To All the Authors – An Open Letter

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As an avid reader, I spend my life searching for books worth reading. And until recently, I never realised the effort which went into writing a book. I could try and explain why this is the case but then this letter would be about me when it really should be about you. This letter is a thank you for all that you do.


 

Dear Authors,

Bravery is often unthought of when we think of writing, but thank you for being brave. It is not easy to share a part of yourself with the world for them to judge, but thank you for having the courage to try. It can be hard not knowing how people will react, but each time there will be something which you can learn from and be encouraged by.

Originality is so much harder than I realised. Thank you for coming up with new ideas, new ways of entertaining us readers so that we want more. I think it’s one of those things where we can only notice its absence, ignoring its presence, so thank you for your imagination, your effort in creating a new world that we can travel to even if it’s a lot like our own.

Opportunities with books are endless. They can entertain and they can educate but only because the author wants them to. Thank you for taking the time to write, creating opportunities for your readers, giving them a chance to see their world with new eyes.

Kinship is why I keep reading. Readers refer to some books as friends because there was something in the book which made us feel. We can’t always put our finger on it, but it’s something which makes us feel a little less alone in our world, connected with those we will never meet.

Success looks different for all people, so congratulations on your success no matter how it looks. It’s worth celebrating your own success not comparing it to everyone else.

So thank you to everyone who writes whether I’ve read your work or not. Thank you for your bravery, your originality, the opportunities you create, the kinship you give and your success.

Keep writing,

Thought Student

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Behind the Camera

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We rarely see the whole picture do we? What we are given is usually the perfect image, not the other one hundred it took to get it. We do not see the struggles of the photographer balancing on one foot with the camera pointed at the ground, the camera held absolutely still, trying to get that perfect shot. The world looks very different from behind a camera.

Some people love being behind the camera. It gives them a chance to see the world from a new angle. To see what really happens. Or perhaps they choose to be behind the camera because they love the process, the creative side of taking that perfect picture. I’ve seen the work of some pretty talented photographers who love what they do and create beautiful pictures. I love seeing what is in front of the camera.

But have you ever thought what takes place behind the camera? All those unseen moments for that perfect picture? I’ve tried being the photographer and as I did so, I realised all the effort which goes into that one photo which goes out into the world. The world didn’t see every take, the time we ran to find the perfect lighting. And perhaps they don’t need to. But at times it is worth remembering that you don’t see everything. That the photo you see probably took three tries to get right.

Regardless of what you see there is a story of what took place behind the camera. A story which is often better than the photo itself or one which will make you think about the photo in a new way. Whilst there is a time to appreciate the beauty of a photo, there are times where it’s good to remember what has taken place behind the camera because that’s where all the hard work, and the full story really is.

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Stories of Life, Part 7

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Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but memories.

If there is anything that we are ever encouraged to leave behind it would be footprints and as any detective fiction fan would tell you, they can leave a wealth of information behind.

Footprints are usually left behind accidentally, they are not something people go out of their way to leave behind and so they often are only part of the picture, failing to leave much more than a shallow indent on the ground. But even that indent tells of what they were wearing shoes or bare feet. It might tell you how they walked (perhaps they ran) or if you can follow it, where they were going.

But trails of footprints fascinate me because they make me imagine all kinds of possibilities. They make me wonder how they got there and where their creator was going. I might never know the story behind them, but that is okay. The story I imagine is probably more interesting anyway.

Sometimes I try to create the perfect footprint, a clear print which will leave behind my mark and let people know I was there. But no footprint will last for a long time. It won’t be long before water or wind will make it dissapear. Footprints tell their stories only for a short time. But in the time they are there we get to wonder about why they are there, what happened for them to be there. The stories we get from footprints are fascinating in their fleetingness.

Do you ever notice footprints? Have you ever thought about the stories they leave behind. Perhaps it is not so much a story that can be ascertained as truth but more a story for our imaginations to create.


This is the seventh in series of posts exploring how humans leave things behind which can tell a little bit of who they are. If you enjoyed this one, why not check out some of the others.

