According to a BBC article, recent research has confirmed that alone time is good for your concentration, health, and creativity. Is anyone else not remotely surprised? Any introvert can tell you that spending time on your own is a necessity, particularly when it comes to creative pursuits.
As much as I enjoy spending time with friends, I seem to never be able to get any writing done when I do. Even if it’s only for a couple of hours, socializing drains me, leaving no energy to think, let alone create. I’m not advocating for isolation (unless that’s your thing), but the more time I spend being social, the more appealing the hermit lifestyle starts to look.
I’m always a little skeptical of people in creative fields who are extroverts. The extroverts I know are constantly on the run, always social, always busy. When do they find time to create? How do they focus? I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s difficult to picture someone coming home from a party and feeling inspired to do anything other than sleep it off.
I’m still trying to find a balance between spending time with the people I care about and getting the necessary solitude I need to create. Sometimes I wish texting counted as socializing, or that I could carry on a conversation while mentally working on a chapter or two. How about you–are you an introvert or extrovert? What helps or hinders your creativity? Share in the comments…
I’m excited to announce that I’ve finished the first draft of a new story set in the Love Lies Bleeding universe and inspired by true events! Details and cover reveal to come–make sure to follow or subscribe so you won’t miss out…
In the meantime, it’s always fun to take part in a book tag, and this one found its way to me via A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings…
Author You’ve Read The Most From:
Isabel Allende. Love her work. Close second: Ilona Andrews, if only because the Kate Daniels series has so many books in it.
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. It caught my eye in a secondhand shop and was the first book of hers I read. Now she’s one of my favourite authors.
Hidden Gem Book:
Find a book by an indie author. Does the book’s description sound interesting? If yes, then enjoy that hidden gem!
Important Moment in your Reading Life:
Aside from learning how to read, maybe it was the first time I read a difficult book and really got it.
The latest (and it seems, last, alas) Kate Daniels book (Magic Triumphs) by Ilona Andrews.
Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:
If the story is interesting to me, I’ll read just about anything. That said, however, I have no interest in abusive relationships portrayed as “romance.” I’m also tired of dystopian fiction–I think we’re all getting enough of that in reality.
Longest Book You’ve Read:
Probably Ulysses (it felt like the longest, anyway).
Major Book Hangover Because Of:
The Good: Every time I finished a Harry Potter book, and ultimately when I finished the entire series.
The Bad: When I finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and was left wondering wtf I just read (Harry’s name might be on the cover, but this book does not deserve that title).
The Ugly: A series I finished not too long ago that was so bad I’m still reeling. I posted about it here.
Number of Bookcases You Own:
25 (which is one reason why I’m not a fan of open concept design–I need walls!)
One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:
I’ve re-read a number of books, but the one I probably re-read the most was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Every time a new book came out, I’d read the entire series again. Since Deathly Hallows (the last book) came out, I’ve re-read the entire series a few more times.
Preferred Place To Read:
Somewhere quiet and comfortable with good lighting.
Quote That Inspires You/Gives You All The Feels From A Book You’ve Read:
Not a single quote, but a passage from Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews:
“In basic terms, a fractal is a system that doesn’t become simpler when analyzed on smaller and smaller levels….It doesn’t end….It can’t be explained by mathematical analysis, so humanity, as it so often does, declared it to be a mathematical curiosity and swept it under the rug. Except the fractal occurs again and again….Left to its own devices, nature defaults to a fractal. A human settlement is a fractal. It is a complex system with randomly interacting components that is adaptive on every level. The pattern of the evolution of a single cell to complex organism is a fractal. The way man approaches his quest for knowledge is a fractal. Think of it: biology, the study of living things. A simple concept…”
A straight line appeared on the floor.
“As man accumulates knowledge, the volume of information becomes too much. He feels the need to subdivide it.”
