Returning to the Joys of Reading

Recently, I have been put off reading for pleasure. It’s partially my own fault because I’ve been busy or just been doing something else, but mainly I think it’s the fault of my exam. I had to read so many books (and by read I mean search the internet for plot summaries due to sheer boredom) that I just didn’t enjoy; these were mostly classics which I find are alright until I have to read one after another after another after…you get the picture. To give you an example, I read the first part of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey in which the most exciting event turned out to be meeting a man at a ball, oh and the protagonist’s parent called her “almost pretty” which was just fabulous…

So, now that my exam it out of the way I plan to start enjoying reading again. First of all I’m going to finish A Song of Ice and Fire, then I’ll probably move on to some of Joe Abercrombie’s work (I’ve had The Blade Itself sad on my bookshelf for a good while now. After that I can see the completion of the collection of Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories I downloaded onto my kindle a while back, and maybe even a catch up on the latest Peter F. Hamilton sci-fi novel.

In short, I’m returning to the joys of reading. I would love for you to comment and let me know what I should read. I’m extremely willing to add to my already massive list. Thanks.

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Exam Pressure

This week I decided to take a break from my review schedule (not least because my exam tomorrow has prevented me from reading the third Song of Ice and Fire novel) and use my spare time to suggest books that I think are great, and that I believe should be on everyone’s reading list.

George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm

Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Endgame

Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw

George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire

Paul Hoffman’s The Left Hand of God Trilogy

Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle

Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

I’ll leave it at ten due to the fact it’s a good, round number and I’m short on time. I’ll be back tomorrow with a much better post.

 

The Web Series

Until recently I had never seen a web series, and considered them tiny blots on the genre of television and screenplay.  However, I recently discovered a series called ‘The Guild’, written by Felicia Day (I have to thank my friend Sam over at Swartech; he’d kill me if I took the credit for discovering her work by myself). You can find the guild on Felicia’s YouTube channel, Geek and Sundry, I took the liberty of providing you with a link, but be warned, it’s incredibly addictive.

The reason I’m writing about this is because I feel web series have their own part in the vast area of literature known as drama. Drama is one of the oldest forms of writing; it was a major part of Ancient Greek tradition and religion, just like it is now in our traditions of sitting together as a family and watching the latest episode of our favourite programme. Drama has evolved immensely with the invention of television, and now it can evolve with the internet, thus the web series was born.

My interest in web series is not purely due to my interest in studying literature, I am also drawn to it because of my writing. Writing a web series would be incredibly rewarding, but I feel the need for actors and expensive equipment might get in the way. However a written web series might be a good idea. Obviously I’m still in the planning stages but I think a series of flash fiction pieces which link together to form one storyline, perhaps published on a WordPress blog might be in order. Maybe even the purchase of a webcam for some kind of diary entry account of a narrative which occurs off-screen (although I can’t act, well…I’ve never tried it but I can’t imagine it would go well).

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me know what you think, if you have an opinion, or if you have any suggestions that might help me with the development of this project. As always, thanks for reading.

The 5 Best Things About Film Adaptations

5 – Brings the book to a wider audience

A lot of books go unnoticed, but when a Hollywood film director gets hold of a good one they think will do well, you can guarantee a lot of attention. I’m betting Twilight more than tripled its sales numbers after the release of the first film, and the same goes for Harry Potter. Also, a lot of people just don’t like reading, (I know, I don’t get it either) so a film allows a novelist’s audience to expand beyond the normal possibilities.

4 – People get to see a different take on a book

When you read a book, you get to picture all of the characters yourself; you are like a builder and the writer is an architect. But when you watch a film adaptation, it’s like moving into a house you asked someone else to design and build for you. It’s nice to get someone else’s take on a book for a change, however, nothing can beat your original ideas when reading a book.

3 – There are no more advantages to making a film adaptation!

