The Liebster Award!

I am SO INCREDIBLY grateful and excited to announce that Winifred Reilly has nominated me for The Liebster Award. The Liebster Award is an award that moves through bloggers to other bloggers: if you’re nominated, you must then nominate 5 other blogs that you feel deserve to be recognized and shown a little bit of love. Essentially the award says “yo dawg, I like what you’re doing and I think other people should see it”. I feel incredibly honored that someone thinks I deserve to be noticed by more people. THANK YOU WINIFRED!

I’m finding the process of picking 5 blogs to nominate a little bit difficult, because most of the blogs that I read are better read than my own and have been helping to give me a leg up. So with that in mind, here are a few of the people that I read who are less well known and also fabulous:

Andrew: Considered Exclamations
The Merely Real
We Are Like Your Child
Time to Listen
I’m going to cheat a wee bit on this last one because I’m also a contributor to this blog, but I’m nominating it for my fellow bloggers over there because they’re great. CFI On Campus

The final piece of the award is questions: I have to answer some, and then I pose some to the blogs that I nominated. So here are Winifred’s questions to me:

1. When did you start blogging?

Well I started writing for Teen Skepchick about three ago I believe. Since then I’ve written in a variety of places, but I only started my own blog about nine months ago.

2. What one thing have you learned or experienced as a blogger that surprised you?

I’m surprised at how much I find I have to say, how much support I get from people, and how interactive the blogging community is. When I first started blogging, I sometimes found it hard to contribute content even once every week or two, but now I’m writing nearly every day and I still find that there are things on my mind. I also find that others are always talking back, and letting me know what they think.

3. What advice do you have to bloggers who are just starting out?

Get involved in a network! This can be a little bit hard, but look around for blogs that have a variety of contributors that talk about the things you want to talk about and see if you can get featured or added as a writer. This helps you become more consistent in your posts, have a group of people to help you out as you start, enters you into a pre-formed community, and helps you gain an audience without having to do all the work yourself. It’s pretty nifty.

4. How often do you post and why?

I probably post a little bit too much: I generally post 4-5ish times a week. I do this because I like consistency and daily schedules. I like practicing my writing, and writing as a daily practice that is more than simply expressing myself but more about staying connected to my thoughts, learning how to express myself, and learning how to produce content quickly and efficiently. I also simply like schedules and I like to push myself really hard, so I expect it of myself. Finally, I like reading other blogs that I know I can come to every day and have something new. That said, I know I could probably improve my writing if I were to take more time with each post. I’m working on that right now.

5. Many writers began writing when they were very young. Others came to it later, because they had a story to tell. When did you start writing?

I can’t really remember a time that I didn’t write. I remember as early as about 10 years old, I was writing stories and loving it. We had an assignment to create a little book in my third grade class, and other people hemmed and hawed, and I wrote about five in the time allotted because all I wanted to do was write. In fifth grade I wrote a “novel” that was hundreds of pages long. I wanted to be a fantasy  author. However I only really started writing nonfiction in college. Before that I always thought creative writing was where it’s at, and now I’m loving talking about things in my life and the world.

6. When is your favorite writing time?

I have a few. I like blogging between about 10 am and 2 pm because that’s when my brain is the most awake, but I like creative writing late at night.

7. What sorts of blogs do you read?

ALL OF THEM. Not really, but I am interested in as many human experiences as possible. I read a lot of atheist, feminist, mental health and social justice blogs, as well as some on autism, race, LGBT stuff, polyamory, homeschooling, science, skepticism…If anybody has suggestions of other blogs I LOVE hearing them.

8. What one key message do you want your readers to take away from your blog?

Wow, these are some tough questions. I think I would say compassion. I want people to come away with the knowledge that everyone is fighting an incredibly hard battle each and every day and that if we want life to be tolerable we must be as kind as possible to each other. We cannot rely on the old rules or scripts, but we must instead listen carefully and exercise our compassion to connect on a human level. Or something like that.

9. What was the last book you read?

Right now I’m reading two books: Listening to Prozac, which is a little outdated but incredibly interesting, and City of Bohane, which is FANTASTIC. It’s a futuristic gang-opera set in Ireland. I actually can’t remember which book I finished last, but I believe it was From Fasting Saints to Anorexic Girls: A History of Self-Starvation, which had a lot of incredibly interesting information but had some extremely problematic conclusions. I may write about it at some point because I think it illustrates a lot of the outdated attitudes towards eating disorders that many people still hold.

