Tag Archives: MNINB April Challenge

Time out for Thoughts is a good thing

Hello all 🙂

A quick update, to say why I was taking time out from blogging:

1) I was busy writing an essay (fingers crossed, not finished yet, but getting there).

2) I have recurrent back pain issues (as you can see in this post) and I had to drastically limit my computer time to the essential.

3) I was overwhelmed by the MNINB April Challenge – in a good way! But I needed the time to reflect on what I’ve learned and the excellent advice received. Besides, so many great people to get to know (on blogs, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, GooglePlus…). A few groups have formed from the challenge, on Facebook and Goodreads, and these deserve attention, too.

4) I’ve been thinking and planning, as per the advice received in the challenge, about this blog, about myself as a writer, about how to present my content, and what this content might be (the easy and factual answer is: what I’m interested about 😀 Still, to have an editorial plan, a project to follow, is sensible.

5) I went to a workshop which was very interesting and gave me even more ideas about future research and writing possibilities.

In conclusion: taking time out to think is a good thing. It’s proactive, and sometimes it may be better to take a good long look at what you’re doing, have a ‘landscape view’ of it: look at the forest instead of the trees. I’m already seeing the benefits of this thinking time I let myself have (this blog post is one example) and there will be more 🙂

And second: challenge yourself, now and then. Like I did with taking up My Name is Not Bob April Blog Challenge, or participating in a workshop I didn’t think I was qualified enough for. A challenge brings changes and different ways of looking at things, and refreshes you.

Have you taken up any challenges recently? Done anything differently? Are you too looking at your blogging activity and feeling worried or dissatisfied with your approach? Are you planning on doing something different?  Feel free to share 🙂


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Filed under Back Pain, Blogging

Writers Event: National Flash Fiction Day

One international event for writers keen on flash fiction:

The National Flash Fiction Day: 16 May 2012

This event, organized by writer and lecturer Calum Kerr, celebrates the short story form. Check the website to know what events are being organized and where, how to get involved, competitions and more. You can also find Calum on Twitter: @calumkerr and follow National Flash Fiction Day here:  @nationalflashfd

To me, short fiction starts from the drabble – strictly 100 words only (stipulations can be made for including or excluding the title from this word count), then moving up to double or triple drabble. From 500 words upward it’s definitely flash fiction, up to the 1500/2000 words, and then we enter the realm of short stories. Others may think differently, though.

What’s your take on flash fiction and short fiction?

I want to read more in the field of short stories, but I do have one short stories collection to recommend:

love songs for the shy and cynical by Robert Shearman

I had the chance to meet Robert Shearman during my CW MA. Yes, he came with the shiny aura of being that Robert Shearman, Daleks writer extraordinaire (TV geeks unite), and also with the warmest personality and copies of his short stories collection. He signed it, I read it, I loved it. (I will review it in this blog soon).

As to flash fiction, have you written any? I have, and love it. The form is incredibly precise and restrictive, especially if you go for the strict word count, as I do. And yet, as the Oulipo theorists have shown, constraints can and do promote creativity, forcing writers to come up with innovative ways of writing. To know more about the Oulipo, you can check their website here (in French), a list of books written by Oulipo writers on the website Conversational Reading, and yes, wikipedia if you have to 😉

Do you like constraints in your writing (a fixed word count, a set theme, etc)?


This entry counts for MNINB April Platform Challenge Days 19, 20 and 21 (new post; editorial calendar; social media management tool)


Filed under Book Festivals, Events

MNINB April Platform Challenge Day 17 and 18

The back issues I mentioned in my previous entry on Sartre and Backpain are back with a vengeance – another reminder for all writers out there, and everyone spending long hours sitting: look after your back, stand up and walk regularly, exercise if you can. More on back pain causes, symptoms and treatments on this site: Back Pain Advice.

April 17: take part in a Twitter conversation

I missed the MNINB chat, although I’ve participated to other chats in the past. In part it’s a question of time zones and being asleep when the rest of the world is awake (it feels like it, sometimes).

Anyway, there’ll be other Twitter chats 🙂 I’ll check the #MNINB convo and contribute, if later.

