Friday, August 5, 2011

Daisy Steiner-esque motivation

Tim Bisley: You got anything special planned for today?
Daisy Steiner: I have got a bit of a project, actually. I'm going to be as inactive as I can in order to really get into the psyche of someone unemployed, not just vocationally but cerebrally, to see if the predicament of enforced passivity exacerbates itself. You know, does inactivity breed laziness?
Tim Bisley: Are you going to write an article about it?
Daisy Steiner: No, I can't be bothered.

If you haven't heard of Daisy Steiner, you need to go find Spaced, STAT. I'm not kidding. Go. Now.

Daisy is the kind of writer who doesn't actually write. She procrastinates. There is a choice episode of Spaced in series 2 where she reapplies for benefits. Anyone who has been off and on Centrelink can't help but relate to it. Let's just say that in my current situation, I can confirm that the quote above is horribly, horribly true.
So I am job hunting, agent hunting and writing new things. And I am writing. But it's hard to kill the apathy if you have lots of empty time. I am slowly working on a new manuscript. And it's great, don't get me wrong. I have exciting plans for it. But it's still new. I can't work on it every day, I need time to think on it off and on. There's a danger for me, when I have lots of time, that I will over-work something into the ground and kill it. I like to think a new project is a fragile butterfly or snowflake or (insert lame metaphor). And if your routine has been messed with and a lot of things are up in the air, motivation can be hard. Especially if you have an excess of time. It's hard to switch motivation off and on like that, if you need it one second and it's not necessary the other.
So that's what I'm doing right now. How are you?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


It's kind of a given. If you write, you will be rejected. Over and over. I think a key part of writing life is to develop some kind of terminator-like quality in yourself so you never stop going, despite these obstacles. Unless you get crushed flat in a hydraulic press.

Naturally, there will be moments where the self pity is all-consuming and your friends have to nod along with you and say supportive things about how 'your book is very good'. and 'yes I know this sucks but it's the first place you've sent it, so maybe giving up is not the best plan?' All of this of course boils down to one simple fact: no Text prize for me, or even a shortlisting for it. Meh. It's pathetic when you get thrown by things like this, even if you are only in Pathetic Mode for a day of 30 Rock watching and chocolate consuming. If you believe you've done all you can for the work you've written, and re-written and edited and workshopped and had several people read and then re-edited again and then given it another edit for the hell of it. Why, then it's literary agent time.
In the small likelihood that people are a) reading or b) interested, here are some links.
Australian Literary Agents Association - lists several agents, with information on how to submit to them, the particular interests of each agent etc.
Justine Larbalestier's blog post about getting an agent - a nice reality check, and it's great to read this kind of thing by someone who's been there.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Collaborative writing

I can't be bothered writing about being unemployed or Borders being dead, because it's not really much fun. I'd rather talk to the people concerned than blog about it.

I have also avoided writing about a project I'm part of, mainly because I've been wrapping my head around it. I am working on a collaborative novel with a few other Melbourne writers. We are each writing chapters and developing characters, which will be interconnected and move together with a larger plot arc we all share. The process of it has been so different from how I've usually worked, that is has taken some getting used to. But it made me curious about the ins and outs and potential failures collaborative writing can bring. The plus sides are that there are so many more minds to draw from for creative ideas and directions, and as such the content can power along so much quicker with all those people working on it. The downsides are that all of the problems you face as a solo novelist are multiplied by the amount of people working on it. Writing something new, it can often be hard to both write blindly and also steer it into a certain direction. There is a lot of tentative feeling around and playing with what works, and those bits and pieces eventually become interconnected plot strands and a character revealing itself to an audience chapter by chapter. Adding another person to it, you have to be in sync with what they are doing. But if all of you are in that tentative, new stage of growing the story it can come out garbled or not quite connect. It can potentially be more work, especially if you are novices.

