You Know You’ve Got CP When…

…your mum comes round to help you do a few jobs and instead of getting her to help with your quest to declutter like she has the last few times she’s been here you have to ask her to brush your hair. Then you have to append this with the fact that this is the most important job for the day and it doesn’t matter if nothing else gets done while she’s there. And then she takes the brush and looks at your hair and declares that it’s so bad it might actually take all the time she’s got to spend with your to sort it.

Because I can and do brush my own hair and tie it back and put it up and such like.  But when its long like this I find sometimes it really really snarls up and then I can’t manage to completely de-birds nest it.  Since I bought a tangle teezer a couple of years ago that’s been much less of a problem (so much so I now have two regular tangle teezers, and one of their new shower ones).  But I still periodically need someone else to do it.

And, for the record, it was pretty bad and it did take a while.  But she also had time to pick up all the paperwork I’d already picked up and then knocked back onto the floor with a bunch of other stuff that hadn’t originally been on the floor before she came.  And she emptied my bins and wiped out the fridge where I’d upended a tub of margarine all over the inside of it.

But you really know you’ve got CP when all that’s helpful and useful and you’re grateful.  But the thing that’s made the biggest difference is the fact your hair is now brushed, tangle free, and plaited.

 

On Principle

I’m going to a thing in Oxford for two hours tomorrow. And as I almost always do I’m getting the train.

You can just turn up and request assistance and sometimes I do that.  But given that almost always I know I’m travelling the day before I book my assistance.  Usually I travel on the times I’ve booked but if I’m travelling between stations where they know me and I know them it’s not overly unusual for me to use the booking as a heads up that I’ll be around and maybe get a train slightly earlier or slightly later than I’m booked on.

So I rang up today and booked assistance.  I must have rung that number hundreds of times and I know it without looking up or even having to think. Sometimes when they answer the phone I know who it is before they say “hello assisted travel line so and so speaking how can I help.” And one of the guys whose quite high up there had a lot to do with making some special arrangements for me has been known to go “oh I thought it was you” when I tell him it’s Emma Crees.  We’ve never met, we’ve just spoken so many times.

I’m talking to the person on the phone and I’m checking with her: “what time does that train get in?…and the one before?.. I better get that one thanks” and trying to figure it out because one gets in about five minutes too late and the other is earlier than I’d like.  Really I’d like one sort of inbetween the two.  Anyway she checks their info on me is right and goes through the details of my journey.  A lot of their usual spiel of “make yourself known to a member of staff” to which if I’m travelling locally I’m like yeah they already know me and please try and arrive X amount early she skips because she can see from her system that I know it.

“that’s all booked for you and you’ll receive an email with the details. Did you want to take your reference number?”

I said no knowing that the email would be there practically before we’d said goodbye. Thanked her and hung up.

The email with the details was there when I finally went online several hours later.  It said the usual. Travelling from X at Y time to Z place arriving at… and that I’m a wheelchair user and need the ramps.

But then I laughed a lot.

Because it said:

Assistance entering station-arriving by other,
Assistance at station for boarding,
Wheelchair user requiring ramps at origin station,
TAKE TO WHEELCHAIR AREA
Assistance at station for alighting,
Wheelchair user requiring ramps at destination station,
Assistance departing station by other,
TAKE FROM WHEELCHAIR AREA

And the same for my return journey:
Assistance entering station-arriving by other,
Assistance at station for boarding,
Wheelchair user requiring ramps at origin station,
TAKE TO WHEELCHAIR AREA
Assistance at station for alighting,
Wheelchair user requiring ramps at destination station,
Assistance departing station by other,
TAKE FROM WHEELCHAIR AREA

I realise that this is someone who hasn’t realised what they’ve actually written and that’s part of what makes it funny. But it really does make me sound more like some form of cargo to be transported rather than a wheelchair user needing a little bit of help.  It’s the ALL CAPS I think.

I could write a blog about how inappropriate that is.  I could rant and rave about how it’s depersonalisation and it’s objectification and it’s ableism and it’s all sorts of stuff. I posted this on facebook a couple of hours ago and I think at least one of my friends is expecting me to post an angry rant.

