Music, Personal

Nashville: Why I Love Music City

Nashville – a place which has firmly taken up a huge space in my heart. Ever since I heard my first country song, or the unmistakable sound of a fiddle’s strings above the notes of a steel pedal guitar, Nashville has always been right where I truly wanted to be. Forget London. Forget Paris. I’d always dreamed about music city for as long as I can remember, never really thinking I’d ever in my life actually get to go. Nashville is over 4,000 miles away. How on earth was I going to get there if I was terrified of planes and defiant in my belief that if went on a boat across the Atlantic, it would surely sink?

But I took a leap of faith. If I was going to die, at least I was going to die trying!

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With my bags packed and a suitcase half empty just so I could fill it up with cowboy boots, I hopped on that plane and, last year, I finally made it to Nashville. I couldn’t believe I was right there, walking the streets, feeling that fresh southern breeze glide across my face, and taking in the sweet, heady heat of the vibrant music city amid the galore of cowboy boot stores, rooftop bars, and live music venues open all day long. I was in country music heaven. What was there not to love about this?

But it’s hardly just the music. I love the history too. From the bloody battlefield of the American Civil War, where thousands died, right up to the thriving modern city it is today, Nashville is steeped in history with vibrant stories laying open and ready to tell. During my stay, I visited a house that sits on a more unforgiving side of history: Belle Meade Plantation. Previously home to a wealthy confederate supporter, this rich family once boasted the largest slave holding in Nashville. And, astonishingly, almost as rich and powerful as it was over 150 years ago, Belle Meade is still a distinct area for homes belonging to the rich and famous. Needless to say, from a historical, political, and personal point of view, it was fascinating to drive around these stunning homes, many of them proudly flying their American flag high for all to see.

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Belle Meade Mansion

On a less miserable note, I think what I love most about Nashville is the fact that everybody is so welcoming out there. When I visited the Loveless Café with some new-found friends, a famous venue for ‘real southern food’, we had a busy table of over twenty people. When we apologised for being so loud, the waitress simply came back with, ‘Honey, I love a hoopla!’ The people there are full of southern charm and it was a quality I was surprised to notice in everyone, not just in the friendly Boot Barn sales attendant called Tyler (who called me Miss Emily), or the taxi driver who drove us everywhere, or even the pilot on our flight who braved a ferocious thunder and lightning storm, all while keeping us safe up in the air. (Not going to lie, I was terrified!) Of all the cities in this big wide world, there’s just something about this one which screams, ‘Welcome!’ It’s right there in people’s smiles, in their hello’s and even in their general mannerisms. Sadly, I can’t say the same about Chicago. That was a city that instilled all kinds of fear in me.

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Whilst spending time in Nashville, I learned that this sparkling city is the true ‘Hollywood’ of country music, where stars can walk right down the street next to you, or you can bump into them at a local restaurant devouring their favourite dish. This city has so much to offer, with bars, museums, stadiums, and filming locations dotting the famous Broadway boulevard alone.

To end, I’ve always believed that Nashville, for me, is another home from home. I just couldn’t believe my luck that, when I got there, I still felt the same. All throughout my stay, the air was balmy and the food was full of flavour like I’ve never tasted. The smell of the street on Broadway as you’re walking past open doored bars, star studded restaurants and the guzzle of petrol and diesel engines as you’re trying to get to your next music fix, was all incredible. Despite the full-on security of (still friendly) officials checking there wasn’t a gun tucked away in your purse somewhere, I was sorely sad to go home. There was still so much to see.

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A bustling hub of talented songwriters, powerful music and, most of all, endless inspiration, Nashville is an incredible place in this world and – surprise, surprise – I have every intention of going back.

 

articles, How To, Writing

5 Ways to Improve Your Writing Mood

Down in the dumps about your writing? Need to edit that novel? Write that journalism article? Commit to that short story idea? This blog might just be able to help you with that.

