All the Extras
This page is where I'll discuss a mix of other topics which either are important or I just want to discuss and let you know about.
This is a life update, since yesterday marked one whole year since I graduated university and left education forever!*
I actually did it!
This will be a rather long post. I have a whole year to cover after all, and hopefully some words of wisdom to give too. :)
*Well, I'm debating going back to a different uni to do a different post-grad course in creative writing, but I don't know if that will actually happen yet.
See, I've made no secret on my blog before about how hard my third and final year was in terms of my mental health. I nearly quit SO many times, but for every time I wanted to walk, I had double the amount of people telling me to stay. Especially given how short a time I had left to go.
They were right.
I also failed my dissertation, the biggest piece of work you can do on a degree. I can write those first five words without any of the feelings I'd carried around with it when I first found out. Disbelief. Shock. Guilt. Shame. Embarrassment for what I thought. Anxiety for what other people would think.
I was convinced I'd have to re-do it over the summer and re-submit in hopes of graduating in the November. I was wrong.
On our course, we had a certain amount of lee-way, where we started the course with a set number of credits. If we failed a module that didn't have an exam in, we could use some of those credits to make up the difference and allow us to progress to the next year, if need be. Until third year, I'd only ever used them for one module in my first year and had passed everything else.
When I found out my dissertation result, I was utterly convinced I couldn't use credits for it and was resigned to the fact that I'd wasted three years of my life, because, if I couldn't pass the dissertation the first time around, I didn't have much hope in a second attempt.
Our results were sent in the post and my mum wanted me to wait to open them with her and my dad present, but I refused. Why prolong the agony?
It turned out that, yet again, I was wrong. Thankfully. Credits could be used on dissertations and I'd managed to save enough through the course to make up for it. Though I received the lowest final grade/classification possible for an undergraduate degree, I was going to graduate in the summer, along with the vast majority of my class.
It took a few minutes to sink in, as I kept staring at the piece of paper.
Cue the ugly crying. Lots of it.
Honestly, there was some part of me that didn't quite believe it. Not until I arrived at uni on the 6th July 2017, our graduation day, and picked up my set of robes along with the official certificate I got, saying I had a degree.
Because that's the truth- I have a degree. No matter what the final classification is. I put three years of hard work into that thing. I both developed mental illnesses all over again, or experienced them to a greater level, with an unfortunately limited support from my uni. In third year especially, it at times felt like I was literally going insane.
And let me tell you something- university is not for everyone. I didn't always get the best grades for my assignments- in fact, I was often in the lower percentages, even when passing them. I still put everything I could into the work. In my personal opinion, university is often too academic, with too much emphasis on grades and how 'well' someone is doing in that way. Whenever we had practical sessions (not enough of them), I found myself doing better. While I like classroom learning to an extent, not everyone can sit in classrooms and learn for two hours solid, all day, almost every day.
Actual proof I graduated a whole year ago!! Getting a tad emotional thinking about it.
With it being both a college and university, and doing both, I spent a total of five years at that place. Which is the reason I'm giving as to why I cried a bit when we drove out f the car park for the final time. I do still miss the campus, especially now in the summertime. But I don't miss being a student there. Sure, I learnt lots of things, both academically and personally, but I wouldn't want to go through it all again.
Even despite my experience of undergraduate level, especially my third year, I'm looking at going back into education for creative writing. I know someone who's just about to finish his post grad course in this field and he's said it's a lot less academic. That's reassuring.
But I still don't know yet. My anxiety has a lot to do with it, but I'm going to do more research and whatnot before I make a decision. It's too late to apply for this next academic year anyway and I'm ok with that for now.
See, I've done a lot between 6th July 2017 and 6th July 2018.
Some of it has been very hard, other things so enjoyable.
The first big thing I did after graduating was to go on holiday. I definitely deserved and needed that break. It was lovely to go away knowing I could fully relax and not have to panic about re-doing my dissertation!
Secondly, I got so much reading done that summer, you have no idea! I wrote a post on it sometime last autumn, but, given how little time I had had due to uni, my reading was almost non-existent and when I did have time, I was too tired/stressed/depressed/insert other emotion here to actually read.
Over the summer, my Goodreads reading progress shot up so quickly, I actually cried when I finished my reading challenge on there at all, let alone a few months early. It was crazy! Reading is and always has been my top relaxer. Not being able to do it hardly ever for those first few months of the year just made my mental health worse. If I wasn't writing assignments, I was thinking about them/my dissertation or feeling guilty for not writing them. I didn't give myself as many breaks as I should have done, I know that now. Being able to read realigned things within my mind and self.
