Re-Reading

Re-ReadingDo you do it? I often hear people that either do or do not. I don’t seem to come across many “sometimes” or “it depends”. I know that some people who don’t will make exceptions for a specific series or their absolute favourite book, and I know that some that do will refuse to re-read certain things for whatever reason.

I re-read all of the time. Over the holidays, I re-read both The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. I believe it’s the third time that I have read them, even though I wouldn’t necessarily say that they are my favourite books. The writing is very poetic, with a beautiful cadence that enhances the feel and taste of the story, but I have issues with the main character and a few passages within the books. However, that is for another day. These books are quite hefty, and by reading on and off over the break, between cooking the turkey and indulging in Bailey’s, I managed to finish them in less than a week.

I couldn’t count how many times I have read the Harry Potter or James Herriot books, and though I just finished the entire Sherlock series recently, I am already thinking about when I should start it again. I re-read because I love to feel the story all over again. I love to remember the smells and tastes and emotions of the story, and I almost always miss a few things the first time around. It’s an act of discovery for me that evokes nostalgia and comfort and interest. As a side benefit, I suppose it would be quite flattering for the authors to know that their content is worth looking at more than once.

I have always re-read books, from small storybooks to novels to entire series’. I don’t have a library card, because for one I am terrible at bringing the books back, and two, I have a deep desire to own what I read, so that I may re-read it whenever I choose. I’ve only just realized now that my desire to re-read books probably plays into why I prefer to own books, oh, self-realization! I’ve just never been one for borrowing, probably because I find it too restrictive.

For me, re-reading doesn’t just allow me to experience the story all over again, it lets me look into more than just the story. The second time, I can pay more attention to the word choices and the dialogue. The third time perhaps I will realize that I don’t even like the book after all, but was just caught up in the story. Perhaps the forth time I will decide that the book is worth reading because, even if I don’t love the story, the writing is just terrific. Each time allows me to understand the author more, and to understand the book as a whole, instead of just one small piece of what the writer was trying to say.

Of course, there are books that I just couldn’t bring myself to re-read because I disliked them so much the first time. A good example would be Twilight, I read the whole series because I couldn’t leave it unfinished, but the entire time my mind was swelling with sarcastic remarks and frustration at the story and the writing.

The Color Purple, although very, very good was just too jittery for me. The way that it is actually written kept pulling me out of the story as if I were being pulled out of a warm bath over and over only to be thrown back in after being left in the cold for a moment or two.

The Handmaid’s Tale was definitely interesting, and thought-provoking, but I still haven’t decided if I will read it again or not. I feel as if I learned all I needed to from it the first time around.

So, there are exceptions to what I will read again and what I will not, but for the most part, if I enjoyed it the first time, I will probably like it even more the second, third, or fourth. I also believe that really understanding someone else’s writing helps you to be a better writer yourself, and the only way that you can do that is by reading.

So, how about you? Do you re-read or not? Why or why not? Have there been any exceptions?

And don’t forget to find me on Facebook for everything writing.

Writing Too Much

Writing Too MuchAs I have said before, I generally spend my days writing about boring things. I try my best to make these boring things interesting, and to tend to various audiences, but for the most part, when I write for work, I have a target in mind: this real estate community, this sales angle, this event, that holiday, and so on. While I wouldn’t say that it’s terrible work, my brain does need a break sometimes.

I love to write, but writing too much can be a bad thing, just as over-indulgence with just about anything else. Sometimes, even if I am writing something that I want to write, I get to a certain point where I just can’t write anymore. Either I will be forcing myself and the content will turn out to be unworthy of my expectations, or I have written until the inspiration has leaked out and hit a brick wall.

I never really stop writing, as I believe that thinking about writing, reading, and even conversing are all a part of writing in some way or another, but there are times when I need to tell myself to stop. For me, quality is much more important than quantity.

This is another reason why I don’t set goals for myself—either daily, weekly, or monthly. Forcing yourself to produce content passed the point of your creative threshold is pointless and you will end up with something that you aren’t satisfied with in the end.

It’s similar to energy, where you have a certain amount of it. Once it’s spent, you need time to replenish it before doing another lap. Our minds need rest just as much as our bodies.

To replenish my spirit, and to top up my writing reserves, I like to read, watch movies, play video games, and just be. Exercising my mind in other ways helps to inspire new ideas and to give me a jump start instead of running on empty until my brain just refuses to work anymore.

I usually get to that point after writing content that I find taxing, such as articles about funeral and estate planning, just before the holidays. Not that it’s bad content, it’s just tedious and a little depressing when it’s surrounded by holiday cheer and anticipation.

When do you decide to take a break, and what do you do to replenish yourself? Do you have certain things that you watch or play, or do you just listen to your brain and do whatever it tells you to at the time?

What bores you the most when writing?

And don’t forget to find me on Facebook for everything writing. Happy Holidays!

A Seasonal Writing Exercise

A Seasonal Writing ExerciseI know that not everyone celebrates during the holiday season, and of those that do, there are many different holidays to be celebrated. That being said, Christmas is my favourite time of year. It’s not because of any moral or religious reasons; I just enjoy it for my own reasons.

I work with people from a variety of cultures, countries, and upbringings, so for some of them Christmas is a strange and wonderful holiday that they’ve never experienced before. For others, it’s something that they grew up with but never took part in. For me, it’s more of a cultural celebration than anything else. It’s a part of where I am from, and it’s a part of who I am.

