The one about the love of books

I was given my very first book for my 10th birthday by a family friend. Until then, I had only read books that I had to for school and sometimes I even pretended I had without really doing it. I was more interested in climbing up trees than reading. That book, I remember it well. It was from a French children collection called “La Bibliotheque Rose” (The Pink Library” which specialised in authors for children up to 12 years old. The book was part of a series by a former French actress turned children books’ author, Cecile Aubry. The book title was “Poly en Tunisie” (Poly in Tunisia) and revolved around a little pony detective…yes, I know weird but it is for children. I wasn’t really keen on reading it but after my nan’s friend asked me for the second time if I had read it, I felt obliged…and POW! The floodgate had been open. I devoured that book quicker than I ever thought possible. From then on, I couldn’t stop…my mother had a collection of Nancy Drew novels (she was called Alice Roy in French) which I went through at a crazy speed. My nan was chuffed and it became a thing. Every trimester, when my school report came in and I had good marks but more importantly good comments, my nan would take me to the book store and I could pick one book to add to my Alice collection. By the time I was 15, I had pretty much completed the collection (or so I thought). I come from a small village in France so the book store had a pretty limited stock.

With my teenage years came my first attempts at writing my own stories. Strangely enough, although I enjoyed reading detective stories, I seem to only write romance stories. Nothing to write home about though…although I would have to read them again when I get the chance. I did write some poems too…although I have never liked poetry, so I don’t know why I felt inclined to write some.

Then I became a young adult. My taste in books expanded to include fantasy and sci-fi but not much else. I particularly disliked non fiction. With the start of my working life, I stopped writing. I didn’t have the time or the energy anymore…I didn’t pick up a pen to write anything until much later. By that stage, I had moved to the UK and become fluent in English. My passion for books hasn’t faltered and now that I can read book in English, I rarely read in French anymore (I find French writers too pompous and the last thing I want to do is read a translation). In fact, I practised and perfected my English not by taking classes here in London but by reading YA books alongside a notebook and a small dictionary. My first book in English took a couple of months to read for I had to stop and check words every other word. My second book went faster and so on until I could read a whole book without checking words in the dictionary. It was an awesome way to improve my English and it has served me well as most people wouldn’t guess now that I only became fluent in my late twenties.

Since then I have read dozens of books in English, including a few which I had read in French as a teenager (The Lord of the Rings is one of them).

Now if you know life in London, one thing that most people lack here is space and unfortunately, as I actually hate libraries (not the space itself but the fact that I have to give the books back!), I ended up with piles of books everywhere with no place to put them. It was even more noticeable when I had to move flats and realised that I had more boxes with books than clothes…I just couldn’t keep them all…so I donated them to the local library (just because I don’t like using them, doesn’t mean I am against what they represent). I was starting to build my stock again which I would probably have to give again when the world’s greatest invention came within my reach…All hail the Kindle!

People who haven’t tried one and who like books often say to me “oh but I love the feel of a book, I just couldn’t” and to them I reply, you can still have books, just maybe those that really matter to you. I have kept my LOTR collection and my Harry Potter books, but for anything that is not as important to me, Kindle has saved me…it has also allowed me to read authors that I probably would never have tried because of the cost of books. When a book cost £8 a pop and you can read 2 a week (especially in the Fantasy section where everything seem to be a saga!) it can become quite costly and you become more picky about what you buy…when you can download a book for £0.77, you are more willing to try someone untested. And I love that I can also use the Kindle App on my iPad or my Android phone for free. All the books I have bought are there in the Cloud and all I have to do if I want to read one is download it to the device…and it will sync all devices to the same page so even if I started to read the book on the Kindle and then ran out of juice (it happens to me regularly. As the Kindle doesn’t need to be recharged for a few weeks, when it does, I am never near a plug!). Can you tell that I really, really, really love Kindle? 🙂 I am constantly downloading new books, some I haven’t even had time to read yet but it doesn’t matter because they will there, ready for me whenever I am without me having to remember that I am about to finish one.

Since that day I read this children book to please my Nan’s friend, I have never looked back. This was probably the most meaningful present I ever got. I tried to do the same for my younger sister and young cousins and disappointingly they never got into it…I am hoping that I can get my nephew and niece hooked when they are old enough.

And now, I am learning the techniques so maybe one day, it will be my name on the cover…


The one about inspiration

Most of the time, inspiration will come at random times and the first rule of writing – according to the self-help books I am currently reading – is to always have a notebook with you. That’s a very good advice I might say as I find that ideas pop into my head whilst I am on the bus or even at work, usually when I let my mind wander or if I am dealing with a particularly dull task at work.

I use to tell myself that I would remember it later but the truth is, I never do. You may remember something relatively similar (and maybe just as good) but you don’t actually remember it exactly. So now I have my notebook always at the ready and whether or not the idea I have has value, I just jot it down. Sometimes it is a variant of a story I have already been thinking about and sometimes it is something completely new. One thing I always make sure I do is put the date I wrote the idea down so I know in what order they have come…that’s my OCD side. I like things in order.

Lately, I have been having a million ideas a day (well maybe not a million but  you get my meaning) so my pad has been filling up quickly and all has been revolving around the same original idea, which you’ll excuse me for not sharing. I don’t know that I will ever want to get published but better not regret it later.

My biggest problem with inspiration is not find any but realising that something pretty much similar has already been done and trying to find an original take on it, if possible. It’s weird sometimes to realise that although you are trying very hard not to copy anyone, other people’s ideas imprint your brain and seep back through without you realising it until you re-read that book or re-watch that movie. It has happened to me twice this week, which is a little frustrating. I thought I was being quite clever and in fact I was just being a copycat…without even realising it.

Another issue I have, is that although I may have an idea for a character, I don’t really have an idea of what to do with them. They can’t just go milling about. They have to have a goal, conflicts etc.

This has been plaguing me for a while so a few month ago, whilst I was googling for writing tips and creative writing blogs, I came across this short course and decided, fuck it, life is too short and I love learning anyway, so I signed up to it.

Tomorrow is going to be my third class (out of 6) and so far I have been enjoying it a lot. But more about that later.