Posts Tagged short story
Reading is something we learn from a very early age. We begin by reciting out ABC’s then moving onto simple stories before we finally open up our first book. It’s an activity that unfortunately doesn’t last for some. Where many become avid readers, which is great, some fall by the wayside and don’t pick up a book or switch on a reading device for a long time, if at all.
So in this post I’d like to lay bare the benefits to reading some may not automatically think of when they consider sitting down with a good story.
Reading can make you live longer
In a study Health and Retirement study, it was found that adults 50 years and older who read for only 3.5 hours a week were likely to live two years longer than those who didn’t and were 23% less likely to die.
Fiction can improve empathy
Keith Oatley of the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development at the University of Toronto found those who read fiction, especially literary fiction, outscored those in a test of empathy than those who did not read fiction. In his paper ‘Fiction: Simulation of Social Worlds‘ Oatley found that engagement in the story, which includes the reader becoming emotionally involved and making inferences regarding the story and meeting complex characters which we may not meet in out day to day lives, people can improve their understanding of others.
Reducing stress through reading
A piece from The Telegraph newspaper reports Dr. David Lewis of the University of Sussex found that reading could reduce stress by up to 68%. After reading for only 6 minutes, subjects of Dr. Lewis’ study lowered their heart rate and eased muscle tension. They found that stress levels were lower than when they started the study. This reduction in stress was shown to be more efficient and quicker than, going for a walk (42% reduction), playing video games (21% reduction), drinking a cup of tea or coffee (54% reduction) and listening to music (61% reduction).
Audio books give a boost to gym sessions
Something I’ve found to work on a personal level is bringing a good audio book to the gym. Listening to music as you blast the calories is one thing but an audio book can suck you into its plot and block out everything else. I’ve pushed through more pain and discomfort by focusing on a story than I have with music. No research to provide for this one, apart from my own (o:
Image by Poodar Chu
To get to to the peaky part I’ve been working on a 30 day book marketing challenge through Bad Red Head Media (it was a recommendation from the fantastic author and person Sue Colleta, please head on over to http://www.suecoletta.com/)
It’s a week into the challenge and there is still time to jump on board the challenge at http://badredheadmedia.com/services/the-30-day-badredheadmedia-book-marketing-challenge/ but so far it has been really great to work through twitter and the many tools available to manage it. I’ve learned a lot in regards to sharing content efficiently, managing follows and unfollows, using twitter to promote my fiction without the dreadful ‘PLEASE BUY MY BOOK’ tweets that fill most of our feeds. One of the main aspects I’ve likes about this has been the focus on building relationships on social media that not only highlight my fiction but lead to better and more meaningful interaction online.
I would highly recommend following the link above and checking it out.
Now, the word count. It’s been okay-ish. Managed 7,300 this week with a zero word count on Sunday. Would like to get to 10k this week or even double the number but we’ll see how it goes.
Recently I’ve had a longing to write short stories again. There is something about the format that really interests me and keeps me coming back to it time and time again. If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know this how my writing journey started. Reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, he really advocate for the format and this struck a cord in me. The problem is I suppose is that the format does not earn much money and magazines are so inundated with submissions the likelihood of being published is slim… still something I like about the idea of writing them though!
Book 2 of my Dean Cornell series is coming along nicely. Have managed to write the ending already. One of those moments that simply came to me as I was day dreaming about something completely unrelated. I’m pretty happy with the results though. My Science Fiction story has stagnated a little. I familiar with the genre to read but writing it can be a tough one. Either way, the challenge is well underway so all that it left to do it continue until there is something worthwhile to show for it.
So, it’s back to my scrivener file and time to get that 10k down.
Let me know how you are going and as always thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.
One week down.
Hope is been great for everyone reading this out there…and just to throw it out there I came across the website… http://www.xmasclock.com/ (o;
So, the writing has been patchy. Here and there. Still struggling to nail the daily word count but I’m still trying. I’ll talk about a little why later but for now I wanted to throw a project out there that I’m working on. I met a group of awesome people online who write in a variety of genres and rock each one. They were really to invite me into their group to collaborate on a science fiction project with a difference. The twist was to choose a fairy tale and give it a science fiction twist. Not wanted to give myself an easy road, I chose ‘The Three Little Pigs.’ I loved the story as a child and knew it more than any other so thought, ‘why not.’