Here are five ways to get those creative juices flow back into your writing life.

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1) Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People’s Success.

I know. It’s hard. You’re down in the dumps about your own writing and, to make it worse, you keep watching everybody else’s success climb higher than yours. That green-eyed monster in your head is getting meaner, and uglier, and you start to wonder what it is you’re doing wrong. Writing in the face of everybody else’s success can be hard. It can make you feel like you don’t belong here, or you’re not a ‘real writer’. Pretty soon, you’re scared you’ll burn out from watching everybody else soar.

You might be thinking, ‘When is it my turn?’ or ‘Why can’t I be celebrated like that?’, or even, ‘When is it my turn to be a real writer?’  You might even be considering deleting your social media account.

But hold that thought – take a breath – and push that green-eyed devil monster away.

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Don’t compare your own journey to somebody else’s. You are unique. You don’t know how many dips and falls another writer has had to take in order to get themselves where they are today.

Ask yourself this: Where were you at the start of your writer’s journey? How much have you improved since then? What skills do you have now that you didn’t when you started out? With every short story, or article, or chapter you write, you become a better writer. Your words get sharper, cleaner, and your mind gets that much smarter. You still might not be Ernest Hemingway, or even J.K. Rowling, but you are already on your writer’s journey and it’s fantastic.

What’s not to celebrate about that?

2) Be Daring!

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Daily life routines can be suffocating for creative writing, no matter what field you work in. Fed up with working in an office job? Exhausted at the end of the day from all that manual labour? Can your brain just not tune out that annoying customer you almost had a fight with today?

Try something new.

Most of us think we don’t have time, but trying new things doesn’t have to strip away hours of your life. Time is precious – I get that. A break in routine can be as simple as creating a new meal you would never usually choose, or choosing a different route to go down while you’re taking the dog out for a walk. Why not watch a documentary instead of the same old, repetetive show you watch out of habit? Buy a plant and watch it grow along with your writing.

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However, if you’ve got more time on your hands and want to be more adventurous, why not take up an exercise class, volunteer for a local charity, or join a local book club? Meet new people. After all, aren’t people key to creating new stories? Or if you’re feeling really out there, try your hand at hiking up a mountain, skydiving, or even swim with sharks!

Jump into new experiences. With that, you’ll have a whole new breadth of story ideas. You just need to brave enough. And I know you can do it.

3) Take a Breaktumblr_ml7vv56i7D1r0chkzo1_500

Not all of us can crack out 5,000 words a day (and those that can are either extremely dedicated or – dare I say it – superheroes!) – some of us have full time jobs to work, children to care for, the house to run, and bills to pay! Oh, and take the dog for a walk. We can’t do everything at once.

But if your writing is getting you down, just remember it’s okay to take a break. Sometimes, it’s what our body – not to mention our mind – needs. So what if you didn’t make that final wordcount? So what if you haven’t written a good scene or tight piece of dialogue in forever? We are only human. We all need to take a break every once in a while. Since we’re not mindless machines, sometimes it’s good to kick back and relax and spend some time with our family, live a little, and laugh. It’s been scientifically proven that we all need to take some time out regularly to maintain a good, healthy working lifestyle – which helps kick our brains back into gear when the time comes to sit down at our desk.

A healthy balance between your writing life and your real life can really work wonders. Otherwise, we might all just turn into robots. I don’t want to live in that world, do you?

4) Ignore Your Inner Editor

When I’m feeling burned out about my writing, I find it helps to set myself a timer and write as much as possible until that timer bleeps – without editing or looking back. I used to think this was impossible. Now, I do it all the time. Usually, one hour works best for me. It’s not too short; not too long. And it’s usually really surprising – and satisfying – to see the results.

Sometimes, turning your editing brain off while you’re writing can be all you really need to get back into that flow. But I understand. It’s hard. What you’re splurging out onto the page might well be utter rubbish, but what’s amazing about it is that you can keep the gold nuggets that trickle out and edit later. Sometimes, your creative brain can write out golden rainbows. Your editing brain just doesn’t always let you see it.

