Sunday, July 6, 2014

Birthday books!

"You are the most impossible person to buy presents for!" said my son a few months ago.
"No, I'm not!" I replied. "You know what I like most.'
"Yes, but I can’t just buy you a book every time I have to get you a present!" he moaned.
"Fine, just buy me two books then!" 

And so today is my birthday, and how thrilled was I that he, and his sisters, took me at my word and all bought me books? Pretty darn thrilled, that's how much!  

Interestingly, they all steered clear of buying me fiction since they claim to have no idea what sort of books I like or have already read. But that's okayI'm very happy with what I got, which was:

Writing Fiction for Dummies
OK, I might have been insulted by this, given the courses I've done and the reading I've done and the actual writing I've done. But actually, I know from experience that you can be trawling through a book about the craft of writing, and you are thinking, "yeah, same old, same old," when boom!  Suddenly you see that one tip or trick which makes you see exactly what you have been getting wrong/trying to resolve in your work-in-progress. Or even better, in the bottom-drawer novel which you had expected never to see the light of day again, but which now seems easily resurrected.  And really, until I walk into Barnes & Noble or Waterstones and see a whole shelf devoted just to my books, I won’t stop reading books about the craft.

Writing Great Books for Young Adults – Regina Brooks
I’d come across snippets from this book in something else I read not so long ago and had been meaning to have a look at it.  Having done two courses in writing “for children and young people” I feel I am fairly well versed in the differences in writing for adults and for kids.  But the whole YA field had developed very quickly and very recently – and is still developing into new areas like New Adult – so I am looking forward to seeing what more this one has to add.

Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
I’ve still got it… I just can’t remember where I put it by Jenna McCarthy
I love reading funny books, though I’m glad that my days of getting strange looks from people as I laugh out loud on the London tube are behind me.  WE are about to go away on vacation and since we are changing places every few days with a couple of hours driving between each place, there’s not going to be huge swathes of time where I can settle down with an enormous novel.  So these two should be perfect!  And in response to that second title – not only can’t I remember where I put it, I’m not actually sure if I ever had it in the first place!

It’s gonna be okay – a journal to reassure myself when I’m overwhelmed by the creeping sense of impending disaster… (An inner truth journal)
Not only is this possibly the longest book title I’ve ever come across, it is possibly also the most challenging for those of us who have hit our mid-40s and find our eyesight is failing as fast as the muscles which once fought to protect our stomachs and bottoms from the sinking effects of gravity.  I am happy to report that I was still able (just) to read to the very bottom line of the cover without diving for one of the numerous pairs of reading glasses now placed around the house and in my bag.

This inner truth journal gives me a wry and thoughtful quote with a blank page opposite, at the top of which is a date box, and the title, What I’m hanging my hope on today:.  At the bottom is a thumbs up, thumbs down, OK sign and fingers crossed sign.  

So perhaps it is time to go back to something I used to do years ago – a Thankful Diary.  Every evening at bedtime, I would fill in a few sentences into a diary about something from that day I was thankful for.  Sometimes, when things were wonderful, it was hard to cram it all into that little space and sometimes, when things were hard, it was difficult to find even one thing to write about, but I forced myself to do it every night, because I knew that I would always find something that I was thankful for.

So perhaps this journal will give me a new regime – not a daily Thankful Diary, but a daily Hopeful Diary.  One of the quotes in the book is from Emily Dickinson:

Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
and sings the tune without the words –
and never stops – at all.

A new Moleskine notebook
Can’t ever have too many, so ‘nuff said!

Barnes & Noble giftcard
I love listening to audiobooks when I’m driving, cooking, walking, working out, ironing etc, and mostly I download them through the brilliant Houston Public Library website on Overdrive, or get them from the library on CD and transfer them onto my iPhone that way. But sometimes even HPL’s huge catalog lets me down. So this gift card will be kept for that very special audiobook that I just have to have NOW instead of waiting for the library to get it!

So it’s been a lovely book-ridden birthday, and I have been very lucky!  Thanks, kids!