Like so many things I could get angry. I could make a complaint. I could call it othering and apply models of disability and terms and all sorts of things. I could spend two hours and write five thousand words about how my day was ruined by seeing those words in an email and how I just don’t think I can call that assisted travel helpline again.

But really? I’d almost guarantee it’s just a silly mistake.  And all it did was make me laugh and roll my eyes.

Someone said to me recently (about something else) that principle is an expensive word.  I’d never thought of that before but I liked it.  I’d take it a step further.  I’d say it’s a word that’s important but it sucks time and energy and as well as taking money it can make us feel bad when we don’t do things we feel we should.

On principle, I should probably complain about that.  But I’ve better things to do

On principle, it’s an inappropriate thing to say.  But it was a mistake

On principle, it’s giving an impression it shouldn’t. But it made me laugh.

So my principle is I will always, always, always complain when I need to.  But I also let things go whenever possible.  Because that makes your actual complaints more powerful.  And laughing, forgetting about something and moving on if I is much less costly to me than anything

Self care Sunday

I don’t really know how to explain what self care is this week.  I’ve done a lot of fun things and I saw a friend I’ve not seen for a few months earlier this week – I went to London to see her (she moved there about a year and a half ago) and we ended up going to the Tate Britain.  I was supposed to go to a workshop about books in the afternoon and had planned to meet up with her for a bit before.  But having been promised the details of the workshop “nearer the time” it got to a few days before and I knew nothing.  The little I did know was proving very difficult to track down how I could get there and I ended up sending an email saying i couldn’t attend because I didn’t have enough time to make the necessary arrangements.  I asked them to bear me in mind for future things.  And after not bothering to send me the details they didn’t even have the decency to email back and acknowledge the fact I wasn’t going.  Which pissed me off no end.  Then we decided to go to the Imperial War Museum but I found out the day before it’s closed for refurbishment again. So we ended up on something like plan c and going to the Tate Britain. It was good but I think I preferred the Tate Modern which I went to a few years ago. If I go there again I won’t be going with this friend though because apparently she really didn’t like the Modern.  And the bits of the Britain I liked she didn’t.  I enjoyed my day out but bits of it were pretty stressful and frustrating so I’m not sure it’s fair to call it self care.

I’ve been tired and sore since so I’ve been resting lots. I’ve done something to my back and it seems to have a big muscle spasm in it which isn’t helping with the sore and resting part of things. It’s still ouchy but much less so than it was so hopefully that will resolve soon.

I have been managing to read a lot this week but goodreads still tells me I’m behind.  Mostly I’m reading Anna Karenina which is pretty good but very very long.  I’m making sure to read a little bit of it everyday and then reading other stuff as well if I want to.  And not beating myself up how long it takes me to read this.

I actually think I might delete my goodreads challenge.  I’m not sure having a thing on there that tells me “you said you were going to read X number of books this year. So far you’ve read Y number of books making you Z books behind” is something I need or want. What does it help me achieve?  In fact the only reason I got anywhere near my goodreads challenge last year was because I changed the goal several times (mostly up but once down too) and I read a ton of really really short books some of which I read in an hour and read three of in a day.  Keeping the list on there but not the challenge would be a better idea I suspect.

Talking of challenges I am keeping up with my writing challenge of 750 words a day minimum.  Those 750 words are free writing, often a case of put fingers to keyboard and type with no filter.  It’s really interesting to see what comes up, I write about things I’ve been thinking about or dreams I’ve had or even just how much I really can’t be bothered to write.  Several times I’ve stopped and thought that bits could be adapted into some of my fiction or poetry to give it more colour and a realistic feel but I’ve not done anything with that.

Having said that the only reason I’m still doing the challenge is how close to the end of the month I am and the fact I don’t want it to be yet another thing I started doing each day this month and haven’t kept up (I think I’ve failed on all of the others).  At the moment I’m also signed up to do the challenge in February too but I might change that.  Or I might change that to do 750 words of fiction each day that month.  I’m not sure yet.

So that’s a bit of an update on my week but I’m really not sure what it actually says about my attempts at self care!

