Tag Archives: Writing

We are now a two-book-author household!

Two very proud authors! A few days after I received the first physical copy of my new book, my wife Karin was sent a copy of her first book: The Essential Companion to Talking Therapy, published by Watkins.

As with mine, Karin’s book is available from all of the usual online outlets (I’ve linked to Bookshop just for convenience) and should be in stores at some point in the New Year. In the USA it’s published by Penguin-Random House. It’s a really remarkable book (ok, I’m biased, but it is!) not least because Karin wrote it in less than 6 months and poured her professional and life experience into it. I’m incredibly proud of her ūüôā

Here’s a synopsis of the book:

During her 15 years as a therapist, Karin Blak has found that, due to a lack of understanding of what therapy is, people often wait until crisis point to seek help. Even when they are motivated to find professional support, there are psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and psychotherapists; we have so many different types of professionals and approaches to therapy that confusion is inevitable. This book is a definitive guide to understanding talking therapies. It will clarify questions, misunderstandings, myths and grey areas in therapy, compassionately guiding the reader through their journey from beginning to consider therapy, to finding the right therapist, preparing for the first session, surviving common challenges, knowing when to end therapy, and when to return. Karin Blak reveals the rarely considered facts of how therapists work, how they themselves are supervised, how to know if your therapist  is overstepping boundaries, the role of a supporting partner, family member or friend, what the jargon really means, how to manage expectations, and when to move on from therapy. Each section contains honest commentary about the process of therapy, case studies showing examples applicable to real life, encouragements to act, practical suggestions and actions to apply if needed.

One of the reasons why I don’t use reference management software….

….is that it creates nonsense like this! Now, I’m sure that spatial and temporal trends of global pollination have, indeed, benefited me – but that’s not the title of the paper! The actual title is “Spatial and Temporal Trends of Global Pollination Benefit” – full stop. I handled the paper when I was an editor at PLOS One and somehow my role has been bundled into the title by whatever reference management system the authors have used.

I won’t embarrass the authors by saying where it’s from, but it’s yet another example of something that I blogged about a few years ago – that reference management systems encourage sloppy referencing practices.

One thing that “Spatial and Temporal Trends of Global Pollination Benefit Jeff Ollerton” does get right, though, is subject-verb agreement – check out Steve Heard’s post over at Scientist Sees Squirrel on this very topic, and how a careful analysis of sentence structure can improve your writing.

Auto-bee-ography – a new genre of writing?

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In the post today I was pleased to find a copy of Brigit Strawbridge Howard’s first book Dancing With Bees that she had kindly signed and sent after I reviewed some of the text.¬† It was great timing – I’ve just finished Mark Cocker’s Our Place,¬†a really important historical and future road map of how Britain got to its present position of denuded and declining biodiversity, and what we can do to halt and reverse it. Highly recommended for anyone interested in environmental politics and action.¬† So Brigit’s book will be added to the pile on my bedside table and may be next in line, though I still haven’t finished Dave Goulson’s The Garden Jungle – perhaps I will do that before I start Dancing With Bees?

And thereby lies a problem – there’s just too many interesting books to read at the moment if you are interested in the environment, or indeed even just in pollinators.¬† Because a new genre of writing seems to be emerging that I call “auto-bee-ography”. A number of writers are using bees to frame their memoirs and anecdotes.¬† Dave’s trilogy of Buzz in the Meadow, Sting in the Tale, and Bee Quest is probably the best known. Then there’s Buzz by Thor Hanson; Following the Wild Bees by Thomas Seeley;¬†Bees-at-Law byNo√ęl Sweeney;¬†Keeping the Bees by Laurence Packer; Bee Time by¬†Mark Winston;¬†Bees Make the Best Pets by Jack Mingo; Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee
by Lisa Jean Moore and Mary Kosut; The Secrets of Bees by Michael Weiler; and The Bumblebee Flies Anyway by Kate Bradbury.

All of these books fall more-or-less into the category of auto-bee-ography, and I’m sure there are others that I’ve missed (feel free to add to the list in the comments below).¬† They follow a strong tradition in natural history and environmental writing of using encounters with particular groups of organisms, for example birds and plants, as a way of exploring wider themes¬† Which is great, the more high profile we can make all of these organisms, including pollinators, the better in my opinion*.

However there’s not enough written about the other pollinators, that does seem to be a gap in the literature.¬† Mike Shanahan’s Ladders to Heaven has a lot about his encounters with figs and their pollinating wasps, but that’s about it, unless I’ve missed some?¬† Perhaps in the future I’ll write something auto-fly-ographical called No Flies on Me.¬† But before that, look out for Pollinators and Pollination: nature and society which I’m currently completing for Pelagic Publishing.¬† It should be out in Spring 2020.


*Though not in everyone’s – I had a very interesting discussion on Twitter with some other ecologists recently about whether pollinators had too high a profile compared to organisms that perform other functional roles in ecosystems such as seed dispersers.¬† You can follow the thread from here: https://twitter.com/JMBecologist/status/1165565465705496576

 

 

 

 

Research is Writing is Research is Writing is Research

“this is an interesting approach because it collapses the distinction between doing ‚Äėresearch‚Äô and writing ‚Äėit‚Äô up”

For years I’ve tried to impress this idea upon my PhD students and postdocs, that writing IS part of the research, and that “writing up” research is, at best, an inaccurate way of describing the process, even in the sciences. It’s had mixed success because it’s a difficult message to get across until they experience it for themselves and appreciate the importance of writing as they go along, even if much of what they write doesn’t end up in the thesis or research paper.

The quote comes from a recent post on Stuart Elden’s¬†Progressive Geographies blog, and he in turn highlights a post by Raul Pacheco-Vega¬†called “What counts as academic writing?” ¬†Both are well worth reading, though Pacheco-Vega’s discipline of writing for two hours every day certainly won’t suit everyone (myself included).