Today marked the last day of the incredible writing workshops I’ve been a part of with many talented writers at Falmouth University. The writing workshops were taught by the fabulous Emily Barr, who is a bestselling (and very skilled) thriller novelist.
Even more exciting, she has a new YA book coming out early next year which is published by none other than Penguin, so watch this space!
These workshops have been amazing and a real gift to be a part of. I’ve learnt so much, from writing about sense of place through to writing about characters with amnesia and how to deal with that. Emily was also kind enough to bring her husband – also a writer! – to these workshops and having him there too was a huge insight into the children’s publishing world, as he’s also a children’s writer.
The workshops were held over a period of five or six weeks and, inbetween this, I was lucky enough to have two focused individual sessions with Emily, where we talked about novel writing, what it’s like to be signed by a top publisher like Penguin and copy edits. What was even cooler was how she persuaded me to bite the bullet and follow my own writing dream, which is to travel out to Texas and do some research on the novel I’m writing – a YA novel set against the backdrops of the rural South.
I’m planning to go during Easter break but if that doesn’t happen then there’s always the summer. I’ve already saved up some money for the trip (I have been saving since the first year of my undergraduate degree: that’s three years). I just need to take someone with me, if only to make sure I come home and don’t run off with a cowboy, which is an actual true danger.
These writing workshops have made my writing stronger, they’ve made me listen to other people’s writing with more precision and clarity, and to be more confident about reading my work aloud. I always struggled with this before, so it’s great to have a balance between reading your work on the page and reading it out loud to other people.
To be a part of such a great writing community every single week has been really special and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m sad that it’s over but feel so lucky to have been a part of it all. But it’s not over yet! We have one more last personal session with her on Wednesday and I’m excited about this. Afterwards, we’re all meeting for drinks, so now I guess I can say I’ve shared a few drinks with Emily Barr! Yay!
But, seriously, it’s been so wonderful. Even better, I feel like I’ve made some new friends as a result of this great workshop and gotten some awesome new skills!
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!
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.
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.
Recently scouring the depths of eBay, I became hooked on searching through pages and pages of cowboy boots. Being an enthusiastic fan of Texas country music, I tend to do this every few months. Usually, I never buy any though, either because the ones available just don’t look right, or are too expensive. I love them, but I will not spend over £25 on cowboy boots online for the chance that they may not even fit me properly. I have tiny baby feet.
So, you can imagine my delight when I found some that: a) weren’t too expensive b) actually looked gorgeous!
I am proud to say I bid on them and am now the grateful and lucky owner of these fine, black leathers:
I have a brown pair, not dissimilar yet I’m sad to say these are slowly falling apart. In this dreadful weather, I’ve had to superglue them from falling apart when I came home with my feet soaking wet and little damp patches on my sad little cat socks!
I was happy, with this pair, yet the next day I got an email from eBay saying that I had also won a fabulous pair of PINK cowboy boots – new – and they were awaiting my payment.
Oops … I had gone a little crazy with the bidding on several items. I never thought I would win an item. I never thought I would win those black ones! I proceeded to the link the email had sent me and, well, fell in love with these pink ones too. I said yes to the payment and they arrived a couple days later. Now, they are sat beneath my desk, with all my other pairs of shoes (largely, yes, boots) and looking damn fine.
So far, I have acquired five pairs of cowboy boots:
One Vintage, one brown pair from a store in Plymouth that recently became friends with the superglue, two suede (one pink, one brown), and these fine black ones from this post just recently. I am waiting to be united with them soon by the postman.