“Absolutely filthy”

The title of this post is what I said to my mum this afternoon on the phone when she asked how I was. It’s probably not the best title for this post but… I got nothing else.

I went to a clay workshop this morning. It was the second time I’ve done one with this tutor, I did one at the end of November as well. I thought as I keep telling people I blog about crafts I should actually blog about crafts (admittedly the main reason I haven’t blogged about my recent crafts is because they will be gifts so must remain off of my blog until finished and with the recipients) so I took a bunch of photos of my clay work as I went. I had a lot of fun with it but ended up absolutely covered in clay dust and such like – not helped by the fact that at one point I covered my clay in slip (a mixture of clay and water used to stick bits together) and then it fell over against my chest covering my fleece.

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So we started off by making a bowl.

Most of us made them with lids. It was tough. You had to cut a circle and then work it round with your fingers to make the bowl shape. I didn’t find that at all easy and sort of wished I had someone with me to help me with that (often my mum or one of my friends want to do the workshop too so they can help out if needed but today I was solo). The tutor helped me and at one point when I said I thought I’d have to abandon that she told me no, it was sort-able. Then I rolled “sausages” which was also harder then it seems because you have to get them dead thin at which point mine kept falling part. Once we had sausages, (several of us cheating and putting clay through a potato ricer to get them) we could decorate our bowls or lids if we wanted to. I did a spiral in the middle and then bits going off round the edges.

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Then we had the opportunity to make a jug or a mug.

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These two pictures are my jug as a work in progress. I had a bit of trouble explaining to my parents that I made a jug. They got that but I don’t think they got just how “oh my god I with my spaz hands and all my issues was actually able to take a lump of clay and turn into into something vaguely resembling a jug this is a huge shocking deal” I felt about it. We got a template cut out from a cereal box and cut two pieces of clay out to that size (reversing one) by this point the amount of effort needed to roll out the clay was proving tough – can’t really put my weight behind it in my chair so the tutor did a bit of rolling out for me. Bizarrely as I was rolling it out I was obviously moving in my chair a bit and it was making the damn thing squeak.

Sticking the two sides of jug together and then keeping it open enough to stick it to the bottom felt like it needed more hands than I’ve got! Or maybe just two hands that work better than mine (my left hand is weaker than my right maybe just because I’m right handed but even then I don’t think I’ve full useage of my right). I got there. It’s maybe a little squished in places but I like it. I strongly suspect it isn’t watertight however so it’ll have to be a decorative jug rather than a mug to drink out of as I’d first hoped! I won’t be the only one in that situation however and one of the ladies there said to me after she’d abandoned her attempts at a jug.

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Standing up on the base and actually looking properly jug like! Stuffed with newspaper to help with the shape. Then it was time to decorate the jug and paint both of our items.

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My painted bowl. Because I wanted it to look like a sun I painted the spiral in the middle yellow and the bits coming off red to make it look a bit like rays (originally I did those first in red and then decided to do the yellow). The rest is just plain grey clay in the photo but when I get it back from being fired in the kiln the clay will have turned creamy colour.

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My jug (laid flat again) after I used extra clay to decorate it and painted it.  I criss crossed a few small “sausages” of clay at the very top and then painted them and the handle blue. I was planning to leave the rest of the clay plain grey (so again it would be cream when fired) but I dripped some of the blue on the main body so I put a load of dots on so it looked more like I’d meant to do that! After I took the photo I also painted a blue line down the opposite side to the handle.

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In true Blue Peter style… Here’s one I made earlier!

This is the tea light holder I made at the end of November. It was made using cutters and a tin to hold it together. It’s a light pink base with stars round it. Two different sizes of stars with the middles cut out (painted a darker pink – the light pink with some red mixed in to achieve that – and a purple) and then smaller solid stars (specifically the ones I cut out of some of the other stars on it) inbetween. Those are painted red.  I quite like it but the paint is quite patchy – I tried to do a more consistent job today.

