Pointless Post

So, it’s time for another short and ultimately pointless post. I have been kind of distracted from the blog lately. I have managed to get a bit of reading of reading done, although in fairness some of that has been trashy literature that I could not not bring myself to bore you with. I did read ‘The Rape of the Lock’ by Alexander Pope, which I enjoyed. Another book that I have just started is ‘The Cement Garden’ by Ian McEwan, which I am enjoying. Still persevering with Homer’s, ‘The Odyssey’ and I aim to finish that within the next couple of weeks. Zola is still on stand by and I will start that after ‘The Cement Garden’, I expect, which shouldn’t be long.

I still haven’t gotten very far with my assignment for the writing course. I have about two sentences, so it’s a start. I need to be stricter with myself about that. It isn’t that I don’t have the time. I just find that I don’t have the inclination at the moment, although I am sure that will return. I suppose it is because it is something that is new to me, having to actually write about a particular thing, rather than just random musings. I want to do a good job of it and so I end up spending more time thinking about what I am going to do than actually doing it.

Summer appears to have vanished yet again. We had a few bright days near the end of May and it looked like summer had finally arrived and then it just upped sticks and left, probably never to return. It is now just grey and cold again. I even had the heat on for a couple of hours last night – in June!

So, sorry for the pain you must have suffered if you have made it this far through my post. Have a good day/evening.

Update

I am totally knackered at the moment. I didn’t sleep well last night, so please excuse any spelling, grammatical errors or just plain loss of any sort of order to this post. I have finally finished Raymond E Feist’s ‘Magician’s End’. What a fantastic end to the the Midkemia series. The end of the book was exceptional, although I will miss waiting for the next installment, since there won’t be one. I am still working on finishing Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’ but am progressing and am now going to start Alexander Pope’s ‘The Rape of the Lock’. So all in all a successful days reading. Sick days can be useful! That’s all for today as I am feeling a bit disoriented and the screen is rapidly becoming a bit of a blur.

Reading progress

Only a short post today, but I promised myself I would write something before any original posts get completely swamped by the reblogs. My reading has been going quite slowly lately and I am still working my way through Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’ and Raymond E Feist’s ‘Magician’s End’. Still waiting to start Zola’s ‘The Fortune of the Rougon’s’, and I have a few other books I am eager to get round to, including Alexander Pope’s ‘The Rape of the Lock’, but more on those later.

Even when the reading is going slowly, I still find myself buying more and more books. I think it is a kind of disease, but fortunately not one I feel I need to worry much about. Certainly it’s not one worth worrying the doctor about (the psychiatrist? Well maybe.) The only problem I have is finding the space to put these new acquisitions, since most of them are actual books, made of paper and all shiny and new. Either that or they are old and battered with the tell-tale marks of their exciting journey through time, from the moment they were published to their final resting place on my book shelves. Admittedly there is also the odd ebook (that I cannot get a hard copy of) that I read on the PC, since I have still not sunk to the depths of purchasing an actual kindle.

Well, there you have it. Like I said, little else to say today. Have a good day, I am off to read.

Sunshine and Versatile Blogger Awards

I was recently nominated for both the Sunshine award and the Versatile Blogger Awards. I admit I have been a bit lax about my acceptance of these. I love to receive these awards, but I find it difficult to keep coming up with blogs to nominate, having only limited time to spend reading blogs on a daily basis. To that end I will be nominating the following blogs for both of these awards.

http://brokentorise.wordpress.com/

http://writingmindfully.wordpress.com/

http://danielshankcruz.com/

http://prinsesamusang.wordpress.com/

http://mylittlebookblog.wordpress.com/

http://underthenightstarrysky.wordpress.com/

http://annecmichaud.wordpress.com/

http://kiralynblue.com/

http://poetreecreations.wordpress.com/

http://creativemysteries.net/

http://petedenton.wordpress.com/

See below for the rules for each award and my responses as appropriate.

The Sunshine Award

sunshine-award

I was nominated for this a little while ago by TamrahJo, the original post being here. I very much appreciate this and will begin by stating the rules

Post the Logo (above)

Accept the nomination and link back to the nominator (above).

Answer the questions.

Nominate some other blogs and inform them of the nomination.

So, first the questions and my answers:

Favourite colour: Black

Favourite animal: Tropical fish, particularly the big and ugly Oscar

Favourite number: Two

Favourite non-alcoholic drink: Espresso

Favourite alcoholic drink: Port

Facebook or Twitter: Twitter

My passions: Reading and writing obviously, but it used to be playing the guitar in, my younger days.

