Here we go again – I am writing, writing, writing… after a long break.
I haven’t posted any new material here in over 3 months, and not on a regular basis for over a year. I hope that 2015 is different and that the words – and the posts – will flow freely again. Thanks to all of my devoted readers who haven’t deserted me. I have great things planned for this site as well as my other sites (click Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels.)
The reason for a lack of posting on this (and my other sites) is that I have had a few serious issues with my health. Most of these have been dealt with, or will be in the coming weeks. One of the major issues has been dealing with severe sleep apnoea. Before I had a CPAP machine to help me sleep I was constantly falling asleep in front of my computer screen. Reading was also very difficult; every time I picked up a book or magazine I would blink – and not open my eyes for 5 or more minutes. I am now getting a good night’s sleep every night and devouring books from my unread piles at a great rate. I am no longer falling asleep at the computer, so the words are flowing again.
In the coming months I have some interesting plans for this site – and the other sites too – as well as some important news to announce. This includes plenty of writing advice, examples of my poetry and fiction and the publication of my first ebooks and perhaps even a few pbooks (paper books) – I can dream can’t I? Stay tuned.
In recent months I have done some writing as my health issues have allowed. Most of this writing has appeared on yet another site I manage. You can read this site here and any articles with TH at the end were written by me. Many more articles will appear there in the coming months.
Good writing – and reading.
“So many books, so little time.” Frank Zappa
I have so many books that my home is almost in dire need of more bookshelves. I have at least a dozen bookshelves, and still I need to make piles of them in most rooms. I keep on buying more and borrowing even more, and the piles never seem to diminish.
So, this year I have decided to make a concerted effort to reduce those piles and get to reading – and finishing – as many as possible. The delightful thing is, I will need to read, read, read for the next three to five years to make any impact on those ever growing heaps of books.
It has been suggested that I sell some of my books. That would be like plucking out my eyes. Not an option.
Oh – did I mention the boxes of books in the passage – and even more in the garage?
I am currently reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society written by Mary Ann Shaffer. I borrowed it from my daughter more than a year ago and have just managed to squeeze it into my very demanding reading schedule. Actually, I have been wanting to read it for some time. It took a little while for me to warm to the format – a series of letters written from the various characters to other characters in the story – but once into it about 30 or 40 pages it really grabbed me. The letters range from a sentence or two through to many pages, recounting the lives and experiences of the eclectic gathering of characters who experienced the German occupation of the Channel Islands during WW2 as well as a few in London during the same time. It’s an absorbing insight into the lives of ordinary folk in extraordinary circumstances.
The letters have set me to thinking. In these post-modern times we appear to have lost the gentle art of letter writing. In an age where many people are writing more than ever before – emails, Tweets, blogs, Facebook status updates – we rarely take the time to actually take pen to paper and physically write a letter. Even the birthday cards are quickly scrawled messages and our Christmas cards have a quick message plus often a chest-beating, look-at-my-family typed and printed in gaudy colours newsletter.
This is a great pity.
There is something wonderful about receiving a hand written letter from a friend or family member, especially those living in remote places from our normal circle of activity. The effort taken to actually take the time to hand write a letter is considerable in these instant times. And then to Snail Mail it? Well, that could take days to arrive – or more. How many homes actually have a supply of postage stamps any more? Or writing paper and envelopes for that matter. I also despair at the trend in our schools to no longer teach physical handwriting skills. I foresee a generation developing who cannot put pen to paper, let alone actually write a letter. Our language will suffer and drown under an ocean of SMS messages and Tweets and degenerate into a series of communicative grunts.
I think I’ll go and write a letter to my brother – but first – I’ll just Tweet about it.
One of the units of study I have lectured in at university this year has been Children’s Literature, with a particular focus on using children’s literature in the classroom. All of my students for this unit are teachers in training, all of them eager to gather ideas for incorporating literature in their future classrooms.
It has been a rewarding time for me as it has renewed my enthusiasm for reading children’s literature. When I was a classroom teacher, and earlier in my career when I was a teacher/librarian, I would regard the reading of children’s books as a professional requirement. I am a voracious reader, so this was no hardship. After one little forgettable incident, I resolved never to read a book to a class without having read it privately first. I still believe this to be a wise policy for any classroom teacher or children’s librarian.
In recent months I have read a wide variety of picture books, chapter books for emerging readers, novels for older readers and non-fiction for various year levels. Sadly, I haven’t had time to review any of them here. In time I hope to regularly get back to reviewing the books I read. In the meantime, if it has been some time since reading a children’s book, why not borrow a few from your local library? Many of the titles published in the last decade are fine examples of excellent writing; some are just as challenging to read as adult books. And often far more interesting and captivating.
If you read a good book that you’d like to recommend – children’s or other – write about it in the comments section. I’d like to know, and so would my readers, I’m sure.
Good reading – and writing.
I should take a photo of the rain pouring down outside, and the large puddle of water in our driveway. It is freezing out there, so I’ll just stay in my nice warm office and write about it instead. Take the easy option – quite a reasonable motto in this situation. Looking out of my window is not easy, what with all the raindrops pouring down the glass. So that eliminates taking a photo through the window too. Never mind.
Where I live in rural South Australia, rain is something to celebrate as we don’t often get downpours like we’ve had over the last 36 hours. Here in SA we often say that we are the driest state in the driest continent. It’s a claim which probably isn’t completely accurate, but we say it all the same. I don’t mind cold, wet winter’s days. It gives me a perfect excuse not to go out and weed the garden, or mow the grass, or chop the firewood, or fix that gutter, or… I think you get my point.
Instead, I like to stoke up the fire, make a good cup of tea and settle down with a good book. Or even an average book. Truth be told, I don’t get to do that as often as I’d like to these days. My writing takes up a good part of the day, my church involvement takes up some of every day, and now my lecturing position is further cutting into each day. Relaxing with a good book is becoming a luxury but it’s something I need to make sure I do. Taking time out to relax is important.
Writing prompt: what do you like to do on cold, rainy days?
Good writing – and reading.