I had a lot of fun doing this but I was absolutely covered in clay afterwards and sleepy too. 🙂

Thirteen Reasons Why I Like Book Blogging

I was going to call this thirteen reasons why I like reviewing books on my blog.  I’d never really stopped to think about why I like it and what it is that makes it a good fit for me but once I did it became obvious I should call it thirteen reasons why I like book blogging.  Because a lot of these reasons are about what I post on my blog but not all of them.  There are a few other reasons come to mind but those are more tenuous and harder to explain without giving them an entry of thier own.  Being that this isn’t just a blog about books if I wrote a list of “thirteen reasons why I blog” it would be somewhat different.

1. Free books. One of my friends said it’s like my hobby pays for itself now. She clearly doesn’t know me well enough because I still buy books and I buy loads of them but I do love getting free ones and it does help pay for my hobby.
2. It makes me read things I wouldn’t otherwise have chosen.  I can think of at least two occasions when I’ve received a parcel of books and gone “yeah, I don’t read this stuf.” but then tried it and loved it.
3. Sometimes I get ARCs or Advanced Reader Copies which means I get books before they come out. This is particularly exciting when it’s a book I’m desperate to read (Model Misfit by Holly Smale for example I was desperate for and had a week or two before release. It’s safe to say my level of checking netgalley became somewhat obssessive once I’d submitted my request and was waiting for a response.).
4. One of the books I received to review was Fever by Mary Beth Keane. I loved it. Very possibly in my top books read in 2013.  I then passed it onto a friend who loved it and raves about it. And then to another friend who also loved it and raves about it. That moment when you recommend a book to someone and they love it that much is really cool. Especially as Fever wasn’t an initially “me” book by the look of it.
5. The sound of post coming through the door with the extra loud thump which signifies a parcel is a cool one to wake up for especially when I’m not expecting any parcels (conversely it’s disapointing when the post makes the mother of all noises hitting the floor and it turns out the postman just really thumped it through)
6. I discovered one of my favourite new to my authors of last year – John Green – because of hearing so many other book bloggers and tweeters rave about his books, particularly The Fault In Our Stars. Before I started reviewing on my blog I’d never made much of an effort to find blogs specifically about books.
7. Sometimes I get to talk to authors on twitter, email or once even in person and ask questions about their books or their writing or whatever. That’s always very interesting.  I particularly like to ask what the best and worst things are about being a writer.
8. It makes choosing presents easier.  I bought The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt for my mum for Christmas last year.  It’s a pretty hefty book and I’m not sure it’d have occurred to me to look at it for her because I’d not heard of Donna Tartt before and at I think 700+ pages the size can be off putting for some readers.  But I must have heard more than ten different people rave about it and I knew through the bookish communities and blogs I follow that it had won a big award. So I picked it up and read the back on one of my many wanderings into Waterstones**. And I thought whilst I might like it I suspected my mum would. So she got it for Christmas.
9. I can rant about the books I didn’t like and rave about the ones I did as much as I want without putting off the non readers in my life.
10.  I can always, always, answer the questions “what are you reading?” and “have you read any good books lately?” and if people want recs I can give them and then share my blog address.
11. I rarely lack material for my blog or anything to do when I’m at home.
12. Knowing I’m going to review a book means I think more about it and prolongs my enjoyment than it otherwise might.  I make an effort to file away quotes and moments that would be worth mentioning in the review.  One of my favourite ever quotes from a book never made it into the review though.  I can’t remember the exact wording but the gist was “You’ve invited Colm Meaney to the wedding? I don’t know him.”  “of course you do, you’ve watched Deep Space Nine, haven’t you?!” from Postcards from the Heart by Ella Griffin
13. It’s another example of the way one small thing can change things in your life completely and bring things you wouldn’t have considered not just into your life but as a relatively big part of your life (I first started reviewing books after answering a tweet from Waterstones in 2010 which simply said “let us know if you like Dorothy Koomson books.” I said yes and they offered me a copy of The Ice Cream Girls to review. The rest as they say is history…)

In which I get Ranty

(subtitle: and lose my shit all over the Internet.)

This is ridiculous. In fact It’s the most stupid thing ever and frankly I probably shouldn’t dignify it with a response but I can’t let it go.

