Tag Archives: books

Right, write. Or at least read and don’t be left [out]

I wonder how many of you have started to write blogs, diaries, stories – whatever – and have struggled at first. Not just with the discipline of writing regularly, but with finding your “voice”, with finding a tone and style which you are happy with.

image

I know that when I look back at my early efforts on here, they’re a lot different to what I write now.  Perhaps lacking in confidence, maybe missing a flow and consistency of style, I was I guess still finding out who my writing self was (is?).

The main reason I raise the question now is because of a couple of articles I came across yesterday.  This first one appears on inc.com and is all about the reading habits of successful people.  They all read voraciously, so is there a link between those habits and the volume and quality of ideas they have?

The second link is all about how writers themselves remain motivated, and what they do to continue writing.  I like the fact that one of their top tips is to read. A lot.  And make sure you read from a range of genres and styles.

image

Personally, I think I’ve only read one novel this year.  The other books I’ve read – or at least started – are more factual, mostly based around my profession or about lifestyle choices. I’m not reading as much as I should, but I do think that I get more than I used to out of the process.  Dee and I have a passion for bookshops, and particularly second hand stores.  It’s probably fair to say that between us we’ve bought a lot more books this year than either of us have read – but we’re working on it!

New Security Blog – Image #122

image

As I’ve mentioned before, I will shortly be starting a new job. I’ve decided to make use of the free time before I start to set up a more professional web presence, which includes a new Twitter account and a new blog site. If you’re interested in Information Security matters and want to know more, but get confused by all the jargon being used these days, please check out https://easycyber.net and follow it.

SPOILER ALERT – I’ve copied some of the posts from this site to the new one, just to get things started lol. There will be lots more to come over time.

What are you afraid of? – Image #101

I was going to write about something else tonight, but when I realised it was Image #101 there could be only one topic.

image

When I was at school doing my Higher English, we had to read George Orwell’s 1984, though we were told not to answer any questions on it because, well, it was actually 1984 and a lot of youngsters were probably answering questions on it and the examiners would be bored of reading about it!

I went back and reread it a few years ago, and have to say it was brilliant. Maybe as a 17 year old I wasn’t mature enough to “get” all the nuances and themes, but I certainly did this time round. (I also reread his Animal Farm at about the same time and it was also a much more enjoyable read  as an adult.)

I was going to use the famous image of the blue plaque showing where he once lived, with a CCTV camera in front of it, but I’ve found out that it was a hoax.

Sorry, I digress. The point is, that even though the book was set in the future when written, and that future is now in our past, I think its pretty relevant. The surveillance culture, being told what to think, what to eat and drink, what to wear, who to believe etc – all sounds implausible but is  more or less where a lot of us are now, and in some countries is almost totally true.

What do you fear? For Winston Smith it was rats. I’m not sure in my case: I know I wouldn’t be too comfortable with rats, or big snakes, and I have a friend who breeds spiders which hold a dread fascination for me. I wouldn’t like to get too close, certainly not to touch them, but they are beautiful. What would be in your Room 101?

Leaf it out – it’s Image #52!

Hands up all of you who like reading? Keep your hands up if you read “real” books with paper and ink, rather than the electronic type?  And how many of you have tried to write one?

image

I had to put my hand down at the third one, mostly because I don’t think I have the imagination to write anything that long that anyone would want to read. I am grateful to each and every one of you that stop by to browse my musings, but I’m pretty sure that most, if not all, would move on if I was publishing a novel here.

I don’t see blogging in the same way as I see writing a book: you write a little (or a lot) about something that interests you, or that you’ve noticed, and hope that you get a few likes on that post.  It takes a few minutes, half an hour at the most, and you can move on to something completely different next time you sit down to write. But you don’t have deadlines (other than those you set for yourself), you tend not to have publishers or fans desperate for your next piece of work, and you (generally) don’t get paid!

Don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful blogs out there, and some really talented and imaginative writers producing them.  If I have some spare time I like nothing more than scrolling through the WordPress Reader to see what gemus it reveals.  I’m genuinely in awe of the quality of work available across such a wide range of topics.  I have no doubt that some of the writers here in the blogosphere will end up as published authors, and they will deserve it.

Anyhow, back to books.  I keep buying new books, and don’t seem to be finishing as many as I read.  To me, there’s nothing better than sitting down with a “real” book, smelling the pages as you turn them, charting your progress as you move your marker through it.  Not for me the habit of turning corners of pages over to remind me where to start next, oh no.  I use rail tickets, business cards (mine, just in case), postcards, anything that comes to hand.

I complain that my bags are too heavy, but won’t remove the two or three books that live in each.  I’ve only a limited amount of space on my shelves, so books get stacked by the bed, on my desk, on the floor.  I used to be able to say I’d read more than 99% of the books in my bookcases: I’m not sure I can claim 90% now.

That leads me back to Mr Wilde’s point in today’s image.  In my view, there are so many good quality books around that I haven’t read, that the world is likely a better place without me contributing something which is nowhere near as good.  I gain pleasure out of other people’s abilities, and there will always be material I want to read, even if I live as long as printed characters stay with us.

January Reading – Image #10

Maybe a shot a day isn’t that easy! I didn’t take any while out and about, so thought I’d share what I’m currently reading.

The Art of Communication by Thich Nhat Hanh is a very easy to read, thought provoking and inspiring look a how choosing our words (both written and spoken) with care can make ourselves and others happy. I’m trying to adopt its principles and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.

No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald tells the story of how Edward Snowden’s revelations were published, by the journalist who wrote the articles. Really interesting and again thought provoking: I’m enjoying this one too.

January reading
January reading

A word about other bloggers…

Today I’ve spent some time reaching out to other bloggers and commenting on a number of their posts. That means spending a lot more time reading and less writing, but I think that’s part of the fun of blogging.

The first article I read was this one, https://nihongojapango.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/and-i-still-have-over-half-my-life-to-live/. I was drawn to the description of ageing with friends over decades, and of taking up new challenges, living life to the full. What struck me was that the writer had climbed Kilimanjaro in their 40s, as did I. Hopefully you’ll like the article too.

I then headed over to http://melissaintransition.com/2015/09/11/15-things-that-do-not-define-your-self-worth/. I’ve been going through a number of changes myself over recent months, and the items on the list resonated with me. Saying that, I noticed some gaps in the list – can you think of any others?

Next up was https://sophiasramblings.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/the-scottish-borderlands/. It’s more or less from my neck of the woods from when I was growing up, so it was lovely to hear someone else’s take on countryside I recognise and love. The photos were great too.

Finally I checked out https://dreamingofbigger.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/books/. I’m an avid reader and it was interesting to see that I’m not the only one who struggles to finish some books! Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky took me months, mostly because I initially struggled with the long Russian names, with variants and nicknames, and I found the sentences were very long – sometimes covering more than a page.

It’s interesting to see the various topics people choose to write about, and that’s one of the things I like about the blogosphere – it’s so diverse and you can get lost in it for hours if you wish. There are so many creative writers, thinkers and photographers out there, it’s quite humbling.