Books to give you Nightmares

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.

Life Stories

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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.

The Natural Sleep Remedy

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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!

The Next Generation of Writers

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I remember learning to write by copying the story of ‘The Little Matchstick Girl’ word for word into my notebook. I didn’t know what each letter meant or even how they all fit together; they were just scribbles I laboriously traced over. All I can remember is that I desperately wanted to capture the tale myself, as well as the frustration of not being able to write properly.

As soon as I was able to read and write I wanted to create my own stories. I would write about the adventures of my pet cat, or write about places I wanted to visit.

I’m curious to know how children nowadays learn to write their own stories. With an overwhelming choice of films, TV, games, books and activities, where do they find the time to write? Do they find the time?

Children have an immeasurable gift of imagination and they should utilise it, before the skill is lost in the restriction of tweets, updates and texts. Unless we are able to teach the skills required in a world full of distraction, the ability to write stories may be in danger of dying out.

The Urge to Write

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Sometimes the urge to write is so strong I feel distracted and unfocused until I write something down…

It doesn’t have to be profound, or even any good, but I always feel calmer once I have written down any tangled thoughts. Worries or anxieties that are pacing around in my head seem much more harmless on paper. I can look at them with perspective and dismiss them much more easily.

Writing is sometimes an itch that I need to scratch. My house is full of notebooks filled with half formed sentences, unfinished stories and illegible scribbles. Each notebook is a snapshot of a certain point in my life. From faithfully updated teenage diaries to books filled in from my student years, the notebooks cover huge chapters of my life.

Those scraps of writing don’t mean anything to anyone else, not even to me when I read them back. But those words were worth enough at one point for me to want to write them down. Hopefully I will continue to collect my notebooks, until one day I might even take the time to re-read my past.

Sense of Community

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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.