The line split into three branches marked with labels: zoology, botany, anatomy, then split again. Botany grew horticulture, forestry, plant morphology, plant systematics. Zoology splintered into zoological morphology and systematics, then into comparative anatomy, animal physiology, behavioral ecology…It kept building and building, splitting, growing, branching….
“And that’s the crux of our problem…Man can’t handle the chaos.”
I went in expecting a good story. I came away with insight into life, the universe, and the limits of the human mind (along with a good story). Not bad.
That I didn’t keep a record of the books I read when I was younger. Not only have I forgotten the titles of books I read and loved (and will likely never be able to find again), but I’ll never have an accurate count of how much I’ve actually read.
Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):
I can’t think of anything in fiction, but there’s a series of science books I started a while back that I would like to finish (not going to happen anytime soon, though).
Reading. It doesn’t matter what or how or when–just read. Your life will be better for it–I promise. (But do yourself a favour and branch out a little–if you always read a version of the same thing, it’ll get boring after a while).
Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:
I don’t usually pay too much attention to new releases because I don’t mind waiting to get a book (I happily read books that are 10+ years old), but there are a couple coming out that I’m excited about: The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Elder, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, and Sacred Smoke by Amy Blackthorn.
Worst Bookish Habit:
Eating while I read, although I don’t do it much anymore. But I have stained a few books over the years (oops).
X Marks The Spot
Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:
Unfortunately it was the last book in that series I ended up hating (see “Major Book Hangover,” above). I was almost finished the book, so I decided it was worth losing sleep to find out how it all concluded. I spent most of the night reading (there was more left than I realized) and then I was so upset at the horrible decisions the author made that I couldn’t sleep at that point if I tried. I stayed awake all night, reading and then thinking about how much time I wasted on such an awful series. I would really like that sleep (and my time, money, and peace of mind) back.
What’s the last book you bought? Have you lost any sleep lately to stay up reading? What’s the 27th book on your shelf? Share your answers in the comments below, or leave the link if you post this tag on your own blog 🙂
Aspasía S. Bissas
PS: It’s your last chance to take advantage of Smashwords’ summer sale and get Love Lies Bleeding at half off. Don’t forget Blood Magic–always free!
Love Lies Bleeding‘s readers know that main character Mara is both a vampire and a botanist. Trained in botany and herbalism, she still has a garden and studies plants. This post is fifth in a series exploring Mara’s plants. Are you interested in botany, gardening, or plant lore? So are some vampires…
Please note: Medicinal uses are given for informational purposes only. Always consult a medical professional before diagnosing or treating yourself or anyone else.
History: Native to Europe and western Asia, dock gets the common name “yellow dock” from its large root, which is bright yellow when cut, and the name “curly dock” from its slightly ruffled leaves. Traditionally the leaves and seeds were eaten, while the leaves and roots were used medicinally as a general health tonic and to improve digestion, as well as to treat jaundice, skin diseases, and scurvy. Although naturalized in temperate areas, it’s considered an invasive species in the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand, and an “injurious weed” in the UK.
Victorian Language of Flowers Meaning: Patience
Cultivation: Perennial in zones 4 to 7. Plants can grow to 1.5 m (about 5 ft) tall. Because it can be easily found growing wild (including in waste areas, roadsides, fields, and along shorelines) and is invasive in many areas, consider foraging for dock rather than cultivating it. If you’d still like to grow it (after checking to make sure it isn’t invasive where you live), scatter seed over prepared soil in spring, summer, or fall. Dock prefers full sun to part shade and moist soil (but will tolerate most conditions). Dock will self-seed and can also re-grow from a piece of root left behind. Harvest leaves before the plant flowers, roots in autumn, and seeds after they turn brown.
Medicinal: The root is high in iron and is used to treat anemia, often in combination with stinging nettle (Urticadioica). The root is also mildly laxative, although it isn’t always effective. Taken internally or applied externally, the leaves may be helpful for skin conditions such as itching, rashes (including the stings from nettles), and sores. It’s also used to ease pain and inflammation in nasal passages and the respiratory tract. It can be applied to the skin to stop bleeding.
