It’s a New Day

Last year was fantastic. I got to work at Penguin Random House for several weeks, visited London a fair few times (I saw Les Miserables on stage! It was amazing!) and even got offered a place on the Writing for Young People course at Bath Spa University. Needless to say, I accepted, and it’s brilliant.

It feels so good to be writing again.

I may be a little late on this, but 2016 wasn’t without its downfalls. It was a really hard year. really hard year. Because, yes, I hit snags, made mistakes, did some ridiculous things and, by the end of the year, 2016 came tumbling down on me hard. I really struggled to get back up.

And I’m still paying for my mistakes.

But now, I’m writing again, and – look! – I’m actually blogging again! It feels amazing. I finally feel like I’m back up where I need to be. I had a bath earlier and spent the entire time doodling in my notebook about novel structures and fresh scenes for my manuscript in progress.

Because all 2017 boils down to is this:

I really want this year to be good. I really want this year to be successful. I am willing to work hard.

If we believe life can be good, then surely it will be. Right?

Well, here’s to living in hope. Keep chasing your dreams.

 

 

 

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Personal Review: Always With Love

I read Giovanna Fletcher’s fantastic book Always With Love in just two days. If the book charts are anything to go by, you should read it too. Because it’s sweet, fun and flat out adorable.

This is a personal blog, so I’m going to write a personal review. There’s really no denying Giovanna is a brilliant writer, with her books storming the charts always landing at No. 1 and huge queues for book signings that lead straight out the doors. She’s a lovely lady and it shows in her blog posts, Youtube videos and social media. I kind of love her and everything she does.

But, for me, this book was too much. Far too much.

Reading it from my point of view, about a young couple buckling under the weight of a long distance relationship, was hard. Really hard. Because I’ve experienced it and we failed.

As much as I was taken in by the characters and the dreamy chiclit settings, I found myself comparing – and, I admit, painfully recognising – the scenarios that happened to the characters in each chapter and I didn’t see it going well.

From the sweet long distance phone calls between Billy and Sophie right down to the disappointment they felt when they finally saw each other again, only to find it’s not the same as it used to be. Things changed. I recognised it all.

Reading over those same situations, the same scenarios and even the same damn conversations between Sophie and Billy, was heartbreaking. Because they all mimicked my own.

So, okay, my first love wasn’t a huge movie star but he might as well have been. He shone whenever he walked into a room and he never failed to catch people’s attention. Like Sophie, I always felt plain, shy and boring in comparison standing next to him. He shined so bright. I found comfort in my hometown, my family and the places where I grew up, which I never wanted to leave. He had far more ambition and gradually taught me to have some too.

I want to be honest, because I feel like I haven’t been in a really long time and I miss it.

While Giovanna’s book ended as you’d expect in a romance – all happy and giddy with the promise of a future together, and in love – I was left disappointed. Because I recognised all those signs of impending doom throughout the book and neither of the characters acknowledged them.

I felt like, even if they realised deep down that they weren’t meant to be together, they wouldn’t admit it straight away because they were holding onto each other until the next hurdle came along. And it will.

Because they were different people, world’s apart and wanting different things. I guess pretty much everyone can relate to that.

I guess I was expecting them to split up, but this is fiction and, at that, it’s romantic fiction. I imagine Gi would’ve left many fans disappointed if the story ended there, unhappy and broken apart.

Me, on the other hand, I’m still here, trying to recover after a dazzling and heartbreaking read.

alone, beautiful, and black and white image

 

Seventeen

Danced in pretty circles

For those four years of your life,

Over hardwood floors, across dimly lit hallways,

Even in hotel rooms too, sometimes


Our love was rather shining

And brilliant once,

Wasn’t it, my love?

Nothing lasts forever, so I guess

We had to break


Count until it’s over,

– Pause –

One, two, three,

Take a deep breath now,

You will be okay


Step, pivot, flounce, break


Have I skipped over it?

Have I missed it somehow,

Perchance,

I’m continually poised,

Simply waiting to fall apart


Wanting,

I want to feel that buckling,

That  b r e a k i n g  inside my heart

But I fear I’ve lost it

Where have you gone?


Bring me back a beat, a pace

I’ll be happy with that,

Honest,

For I’m moving forward too fast

And it scares me


Teach me how to dance again,

And I will be your cause,

One lifetime love to happen again,

I loved you once, I’m sure


I think I miss you

I know I once loved you

But everything is normal now

It’s much too much to bear


A lifetime love

So sorry to be missed,

But I’ll remember you always,

Remembering our first and

very

last

kiss

Two Reasons

So, I’m sorry I haven’t been updating this blog very much lately. When I logged in and saw that my last post was from December my chest did a whole frump. Yeah, a frump.

I’m not really sure what that is, but it goes kind of like this:

December explains a lot really. Since December, everything has kinda changed for me. First, I didn’t feel like posting anything because I was having a mini crisis about the world. I read the book The End of Mr Y (which is actually marvelous and completely brilliant) and it changed my perception about a lot of things.

Through reading it and stumbling over a lot of other things in life, everything suddenly got turned upside down and spun around at a disorientating pace. And now I can’t put it back together again. But this version of life is better, and fresher, and more real. I’m probably not making much sense, but my friends had to deal with me a lot telling them about Derrida and the meaning of life between sobbing and finding me in strange places in the dark.

This was pretty much my life throughout most of December.

I remember a good few days where I would just get in my car, drive somewhere with a view of the sea, the cliffs, and cry angry, red, stinging tears because I was just so in despair over life and why we’re all here. I wrote so many scrawled, scribbled out pages into all my notebooks during those times. I was very scared.

An existential crisis, I suppose you could call it.