The story was difficult to give a sci fi twist but I think I’ve come up with something. My story involve interstellar colonization and invasion which tie in well to the story but it’s giving the story a feel of arrogance, arrogance of those who feel they know better but end up loosing nearly everything. Anyway, it’s in the process and will hopefully come to fruition by end of Feb.
My other project is my second book in the Dean Cornell Series. This has been a slow build for me but I can safely say the juices are flowing again. It’s been really influenced by two sources, 1. Angela Marson’s amazing Detective Kim Stone series of books (check them out if this is your cup of tea, awesome Angela’s Amazon Page) and 2. A BBC series called ‘Luther,’ which has such great characters and develop them incredibly well (Luther on IMDB).
Both are well worth a look and are really giving me much to think about with my own fiction.
Now the other thing I wanted to talk about was a little more sensitive and something I would suspect affects many other people out there.
It’s about depression and anxiety. This is something that has plagued me on and off for as long as I can remember and it’s one thing that has placed the biggest and most difficult to remove barriers to my motivation to write. I have had days where ideas would desperately want to get out, my imagination would be running wild with thoughts, fueled inspirations galore only to fall flat when something triggers a sense of deep sadness within me. It’s so very hard to explain sometimes how and why this happens but it does and it’s very real. Help is everywhere, people are more than willing to listen but having to tell them or having to hear the words of admission from your own mouth can be like a dagger to the heart. At least, it was for me.
I’ve written about character who have been depressed and anxious and know exactly what they should do. I know who they should see and why but when fiction becomes real life those plans don’t seem to translate quite as easily. I only write this now and say these things because I’ve recently opened up about the darkness that descends sometimes. It’s been unbelievably frightening but cathartic to do so. People were willing to listen to me and begin to understand why I was feeling like that. It hasn’t been easy and sometimes people take it as a failure on their part for not being there for you but they do understand eventually. Admittance is one part. The next part is far bigger, it’s getting help for it. This is where I feel we all differ completely and one size does not fit all. Therapy is a powerful tool to use but doesn’t work for everyone. There are various types of therapies to avail of too so if depression and/or anxiety are something you suffer with. Pharmacological therapies are aplenty and these work very well for people in the short and long term but getting to the root cause is always the long term goal with mental health issues. Once the core of the issues is exposed which can be very very tough to do and even tougher to understand and deal with but once it’s out there it’s there to be dealt with.
A resource I’ve been using lately which I find really good. Happify (Happify) is an app based site that uses a variety of methods to improve moods and help deal with an array of mental health issues.
So that’s my small piece to add to this very vast subject. All I can say to finish here is that it’s okay to admit it, it’s better to talk about it and it’s a journey to deal with it but in the end it’ll be a well worth it.
Last night I attended an Evening with Neil Gaiman in Sydney. I had not read something by Neil in a long long time but thought seeing as he was in town why no go! I wasn’t disappointed. Listening to him read, sing and tell stories was wonderful. You know you are fully immersed in the goings on on stage when you have to physically relax the small muscles around your body.
I had no idea he sang and wrote songs but he does and performed several with a four string quartet called ‘FourPlay‘ who deserve a special mention because they were great as well. FourPlay are a contemporary yet classical four piece and from the performance last night I’ve become a fan.
The stories Neil read came from ‘Trigger Warning’ a collection of essays and short stories. As he read it was amazing to hear his interpretation of each character as well as becoming caught up in the short itself.
Neil and FourPlay gave an eclectic performance of fiction and poetry reading, music, Q & A, stories from his vast career and insight on what it’s like to be the man himself.
If you see him coming to town I would recommend buying a ticket. It’s a treat to see such an amazing talent give you a small window into himself as a true artist.
I feel as if 2014 has flown by at a ridiculously fast rate. I suppose we all feel that way but for me, with moving states, starting a new job and heading home to Ireland for a couple of months it’s been a pretty quick year.
I’m hoping 2015 moves by a little slower, savor it a little.
Over the year though my writing has moved forward. I’ve managed to have more stories published which was great. I’ve finished another manuscript and finally started editing. I was hoping to have the book finished by Christmas this year but if I rushed it and not had a professional edit on it, the book would have suffered so I’ve held it back for a little while.
Through my blog, Twitter and Facebook I’ve met some really great people. It a really cathartic process meeting people online who share similar interests and are so willing to reach out. Setting up my blog in March of this year was one of the best things I’ve done as a writer.