Let’s be honest, film adaptations aren’t usually great. Sometimes, a Harry Potter comes along, or a Sherlock Holmes, but usually, they’re terrible; this is especially true if you’ve read the book before watching the film. I remember when I went to see ‘Angels and Demons’ a few years ago, I remember being angry, very angry. The main antagonist wasn’t even the same person!

Anyway, after that, thanks for reading. Oh, and feel free to add your points about film adaptations in the comments below.

Finding Inspiration

I’ve often wondered what the best way to gain inspiration is. However, I’ve recently come to realise that inspiration comes from everything and anything. Recently, I’ve been inspired by rain on my window, a noise I heard on the street, my pets, and countless different books and TV programmes.

Everything is inspirational, in fact I believe even a plain cardboard box can be if you allow it to be. Anything can be a symbol of something else. A rose is a symbol of love and pain at the same time, depending on your viewpoint.

Of course, experience helps, travelling is probably my favourite way to be inspired; there’s nothing like a wholly different area, lifestyle, and set of traditions to inspire your ‘inner writer’. It allows you to see the world in a new light and to judge things differently; just like you do when you write from a new character’s perspective, the world appears altered.

So when you’re stuck for inspiration and suffering from writer’s block, don’t look for grand story lines and well rounded characters. All you have to do is look outside your window for something that makes you think. Maybe it’ll be a bird, or an old woman, a car driving too fast, or your own reflection. Let me know what you see.

Good luck and keep writing. Thank you for reading.

Why You Should Write On The Internet

Over the past few weeks I’ve gained an insight into the world of creative writing on the internet. It’s been fairly rewarding so far; it has given me the opportunity to write so much more than I ever have before. I used to write once a week at most, but my new blog has encouraged me to write almost every day, and it has allowed me to experiment.

Before joining the blogging community I thought of myself as a prose writer who would write poetry if I had to, but now I think my skills in the two areas are pretty well matched. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I prefer my poetry to my prose in most cases. Now that is a strange feeling; it’s as if my whole world has shifted a little – I know, I know, it sounds dramatic, but really, it’s a massive change.

But enough about me, this post is about you! So here are five reasons you should publish your writing on the internet…

1 – You have to start somewhere

Everyone has to start somewhere; most plumbers start as an apprentice, every teacher starts as a student, and a lot of writers start on the internet. Don’t think that by starting a blog you’ll become a famous writer some day, it’s still going to be hard work, but a blog might just be the push you need to make a start on your first novel; it was for me, I’m hoping to have my first draft done by the end of summer.

2 – It gives you a sense of satisfaction

There’s nothing like posting on the internet, especially if you post frequently. I post every day, and although it can get stressful at times, I love it. But there’s one thing that’s more satisfying than completing and uploading a post. It’s completing a post, uploading it, waiting, checking your blog, and finding tons of notifications. Now that’s satisfaction.

3 – You’ll gain your first readers

They may not number in the millions, but I have developed a (very) slight following which means that whenever I post a new piece of writing, at least fifty people are guaranteed to receive an email about it. Out of those fifty, twenty may take the time to read it, and maybe only two will like it, but those two likes mean a lot. If no one ever liked any of my posts, I would probably shut down my blog, but I think I’ll hang on just a little while longer; it’s great knowing people read and like what I have to say.

4 – It builds your confidence

I know when I first started out writing, I was nervous about showing any of it to my parents. In fact when my Granddad dies a few years ago I wrote a poem about him which I immediately hid and now cannot find because I didn’t want anyone to read it. Today, my confidence has grown massively, I mean just look at me, I’m posting my writing for the whole world to see, and I’m loving every moment of it.

5 – You’ll improve!

Finally, and probably most importantly, you’ll improve. No one wants to post bad writing where hundreds of people can see it, it’s embarrassing, so you’ll end up pushing yourself to do better every time. If you’re like me, working under stress will make your writing ten times better, so try setting yourself a challenge. Gradually you’ll see improvement in your style, grammar, dialogue, diction, and overall, you’ll feel a lot better about your chances of ‘making it’ in the world of writing.

