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Blogging Themes

themes

Over the next few months I’m going to be concentrating on monthly blogging themes for a while. Hopefully this will bring a degree of fluidity to my blog posts that I’ve been searching for, and now the end of a month is (almost) here, my next post will be a themed post and I’ll start from the beginning of April.

Not only will it give my blog focus, it’ll give my mind at bit of focus too, hopefully. An issue at work has been somewhat stressful to say the least, and I’m focusing on my current project which is coming together nicely, so with work and my project sometimes I lack the get-up-and-go to blog.

So soon you’ll see more order here and more themes – whether it’ll be a month of book reviews (general or specific), a month of history, a month of all things libraries, a month of all things writing, top tens, and how to’s….etc etc

[Luckily though, seen as I don’t blog every day (although that may be one of the future monthly themes), you won’t feel inundated with blog after blog of that month’s theme.]

focus

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Posture: for writers

Posture: for writers

Writers spend a lot of their time sat down – I do at the very least. Sat down at their computers, laptops, with their note pads.

According to some research done and explained to us via the BBC it’s not a good thing to be sat at your desk for too long. No surprise there really. We knew that it wasn’t good for you, for your posture, your health or your waistline, but findings reveal that office workers are ‘too sedentary’ and are particularly prone to sit for long periods of time without moving – only getting to their feet to visit the bathroom or make a cup of tea/coffee. Many office workers even eat at their desks.

Busy-Office

Writers like office workers are prone to suffer for these long hours of sitting. True writers can be more flexible (they can pace the floor while thinking or editing even); and they may not sit down for hours on end day in day out. A lot of research is done out and about, a visit to the library, museums or the place where your novel is set. There’s also times when you meet and greet fellow writers like yourselves. And we have the tendency, especially if we work from home, to procrastinate and do that little bit of housework that needs doing. Or more positively when we take a break we can do some housework or whatever, to get our bodies moving.

However, we must and do spend a large amount of time sitting at our desks with our computers (or note pad depending on how you like to write) actually physically writing. Putting words on the page. And when you really get into it, time easily gets away from you and the next moment you look up hours have flown by with you just sitting.

What’s more where we sit can have a huge effect. Office workers have to sit in chairs at their desks. But writers working from home well we can write from wherever we want. At our desks, on the sofa, in bed. Wasn’t it Marian Keyes who used to write everything snuggled up in bed? So for writers it can be more than just sitting down for long periods of time which can affect our postures, it’s also where you sit and therefore how. On the sofa/couch or in bed you naturally slump. At the desk you are forced, I feel, to sit up straighter.

For the past few days I’ve been sitting on the sofa, as primarily I’m making notes and doing research, but my back now is hurting, so I’ve brought myself to type at the table.

What can we do?

Have a break. We all know how important it is to take a break, but it’s equally important to take a break from sitting. Get up, stretch, move around.

Stretch. A couple of stretches every now and again even while sitting can help posture.

Posture. Sit up straight.

Stand up when you can. When you’re on the phone, making brief notes etc.

Go for a walk. I know we’d all love to have the time to go for a walk, but time doesn’t always allow us to. Even if you just walk around your house or around the local area for ten minutes or so can work wonders not just for your posture or waistline but also for your creativity.

Split up your chores. So you have to go the library, to the shop, to the dentist, whatever. If you can split these chores up and try to do one a day rather than all in one afternoon. This then doesn’t take up a whole afternoon, and it gets you away from the computer (great), standing up (great) and moving around, burning calories and improving posture (great). It can even be household chores, like the ironing or vacuuming.

office-exercises9322015

If nothing else think of this: “It’s about changing attitudes to how people behave at work and changing the culture of the workplace that just means moving around at little bit more, even just standing up can make a big difference to calories burned and how alert, creative and productive you are.”

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Learning in Libraries

So back on Monday 9th March it was Commonwealth Day.

As part of the commemoration for it I put up the following display of flags for children (and adults) to match with the correct country. It was great to see all the people excited about trying to guess which country matched with which flag, and learning which countries were part of the Commonwealth, and really what the Commonwealth is.

And this is the result…

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…It was great to get people interested in history, for people to learn something new and most importantly to learn something new for themselves, to use resources within the library whether books or even the internet.

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Writers Using Smartphones

smartphones-juni-2013

So we all know that being a writing is more than just putting words onto a page. Its also about networking, planning, researching, brain-storming, editing etc and so forth…

Technology today is all around us. Even in our hands (or pocket or bottom of handbag). The age of the smart phone has well and truly dawned.

While for many, myself included, smartphones have become a bane of our lives, in some ways. In other ways they have proved themselves so completely useful and integral that we cannot picture our lives without them. I use mine on a everyday basis. Yes as a simple, humble phone, but also for note-taking and using useful everyday apps.

Internet on the go.

Note-making.

Diary management & Calendar.

Apps.

Network apps – like twitter, Facebook and the others…

Clock.

Calculator.

Camera.

Emails delivered direct to your smartphone.

There are countless other uses – but this is basically what I use my smartphone for.

But even I don’t feel that I’m using the smartphone technology, as a writer, to its full potential. I still like using a computer screen to send tweets etc. So should I be using it more often when I’m out and about? Probably. I can network on the go. Make notes on the go…. You get my point. I’m all for trying to get more writing out of the day – especially when you have other things to contend with – so I really should be taking a leaf out of my own book and using my smartphone more on the go – to save time elsewhere. Killing two birds with one stone. But like a lot of things its a matter of habit – and having a decent WiFi signal.

So I must start getting into the habit of using my smartphone as more than just a ‘phone’. I’ll let you know how I’m getting on.

