Telling Myself: A Break is Okay

I promised myself I would do Camp NaNoWriMo this month and, although I’ve almost reached my personal word count goal, it hasn’t really felt like enough. I haven’t been writing every day. I haven’t been pouring coffee down my throat in order to JUST WRITE. I haven’t been locking myself in my room and writing for hours on end.

In short, it feels like I haven’t been focused enough.

But I have been thinking about my characters all the time. And this, I’m telling myself, is okay.

Even though I may not have been writing, it’s all still been there, just bubbling under the surface, working itself into something more tangible and detailed so when I come back to it I’m ready.

So I’ve been doing other things.

In my spare time, I’ve been going to literary festivals, doing fun writing workshops with other people I’ve never met before, meeting amazing authors like Liz Kessler, Anna McKerrow, Lu Hersey and Lisa Glass and even picking their brains about their own writing process when they write their novels.

Meeting Lu Hersey, Anna McKerrow and Lisa Glass

I’ve been taking long walks and sitting in the sunshine reading books and laughing with friends. I’ve also driven up and down the countryside in a couple of days so I could have an interview for a masters degree in writing.

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So I haven’t been writing my own novel per se, but I’ve been doing other things that count towards it. I know this might sound lazy, like I’m even making excuses, but in my eyes it’s not.

Because I’m realising it’s okay to take breaks. It’s okay to step away from your project for a little while, if only so you can see it a little clearer when you do get back to it again. It’s okay not to achieve ridiculous word count goals you might set yourself for the month, as long as you’ve written something.

Breaks are important. Just make sure you get back to your project.

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Because you might find something truly amazing by procrastinating.

Camp NaNoWriMo: Word Count Goals

Howdy, everyone.

Last night marked the first night of Camp NaNoWriMo this April and I stayed up well past 4am. This wasn’t even because I was stressing about the word count – I’ve successfully made it to just over 4,000 words (don’t fret, I didn’t do this all in one night!). It was because the excitement was too much.

I didn’t want to go to sleep. Not when there were writers all over social media spurring us all on – Twitter, Facebook, cabins – we were practically everywhere! And of course not forgetting that last night’s Virtual Write In was awesome, I think we’re off to a great start. I cannot wait to see how this April goes.

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Turns out that when you shut your brain OFF during editing mode and just concentrate on writing (amen to word sprints!) then writing comes to you a lot easier. A LOT easier. Even if half of what I’ve written so far is fairly awful and I eventually end up scrapping it, at least I have the foundations of something to grab onto, something to build on. I’m telling myself this is okay.

I pan to *hopefully* double my word count from last night today. Because how amazing would that be?

Unfortunately, my cabin is a little quiet and not as active as some folks’ in the last 24 hours, but I’m hoping that will pick up as we get going!

Right now, I’m going to have a shower, brew a cup of tea and eat some writing fuel for the day (most likely porridge). Then I’ll sit down and crack on with a bit more writing in between other bits like working from home and feeding my cats.

So if you’re doing Camp NaNo too, then good luck and please do let me know what you’re working on! I’d love to hear what everyone’s writing, whether it’s short stories, novel, poetry or scriptwriting, etc. Or if you’ve just stumbled across this blog post and have absolutely zero knowledge of what I’m talking about then, also, let me know. I’ll try and explain.

Happy writing!

Country Music, Writing Goals, and Camp NaNoWriMo

Today I spent some time shopping. Surprisingly, no – I didn’t buy any books! Instead, I bought some clothes and – wait for it – a Blake Shelton CD. Because no shopping trip is complete without a little country music.

I legitimately can’t seem to go into a HMV store without buying country music nowadays. I think I have a problem, but the ACM’s are only a week away so I consider it preparation, not that I really need it. Country music is always on my brain. I love it so much it’s a part of my dissertation and I’ve lost count how many books I’ve got stacked up against my desk on the subject.

Okay, maybe I do have a problem.

But today was a good day. I actually felt fresh for a change. You know that feeling when you don’t get out of the house for days and you just need to get out? I felt like stale pizza – isn’t that a nice image. I just needed OUT, so today helped with that. Some quality time with your sister, new clothes and good music is just the solution.