If sound like I am criticising it a lot, it's just because I am trying to process how it works and doesn't work as a way of creating new writing. I'd like to work collaboratively in the future, because a lot of professional writing can happen in groups - for example television scriptwriting.

In my travels - well, when I googled 'collaborative novels' - I found a lot of sites dedicated to it. Many, like Novelet and Storymash look like hideous monstrosities from the late 90's. Protagonize is pretty active, but when I had a poke around it felt like a less crazy version of (shudder). So I guess the best way is to learn by doing. And now I've gone full circle. The end.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Waiting for the Titanic to sink.

So, the place I work is closing in a week. I'd like to say that's the reason I have been bad at blogging, but sometimes you don't have things to say. So why blather on about nothing?

Those of us who work at Borders have a 'social media policy'. Which means we are not allowed to blog, tweet or facebook update about the goings on under administration. To me, it's a sad and hilarious policy. It's going down like Titanic guys. If I write about working during the book apocalypse, that's not going to cause the apocalypse. You can't out-apocalypse the apocalypse.

Maybe I haven't written here because this crap is sucking up my poor fragile mind, and when you think you can't be candid about something, it kind of shrivels up that part inside of you that wants to communicate. Don't get me wrong, I am writing fiction. But slowly. The pathetic thing is that most of the conversations I have these days will somehow always end up being about Borders. I am like one of those old people who can't stop talking about their menopausal leakings or prostate. Seriously, I am the crabbiest, most annoying person to be around right now, as I whinge about how shitty and depressing things are in Clearance Land. And though the staff rock like hell, it is depressing. You're seeing the former means of your financial independence being taken apart and sold piece by piece. You are answering stupid, inane questions. The same ones. Over and over like some kind of End Times robot.
1: Oh! Are you closing? But I thought you were staying open?
2. Do you have a new job yet?
3. Do you know what they're going to put in here? (means the giant emptying gulf of shop space being left behind like the soul-shattering void that once was my employment).
4. Do you have (name of book that we haven't had in six months/a month/ever)
5. I am so sad about this!!! (sadness that I am sure is genuine but I am tired of acting out these scenarios of sad with people I don't know.)

Repeat, with variations, until insane.

Though the other day I found out that Readers Feast was closing too, and the feelings of book-related grief were such that I felt like I had a window into the sadness of the customers who talk to me. And I know they probably do mean well.

Mostly, I am sick to death of talking about it, sick of going around in circles like a fish in a tank that will never be cleaned again. Tidying up the few things that are left. Making everything-must-go announcements. I will miss my friends there like crazy, but I am not going to lose them. I think the place I worked is no longer there. I am so ready for it to close. Then maybe my next update wont be another long pathetic retail whinge.

In other news, I am reading 'The Valley of Horses' by Jean Auel. And 'Beauty Queens' by Libba Bray. Both are very good.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


With all the things going on right now, it can be difficult to just let go and muck around with words and ideas for the sake of it. I work at one of the Borders stores in Australia that has an indeterminate time left before closing, as was announced at the beginning of this week. This news is potentially stressful, because I have to find a new job soon. I have to lose all my awesome workmates. And I have to deal with the crazy that an everything-must-go sale will bring. But oddly, I’m not stressed right now. I do have a lot on my mind though.

I am pretty much done with the edits on the novel I was writing. I can only speak for myself but when there’s a lot of crazy goings on, or even when I accomplish something that takes a lot out of me, I can feel depleted at the end. I think I have a flat battery in my brain. And I have learnt the hard way that a way to fix a flat brain battery is not to force it to write. Or to stare at a blank screen willing yourself to get started on a new project. That’s not very inspiring to me, that’s just irritating. Maybe some people can do this, bash their heads against the wall again and again until something comes out that’s useful. Maybe that’s what professional writers do. But why should I? To what purpose? And aside from one collaborative project I have recently started up on, I’m doing this all for me. I don’t have a three book deal or something forcing me to sit at the computer every day that demands results or else. I am doing this because I like it. So there’s no point making myself hate it.

