Tag Archives: reading

Some Goals

I’ve never been one for formal “resolutions” heading into a new year, but there are definitely some things I would like to accomplish in 2014. It’s always a little easier to be motivated to do something if you’ve told other people you want to do it, so here goes.

In 2014, I want to:

  • Watch less TV.
  • Spend less time on my phone at home.
  • Catalogue my book collection.
  • Read more books (at least one novel per month?).
  • Release the third volume of 50-word stories.
  • Release at least one Special People novel in print.

I even have some ideas for practical ways to make a couple of these happen.

I’m going to stop carrying my phone around in my pocket when I’m at home; it can sit somewhere in the middle of the house with the ringer on in case I get a call. That should reduce the temptation to pull it out and check Twitter or whatever every five minutes.

I think I’m also going to make a “reading plan” of novels I’m going to read, in conjunction with cataloguing my book collection. That will help me have defined reading goals for the year.

We’ll see how it all turns out!

An Update on This; an Update on That

Boy, it’s been a while since I wrote a blog post. I haven’t felt the need to post any “life updates”, because Larissa has been doing such a great job of that over on her blog (a far better job than I could hope to do, in fact). She posts all kinds of photos and everything!

On the writing front, my output has obviously decreased significantly since the first half of 2012, so I haven’t had much to update there, either. I’m still putting out a chapter each week for Special People, though I took a break over Christmas, but any SP-related news items that come up get posted on that site, not here. (You should probably follow along over there, by the way. There’s been more progress on the comic project lately, and the current storyline is approaching its finale sequence.) I hope to put a few more interactive opportunities out there for people to get involved with soon, as well.

The Year of Stories is still on indefinite hiatus, and my Lucas Galloway novel is still somewhat in limbo. I don’t have the time or creative energy available to me right now to work on multiple projects at once, so in order for me to return to either of those I think I’m going to have to take a break for Special People, which is perhaps something I’ll do while the comic is posting, whenever that happens to be.

Something I really should get around to doing soon is compiling 50-Word Stories: Volume Three. All of the material exists on the site already, and I have the cover art, etc., so I just need to choose which stories to include, put the cover and some sort of essay together, and release it. I’ve been putting it off far too long, and it’s about time it went on my actual To-Do List. If I haven’t gotten it done by mid-February, someone give my a kick!

Beyond all of these things, life rolls on. I finished Volume 1 of Don Quixote last week, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I want to wait until I’ve read Volume 2 before adding it to my 50 Best Novels list; I’ve heard that the second volume takes on a somewhat different tone than the first, and I think that may affect how highly I rank it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it land in the top 10 eventually, though.

There are plenty more books out there, including several on my shelves, that I’d like to get around to reading, and I’m going to try to share a few thoughts on them as I finish each one, if for no other reason than to make better use of this space, so that it doesn’t sit quite so idle, and also to get my brain and fingers used to more frequent writing again.

P.S. Hockey is back! Hooray!

Year of Stories – Week 20

This week you get three free short stories instead of just one! They all centre around the same character; meet Leon the dragon.

A dragon and a mudge! Made by Tally Heilke.

My friend Tally Heilke has put together some awesome hand-crafted plush figurines based on some of the characters in these stories, and they’re available through her Etsy store, so check them out!

Here’s the blurb for the first story in the series, Leon Meets a Mudge:

It’s almost Leon the Dragon’s birthday, when he will get to show everyone what colour fire he breathes! There’s just one problem: he doesn’t know how to breathe fire yet…

Read it now.

Stephen King Thinks Readers Are Too Lazy For Short Stories

In a video that I was linked to a couple of days ago, world-famous author Stephen King discusses why he thinks people don’t tend to read short stories anymore. Since I’ve been writing so much short fiction recently, and since I plan to write a lot more of it over the next year, I found this really interesting.

So, are readers “too lazy” to reinvest their attention in a new story every 10 or 20 pages? Or is there some other reason why short stories are so much less popular than novels?

