• A new take on binge reading?

    Binge reading. Okay, I love to read, and by extension — write. But, binge-ing? Though I understand the editorializing on the “joy of reading”, why can’t someone engage in one of the most pleasurable solitary activities in recent times that doesn’t require a screen, without having to acknowledge some kind of condition be met to make it happen?

    One night a couple of summers ago, the power went out and, unable to watch Netflix or engage in my customary internet fugue, I lit a candle and picked up a thriller by Ruth Rendell. For the first time in as long as I could remember, my sole source of entertainment for an evening was going to be a book.

    Okay, I’ll roll with the context. The reader is forced to entertain himself with what he hopes is the right kind of fiction. He starts to read, but then something weird happens. The physical book becomes a sort of extension of an autoplay feature that somehow the reader incorporates into the method by which he consumes the book. (Hello 21st century metaphor for protracted media consumption?)

    Now this may all seem a bit rich, coming from a fiction writer. You aren’t enjoying reading? Then read longer! Read faster! The problem is you! But the corollary to this way of reading — of taking books down in gulps rather than sips — is that you will discover much more quickly when a book isn’t for you, and you can then set it aside without the nagging suspicion that you might have sabotaged it by your method of ingestion.

    Sigh. I just like reading with a rhythm that’s on my own terms. | LINK

  • Chinese novelist jailed for writing about gay sex

    A reminder of just how free the U.S. is.

    A Chinese writer has been given a 10 year sentence for writing and selling a novel which featured gay sex scenes. The writer, identified as Liu, was jailed by a court in Anhui province last month for producing and selling “obscene material”.

    Her novel, titled “Occupation”, featured “male homosexual behaviour including perverted sexual acts like violation and abuse.” But her lengthy jail term has sparked protest across Chinese social media.

    According to the Beijing News, Liu – better known by her online alias Tian Yi – has now filed an appeal to the court. Pornography is illegal in China.

  • National Novel Writing Month

    …or NaNoWriMo, as it’s affectionately called, begins today. I’ve always wanted to take part in this exercise. But now that I’m a published author, I suppose the point is essentially moot. If anything, I adore the spirit behind the cause.

    One part writing boot camp, one part rollicking party, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) celebrates its 20th year of encouraging creativity, education, and the power of the imagination through the largest writing event in the world.
    This year, NaNoWriMo expects over 400,000 people—including over 95,000 K-12 students and educators on our Young Writers Program website—to start a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. Throughout the month, they’ll be guided by this year’s theme: “NaNoWriMo Is…”
    “NaNoWriMo is more than just a writing challenge. NaNoWriMo is an opportunity to step out of your everyday life, open your mind to infinite possibilities, and create new worlds with people from around the globe. It’s a joyous leap into unexplored worlds, a laboratory of the imagination, a chance to free yourself from the obstacles that prevent you from telling your story. Our stories help us understand ourselves and others, so we need our stories more than ever in this age to bridge connections and heal divides,” says Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo. Last year, NaNoWriMo welcomed 394,507 participants, in 646 different regions, on six continents. Of these, more than 58,000 met their month-long writing goal.

    Best of luck to all who participate!

  • Journaling with music

    Pretty interesting post today on the merits of using a playlist of music to document life experiences. Too busy to write? Love music? A nostalgia buff? Why not use the power of the playlist to document your true feelings at a given point in time? Heck, I even did it with the most recent post to this blog.

    There’s actually science backing up why music triggers such visceral memories — a 2013 study at the University of Newcastle in Australia found that pop music helped patients with severe brain injuries remember pieces of their past. The study played the most popular songs from the patients’ life, and asked participants about whether they liked it and what they remembered. The study was the first of its kind to look into how music-evoked autobiographic memories (MEAM) affects people with brain injuries. According to Psychology Today, “Songs that evoked a memory were noted as being more familiar and more well liked than songs that did not trigger a MEAM.”

    A UC Davis study mapped the brain while participants listened to music and found that familiar music activates regions of the brain linked to emotion and memory. Petr Janata, the study’s author said, “a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that stays playing in our head.””It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person’s face in your mind’s eye,” Janata said in a press release. “Now we can see the association between those two things — the music and the memories.” A more recent study from McGill University tested responses to four different moods of music, and concluded that “happy” samples of music triggered the fastest memory recall.