Giving or receiving gifts: Both

Favourite city: Cambridge, UK

Favourite TV shows: If I have to pick one it is probably Castle, particularly the earlier few seasons.

The Versatile Blogger Award

versatile-blogger-award

I was nominated for this by LindaGHill in this post. Many thanks for this honour.

Here are the rules of this award.

Add The Versatile Blogger award logo on a blog post (above)

Thank the person that presented you with the award and link back to him or her in your post (above)

Share seven things about yourself

Pass the award along to 15 favourite bloggers. Contact the chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Seven random things about me.

I like to read

I am extremely shy and hate answering questions about myself

I support Arsenal Football Club

I tend to take a long time to open up and trust people

I worry a lot, about almost everything

I dislike housework and DIY

I am extremely loyal

I apologise to all for my laziness in my acceptance of these awards, but I hope that you can forgive me. Once again, many thanks to both TamrahJo and LindaGHill for nominating me.

Bank Holiday Reading Plans

I have decided to undertake some gentle reading today, following the excesses of yesterday. I spent yesterday visiting the Cambridge Beer Festival, a tradition that my friends and I have followed for many years. Every year we take the last Friday of the beer festival, the Friday before the Spring Bank Holiday, off of work and spend the day at the beer festival. This year for the first time in many years the weather was atrocious. It rained pretty much all day, turning the field in which the marquee was pitched into a muddy bog. Still, there were plenty of interesting beers to sample, and sample them we did. Needless to say I have been feeling a little delicate today, and in particular, very lethargic.

I decided the best option would be to find something reasonably easy to read whilst mildly hung over. I am reading ‘The Vintage Teacup Club’ by Vanessa Greene. Then I want to make some head way with rest of my reading over the bank holiday weekend. I am still working my way slowly through Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’. Then I am finally going to get started on reading Raymond. E. Feist’s Magician’s End. In fact I have just slipped the perfect, as yet undamaged, dust cover from my copy of Magician’s End in preparation. After this I think I am going to start Emile Zola’s ‘The Fortune of the Rougons’, the first part of the twenty book ‘Les Rougon-Macquart’ cycle.

So some decent goals set up. Now all that remains is for me to fail to achieve them. Not that I intend to get all of this reading done this weekend, it is likely to take a bit longer than that.

Useful Distractions from Writing

So you have been writing for an hour or so, when you find yourself just sitting staring into space, or out of the window. The ideas have stopped, the flow of words has been halted. It is time for a break. What do you do to try to clear your mind? How do you try to return to that position of constructively writing again?

I like to go and do something different, although I favour something with a creative bent to it. I will usually go and play the guitar for a bit. Others may like to go into the garden and pull up a few weeds or do the washing up. Usually after a few minutes my mind is clearer and whatever was stopping me from writing has resolved itself.

I guess what I am really asking though is, what do you do when you are lacking creativity and need a boost?

As a follow up to yesterdays post, I have reblogged something and written this today. Best of both worlds!

Reading Update

It has been a while since I have updated everyone on what I am reading at the moment. I have just finished reading ‘The Writer’ by Cristian Mihai which I quite enjoyed. I am still reading Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’, which like ‘The Iliad’, that you may recall I read a while ago is based on the George Chapman translation. Although I enjoy reading epics like this I can usually only take them in very small doses, a few pages a day, and so they end up taking an absolute age to read. I am also reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, which I had hoped to finish by the end of the weekend, but sadly this now looks unlikely, today being the last day of the football season. I am finding this a fascinating read, even though I have never read any of his fiction.

At the moment I am looking to clear the decks of books, with the exception of ‘The Odyssey’, which as I have mentioned will be a while yet. I have just received Raymond E Feist’s final part of the Riftwar Cycle, ‘Magician’s End’, which I am eager to dive into as soon as possible. I have been reading and enjoying immensely this series since it first started in the early 1980s, and now, thirty years later, it looks to be coming to a final conclusion.

Reasearch or Do?

I spend a lot of time trying to learn ‘how to do things’ rather than actually ‘doing things’. I have always been this way. I try to learn all of the basics about a subject. I research academically what to do to, but have always then neglected the implementation. We all know that the only way to learn many things, the only way to get better at them, is to actually do them. How many times have we all heard that the ‘only way to get better at writing is to write’. From what I have garnered the only two rules that really seem to really be important to improve your writing are ‘to write lots’ and ‘to read lots’. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I have found that I am spending less time on both of these activities and have spending more and more time on reading about writing. I suppose that reading about writing is still reading, but I view it as different. Whilst this no doubt has its place in educating a novice like myself I feel that I need to be careful. I need to be realistic about the fact that you cannot learn everything by reading about it, sometimes you just have to do it.