When I am in this space between projects, and in this flat battery stage, I tend to read more. Watch people more. Absorb information without really knowing why I am researching it. Going for aimless walks helps, so you can let your mind wander. It’s a pity it’s getting colder here in Melbourne, because there’s something so good about lying in the local park on the grass, staring up at the trees in the sunshine. I come up with good ideas there, and oddly enough solve problems with my writing that have been bugging me.
There are solutions. Mainly it’s just finding things that are enjoyable, little innocuous things that help set your mind loose so you can write a bit in your head. And it’s about growing comfortable with not ‘writing’ in the sense of typing words down, rather than just playing with ideas and notions in your head and having fun with all that possibility out there.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

writing and pain

I haven’t mentioned this before on this blog, but everybody who knows me knows this already. I suffer from chronic pain. In my shoulder and neck, and when it is particularly bad in my back and hands as well as with headaches. It’s something I manage. Mostly quite well since I got over the worst hurdles of it. But there are bad days, like with everything. Today’s not a great one. But it’s been so much worse.

This has a lot to do with my writing. When it was very bad, bad in my hands, I had no idea how I would be able to write while I had this condition. I hate to go all 80’s movie montage on you, but it ended up being the best thing for my writing. I mean, no the pain sucked. Sucks. But I guess it reminded me that this writing thing was damn important, and I wasn’t about to roll over and give up just because things had gotten tougher. I put aside half an hour a week to write something – anything. It didn’t matter, as long as I just did it. It took a while, and I didn’t push it when it was bad. That would have been stupid. A half hour was a half hour. But as I got steadily better, I wrote a couple more times a week. It doesn’t matter that most of what I wrote at that time was rubbish, or something I haven’t even used. It kept me writing. Months later I ended up starting and finishing several short stories. Eventually I started the novel that I have just finished. Oddly, having to limit myself to that small amount of time helped me focus more when I did write. It made me treasure it too. It wasn’t a thing I HAD to do, it was something I GOT to do. That I was lucky to do weekly. It also helped create a routine for me, or at least got me used to having a writing routine. And I had to give up handwriting full drafts in notebooks, because it honestly hurt too much. It’s hard to remember now, how upset that made me. How it made me cry and feel powerless. I take it as a given that I do the bulk of my work on a computer now. But at the time, I wasn’t used to using them for first drafts.
I guess all of the above shows how resilient people can be, when we know we want something. The pain is still something I manage, but it’s just one part of me now. Not the central focus.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A few things.

1. I got a printer. Not exciting enough for you? Well, this means I a) don't have to pay gasp-worthy amounts to internet cafes for a few damn pages and b) no longer have to pretend I still go to RMIT.

2. Other projects, which are still in development but are nonetheless exciting.

3. Fully embracing my brief break from the novel and brain-hemorrhaging on lots of America's Next Top Model.

4. I am convinced that America's Next Top Model (or ANTM) is perfectly equipped to break you down to your simplest components so your brain can be rebuilt from scratch. Like sniffing coffee beans to clear your sense of smell after too many perfume samples, or Pol Pot's Year Zero*. People have just laughed at me when I told them of my activities. But it is WORKING. Last night I read half a book (The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elizabeth Tova Bailey. Soul-lifting, mind-blowing and also just sweet). I owe it all to Tyra Banks and her torture of girls in the hopes of becoming America's. Next. Top. Model.

