I love reading most genres from sci-fi and fantasy to chick lit and non-fiction. However, there is one genre that I have to indulge in with caution. Reading horror, such as Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft always makes me a nervous wreck but I can’t resist the spine tingling books.
At the moment, I’m reading the Girl with all the Gifts. Even though I would describe this as being more of a love story than a horror story, it does have frighteningly fast running zombies in it, which fascinate and terrify me.
The plot itself has been a slow starter for me, building up a picture of the post-apocalyptic world, where I have been impatient to learn more about the why and how of the zombie outbreak. However, now that I’m half way through I have become absorbed into the little girls world and her struggle to control her zombie condition.
Unfortunately, as much as I’m enjoying the book, I have been having zombie related nightmares after reading several chapters before bed. So I have decided that this particular book will be a daytime read and I will keep the night time reading spot for something with fewer monsters.
I’m reading a book by Terri Cheney called ‘Manic’ about her experience with bipolar disorder. It is beautifully written and absorbing, by far the best autobiography I have read in a long time. Once I have finished it I hope to write a detailed review.
I do find that some autobiographies feel distant and weary of their own story, while sometimes I never really feel connected to the subject matter.
However, when the voice of the author really connects with you it’s as though you have met your soul mate. Someone who understands an aspect of your life, or someone who you can empathise with or who you are curious about.
The real stories that we have to tell can sometimes be far more exciting than any story thought up or imagined. I believe that everyone has a tale worth telling and there is always someone out there who is eager to read it.
I have recently started reading before bed, instead of watching TV or scrolling through the internet on my tablet.
I started the New Year with a string of disrupted night’s sleep with fleeting nightmares that woke me up every few hours. I knew that this was triggered by watching too many late night films and reading the news headlines before heading to bed. I decided to try and ‘switch off’ technology an hour or so before sleep and pick up a book instead.
The comfort of reading a paper copy that is bookmarked from the evening before instantly puts me at ease. I naturally slip into a meditative state and sleep comes easily after a while (depending on how exciting the book is at that point!)
It is difficult sometimes to stop yourself checking emails ‘one last time’ or scrolling through social media for the billionth time, but I feel happier and healthier after a good night’s sleep and all it takes is a few chapters of a book!
I have started on my second novel and I’m finding it much easier this time round. I’m glad I finished the first one but I am also happy to now put it aside.
I felt under so much pressure writing the first novel, that I wrote as though an agent or publisher was reading it over my shoulder. I thought that all I had to do was finish the book and then get it published. It felt like a race.
In the end, it felt rushed and not worthy of being published by any means. But by finishing it, I proved that I could complete the project and it gave me more confidence in my ability.
I’m now comfortable with the routine of writing every day and setting myself targets to reach. I know I will finish the current book, I have proved to myself I can.
I’m not putting pressure on myself to finish it in a certain time frame, I’m going to take my time. More importantly, I’m enjoying writing so much more now that I have slowed the pace down. It is no longer a race but a work in progress.
I never feel like I am wasting my time when I am reading.
I can sometimes feel like I am creating ‘dead time’ by browsing social media, internet window shopping and watching another boring program on TV, just because I have nothing better to do. But when I read, I feel like I am gaining something and creating my own world from the words on the page.
I interact with the story and try and second guess the outcome. I am involved with the characters and I care about their lives.
I think about the story after I have closed the covers and put it away for the night. I wonder about the twists and the clues that lead up to the grand finale. I feel like it is a personal journey that I am taking, where only I know about its secrets – you can sit and watch a film with someone but you only really ever read a book alone.
Plus, it always feels good when you have finished the book and you can tick it off your reading list.
I have always thought writing to be a lonely career. I envisioned great writers to be social pariahs, shunning social events for their craft. I imagined them scribbling away all hours of the day and night at desks in dusty rooms filled with books.
But while this may be the case for some, many famous authors would spend hours talking and working with other artists, poets and writers. An example would be the ‘Lake Poets’ Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey who lived and worked together at the turn of the 19th century.
This is also true in the present day, where we gain so much from a sense of community as writers and artists. Whether it is meeting face to face for writing groups or sharing our stories online, we are able to connect with each other and learn from each other.
Most people write to share with others, to entertain or to connect through similar experiences. By reaching out through a story you create a bond between yourself and the reader.
Writing is far from being a lonely endeavour, it is what brings people together from all manner of different backgrounds and allows us to communicate with each other.
Without the support, the inspiration and even the criticism that other writers give me, I would probably watch a lot more TV.