As a fledgling writer I was advised that my reading pleasure would be ruined for ever; that I would minutely study everything I read, dissecting the dialogue, the use of language and vocabulary, the narrative style, to determine how it worked. I would treat every novel as a lesson. And I did, up to a point. For a newbie, it was a great way to learn. But I’m getting over that now. I still read a lot of fiction but I’m not obsessed with dismembering every book so I can scrutinise its inner workings in forensic detail. And I still learn a lot from my reading, that’s one of its pleasures. Facts I was previously unaware of, a novel approach to an everyday plot, the crafting of a story arc, I absorb it all. Some books are instantly forgettable; others stay in my head for a long time. Some take up permanent residence, and it’s these that I’d like to share with you. Continue reading
I’m a voracious reader but I’m not a book reviewer by inclination. I know what I like, as they say, but I’m not usually given to expressing my opinion on someone else’s work, outside my writing group, other than the occasional, ‘you must read this!’
And then… Continue reading
Sometimes when the muse isn’t with me and wringing anything sensible from my frazzled brain is a real effort, I wonder why I’m doing this. Writing, I mean. Why do I write? Who is it for?
Jean Paul Sartre maintained that ‘Hell is other people’ and I have a certain sympathy with that sentiment, but if anyone were to ask me what form my particular hell would take, I would answer immediately, without any thought at all: Hell is having nothing to read. I would qualify this to include the inability to read.
If I couldn’t read, for whatever reason, I’d go nuts, simple as that; I may as well shoot myself. Continue reading
We’ve managed to get my mother-in-law booked into day care for two days a week. Mum lives with us and suffers from acute Alzheimer’s but anyone who is responsible for an ageing relative will understand what this turn of events really means. I have been presented with that most valuable of commodities – long, uninterrupted tracts of time. I can hardly believe it. Continue reading
We become better writers by reading widely, so which books have coloured our lives? Which are our favourites, which inspire us and which do we wish we had written? As we’re approaching Christmas, which books will we give and which would we like to be given? Continue reading
Can you imagine not being able to read or write? I get panicky faced with the prospect of the 10-minute wait for a doctor’s appointment with no reading material to while the time away. Leaflets advertising devices and medications I don’t need, but whose advantages am I now fully up to speed on; old shopping lists I’ve found in the depths of my handbag, usually featuring items I’ve forgotten to buy; the fine print on the backs of old prescriptions outlining exactly who is exempt from payment (never me) – I’ve spent quality time with them all when I’ve left my paperback at home.
I am also conversant with current lifesaving techniques, should any of my work colleagues have a stroke, heart attack or emergency caused by poor handling of electrical equipment, because I’ve read and re-read the instructions on the kitchen wall numerous times whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Continue reading