*Candace Petrik does not endorse Pol Pot or any other dictator, comments here are made due to a poor sense of humour and are not the opinion of the writer or any publisher who decides to give her heaps of money in the future.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Writing a novel fries out your brain

My attention span is shot these days. Did you know that I can't even read? Or at least that reading frustrates the hell out of me. Aside from Tina Fey's book. That reads itself.
It's something that happened towards the end of my Arts degree, and it's something that finishing up a novel inspires. At least in me. I am very close to the end, which makes me alternately excited and irritated. I don't want it to end. No, I want it to end right now. Story endings are something I have always had problems with, not that I've ever gotten this far with a 'book'. But it's a problem I have with short stories at least, so I would very much like there to be a nice balance to the structure, I don't want it to be top-heavy. I want there to be pay-off at the end that seems inevitable when you read it, but isn't laboured or predictable. I also don't want it to seem rushed. You might say I want a lot. Many nice people are reading for me and have been giving me useful feedback. I love these people a lot. They enable me to fix and rewrite and re-imagine problematic parts of the 'book'.

This is a rambling way to say I am not reviewing any books here right now. Because I have no attention span to do much beyond edit my book, watch Boardwalk Empire and read 'Bossypants.' The end.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Am Number Four & Ingo

It might be because of all my writing motivation and my renewed love for the young adult fiction genre. I've been reading it like crazy lately. This week I finished Ingo by Helen Dumore and I Am Number Four by 'Pitticus Lore' (*cough* James Frey).
Ingo came to my attention a couple of years ago, when lots of girls around the age of 11 kept coming into the store asking after the series. Ingo is the first in the series, a rather clever little piece of work about a girl whose name is unfortunately Sapphire. She and her brother are convinced that their missing father isn't dead and is instead in the underwater land that humans can't reach without drowning, Ingo. Sapphire finds herself increasingly drawn to this place, and to the Mer that inhabit it. It really isn't half bad, though a little meandering at times. The way Sapphire is called by the sea is particularly vivid. Dumore definitely captures that playfulness, the search for adventure and magic. There are three more books. I'm curious to see how repetitive it's going to get.

I am Number Four. I was expecting this to be as painful as Gone by Michael Grant, but the two writers who put this book together are not so sloppy. It's the story of Four/John Smith and Henri, his guardian. They are from the planet Lorien, which was invaded when John was a child. Eight more children and guardians escaped to earth, a magic bond created by a Lorien guardian to make sure they can only be killed in a certain order (hence the number in the title). John is next. The Loric kiddies are waiting to develop their powers or 'Legacies', while evading detection by the alien race that invaded their planet. This race wants them dead, and may indeed be planning to invade earth as well. One day, the nine of them intend to fight back and regain their home planet.

It's certainly colour-by-numbers teen fiction, make no mistake. This is book onc in what will surely become a profitable franchise. You've got all the boxes ticked here. Obligatory love interest that isn't at all interesting and not quite believable, all the plot points adding up to a big finale. Some wooden repetition work with the dialogue that is supposed to be meaningful. Example: at one point in the middle of the book, Henri gives some speech to John about how there's always hope. And towards the end, near the final battle, John parrots this back. Cue violins, then dramatic battle music.
It's not the worst book, not by a long shot. The action sequence is a bit dull, the bully turning into a good guy at the end underdeveloped. There's more problems but there's no point listing them, because they're common problems in teen action books. 'Pitticus Lore' can write. It's even moving at times. But it just feels like it was made in a YA factory. I will read the next book, which is more than I can say for Michael Grant's painfully bad Gone etc series. But it's missing something important. Maybe it's hope. Or possibly just depth.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Endings and the potential failure they bring

So I do go on a bit about the fact that 'I am writing/finishing/redrafting a novel blah blah blah' at the moment. Tell me when this gets boring. Turns out, second/third drafts can have moments where you just want to bash your head against the wall. I am fixing up the middle and the end and am thus thinking a lot about endings. Mainly, how I don't want my ending to suck. Just because it's a YA novel, doesn't mean it can be half-baked crap. This leads me to think about some of the books I've read that seem to be let down by their endings. I'm not just talking about first novels here, (although yeah, those can have really painfully bad endings. Rocks in the Belly, I'm looking at you ). I recently sped my way through the first Dexter novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. I also finally finished reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Yes, two vastly different books. One might argue that they're not even in the same league. But to be fair to Jeff Lindsay, his first book is very well written. I was surprised by how evocative and clever it was, as I don't usually enjoy the crime genre. The ending seems a little underdeveloped though. He spends the whole book leading us up to it and when we are finally in the same room as Dexter and 'the bad guy' (I am protecting those of you yet to read/watch this) it's like he just skips to the end. Why?