April 18: think about SEO

SEO: Search Engine Optimization. One of those big social networks words! Most important about this task is considering what content (if any) you want to offer and how aligned your blog is to your goal. It’s the biggest question of all (and yes, you can use keywords to make your blog’s content easily found, but that’s more of a technicality).

As I said before, I’m working on an editorial plan for this blog, in order to give myself a schedule for posting and focus on the topics I’m most interested in discussing here. I’m taking my time with it, although it’ll have to be flexible by necessity, because I want to be able to stick with a schedule until the end of this year.

And just like in the social media networks of today, everything is connected (and sometimes illuminated 😉 I need to decide on content in order to find my audience in order to schedule posting in order to use the best keywords in order to be found in order to establish a connection 🙂

Are you struggling with finding your topic? Your target audience? Do you want a target audience? It does sound all very …cold and marketing-speech like.

What I want is to write about the things I’m passionate about, and communicate it to others. There. Much better 🙂

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Filed under Back Pain, Blogging

MNINB April Platform Challenge: Day 14, 15, and 16

April 14: create a Google+ profile

Oh oh. Shall I be all rebellious and ignore this day’s challenge? I’m sorely tempted, but I believe for

a good reason. I find it already hard to follow the networks I’m following at the moment, and adding another one…it doesn’t seem practical, for me, in terms of time management. Moreover, I’d like to really make connections on the networks I’m already on, and it takes time, and time is of essence. Perhaps when I’ve learned to use HootSuite to its maximum and I feel confident I can do a good job of it, and not just a copy and paste thing.

Ergo, my apologies, but for the moment, I’m postponing Google+.  Sorry, MNINB 😀

April 15:connect with at least three new people on one of your social networks

Done 🙂 That’s the easy part. I like to follow someone for a week or two, to get to know them a little bit, before interacting (commenting, etc). so it may take a while. But it will happen.

April 16 add an e-mail feed to your blog

Easy peasy 🙂 I did it a couple of weeks ago. There are a few blogs I’ve started following by email, and it’s great to receive it directly in the inbox. 🙂


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MNINB April Platform Challenge: Day 13

I’m really enjoying doing this challenge. I hope the habit of fiddling with my blog/twitter/linkedin accounts will stick!

April 13: link yesterday’s blog post to your social networks

Done already (go me) so I added two more tasks (self-inflicted, and yes, I liked homework, even when I was lazy and wouldn’t do it):

-check and use the URL shortener sites (I likehttps://bitly.com/ )

-explore HootSuite as a way to manage my Twitter stream specifically. I’ve already learned I need to re-organize my Twitter lists, because I can visualize them side by side in the HootSuite dashboard (which is something I wanted o’so badly)

The next days will prove tough, cause the same family emergency which caused me to start this challenge late is resurfacing: but maybe my management skills have improved!

How do you deal with managing your time? It’s always such a hard thing to do for me! I would love to know how you cope (or not 😉


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TV Moment: Big Bang Theory and hard-working brains

TV MOMENT: posts about Television programs, shows, issues, from an academic point of view. Ergo, sometimes, big words! I’d love to hear your opinion and comments, and not just academics ones: in this blog, Media Fans (aka geeks) are more than welcome 🙂

TV MOMENT:Big Bang Theory Rocky Montage

(the link takes you to YouTube, embedding was not available by request)

I only recently started watching The Big Bang Theory TV series. My initial hostility was biased: “Not another ‘funny white hetero losers’ sit com, please.” Due to external circumstance, a couple of weeks ago I happened to watch two episodes (in the UK, on the E4 channel at 6pm). Then I watched the episodes on the following day. And the following day. And the following day.

And I was hooked.

In terms of funny, white, hetero, losers:

-it is funny. Where does it come from? For me, Sheldon’s literal interpretation of the world; seeing my hobbies both validate and ridiculed (that visual representation space is always, always ambiguous); getting the geeky references so familiar to me (and if not familiar to me, familiar to other geeks I know)

-it’s mostly white (I can see the in my mind the post colonial essays on Raj and his – alleged? – Americanization, his family’s Skype conversations making for a global communication world, his sister inhabiting an uncertain disruptive space between tradition, culture and emancipation…and so on)

-hetero…again, there’s that annoying, ambiguous visual space where you can see heterosexual couples following the dictates of society, but you also have (because producers are smart and clever and know the wider the audience, the better) the somewhat obligatory bromance and different takes on hetero-activity – Sheldon and Amy’s relationship develops along very peculiar trajectories.