Another reason why I haven’t posted in a while is because I haven’t been totally sure of myself lately, either and I didn’t want to post anything I would regret, or look back on and think, ‘Why on earth did you write that? You little idiot.’

I don’t want things to come back and bite me in life; but then, I guess, nobody wants that, do they?

I’ve been waiting to get the hang of myself again, to step back into the person that defines herself as ‘me’. A breakup – yes, a breakup – has shaken everything up in my life. If you’ve read any of my previous posts you might get just how in love with this boy I was. Sounds cliche, doesn’t it? But I did truly love him. Weird thing is, I expected it to hurt a lot more. But it didn’t.

I guess the reason why might be this: I still have the best friends I could ever ask for; I live in a wonderful, beautiful place and I have a family who adore each other every single day. Everyone has been so kind to me and supportive I’ve not really had the chance to fall apart.

Love. I’m really starting to question what that word really means. I thought I would hold onto this perfect little romance forever – and a lot of times I genuinely believed it was totally perfect – that I would find little reminders of what we used to be everyday so terribly breaking and unbearable.

But I don’t. I find them comforting. I can speak openly about the relationship that once was (and people find this jarring because they expect me to cry) because there’s no resentment. We’re simply not meant to be together right now, and that’s okay.

We had our time together and it was so beautiful.

People usually end up hating their ex lovers, but I am genuinely so proud of what we had, what we’ve done, and I look back on all of it with amazing memories that are going to last me the whole of forever. And they’re going to get me just the best stories.

This is so important.

As with everything, you always need to know when to leave. Get the timing wrong and it can make your life something it was never meant to be.

All of this (among other things) ultimately ties up my unexplained absence. These are the two main reasons why I haven’t been here lately. But I promise to be here more, and I promise to try and do it well.

Maybe I should get back to writing about cats. This always seems to make me happy.

We keep this love in a photograph

I’m not a crazy manic ‘buy-all-the-albums’ fan of Ed Sheeran. I appreciate his music and some of it really does strike a chord with me when I want it to. When his new album ‘X’ came out I wasn’t too fussed and just let the music come to me naturally and accidentally rather than actually seek it out like so many other fans do.

I’m not one of those fans.

But, recently, it’s started to dawn on me that by the end of the summer my long-term boyfriend will have upped and gone away – that is, to university. Like me, he wants to write for a living.

I’m – actually – really proud that he’s going, so he can do what he wants to do instead of staying here for me and resenting me for it years later. I’m no fortune teller but there’s a strong chance that would’ve happened if he’d stayed.

I’ve seen flashes of it appear sometimes and I don’t want to be that person who holds him back while I do all the things we both want to do, like write.

Now, Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Photograph’ really causes all kinds of emotions to flutter precariously around my chest, to hover over my heart and, in turn, make my eyes glaze over whenever I listen to this song. Ed Sheeran’s ability to make you just stop and think – and really listen to the words he’s singing is, to me, incredible. Not many artists can do that lately for me.

I really miss the feeling of being so in-the-moment with a song that it’s special when it happens to me now.

The song ‘Photograph’ is so much about being in love. I find that the musical arrangement along with the lyrical quality is something extremely difficult to define because it’s so good. But, for me, right now, being in love is all I know and all I want to be in, so I feel confident in defining it as perfect.

I think music has the ability to make you become part of another world and, for me, that largely gives me the ability to write and just to feel something when I write. Writing teen fiction deals with a lot of feelings and, almost always, with love. Heartbreak, lust, loss, and all that kind of emotional stuff that nobody wants to deal with after they’re a teenager – because it just hurts too much.

So I’m grateful that ‘Photograph’ can enable me to feel something like that; the way it can help define the idea of love for me. It enables me to really see what’s important and that, whenever I listen to it, I will stop and think and those thoughts will lead me to my long-term boyfriend, because he’s really just so special to me.

 

And if you hurt me
That’s okay baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go
Wait for me to come home

You can fit me
Inside the necklace you got when you were sixteen
Next to your heartbeat where I should be
Keep it deep within your soul

As well as that, I love that by writing teen fiction I get to second-handedly experience these emotions that my characters will go through and I’ll get to grow with them, passing on to them my own experiences and they’ll let me be a part of theirs too.

I think this line in the song really defines teen fiction for me, both as a reader and a writer and I love that I’ve been able to find it:

‘Only words bleed inside these pages’

This song is really special because it enables me to see life in so many different ways, from potentially varying perspectives. I love it and for it to be so rich in meaning and emotions I know I’ll hold it dear to me for a very, very long time.

‘Photograph’ by Ed Sheeran. Go and listen to it.

The Kitten & The Blonde Boy

 

A heavy fabric coat hangs on the doorknob, cowboy brooch fastened on the collar,
Turn the latch,
Once inside, you will drown in the clutter held within,
Eeyore sits sentry on the wardrobe, books are encased delicately behind glass;
Uglies hidden in a lower cabinet, the beauties sitting proud on the shelves,
A tall and blonde boyfriend sits on the bed frame,
Absorbed in the videogame he avidly plays,
Carefully colour coordinated DVD cases stand boldly in a bookcase,
Propped up against the wall: they are standing soldiers,
A kitten, black and white and inquisitive, watches you,
As you turn about the damp, chipped, white walls,
She is full of light and she dances about your feet,
Catching your laces as you wander about the room,
What a sight! The mess, the clutter, the bounding boulders of dirty clothes piled  high!
You sit on the bed, with the kitten and the blonde boy,
You lie back and watch the swirls on the ceiling,
You are happy, with the kitten and the blonde boy by your side,
Next year will be very strange indeed.

 

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.