Now to The Poisonwood Bible. This is a brilliant book. I am about, what, ten or so years late for a review? It's been out since 1998. I'm sure many people have raved more eloquently than I can about how cleverly she captures the voice of each female narrator in the Price family and how vividly she depicts The Belgian/newly 'independent' Congo during the unrest in the 1960's, as well as showing missionaries at their worst. But the ending I find a little baffling. She continues the story for several decades after the family's traumatic exit from the Congo. And while it is beautifully written and provides some important details for character development, I do wonder how essential it was for her to continue the story so long after the major events. I'd have thought it would have worked better with the whole thing framed inside that major story line/setting. It's almost like having one false ending, and then a slowly-moving second one showing the family's life after, (something found a lot in Wes Anderson films...)
Though that's just my opinion, it's still a wonderfully layered book and I'm only this critical because the standard she is setting with it is so damn high.

Endings are hard, full stop. They're even harder for those of us who are working on our first manuscripts. It doesn't matter how great your beginning is, or even the middle, if the end falls flat. The ending is the last thing readers are left with. It's your chance to bring the whole thing together, to reach back to the beginning and prove you know what you're doing.
Let's hope I do know what I'm doing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why do badly-written books become popular?

I found out about a self-published author who has been doing really well. There's been some noise on the net about her lately, just because her success began through the medium of ebooks on and the media obviously find this fascinating, given the state of the book industry right now. Her name is Amanda Hocking.

From what I can tell, she isn't a very accomplished writer. At least not yet. Her books fall under the YA category, but I wonder if it happened by some kind of default due to the writing quality and the fact of young characters? The one and a half books I read came across as pretty juvenile in style and substance - some people incorrectly assume YA doesn't need to be particularly clever or deep. Being a writer myself, close to finishing my own first novel, I was curious. I mean hell, let's be honest, we all love a good news story about writers making it big. She offers her ebooks very cheaply on Amazon, so I downloaded Switched for 99 US cents.

I don't have room here to adequately describe all the flaws in this book. They seem to be the standard kind you find in the works of novice writers: simplistic plot twists, poor dialogue, shallow character development, bad evocation of setting and place. Terribly written action sequences. Lack of skill in creating a sense of anticipation and mystery, with information revealed too slowly, the main character strangely unaware of obvious things. There must be something to it that keeps you reading, for I did read the whole thing. It is an interesting concept at least (about Changlings), though not at all an original one. But there is so much lacking in the execution that it isn't enough to save the book.

People have a tendency to bring up Twilight whenever another successful YA novel comes to light. But in her case, there are clear parallels, simply due to the poor writing quality. The above could be said about all of the Twilight books. The only difference that I can see is I am not offended by Amanda Hocking's politics. I don't feel particularly wonderful writing a harsh critique on her stuff, only because I think she's quite awesome. She writes pretty candidly about her experiences as a writer trying to get published on her blog, and she seems like a fairly cool person.

But I don't know if I will ever get it. Why do badly-written books do so well? It makes me think that all my effort to write beautiful sentences and evocative setting is for nothing. That I could do just as well if I spun a lot of cliches together and had the girl get the guy in the end.

Questions, comments?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I may have failed to win but I didn't fail to try + Bird Cloud

The last day of February and I can safely say that I have failed. I did not adequately fast from books. I was very bad. There were special extenuating circumstances. One, the company work for (Borders) has recently gone into Voluntary Administration. That is depressing. It requires books to ease the pain. I know, I know - I am a sad person. Do I look like I care? I do not care.

