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.

Hobbies, university, Writing

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/

Hobbies, university, Writing

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!

education, Hobbies, university, Writing

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.

Hobbies, Poetry, Writing

What Love Was Theirs

 

 

She used to think that the one she loved shined marvelously for her, and only her. But the starlight shining bright has faltered and it’s grown dim. She doesn’t know what to think of her beloved any longer, now that she has become changed. What they had was a love story, bursting pinks and violet reds, churning out love and sweet things ripe with passion. It was all over the place, people didn’t know where to look.
Now she scalds her tongue on the love that’s burnt and it tastes bitter. Invisibility used to be her shield, the thing that kept her hidden, but now she cries out to the one who refuses to know her. The One. Who, like a child, is ignorant of her squalor.
Staying forever young and forever sixteen is bullshit. Everybody knows it. Unless you want to die, cased in your tomb like a precious thing inside a cabinet, at the ripe old age of a nearly wasted adulthood. At least the coffin does not show glass, so admirers can press their fingertips up against the glass. Their oily noses. Their eyes that are pearls.
Disrespectful.
What love was theirs was untouchable, almost a secret. But jealousy thrashed it, caged it so it remains weak but does not die. It can’t escape from the confines of her heart. A winter passing can last forever inside a broken heart; it begins to get cold, icy winds pick up speed and all parts of the body are left freezing. Dying. But strong enough to keep going indefinitely, for however long until the love gets fixed.
The Best Day is a fictional plaything, constructed inside the mind to make you feel better. So what you thought was the best day that time will never be and you will never get it back. It’ll stay locked inside you forever. A favourite song is no longer important, as it pulls the dregs of those memories up to the surface.
And, oh, it’s far too much to bear.

Hobbies, Writing

Marietta

    I knew a girl who had gotten dumped. I say knew. She hovered around the floating edges of my break times, my classes, my petulant walks through corridors. She’d never mattered to us much before. But now she was always on my mind.
Her skin, it etched in the name of the boy who had done and got her heart broke, and the blood ran off her fingertips. Marietta. She looked like a corpse dressed for Halloween. Her skin was so pale. The lace from the dresses that seemed embroidered onto her skin, her arms, became bumpy with bloodstain. It trailed all the way up to her elbow. People stared. Even the teachers stared. Too nervous, they never said anything to her. I could never work out whether they were scared of hurting her mutated feelings, or simply just her. She had an aura about her that rendered people strange. A sickly, pasty kind of feeling that sweeps over you when you walk past her in the corridor, or catch her watery blue stare as you look up.
The boy’s name was Todd Bow. Everybody knew him, so as a result everybody then knew her. Before him, I guess you could say she was normal.  She seemed so anyway. Like your average, functioning girl. But love has its way of ruining
the best of us. If we let it fester, it turns us inside out, upside down, and bent over double in pain. Blood poured from her heart, and now it poured from her arms too.
A mathematic compass was her tool. Her art for punching holes into her veins. You know the ones. We’ve all
purposely pricked our fat, fleshy fingertips with one just so we can see it hurt. Its pinprick point like a poised and ready needle. It digs in and burrows itself beneath our skin, if it should like.
Marietta took it too far. God knows what her mother thought. Perhaps she never told. Yet we all knew; we could all
see the faded lines beneath the white lace, and the fresh ones too. We could all see the quiet disdain she held in her voice when she spoke, like every boy she addressed was guilty of breaking her heart. We could all see the fresh
etchings of a T … then an O … a deep, stinging D … and finally one more. It wasn’t like she was hiding it, like she faded into the background like some old piece of furniture. She was there everyday, on everybody’s minds.
I think she knew it.
The boy hardly knew what to do. They’d lasted six months; he’d never realised how hard she’d fallen. She avoided him like the plague, yet he remained on her arms, his name a hideous inscription, like she was bound to him forever. And she liked it that way.
She shamelessly strapped his identity to her skin like it was the only thing she had.
In the end, I suppose it was.

education, Hobbies, Music, university, Writing

‘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

education, university, Writing

Constructive?? Criticism

Yesterday was my first day of getting a uni coursework back date. I admit I wasn’t fussed as I knew that the grade I would get would be the grade I would get. I wasn’t looking to fail, like a lot of people were. People were so nervous, their hands were shaking and they kept feigning a ‘not bothered’ attitude towards the grade they were getting.

“Wheey for getting a fail!”

“It’s only first year. It doesn’t matter at all.”

“If we fail – PUB!”

These are the loud mutterings I heard from across the room, in the long line for the queue.

When I finally received mine I will admit my heart did a nervous tremor, as if gearing up to do a somersault – but then deciding not to. Upon reading my results, I was pleased! I got a 2:1 in a cultural theory module essay and another 2:1 for my creative writing piece – which was the one I was looking most forward to hearing back from.
My face flushed with modest excitement. But what I saw on the comments page made me falter and, yes, get a little bit sad.

That very morning, I had yabbered on to my friend in a shower cubicle at the local swimming pool how I simply loved our Creative Writing lecturer. I yabbered on for some while, eventually telling her how I wished I could wrap him and just cuddle him, cook him eggs or something. He’s like a teddy bear, I told her. She only laughed back at me.

I take it back.

Like Mike, I was desperately unhappy.

Instead of being constructive, how he is supposed to be, he bluntly told me in the first sentence on the page that my work was:

  • strange
  • self-obsessed
  • almost claustrophobic
  • cliche
  • predictable

I peeked across at my friends’ papers, and he was at least a little constructive towards their stories; however he did refer to my friend’s discourse as ‘mopey’. I know this is being what a writer is, and you have to take criticism. This is what people are like towards your work after college and school; there is no cushioning.

I know that. It was just a little disconcerting.

This is what happened in my mind.

But I know I can write better. I wasn’t sure of the story myself. I shaped it into something I didn’t know, and didn’t want. I recognise that myself. But I know lots of good things can come of this incredibly negative, disheartening feedback. After 24 dull hours of contemplating, I have come through with an energetic mind and so many ideas for new stories and projects, I was even buzzing in work, so when it was quiet, I pulled up a few blank receipts and scribbled story ideas on that.

My supervisor asked what I was doing, and I mumbled something unintelligible about story writing, embarrassed.

And so, I rise triumphant, defiantly writing vague ideas for new stories and new beginnings.
WHEY.