Tag Archives: joy of reading

Ascendent

It’s another glorious Saturday afternoon after a week of downpours, stormy rumblings, and muggy greyness. Rivka, Ivory and I have been out sunning ourselves with a pot of tea and some cake, and have returned in good spirits and ready to tackle the Saturday Night portion of the weekend.

Last weekend, Rivka bought a Game of Thrones 1-3 box set and we have been working our way through season one. I have seen season one already, but Rivka and Ivory haven’t (too busy writing!) so it’s nice to see them getting their teeth into it. We’ve all read the books (hahaha, a massive fantasy series we’ve not read between us?! Challenge accepted.) so the plot isn’t a surprise, but it’s quite fun, knowing what is coming, to go back to the beginning. Deaths so far have been minimal and boobs gratuitous.

I have not yet read A Dance With Dragons, so I’m not 100% up to date, but that’s only because I wanted to re-read the others first. The trouble is, I swept through one two and three (parts one and two) that by the time I got to A Feast for Crows again, I was sick of Westeros and started reading something else to have a break. Then I forgot what happened, again, and was bracing myself for a re-re-read. The other day I was so sick of putting everything off that I just read the book summary of AFFC so I could get on with it! Then I decided I wasn’t actually that bothered, and read the summary for ADWD as well. Mistake. I found out something really juicy and was gutted I’d spoilered myself. Now I won’t get the same OMG WHUT reaction when I read it. Patience, especially when it comes to my obsessions, is not my strong suit.

At the moment though I have been reading Robin Hobb. I have the Farseer trilogy in paperback and The Soldier Son trilogy on my Kindle, snapped up in a 0.99 sale (yay!) but her books are no less weighty than Martin or Feist. I read Assassin’s Apprentice about eighteen months ago and never got around to carrying on. Now I’m just over halfway through Royal Assassin and all wrapped up in classic high fantasy. I need it to ground myself.

I have posted before about books and using them as mood stabilisers. Reading is never just about the book for me. If I’m re-reading an old favourite it is partly to remember the time I first read it. I read Chocolat at Lent not just because the narrative spans that time frame. It reminds me of the darkness of winter evenings and chunky knitwear and the promise of spring.

Gemmell, and other high fantasy, takes me back to simpler times, and the long summers of my teens when I could literally spend a week in the holidays stretched out on my bed boxed in by a palisade of words. Sunny mornings in the garden where the grass in the shade was still slicked with dew.

So too with music. I’ve been building a “summer” playlist, but the tracks are those that take me back to different times. Some are good driving songs, others played on crackling radios in the park. Party songs and bands that had a heyday. Hearing Ocean Colour Scene and Hanson zooms me into my teens (I refuse to say “my youth” – I’m still young!) the way that Meat Loaf and the Eagles dump me smack bang into the bedroom of my first boyfriend.

Reading, writing, music… they cannot exist free of context. Ivory, I know, with her Darkness Falls books, has found catharsis in reliving difficult situations from her past. They say write about what you know. Rivka’s The Last Ancient series is set at a boarding school. Rivka went to a similar one (though presumably one without secret witches? Maybe not…). When I go back to Once Bitten I am back at uni, third year, struggling to find my feet again after a year abroad. Murder Express makes me restless, as I have mostly added to it when on the move. Quril draws together the many parts of my weird brain and makes me a little Zen.

I need those drafts. Expedition to the computer shop tomorrow. I will be writing again by this time tomorrow.

In the meantime, I feel in the mood to rearrange my bedroom furniture, though I doubt I have the motivation to empty the shelves of books and the drawers of my dresser to make them light enough to lift alone. I am yearning to rebuild my world around me. I think the sun has charged me up a little and I am stirring just like the ever-chirping birds.

Read this blog post again. I’m getting a bit eloquent. It’s spring clean time. It’s building time. It’s action stations for my insides.

 

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Snowed Under (without snow)

I was all set to write about the calm solitude of a Saturday morning when Ivory stumbled through the kitchen. I’m usually the earliest riser so I tend to have the place to myself first thing on weekends. It’s nice to bimble about and get first crack at the washing machine, and to have some time to process the week.

I originally planned to have the blog update on Tuesdays and Fridays but things have become so busy that’s clearly not happening. You should see my schedule for work for the next six weeks. If we all get to Easter without a mental break down it will be a miracle.

