Sunday, August 30, 2015

The World Loses Oliver Sacks

Today, we lost a great writer, a great Neurologist and a great man who not only touched many people through his books, but through the films made from his books.

The world lost Oliver Sacks.

Oliver Sacks wrote great books about his patients and their medical conditions - which were mainly ones of the brain, ones we didn't really understand and medical conditions science didn't have answers for. However, he made us feel as though we were closer to knowing more about those conditions just by reading his works.

He was famous for the movie 'Awakenings' where Robin Williams played Oliver and he was working with patients who had Encephalitis Lethargica - a decades-long sleeping sickness. He was able to awaken them with a chemical called L-DOPA. However, they woke into a world they did not recognise due to how long they'd been sleeping; the affects in the movie didn't last as long as the protagonist wished.

Oliver Sacks also wrote other books. One is titled 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat'. However, his most recent study has been closer to home - himself. In 'The Mind's Eye' a series of stories, Sacks studies patients with vision problems, he also describes his own experience with ocular cancer treatment with a giddy excitement.

Over the years, his work has been read by many, ridiculed by the scientific community and held in awe by his fans. However, Oliver Sacks has been working hard on making it easier for us - his audience - to look at medical ideas which are technical sound easier through his voice and his works. He was once called the 'poet laureate of contemporary medicine' by the New York Times, however, he sees himself and his life in a completely different way:

'Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts,” he wrote.
“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers,' he wrote. 'Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.' 

Oliver Sacks will be missed by everyone who has loved his works, his family and friends alike. May he be at rest now.

(NB: Some of this was taken from the Washington Post website).

In The Zone

The zone is a great place for a writer to be in; but it's so difficult to get there. And once there, you don't want to be pulled out of it for anything - visitors, phone calls, a favourite show; nothing.

However, it's the strange things that keep you from staying in the zone for too long. Usually there's the good old toilet break, you get hungry and then there's family coming home from school or work... then you have to break from your worlds of your creation and see them. It's like coming out of a dream, waking up from a long sleep - you're a little out of it, a little sleepy, but once you've sat down to dinner, you're okay.

Just okay... your brain is still churning over what you've written and saved on the computer, or on the typewriter upstairs in your office.

Yeah, that zone is a place of safety you create and it's wonderful to get there and stay there for as long as possible.

However it can also be very destructive as well. It can be the wall, the huge valley, the wedge which builds between a loving couple who started out okay, but then one of them starts writing a book - or a series of books - and the zone becomes something of an interference. 

The writer stops coming to bed at the same time as their partner. 

The writer starts thinking of strange things and keeps lots of notebooks about strange ideas - most of them have nothing to do with the family and a lot to do with off-world planets or fantasies.

The partner feels as though they're being left out of the writer's life - or at the very least a major part of it.

And this is where some of the zone can make people feel as though the writers of the world are lonely people. However, we're not. We have our own worlds which we have created, and we have our own circles of friends and publishing people we communicate with on a regular basis. There's also artists and other people we talk to all the time as well.  

However, writers also have other activities outside their writing which most of the time, they do on their own. I love to garden, cook and paint as well as go driving around my home town just because I feel like getting away from my house - I don't care where I go, so long I get somewhere far away.

But at times, being in the zone is a great thing. I do find it difficult to get myself there most days; so when I am in the zone, I don't budge from my office chair. When the phone rings, it scares the crap outa me and snaps me back to reality. And the best thing about that phone ringing is that when I've hung it up and turned back to the screen and read what I've written, I'm regularly amazed at my work... and I often wonder how it all got there in the first place.

Aaahh, yes, the zone - a great place for the writer to be. 

Until my next post, happy reading.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Logical Unsanity of Books

I've written some posts about bookstores here - and they've been about stores I've been to.

However, I've just heard about one here in Brisbane which I really need to find! It's called Logical Unsanity Bookshed and it's in Bardon; not far from Mt Coot-tha! However, it's a bookstore with a difference.

For one thing it's open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, doesn't have anyone to serve you and has an honour system in place.

Very cool if you ask me!

