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Lessons learned about Reading & Writing in 2015

READING

  • Read outside your comfort zone. There is, I can’t deny, something so wonderful and luxuriant about snuggling down with a book you just know you will enjoy. But taking a few risks with reading can yield surprising, exciting responses. In my case this year, my surprise reads were in two genres I very, very rarely pay attention to: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (Fantasy) and Lost Girls by Angie Marsons (Crime)

  • If you want your children’s school to have a library, don’t wait for somebody else to do it – nobody else will. You  have to do do it.

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Very humble beginnings, but it is growing! I am really proud of this 🙂

  • If you wait until a child is seven to learn how to read, they can do it in 3 months. I remember a Swiss friend (a teacher – in Switzerland kids start age 7 to read) once told me that and I didn’t believe her, but now I have seen it with my own eyes with my own daughter.
  • I may be well behind the game here, but I discovered Feedly this year and I LOVE it. Rather than browsing the web to find the kind of content you want to read about, Feedly enables you to have curated content of your specific interests on one scroll-down page, including podcasts and videos. They also suggest similar websites / blogs etc you may enjoy judging by your current feeds.

WRITING

  • Kill your darlings. There was one long scene in the current novel I’m reading set in Kenya which I felt was a pivotal scene to the entire novel. I was horrified when my editor suggested I cut it, as it didn’t work. I was far too attached to it to agree. But when she handed it to another editor to read, and she came back with the same advice, there was no way I couldn’t re-visit it with fresh eyes. And yes, now it’s had to go.
  • As well as discovering Feedly this year, I have also come across Storify. This is a brilliant online tool not only to find some of the great stories scattered across the web but also, if you blog, you can gather together content from others’ blogs, tweets, facebook posts etc in order to create a beautifully presented, magazine style ‘story’ which you can then share. It may sound complicated, but believe me, it’s very user-friendly and straightforward. To take a look at one of my Storify stories, click here.

‘What you have chosen is a profound vocation of healing, and your stories and poems are as sacraments, as visible blessings. Be at the heart and soul of your time, not resigned to what is safe or peripheral. Try to free yourself from attachment to results, to awards, publications, praise, to indifference, rejection, and misunderstanding. Immerse yourself in the common ground of the universe so that your true voice – not the egoistic voice that clamors vainly for power (for it will ruin you if you listen to it) – your authentic voice, supported by sacred reality, may be heard. May your words illuminate your vision, find you compassionate, attuned to human suffering and committed to its alleviation.’

Something in what Pritchard says here really resonates with me. We all have different reasons for writing; different motivations. Just find your motivation, listen to its truth and pursue it unceasingly.

I’m going to be having a little break from blogging over the Christmas period, my next blog post coming over the weekend of 9/10 January 2016. So, until then, wishing you a wonderful, joyful Christmas and for 2016, let’s make this a year to dust off those dreams and make things happen.

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