Often when I have an interest I subscribe to all of the related magazines that I can find, buy up every related book on Amazon and see what courses I can sign up to. Consequently I end up not having the time left to actually do what it is that interested me in the first place. I know that finding out all about an interest can be important, but ultimately you have to do it to, not just read about it. I suppose it is a case of needing to do rather than research.

I must be stronger. I will have to limit the time that I spend on this practice in the future and increase the time I actually spend pursuing the activity or interest of choice, in this case writing.

Do others ever encounter problems like this? Spending more time on reading about an interest than actually pursuing it. I would be very interested to find out.

And Now, the End is Near…

So, as all good things come to pass, my holiday reaches its conclusion. As I prepare for a return to the mundane tomorrow, I can reflect on the highlights of the past week. These have mostly been getting stuck into writing tasks that I wanted to complete, or at least progress a little further. And then there was the reading. This was a little disappointing since I found myself sucked into perusing the myriad of excellent blogs out there, waiting on tenterhooks for new posts to appear in the reader. Obviously this was also reading, but did not aid in the completion of the books that I had planned to get finished.

But I still have a few hours left to savour I suppose. How will I elect to spend these?

I need a big push today to try to finish off that scheduled reading. I am a bit of an obsessive planner about these things and if I don’t tick off all of the boxes, I end up getting stressed by it. I end up feeling guilty that I haven’t completed everything I planned to, putting myself under undue pressure. I should perhaps set myself less taxing objectives!

I also passed an enjoyable evening listening to Audrey Niffenegger speak. My short post on that can be seen here. Last night was spent taking part in a quiz in order to help raise money for my nieces’ nursery. It was entertaining, although sadly our team came in a miserable fourth. There was no round on literature or books that I would have hoped for. The science round was good for us, as I work in that field, but sport and celebrity dating rounds were poor.

And so from tomorrow I shall be mostly back to the usual schedule of work, study and reading. Maybe then I will be able to work on some more interesting posts. For everyone’s benefit, I certainly hope so!

Audrey Niffenegger Talk

Last night I attended a talk and book signing by Audrey Niffenegger for her new book ‘Raven Girl’. I had not attended one of these events before and so had no idea what to expect. The event was one of a number of similar events hosted by a local bookshop Toppings and Company Booksellers. I had purchased the book the day before and had read it, so I already knew the story which was handy. The talk was mostly about the process of creating the book and the fact that it was fairy tale designed to be made into a ballet. She has been collaborating on the project with the Royal Ballet in London and there will be performances later this month. A background to the creation of the story and of the book and the preparation of the aquatint prints was covered and then followed by a short reading of the opening few pages.

I think that I learned more about her creative process from the question and answer session at the end, although there was a significant bias towards the printing process for the art work, understandable I suppose given her training as an artist, and about the ballet. It was interesting to hear about different media in which the ‘Raven Girl’ story could be experienced, as a fairy tale, through the graphics in the book, as a ballet and more to come. It was also interesting to hear that the ballet was something in which she was involved in a truly collaborative sense, whereas she said that she had no involvement in the film of ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’. She even mentioned that she had not seen the film, although I am not sure if she was joking or not. Since the actors she mentioned were not the ones actually in the film I suspect she wasn’t.

Her views on creativity and the importance of being open to things and recognising opportunities for stories were revealing, as was the information that she is working on a screenplay for an Indie film version of ‘Her Fearful Symmetry’. The question responses also gave good insight into her methods of researching subjects, in particular Highgate cemetery for ‘Her Fearful Symmetry’.

All in all I had a great time, although I did not realise until the end the mistake I had made in sitting right at the back. I was originally very happy in my choice of location. I could see and hear extremely well. My error was only highlighted when I realised that the book signing was at the front of the church (the event was held in a church), and I was automatically right at the back of the queue. So I left without getting my copy of ‘Raven Girl’ signed. C’est la vie.

I definitely intend to go along to some future events like this, now that I know that they are being held in the area. All in all it was an enjoyable experience, although I would have preferred to have heard more about her novels, ‘The Time Travellers Wife’ and ‘Her Fearful Symmetry’, both of which I enjoyed reading.