10. Do you think you’ve learned more from your successes or from your failures?

Hey I just wrote about this! Check out my last post 🙂

11. Share one thing that’s at the top of your bucket list.

I don’t really have a bucket list. That’s one of the things that I’ve really struggled with during my mental illness: thinking of and hoping for the future. More often than not I don’t imagine I’ll live for another five years and I can’t even think of what it would be like if I did. So I suppose that right now getting a cat is #1.

So for those people who I nominated, here are your questions:

1.What is your favorite charity?

2.What do you like about blogging vs. other writing?

3.What’s your favorite dance?

4.How long have you been blogging for?

5.Coffee or tea?

6.Do you like to set yourself deadlines for blogging?

7.What’s the best Halloween costume you ever had?

8.Who’s your favorite author and why?

9.If you had to sum yourself up in five words, what would they be?

10.What was your favorite post that you’ve written?

How To Read a Stream of Consciousness Book

My boyfriend and I have very different reading styles. When he reads, he likes to understand every bit of the book. He’s more deliberate than I am: he tries to pick apart every piece of the syntax, understand every allusion, get every symbol. I on the other hand, read quickly. I don’t spend a lot of time while I’m reading doing analyzing. I let the book wash over me. I get engrossed in plots and characters and a different time or place. I escape into my books. When I emerge, I dust myself off and think about what just happened.

 

This means that we’re suited to different types of books. My boyfriend is stellar at reading straightforward books, books like The Great Gatsby that are full of symbols and meaning but that follow a relatively linear path. I on the other hand can feed on stream of consciousness novels, things that wend different perspectives together, things that don’t quite make sense until you experience them. And so for those individuals who tend to be more analytical about their reading, let me offer some advice for reading a stream of consciousness book.

 

1.Don’t try to make sense of it. Just let it happen to you.

This can be really hard for some people. They may want to go back over and over a section until they have understood what happened in it. I often find that it’s more useful to just get a feel of something that makes no sense and then read onwards. Things are explained later. Things come to light with more information. You can always come back later. But what’s important isn’t always the specific words: it’s the mood. When you come back to analyze later you can try to figure out what created the mood, but in the instant, you need to let your brain happen in synch with the book.

 

2.Don’t try too hard to focus. Let your mind wander.

This was especially true of James Joyce for me, which is not stream of consciousness but is certainly not linear. Oftentimes stream of consciousness or non linear books don’t have a clear one to one connection between their allusions or symbols and the meaning of those allusions or symbols. They cast a wide net. You have to let your mind be open to all of the associations you feel for the images and ideas that are presented. Again, there is a kind of resonance that can happen between your mind and the novel. You may not imagine or feel the same pictures and feelings that the book presents, but your mind might throw up your version of those pictures and feelings. For example when I was reading 13 Reasons Why, instead of seeing the events as Hannah described them, my mind threw up my own experiences of depression and the images that I associated with it. It allowed me to inhabit the character through my own experience. This is often true when you get allusions, as your associations might not be exactly the same as the author’s.

 

3.Read in long stretches.

When I read a stream of consciousness style book I usually read it all in one go. This is generally not by choice, as I usually forget who I am and what I was doing until I finish the book and mourn the loss of whoever I was for those hours. But for those who have a harder time with reading things straight through, at least make sure you dedicate fair chunks of time to a book that’s about mood and feeling. This isn’t the kind of book to have on your bedside table to read a few pages before bed. This is the kind of book you take to a coffee shop and immerse yourself in. Generally these books are in the first person, and it takes a little bit to let yourself fall into character; because that’s the idea: to become the character for a time.

 

4.Analyze afterwards.

Some people like to do a lot of analysis while they’re reading. They write notes in the margins, they try and pick apart the novel as they read it. They get a lot more out of their first read than I ever could. But when you’re trying to enter someone’s stream of consciousness, you can’t be analyzing at a meta level while also inhabiting the experience. You can always come back later and consider the symbols and the themes and the characters. You can underline or star or mark the pages that seem important to you as you’re going. But let yourself be the character while you’re reading instead of trying to be the observer who figures things out.