The second important circumstance was that Annie Proulx released a new book, Bird Cloud. The third important factor in my demise? Amazon UK is doing a free-shipping thing to Australia at the moment. And I was unable to resist. I am part of the problem. But that's why I bought Bird Cloud from my local independent book retailer. So you see, it all has a perfectly reasonable explanation. But I still failed. Oh well.

I have learned to be more thrifty and I do intend to be more careful with my finances and will not be adding books at too crazy a rate to my scary, scary pile. Which is good because of my potentially unstable employment situation.

On to the reviewing. I am only half-way through Bird Cloud, but it is so far very much like an extended episode of Grand Designs. If Grand Designs were written by a prize-winning author who is able to subtly evoke the beauty in her geographical surroundings. Bird Cloud is a memoir about Proulx's connection to place and her search for a home that truly represents her. She talks a little about childhood homes and former dwellings that had too many flaws to be livable in the long term. The familiar Grand Designs staples are there though. The house she dreams about for the Bird Cloud property is complex, with found metals, an unconventional shape and an isolated location. Problems arise early, with builders almost impossible to source. The architect lives nowhere near her and she herself lives a distance from the property, while also having to travel out of the country frequently. This isn't a fast-paced, tell-all memoir. It is a wonderfully meandering book that shows you all the small things in her rural surroundings that Proulx draws from for her creativity. It is, in short, a chance to follow her thoughts and see into the mind of a fascinating writer.

Monday, February 21, 2011

So. Things have gotten interesting

Obviously I can't say a lot. I don't really know anything, but I have no interest in making things worse. Plus there's that pesky contract.

Mostly it's a mixture of happiness and sadness going on at Borders right now, at least mine. Sadness at the possibility/probability of change. Happiness because I love all the people I work with. How many people can say that? Not many, I think. Sadness at the idea of not working with them, because as corny as it sounds, they're a little like a family to me.

I don't really have anything more to say, I don't particularly want to dissect the whys and wonder about the health of the publishing industry. I think I'm getting sick of reading about it. And as someone foolhardy enough to be completing her first novel, I don't want to crush my creative spirit. Things are getting interesting right now in the land of book-selling, and not just for us. I am curious about the future. Let's leave it at that.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Battle Hymn For the Tiger Mother

Today is the 17th of February, 11 days left of my book-buying fast. I already have four books in my Book Depository basket, I am ashamed to admit: Paradoxical Undressing by Kristin Hersh, Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves us by Laura Van Den Berg and The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut. I am not made of stone, ok? There is a benefit from not being allowed to click 'buy' right away. I may even reconsider getting them.

Thanks to the kindness of my managers at work, I borrowed The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. It's definitely entertaining, not always for the right reasons. I think the same part of me that enjoys true crime enjoyed the extremism exhibited in her parenting style. But to my thinking, it's not so much a how-to book on parenting than a memoir about pride, ego, humility and the search for a third way. It is evident pretty early on that her one-size-fits-all 'Chinese parenting' model can't be applied to every child, let alone both of her children. Only one child responded well to it, while the other rebelled constantly, causing her to eventually concede that there had to be a middle ground between the 'Western' and 'Chinese' models of discipline. It's certainly written with a lot of humour, and in a very self-aware voice. It makes me think that all the controversy was drummed up to fuel book sales. And she is pretty extreme at times, so those wanting to read it in order to get angry at her will find what they're looking for to an extent. But it is by no means black and white.

Next up, I finally read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Illness leads to time speeding up

Signs I am recovering from the mysterious stomach flu/food poisoning are that I actually feel like reading is enjoyable again. Being sick did wipe out about a week of book-yearning though. Win. I feel like I am experiencing the same type of 'missing time' as the supposed abductees in the book on UFOs I recently read.