There’s an American company called 3eLove. They sell a range of products with their logo on – the logo is a wheelchair symbol like you see on many different things but with the wheel replaced with a heart. It’s called the wheelchair heart.  I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about it before or not. Their products have a variety of slogans on as well as the wheelchair heart.  In 2012 my parents gave me a sum of money instead of a Christmas present asking I buy myself something special that I wouldn’t usually buy for myself.  I bought myself a wheelchair heart necklace and I really like it (prior to shit that went down yesterday I probably would have said I love it but…). If you look at the pictures of my brother’s wedding you can see I’m wearing it there (I’m not sure how clear it is though). A lot of my friends have quite a few 3elove products but the necklace is the only one I have. I’ve not seen anything else they do that really called to me like that did and made me feel paying postage from the US to here was worth it (seriously, yesterday a friend linked me to one of their tops and told me how much she was paying to get it shipped here and all I could think was “I could buy a second top for the cost of postage if I bought it from a UK place” But obviously that’s not the company’s fault).

So anyway I kept hearing that yesterday (20/01/2014) was going to be Day of Acceptance run by 3elove.  And this apparently was a Big Deal.

I’m not a fan of “awareness raising” and the like and days that do that because I’m not really sure that they achieve anything that can’t be achieved by just being seen and doing and living.  I’ve written about that several times before – here is one example and there is a link to more in that entry. So I was hearing a lot about it and I sent a couple of tweets.

I tweeted:

#dayofacceptance is really poor activism and a thinly veiled way for @3elove to market themselves. Don't Other me this way #Disability

— Emma (@FunkyFairy22) January 20, 2014

and then I sent some unrelated RTs and chatted a bit with a twitter friend about stuff including what I’d just tweeted.

Then I tweeted

I don't want or need a #dayofacceptance. I deserve seven. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. And Sunday. (@3elove)

— Emma (@FunkyFairy22) January 20, 2014

Here’s the thing: I don’t want one day a year where people go out of their way to accept me and my disability and make a big deal of it. I want to be accepted every single damn day there is and I want it to be normal. You know I don’t want people bothering to tell me that my having CP is acceptable to them.  By making a big deal of it it makes me different to those in the majority and Others me. (Othering is the process by which we use an action of similar to class particular people as different and “not one of us” see this link for more detail).

I suspect a big part of this comes from medical model versus social model and cultural differences. But lets just say that those two tweets which were just random thoughts didn’t go down very well.

By my last count I’ve had tweets disagreeing with me and telling me I’m wrong from four different people.  Two of whom decided to troll me and keep telling me I was wrong. The reason I was wrong? Well, basically because I didn’t agree with them and that was just wrong. I was missing the point. I was wrong. I’ve not been able to determine what the point I was missing was because explanations haven’t been forthcoming let alone ones that actually make sense. (I RT’d a few of them and several of my followers went “yeah… makes no sense.”). Never mind I was wrong, I was hurting my followers by being wrong, and bringing loads of people down.  And most importantly I was completely wrong.

I am more than happy to have these sort of discussions if people take the time to say “well to me I see this as XYZ why do you see it differently?”

It’s also been suggested by the trolls that I need to accept myself.  I don’t know how I can do that when I’ve been in a wheelchair my entire life, would hate to be anything but and would turn down a cure if one should magically appear. My wheelchair is a huge part of my identity as well as being a part of my body.

Acceptance. Dude, it’s a journey not a destination but I’m pretty much all ready there and have been my entire life. Just because I don’t like your day doesn’t mean I hate myself.

I am surrounded by people who love me, help me, support me, tell me off if I need it, wind me up, tease me, laugh with me, cry with me, knit with me, sail with me, and do all sorts of things for me and with me.  They accept me too.  I thank them often for what they do for me and I appreciate it and they thank and appreciate me when I do stuff for them.

But I don’t thank them for accepting me. Because I shouldn’t have to. I am a part of their lives and they are a part of my life because it’s what we want.

