Learning a second language gives a new understanding of culture and the concept of language and symbolism. As a writer, learning Japanese inspired me to push the boundaries of English, and opened my eyes to the diversity of human thought.
A second language is a huge aid to two significant foundations of creative writing: characters and setting. Let me give you a taste of what is possible.
Inspired by “Arrival”
I wanted to write this article years ago, before Three Bags Full Blog existed, but didn’t have the opportunity. The idea was recently re-sparked when I watched the 2016 movie Arrival.
It was late, and my family had just started a movie when I arrived, longing for bed. When I heard the name was Arrival, I thought “great, another aliens-invade-earth-oh-what-will-we-do sci-fi”.
But I decided to sit for five minutes before heading to bed. Turned out I totally misjudged the movie, and was hooked until the end.
Stigma. We’ve all heard of it, we all know it’s there, we all know it is one of the biggest battles facing mental illness sufferers. But where does this stigma come from? Who is to blame, and what can we do to fight it?
A while ago I was lying in my bed, thinking about everything, as anxious people tend to do. And I started to wonder why everyone I knew affected by mental illness only came into my life in the last few years. It made me wonder: did these people spontaneously come into existence after my mum got sick? Probably not.
But if they always existed, what stopped me from meeting them? What stopped me from knowing they struggled with mental illness, from knowing that their loved one was ill?
I knew of people who had struggled with cancer, so why not mental illness? Stigma. Stigma stopped people from sharing their circumstances. Sufferers and their loved ones feared others’ reactions, and feared their own reality.
The God of Numbers is a God of honour. When He promises something, you can be sure He will fulfil it. And when His honour is challenged, you can bet He proves the accusers wrong — and does so with a truly great sense of humour.
Numbers. Wow, what a title. The word drudges up memories of senior high school calculus, and I shudder. The original Hebrew name actually means “in the wilderness”, which is a little easier to swallow.
The book is named so in English due to the two censuses of the Israelite people, one at the beginning of the book and one at the end. While a little dull to read, they serve an important purpose. They stand as evidence for God honouring His promise with Abraham, back in Genesis.
A common piece of writing advice is to make sure your protagonist is likeable. If they’re not likeable, the reader won’t want to root for them. Closer to the truth is that it’s easier to pull in a reader with a likeable protagonist. But with a bit of extra work, unlikable protagonists can do the same — or even better.
The bond between reader and protagonist is key. It’s easy to form when the protagonist is likeable, but how do you cultivate a bond between a reader and an unlikeable protagonist? Looking at famous examples such as Sherlock Holmes (notably the latest BBC remake) and Doctor House, 4 steps become apparent. Let’s dive in!
1. A Strong Personality
If a character isn’t likeable, they need to be interesting. A strong personality that is quirky or unique is important. Set them up with an unconventional set of morals they are passionate about, or dig deep and find a new way of looking at the world.
Over the last few years, anxiety disorders have become more accepted, more understood. But so much and so many symptoms are yet unknown to the general public — even unknown to sufferers themselves.
Anxiety takes many different forms. The symptoms below aren’t an exhaustive list, but may offer an insight for those seeing anxiety from the outside, and those in the midst of its grip.
Symptoms To Look Out For
The following symptoms are noticeable to a bystander. Though often, if they can, an anxious person will try to hide their symptoms. But if you pay attention, you can pick them up and take steps to help them.
If after an hour the anxiety is not subsiding, give them something calming such as camomile, and get them to see a GP as soon as they can. (A note on camomile: hide the taste by mixing it with other non-caffeinated flavours such as lemongrass, lavender or peppermint.)
The God of Leviticus is a just God. What, exactly, do I mean by “just”? I mean He is a fair God. Able to be simultaneously compassionate and firm.
Most people cringe at the thought of dragging themselves through the boring, strange, outdated laws of Leviticus. I myself was uncertain.
But my trusty study bible suggested reading the book in conjunction with Psalms — studying both the sacrifice and ritual style of worship, and the singing and praise style we’re more familiar with nowadays. So I prepared to flick over as soon as Leviticus got too much for me. And then became so enwrapped in what Leviticus revealed, I read straight through.
I think it fortunate that my goal for reading through the bible is to discover more about who God is. Because that meant every law wasn’t some outdated tradition, some vague moral code; it was an insight into what is important to my God.
Equity And Equality
In setting the laws for Israel, God recognised the different circumstances people come from. And He allocated for those differences. He is a God who wants all to be able to come before Him.
I’ve struggled to write the last, well, year if I’m honest. But I’ve recently stumbled across an interesting way of getting myself back in the swing of things: the role-playing game D&D. My first ever game is in a few weeks, and the preparation has sparked something within me.
Stress has been a huge factor in my struggle to write. It saps my energy, my motivation and gives me constant headaches.
This blog is the only personal writing project I’ve kept on schedule for. I suppose there’s something to the illusion of accountability, even though I don’t even have a big readership and I doubt many notice my first-week-of-each-month posting schedule.
People cry for a lot of reasons. Today I particularly want to talk about how to respond when someone is crying quietly due to stress, distress or feeling overwhelmed. This most often happens to those who suffer from anxiety, but can happen to anyone lacking of energy due to insomnia or a virus or anything.
So, I’m going to start with what led me to choose this topic, the option of responding or not responding to a crying person, then a step-by-step of how best to respond.
So, with my “God of” challenge where I’m reading through the whole bible start-to-finish, I’m currently reading Deuteronomy. And a verse in chapter 20 has me thinking, about being careful what you sacrifice — or not cutting down fruit trees.
I’m a bit behind on my posts about each book, only up to Exodus. I’m not being lazy, I’m just cycling each month between my three “bags”, so the topic only comes up once every three months.
But let’s get back to the point.
God’s Warning To The Israelites
Israel is on the cusp of entering its promised land. They see it on the horizon, waiting, shining. Throughout their long journey, God has given them many rules and requirements to live by. Now as their new life is about to dawn, He reminds them of these and adds a few things:
“When you besiege a city for a long time, while making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; if you can eat of them, do not cut them down to use in the siege, for the tree of the field is man’s food.” — Deuteronomy 20:19
Many say the turn of the new year is just an arbitrary date that doesn’t actually mean anything. This is true. However, it is healthy to regularly restock and release, in order to move forward. January is a convenient time to do so, as its association with “New Year Resolutions” helps us remember to take the time to reflect.
Another point to note is that this month marks my blog’s 1 year anniversary! Posting once a month doesn’t sound like much, but life can get busy and I was nervous about committing myself. And, man, did last year hit me hard. And yet I haven’t missed a post! Except for April. But we don’t talk about April 2016. It doesn’t count as a real month.
A Look Inside The Green Bag: Mental Health
In my little blog logo, the green bag holding a bunny represents mental health and family. A year ago, this blog started with my mum heading into hospital for TMS treatment. I worried I would struggle, as mum and I are very close, but it ended up a pretty smooth experience. This was a turning point, and a relief. I no longer had to dread her trips as much.