Also, the owners of it have put suggested prices on their books so you have an idea of what they think you should pay; but you make the final offer yourself... you don't pay what they dictate! How wicked is that?

They do take books from the public and urge you give them books to resell... recycle... and so there's no waste and others get to read what you've read.

I'm going to make a day of it while I'm out book hunting one day and let you all know what I think.

Otherwise, here's the link to where I heard about it. Until my next post, happy reading.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

When Do You Start Reading to the Young?

I've been looking around on the net and found an article about reading to our youngest readers of all - our children - the most important thing to do to make them better at school and in life. 

In this link here, I have read a well-researched article where they have said that reading to children well before school and prep is the best way to assist them into learning to read and learning better skills before they acquire them naturally.

This is something I totally believe in; as when I was a child, I taught myself to read aged 4 years old. But before that, my parents did read to my brother and me. So, it's proof we are from a family of big readers. 

So, what do you think? Is reading to very young children a good thing? Or do you think we should let them come to it naturally and through school? Until my next post, happy reading.

Challenge Yourself

I don't mind reading challenges; in fact, I think they're a great idea. However, I find them difficult to take part in because I'm a reader who likes to take my time with a book; and sometimes my life tends to throw me a curve ball once in a while, causing me to put down my book for a while.

So, reading challenges aren't always good for me. Sometimes I find them difficult to work with. I've taken part in a few and I'm still working on a couple from Autumn and there's a Spring one coming up on GoodReads. It's something I wish I could keep up with... but I sometimes can't.

And having such a huge collection of books in my house is another thing: what I pick out to read isn't easy. Sometimes I'll sit down and start reading something and within a few chapters lose interest and put it down. Now, I hate that, but it happens. But then, about a year later, I'll pick up that same book and devour it completely in a few sittings; and wonder how I didn't see its beauty beforehand.

Have you ever taken part in reading challenges? If so, do they work out for you all the time, or just some of the time? Until my next post, happy reading.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Whatcha Reading?

Reading is such a big part of a writer's life; so much so, I find that actually does assist in a lot of my work. I get wonderful ideas from some of the books I read, the television shows I become huge fans of and when I have a block, I find it's as though I'm actually lost in my own forest of being.

Being blocked is horrible to me... I see as losing my compass, the path through the forest of my imagination and not being able to see the end of the path of where my stories end.

However, once I can get back into a book and start writing again, I'm fine. Yes! The sun shines again and it all works out again for me... isn't that strange?

Well, I'm back into reading books again, and the one main one I've got my nose in is 'Immortal Espionage.' by Debbie Behan. She has written other stories; but not quite like this one, and so I'm really getting into it.

I'm also reading bits and pieces of 'On Writing' by Stephen King - which is a book I get into when I'm stuck; thankfully he's got great advice about how to get unstuck.

I'm also reading my most current issue of 'Good Reading' Magazine, which I do subscribe to. Well, that's what I'm currently reading; and now, do tell! What are you all reading right now? Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

Now, this book isn't what you think. It's not a book you read - well it is, but it's not. It's not a children's book - but it could be if you gave it to the right child to have a go at. It's also not something to laugh at.

What this book is is a wonderful way to while away the afternoon, a wet day, a snow day or just a few hours where there's nothing on television... with just you, your colouring-in pencils and your Inner Child. 

Yes, you read right - your Inner Child.

I bought this book on Monday for myself at Carindale QBD and took it along to my volunteer work the next day to look at it for a little bit before I did some knitting. Well! The knitting never got looked at and I sat there colouring in half the first page! It took me around three hours and I loved every minute of it as I engulfed in the world of flowers, leaves, birds and vines... as well as a hidden gate I hadn't noticed on the first time I looked at the page.

These books are designed for adults, though, and aren't cheap. I bought mine for $20 and it's got games, mazes and other fun things to do inside it; besides colouring it all in - but I think that's all I'll do because it's just too pretty to muck up with my bad artwork and drawing. I might even get myself another one in the coming months and see how many books I can go through... that'd be fun! Well, until my next post, happy reading!