Posts Tagged ‘writing’

I do a bit of writing in my spare time. Always have.

When i was little, i wrote stories. One of the first i wrote was probably inappropriate as it was about Lily, a girl who was kidnapped, abused and killed by a horrible woman, but who comes back as a ghost and eventually becomes alive again. Very imaginative (and disturbing) for a young girl!

Unfortunately, i have this horrible tendancy to throw stories out. And then massively regret it a few years later. This was in an age before computers (yes, i remember that time, although i’m only in my twenties!). It’s one thing to have got rid of my old childhood and teenage books, which i regret now as i can’t remember all of what i read, but at least i’d be able to buy those books back if i wanted to.

But once you’ve ripped up and binned your stories, that’s it. They’re gone forever, unless you have really good memory. But writing them from memory is never as good as the first time when they were fresh and new.

So i wish i hadn’t binned the Lily story, even though it was a bit unpleasant (but with a happy ending), because it was the first story i wrote and actually finished.

It makes you realise how great computers are for keeping things for a long time. These days i can write on paper and then type it up later.

You have no idea how much i want to kick myself for throwing these things out! Maybe i would have been treated better if i’d shown people my writing, most of which tends to be secret and never sees the light of day.

I chose a Creative Writing module during my degree, which i really enjoyed. We were encouraged to start a writing journal, and this went pretty much everywhere with me, on train journeys (there were quite a few), on walks, to the place where i volunteered as a room steward, etc. I was going through a difficult few months at the time so it was my outlet for all my emotions, and when things got even worse i carried on doing it, realising how much better i felt pouring my soul onto pages. Some of my writing i felt would be good in my module portfolio which was to be marked. When i got it back, i was totally gutted and upset because my tutor had basically slated my work totally. I got the lowest mark so far in my degree and i hated that woman so much. I know everyone’s writing is different but she seemed particularly evil towards me and my writing. The word “sentimental” was used to describe it, and she also thought my writing would work well “in a women’s magazine” (i.e. something like Cosmo). And to top it off, she had written notes on all my pieces, except the one i felt was my absolute best and favourite piece. Nothing at all on that one. No wonder i was so upset.

I haven’t really shared my writing with other people since then. My mum says i shouldn’t let one person stop me doing it, which i guess is a fair point, after all my friends in that writing class actually agreed that the tutor had been unfair to me and said my work was actually quite good. I know i can improve on my writing, but it would have been nicer to have some helpful and constructive feedback as to how i could improve, instead of just slating my work.

But then, we all have critics, and i guess my biggest critic is myself.

The hottest news of the week in the publishing world was the announcement by Apple that they were launching the iBooks 2 app.

This app allows anyone to create their own ebook. It is mainly for authors wanting to create textbook ebooks for studying, with the app allowing them to upload content such as videos, images, Word docs etc into the app, which then works out how best to lay out the content.

This app will potentially lower the amount of huge heavy print books which students have to lug around campus and makes it easier to find what you are looking for. Although i guess you’d need to have an iPad in the first place which isn’t cheap, although if these ebook textbooks are cheaper than the paper versions then maybe you could afford one (or possibly not with the recent hiking up of tuition fees).

Publishers have already made use of the iPad for children’s books, and there are some beautiful ebooks out there for the iPad which i’ve seen and tried out for myself, although i still would be a little reluctant to give my expensive iPad to a small child to use, wouldn’t you? The pictures and animations are really lovely, colourful and appealing, which makes a children’s book more special.

Textbooks seemed like the next obvious target by publishers to try to digitise, as they contain far more content than other books and have always seemed rather dull. I guess with the iPad app we can now create beautiful ebook versions of these textbooks which we can interact with and make learning more enjoyable. We already have seen what can be done with textbook content in apps, the most famous being The Elements app:

Textbook ebooks look like they could be pretty big if done well, and it will be interesting to see how this works.
Here is a video explaining about the iBooks 2 app:

The video points out some interesting points about the old print textbook: They are outdated almost as soon as they are published, as new discoveries are made all the time, and the time-consuming process of publishing a book means that a textbook can be up-to-date upon its induction but by the time it reaches the shop it can be several months out of date. The ability to update the content of an ebook as new information is discovered would allow students to keep on top of developments. It may make it a bit harder to keep track of quotes a student may take from a book if new content is added, making referencing a little bit harder, but we’ll see how this works. Another point is that print textbooks are static, so if you are studying science, then ebooks make it possible to show images as animations so they look more like the real thing they are describing.

However, according to the Guardian, the textbooks will only be available in the US for now, which means the rest of us will have to wait! My main concern is that with tuition fees going up by massive amounts, students will be unable to afford to buy these textbooks, whether or not they have an iPad (and i can’t imagine many will do, i rarely saw them when i was at uni not long ago), so one hopes that libraries will buy them in so students can borrow them, but i guess that in itself will conjure up a load of trouble with lending, as we’ve already witnessed with other ebooks.

These textbooks can open a whole new way of learning, which is an exciting prospect. They look more interesting than print books, and the ability to interact with the content within the book makes it a more compelling reading experience, and if i was learning a subject as heavy and information-packed as medicine or something, i would want a more exciting way of learning about it! And it also makes it easier to take notes by simply highlighting text with your fingers and pasting it into your notes, which seems a lot easier than writing it all down by hand! I only wish i’d had this when i was at school/university, would have made life a lot easier, even though i was only studying literature and language and not science or anything!

I wonder what you think of iBooks 2? Feel free to comment!

Articles consulted:
Telegraph.co.uk: Apple iBooks 2 app lets authors make their own books

Engadget.com: Apple ibooks 2

Guardian.co.uk: Apple unveils ibooks 2 textbooks ipad

Plaça De George Orwell, Barcelona Spain.
Image via Wikipedia

I read an interesting article today about the advantages of writing in bed: The advantages of writing in bed – The Guardian. It describes how authors like George Orwell wrote in bed, and how the bed is the perfect place for reading and writing.

This made me think of where i like writing. The answer to this question: pretty much anywhere i get inspiration.

In the past i have had inspiration and started writing there and then, wherever i am. Of course, i don’t always have pen and paper on me, so occasionally i’ll write it as a note on my mobile phone so i don’t forget and put it down on paper as soon as i get hold of some.

Places:

  1. Bed – I too like writing in bed. It’s comfortable and relaxing for long periods of time. I tend to write in bed in the morning or in the evening…. occasionally i’ll wake up in the middle of the night and just write there and then. I also almost always read in bed!
  2. Train – A lot of my time is spent on trains so it is no surprise that i get inspiration to write while travelling, and particularly if i’m inspired by the landscape i’m travelling through, or by the music i’m listening to.
  3. A viewpoint, ie. on top of a mountain, by the seaside, etc. – Places which have a beautiful view are also great for inspiration. A lot of the time i don’t have paper with me, as it tends to be on walks, so i’ll use my mobile to write small notes for later. Or i take photographs, as i’m usually either carrying a phone/camera or paper.
You may notice that “Desk” isnt on the list: To be fair, i rarely use my desk these days, its currently covered in junk when my laptop isnt sitting on it!
As for reading, i read in bed a lot, i read on trains (not on buses/in cars as i get carsick weirdly!), and sitting outside either on the decking or on the table!
So, where do you all read and write?