PD Martin's Blog

February 14, 2012

National Year of Reading

Filed under: Murderati blogs — Tags: , , , — PD Martin @ 3:49 am

PrintOn Tuesday 14 February I launched the National Year of Reading at Kew Library. As the City of Boroondara’s ambassador for the National Year of Reading, this was my first official duty. Below, I’ve included some of the things that I spoke about in my speech.

First off, I was lucky because I always loved reading. I didn’t need Harry Potter or fancy ebooks on iPads to engage me – I just needed a book. Sure, there were books I loved more than others, books that I read over and over again. Childhood greats like The Wishing Chair, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Famous Five and Nancy Drew come to mind. But pretty much any book would do me. I’d devour them, keen to move on to the next story, or the next book in a series.

So, what did I love about books and reading? Some people talk about the feel of a book, the feel of turning pages. But for me, although my childhood reading was solely hardcopy based, it was never about the feel of a book, it was about the words on the page, or more specifically about where the book would take me. You can pick up a book and be anywhere in the world, or not in this world at all. Whether it’s reading about a cop in the US, a bodyguard in England or reading about the hobbits travelling to Middle Earth, books take you somewhere else, give you another experience. Sometimes that experience can be grounded in reality or what might be possible, like crime fiction, drama or even romance stories (although many would argue they’re not based in any realism at all!). And at other times, the world you’re transported to is fictional, fantastical. Whether it’s travelling with Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter to Narnia or following the lives of Bella and Edward in Twilight, these books take you to another world, a world that is appealing, interesting or intriguing in some way.

Reading’s also about emotion, about how a story makes you feel. Reading has the ability, the power to take you on emotional highs and lows. You can be inspired by triumph, moved or heartbroken by tragedy or drama, intrigued and challenged by a whodunit or you can simply get away from it all with an escapist read. These escapist reads could come in the form of classic fantasy novels, horror books, paranormal stories or even romance. And while some people like the more literary style of writing and others prefer a good vampire book, it’s all reading. And it’s all story telling. Sure, it’s changed a lot over the years. Originally it was people telling stories around campfires or ‘drawing’ stories. Then, as we evolved, stories became about the written word rather than the spoken word. They were about reading, not listening. And now, well in some ways we’ve come full circle with audio books that allow people to listen to stories, but they’ve also evolved to another level with ebooks. Our kids may read online, and via ereaders or i-Somethings, but they will still read. In fact, I think ebooks give these technology-savvy generations the ability to combine reading with gadgets and hopefully that will lead to an increase in the love of reading, and most importantly of literacy.

Reading is also ultimately why I became a writer – I think why anyone becomes a writer. Authors love hearing and reading stories, and most importantly we love telling our own stories.

However, I do have a confession to make. My reading is currently in a massive trough, which actually started when I got published. Like many authors, I found myself juggling tight deadlines and reading non-fiction research books instead of reading for pleasure. Plus I became a mother soon after I became published, which meant juggling the dual acts of motherhood and writing; and I’m also one of those authors who prefers not to read while writing. These things add up to not much reading.

However, I am inspired to read more this year. Inspired by the National Year of Reading, and by my role as an ambassador!

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February 2, 2012

Golf…what the?

Filed under: Murderati blogs — PD Martin @ 3:54 am

ViewfromtowelOkay, I’m still in holiday mode here (this is the view from my towel most mornings, although this picture does NOT do it justice!).  In my last blog I talked about what I’ve been up to on my extended holiday break and today I’m going to continue with the holiday theme. We’re still down in the Mornington Peninsula (until Saturday), and then on Monday my daughter starts school (scary!). Anyway…holidays…

My mum is an avid golfer. She’s now retired and plays golf two to three times a week. She loves it. So, when she came down to the coast for a few days it was natural for her to persuade us all to go for nine holes of golf. I did try to suggest I could stay at home and write, but the look (you know the one that only a mother can give you) told me that it was NOT a good idea for me to bail on the golf. So off I went.

I’ve played golf a few times and keep thinking I’ll “get it”…but it hasn’t happened yet. After the first hole I was completely perplexed. What do people see in this game?? Why do they play it? Now the cynics reading this might think it had something to do with the fact that on the first hole (a par 4) it took me around 12 shots to get the stupid ball into the stupid hole. It may have even been 14 shots…let’s face it, by around six you lose count. My mum also tells me you have to count the shots when you completely miss the ball (air golf) but I think that’s a bit rough for a beginner.

The second hole wasn’t much better, but by the third I was down to about 8 or so shots (not counting the air-golf shots). Then one hole, I think it was the fifth hole, I took four shots for a par 3 and it did feel kind of good. But let’s face it, it was a complete fluke.

In the next hole there was a pond between me and the fairway. My daughter (who’s only 5) was in hysterics: “No, Mummy. It will go in the water. No!”  She was also quite worried about the ducks in the lake. But I thought I’d give it a go (maybe artificially buoyed by my four-shot hole). And what were the chances my ball would actually hit some poor innocent duck? Nil, surely. First ball went straight into the lake (of course), as did the second one. Thankfully, the ducks remained intact. Grace was most concerned about losing another ball (and I don’t think my mum wanted to give me another one either) so I walked around and dropped the ball on the fairway. And it still took me like a million shots to get it in the hole.

I think it was around this point that I said to my mum: “How many more holes have we got to go?” I guess it’s a variation on “Are we there yet?”

Interestingly, my daughter enjoys golf! My mum sometimes takes her to the driving range where they have 50 balls and then do some putting. On our 9 holes, Grace teed off about six times, often striking the ball further than me. Then we’d pick up her ball and give her a shot at the other end – putting. She seems pretty good for a 5yro, but then what do I know about golf?

As I walked around (for nearly three hours) I couldn’t help but think about what a complete waste of time golf was – and how I’d MUCH rather be at home writing. Time is very tight for me (the juggling act of motherhood, freelance corporate work and fiction writing) and I felt like I’d completely wasted three hours of my precious time. But I’m trying to be more ‘the glass if half full’ so I tried to think about the up-side.

  1. I did walk around eight kilometers so at least I got a bit of exercise.
  2. Cape Schanck is a stunning golf course, and on many holes you catch glimpses of the ocean in the background.
  3. I was with my daughter, mum and mother-in-law.  Family time!

The only other thing that worried me on the course was that this particular course has lots of houses on it. I kept saying to my mum, “I’d be worried a ball was going to come sailing through my window.” She assured me they were designed so it rarely/never happened. But they hadn’t seen me play golf! Or maybe the designers had taken into account people like me because I miraculously avoided both ducks and houses. Yay, me!

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