Writing Monday!

Today I got to do something amazing. I got to sit in writing workshops with bestselling (and famous) novelist Emily Barr.

Quickly upon meeting her, I found out she was lovely. Like a ‘I’m really interested in who you are and what you do’ kind of lovely and this made her workshop so engaging and effortless the entire way through. (It was three hours long).

First we did some writing exercises, like trying to write a short story with every consecutive word of the alphabet – in order. I won’t lie, it was tough. And mine was a load of nonsense compared to everybody else’s.

Currently, there are twelve of us who are participating in the writing workshops which are running for a few weeks! Do I even need to tell you I’m excited?? Being in a room with so many sophisticated and talented writers is really humbling and kind of like magic once you’re in the room with them. They make you want to be better. They want to make you try harder. I’m really lucky to not only be with Emily Barr – an actual novelist – but also everyone else too, because they’re all talented.

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I’m so incredibly looking forward to seeing how these few weeks pan out. It’s the last year of my degree, the last chance for me to do something like this. I’m going to count every second because I don’t want it to be over. Next week we’re looking at setting and how it matters in fiction/writing!

Excited!!

In other news, my friend got me a new vintage night gown today (she knows I love them and already have like three already). It has ruffles and IT’S PINK! I’ll even leave you a picture of it.

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Anyway, until next time! I have to pop out to get some washing up liquid …

X

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Grammar Rules

Did you know there are certain rules regarding the ways you can write speech as to whether you are American or British? I know, I was shocked too! It turns out I’ve been writing the speech of my characters’ lines in my stories wrong for years because I’ve been writing in the American way! To be honest, I much prefer the American way. Maybe because I read a lot of American books, or just because it comes a lot more naturally to me.

Basically, if you are British (like me) and want to write dialogue you must use inverted single commas like this:

‘To write is to capture something beautiful’

as this is the proper way!

However if you are writing in American English then you must use the double quotation marks like this:

“To write is to capture something beautiful”

I mean, how crazy is that? I always thought it was a matter of preference. But when it came up casually in conversation at a fiction workshop I was in it made me stop and think. Had I really been writing incorrectly all this time? The answer was yes after I researched it. (Always to Google!)

I’m sure it’s never that important anyway. I have had things published with American speech marks in it for dialogue when I am technically supposed to be writing in British English. It’s not like you’re going to get dismissed from a writing competition or, even worse, a novel manuscript you’ve submitted to a publishing house, because you’ve included the wrong speech marks in your work. If you can’t make up your mind and use both frequently all over the place then that might lead to something different! But ultimately, it is up to you whatever you choose to do.

Since I am technical in all my writing and like to correct anybody’s grammar given the opportunity, I will be writing in the formally correct way constantly now and try to keep it up as long as I can. If you are like me, and like everything to be perfect in your writing, from the style down the spelling, you too will probably reflect and check your errors! This is exactly what I did.

Unfortunately, I hate editing my own fiction writing so it took me a mighty long time to correct everything! I hope, if you didn’t already know this little scrap of knowledge, I have enlightened your day.

Good luck with your writing!

Prose Before Hoes

I’ve come to realise that I’m actually really, really lucky. To be in university – and such a unique, inspiring, close-knit and FRIENDLY university too – has been a Godsend to me. Studying my course has led me to writing pathways that little young teenage me would only ever dream about. It sounds cliche but cliche’s exist for a reason. I am incredibly lucky, to have the opportunities to work with amazing lecturers who are so attentive, to have so many resources available at the university where I’m studying, and to basically have this kind of an education!

So I came across a phrase today – ‘prose before hoes’. I took it lightly, but it kind of has significance. Sometimes, you just have to put your writing first if you want to get anywhere in this industry.

I discovered today through a writing correspondent that students can actually attend the London Book Fair for FREE.
How incredible! To actually be able to be at an event with published authors and writers, book agents and people who work for real life publishing houses! It’s a dream, and I hope to go there next year – one year in the future at least! I’m so grateful to have a lot of things right now. I also have so much to look forward to recently it’s unbelievable!

  • I have recently been fortunate enough to work with award winning author Lionel Shriver, who is a pleasure to work with and have her read my work and give positive (and negative) feedback is something I still can’t quite believe I’m doing …
  • I am an official weekly features writer for an online magazine, Her Campus. I know I’ve mentioned this before but knowing I’m a part of it still a few weeks on after being asked to do it is still exciting to me! I love writing features and coming up with ideas every week, and some of the posts on there are actually really funny!
  • Lionel Shriver signed my book/writing ideas notepad at a book signing and actually recognised me! It was awesome.
  • I got to spend some time with another published author C.J Flood. I spoke to her about her books, how she finds writing and my own novel I’ve been writing for some time now. It was an experience I hope I am never, ever going to forget. She offered to sign her book for me and even wrote an inspirational message inside the front cover!
  • I’ve also spent some time with a really lovely second year student, who writes for Booked Magazine which is aimed towards 11-18 year olds on general pop culture topics, like films, music, book reviews etc. She opened up windows for me and made me realise I can actually do this. Hearing her speak about all the amazing things she has done was uplifting and so inspirational for me. It gives me hope!
  • On a non-writing note, I am going to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London at the end of May, leaving at 2am and spending the WHOLE DAY THERE!!! I am going to spend so much money in the gift shop. I just know it.
  • Also, I AM SEEING MCBUSTED AT THE END OF MAY as well!!!! I am perfectly accepting of the fact that if I spontaneously combust through lack of air or just pure excitement then that’s a good way to go. I kind of embrace that. Seeing them has been my dream for oh so many years, I was just always too scared to do it. But now, finally, at aged nineteen, I AM DOING IT.
  • Hopefully, I will go to the Fowey Festival of Words & Music this coming May as well. I am in the process of writing an article on the festival for Her Campus so will be sure to post it up here as a link once it’s up and running on the site!