The holidays shouldn’t be about where you are from or what you believe. They should just be a time of happiness and cheer for whoever wants to participate. That being said, I’ll ask that no one turn this post into an argument or a judgement zone.

I’d like to share my favourite things about the season with all of you, and I’ll do my best to write them well so that you may experience them as I do. In turn, I’d love for you to share the things that make you happiest this season (or during whatever holiday of your choice). If you’re interested, we could use this as an opportunity to share new things, exercise our descriptive writing skills, and learn about those that write alongside us, as we are all vastly different.

I’ll begin!

Snow, Night1) There’s something magical about the slow, graceful way that the snow sifts down through the streetlights at night, like powdered sugar being sprinkled lightly over the world.

 

2) The contagious excitement of children that gives you a swelling feeling in your chest, somewhere between pride and anticipation. The remembrance of pure innocence and the way that it felt.

Christmas Tree3) The strong smell of pine, that makes you wish you spent more time outdoors. The way that it spreads out its long fingers and weaves its way throughout your home—spicy, and sweet, and cold.

 

4) The smiles that people hand out freely for once, as you walk the streets or shovel your driveway. The feeling that you aren’t all strangers as you once thought, but rather friends who are all in on an open secret. The virility of cheer, the unexpected joy at a small kindness, and the ready smiles that you give back in return.

Christmas Present5) The small, quiet, realization of self-maturity when you are more excited to give a gift then to receive one.

 

6) How the cheer of the season is almost tangible as it spills out from your home and envelopes the world around you. Thick like toffee and light as air.

Snowfall7) When a heavy snowfall makes the world around you silent and blurred, giving you the feeling that you are in a small, private snow globe— safe and peaceful and full of beauty. It’s so simple, yet so profound.

 

These things, and many more, and what make Christmas so meaningful to me. It’s a time when I remember childhood holidays fondly, and while it does make me miss my family sorely, I’m thankful to have had such wonderful Christmases to remember. As we move from children to adults, we often have to start making our own traditions, and it’s a bittersweet experience, but one that helps us to define ourselves.

Wherever you are, whatever you celebrate, or if you even do at all, I wish you the happiest of Decembers, and an excellent New Year.

Now, if you will, tell me what makes your preferred holiday so wonderful!

Pro Writing—Alive and Well

Pro Writing—Alive and WellI’ve seen many posts in recent years about the declining need for professional writers. In general, most of them explain the hypothesis by saying that, somehow, technology is going to push writers out of their jobs and we are going to live in a world where computers produce endless amounts of content. This has caused a lot of young hopefuls, and even old hopefuls, to reconsider their paths. I mean, it’s all well and good to do what you love, but if that doesn’t pay the bills then you are in for a hard life, right?

But I think it’s a load of garbage.

Let’s look at e-books for a perfect example. I was recently dubbed a “purist” when it comes to books, and it’s a badge I will gladly wear on my shoulder. I don’t like e-books. I need the ever-wonderful feeling of a real book in my hands that doesn’t have a battery life, that doesn’t die if it accidentally gets wet, and that can proudly sit on a shelf and claim its place in my collection.

When e-books first made their way into the world of consumers, countless articles were printed claiming that “the world of publishing is at an end!”. Yes, well, that’s not quite what happened. Paper books are still sitting in or around the same number as they were when digital books came to life. In fact, the two seem to be living together quite peacefully, instead of taking up arms and fighting to the death.

Books are old things. And old things take a long time to exterminate. It’s not just what they deliver, but what they represent. No matter what happens, I have a feeling that they’ll be around for a long time in paper format.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”—Ernest Hemingway

The same thing is happening with writers. Our purposes may have changed—where once we wrote content for newspapers and pamphlets, now we write it for online websites—but we are still in demand. In order to meet Google’s extensive and complicated algorithms, big sites need to have fresh, keyword-rich, and original content. Duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and irrelevant posts get you dinged, and being in Google’s bad books isn’t something you want to experience.

We’re more in demand than we have been in a long time. If you truly want to be a writer, now is the time to start pushing for it. We’re never really going to go out of style, although the demand may wax and wane, as everything else does. As we enter into another period of the digital era, writers are becoming more respected, needed, and compensated than they have been in a long time.

Think about it this way: the internet is made up entirely of content. That content could be blog posts, articles, books, instructions, or just about anything else. The internet, the most popular thing in our world right now is based on what we writers do.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”—Robert Frost

Back in the day, being a writer meant going through a publisher, having your work rejected, and possibly becoming published at some point. We don’t have to do that now. I am writing a post at this very second that I decided to write. It won’t be reviewed by anyone except myself, the content hasn’t been tweaked for a certain audience, and it won’t go through a submission process. That in itself is something wonderful.

Of course, if you want to be a writer, you will not always be able to choose what you write. I’m employed as a full-time marketing writer, and sometimes I find my projects to be a little dull because they are non-fiction and they’re always based on law, real estate, finance, family, or estate planning. There are no dragons in estate planning, and finance is about as dry as a desert, but I’m not complaining. I’ll write whatever I’m asked to, and I will do it well because I’m a writer and that’s just what I want to be.

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”—Anton Chekhov

What do you think about the way that the internet has changed the writing profession? Are you a writer now, or do you wish that you were?