During my bed-ridden days in the last week, I didn't get to do much reading, though I got through most of Carol Topolki's 'Do No Harm', which is meant to be about a good doctor gone bad. I thus expected a trashy read that was somewhat entertaining. It wasn't as trashy as expected, though the 'madness' wasn't very cleverly conceived. The child's isolation was well-drawn, but as an adult, her 'imaginary friend' is such an obvious way to show the crazy. Split personality? Or just a lazy way to personify all the things wrong with her? I gave up just before the doctor went bad (and I am led to assume, maims patients in a way that messes with their reproductive abilities), so I cannot comment on the lack of subtlety in representing mental illness as the plot leads to its climax. There's something in the writing I found nauseating and exhausting - and not in an entirely good way. But because I never intend to finish it, I will never know if it was my illness or the book being simply mediocre.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day three

I have been avoiding places that sell books. Except of course for the bookshop I work in. I have been good so far, though you know I haven't been abstaining for long. So that's not really much of a claim, is it?

Highlights so far on this most noble journey.

1. Borrowing a book from work. Reading said book. Returning said book the following day. The book was 'The UFO diaries' by Martin Plowman. I really really wanted to buy it, but since I have now read it the feeling of intense desperation has gone. Obviously. Yes, the book contains the word UFO. Judge all you like, it's still an awesome book. The author studied UFOs and those who believe in them (in the past and present) for his PHD. The book contains a lot of philosophical insight into the phenomena of this belief, as well as the entertaining journeys he made to the USA and South America in search of UFO connections. Imagine going up to a stranger and asking 'so..uhhh...are there any UFO hotspots in this area?' This book contains such odd conversations. Gold.

2. Today I walked PAST Dymocks and didn't go in.

3. I am intent on finishing 'Truth' by Peter Temple finally. Even though it is an amazing book, it is written in a pared-down style that is pretty sparse at times. This style does not invite dipping in and out of the book and is best enjoyed reading all at once, from beginning to end. I have not done this, but read the book in between various trashy true crime novels, young adult fiction and celebrity biographies. Peter Temple deserves better, evidently.

Tune in next time for more book-obsessive hijinks.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

FebFast for books

I have a problem. The problem could end in either two scenarios. The first would be starvation, or being thrown out of home due to spending all of my money on books. The second is being crushed from above by my ever-growing 'to read' pile. In all seriousness, it's a real issue. I am going to have absolutely no savings, and in the advent of an emergency that requires a lump sum? Well, 'screwed' is putting it mildly. I do enjoy reading, in some ways to the detriment of my social life. And I am not exaggerating much about the piles of books I have yet to read. There's piles alright. At least 20 books I have meant to read, or am mid-way reading. And these are recent acquisitions, not books I've have for 5 years. I know, bad Candace.

I guess I went a bit crazy last year, got a bit excited about books. And you know, books are exciting. Pat me on the back. But there's a line. I think I crossed it. Call it scary consumerism, because that's surely a part of it. Another problem is the fact that I work in a bookshop, so temptation is never very far away. But there are only so many books a person can read at once, and when you continually add books to that towering mess of literature in my room it becomes a bit of a cycle that needs to be broken. The solution? Feb Fast! I don't drink, at least not very much. I can go half a year without remembering to drink alcohol. But I am using the month of February to slow down the book consumption. It's about treating books with a little more care, and not just as objects to keep consuming and adding to my pile. It's about reading the ones I have. It's about not acting like the consumer equivalent of a jack russel.

Rules: I have to have rules, because otherwise this is not going to last long. I am not allowed to buy any books for myself in the moth of February. But if it is someone's birthday or whatever, I am allowed to buy them any present I like. This includes a book. I am not allowed to buy a book and pretend it is a present, read it and then give it. That is bad. I am allowed to borrow books. Borrowing won't be a problem, because I tend to think fearfully of my book pile when I add something to it that I have to return within a time-frame, so I only tend to borrow when I know its going to jump the queue and be returned soon. And thus, I don't borrow books very often.

So. It is the 1st of February. Wish me luck.