So I will have three times in the week carved out for definite: Monday night for Zumba (I know… but it’s actually not as awful as I feared), Thursday night for Powerhoop (pummel that midriff!) and Saturday morning for blogging. Anything else at the moment is fair game. I’m really going to have to pull my finger out and do some actual work. Like properly 100% put in effort. That’s not to say I don’t do my job well. But there’s always more I can do and with all the changed to my job this year I’ve sort of been treading water a little. So I need to get my head down and not do my usual thinking on the fly.

Which means that writing and everything else I enjoy will be once again crushed under the weight of being an actual functioning adult. Do I have to keep doing this every day for the next sixty years?! I mean, I like being busy and I like having stuff to accomplish but… it’s depressing thinking about all the things I won’t have time to do without feeling guilty for “wasting” time.

So why the hell am I still here blogging? I’ve got this one last weekend to have a serious blowout of reading and sewing and stuff. Living the dream. Living. The. Dream.

Until next week, with hopefully some writing or reading news assuming I will have done either of those things in the next seven days.

On the plus side, Ivory being up means I’m munching a nice warm pain au chocolat I wouldn’t otherwise have had 🙂

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The beginning

A beginning is a scary place to be. All that blank space ahead to fill in with something. You want it to be something profound, something meaningful… At school it was always important to write the first page of a new exercise book in the neatest handwriting possible, for appearance’s sake.

I have started many stories and rambling things that almost become complete. I am not someone who converts their tries very often, unless there’s a specific deadline to meet or people are relying on me. I have successfully completed NaNoWriMo four years running, in that I got to fifty thousand words, but the actual narratives remain unfinished on my laptop. Sometimes I go back and tinker, add a thousand words here and there, move things around… and then they sit for a while. And then November rocks around again and I have a new idea and off I go with a blank document again.

I have good intentions. I have excellent intentions, in fact, and they are leading me down a road to somewhere quite hot and full of sinners. I am determined – with all of you as my witnesses – that I will complete something (and hopefully many somethings) and do something with it and put it out there in the world.

I love writing. I love stories. I have read thousands from different genres, different cultures, in different languages, and I love the feel of them. There’s something about a good story that feeds the soul, even if it’s tried and tested and you know what’s coming around every corner and even if you have to stop reading for a while because it got too intense, or too sad, or too disturbing; it’s all good for your insides.

If I didn’t read for pleasure, I think I would actually go insane. I do not understand why people don’t like reading. I know it can take time to find a genre or an author or a trope that interests you, but the important thing is to keep opening new books and reading first pages until you get there. Each hardback is like the lid of a treasure chest. I love it.

Somewhere along the line, I started writing my own things. I remember sitting at our old Acorn computer in the box room at my parents’ house bashing away at the grotty beige keyboard writing a story. I wrote a story about Little Grey Rabbit where everyone cheered a lot. Yup. Fanfiction. Aged eight. I was ahead of my time, dear Internet. As I moved up through into secondary school English quickly became my favourite subject. Re-imagine the shipwreck at the beginning of Twelfth Night from the point of view of Antonio? You got it. Write a story to explain the rock cycle for Geography? No problem. Character POV diaries from our exam texts, updated fairytales, or ‘what happened next’; it made no odds to me. I sharpened my claws on 8mm feint ruled paper.

The Internet made it to our house. Dial up, ye gods. A whole new world opened up to me. I started roleplaying in chatrooms, telling my origin story to virtual taverns filled with mysterious travellers and rafters packed with dark elves. I started writing fanfiction again – consciously this time – and I think it’s probably still there on livejournal somewhere… I wrote original stuff, too, and pretty much all of it was high fantasy. I was heavily influenced by David Gemmell at the time.

By the time I went to university and got dragged into NaNoWriMo by an enthusiastic and competitive flatmate, I’d written a fair whack of stuff. All of it unfinished, a lot of it lost or password protected on the family computer which was pretty much the same thing since I used a different password for every document and couldn’t remember them all. Or the password to the master list of passwords, more annoyingly.

I want to go beyond beginnings. I want to make it to the very end and even further. I want to get to the end of a draft and then go back and edit and polish and tweak and prod the thing until I hate it and then fall in love with it again and publish it. That’s the dream, kids. A dream that began with a grotty beige keyboard and a child repeatedly misspelling ‘hooray’ as ‘horray’.

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