Stories of Life, Part 1 – Objects

Stories of Life, Part 2 – Words

Stories of Life, Part 3 – Trees

Stories of Life, Part 4 – Marks

Stories of Life, Part 5 – People

Stories of Life, Part 6 – Photos

 

 

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Music

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Music has been made for millenia and has the power to inspire us or to make us feel emotions. Whilst I have limited skill in creating music I do enjoy it and can find some kind of beauty in this creative work. Music takes incredible skill to be able to do well. Almost everyone at some point in their lives will have tried to play an instrument before  realising the amount of work it takes to do anything well. And I think that is what we often forget when we hear music. We hear the perfection of a musician who has spent hundreds of hours perfecting their craft and then many more on learning to play their piece well. What we rarely hear is the first attempt that a musician makes to play the piece. We’ve missed hundreds of missed notes or incorrect fingering over the years it has taken for them to reach their level of skill to be able to create the amazing work we now have the benefit of hearing.

If you are just starting out and maybe you feel a little bit discouraged but nothing happens overnight (or if it does, it’s the exception rather than the rule). Everyone starts somewhere and with practise they can get better. Usually we will only see the finished product, the view from the top if the mountain or the musical masterpiece not the drafts which litter the floor, the steep, rocky slopes or the dozens of failed attempts of playing that piece. So appreciate the skills that you see, people have worked incredibly hard to achieve them but don’t be too disheartened, instead keep working  and perhaps one day you’ll be doing what you always wanted to do.

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The Battle of Thermopylae

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The Battle of Thermopylae took place in 480 BC between the Spartan led Greek forces and the Persians. Despite the comparatively few losses of the Greeks in comparison with the Persians, the battle was ultimately a loss for the Greeks due to the treachery of Ephialtes. According to Tom Holland, “The Athenians . . . no doubt at Themistocles’s urging” voted for troops to be sent to Thermopylae, a narrow and easily defensible pass, under the leadership of the Spartan king Leonidas. Between 7000 and 8000 Greeks had been sent to oppose hundreds of thousands of Persians. At first the Greeks were able to defend the pass and killed many Persian soldiers in close combat. However Ephialtes, a Greek man, told the Persians of a mountain pass which they could use to bypass the Greek defences. With the news of this betrayal, Leonidas sent most of the Greek forces back to Athens to ensure their survival, remaining with a few thousand soldiers who, despite managing to inflict casualties upon the Persian forces, were eventually all killed. Strategically the Battle of Thermopolyae was of little importance but the stories of the battle boosted Greek morale in the face of Perisan invasion,

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The Power of Words

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“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” How often have we heard these words said? Whether they were said as an encouragement not to worry about what people say or are said before an explanation that the opposite us true, these words have probably been said to you at some stage of your life. And to some extent, both responses are true. Words might not have the power to physically hurt us, but they do have the power to have other sorts of impact on our lives.

Everyone I think has experienced the power of words. Whether they’ve experienced them through the power of stories which created an image in their head which was impossible to destroy. Or the words which gave them courage or destroyed it. That is something I think we should all recognise. Words have the power to be used both for help and harm.

It is not a single word which does this though. The power of words comes from weaving them together, combining a series of words to create new meaning. Sometimes these words flow easily and at other times it’s a struggle to get more than a single word out at a time. There is a great skill, which comes usually through practise, in using words effectively. However regardless of the skill employed in their creation, words will always have some power.

Whether you are conscious of how you use words or not, they can still have power over other people. Like all things, the power words have can be used both for good and evil. As you use words in everyday life it is worth remembering their power and occasionally taking the time to consider how you use them. It is easy to not think about the power of words but these seemingly little things are incredibly powerful.

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Places We’d Rather Be

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Photo by ThoughtStudent

We all have places we’d rather be. Things we’d rather be doing. Sights we’d rather be seeing. This is true whether it comes from dissatisfaction with our current situation or excitement for the future. Whilst I’d generally describe myself as content in my present situation, I’m not immune to this desire to be somewhere else.

Perhaps it is a form of procrastination. My mind wants to avoid the task at hand, so it takes me away to a place I want to go to. The problem appears to be solved as I focus on something more pleasant than the work I’m meant to be doing.

At times it comes from an excitement for the future which makes you question the relevance of the task at hand. Why bother tidying the house when I’ll be away next week? The possibility ahead makes the present seem mundane.

Perhaps it comes from the memories of the past and a desire to relive them. We think back to the fun we had and wish we could go back there. Too often though we forgot that life was not perfect in the past but because we perceive its perfection, we desire to return to it.

At times though, the reality is that where you are is horrible and it’s not a place where anyone should be. And it’s okay to dream of something better and to actually go and find it. But for many people, this is not the case and where they are really isn’t too bad.

We all have places we’d rather be, some we will get to one day whilst others will remain in our imaginations. There is a time for thinking or going to that place you’d rather be, but there’s also a time for contentment and satisfaction in the place where you are.

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