-losers. Uhm. I’d say no, but apparently it doesn’t matter if you have friends, hobbies, a good job. The contemporary take is that you’re a loser if you don’t have a girlfriend (again, heternormativity at work), which is a big part of the show’s premise.

Back to the fabolous clip from the show: Big Bang Theory Rocky Montage

This moment made me laugh out loud.  Eisenstein’s theory of montage (Soviet montage theory) considered editing a method of juxtaposing shots to derive new meaning that did not exist in either shot alone. Not just one shot after the other in a chronological and causal relationship, but one shot on top of the other, one shot against the other.Thus creating a new text, a new meaning.

In this clip, Sheldon and Raj are standing still, rigid, staring at the equations-filled whiteboard. The montage matches several shots of them occupying different spaces in the office but always, always in unique relation to the whiteboard, with the theme from Rocky’s training exercises (Eye of the Tiger by Survivor). Which is an energetic, pulsating, adrenaline-infused rhythm, whose connection with the film Rocky and his hard boxing training evokes the idea that Sheldon and Raj’s brains are, in fact, hard at work, with all the sweaty pathos of the boxer Rocky, but not an inch of movement (apart from the painkiller request, a brief pause of silenced music).


The Comedic Paradox at work, and brilliantly so: repetition, inversion and the comedic paradox (as initially argued by French philosopher Henri Bergson in 1900, in his Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic).

“Life presents itself to us as evolution in time and complexity in space. Regarded in time, it is the continuous evolution of a being ever growing older; it never goes backwards and never repeats anything. Considered in space, it exhibits certain coexisting elements so closely interdependent, so exclusively made for one another, that not one of them could, at the same time, belong to two different organisms: each living being is a closed system of phenomena, incapable of interfering with other systems. A continual change of aspect, the irreversibility of the order of phenomena, the perfect individuality of a perfectly self-contained series: such, then, are the outward characteristics–whether real or apparent is of little moment–which distinguish the living from the merely mechanical. Let us take the counterpart of each of these: we shall obtain three processes which might be called REPETITION, INVERSION, and RECIPROCAL INTERFERENCE OF SERIES. Now, it is easy to see that these are also the methods of light comedy, and that no others are possible.”

And there I was, laughing, as these two brainy physicists were stuck in a staring contest with a whiteboard, a matter of life and death to them, the most serious of task, over and over (repetition), highlighted by the music recalling Rocky (inversion: not muscles, but brains working hard) and the overall effect, the paradox, is created.

I’d love to hear comments and opinion on this post, the Big Bang Theory or anything else you feel relevant 🙂

ETA: This post is also my April 12 entry for MNINB’s April Platform Challenge!


Filed under Links, TV Moment

MNINB April Platform Challenge: Day 11

And I’m on track for this!

April 11: share a useful article or blog post with your social network.

This is not difficult at all: I like sharing stuff (and by that, no, I don’t mean personal and/or embarassing TMI moments. Although, I have to say, in person I can be quite candid and I have no problems answering personal questions; I believe in sincerity and not in secrets. Another proviso: I do believe in keeping someone else’s secrets! I’m also extremely good at it 🙂

Anyway, back to the point: sharing useful information is fun, easy to do nowadays (just a click or two). So, here I go: two blog posts for writers, and one for those interested in ‘human marvels’ (as I am).

From the website Writer Unboxed, this post about copywriting by Jane Friedman, and this one about Goodreads by Crystal Patriarche.

Both informative, and good reminders of basics (we can all get wrapped in panic and forget those basics).

The Human Marvels: this is a gorgeous site, choc-full of visuals and information.  My take on Other is that it’s not visible, it’s not Alien, it’s not Freak: Other is Within. And by reclaiming those we call freaks, we may start looking within for Otherness.

Let me know what you think about these links, I hope you may find them of use (I did) 🙂

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Filed under Blogging, Human Marvels, Writing