It’s Folklore Thursday again and time for another of my favourite mysteries. Last week I posted about The Voynich Manuscript and we decided in the comments that it’s probably a book of Vogon poetry. Don’t ever, ever let a Vogon read you poetry. Folklore Thursday: The Voynich Manuscript
Today’s mystery is sadder and, in many ways, even more compelling.
It started in 1948, when a man was found dead on Somerton Beach in Australia. He was unremarkable in appearance and around 45-years-old. He carried no ID and had apparently gone to some lengths to ensure he couldn’t be IDed: all the labels were removed from his clothes and he didn’t have a wallet on him.
What he did have on him was a page torn out of the Rubaiyat – a collection of poetry by the 12th century poet Omar Khayyam. The page contained only two words–the end of the last poem in the book–Tamam Shud, Persian words meaning ‘ended’. [N.B. The misspelling in my title is intentional. While the case was fresh the phrase was reported incorrectly as ‘Taman Shud’ so many times that it’s stuck.]
An autopsy was inconclusive. The Somerton Man’s dental records could not be matched to any known person. The pathologist suggested the cause of death had been poison.
I can hear the collective gasp. Writers reading this are already disagreeing with me. Do I care?
Maybe a bit because I’m just a cucumber with anxiety and I desperately want everyone to like me please like me don’t click off my blog I swear I’m going to make some good points please please please read on.
Now there’s a blog title I never thought I’d write.
At work I was sent a link to this book:
Pro-tip: Should you ever need to find this book again, you can save yourself precious typing time and search for “helicopter ass” instead of the full title. Funnily enough, this is the top result for books featuring helicopters and asses.
Naturally, when my colleagues saw it on my screen they all wanted to read it. We agreed to have Story Time at 3pm three days a week (one of us is part time) and enjoy Mr Tingle’s book.
I’ve been troubled recently by how many people I see giving absolute advice* to aspiring, struggling, or neurotic writers (these are not mutually exclusive, as you’ll know if you’ve ever met a writer).
*I’m not entirely sure if advice can be described as absolute. Although absolute is one of those adjective thingies, right? I’m not so good with… what you call ’em… you know, those things… WORDS! That’s it, words. Thank god I don’t need them for my livelihood!
It’s not only plain stupid to give absolute advice when there is no single right way to write. It’s also damaging and demotivating.
In this series I’ll go over some of the most common absolute advice I see and why it’s MORE WRONG THAN THIS: