What sort of immoral things do you like to get up to in the bedroom?
There are oh so many to choose from! I have a clear favourite though: reading in bed. Yep, I said reading in bed. But that’s not immoral, I hear you cry. No, maybe not so much today, but that certainly wasn’t always the case. In fact, according to a particularly fascinating article over at The Atlantic, the joys of reading alone in bed weren’t always so well accepted. Instead, it was a delectable vice that only the bravest and most immoral of society would partake in. Bonkers, right? What could be so bad about reading in bed? Well actually, when you understand the reasons behind it, it even begins to make some sense (admittedly in a twisted, old-fashioned, ‘that doesn’t really apply to me’ kind of way).
So I was happily browsing the internet this morning when I came across an article on the Independent website, all about Stephen King mocking James Patterson for praising his own work. It’s old news, I know, but when I read the headline, I was expecting it to be about a gushing James Patterson going around telling the world how simply amazing he his, how he’s better than all other authors, that he does nothing wrong. That would be uncouth at best, certainly unfair, and perhaps even a little despicable. Upon reading the article, however, I found it was nothing of the sort. In fact, it all came about as a result of this:
I love reading, and I can give you a few reasons why: I like the escape, it’s entertaining and relaxing and educational all at the same time, I get to experience things I perhaps would never have a chance to do otherwise. There are loads of reasons, but none of them really get to the heart of the matter, the why of it or what that thing is that drives us to pick up a book, let go of ourselves, and vanish into someone else’s life for a few hours. Is it really just a hobby, something we go back to again and again because it’s familiar and pleasant? Or could it be something more?
I love clichés. I mean, I really love ’em. I know I’m not supposed to. I’ve heard it said over and over again. Clichés are bad. Delete all clichés in your writing. Clichés suck. Your writing sucks if it is full of clichés. It’s been said so often that it’s almost a…well…cliché.
It’s the intent of an action that makes it morally wrong, rather than the consequences.
That’s something I find myself pondering often (obviously in between more important ponderings such as “what’s for dinner?” and “Is it nap time yet?”). When does a neutral action become a morally bad one? At its time of conception with the intention or at its conclusion with its consequences? Or even somewhere in the middle? It’s something Roy and I debate quite often too. Whilst he’s firmly on the consequences end of things, I tend to be swayed more by the notion of intention – and not just because being on opposite ends of the spectrum engenders a better debate.
Even as a kid, I never really got money. I mean, I had pocket money, I understand money, I even like money to the extent that it can buy me things and offer opportunities and experiences I wouldn’t otherwise have, but at the same time, I never got money. I still don’t. I mean, bits of extravagantly printed paper or stamped chunks of metal that we pass around to one another and for what? What’s their real purpose? To be able to pass it to someone else in exchange for other things, who will then do exactly the same. Bits of stuff we just…move around. It seems pointless, doesn’t it? It something we all accept with ease because it’s part of our everyday lives and has been forever but if you really think about, it seems banal and bizarre and peculiar. It’s not like warmth or food or skill. It’s not something that actually provides value to our lives other than as something to exchange. It has no function. Money is, in essence, useless.
I’ve never really seen the appeal of audiobooks. Why sit and listen to something when you could be reading instead? It didn’t make any sense to me, but then neither do other hobbies like…you know…anything that involves moving or going out or talking to real-live people. What’s more, I’d get even more pickled when people say that they’ve ‘read’ so-and-so book as an audiobook. You didn’t read it then, did you? I’d quietly ask (more than quietly – I’d ask in silence). I never thought there was anything wrong with audiobooks of course. If you enjoy listening to books, go for it – why not? But it’s not reading is it? It’s listening. Saying you’ve ‘read’ an audiobook is like saying you ‘read’ the movie version, right?
“You can do whatever you want to do, as long as you believe in yourself.”
When I was a kid, mum and dad said that to me a lot – a good, strong, positive idea to spur me on to greater things. Motivational advice designed to keep me going, to keep me confident, to keep me working hard, and to make sure I make something of myself. It worked and, perhaps because it was so drummed into me or perhaps because it’s true, I still adhere to this guiding principle – work hard and believe in yourself and you’ll achieve whatever it is you want to achieve. It’s pretty powerful for one little sentence.
Even as a child, though, I could see the flaw in this proposition – not so much in real terms, but in abstract terms. No matter how hard I work or how much I believe in myself, I’ll never be able to fly to the sun (the story of Icarus, which I was also told as a child, is proof enough of that). No matter how hard I work or how much I believe in myself, I can’t just point at a frog and turn him into a prince – not that I’d need to, I’ve already found my prince (altogether now…d’aaawww – or blurgh – equally acceptable reactions). So the proposition, no matter how motivational or powerful or functional, is simply not true. But what if it was?
Today is Sir Terry Pratchett’s birthday. He would have been 68. That’s not quite a grand old age, but he made the most of his short years. He wrote over 70 novels, in which he skilfully entwined fantasy and humour, and all the while, he made commentary on society and references to all levels of culture almost without you realising.