Might as well be actual footage of me catching up on reading! At least actual footage of my TBR pile currently. :D
After several months of giving my brain a much needed break, I began to think about what I'd do next. Either my classmates had found jobs when they'd returned home or had started their own businesses. I had no idea. I wasn't in the position to think about it too much and it felt like I should just know what I was supposed to do next.
Massive shout out to the Warren Centre here. :) Thanks to a friend who took me along that first day. So they began helping me job search. In between this, I also joined a creative writing/spoken word group and I found out that actually I can write poetry, despite not liking it in the past. I've actually done so much writing in this year too. It's been great!
But in the end, the whole idea of 'I should know what I'm doing' basically set me back a bit. Fun times.
Every drop of sarcasm intended.
So now, I'm claiming support for my mental health. This means I have some money coming in every month and I don't have to panic about my dwindling finances and I don't have to panic about not having a job. It gives me time to figure me out and what I might actually want to do with my life.
Things like saving to go travelling. Doing lots of writing in the various areas I do, beginning to get my name out there in little things and working towards maybe even getting a novel published in however long it might take me.
Shock horror- that might even mean that I don't ever even use my degree or work with animals. You know, the degree I lost half my sanity to getting- and then continued to worry about what potential employers would think when they saw my overall classification.
And I'm making peace with all of that now. Maybe, in the long run, that might even be a good thing. We'll see.
But the past eight months would be looking very different for me without the help and total support of people at the Warren. So if any of you read this, then thank you. Like, a lot.
So I think that's about it. I'm off on holiday next week and looking forward to it, of course. But I kinda need the break too, albeit in a different way. I may not be trying to restore my sanity this year, but I'm still trying to rest my brain and figure myself out. Even in my mid twenties, but so what? :)
It feels like forever, really, since I graduated. Sometimes it doesn't feel like I've done a lot since then. But I keep reminding myself that I've come a long way in a year. And wherever I'm going, I'll get there at my own pace. It's great that the people I spent three years with are doing so well and whatever else. But their paths aren't mine.
Of course, I'm proud I graduated. but I'm also proud of me right now. Even if I am still a bit of a mess every so often. But that's ok too.
Earlier in the week, I did the Rising Author tag in this post, talking about my current WIP. Now, I'm doing the WIP in Gifs tag created by Michelle @TheWritingHufflepuff. So thanks for making this one, Michelle!
I also didn't plan for the two posts to coincide with each other in the space of a week*- when I originally planned to do them, it was for a different WIP novel, which I'm now working to transform into a play instead. #Exciting.
*Does it make me seem more organised if I pretend I did?? :)
Also, not all the Gifs will have dialogue with them, but you'll get the general idea/vibe anyway. I'm still in the first draft stage, but know enough about my characters now to be able to do this tag. Let's go!
First things first...The Rules!
1. Thank the person who tagged you.
2. Credit the creator of this tag and link back to the original post.
3. Try to limit the amount of Gifs you use per question.
Sum up your WIP in 4 Gifs
Time to introduce your main characters
(My modern day MC. Gryffindor. Spectacularly stubborn, but always tries to do the right thing, even if it lands her in trouble or puts her in danger. Being a bookworm inadvertently sets her off on the journey of the novel.)
(My MC in Victorian times. Slytherpuff. Loves her family, mainly her brother and daughter, and will do anything to protect them. Literally. Can be very caring when she's allowed to show it. Sometimes hates the world she lives in.)
(Your typical Hufflepuff. He's Alice's younger brother and is a family man. Like Isabel, he always tries to do the right thing for those he loves.)
How would your main character react in a crisis?
If you were to meet your main characters, how would you react?
If you were to meet your antagonist?
(I've put these together, since they cover both questions)
Is there any romance in your WIP? How would you sum it up Gifs?
Alice and Henry William and Rebecca
Alice and Henry have been married for a while, whereas William and Rebecca's marriage is still quite new, so they're still a little unsure and nervous around each other. I love both these couples.
How do other characters feel about this ship?
William is very happy to have Henry as a brother-in-law and glad his sister is happy. I imagine the men would secretly have some special greeting or something, with how close they become.
On the other hand, Alice is at first happy to welcome Rebecca, and being an annoying older sister in that way- but that doesn't last long.
How do you want people to react reading your WIP?
And a second, because I had it and wanted to use it! :D
That's the end of the tag. I've had so much fun doing this one- though I admit that sometimes finding appropriate Gifs was hard!
Through doing both tags this week, I've developed a greater insight into my novel and the characters, which will definitely help me get a decent-ish first draft that I hope to have finished in about four months or so with a bit more research as well.
What are you currently writing? What would you use as Gifs in place for these questions in relation to your own WIPs? All the best. :)
First of all, it's practically the end of June, we're halfway through the year and what now?? Where did that go? Was I not just organising my shelves on the 1st January to tackle some of my TBR pile for the year officially* known as The Year All** The Books Were Released?
