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

 

Good Morning!

It’s Sunday, and as much as everybody else really rather hates Sundays, I have grown to love them. I have no classes to go to, I have usually done all my readings for university week, I have no part time job to attend, and basically I can do whatever the swive I want! Technically I don’t even have to leave my bed (apart from dietary & toilet necessities). So it’s great having Sundays! I really actually love them.

I can get more writing done (which I definitely plan to do!) I am writing a short story submission on the theme of flowers/light inspired by Eva Figes beautiful poetic novella Light which is a fictional take on the life of the great painter Monet who lived in France. It has been struggling these last few weeks or so, but I feel today’s the right day to do it. I have it all thought out! First draft: hello!

I can bake a cake! Now, this one probably won’t happen today because I already made triple chocolate muffins last night. Despite the fact they didn’t rise very well, we still all ate them whilst sitting round watching Flight of the Conchords. I’m sorry I didn’t watch Eurovision, but … FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS!

I can make a soup without time constraints! Today I will be making potato and leek soup. I’m so excited. I love making soups. They just taste so yum.

I can read more of The Selection by Kiera Cass. YES! Aspen is so far my favourite, but that might be because I am just imagining him to be William Moseley.

I can watch Father of the Bride! I have been wanting to watch this film for about a week and a half now, just haven’t had the time or the company. But now with it being an empty Sunday I might just get round to it!

On the plus side, I am also feeling better from being ill this weekend too! Bonus! And all it took was two cartons of orange juice, five bowls of chicken/mushroom/homemade butternut squash soup, three bowls of strawberries and plenty of time in bed reading. Great way to get better!

Look alive, people. It’s Sunday! What will you be doing with yours?

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/

When God Was A Rabbit (is bliss)

It’s always the books people lend me that are the books I fall in love with the most.

This book is one of those books that, out of all, I love the most.

It has patiently sat on my shelf for a good few weeks (dare I say months?) and – finally – after getting through my first term of university, I have managed to read for fun – and this book was it! It helped me love reading even more, and get back to it. It was a swift and fast paced read; everything was just so magical but in the sense that it was still so relateable to the real and portrayed real life events throughout the narrative, but hints of fantasy were inherent throughout but only in the most subtlest of ways. Do not let this put you off.

I really enjoyed reading about the main protagonist’s, Elly’s, narrative most when she was reflecting on her childhood which takes up the first half of the book. It has that To Kill A Mockingbird feel to it as she writes and relates back to her past. When she grows up I found it difficult to disengage with her childhood voice and kept having to remind myself that now Elly was an adult – but for a child to have that strong a narrative voice that’s surely promising something good, isn’t it?

I really loved this book, I loved it so much I allowed the pages to get worn and the spine to gently break; it deserves to look loved because, although the copy I read wasn’t officially mine, I loved it indefinitely, and I think I will for a long time.

A very long time.

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:

Image

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.