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‘As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods’ – Stolen by Private Tutor

February 3, 2014
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Thoughts From The Corner

You get the picture?

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Private English Tutor slumped in comfortable armchair, blazing fire, tumbler of ‘a bit o’gud’ in hand, butterfly-like mind flittering and skittering through his favourite book of quotations.

Man can climb to the highest summits, but he cannot dwell there long.

Candida – George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)

On a purely physical level he is correct, you can only be on the top of your physical game for so long. Thinking about some of the great sports people that have been adored by millions we could name Pele in football, Babe Ruth in Baseball, Carl Jenkins in athletics, Rod Laver in tennis – the list could go on and on. The common denominator amongst them is that they have all peered down from the summit at the masses below but eventually, they themselves, made their way down from the peak and watched others passing them on the way up.

Once I spread my thoughts, I wandered through the door marked ‘Literature’. Here things are a little more problematic. Shakespeare, Austen and Browning are people I would put at the summit. Problem – did they remain there or did they eventually take George Bernard’s slippery slope downwards?

The chronology of Shakespeare’s plays is problematic but it is commonly thought that his last three plays were:

*    The Tempest 1610-1611

*    Henry VIII 1613

*    The Two Noble Kinsmen 1613

In terms of modern popularity The Tempest is the play that puts most bums on seats, so perhaps the latter two suggest that he was indeed on that slippery downward slope. All very theoretical and subjective though.

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Was ‘The Tempest’ better than ‘Henry VIII’?

Jane Austen’s last two novels were:

*    Mansfield Park 1814

*    Northanger Abbey 1817

There are great literary mutterings and chunterings about Mansfield Park being her masterpiece. So was she on her way down the slippery slope with her later Northanger Abbey? Again, all very subjective.

As for Robert Browning’s Asolando (his last published work), largely overlooked today in favour of The Ring and the Book, published almost twenty years earlier. Again, all very subjective.

The silver screen is home to many of today’s modern day heroes. When we think of those on the summit, names such as Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Judi Dench come to mind. Arguably, all three continue perched on the peak and peer down through the clouds at us mere mortals. Will they be subject to a fall from great heights if their next film is not as good as their last or does their body of work ensure a permanent place at the summit?

Enough of the gods, what about me and you? Yes – You! Are you at the peak ready for the slippery slope or are you straining you neck ever upwards in search of the zenith?

As Malvolio says in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’:

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.

This private English tutor wonders why he doesn’t readily slip into any of those three! 🙂

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Private English Tutor ponders life on the summit.

From → Education

  1. Twelfth Night is my favourite. I wonder what that says about me?

    • One thing it says is that you’ve watched enough Shakespeare to choose one over another. I think that has to be good.

      King Lear is my favourite. What does that say about me?

  2. Nah – it’s the Tempest for me – “this rough magic etc…” But don’t despair ET whilst perhaps it is too late for the birth (altho’ you could be a born-again genius I guess) but there’s still time for achieving or thrusting…that novel of yours ain’t hit the unsuspecting world yet 🙂

    • Once again, thank you for taking time out to comment. I was slightly disappointed that you didn’t quite make ‘First Comment’ status this week. Where were you – making a coffee I guess.

      Ah, the best selling novel. I am still mopping my brow after finishing the first edit a couple of weeks ago. I will start the second edit in one to two weeks. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been trawling through all the information I’ve saved on editors/publishers etc. That includes the three contacts you sent me. I am now short-listing those that may be of help. I am particularly interested in editors that will look at the opening (3 chapters?) for free. I figure that I have nothing to lose if several of them will do that. I can then choose the one I feel that I can work with.

      I’m now reading the Catherine Ryan Howard book on self-publishing that you mentioned. It is very good. Remember I mentioned looking at CreateSpace? It costs $5,000 for a full monty? I’ve ruled out their full package. At this stage I’m considering paying an editor, copy editor, cover designer and maybe a company to advertise – as you suggested.

      I found something on Catherine’s site about late November being a good time to release an ebook because of all those Kindles/tablets that Santa delivers. So, provisionally, I am looking about them BUT it will take as long as it takes. The important thing is the quality of the product. The first editor might suggest that the cat litter tray is the best place for it. . . 😦

      • Yes I missed first-past-the-post-to-comment spot this am. It was the man delivering the packing cases wot did it. I move on the 19th.
        It’s a real minefield out there I find but I think for my next book (if the publishers don’t run with it) I’ll do exactly what you’re proposing because I think you get a better deal, a better product and more control of the project – so go for it. Please let me know when it all happens even tho’ I’ll be in France I’ll try to be first past the post to buy. Take care 🙂

      • You make this comment seem as it will be the last one before you move. I’ll test you by publishing a post next Monday.

        I will let you know – in fact, I’ll be shouting it from the Trifle Tower, so you’ll have no excuse. 🙂

      • P.S. Forgot to mention – in my search for editors etc. I have come across smaller publishers that I may approach, so I may not have total control. I will see how the initial editing goes.

      • Also i forgot – someone told me about Lightning Source as a very reasonable POD publisher who also link you into their marketing network. Not sure whether they do Kindle stuff. The guy who told me says that about 250 printed books was around £100 and nice quality. HE sells about 50 a month and doesn’t do anything – booksellers order them direct from LS and he just collects the goodies.You might want to check them out.

      • I have heard of them but haven’t checked them out.

        Thank you.

  3. But don’t those who make the journey slowly get the best views?

  4. I always assumed I would get better the more I practiced something. As I get older I have begun to realize that there are hard limits to what we can achieve and they are sometimes far from great.

    As always, I look forward to your next post even if I may be a bit delayed in looking at it.

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