Twitter, Herself, and Me

Right then! I know it has been several days since I've really written anything - that is not to say that I haven't been writing, however - but I guess you could say I have been mucking along in the trenches. Anyway, I have had this post ready for awhile now, but I've been sitting on it.

I will, however, make the assumption that no news is good news. Diana Gabaldon is really a rather busy woman lately - anyone following her Facebook and Twitter accounts can attest to that. She's been introducing the world to the newly cast Jamie Fraser aka Sam Heughan, and trying her level best to keep the outcry over Really Silly Things from fans to a minimum. These efforts in and of themselves deserve an award because, as fans, we tend to be overzealous sometimes. 

So, I wrote this and sent a copy to Diana Gabaldon - convinced that I was utterly crazy in doing so. So, I leave you with this. 

There are also some helpful links for you as well, if you wish to view them. I've linked up to Herself's webpage, blog and Facebook page,  and Sam's Twitter and Facebook Fan Page. There is also apparently a Twitter group for Sam's fans called Heughligans so have some fun with that as well!

Do you ever feel that sometimes, the Universe has just done you a real solid?

I do.

And I couldn’t have asked for a better demonstration of this than what transpired on the ole TwitterMachine the other day.

First of all, let me say this. Not only is Twitter great at letting fans connect with their favorite movie stars, singers, bands, political figures and what have you, but for some of us it’s actually Really Really Great at allowing us to connect with our favourite authors and even a fictional character or two. I will be the first to admit to following 30 Seconds to Mars, Kevin Spacey, President Obama, Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman. It seems the latter two have figured prominently in my writing lately, and while I am overjoyed to be inspired by them, I have no joy that is comparable to having a conversation with Herself, Diana Gabaldon a few days ago.

I must use the word “conversation” rather loosely. It was a conversation insofar as 160 characters will allow you to have. Needless to say, there were several tweets sent back and forth between us - along with several text messages to my mother and Dev freaking out. I felt like a little five year old girl again, who had just caught Santa – the REAL Santa – coming down the chimney and putting presents under the tree. Although, I guess in this case it was more like Mrs. Claus. But I digress.

Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series (the first same-titled novel just celebrated its 25th Anniversary) was really the first series of novels that I really fell in love with. I had picked up the first book based purely on a whim, and the cover art was pretty cool. I read the synopsis and thought “Why not?” I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but the book said that one of the characters, Claire, went from 1945 to 1743. “Well how the hell does that work?!”

It works wonderfully. And I’ve bought every single book in the series ever since.

Herself, as she is affectionately known amongst a lot of her fans and their Facebook pages, is honestly and truly a born storyteller. Her books are … daunting. They’re huge, more likes tomes than mere novels. But do not let their size daunt you because once you turn the very first page, you’re reading the last and thinking “It’s over already?! But I need to know what happens next!” That brief moment of despair when you find out that the next book isn’t due out for at least another year or so I am familiar with. But it goes away. Thankfully, Herself has released several e-books, a Companion text to the series, and a novella series centered around another loveable character from the series, to really help you get through the terrible and awful waiting period.

And now … there’s a cable television series coming. It looks like this won’t be hitting cable networks until 2014 – the same year the next Outlander novel is going to print as well – has made countless fans metaphorically wet our pants in excitement. Various Facebook fan pages have exploded with excitement and speculation about who will be cast as our favorite characters, what scenes will make the cut, plus – as is only natural I suppose – we toss our own ideas of who should play what character out, which has basically resulted in a lot of pictures of some Very Handsome Men In Kilts flooding my news feed on Facebook. The standard fare seems to be Gerard Butler, Ewan MacGregor, an incarnation of Dr. Who, and a young Dr. Xavier, just to name a few.

When news started to get out that they were beginning casting for the show, speculation was taken to new heights. There was even a rumour that the actor who played Robb Stark in Game of Thrones had auditioned for the part of Jamie Fraser. Several things about Jamie Fraser before I go anywhere …

If, in fact, there was a way to go back to 1743 and find the man named James Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser … it would set precedent for a level of celebrity heretofore unseen. And we would be more than content to stay there in 1743 with Himself, and would probably change our names to Claire and faint and swoon and giggle every time He uttered the word “Sassenach.” There is also something rather touching about Jamie, and many fans liken their own male partners to him. The things they do, the things they say … which I suppose are pretty typical of most men and it makes us all laugh and giggle and sigh at look at them hopelessly, and know that we are rooted in our love for them – the fact that they sometimes remind us of Himself is merely just a bonus. Herself has at times, and with great hilarity, captured the way in which Men view Women – with great confusion and mystery – and how in return we look at them with grace and affection and (sometimes) great frustration for being .. well, Men, the wee  “clot-heids.”  

Right then. Back on track, Alanna.