Culinary: Leaves are high in vitamins C and A, iron, and potassium, but are also high in oxalic acid, which can cause kidney stones and blood mineral imbalances. Young leaves should be boiled in several changes of water to reduce the oxalic acid (although that will also reduce nutrients). Serve leaves like spinach (after boiling, drain, and heat with olive oil or butter and garlic, or add to any dish you would use spinach in). They can also be eaten raw in small amounts. Older leaves are too bitter to be palatable. Once seeds have turned brown they can be eaten raw or cooked. The seeds can also be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
Host Plant: Dock is an ideal host plant for some species of moth, which lay their eggs on the curled leaves.
Caution: Leaves are high in oxalic acid, which can irritate the urinary tract and cause kidney stones. Dock should not be used by people taking anti-coagulants or drugs that decrease blood calcium, like diuretics. Avoid if you have bladder, liver, or kidney problems, or ulcers; otherwise, consume in moderation. Limit or avoid using while pregnant and breastfeeding, as dock can have a laxative effect (which gets passed through breast milk). Those allergic to ragweed may also be allergic to dock.
Caution 2: The oxalic acid in dock makes it toxic to dogs (I’m assuming to cats too). Do not let your pets eat or chew on dock.
Possible Side Effects: The leaves and root may cause intestinal discomfort and skin irritation. Taking too much can result in low blood levels of calcium and potassium–a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Mara’s Uses: Mara uses dock in tinctures and capsules (along with other herbs) as an iron-rich tonic for bloodletters (human blood donors used by vampires). Dock is among the herbs she experiments with for her blood substitute.
If you spend any time around the internet, you’re bound to come across at least one headline declaring that blogging is dead (those headlines have been around for years at this point). As a writer and long-time blogger (you may have seen my other blogs, Blood Lines and Whimsy Bower), this causes me some anxiety. But is there any truth to the rumours?
From my research on the topic, if your aim is to earn a living solely from traditional blogging (that is, written articles on specific topics), you might want to hang on to your day job.
On the other hand, if you’re a writer who wants to share your work (and maybe market your books while you’re at it), carry on. Although traditional blogging might be less popular than it once was, there are still people who prefer to read a post than watch a video (which, ironically, most people watch without sound, so end up reading captions anyway). And while social media is a form of blogging, it doesn’t replace traditional blogs (but it is an excellent companion to them). The fact that most of the material debating the future of blogging is written on blogs should tell you something about their so-called demise.
If you’re concerned your blog isn’t getting as much of an audience as it should, you can do a few things to help:
Promote it on social media. Make sure you’re active on at least a couple of different sites and always let your followers know that you have a new post up (don’t forget to include the link). Use hashtags to help a wider audience find you.
Be part of the community. If your blog is on a site like WordPress, find other blogs on that site and make sure to follow, like, and comment. That will help bring fellow community members to your blog too.
Post regularly. It can be once a day or once a month, but keep your blog active. Posting on a regular schedule gives readers something to look forward to.
Try a new type of post. Don’t feel you have to switch over entirely (especially if you’re a writer), but if you can manage the occasional voice or video post, it keeps things interesting. Or switch up the type of posts you do (if you’re usually word heavy, try a photo post).
Don’t write just what you want–think about what your audience might be interested in and give them a reason to engage with your blog.
Don’t try too hard. Imitating other successful bloggers or trying to follow a formula are both great ways to fail. The idea of “being authentic” is clichéd, but it’s also valid. Not everyone will like you as you are, but no one will like you if you try to be someone else (and you won’t be happy with what you produce, either).
Humans love variety–that’s why we don’t eat the same meal three times a day or read a single book repeatedly. And that’s why blogging won’t die. Even as blogs take on new forms, traditional blogs will always have an audience.
