If you’re happy and content with your life, there is no inner desire to bring down other people

People that are happy and content with their lives  do not feel the need to tear down other people’s achievements – but instead give support, encouragement and praise.

I just read a friend’s very intelligent and elegant response to a rather mean-spirited criticism. I admire my friend’s unshaken poise and serenity in his counter arguments. I’m all for the dogma that criticism is needed – how else can we learn and grow. But that’s constructive criticism, not destructive criticism – which tells you more about the inner psychology of the owner of such criticism, rather than the work that’s being criticised. Arthur Schopenhauer said it best, “vulgar people take huge delight in the faults and follies of great men”.

Dale Carnegie wrote about how no one kicks a dead dog and that “unjust criticism is often a disguised compliment. The more important a dog is, the more satisfaction people get in kicking him”.

“So when you are kicked and criticised, remember that it is often done because it gives the kicker a feeling of importance. It often means that you are accomplishing something and are worthy of attention. Many people get a sense of savage satisfaction out of denouncing those who are better educated than they are, or more successful.” (Dale Carnegie)

Eleanor Roosevelt told Dale Carnegie, “the only way we can avoid all criticism is to be like a Dresden-china figure and stay on a shelf. Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticised, anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” (Dale Carnegie).

Dale Carnegie highlights a story of Admiral Peary who “…startled and thrilled the world by reaching the North Pole with dog sleds in 1909 – a goal that brave men for centuries had suffered and starved and died to attain. Peary himself almost died from cold and starvation; and eight of his toes were frozen so hard they had to be cut off. He was so overwhelmed with disasters that he feared he would go insane. His superior naval officers in Washington were burned up because Peary was getting so much publicity and acclaim. So they accused him of collecting money for scientific expeditions and then “lying around and loafing in the Arctic”. And they probably believed it, because it is almost impossible not to believe what you want to believe. Their determination to humiliate and block Peary was so violent that only a direct order from President McKinley enabled Peary to continue his career in the Arctic.” (Dale Carnegie).

So if someone like Admiral Peary who achieved something amazing and praise worthy can still be criticised, perhaps his story can give us comfort the next time we’re attacked by unjust criticism. As long as in your heart you know you did the right thing or you believe in what you did, unjust criticism should be considered and analysed whether it truly has any merit, but not be given permission to belittle what you are trying to achieve.

Above quotes taken from: How to stop worrying and start living, by Dale Carnegie.

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The eloquent writing of The Chrysalids

Sometimes a book is written so beautifully and eloquently that I am lost for words to describe how awe inspired I am by the writing. My words sound clumsy and can not do justice to the way I feel when reading the words on the page.

I’ve only read five chapters of The Chrysalids so far and I already love the way the author describes things, it’s delightful to read.

I find myself highlighting* certain sentences to learn from, to steal; it’s not enough for me to just read. I want to study and learn from this author, in the hope that one day I may be able to write like this. John Wyndham was an amazing writer.

I bought a 1958 copy of the book. I love the idea that this book is 55 years old; this copy has been read and held by countless readers before me. I think of the past readers that held and read the same pages as I read them now for the first time.

*nb: I never highlight my fiction books, only my non-fiction books. But something compelled me to do it. I hesitated as I didn’t want to ruin the copy of the book, but at the same time I want to learn from this author and the only way I can learn is by analysing the way he writes.

 

chrysalids

“The battle is not done”

I like to have the TV show Criminal Minds on in the background when I’m studying; during one episode I heard this beautiful singing and kept hitting repeat:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb0ICvGQxrY

I googled and found out it’s a Christian hymn (My Father’s World) written in the 1900s by Pastor M.D. Babcock; he was inspired to write the lyrics from his hikes in nature. Before commencing his walks, he would say: “I’m going out to see my Father’s world”.

I wish there was a full version of this boy singing this beautiful hymn, but there isn’t one. But I found a really beautiful version by a female singer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V9cpxMQkAA

My favourite line is: “…the battle is not done.”

When I go on hikes, I’m always in awe by how beautiful nature is. I find being in nature so peaceful, calming and inspiring. Research has shown that being in nature reduces stress.

A photo of the woods taken on one of my hikes in Essendon, Hertfordshire.
A photo of the woods taken on one of my hikes in Essendon, Hertfordshire.

300 word daily target for my novel

I’ve set myself a daily target of writing 300 words per day for my novel. This is a good number to aim for, it’s small enough that it won’t scare me and cause procrastination. Some days I write more.

I’m enjoying writing in bite size chunks as it’s not overwhelming and I tell myself I just have to write a small building block of the novel. At this stage, I don’t worry about the quality of the writing either or whether a piece of writing will even make it to the final version. What matters is to write every day. Quality and editing comes later. I’m not writing in a linear fashion either, just random scenes as I think of them.

When faced with the concept of writing an 80,000 word novel – it’s daunting. But when you break it up in little chunks, it’s manageable. 300 words a day would result in writing an 80,000 word novel in 9 months. But that’s just the first draft.

I’m enjoying the writer’s journey; it’s not about the destination of a finished novel for me, it’s the everyday interaction with my characters and the story that gives me joy. Even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about possible scenes and plot ideas and my characters – that are now coming alive.

Whenever I feel anxious and worry about the originality of my story, I read the following beautiful advice by Albyn Leah Hall:

” When you start a novel, do not worry about having a great story. The search for the “great story” is, in my view, overrated. I speak only partly in jest when I say that there are roughly half a dozen stories in the world and most books are variations upon them. The story is only as interesting as the person who is telling it. If you have a strong voice, the reader will follow it through anything”. 

I love that and I find it so comforting.

The above quote is taken from the following website:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/start_a_novel.htm

My unabashedly positive book review of Angelfall

I finished Angelfall by Susan Ee today. I loved it. One of the best books I’ve ever read. It was captivating, compelling, endearing, witty, thrilling, heartbreaking, adventurous, brutal, horrifying, disturbing and shocking (okay I’ve run out of adjectives to describe this brilliant book).

The final 55 pages had me completely enthralled, broke my heart, shocked and blew me away.

I’m devastated now that I’ve finished it. I was lost in that world, and couldn’t stop thinking about it. The dialogue is so brilliant: the interaction between Penryn and Raffe is so witty, endearing and utterly captivating.

Fans of YA fantasy, supernatural, apocalyptic fiction will love this. I thought it was very well written, and there were some sentences that were so beautiful. I held onto every sentence and frequently re-read certain sentences and paragraphs, before forcing myself to move on.

It is quite graphically violent and disturbing, some scenes were utterly horrific and shocking. So not for young kids. The descriptions of the action scenes are brilliant and you can totally imagine the fight scenes.

They are planning on making a film of it. But no film will come close to the book, since as a reader you’ve pretty much have already filmed it in your head. In my imagination I couldn’t help but picture Jennifer Lawrence as Penryn, and Josh Hartnett as Raffe.

I created a soundtrack to listen to whilst reading the book, most of the songs were from Evanescence and Imagine Dragons. ‘Further away’ was the main theme song.

It’s set to be a 5 book series. Book 2 is released in November 2013.

photo (3)