Monday, January 9, 2012


By Kathleen Bradean

I don't do New Year's resolutions because if I feel a need to change something, I just do it when the mood strikes. However, since my post last week was a bit of a downer, I'll try to be more positive. Something did change at the beginning of this year, just last night actually. For the first time in months, I wrote something.

I've always had intermittent periods when I haven't written anything. They used to make me panic. Would I ever be able to write again? Was my creativity gone forever? Eventually, the answer (to will I ever be able to write again) is yes, so I've learned to face those months with acceptance and patience.

The good thing about not writing is that I have plenty of time to read. I read a blog not long ago that said something along the lines of 'listening to music doesn't mean you can write music any more than reading makes you a writer,' and while I understand the sentiment behind that, I also think that reading helps writers. Besides, I like reading. I love stories. I love stories more than beautiful language and turns of phrases, meaning that if the prose reads like poetry but nothing happens, I'll chuck the book across the room and pick up something with interesting characters doing interesting things even if the language isn't a rare and beautiful piece of delicate craftsmanship. Any writer that in love with his/her own words should be allowed to carry on the affair without me peaking through their window. However, give me a ripping yarn and you'll hold my soul in your hands until the last page. Sometimes, even longer. Like Sleeping Beauty, sometimes I stay under the enchantment for years.

So I guess my resolution is to pay back the favor and tell someone a damn fine tale. If I do it right, I'll weave a spell of words around them that transports them into another world. I'll make them ache to return to my world when they have to leave it for real world commitments. That's a daunting challenge to slap my own face with.


My reading list these past few months:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (absolutely wonderful)
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre (there's a reason he still sells)
The Honorable Schoolboy by John le Carre
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell by Susanna Clark (did I really enjoy this book? undecided)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (meh)
True Grit by Charles Portis (no wonder why they keep making this into movies)
The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid (early work by a master of the mystery craft)
As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem (I liked the writing more than the story)
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Dracula by Bram Stoker (sorry, Judja)
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (liked)
The Osiris Ritual by George Mann (meh)
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann (why am I still reading his work?)
The Immorality Engine by George Mann (I'm done with this writer by now)
St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised By Wolves by Karen Russell (hmmm)
The Poison Master by Liz Williams (liked)
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield (liked)
Crocodile on the Sandbank Elizabeth Peters (I've read this at least ten times)
Chew by John Layman (issues 1- 3. I just realized that 4 was out and ordered it)
The Adventures of Sherlock Homes by Arthur Conan Doyle

(these are only the ones I finished, and don't include books I read for reviews)


  1. Hi, Kathleen,

    Quite a few items on your list that I've read recently, actually.

    "As She Climbed Across the Table" I really liked. "St. Lucy's Home..." left me puzzled. Tremendous originality, but in many cases no story. I really enjoyed "Jonathan Strange..." (though that I read a couple years ago). "The Forever War" is deservedly a classic. I've got "True Grit" on my hard drive - maybe I'll move it up in the pile...

    And I love Elizabeth Peters' Egyptian mysteries, though the one you cite I don't think I've read. The protagonist and her husband are so lusty!

    (AND I'm glad you've written something new. Your stories never disappoint me.)

  2. The Crocodile on the Sandbank is the first book in the Elizabeth Peters Eqyptian stories, so you probably have read it.

    St Lucy's Home... I agree with you. Many aren't even stories so much as written snapshots (or YouTube clips?) Ultimately unsatisfying. I couldn't figure out why I was being shown these things.

    I read As She Climbed Across the Table from your recommendation. As I said, I liked the writing more than the actual story, but I sure kept turning pages to find out where the hell it was headed!

    And I churned out 4000 words yesterday, the first fiction I've written in about five months, so I'm relieved and content right now.

  3. 4000 words? Wow! I've been readings lot lately, too, though none of those. I did read the Elizabeth Peters on your rec and loved it. Currently reading Jim Butcher's Ghost Story. He really is great.

    I haven't been writing lately, either, outside of a story for the EAA book. Been absolutely swamped editing, though. Glad you're writing again.

  4. DL - The books following Crcodile on the Sandbank are even better than the first one.

    And 4000 words comes easily (hah!) when you've been mentally working on those scenes, and nothing else, for five months.


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