What do you think–does blogging have a future? What do you do to make your blog stand out? Let me know in the comments (and don’t forget to like and share)…
Another tag snagged from the lovely blog A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings 🙂 If you’ve ever wondered about what it’s like to be a writer (or what I do), this post is for you.
1. What type of writing do you do?
Over the years I’ve written pretty much everything, from magazine articles to poetry to blog posts to novels. If I had to choose only one type, though, it would be novels. I have a lot of stories inside me, waiting to come to life.
2. What genres/topics do you write about?
My writing is a mix of literary fiction, gothic fiction, and fantasy, with hints of horror and magical realism. My clouds tend to have dark linings.
3. How long have you been writing?
I started when I was about six and never really stopped (although there were a few long breaks).
The first story I wrote (when I was around six) was a tale of woe about a flower that doomed anyone (in this case, Mary, Queen of Scots, although I have no idea how I knew about her) who picked it. Clearly, my literary influences started early in my career. I also drew said flower with a pen and coloured it with a pink highlighter. Side note: I still have a particular fascination with Tudor history, although I haven’t written about it since.
6. Why do you write?
I don’t feel I have much of a choice. That’s what I love, it’s what I’m good at, and it’s what I feel I was meant to do. As already mentioned, I have stories that need to get out.
7. How do you find time to write?
You find time for the things that are important to you. If someone “can’t find the time” to write (or to do anything else), it really doesn’t matter that much to them.
8. When and where is the best time/place to write?
For me, the best times are in the morning and late at night. Where doesn’t really matter as much, as long as there isn’t too much noise.
9. Favorite foods/drinks while writing?
It used to be iced coffee; unfortunately I’ve had to cut it out. Between the sugar and the caffeine, it wasn’t doing me any favours (alas). If I do drink anything now, it’s tea, but mostly I don’t eat or drink while I work (I have no idea how those crumbs got all over my keyboard).
10. Your writing playlist?
Silence. I’ve tried to listen to music while I work, but I can’t. Music interferes with rhythm and the lyrics get into your head, unconsciously influencing how and what you write. I don’t know how anyone can concentrate with music (or the TV) on–it’s some kind of super power.
11. What do friends/family think of you writing?
I think it ranges from “that’s cool” to “whatever” to “but what does she do all day?” My partner is completely supportive, though, which is what really matters.
12. What parts of writing do you enjoy the most?
I love it when the words come together and flow out of you. Best feeling in the world. (It’s also pretty satisfying when you’re stuck and finally figure out the perfect solution). That’s why first drafts are fun and after that, it’s work .
13. Parts of writing you find challenging?
I wish I could be one of those writers who can get a book out every year (speaking of super powers). I’ve got a limit on how much I can write or edit in a day before my brain turns to mush. Hopefully the results are worth the wait.
14. What do you write with/on?
First drafts are usually by hand. The editing starts as I transfer the manuscript to my laptop, where I use MS Word.
15. How do you overcome writer’s block?
I’ll think/meditate about it. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I love anything that keeps my hands busy while freeing my mind; that’s how I do a lot of my writing, including overcoming writer’s block. Sometimes I’ll also talk about it with my partner–he’s pretty great at helping me figure things out.
16. How do you motivate yourself to write?
Deadlines are motivating. My anxiety is highly motivating (it gets worse if I don’t write for a couple of days). Mostly having a story I need to get out motivates me 🙂
17. Author(s) who inspired you to become a writer?
I think the existence of books inspired me to become a writer more than any specific author. My love of stories started early, so maybe I should give the credit for my current vocation to Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault, and the Brothers Grimm.
19. Writing goals this year?
Aiming to finish my next novel and get it ready for publication (follow me to make sure you don’t miss any news or updates).
20. Best advice you’ve gotten as a writer?
Never to give up (I’ve heard that from a few people). Stephen King’s advice to “kill your darlings” isn’t bad either.
What do you think? Do you have any questions or comments? What are some of your thoughts on the writing process? Share in the comments…