2015, I really want to publish some work myself. I’ve loved having stories published by others in various anthologies but I want to take the plunge myself, sink and swim like everyone else out there in the indie world. Finding and editor and a cover designer is something else I want to do and get it right of the bat, hopefully. I bought davidjdelaney.net which means I have no excuse not to set up an author site so that’s project number… I lost count.
So it’s been a busy 2014 and I think 2015 might shape up to be a little busier but I’m looking forward to it.
How’s 2015 shaping up for you?
One more day of NanoWriMo left… only 33k to go and I’m pretty sure I won’t do it. (o;
I decided to throw away the 1667 word count in favor of a 500 word a day goal. I was stressing at the beginning of November, wondering how will I fit in Nano while trying to ensure I still live the rest of my life. So as most of us do in today’s modern world, I turned to Google. So far it’s had all of the life answers I’ve needed and through some clicking and scanning I found one more. What I found was this site ‘http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com’.On here I found a blog post entitled ‘Smashing the fiction bottleneck’ and it really helped. I would recommend reading through it because there are other points in there to ponder but the one I want to talk about here is what the author Randy Ingermanson calls ‘The 500 Club’.
It’s pretty simple… write 500 words a day at a very minimum. It can be done within 30 minutes and is a solid number that will give you 182,500 words a year to polish and play around with. That is two or three novels. It’s a ton of short stories or novellas. Now I take this as 500 words of fiction writing so blog posts and the like are extra on top of that but it’s still a nice easy number to aim for. Like a lot of writer out there I work full time. I have another life not lived vicariously through words written and read. Writing is a big part of my life but not the only part and this is what Nano taught me, that until I make writing a full time career I can’t sustain 1667 a day, even for a month. Turning the dial down from 1600 to 500 has not only given me reason to relax a bit but I have found I have enjoyed writing so much more. I’ve even found that I’ve written more on some days, not hitting 1667 but 800 – 1000 words. Again, these are achievable numbers taking 30 to 60 minutes to write. It doesn’t feel like pressure and that makse a massive difference in both how I write and the quality of the words I produce.
I’m sorry if this sounds like Nano bashing because it is and it isn’t. Some people thrive on Nano, creating a whopping amount of words and love the process. I managed 60+k for camp Nano, but I wasn’t working full time that month so it was achievable. For others like me, I’d recommend joining The 500 club.
Eventually, given luck and a massive amount of hard work you can join the The 2000 club just like Stephen King writes about in ‘On writing’… the writers Bible as far as I’m concerned (o;
Now, some awesome resources I’ve been using over the last few weeks…
This is not writing but he’s an awesome Australian Comedian named Wil Anderson. He runs a Podcast called TOFOP, funny as hell so once you’ve smashed 500 words take a listen… ‘http://www.tofop.com/’
8,509… that’s my count so far with my NanoWriMo project… To be honest, I’m completely fine about it. What I’ve done since the 1st of November I’m really happy with.
I started my Vampire story and with 8K done so far it’s taking a different direction, something I didn’t expect. There seems to be more murder in it… who’d have thought. At around 10K, I plan to outline where I think it’ll go but in reality it’ll go wherever it tells me it wants to go.
Riding the bus to work one about a week ago I was listening to Joanna Penn’s podcast with Mark Dawson when this line popped into my head, “I tore his limbs off like fingers on a KitKat” That was it. Nothing more. I got home that night and wrote 1500 word opening for a new story. Apparently it’s human demon hybrid who has no qualms about killing. Mostly bad people. Mostly.
The other thing I decided to do, stupidly in November, was write a short story in the hope it gets picked up by the Australian Horror Writers yearly publication. I put a fair chunk of time and effort into it and I was really happy with the results but… time will tell. It’s a demon possession story and a guy driven insane as a result. It kind of fed my weird thought on the bus I suppose.
The last thing I completed this week was a beta read for someone. I’ve never read anybody else’s raw material before and it was probably one of the best things I’ve done for my own writing. It was great to read something unpolished and realize other writers have the same issues you have. Blending story lines and character arcs into a solid book doesn’t just happen. I offered my opinion on what I read and instantly felt like a dick but I felt it better than not saying anything at all. I also thought that if I offer my opinion on how I felt it could be bettered than I couldn’t very well cry like a baby when someone said it to me. I really appreciate the opportunity to read the work and hopefully contribute to it in a very small way.
So, that’s me the past week.
Have you been part of any beta reads and how has it helped you?