Try this out. You might be surprised what happens!

5) Write Something New!

Lastly, write something fresh. So your writing might be getting a little stale? Have you tried writing something else? Maybe you’ve been working on the same scene in a novel for weeks, possibly months, and it’s still just not feeling right. You never feel like you’re going to get it done. But take a step back for a moment and focus on something else. Instead of obsessing over what’s not working, try out something new.

Confidence

Why not write a poem, or write freeverse about anything you like; keep a diary, or dabble in that short story idea you’ve been putting off until after your current project is well and truly done. When a project starts getting stale, it’s usually a sign that your creativity is being stifled and you need to let your mind wander elsewhere. You can always come back to that novel scene – just with a fresher, less cluttered mind. Give your brain some room to breathe and be flexible with your creativity.

Don’t write yourself into a box.

Feeling Fancy Free?

So how do you feel now about your writing? Do you feel empowered and ready to push on with that article, that pitch, that story idea, or tricky poem that’s been bugging you for weeks? Sometimes, a fresh take on things is all we need to get tapping away at that keyboard again – or scribbling away in that journal. So go ahead and get out there. Write whatever you need to in order to get that tricky project done.

Just remember one thing: only you can write your story.

Who else in the world has the same past experiences and lessons learned as you do? That’s right: no one. You can use that. The whole world is full of endless material.

So, are you ready to write about it?

 

 

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Let me know how your writing is going in the comments! I’d love to hear about your projects.

Writing

Well isn’t that novel?

One day I will write a novel and one day I will be working in a publishing house. It doesn’t even have to be for very long. I’d love to work for Bloomsbury, the home for many fantastic authors and the publishing company which signed J.K Rowling. These are my dreams, and I want so very much for them to come true.

I think novels are beautiful, regardless of which genre they’re in, because if they can make you feel something then they’re beautiful. I love the way they can just fold together, making you smile or laugh or just simply feel like you’re a part of something. I would list it as being one of the most important feelings in the world, right up there with your first kiss and the first time you buy a drink from a bar and you don’t get asked for I.D.

I think novel writing is beautiful and this is what I want to do. Like, desperately. I won’t stop until I’ve written the best book I can and it’s accepted by a publishing house.

I used to think my dreams were silly but when I met a real author whose roots were similar to my own and who’d graduated from my university, I started to really believe in myself. If she could do it, then why couldn’t I? The advice and things she kindly told me were incredibly helpful and I’m really fortunate to have met her. It also helped that she was so young and so very lovely. It put the faith back in me to realise that you don’t have to be over thirty to get a book deal. That author was C.J Flood, who writes YA fiction – again, something I want to do. She really opened my eyes!

C.J Flood

I want to write novels that I would read. I want to write, full stop. The thrill of it is something I don’t want to ever go away.

Maybe it’s because I’m reading Gone With The Wind right now (which I totally love) but one day I will write a novel based in the Southern States of America. It will be a love story and complicated string of events between a dashing cowboy – charming or reckless, I haven’t decided yet – and a pretty young thing who wears only the prettiest of dresses.

Even if I don’t exactly write this intended story, somewhere along the lines I will write a novel with a cowboy in it. He doesn’t even have to be centre stage. He just needs to be there, if only to make me happy.

My aim in life is to write and life is short, so I’m going to do it. Regardless of whatever gets in the way.

Cornwall, Writing

Finally Getting Somewhere!

I’ve been selected to write for two magazines! I cannot believe my luck! I’m bouncing off the walls right now and just want to tell everybody!