I was talking to a group of authorly friends the other day and the topic of kids came up. One of my friends said that when she was young, she told people that she wanted to be an author but she didn’t get a good reaction. She was, in essence, shot down and told that she needed to live in the ‘real’ world. So that’s what she did for many years. It was only as an adult, many years later, that she realised that she should be following her passion of writing – and that’s exactly what she does now (she’s bloomin’ good at it too).
My first reaction to what she said was “that’s terrible,” and I still stand by that reaction, but the whole conversation got me thinking (and that’s dangerous, I know). Whilst having your dreams shot down completely is not good, is the alternative any better?
I’ve told you about my routines, right? My tightly scheduled day, organised down to the minute? It’s not just my time either. Everything I do is timetabled, even my writing. A review on Monday, a short story on Wednesday, an hour of my WIP here, 15 minutes French practice there…and so on and so forth. But guess what?
This is a great inspirational post. I think that now, after a long while and a whole life change (giving up my job and moving to France), I’m finally starting to say ‘writer’ when people ask me my job!
Hi, by the way. I’m Riley, and I’m a writer 😉 What do you do?
When someone asks what you do, how do you answer? Does the label “writer” trip lightly off the tip of your tongue, or do you keep that identity to yourself and instead talk about your day job? It seems like a small thing, but how we “label” ourselves – to others and in our own minds – has a big impact on what we believe about ourselves and how we behave.
I actually do make my living as a writer, but the writing that pays my bills is not, in my estimation, “real” writing. When asked what I “do,” I usually say that I’m a messaging strategist and content marketer (and, then I have to explain what the heck that means). Even after nearly a decade of stringing one word after another for cold, hard cash, I still hesitate to grant myself the honorary title of “writer.”…
I’m definitely nerdy, there are no two ways about it. I’ve always suspected I’m a bit of a geek too, but it was when I discovered I have an opinion (and a strong one too) on the Oxford comma that I realised it’s true. I’m a full blown grammar geek – and I’m not ashamed to say it! This is not a new realisation, you understand. I’ve cared about the Oxford comma for years now and I really do care. In every single thing I read, I notice whether the author uses the Oxford comma. I don’t judge either way (or not much, anyway), I simply observe whether that little grammatical tadpole is in place.
One of my favourite activities is being curled up on the sofa in front of the roaring fire as the rain patters on the window, reading an engrossing book. It’s ultimately a solitary activity. It’s ultimately a silent activity too, isn’t it? Perhaps not, claims Paul Cameron, CEO of BookTrack, an app that pairs books with soundtracks. He’s not the only one to think so either. Soundtracked books are on the rise and the BookTrack app has 2.5 million users worldwide. In the UK alone, usage of BookTrack has increased thirteen-fold since July this year. As the ebook share in book sales dropped in 2015 (perhaps as a result of the glut of adult colouring books that took the world by storm), soundtracked books promise a new and inventive way for readers to enjoy a book, and an extra revenue stream for publishers. Surveys show that around ten per cent of people are willing to pay extra for interactive ebook features, after all. The question is though, is it here to stay, or is just a fad?
Friday feels…destructive: should I really write what I know?
Write what you know…write what you know. What would I write if I only wrote what I knew? I know how to burn toast (it’s how not to burn toast that I struggle with). I know how to trip up the stairs. I know how to stay up way past my bedtime reading (or writing) – and on that note, I know how to wake up dishevelled and late for work. Of course I know all the every-day stuff too: walking and talking, dressing and eating, peeing and…let’s not go there. Write what you know, ey? Read more
Well I had a pleasant surprise this week when I was nominated to take part in the Beautiful Blogger Award by Julie Haiselden, over at her blog. It’s an honour to be nominated and it put a great big smile on my face. And whilst we’re on the topic of jhbooksblog, it’s definitely worth checking out – it’s full of author musings and a gentle humour that’ll have you going back there time and again.
There are so many ‘rules’ in life. Everywhere and anywhere: rules, rules, rules. Writing is no different. There are a lot of ‘rules’. I didn’t know this until long after I started writing but it appears that I’ve been missing a trick by ignoring the ‘rules’. Now that I know what they are though, I’m beginning to wonder whether they actually deserve to be rules, because rules need to come from some sort of firm basing, right? Right. So although I’m not as qualified as some (like Stephen King) to examine the rules of writing, I want to look through each of them and decide whether or not they are right for me. And hence begins a new series to this blog (a mini-series, if you will, a series within a series of Friday Feels’): Deconstructing the Writing Rules. I’d like to point out though that I am in no way editing these rules in relation to anyone else – if you find some wisdom in this series, then awesome, and if you can relate then that’s cool too but that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m not trying to tell anyone what the ‘rules’ should be but instead, I’m looking at the rules and deciding how they work for me.
I’ve written reviews of the books I read for many years now. My reasoning for leaving reviews was always so much simpler than it is now: I wrote them because I enjoyed writing them (and still do, for that matter)! Now though, things are a little different. As an indie author, I’m beginning to appreciate the power of a review. Reviews are much more influential than I ever really gave them credit for and actually, they are influential in ways that I would never have even thought of. I’ve read some great articles lately about why reviews are so important to indie authors (this one notwithstanding), and it’s been interesting reading. Reviews are great for lots of reasons.