The Ten Best Things About Writing Creatively

Since my last post on literature, The Ten Best Things About Reading, was fairly successful I thought I would follow it up with this, The Ten Best Things About Writing Creatively. Obviously, writing is a less frequented activity than reading but it’s definitely important. What would we read if there were no writers?

Some of the points here are similar to the points on reading, the activities are linked, so there will be some overlap; however the ideas behind them will change. So, here we go…

10 – It’s a welcome distraction

Much like reading, writing is a welcome distraction from the busy world. When you’ve had a stressful day and all you want to do is relax, it may not be soothing, in fact it’s the complete opposite, but you can turn that stress into a story; and that is what is so special about writing. Once that story is finished, then you can relax.

9 – It can earn money

Some, extremely lucky writers get very, very rich; J.K. Rowling is one of very few such writers and most will never reach the lofty heights of stardom. However, there is hope for the many left behind like myself. Once a writer is good enough at their craft to get published, they can start to earn money; yes, this is not what writing is about and yes, it’s not much money, but it’s enough to support a writer until they can write another novel, and that is all we want.

8 – It can be enjoyable

Every writer, if they are writing for the right reasons about the right thing, enjoys what they do. Much like any other creative craft, we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t; no painter hates painting; no craftsman hates crafting, and no living thing hates breathing. It is what we do, it is who we are, and we love it. Well, that got a bit dramatic didn’t it…moving on!

7 – It allows you to become somebody else

It is rare for a writer to use their own voice in a novel, unless it some form of creative autobiography or memoir. Thus we adopt a new personality when we write: I am a white student from Blackpool in the North of England, but as a writer I have been a lonely old man wishing for his wife to live again; I have been a slave during the height of the slave trade in the Caribbean wishing for freedom; and I have been a murderer. When you can see from many angles, it gets a lot easier to see the whole picture.

6 – It can be educational

As a writer, you learn something new every time you write a story. This new found knowledge can be factual, like that found whilst researching a disorder a character in your story has, or emotional, like that found when you realise how a lonely, dying man must feel in his last hours. Through writing you can also learn about yourself, that is, the way you think about things; it’s a lot harder to ignore a homeless man when you know how he feels.

5 – It can be enjoyable for others

One of the things writers love the most, or at least I do, is when somebody congratulates you on a good piece of work. It’s nice to be appreciated, and when multiple compliments start coming in, well it’s wonderful, and I’ll leave it at that.

4 – It gives you a purpose

When all else fails, if you’re sad, lonely, or stressed, you can always count on writing to give you a purpose in life. Sometimes it’ll be more of a friend than you expect, lifting you out of a foul mood by allowing you to write well first time, but sometimes you’ll hit a brick wall. However annoying this brick wall is, and however much you want to throw your computer out the window, you’ll get past it, and when that happens the foul mood you once were in will be gone for just a little while longer.

3 – Your writing may one day influence another person

Among my greatest desires is that one day, I will publish a novel, and that someone will read and be affected by it, just like I am when I read a play by Samuel Becket, or a novel by George Orwell. I would love to have someone read my thoughts and have them influence their own, perhaps allowing them to better understand the position of someone under prejudice, or even the nature of the world around them. To be a definite factor in the development of a person, especially a child, would be absolutely amazing for any writer I am sure.

2 – It allows you to express yourself

What more can you ask of an activity than the ability to express yourself? Writing is one of the few activities that allow expression in its truest form; like art, dance, and song, writing allows us to project ourselves for others to see. This is a scary thing, it can be uncomfortable, especially when people don’t like what they see, but it is also a wondrous thing. In my opinion there is no better way to live your life than in a way that others can see and learn from.

1 – It makes us better people

Like reading, writing creatively makes us better, more well-rounded people. When you can see through the eyes of any person, influence others, and enjoy it at the same time you truly are at your best. Especially if you do it well.

Thank you for reading, I might write a story about writing this…