I can’t believe how lucky I am. I am looking to get some writing or editorial work experience/internship this summer as my first year finishes late May so will have a lot of free time to keep busy in! If you know anyone or ARE anyone who would like to have me work for them this summer, let me know!

Lionel Shriver

Her Campus

C. J Flood

Booked Magazine

Harry Potter Studio Tour

McBusted!!!

If you know  anyone who would like to have me work for them this summer, let me know! I don’t even care if it’s unpaid!

Lionel Shriver Workshop

Writers In Residence is a thing. A University thing, I think. And, to me, it’s a very important thing. It means that aspiring writers (like me) get the opportunity to submit their pieces of writing and if they win they get to participate in scheduled workshops with that author.

A real author!

This year, it is Lionel Shriver, who wrote the award winning book We Need To Talk About Kevin and she is coming to the university where I study. HOW EXCITING!

Naturally, I got so excited when the emails came around saying that students could apply to be in the workshop for Writers In Residence. With Lionel Shriver. A very successful author and journalist from America. I applied as soon as I was ready, as soon as I’d written something I thought was the absolute best I could aim for.

Choosing to come to university was a big task for me, but when I realised students got the opportunity to work with actual authors and published writers, go to poetry readings and indulge themselves in a special writing world that they may not have had the chance to do otherwise, my mind was pretty much made up. I decided to go, almost based on that. That it was a world I would be opening myself up to that I may not ever get the chance to do in the real world.

Establish contacts, hone my writing skills, just overall be with people who shared my love for the world of writing and adored literature.

really wanted to go. And it’s totally worth it. All of it. Even the ‘sit-by-myself lunchtimes’ and the ‘almost-talking-to-nobody-Fridays’. It is all worth it.

Because – dare I even say it – my application got through to the Writers In Residence workshop and soon from the beginning of April and all through to May I am getting the chance to do some fiction writing with Lionel Shriver.

It’s with 11 other applicants, and we will be spending two hours every week with her to develop our writing skills and get one to one sessions with her also if we so desire. I can’t wait. Following a disappointing email from a publisher for a short story competition saying my submission hadn’t got through, to then read this email was full blown amazing and I still can’t even believe I managed it.

It seems that since university, my life has had its doors open and opportunities flood their way in through. They may not all be successful ones on my part but I love being given the chance to throw my arrow in the bucket along with all the other applicants too. I feel this is what being a writer is all about.

Writer News!

I have some fantastic news! As a writer, I am always looking for ways to get my writing ‘out there’, so to speak. Even this blog has a way of doing that – which is obviously why a lot of people do it. So I was rather ecstatic (and still am!) over an email which delivered me with the information that I am now an official weekly features writer to an online magazine! Now, of course it is university based and it will not get me a paid contract however I am just so excited!!

I submitted the application a little while ago and every question I was answering I just kept thinking, ‘I want this, I want this, I really really want this. It sounds perfect!’ Despite me desperately wanting the position, I hardly dared to believe I would actually, really get it. Imagine my surprise when I read the words ‘I would be happy to have you as part of the team’ that got sent to me. I was overjoyed. I was so happy that my boyfriend and I started dancing in all kinds of circles across our bedroom floor.

As a weekly features writer, I am SO excited to write about all kinds of new things, from university campus news to fashion critiques. I even plan to write a feature on the campus cat (because, yes, our university does indeed have a cat). Woe betide me if I cannot write about cats on this magazine. That’s just unthinkable. I’ve hopped, I’ve skipped and I’ve ran hot with glee all over little places in my mind. My first plan is to write about our Harry Potter society at the university – because it’s a brilliant society and deserves some devoted recognition! With a brilliant photographer for the events at hand, I hope it will look stunning when I write it up in full. Our society really is just … the best. If you’ll excuse my saying so.

I probably ought to reflect on what the magazine is actually about. Basically you can find it at http://www.hercampus.com/ and it is an online worldwide magazine targeted towards women at university, written by students all over the world on different campuses. In my mind, it’s basically a kind of University version of Cosmopolitan magazine – which I always love reading. Heat magazine and all those other gossipy ones rub me up the wrong way. It’s like, who cares if a pregnant celebrity hasn’t gotten rid of her babyfat? THIS IS LIFE. GET OVER IT. Her Campus is basically the way to go for trendy campus news, or reviews, or anything relatively girly, or campus related. It’s actually really good. You should check it out.