So, rumors abound and I thought that I’d go straight to the source because if anyone would know about just what the hell is going on with the casting for the cable series, She would. Turns out I was partially right. While she could neither confirm nor deny this since Herself is sort’ve absent from casting she figured that “They’ll tell me who they choose.”

Which would seem to make sense because it was mere hours after this conversation that the cable network and Herself announced who they HAD cast to play Jamie – but we’ll deal with THAT later.

So, I wished Herself good luck, admitting that if I were in Her shoes I would be a total nervous wreck and a total control freak. I think it would be hard for me to relinquish control of a story that has been talking to me for twenty-five years to someone else and hope that they don’t muck it all up in trying to get it portrayed by real flesh and blood on the television. To which Herself had this to say:

“That’s why I don’t even _try_ to have “control.” It’s not possible, and it’s not worth the effort either. Why should someone who’s completely ignorant of how to make a TV show, think they should “control” people who _can_?”

Have I mentioned that Herself is rather wise? I guess I had never thought about it like that before. Besides, there have been some really awesome book adaptations to hit television lately. Surely, you’ve heard of Game of Thrones recently, right? By far one of the best shows on TV, in my opinion. True Blood has also been done really really well, and the whole Harry Potter series hit the big screen with wild acclaim. So, the precedent has been set. Outlander should be in good company.

“Very true. Point taken” I tweeted in reply. “I guess it takes a certain amount of faith in the people who DO know what they’re doing. Faith that they’ll do your work justice. _Outlander_ has been around for 25 years. It’s the foundation for my love of reading. Having said all that, will you be involved in the production of the show at all??”

“Well, I’ve been Very Impressed so far with the production team’s regard for the integrity of the work,” came the reply. “Really Pleased I am (by contract) a “co-producer,” and they’re kind enough to ask my opinion on things, but that’s about it.”

“That’s so exciting!!” I squealed, in sofar as you CAN squeal on Twitter. “If the caliber of the show is anywhere near your work and my imagination combined, I’m expecting Great Things.”

It turns out I really have no need to fret. “Well, from what I’ve seen so far, I think it’ll be Really Fine ” Seriously, there is no other feeling on earth quite like that of one of your favorite authors, and a Really Great Lady, assuaging your fears. So, perhaps this reassurance is something that all fans can really take to heart. We’re all in Good Hands.

Unwilling for the conversation to die out just yet, I peppered Herself with more questions. A note, before we go any further though. The fact that Herself totally humored me and these questions really speaks volumes I think about her. She cares for her fans and just seems really quite accessible. But I suspect that this might be a general characteristic of authors in general. I see more Tweets from authors and various writers back to their fans more than anything else, really. I’m reminded of Red Green who, at the end of every episode of The Red Green Show would say something along the lines of “Keep your stick on the ice. We’re all in this together.” And maybe that sentiment comes from the fact that sometimes writing can be more of a chore and a real pain in the ass, than the sweet labour of love that we all dream and wish it was at times. And, as a fledgling writer, I suppose it is Rather Comforting when you can have an open dialogue with another writer, one you aspire to be like, and they can share with you. That’s really friggin cool.

“Okay, a few final questions and then I’m done, I swear. What advice would you have for an aspiring author?” I asked, with just a small degree of nervousness. I mean, surely I wasn’t going to be lucky enough to bet tweeted again, right?

“Same as for any author: 1.Read. 2. Write. 3. DON’T STOP! #inertiakills.”

Oh, how my heart soared!! And it is really rather true, you know. It seems that every small step forward I take with my writing whether it be a blog post, or the writing of some half formed and vague thought or idea, I find the more positive things seem to happen. Sometimes, all you really need to do is just … sit there, in front of your laptop or with a journal and pen in hand and just tap the keys and let whatever is inside of you out. And while at first, you may think it’s Really Terrible, don’t forget those ideas or the half formed dialogue that came to you on the edge of sleep because down the road, and with a little persistence, it will all coalesce into Something Really Great. At least, that’s what seems to be happening to me.

“Was it terribly difficult to be published?? And how did you know you were ‘any good?” I asked, with a degree of timidity. I’ve written about validation before and how we all crave it – whether you’re a writer or not, and just where does this validation come from and who gives it to us.

“Er … no. I had an agent before I finished OUTLANDER, and once I did … he sent it to 5 editors and 3 of them wanted it. #lucky As for knowing it was any good … I’d been reading for thirty-odd years. I mean – how do you know _any_ book is good?”

I told you She was wise. And it’s true – who really says that anything is good. What I think is good will probably be totally different than what you think is good. I loved Green Eggs and Ham, you loved Hop on Pop. I love Star Wars, you love Battlestar Galactica. It’s really all very relative, and that’s okay. I think that what makes anything “good” is the enjoyment we, as Writers, derived from creating it; the enjoyment we get, as Readers, from stories and the sharing of those stories.

And maybe it’s the sharing of the same story, and all the combined enjoyment that makes something Really Good.


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