*Ok, I call it that.
*Not all the books during 2018, that would be silly. But it feels like it at times!*
A while ago, I saw this tag done by the lovely Ilsa over at AWhisperOfInk. We talked about how much I loved it and so of course I'm finally ending up doing it. Months later. But that's my general thing with tags, oops. However, I do enjoy doing tags, and I'm a writer, so naturally, this one was going to always be fun for me. I'll just be answering the same questions Ilsa answered on hers, because previous versions of this tag have included lots of questions and, sorry, but I can't be doing with that.
So I'm going to be discussing some of my currents WIP's (haha, am I ready for this?) and why I'm writing them, ect. Plus, I've been doing so much writing over the last two weeks, so I'm really happy with how things are going.
I may share a brief snippet from part of what I used for last week's #1LineWed theme on Twitter, as it got good reactions on there*.
*So some people think I can write?! :D
What is your current WIP about and what are you working on with it?
My current WIP is a mix of time-slip, historical fiction and contemporary. It includes a ghost enthusiast, who gets more than she bargained for, going back to said ghost's world when she was alive and what happened to her. They are linked together history and someone I won't mention too much about. There is some horror type things. No one is more surprised by that last part than me, given I really don't like horror all that much.
I'm currently waist-deep in the middle of my 1st draft. Getting to do lots of research which is fun, but trying to balance research with actual writing can be hard. I think I'm doing it well at the moment. I'd like to hope I'd have it written by the end of the summer, but I'm being realistic and it will probably take me longer this time.
What is your favourite type of thing to write?
One of original forms when I started out writing was novels, so that's always good for me to get to. It'd familiar and kind of feels like coming home. I'm really enjoying this current one. :)
However, I've recently started writing poetry and spoken word, something I used to hate and was convinced I could never do. (Spoiler alert- it turns out I can!) It means I can be more personal with some of the things I write and hopefully, get to be more relatable to people who listen to/read my work.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I'm a plotter. I don't always have a firm outline, but it's always nice to know where the story is going. I did a full outline only the other day to stop getting myself confused and to set some scenes in order. It really has helped for this project.
Though for my first NaNoWriMo last year, I was a pantser, which felt REALLY weird. But I think it worked for that story at that time.
Everyone is different in this though- just because one way might not be how someone else works doesn't mean either are any less valid.
Out of the characters you've written so far, who are your favourites?
I've gotten to the stage where I've introduced all of my characters yet, but most are in play. My favourite so far has to be Alice. Sometimes she's nice, sometimes she's not, but I think the reasons behind her actions are always relatable or understandable, even if they don't justify her actions. But I have a soft spot for her.
Occasionally, I feel bad for putting her through some not-so-pleasant things, but that's part of her character arc, plus there needs to be conflict and suffering to everyone, right? :)
What (or who) motivates you to write?
In real life, my friends who are writers. We discuss each other's ideas and encourage each other, which is always a bonus. Then recently, some of my non-writer friends persuaded me to send a few poems and they really liked them, which was lovely and made me continue, of course! :D
Online, I'd say Twitter is a big source of inspiration within the writing community. I follow several accounts who throw out lots of encouragement for writers, and then doing the #1LineWed themes or #WIPJoy and seeing so many different writers come together is so helpful.
The big one of course is that one day I hope to get published myself. With my poems, I already have my name attached to various I've worked on with my creative writing group in that form of writing. It's a huge encouragement that if I can see my name in a collective published works, for the small things, that I can one day see my name in big things, like a published novel.
What genre will you never try, and why?
Until a few months ago before I started this WIP, I'd have said horror, but there we are! :) I don't think I could write a full-on horror, like Stephen King because I don't like the genre in films or books myself as a viewer. I also can't see myself writing sci-fi, because I have no idea where to start with it.
What is your favourite genre to write?
Fantasy! I LOVE making up new worlds and a whole host of characters that would look really weird in our world, yet somehow are still relatable. It's also a great escape from the real world at times. Though the main reason is that I solely blame the amount of time I spent in Narnia and at Hogwarts as a child. *shrug*
What brings you the most satisfaction as a writer?
Having an idea that initially feels good, but doesn't seem like it will work. Then cultivating it for a while in my head or on paper and then it eventually does come together. This is where I'm finding myself with my current WIP. Due to the nature of it, I highly doubted it would develop beyond Shiny New Idea stage- and I'm here a few months later, still working on it, still loving it, and very, very proud of it.
In poetry terms, the pinnacle of satisfaction there for me was the first time I wrote a poem and didn't hate it. People later liked it when I read it out, and despite it being short, that was the moment I knew I actually could write poetry and I'd most likely been going about it all wrong for years beforehand!