Now, I had probably ought to go and write up something for the magazine. Hopefully writer’s block won’t catch me out too soon.

TTFN. x

‘Safe’

As a uni student, we are told to undertake several writing challenges a week which I find incredibly stimulating and love doing it. I feel it lets my creativity out more, as a writer. One task this week was to take three different texts and muddle them together somehow. So, I took the lyrics of one of my favourite songs (Eric Church: Springsteen), a transcript of the diaologue from the new Haribo Starmix advert, and of course a line from one of the best TV shows, Firefly, which I then expanded on and just used the content.

I muddled all these together and came up with taking the form/layout of lyrics, a title ‘Gold Bears’ which the head business woman with a child’s voice squeaks out to her colleague in the Haribo advert, and the content and setting of that particular Firefly episode. I thought I’d put it up on here for other people to read, critique and leave their thoughts on, whether silently or type it away on your keyboard to me. If it’s any matter, here it is:

The character with strong stature and rustic thick brown hair
Wears a maroon shirt covered with lightly coloured braces
His boots say something of menace in his walk
Like a man who knows how to reason with evil folk
When it comes to it

The other, a tall muscular man with ashen, wire-like hair
Stands apart from him, the gloves he wears ones of
Good wear and tear, designed to protect the fleshy hand
From wary destruction of what he’s handling
In this instance: cattle

The cattle roam and they rumble
About the hovercraft that these men of goodwill have captivated them inside
Like shipmen, they boast and they banter about the rickety
Structure that is the first man’s dream and home:
Its name holds up like a beaconed torch of light: Serenity

One wise, and one a mercenary type, they unite as space tradesman
Prattling around the orbits of space with their crew
Both happy, both unhappy
Their lives are located on this ship
And nowhere else

Having landed on a distant rural planet
They get set and ready for the makers they’re about to meet
That is, the makers of their privy fortune
Having not eaten actual food for weeks, they were rather peckish
‘Alas’, they thought, ‘finally some hands on a bit of wealth?!’

The first, with his bare and brawny hands, pulled the lever
And warned the second to keep clear of the cattle,
Not to get sorely trampled
The reverse door mechanically opened
Like an old time earth bound garage

The cattle stampeded out of the large gateway
Their clackaty hooves banging down hard on the floor
Out onto the dusty sandpath and into the fenced pen
Ready for them to eat and graze
And eat and graze

The mercenary type, the burly one, held a whip in his strong arms
And smacked each cattle, one by one
Eager to get them off the ship
The stench was by far enough for him

‘Y’know they walk just as easy if you lead ‘em’ the first told him
A sense of quirked amusement in his voice
The second, merely looked back at him, a gleam in his eye
‘I like smackin’ ‘em’ he protested
Whilst the first only rolled his eyes

Finally done, and with the loading deck squandered in cowpat
The two stretched their legs onto unfamiliar planet soil
The braces around the first hung tight
And the heat made him sweat through his shirt
Everything on this planet was burning

With the trade’s cash in mind
The first rotated the field
Looking for the men he desperately wanted to see
So they could give him his money
And get the hell off this planet so he could eat

You may say it falls flat at the end. I know this, but I only had 300-450 words to use up but, hey, if you’re intrigued why not watch the actual episode? This particular one is called ‘SAFE’ – it’s brilliant. You should watch it.
And, if anybody’s slightly confused over the sources I’ve used, I’ve taken the liberty of posting them up here for you just in case. All you have to do is follow the link.

TTFN.x

Our Winter Coats

Recently, our house was astounded and in awe when one of our roommates came home with a snuggly, soft-to-the-touch-and-everything BEAR ONESIE. She bought it fairly cheaply, from where she works at Dunelm Mill, the posh department store. I have never been there, so therefore it must be quite posh, I assume. She works within the curtain department so I don’t know how she got to wandering down the snuggly bear onesie aisles.

Maybe they sell those as curtains. I don’t know. They would certainly keep the heat in. Although they’re so warm and cuddlesome I may have to resort to climbing up the windows, with people coming home and having to detach me from the vertical position of sleeping upon the said shut curtains. …

I digress.

We loved her onesie so very much, that immediately, we started pestering (demanding, more like) that next time she was working SHE BUY ALL OF US ONE EACH. We paid her, of course. Now, in the house we have:

1) A dark chocolate female bear
2) A light brown chocolate coloured male bear
3) A deep, rich purple also male bear
4) A white chocolate female bear – which is me!

For better visual imagination, here’s a photo of the bear clan:

Don’t we just look awesome?

They’re so toasty that you barely even need the heating on – and being students – we don’t like to spend money on heating and gas when we don’t have to. It’s brilliant. The hot water bottle can go out the window too … figuratively speaking.

It’s great. I honestly never knew being a bear could be so much fun.