I got invited to an interview last week for a magazine based on Cornwall and, as I live in Cornwall, I have a huge passion for it. I think my enthusiasm showed through when I met the guy interviewing me. I’m usually terrible at interviews and never know what to say and spend a lot of time fiddling with my hands or chipping some old nail polish off my fingernails … but this time around I was all for it! I think I rather startled him to be honest. I’m never usually so charismatic and passionate about things, but if you want to talk to me about any aspects of writing – especially in a job sense – then I will be practically sitting on your lap and telling you all the things I know or that I’d like to contribute. I was pretty much like this at the interview, apart from I wasn’t sitting on the guy’s lap. I don’t know how he would’ve taken that but I don’t think he would’ve seen me as particularly professional!

They emailed me yesterday asking me to be involved, voluntarily at first but they said it could turn into something paid eventually if the organisation takes off and they get the right funding! I’m so pleased! I cannot wait to start doing my part!

As well as that, I emailed Eevee Life magazine which is a new up and coming online magazine – go check them out! – and they emailed me back saying they would love to have me involved too as a features writer to contribute regularly!

If you told my fifteen year old self that in roughly four years time I would be getting somewhere and making my mark within the writing/publishing/editorial industry I would never believe you. It always seemed so distant and a dream that I would never even dare try to accomplish! But, well, I’m doing it! And I honestly couldn’t be happier!

Fingers crossed my interview goes well for this Friday too as I have an appointment with the Eden Project to be a part of the digital team which would include writing blogs for them and whatnot! Who knows, if I ever get it – and that would be amazing, as I expect there are a LOT of applicants for that position – I might even get the chance to interview the acts that go onstage there for the festivals! Maybe even The Pixies?! 

But, hey, this is the Eden Project we’re talking about here so I am definitely not getting my hopes up. That would be amazing. 

Remember to applaud your progress and not worry so much about the end goal!

All in all, I am a very happy budding young writer!

Writing

To Motivation

I keep telling myself something over and over lately. It’s something that seems to stick in my head and yell at me, especially when I’m lying awake at night, trying to get to sleep. So now I’m telling it to all of you in an effort to get us all to do it and, more importantly, for myself to do it too.

So:

You’re only ever going to be a writer if you actually write something.So get to it. And make sure it’s something good.

Music

Stay Beautiful

Falling in love with her was different and it’s something I can’t expect to ever get back. I’m contemplating a new love, another young female country star, one that’s slowly set to become the future starlet of country music. But she is different, she is older and she, well, she isn’t her. I fell for my first love – the one – when I was young, ripe, on the brink of becoming a wilting, unsteady thirteen year old. To find love that young and to know that it’s a love that has strengthened over years still, that it continues to fills me with happy tears whenever I think of her (apart from when those tears fester into something that burns) is startling and I don’t think I will ever find it again.

I have to face that she is no longer mine, and she no longer belongs to country music – despite whatever invitations and awards she may get credited for by the CMAs. This is sad, I know, but true.

To contemplate another love, a brighter, shinier, newer love seems almost wrong. I can’t seem to break away from the first. I know it’s what needs to be done and it’s what has to be so. Isn’t that what all first loves are like? To keep going back to it is devilishly unhealthy but I’m rooted so deeply and firm that it’s hard to unravel myself, and spin out into the opening arms of somebody else, somebody that will actually have me.

I’ll always remember her, the way she was, and not the way everybody likes her to be now, with her bright red lipstick and permanently straightened hair; her drawling, repetitive songs that bear no country twang whatsoever, and her persistence on looking sexy now just for appearances, instead of wearing Texas made dresses and lush, amazing cowboy boots. Like she used to.

Perhaps it is time to let go. I know everybody tells me so. Some even roll their eyes over the way I will still disintegrate into splinters whenever she makes an appearance on television – British Television instead of American. This may seem unhealthy but for a long time she was the best thing that had ever been mine. Now, she simply belongs to everyone else.

I know, I’m so full of angst.

I won’t ever let go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hobbies, justsayinghello

Hobbying Around

Hello! Excuse the awful, awful pun I named as a title, but I couldn’t resist.

