Time for a Pause

I’ve kept going with Liv’s Books and Light since 2013 but I don’t feel very inspired anymore to write – preferring to focus on fiction.

When I started the blog, I was going to mix lighting and authoring by updating about the lighting design project I was involved with, what inspired me within the lighting industry and maybe educate about light for those who don’t work in this field. At the same time, I was going to share with you what I was writing, what I read and my journey to become an author.

Well, things haven’t worked out as planned. To be fair it rarely does. Although I still work in the lighting industry, I never see my projects in their finished installations and after six years doing this, there isn’t much that inspires me. Instead I have started migrating back to my communications roots. As for being an author, it’s slow progress. It’s been two years since I published Let me tell you a story…, and I hope to publish my next book this year but everything is taking much longer than I want it to.

So, I’m taking a break, to rethink what I want to do with this blog. What do I want to write about, what do I want to share with you, how can I be of service to those of you who have followed this blog, up-to-date? Meanwhile, if there is a subject, a category you’d like me to write about, post more about, feel free to leave a comment to let me know.

Until next time, take care and stay safe. Enjoy whatever is good in your life right now.

 

5 Reasons Why I Read

I’m an advocate for reading books – I don’t really mind what genre, if it’s fiction or non-fiction, or poetry. Whatever tickles your fancy. Here are 5 reasons why I read (not necessarily in order of importance):

1. At the end of the day, reading is an escape from the world around you and I think we all need a bit of an escape. It’s an easy way to get ‘me time,’ even in a very crowded room – or on your commute, when we get back to commuting.

2. Unlike other escapes like mindless TV and Social Media, reading doesn’t disconnect your brain. You still need to use your mental abilities – especially your imagination.

3. Even when you’re reading fiction you learn things – about how other people think and feel, about other cultures and countries, about historical events and societies, about a specific subject. If you read non-fiction then you choose your subject and can deepen your knowledge of it, but if it’s fiction, you very often absorb this while following the story. We learn what it is to be human.

4. You get to travel – in time, to different countries real or imagined, to places you might never have a chance to experience in real life, to places that never existed and never will, to situations that you in real life would never have access to. This is an amazing feat of literature that we can go places that either don’t exist or that we would never have access to, yet we can spy in on the most intimate and personal settings.

5. Reading offers quiet time. If you’re an introvert you know how important that is for your well-being, but even if you’re an extrovert, a bit of quiet time is important. I read on the train to block out all the noise of other people, I read in the, hopefully, silent comfort of my home, or my favourite is to sit and read at a half-empty cafe.

Whether you are already someone who reads a lot or if you’re someone who tends to shy away from books, I encourage you to read and to vary what you read as much as possible. I believe reading is a bit like exercise – you just have to find what works for you. For some this will be lighthearted Chick lit, for others Fantasy, for some it will be political and current events in fiction and non-fiction, for others it might be biographies.

I’d also like to add that you don’t need to follow what’s hot on the bestseller lists. Some of the best books I’ve read no one else have ever heard of. They didn’t win any fancy awards but the story and the writing suited me at the particular time when I read it. A really good story has no expiration date – that’s why we still read classics.

A Good Time To Write

‘I suppose now is a good time to write’, someone told me recently. Yes, I thought but the person continued: ‘about the virus and the situation’. I recoiled a bit.

I don’t know about you, but when these life defining event happen, I’m rarely the person to add my voice to the general kaukapahny of opinions and ‘this is my experience’ writing that seem to pop up everywhere from everyone, whether they actually have something of interest to say or not. Although I love writers who are able to capture their time, most of them are not outspoken about current events, at least not in their writing. Even in her letters Jane Austen was very private about her political views. Although Lord of the Rings was a reaction to World War I, Tolkien’s views are hidden in the rich world of this fantasy story. I have also always admired him mostly for Silmarilion, even if that is not as intriguing a read. Even Astrid Lindgren, a childhood favourite who was very outspoken politically, wrote so well from children’s perspective that the political views are never at the forefront of her stories.

This is a great time to write. Our lives are moving at a slower tempo and we can let our creativity flourish. Whether you want to add your voice to current events or if you want to create stories that aim to be more universal and non-time specific, this is the time to do so. It’s impossible to write without your own life experiences influencing your stories, which is great. This is part of your unique voice. However there is no need to write a story about finding love during self-distancing, or living alone during quarantine, etcetera. The shape you decide to give your story is entirely your own choice.

Well, there you go, I guess I’ve ended up writing about it despite everything I’ve said.

Jane Austen: A Life – Claire Tomalin

I’m a Jane Austen fan. I have been since reading her books in my early twenties. Needless to say, I happily read books about Jane Austen. This particular book has one major flaw as I see it – footnotes.

I’m finding it difficult to give you an account of my impressions about Jane Austen: A Life. It’s taken me so long to read through the footnotes that the initial impression I had of the book itself is gone. Why did I spend so long reading the footnotes? I realized they contained a lot of information that wasn’t in the actual book. Although I found that information interesting enough to read, this is a pet peeve of mine. If something is worth telling it should be included in the main text of the book. Footnotes should only contain references or, occasionally, very brief descriptions. These footnotes can contain whole stories.