If people I have to deal with in a professional capacity (either theirs or mine through my unpaid voluntary work) have a problem with my disability then I would hope our interactions would drip into their brains and slowly bring change and I would focus on that. If people I don’t have to deal with have a similar problem I would still hope the same thing but frankly I’d give them a chance then cut them out of my life. I’ve not got time to change lives, I’ve got a life to live.

Yes I know attitude to disabilty aren’t what they could be.  But in my life time alone  I’ve seen huge changes for the better (and maybe one or two for the worse). That’s continuing.  It’s just more effective if we live our lives and celebrate who we are and our contributions. One day isn’t going to change it.  In fact I worry it’ll make people think “well they wanted me to do it on 20th Jan and I did so they can’t expect me to do it everyday.”

People might remember the old TV ads that used to be on in December time “A dog’s for life, not just for Christmas.”  Well, my disability is for life not just one day and I’d prefer people remember that.

(I’d also prefer people to remember that a post of twitter is just a tweet. It’s not an attack on their views, just a differing opinion and there is absolutely no need for shit like the trolling I had yesterday. But I think that’s probably wishful thinking.)

(first time comment moderation is enabled on my blog – if you haven’t commented before your comment will be held. This is standard to prevent spam).

Self care is

Self care is… writing this post just before midnight Saturday night and scheduling it to post on Sunday so I don’t need to worry about it.
Self care is… playing too many games of Pyramid Solitaire because I’m rediscovering it after a break of a few years and want to beat my high score.
Self care is… a long period reading a book
Self care is… not posting something on facebook because it would make it harder to deal with.
Self care is… saying yes to something and then changing that to “probably no” because days later the details aren’t forthcoming and are stressing me out.
Self care is… getting up at the last possible minute
Self care is… an afternoon nap.
Self care is… saying no to takeaway
Self care is… forcing myself out of the house even though it’s not nice out there because I’m getting antsy sitting inside.
Self care is… writing.
Self care is… spending an hour in my standing frame, the longest I ever have (my previous record was 50 minutes, I usually do between 20 and 30).

Patently in Love by Rhoda Baxter

Author Rhoda Baxter very kindly sent me a copy of her e-book Patently in Love in exchange for a frank review here on my blog.  She also took the time to answer some of my questions. Those were posted earlier this week and can be read here.

 

Pink book cover showing a male-female couple standing close together. They're probably kissing but she has her hand up, palm out blocking our view as though she was blocking a camera. A line drawing of the London skyline is in the background

(image description: Pink book cover for Patently in Love by Rhoda Baxter showing a cartoon like drawing of a male-female couple standing close together. They’re probably kissing but she has her hand up, palm out blocking our view of their faces as though she was blocking a camera. A basic line drawing of the London skyline is in the background)

After her popstar boyfriend publicly humiliates her, Jane wants to start a new life away from media scrutiny. Maybe even find a new man.
Marshall wants a partnership in his patent law firm. He just has to prove he’s totally focussed on his work. No distractions. No office romance. Unless, of course, no one knows about it.
The last thing Jane needs is to have her picture splashed on the front page of a gossip magazine. To makes matters worse, the only person who could have told the paparazzi where Jane was… is Marshall.

I had two major problems with Patently in Love. These were 1) it wasn’t long enough for my liking and 2) the sequel, Having a Ball, is already out and I was that keen to read more about Jane and Marshall that I just had to break my “not buying any books for a few weeks” plan and buy it right now.

OK… so those aren’t really problems with the book or if they are they’re the sort I like to have when it comes to reading!  It’s safe to say I really loved Patently in Love and I’m not sure I can think of anything actually bad to say about it. Or even anything a little bit critical. Which if you’ve read my reviews before you’ll know is unusual. I’m a bit of a picky reader.

The story was quite fast paced.  It wasn’t too fast but equally could have been slowed down a little which would have satisfied my desire for a longer book!  I think I’d have liked to have seen a bit more of Jane and her flatmate together or Marshall and his sister (although Stevie, his sister, is a key player in book two). Not that the story suffered for not having those it’s just one of those things you keep thinking might happen and then doesn’t.