Are any fellow writers or readers using any fantastic apps at the moment?

smartphone

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

The Song for Mike Teavee

‘The most important thing we’ve learned,

So far as children are concerned,

Them near your television set –Is never, NEVER, NEVER let

Or better still, just don’t install

The idiotic thing at all.

In almost every house we’ve been,

We’ve watched the gaping at the screen.

They loll and slop and lounge about,

And stare until their eyes pop out.

(Last week in someone’s place we saw

A dozen eyes on the floor.)

 They sit and stare and stare and sit

Until they’re hypnotized by it,

Until they’re absolutely drunk

With all that shocking ghastly junk.

Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,

They don’t climb out the window sill,

They never fight or kick or punch,

They leave you free to cook the lunch

And wash the dishes in the sink –

But did you ever stop to think,

To wonder just exactly what

This does to your beloved tot?

IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!

IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!

IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!

IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND

HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND

A FANTASY, A FAIRYTALE!

HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!

HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!

HE CANNOT THINK – HE ONLY SEES!

“All right!” you’ll cry. “All right!” you’ll say,

What shall we do to entertain“

But if we take the set away,

Our darling children! Please explain!”

We’ll answer this by asking you,

“What used the darling ones to do?

How used they keep themselves contented

Before this monster was invented?”

Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?

We’ll say it very loud and slow:

THEY…USED…TO…READ! They’d READ and READ,

AND READ and READ, and then proceed

TO READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!

One half their lives was reading books!

The nursery shelves held books galore!

Books cluttered up the nursery floor!

And in the bedroom, by the bed,

More books were waiting to be read!

Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales

Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and hales

 And treasure isles, and distant shores

                   Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,

And pirates wearing purple pants,

And sailing ships and elephants,

And cannibals crouching round the pot,

Stirring away at something hot.

(It smells so good what can it be?

Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)

The younger ones had Beatrix Potter

With Mr Tod, the dirty rotter,

And squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland

And Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and –

Just How The Camel Got His Hump,

And How The Monkey Lost His Rump,

And Mr Toad, and bless my soul,

There’s Mr Rat ad Mr Role –

Oh, books, what books they used to know,

Thos children living long ago!

So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,

Go throw your TV set away,

And in its place you can install

A lovely bookshelf with lots of books,

Ignoring all the dirty looks,

The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,

And children hitting you with sticks –

Fear not, because we promise you

That, in about a week or two

Of having nothing else to do,

They’ll now begin to feel the need

Of having something good to read.

And once they start – oh boy, oh joy!

You watch the slowly growing joy

That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen

They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen

In that ridiculous machine,

That nauseating, foul, unclean.

Repulsive television screen!

And later, each and every kid

Will love you more for what you did.

P.S. Regarding Mike Teaevee,

We very much regret that we

Shall simply have to wait and see

If we can get him back his height.

 But if we can’t – it serves him right.’

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I’ll tell you why I do like mondays

its-monday

To borrow and re-word a line from the Boomtown Rats…I’ll tell you why I do like Mondays.

First and foremost I have to say that I do love my day job as a Librarian and that I work Tuesday – Friday.

So my Monday’s are for me and my writing.

It’s the day that I get to write and nothing else. I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything.

One. My housework is done from the weekend so the house is still (relatively) tidy.

Two. I don’t have to travel.

Three. I get to network with you fine people.

Four. I get to write.

Five. I get to research.

Six. I get to think.

Seven. I get to plan.

All in all I love Monday’s because it’s the day that I work on my writing. Which I love.

I’m lucky enough to have a day where I can dedicate my entire day to writing. And what’s more because my other half is out at work (sorry sweetie) I work all day, but also with a deadline. I guess I could go on for hours, and hours, and hours…you get the point. But when my partner/boyfriend gets back home, the writing goes away. You can do too much. And it keeps me focused so I don’t procrastinate.

With just having one full day in the (working) week to focus solely upon writing, I really have to focus my mind and my time so I can come away at the end of the day knowing it was productive. And it usually is. And then whatever I don’t get finished on a Monday can be finished throughout the rest of the coming week before and after my day job. So my entire week is productive. And I do something everyday.

So I love Mondays.

(Mostly) Uninterrupted writing.

(I do have to eat!)

101059-I-Love-Mondays

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H is for Hawk…………

I have to be blunt here. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald is not my cup of tea in the slightest. To say it won the Costa Book of the Year and to be given widespread praise and five-star reviews by many including being labelled as a ‘soaring triumph’ by the Telegraph, I expected something better, something much much better.

Helen MacDonald, nominee in the 2014 Costa Book Awards and winner of the Costa Biography Award category, poses with her book "H is for hawk" prior to the announcement of the overall winner in London

To say that I didn’t rate it highly is something of an understatement. Yes, there is some pretty prose on the pages, but even some of this seems rather forced. As if she’s trying to sound much more creative with words than she is.

Her analysis of TH White’s experience of his attempt at training his goshawk is really quite odd, and seems out of place, like a dissertation of White randomly intermixed in her memoir.  I can’t criticize her method of dealing with her grief after the death of her father, everyone has their own way of dealing with grief. But even knowing this I still can’t say that I enjoyed the book, not even a little bit. I would have put it down, but I felt like it could have been one of those books which you only realize is good when you get to the very end. It wasn’t.

h is for hawk

It was boring, trying to hard to sound intelligent (which I have no doubt that she is), and honestly I found the book irritating.

Again to say that it was apparently a ‘clear winner’ for the Costa Book of the Year award, I was immensely disappointed.

An easily forgotten read.

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