tube might just be the best things I have ever written. And it slowly continues. In those moments when I am lucid enough to not have the empty screen stare back at me and whisper, "come on, I double-dare you to put a word down and commit to it, you brainless diabetic fuck".
It is easier to look at the world and be outraged, I admit.
It is easier to fire off a tweet or two that makes fun of Clinton or Trump or the countless celebrities that clog up the internet, which actually means one thing more than anything else. What that is? That we are living in brainless times.
I have so many ideas, they are inside my Mind Palace, and like my Fortress of Solitude, that brain's Mind Palace was built with all the knowledge Dad gave me. They're dry enough to not have caught mildew, they're warm enough to still burn when and if I have the courage to take them out, blow the dust off them and put them in that little heater that fires up this cold, empty tree house I call my mind.
Some of them, they might crackle a bit, some might spark and burn the whole fucker down, so I best be careful when and if I take them out. But I feel I can. Some day.
And for that, I am grateful to my Dad. Because he taught me to build things.
Even though most of the things I build, they will only be inside my brain.
But on bad days, I promise him I will be careful, and in my memory of him, he smiles and tousles my hair. And he tells me - just as when I was a little boy - that he trusts me to handle the dangerous tools, because I'm his son.