Bibelots

a place for the curious

Tag: writing

One line

Why do we do what we do? Why do we try?

Some days, I wonder why I write stories. Is it to get published? Yep. Can’t deny that one. Is it to be read and heard, and maybe loved? Oh, yes. But why does it make me ache if I don’t? This yearning for storytelling; it’s not about the endgame. It’s something else. Something deep. Something core to who I am.

I sleep, in hope of dreams. I dream, in hope of ideas. I write, in hope of story.

I write to tell that tale.

And now and then I send a story out there. Sometimes there’s feedback and it’s grand. Sometimes, of course, it’s a ‘no’.

Occasionally, a no is just a silence. A silence you can fill with questions. Is the time not right? What did I miss? Why do I even do this? Why persist? What makes me presume I’m good enough?

These silences don’t make for great days. But it’s part of being a writer. If you can keep pushing through it, you can go on. Some days that’s hard. But, I promise you, if you’re a new writer, this day too: it’s worth it.

On one of those less-great days, I allowed myself to sink into the words of another. This single line grabbed me by the shoulders and held me, breathless. Wouldn’t let go.

‘Their voices mourned every unfulfilled wish, every step they hadn’t taken and every unspoken word.’
– Marianne in The Little Breton Bistro, Nina George

Of course, that moment in Marianne’s life wasn’t the same as mine. I don’t live the same life as her; we’re not on the same journey. But those words? They got me. They dug into my heart and, oh, they burned. I needed them. These words about striving and regret and life. They tell you to not give up. To thrive. To go on.

I couldn’t turn the page. I held her book like a lifeline.

One line, she did this to me with. One line.

That’s why. That’s why you do what you do. To connect to someone and take their breath from their lungs. To shore them up and see them through a day. Or a moment. And not even know it. To just hope that what you write might, one day, do that.

We try because we don’t know what else to do. But more than anything else, we try because we feel the presence of others.

Somewhere out there, there’s someone like you. And they’re waiting for your words.

One day, just once, I want to do that. I want to reach out, like that, and find someone. I want to write those words and set them free. I want to find you and be there for you.

That’s why. I need to do this. I can’t not. And some days it’s hard. Some days it hurts.

So, what else can I do, but try.

Cracked wide open

greenhouses in a row, black and white photoIn the next couple of weeks we’ll be having an opening night and I’ll be giving an artist’s talk for a group photographic exhibition. As well, I’ll be doing my first live reading of an unpublished short story.

Somehow these creative pursuits have all snuck up on me. Or sneakily come out into the open. It doesn’t seem that long ago that most of this was hidden comfortably inside.

I don’t know when it started, although with words it grew from my love of reading. Photography is from watching and appreciating too. From there the story gets more complicated. When did it all turn outward?

I don’t think I want to overanalyse it, but I do want to take a moment to appreciate it.

Some years ago I was told to take a personality test. Oh, yes. You know the sort of thing I mean. I can hear you groaning.

It tagged me as ‘not the creative type’. Whatever that means. When people wield clipboards at you like this it’s best to laugh and back slowly away.

Next time someone tells you that you’re something you are not, do one of two things. Do you not like what you hear? Make sure you take it as personal insult and allow it to drive you to make it totally untrue. If you like it, roll with it and make it your own.

We all have our natural inclinations, but it doesn’t have to be the whole of us. Dig deep, encourage that sense of wonder and see what happens.

You might be surprised by what you unearth.

The disconnected e-reader

or… ‘Why my Kindle is never getting connected to Amazon’

Last year, I was delighted to win myself a Kindle, thanks to a little competition the RiAus was running.

It was a grand thing to win, as I’d long wanted to buy myself an e-reader anyway. I would have preferred a non-vendor specific e-reader, but a free book is a free book, electronic or not.
Once I had my Kindle, I loaded it up with books from the lush and wonderful Project Gutenberg.

Interlude: If you’ve not heard of Project Gutenberg and you love books, you’re about to be made very happy. One day I’ll set aside some time to write more about the splendid Project. But that’s for another day, so I’ll pop that thought in the ideas box for now.

I also have a number of purchased e-books and PDFs that I loaded onto the Kindle as well.  I’ve several hundred books on it now and, while you can’t read several hundred books at once, you may – at any given time – be in the mood for any one of them.  It’s rather delightful to have all that choice with me wherever I go.

Of course, my local bookstore should not despair.  I will always buy real, papery, beautiful books.  I love the way they look, feel and and make me feel.  I’ll save my pennies for the hardcovers, the special editions and the illustrated beauties.  And I’ll have no need to sully these treasures by lumping them around in my backpack for the day.  That’s the job of an e-reader.

And, so, with such an ardent love of books, why not connect to Amazon?

I value my privacy, but there’s nothing to hide.  There’s not a single book I’m ashamed to have read.  Not even the ones I regret reading (because I could have spent the time reading something better).  A book’s a book.  It’s full of words and has things to say.

I have long been troubled by what Amazon – and others – might do with my information.  It’s clear they have your information, it’s how they inform you of ‘what else you might like to read’.  That, for some, seems harmless enough in itself and very helpful.  But it’s the other end of the book process that troubles me.  It’s how, in the long term, it might affect the publishing, if not the writing, of your next book.

Is your e-reader trying to ‘read’ you?

As Mike Rekai points out, your e-reader is watching you.  It watches how you read, what you skip and what you appear to find boring.

One question that publishers want to know is do readers ‘skip certain chapters?’ In my case, that’s a big yes.  But it’s often because I’m reading the book in more than one way.  In the case of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for example, I read that on the Kindle when commuting or in a cafe and then, once home again, I brought out the beautiful hardcover version and read it without fear of ruin or loss.  Back to the Kindle: skip a few chapters ahead. Repeat.

While not every book reader does this, it illustrates my point. Just because the publishers think they know how you read, doesn’t mean they know why you do what you do. Skipping ahead doesn’t necessarily mean you were bored.

And even if I were bored, I might come back to it later, when my mood suited that particular book. Or maybe I was searching for a particular reference. There are all sorts of reasons that we do what do when we read. The publishers first need to stay out of our heads and, second, not use this information to influence authors.

What these possibly false presumptions might mean for books in the future is quite worrying.  Imagine future aspiring authors. For them, there is no ‘room of their own’, but a crowded auditorium with suggestions from every corner.

When I’m writing, I don’t like to feel like I have the reader over my shoulder.
— Kelly Armstrong, MacLeans.ca article

And, while it’s great for me that my Kindle has not connected up, that’s no comfort to the rest of the readers out there.  Books should be the one place you can feel adventurous and free, lost in both the words and world of another.

© 2018 Bibelots

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