And because I feel fresh, now I can concentrate on writing for the evening. I promised myself I would write 1,000 words of my novel in prep for Camp NaNoWriMo tonight and – BOOM – in the car earlier I got some inspiration for the next few scenes. I was listening to Luke Bryan, so I’m guessing I’ve got him to thank for that. Word count, here I come!

Thanks, Luke.

I’ve got Cornish Story Magazine stuff to work on later – (like I said in my last post, we are always looking for new submissions on interesting topics, so get in touch if you think you could offer us something!)

It’s looking like a good evening.

Book Signings!

Last night I met Sarah Winman, author of bestselling novel When God Was a Rabbit and the recently published A Year of Marvellous Ways. The first time I read When God Was a Rabbit I was mesmerised and immeasurably hooked. I loved it so much I even cracked the spine a little bit (something I rarely ever do with books).

So I’m certain that A Year of Marvellous Ways will hold just as much magic for me as Rabbitdid, if not more.

To meet an author – published, famous, and successful – always washes a tidal wave of excitement over me. And, of course, last night was no different on the crowded shop floor of Waterstones, Truro, the tiny capital city of sunnyside Cornwall. There was an informal interview between Sarah and a lovely employee of the iconic bookstore which weaved the stories of Sarah’s childhood memories, the people she’s known in her life and, ultimately, how the book and its characters came about.

I was captivated.

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The evening went on and, as she was talking, I became hugely gratified to discover that, when she writes a novel, she usually writes roughly 1000 words a day. This, for me, was monumental, in that while I am currently writing my own novel I also tend to write 1000 words a day.

(In no way am I comparing myself to this bonafide successful writer, but hearing those words gave me hope: it said, ‘I can do this!’)

It was truly a comfort in itself; knowing that an author like this also simply writes 1000 words a day and still gets the novel finished on time.

Because, you know, when you aspire to be a full time writer yourself, you always imagine bestselling authors to be hammering out 5000 words a day or more, scribbling page after page after page.

She read clearly and calmly, with just the right emphasis on the right characters when speaking their own dialogue. Her words written on the page and then spoken from her own mouth were entrancing and not even for one second did I actually find myself bored.

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To my joy, she signed my copy of her book which is now sitting on my shelf. And, not only this, but I asked her if she would sign my own journal; a notepad I use to scribble all my thoughts and story ideas in whenever I’m on the move. She complied and asked if I was a writer too. I told her yes, I was, and she listened as I spoke about my own fiction writing and the novel I’m continuing to write over the summer.

She listened.

Of course, I was in a queue so had to hurry along, but she gave me the utmost hope for my writing (not to mention a truck load of inspiration) and told me good luck with my writing adventures and said that, if I stuck to it, I could publish a book too one day (with a lot of hard work and torturous rewrites. I know.)

Everything takes a little bit of time and a whole load of patience, and most importantly, a great deal of work. As a current participant of CampNaNoWriMo, I’m mostly keeping to my word count goal of 500 words a day, if not 1000. Watching my stats go up is like watching a plant grow; it can be really, painstakingly slow, but the progress is still there and visible!

By way of word count, my goal is to have 36,000 words of my novel by the end of the month in total. But, the way I’m going, I’m hoping I can totally beat that!!

So, ultimately, here’s to Sarah Winman – on a brilliant and captivating debut novel and what I already know to be a truly wonderful second novel in A Year of Marvellous Ways, even though I haven’t read it yet.

Here’s to inspiration.

Dark Green Pebbles For Eyes

Dark green pebbles for eyes,

Staring out, out of glass jars,

A naked pond standing for all to see,

Stark, black and green,

I climb out and people scream, they run, they hide,

I won’t hurt them, only him,

I thirst for the water that contains me,

It’s murky, dank and bleak,

I’m drowning in it, see my arms wave and crash,

Still I can still see, see,

Staring, peeping at you,

Rising up, up from the deep black hole,

Because I have been waiting,

And I have dark green pebbles for eyes.

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.

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!