Writing About The South

 

Right now I’m writing at university because it’s warmer than being in my house. This is a legitimate reason. I am not kidding. But writing on campus can be fun because:

  1. There are no distractions
  2. It’s a working environment (so I actually feel like I should be doing something instead of tweeting.)
  3. It’s really quiet here right now because it’s evening!

So I’ve set myself a deadline. By the end of tonight, as in midnight, I will have written 1000 words to the opening of my new novel-in-progress which is – ta dah! – all about the Deep South … as in Texas.

Because I love it.

This new novel is a project of mine which I have been striving towards since the very first year of my degree. I’ve been holding off until now to write about it and now it’s here it’s kind of terrifying. The novel project is a part of my dissertation, which is all about the Deep South and the ideology of the cowboy as a romance figure in literature.

So my novel is a cowboy romance set in Texas. *unbelievably happy about this*

I’m writing different beginnings to the novel so far and I’m going to keep writing until I hit the one which I know is right. So far, I have four different openings. I think I know which one I love best, but I know it’s not quite there yet. More work needs to be done!

But, like Hemingway famously said, “the first draft of anything is shit.”

I think I always come back to that piece of advice when I’m writing a first draft and finding it hard. Because if you can’t have faith in Hemingway as a writer, then who else are you going to believe in?

For research, I’ve been reading snippets of DEEP SOUTH by the wonderful travel writer Paul Theroux which came out late last year. (I don’t know how many times I stroked it in bookshops before actually buying it. Sorry Waterstones.)

I read this book in the sunshine today and it was bliss. I’ll probably write a raving reveiw of this book once I’ve finished it but I’ll tell you right now that this book is amazing. It really gets you into the mindset of the South and opens up a world perhaps not so explored in travel writing. It’s a world of vivid colour and backroads and thrift stores located on old highways, where “the past is never dead” and where “poverty is well dressed in churches, and everyone is approachable”.

It’s a world I can’t wait to get into and one which I find hugely inspiring (hence the idea for the novel). I’ve always loved the South ever since I was first pulled into country music.

So today I pored over its pages, ready with a bright pink marker pen to highlight certain passages, and fell a little bit in love with it all. So tonight, I aim to write about it. Or at least develop some ideas about it which I can one day turn into fiction.

I’ll try and keep you updated on how it goes along as I try and figure it out.

In the meantime, it’s back to writing!

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Telltales & Such Things

Hey, everyone. Hope the sun is shining your way. It is currently down here in Cornwall!

Just an update to notify you of new features I’ve written recently. They’ve taken a while to air on the website so there’s a few all in one go! One is a feature on my best friend who recently completed her Duke of Edinburgh award and advice she has to give, so if you’re into doing the award or even just thinking about it then make sure you check it out!

Another is a feature on a course mate of mine who I met whilst working on the Lionel Shriver author workshops. I really wanted to document the experience and get another point of view on how exciting and precious the time we spent with Lionel was, so I decided to interview her on the experience we shared. Her feedback was brilliant!

The other is on a sweet little writing group I’ve recently discovered under the name of Telltales based in Cornwall, largely Falmouth which is my student home town. Details about the group can all be found via the link!

Please give them a read if you’re interested!

 

Telltales Writing Group: http://www.hercampus.com/school/falmouth/telltales-writers-group-based-falmouth

Campus Celebrity: http://www.hercampus.com/school/falmouth/campus-celebrity-aysha-bryant

Last week’s Campus Celebrity: http://www.hercampus.com/school/falmouth/campus-celebrity-ashleigh-fox

 

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!

Features!

As a team member and feature writer of the Her Campus website I am delighted to announce that my two features are finally up and running on the site (after a few technical difficulties)!

 

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My reaction upon discovering they were online

If you want to read them they’re contained in the links below. Hopefully you will like them and they’ll give you a little bit of insight into what it’s like at my university.

