Monthly Archives: March 2014

Why would you bother? (Friday Fictioneers)

‘Why would you bother?’

I knew they’d say that.

‘It takes half a day to reach the summit, you know?’

Yet here I am.

The breeze has turned cool and fresh. I smell the smoke of the recent eruption. I can taste the ash on my tongue. And I hear… nothing.

‘Why would you bother?’

Emphasis on the ‘you’.

I kneel down and pour out some water for Lola.

Just one more breath to savour the silence.

‘Come on, girl.’

I tug on her harness and she leads me, one step at a time, back down the path.


Friday Fictioneers is a challenge set by Rochelle Fields where writers around the world create 100 word stories inspired by the one image. For more information see:


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Guest Blogger – Jessie Ansons

My guest blog piece on ‘The Writer’s Life’ – three ways to keep motivated when you never seem to win.

The Writers' Life

 Jessie Ansons Jessie Ansons How to keep motivated when you never seem to win

I recently came second place in the Newcastle Herald’s Summer Short Story competition with my story, The Deepest of Blues. I won my first ever prize for writing and it felt fantastic. Friends and family congratulated me, my story was published online, my name printed in the paper… it was a moment well worth celebrating.

But for every winner, there are loads who didn’t win. I know this because I have been that ‘not-winner’ many, many times over.

The Herald comp had just three winners. Then there were twenty-odd shortlisted entrants who almost made it, more than a hundred who entered but never heard back, and hundreds, maybe thousands, of writers who considered entering the comp but for whatever reason didn’t meet the deadline.

That’s a lot of ‘not-winners’.

Over the ten years prior to this one…

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My fifteen minutes of fame

Going on the radio for the first time can be terrifying… but also a lot of fun.

ABC Open 500 words: One Moment, This Year (December 2013).

Here’s the link:

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The deck of cards memory shuffle (ABC Open Guest Blog)

How being a writer helped me learn to memorise a shuffled deck of cards (see link):


Memorising a deck of cards is near impossible, right?
Image by ccarlstead at

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Double your reading speed instantly with Spritz: but is that something we really want to do?

I came across an article this week called How To Read A 223-Page Novel In Just 77 Minutes. Of course it got my attention and my initial thought was ‘Yes, bring it on!’

But will this technology have an impact on our enjoyment of reading?

Spritz is new software that flashes words in a single non-moving box so your eyes don’t need to move from left to right to see the next word. It has potential to allow us to read whole novels on a screen the size of a watch-face. The company claims that we waste too much time moving our eyes across the page and by taking away this need we can double, triple or even quadruple our reading speed.

Would you limit your reading speed? Image by Chad Elliott at

Would you limit your reading speed?
Image by Chad Elliott at

My mind instantly thinks of two scenarios: 1. When my boss at work says ‘I only have 30 seconds to read each report, make them brief!’ and 2. The long list of classic novels I’m always planning to get to but never find the time. Spritz will improve both of these situations, right? Well, I’m not too sure.

When the boss says ‘make it brief’

In business, being able to read faster should make everything more efficient. We’ll produce more in less time! We can work fewer hours! Brilliant!

Back to the example where my boss says he only has 30 seconds to read each report. With Spritz, he can now read my report in just 15 seconds or less… OR he can read my poorly-written report and still take only 30 seconds, without having to tell me to ‘make it brief’.

Yes, I’m thinking of Parkinson’s Law, where workers expand or compress the work they have to do in the time they have been allocated.

Will Spritz really save us time in a business sense? Or will it just give us more time to waste?

Now I’ll be able to read all those classics!

Here’s where Spritz has yet to prove itself. Reading a book for enjoyment is just that: enjoyment. It’s not a job; it shouldn’t feel like work that needs to be done quickly.

A good book draws me in. I swirl the words around in my mind, sometimes reading particular sentences twice or three times over to savour the moment. I often find myself pausing at the end of a paragraph to take it all in. I think about the characters, picture them in their world, before I move onto the next paragraph. It might only be a few seconds, sometimes a minute or two, but these moments of peace happen.

But they won’t happen with Spritz. Spritz is all about racing through the words. Getting to ‘The End’ in record speed. It’s about the destination, not the journey.

Rather than living and breathing the worlds of characters, it’ll be more like glancing at a photograph just to have it wisked away.

Spritz will certainly help get me through that pile of classic novels, but will I really be doing them justice?

Tell me what you think…

Have a go of the Sprtiz software by checking out this article. There’s a couple of examples where you can test your ability to read at 250, 350 and 500 words per minute. Then let me know:

Would reading faster help to improve your life?


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