There are several email exchanges between the various characters in the book. That was a device which kept things moving well and they were also fun. I loved the fact that Stevie’s email address was StevieNoWonder, it was cute. I can imagine that being the sort of username you always wished you came up with if that was your name.

This is a good book.

A Bookish Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen Reasons Why I Read

Last week when I was checking out some of the other blogs who take part in Thursday Thirteen, I came across Amy from A Simple Love of Reading’s list of Thirteen Reasons why she reads.  Some of her reasons are very different to mine and I thought it would be fun to do my own list this week. Coming up with thirteen was an interesting challenge because in some ways it was too many – I could sum it up in one very broad reason which is – I just love it.  But also when I started getting into specifics narrowing it down to just 13 reasons was a challenge. I realise my saying 13 was both too many and too few reasons makes little sense but it’s true.

Thirteen Reasons Why I Read

  1. Because it’s relaxing and a way of escaping from the drudge and stress of everyday for a while
  2. As long as I’ve got something to read with me (and thanks to my phone and the Kindle app I have even on one of the rare occasions I don’t have an actual book on me) I’m never bored whilst waiting for friends, before appointments, on the train etc.
  3. Reading is a way of dealing with the demon depression when it gets bad. Years and years ago I remember saying to a counsellor that all I could manage to do was read a book – escaping into it was something I could do all the other things I needed to be doiing I couldn’t. She told me that was a good thing if I could concentrate on a book because she had many other patients who were so bad they couldn’t manage that. So now even if I feel bad and all I’m doing is reading I don’t beat myself up about that because it’s not as bad as it could be.
  4. Books take me places that I’ve never been or allow me to return to the places I’ve been and loved but can’t physically revisit. Australia, I’m looking at you.
  5. Biographies and memoirs are ways I can share the experiences of those who walk a similar path to me and let me know that I’m not the only one. I can also learn about those who lived before in a way that history can’t teach me and I can share the experiences of people who’ve done things I could never imagine achieving myself.
  6. The smell of a book.
  7. Bookshops. I can and I have whiled away many an hour hunting through a bookshop for something new and different that catches my eye.
  8. The sense of history when you go to the library or a charity shop or sometimes even just someones house and discover a really, really old book. It’s just magical (I wrote about more about that – with pictures – here
  9. Because, frankly, between actual books and my Kindle I have over 100 books I’ve not read but I still want more. I always will.
  10. The moment when I’m gifted a book (or sent it to review) and my heart sinks because it’s something I would never pick for myself like a paranormal romance but then when I make myself give it a go “for a few pages” and my heart lifts and I absolutely love it.
  11. There’s nothing better than going to a film (or watching a DVD) you know nothing about, loving it, and getting to the end seeing the words “based on the book by…” and picking it up. The book is always, always, better. Unless it’s Les Miserables. The musical was so much better than that book. Mostly because the edited all the extraneous crap out of it. But that was the exception that proves the rule.
  12. Rainy days with nothing to do snuggled under the duvet listening to it pour and experiencing another world or another time.
  13. Spending hours discussing books with friends and discovering new favourites or rediscovering old favourites with them.

Why do you read?

An Interview with Author Rhoda Baxter

One of the many (too many) books I’m in the middle of reading at the moment is Patently in Love by Rhoda Baxter.  I was sent it to review and that will be up later in the week.  Suffice to say right now that I’m enjoying it.  I was also offered the opportunity to interview Rhoda for my blog which I’m very excited about as it’s my first author interview on my blog.

About Rhoda Baxter

 

Rhoda Baxter started off in the South of England and pinged around the world a bit until she ended up in the North of England, where the cakes are better. Along the way she collected one husband, two kids, a few (ahem) extra stone in weight and a DPhil in molecular biology (but not necessarily in that order). She had a childhood ambition to be an astronaut or at least 5 feet tall. Having failed at both of these, she now writes humourous novels instead.

 

Her first novel, Patently in Love was a contender for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award and was a top ten finalist in the 2012 Preditors and Editors poll for romance reads. Her second novel is Having a Ball and her third novel, Dr January will be published by Choc Lit Publishing in autumn 2014.