My Thoughts

For my own part, I think short stories are really well suited to the interest levels and attention spans of today’s reader, especially online. Short videos, in the 3- to 5-minute range, are super popular on the internet. I see no reason why stories that take 10- to 15-minutes to read shouldn’t be, as well.

When comparing novels to short stories, marketing and publicity play a pretty important role. When someone wants to find a new novel, they go to a bookstore, or a bookseller’s website. But where do you go to find short stories to read? In my experience, you have to search harder to find quality short fiction. If you know where to look, you can find hundreds of online magazines publishing short stories, but the number of high quality, “flagship” short story publishers is not very high.

I think, also, that novels tend to be more marketable because they can be spun into other formats more easily. So many movies, and even TV shows, are based on novels, and that drives up interest in those novels. Then bookstores harness the movie hype to promote other, similar novels. When’s the last time you saw that type of publicity chain working in favour of a short story?

Chime In!

What do you think? Do you agree with my reasoning? Are there other reasons why short stories don’t enjoy the same popularity that novels do? I’ve been getting some interesting opinions on Twitter and Facebook, but I’m interested in what my blog readers have to say about it. Let me know in the comments!

Answers #1 – Why Write?

I’m going to try out a Q&A feature on my blog. For now, I’ll mostly be soliciting questions via social media (see the top of the sidebar for links), but you can also email me (tsevenhuysen@gmail.com) if there’s something you’d really like to know about my writing, my family, my opinions, or any other aspect of my life.

 

Sean Riley asked me:

Why write?

Wow. What a great, big question. Why do I write? I’m not entirely sure I know. But I’ll try to give some semblance of an answer.


The Answer

Sitting back and thinking about it, I think there are three main reasons why I write. Here they are:

1) I write because I have a need to create.

Ideas pop into my head whether I’m looking for them or not, a lot of the time. I can either let them bounce around for a while until they find their way out my ear and get carried off by the wind, or I can try to put them down on paper or a screen somewhere. I have a drive to create, an urge of some sort, that pushes me to do something with my ideas.

But writing my ideas down wouldn’t mean a whole lot if no one read them, which is why I have reason 2:

2) I write because it’s rewarding.

Any time someone reads a story I’ve written, whether they give me feedback or not, whether they even like it or not, I find it really rewarding. It’s hard to pin down why. Maybe it’s some sense of the reader investing their time in me or showing appreciation for the effort I put into creating that story. Maybe it’s a validation of my creative urge.

Having my stories read makes me feel valued. It even allows me to feel like I’m making a difference in someone’s life, whether that difference is significant or not. It’s wonderfully empowering to know that your words are winding their way through someone else’s brain, especially when I think of all the great experiences I’ve had reading things that other people have written. And that brings me to my third, and maybe most important, reason for writing, which is:

3) I write because I read.

Fiction has been one of the most influential mediums in my life. I’ve read fiction pretty much constantly since I was a kid. Many of my fondest memories are tied to books, or experiences related to books. I remember a kids’ book about a mouse and a ripe, red strawberry, I remember the Berenstain Bears, I remember the Land of Barely There. I remember going to see a play in a local theatre based on The Hobbit, and then finding The Fellowship of the Ring in the class library in Grade 4, devouring it, and hunting forever to find the rest of the series to read. I remember getting Ender’s Game for free at a book exchange during a camping trip and reading it in three-and-a-half hours with literally one single break to go to the bathroom.

I remember The Grapes of Wrath teaching me about tragedy.
I remember Gulliver’s Travels teaching me about satire.
I remember The Life of Pi teaching me about metaphor.
I remember Les Miserables completely reformulating my concept of literature.

The more I read, the more I learn, and the more my life feels enriched. I only first read some of these incredibly influential books in the past couple of years, and I hope to have my life changed in many more ways by the fiction I continue to discover.

I write because I want to be a part of this process. I don’t anticipate that my fiction will ever do for someone what Les Mis or Grapes of Wrath did for me, but maybe by writing I can somehow help those classics to live on, in some small way.


I hope this goes part of the way to answering your question, Sean.

And if anyone wants to get started on enriching their lives through reading, look no further than my 50 Best Books list!