I’ve compiled a list of hobbies I enjoy doing. Some may not be qualified as hobbies – my boyfriend is adamant that one particular thing on my list is not a hobby. I’ll just go ahead and let you guess which one that’s going to be.

1. Reading & Books:

It really muddles my mind when friends of mine claim they have “no books to their name”. How can you not have at least one book on your shelf, or in your wardrobe tucked away, under your bed, at least? Come on, at least get a dictionary. It doesn’t have to be a big one, just a little one you may have received as a going away present from school. (Nobody else’s school did that? No?)
I seriously love my books. I love them so much that I keep them in a glass cabinet so they can remain untouched by sticky mayonnaise fingers and unrelenting dust that spirals downwards to fall onto my pretty pages; they remain locked under my guard. Straight up, I full on panic if my books start to discolour and go brown.
I may be a little control-freak over them, but I don’t care. I cry if the pages get ripped.

Once, one fine lady Jeanette Winterson recited:

“Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it. Those who do not do it, think of it as a cousin of stamp collecting, a sister of the trophy cabinet, bastard of a sound bank account and a weak mind.”

This is ultimately how I feel.

2. Tea drinking:

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Drinking tea is a passionate hobby of mine. It’s so perfect – because you can do it alongside other hobbies! Like reading! (Nudge, wink, cheeky face ;D ) I drink any tea that is on offer. When I’m at home, I drink largely peppermint tea because it tastes so good, especially out of a Spongebob Squarepants thermos flask. When I go home from university, I drink either classic caffeinated breakfast tea or herbal infusions berry tea because I always forget to bring my peppermint teabags with me.
When I go to my boyfriend’s house, I drink any tea his mother has in the cupboards, which can range from peppermint and liquorice, and lemongrass tea to deep jasmine tea. My tea hobbying has become so bad that I’ve taken to going to Tea Festivals where I can make my own teabags, and I also stash whatever teabags I can into my bag before leaving a home that isn’t my own.
Apparently, things can only get worse.

3. My Cat:

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Her name is Mal and due to date she is now four iddybiddy months old and getting cheekier everyday! She is my little life companion, and I will admit that I go around the house calling her baby and giving her pretty much everything on my plate at dinner times. This photo of her was taken a couple weeks after I got her.
She is named after Malcolm Reynolds from the American sci-fi TV show Firefly. This way, she can say her name wherever she goes. If she scratches at the door, we will say, “Who is it?” and she will answer her name: “Mal!” If she’s naughty, which she so often is (came home yesterday to find the Christmas tree was on the floor, with the decorations ALSO all over the floor) we’ve taken to swearing at her like the characters from Firefly , “Gorram it, Mal!” I am sorry to those of you who aren’t Firefly fans; this may well mean complete nonsense to you!
She keeps me company throughout the days when I am off work, and cuddles me next to my head when I sleep, pillow to pillow.

5. Knitting:

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ve not yet really mastered its complexities. And I know anybody who knits will probably just laugh at that sentence because knitting is hardly so complicated. But, for me, it is 😦 I so want to knit a really cool hat or little booties for my cat. I can get so far a straight line stitch, but I’m afraid that is it. I don’t want to have to wait until I’m an old lady to begin knitting. I want to do it now! I have the wool, and I have the knitting needles. I have some really nice gold ones I picked up from a charity shop which are LUSH. But ever since my sister’s chihuahua decided to take a cheeky whizz on my lovely, baby pink ball of yarn, I have been on standby with my knitting efforts.

6. Writing:

I am a writer. I have always loved writing, and ever since I was 12 I always knew that I wanted to be an author. And I will be an author, one day, even if that only means writing a book and failing to ever get it published. I am still an author, because I have written a book. With my name creeping into more published works, my future is looking shiny. That at least, I hope. I sincerely hope. My secret worlds inside me are sometimes dull, sometimes bleak but for the best of times they are always looking bright.