After Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2020I hope you all enjoyed a safe Thanksgiving. We didn’t have our normal celebration with international faculty, students, friends, etc. as we cannot risk anyone’s life during the pandemic.

So, why not change the whole menu?

The result was Nasi Goreng (top left) with Telor in coconut sauce (top right) and Pad Thai (bottom). Needless to say these are also our leftovers for today.

This time of year also marks the beginning of my ‘Writing with WordPress’ period. On November 24, 2009 I started the website Defrosting Cold Cases. It felt like a jump into the deep end of the pool but I soon learned where the lifesavers were located. You can read here why I started it.

I wondered whether I should write another year review. I have not. The pandemic has changed a lot. Working or being at home doesn’t mean you have more time. The situational anxiety we all feel doesn’t always provide the right mood to write. If I look at my stats it is clear that I wrote less in 2020. It wasn’t intentional as my list with writing requests is huge.

I am also behind with writing book reviews. Unfortunately, this year for the first time I experienced book reviewer bashing. I really believe that if you don’t want to know what others think of your writing you should not have published your book. If you hold it so close to your heart and cannot bear that anyone points to a mistake or honestly tells you why they didn’t like it, maybe don’t offer your book to reviewers. To cut a long story short, several emails landed in my inbox with comments online. It has made me more careful with whom I work on manuscripts.

So, the plans after this Thanksgiving? An inventory of what was left behind in 2020 and planning for 2021. But first, we eat leftovers!

Mindmaps

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher Mindmap AdSMy professional writing requires reading lots of books, reports, newspaper articles, etc. to find out what we miss and what we need in old, unsolved homicides: case analyses.

The way to absorb all the information before I can write down my thoughts, is a process all on its own.

If the case doesn’t have a lot of things to read, a few notes or a list might suffice. However, if there is a lot going on, books were written, movies were made, or various investigative organizations explored the case, etc. then I need mindmaps. 

EARONS initial analysisMindmaps allow me to wander across the pages of my notebook while I try to sort my thoughts.

I write down keywords, main characters, evidence pieces, questions that pop up, to try to connect the dots.

I use this technique too when I read to write book review. It helps me follow plotlines.

Stephanie Crowe fountain pen Mindmap AdSThe big advantage for me is questioning myself. Once I start writing, I have to ask myself why I made that connection, why I added a keyword to a person’s name, or why I think that there was something missing, etc.

What do you do when you have to absorb a good chunk of information? Do you use mindmaps?

Do you re-read books?

Me Reading/AdS

I saw someone raising this question today on social media: do you re-read books?

My answer: yes, and frequently.

Why I pick up a book for the first time is almost always related to book reviews. But the reasons why I re-read that same book are not. Here’s why:

  1. I may not have been ready for the book in the first place and have placed it aside. This sometimes happens when the theme comes too close for comfort.
  2. The author may have introduced too many characters within the first three chapters and I felt I needed a spreadsheet to follow along. This mindset can change over time.
  3. The author’s writing style might be on my mind more now that the story has sank in and I am still wondering how they put everything together so seamlessly.
  4. The characters may have evolved in a manner that I did not foresee in the beginning so looking back by re-reading, I discover elements or character traits that I missed before.
  5. If a movie has been made about the book, I often re-read to compare. I get it that with movies we are talking about different media. Perfect example, I re-read Tolkien after the movies came out. I was much better able to voice what I did and did not like, why, and how the Tolkien descriptions sometimes worked better than the CGI.
  6. After a few years, your outlook on life may have changed. Interests change too so a book that held your attention at age 20 may not work at age 45.
  7. Breaking news, an author’s death, a discovery in anthropology, etc., can all cause renewed interest.

So, do you ever re-read a book?