 

She can be found wittering on about science, comedy and cake on her website www.rhodabaxter.com or on Facebook or Twitter (@rhodabaxter).

  1. What are the best and worst things about being a writer? (or best and worst moments?)

 

The best moments with each book is at the start, when suddenly there’s a story you’re itching to write. The characters are there, in your mind, not 100% found yet, but getting clearer each day. You have The Concept. It’s exciting. It’s going to be the best book you’ve ever written. At that point in time no one can persuade you not to write this book.

 

 

The worst point comes about 40000 words later, when you’ve hit the ‘saggy middle’. Suddenly, this book is hard. It just won’t get straight in your head. It’s fiddly. It’s impossible to write and it’s TERRIBLE. Julie Cohen (fabulous author and teacher of creative writing) calls this the ‘suckage point’. All the writers I know get this. The only thing you can do is to keep going and hope you can edit the rubbish bits out when you’ve got to the end.

 

 

  1. Where do you get your ideas for your books from?

 

The idea usually start with the characters. I have a character in mind, usually a minor one from a previous book, but not always, and I want to know more about them. I don’t really know where these characters come from. I try not to analyse it too much in case they stop.

 

 

  1. What do you do when you’ve no motivation to write or have the dreaded writers block?

 

Ah. Writer’s block. I’ve got a solution for this one. Sit down and write. I have very little writing time as I have to fit it in between a day job and looking after two kids. So when I’m sitting down in front of the laptop, I don’t have the luxury of being unable to write. I just have to do it.

 

No motivation on the other hand is a problem. Usually, at the editing stage (did I mention that a large part of the writing process is rewriting?). When I’m at this stage, I tend to do a lot of online shopping and (to the delight of my family) baking and cleaning. Anything to avoid the editing. But still, it needs to be done, so at some point I knuckle down and do it. At least by then I’ve got a good supply of cake and a nice clean house to keep me going.

 

 

  1. I see you post books reviews on your blog. Who is your favourite author or your favourite book and why?

 

I’m not sure I could name my favourite book! It’s too cruel. I don’t want all the other books to think that I love them less. If I pick a favourite author on the basis that I reread their books a lot, I’d choose Terry Pratchett. I’ve read these books over and over and I still love them. If you want to see how a writer matures, read the Discworld series in order of publication. You can see the progression from light, funny and gag driven books to deep, complex and character driven (still funny, but the jokes are more sophisticated).

 

 

  1. What’s the one thing you haven’t written about yet but would like to?

 

Oh goodness, there are so many things. I find it difficult to write about things that affect me personally – which isn’t surprising, I suppose- so I prefer to write about issues that interest me on a less visceral level. Dr January (out in autumn 2014) tackles emotional abuse and bullying in the workplace (with jokes and romance, obviously). I’m planning my 2014 book at the moment and I’m thinking of making it about father daughter relationships.

 

  1. Have you always wanted to be a writer or did you have another dream job in mind as a child?

 

My dream jobs when I was a child were Astronaut, Scientist, Writer and Bookshop owner. I’m too short and have crappy eyesight, so I can’t be an astronaut. I was a scientist and still work in a related field. My parents always said I should get a real job first and then write in my spare time. I hate to say it, but they’re right. I don’t think I’d give up my day job even if I could afford to (which I can’t). It gives me the chance to interact with real people and makes me think about things that I wouldn’t normally have noticed. It gives me things to write about.

 

I think I’ve changed my mind about being a bookshop owner now. I think two out of four is enough.

 

 

  1. If you achieve one main goal in 2014 what do you hope it’ll be?

 

I’d like to do a talk in front of a real audience. Dr January will be the first book I’ve had out in paperback (the others are ebooks), so I’ve not had a reason to do talks until now. I find the thought fairly petrifying – what if I fluff my words or go on stage with my dress tucked in my knickers or something?

 

As far as writing goals are concerned, I’d like to write a novel and one novella this year. I’ve never written a novella before. It would be a challenge.

 

 

Thank you so much for having me on your blog. It’s been a pleasure.

 

I hope you enjoy reading Patently in Love. I certainly had a lot of fun writing it.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Rhoda!