 

FLASH MOB FEATURE – http://www.hercampus.com/school/falmouth/student-flash-mob

QUIDDITCH FEATURE – http://www.hercampus.com/school/falmouth/quidditch-society

Writerly Reflections

Why did I want to be come a writer? It’s a fairly simple question to ask but rather a difficult one to answer.

I suppose first of all I wanted to write because I loved reading. My story isn’t one of reading J.K Rowling and desperately wanting to be the way she is as a writer, which is odd because I love the world of Harry Potter a lot more than anything else. The world of Harry Potter comes up fairly frequently in my blogposts. My story came from being twelve years old and desperately wanting to be the girlfriend of famous boyband members. In particular, members of McFly. I could gush on about them for hours in my little notepad I kept hidden in my wardrobe.

What they looked like when I thought I could be their girlfriend. That’s right. All of them.

In order for that to come true, I started writing fanfiction in little diaries I bought from Clintons. I wrote so many stories, and they were all filled with bad writing, bad romance, and probably some really bad dialogue. I still have them, but they’re far too embarrassing to read. But without them I wouldn’t have gotten this far! I would stay in my room for hours every single day of the summer, endlessly spilling my pen into the pages that I kept private. Because nobody was allowed to read it.

Bad writing = good writing!
(Eventually!)

 

Gradually, I moved onto writing from paper to Microsoft Word but still in secret. I would wait until my whole family had gone to bed before I could start tapping erratically on the keys of our shared computer keyboard. I don’t know why it all had to be kept in such secrecy. It just felt so private. I’d never done it before.

When I started to grow older, I realised that – yes – I wanted to become a writer, an author, unconditionally. And all I did in my spare time was fantasise about how incredibly amazing that would be. I have drawings in my old collected notepads of book covers with my name on them, that one day I could actually be a published author. I still have that dream today and am not going to stop writing, ever. Now, I am pursuing a writing course at university. People say it’s a waste of time, choosing Creative Writing as a degree, but I would never have come across the writing opportunities I’ve been given without enrolling onto this course.

Since September, I’ve started a new novel in my own time, written short stories almost every single week during term to submit, become a weekly feature writer for a worldwide online magazine, submitted to a number of different writing competitions, gotten the chance to meet famous writers and poets, and next week I get to be in a workshop with an award winning author!

Really, I don’t think I decided at any point – yes I want to be a writer. I kind of fell into it, and as I got better at it, I then just grew into it.

Writing is awesome.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/writing-challenge-reflections/

4,000 Words

Following my blog post about the author workshop I’m thrilled to be participating in, I received an email yesterday outlining the work we’re going to be doing to work with Lionel Shriver. Basically, the most pressing thing to do is come up with a piece of writing that is 4000 words long and submit it to her so it can be evaluated and critiqued.

I know, it sounds simple enough really, doesn’t it? It sounds like this is the most work we actively have to do within these workshops, aside from critiquing others’ work and really buckling down with all the fiction writing activities. It’s exciting and I already have loads of pieces that amount to either just below 4000 words or over. All I’d have to do is tweak it up a little and then submit, let her read it, and go!

But that’s just a little way too terrifying.

Writing 4000 words within two weeks is pretty simple and easy. That’s plenty of time. I have no issue with that. But coming up with 4000 words to submit to a real live – award winning author – FROM AMERICA is scary, to say the least. It’s incredibly daunting and I don’t even know where to start.

Giving her the first 4000 words of my novel is slightly embarrassing, as the protagonist is a womanizing jerk and in the second chapter there is a drunken bathroom scene in which two teenagers get a little too excited with each other (to put it that way). But it’s the most recent writing I’ve done and I have to admit I’m a little  bit in love with it. I am proud of it. But to give her something else feels odd, as I don’t feel my other writing is as good as the novel I’m writing right now. The piece we submit can be anything, on any theme, and can be complete, or a work in progress or something entirely different. Just as long as it’s fiction.

I think I am struggling. Being intimidated by author power-status is a little bit unnerving! Especially when you get to meet them!