You see, it’s not enough to know what the future is. You have to know what it means. – Anathema Device, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
In the past, who am I kidding? Currently I have problems with procrastination and staying on task. I think the procrastination started the first time I put something off to play video games until the last day then got away with it. The focusing problem started as a child, when I was diagnosed with A.D.D. Instead of putting me on Ritalin my mother chose to eliminate all artificial flavors and colors from my diet. It worked, I stayed on task and was generally less hyperactive.
…the brain doesn’t just tell you to do things; it also has a nasty habit of telling you what you CAN’T do- whether or not it’s true. As you go through life you gather self-imposed limits here and there until one day you’re unknowingly trapped trapped in a prison of bullshit limitations. But the truth is, it’s a holographic prison manufactured by your mind in a clumsy attempt to protect you from potential pain.
Basically, your brain is looking for the shortest path to avoiding the pain of failure. This can lead to it convincing you to not try new things, tasks, jobs etc. but you don’t have to listen all the time.
The other book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield defined what keeps your from accomplishing your dreams, from sitting down to write, to paint, to do what needs to be done as a force called Resistance.
“Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance,” says Pressfield. “Because it’s the easiest to rationalize. We don’t tell ourselves, “I’m never going to write my symphony.” Instead we say, ‘I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow,”
Now I don’t actually believe there is a force that keeps me from writing but the metaphor helps. It gives a concrete idea to what is keeping you from doing and allows you to resist. I used to carry this book with me everywhere I went. In fact, I think I’ll reread it soon enough. I’m pretty sure there is a .pdf of it if you search google but I didn’t tell you that.
Two other useful tools I have been using on both my desktop are called Freedom and Anti-Social. Freedom turns off your Internet completely while Anti-Social merely prevents your from going to certain websites though right now the current version doesn’t recognise a lot of the sites I put in, including reddit. Freedom is the better way to go for just $10 and it was recommended to me by author Neil Gaiman himself, on twitter.
- Backing up my writing on to my external hard drive and flash drive.
- Organising the files, i.e. making new folders, renaming files, etc.
- Constructing the perfect playlist or finding the perfect music to listen to while I write.
- Completely reorganize my bookcases. This one has the most bizarre connection to writing and the most flimsy but I know I’ve done it.
- Searching Google for best apps to keep me from being distracted.
- Making coffee.
- Cutting my fingernails
- Refilling all my fountain pens with ink.
You could just go to my Goodreads profile and see what I’ve read in 2013 by clicking “date read” under My Books, but where would the fun be in that? So here’s a list, in order, of what I read in 2013.
I haven’t posted in awhile, mostly because I was thinking of this exact post. It started off with me writing a legal pad books I would recommend to people, or have recommended, until it was so long I had to break it down into genre. Then breaking it down into genre I gave a detailed paragraph of why I recommended it.
All in all, what started off as a fun blog post became more work, and not the fun kind of work writing a novel might be. So here is, straight off the top of the dome as no kids are saying ever, my go-to book recommendations that first come to mind in order of which I say most often.
To readers, these may seem obvious but most of the people who ask me for recommendations are non-reader and/or looking to become readers. I tried to limit to one book per author.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
Embassytown by China Mieville
Dune by Frank Herbert
Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl
Since I used to be a huge comic book nerd, I have a choice select comic books/ graphic novels that I recommend as well in same order of how often I recommend them.
Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War by Geoff Johns
Planetary by Warren Ellis
Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis
Green Lantern: Rebirth by Geoff Johns
Kingdom Come by Grant Morrison
Sandman by Neil Gaiman
The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke
Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
Watchmen by Alan Moore
Gotham Central by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker
Planet Hulk by Greg Pak
100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello
This thought has been lumbering around in my head since the announcement of the “Before Watchmen” limited series by DC Comics and was reminded of it again at the end of Geoff Johns’s run on Green Lantern with issue #20.
On Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 I received my copy of Neil Gaiman’s new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane at Symphony Space in New York, right after hearing Erin Morgenstern (author of The Night Circus, which I have never read but may pick up in the future) do a little interview with the author himself, followed by two readings from the novel and a little Q&A.
“I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just *were*.”
and like myths, all the magic in the book doesn’t need to be explained, it just is and it works perfectly. You just accept it for what it is, you become convinced that there is indeed an ocean at the end of the lane where the narrator lived growing up.
Enjoying the small things in the book isn’t just about food, it’s about a certain part of your bedroom made just for you, that small crack of light in your open door that let you read past your bedtime, that secret way through your backyard that you think only you are aware of, but also it’s about food.
Now, this is coming from a guy who has no complaints about George R.R. Martin’s description of food in his A Song of Ice and Fire series but the food in The Ocean… is quite different from a kids perspective. There’s such a joy with every little thing the narrator eats that you sometimes forget as an adult. You’re not thinking about calories, fat content, or worry you’re eating too much or too little. It’s just a matter of being hungry, and then enjoying the food you’re given whether it’s good or not.
This is definitely THE Neil Gaiman book, and so are the rest of them. If you don’t like Neil Gaiman books then this isn’t the book for you. If you’ve never read a Neil Gaiman book and can remember what it is like to be a child or want to remember then I highly suggest picking this book up. If you’re not interested then…