Regarding the life of Jane Austen, I didn’t feel that I got more of an understanding of who Jane Austen was from this book, but it gave a good sense of the times and situations she lived through, that in large or small ways shaped her person and her writing. Most of the information seems to come from family journals and letters which is intriguing as these are reports from people who met her. The book follows the Jane Austen family and extended family from Jane’s birth until the death of her nearest siblings. As those who know of Jane Austen are aware, her sister Cassandra was her life companion and also that one of her brothers was active in getting Jane’s books published.

Would I recommend Tomalin’s book to other readers? Unless you’re a die-hard Austen fan, you might want to skip this book. If you are a fan, however, I’m sure you will find information in this book that will enhance your knowledge of this talented writer.

 

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Let Me Tell You About A Man A Knew – Susan Fletcher

I confess that my main reason for starting this book was the reference to Vincent van Gogh. I also didn’t have very high hopes for it. Since I have read his letters, I find it unlikely that I will accept the version of who van Gogh was as interpreted by someone else. I was very wrong on two accounts regarding Let me tell you about a man I knew.

First of all, I really liked this book. I gave it a 4 out of 5 on Goodreads. It has a meditative, quiet way about it that really appealed to me. Although I have never been to the south of France, the telling of this story was a little like being in the countryside of rural Tuscany. The kind of simplicity, beauty and calm that that landscape has. It allowed for the story to unfold without you having any preconceived expectations of what would happen. As far as what happened to van Gogh, a quick google search will tell you what happened to him at St Remy but that’s not really where this story lies.

Secondly, the book isn’t really about van Gogh. It’s about Jeanne and her story is interesting enough. Vincent is a trigger that forces her to look at what her life has become. I did like the way Fletcher has portrayed him. If he had been a bigger character in the story, it might not have worked, but it’s his presence rather than he himself, that leaves a mark on the story. With his presence, I mean how Jeanne relates to him being at the hospital her husband manages and what he will come to mean to her.

In some way this is a story that’s hard to grasp. On the surface, the events are small, insignificant and mundane, but there are layers and layers of what effects and consequences this has for those involved.

I’m really looking forward to reading more books from Susan Fletcher.

 

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Writing in a Time of Isolation

I don’t really feel isolated even if I haven’t been further from my house in the past month than a 30 minute walk. Life continues in its new form: messages from friends and family every day, the weekly online catch-up with work, online dance classes and writing groups. I chat with my housemates of course.

I was hoping this time would bring more quiet space for reading, writing and editing than it has so far. Am I the only one still struggling to get time to stretch for everything I want to get done each day? Perhaps, that’s a sign I need to stop being overactive.

I haven’t been completely unproductive. I have now completed 30,000 words on my new novel – taking me through the second part out of five in total. There are a lot of plot holes to sort out and just as much research but I’m really happy with how this story is coming together.

I have reached a sort of milestone with my poetry-novella. Close to 60% of the final edit is completed. My goal to have the final version done at the end of this month is starting to look more and more probable. I have a publisher in mind who will open for submissions in May.

As you could read last week, I’m also amusing myself with flash fiction reveries. This type of writing I have done for several years in one of my writing groups. We pick a word and then write a piece – poetry, flash-fiction, short-story – that’s inspired by the word. It’s a really good way to activate your creativity and I’m often surprised by the stories that develop from these words with their associations.

I’d also like to highlight Drama Notebook. I was very impressed with them when I leased my play Trouble in Fairy Wood. In these difficult times they are putting in a lot of work to adapt their archives and coming up with drama/theatre exercises that can be taught online. Just follow the link below to check out their website.

Another reminder, you can buy my short-story from Amazon. The UK site promises to dispatch in 6 days and the US site in 3 days. Check out the dedicated page for links.

Until next time, stay well.

 

Plays for Kids and Teens

Wild Horses – flash fiction

I asked my sister to come up with a word I could use as a writing prompt. She gave me the word horses. Seemed like an impossible word but the piece that came out became a reverie about our current lives. As punichment for such a difficult prompt, I tasked her to illustrate the piece. I hope you enjoy it and that it gives some solace.

 

Wild Horses

We dream of freedom – to roam across fields with high grass, to climb hills with the sky stretched before us, walk through woods with a canopy of leaves over our heads.

We sit here, on the inside of our windows – watch the sun bath the streets, the early spring flowers in their bloom, the budding trees dress themselves in light green.

We watch as the foxes take over our gardens. The birds are no longer afraid of us. We see other creatures roam where we used to stroll – animals we didn’t know shared our city.

We sit longing to be wild horses, free to run across the plains with the wind in our manes. The hoofs dig hollows in the dirt. We toss our heads and call out to the rest of our flock with certainty of who we are – what we were made for.

 

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Image Copyright Gunilla Johannesson 2020