What type of characters do you prefer writing?
Characters that are layered and flawed because they're realistic to life. Characters who don't always apologise, or feel any need to, for their actions and what they believe is right. Ones who don't exactly fit whatever the norm is. People who feel real.
Which of your characters is based off you?
Hahaha. I think they all have bits of me in their somewhere, but I wouldn't say any of them are based off me. I'd hope I'm making them all unique enough and distinct from one another that they don't become one-dimensional or confusing/muddled together. But I think I'm managing that well.
Isabel definitely has my stubbornness, so I'd say she's the closest? Alice often has the kind of confidence I sometimes really wish I could have, though she can very caring, so I hope that comes from me. Actually, now I think about it, I'd put William in Hufflepuff with me. But he's still more confident than I am.
That's all for today. Hope you enjoyed this look into a project I'm loving, despite it being out of my comfort zone. Aren't the best things like that though?
If you're a writer, what would your answers to these questions be? What are you currently working on? Happy writing! Good luck and all the best. :)
This wasn't planned to resemble a 2-part post, but here we are. Last week, I wrote this about my writing influences and the people who inspire me that way. Today, I'm going to talk about films/TV/music that have inspired me in my writing or that frequent my writing playlists, ect. :)
1. BBC and British Legends
When I was early in my teens, the BBC made the shows Robin Hood and Merlin, both based off their respective legends in English and British culture. I enjoyed Robin Hood, but enjoyed Merlin way more. (Case in point- I have all the box sets and up to Series 3 in my current re-watch.) I didn't know much about either legend until these shows, so I have to thank the BBC for that one.
But when I started exploring Arthurian legend more as Merlin went on, I soon realised I was going to be a fan for life. I've watched and read so many versions of the legends, and am intrigued by each take and what the focus is. That's the fun part. There's so much to them! :)
So one day, way back when I'd written my first, very terrible-and-will-never-see-the-light-of-day play as I started out in that area, I needed something more that would make me want to learn how to actually write a decent play and want to stick with it.
In the end, I wrote my own version of the King Arthur legends. There were gaps I'd found/questions I had that research didn't answer, so I set about to make my own answers. My play is about Arthur's sister, Morgan le Fay, who is by far my favourite character in the legends cause she's so darned complex and I love her.
Thanks to one TV show, I have a piece of work I'm still beyond proud of, three years (and counting) after I finished it! :)
2. Old But Golden
Next up are two films from the 1990's and I was very, very young when they came out. Nevertheless, they make my All-Time Favourite Films list, which means these films are ones I don't need an excuse to watch and can watch them multiple times without being bored. So far this list consists of only 8 films.
So. Which films am I talking about?
The 1994 version of Black Beauty. The 1996 version of Romeo and Juliet.
3. Unusual Inspiration
Also in Part 1, I mentioned how I don't like horror. Not film, and rarely in books, though I've read some of Daphne du Maurier's work. However, in 2015, the film Crimson Peak was released. It's a Gothic romance/horror and is also on my Favourites list. The house itself was made specifically for the film and may as well be another character. The costumes are also important and again, to me feel like a character.
But aside from all of that, the last time I watched it, I wrote a poem afterwards from the POV of a certain favourite character, kind of like a prologue. But for once, I really wondered what would happen after the film's end. Apparently, I asked myself the right questions, because the idea has become my newest novel I'm writing. It's a historical with some horror and the time-slip element. I'm having so much fun working that out. :D
From a spark due a film, the idea has grown into so much more and taken on a life of its own. Here's to making it work- and all from a genre I could never have imagined writing in at the start of the year! :)
4. Scenes in Audio
Before I start any writing, I always make a playlist to fit the mood of what an idea is and I use both instrumental pieces and lyrical ones. Some will inspire key scenes, other things will come along as I flesh out the idea and keep building on what I've got. I'll sometimes even cut bits of the playlist if I don't think they'll work, or another piece will work better. The playlist always moves around from how I initially write it out as I put scenes in order and match the playlist to fit.
Now when it comes to music with lyrics, I can write with those in the background. If it's a specific scene, I'll loop it on repeat. At first, I'll try and map out which lines match the scene or character, but after a listen or two, I'll just let it fade into the background and just write.
My favourite non-lyrics music is often in film scores or by film trailer companies. The amount of times something on TV will be playing and I recognise the piece of music is honestly ridiculous. But it's useful. The first companies I ever heard of where X-Ray Dog and Immediate Music, when I was a kid and I researched the music from a film's trailer. While I'm still fond of those, today, a favourite company of mine is Audiomachine, who recently released their new album, La Belle Epoque. (It's on YouTube as a playlist)
Their piece, Manticore, was very useful in an important scene for the 1st draft of a novel I wrote in last year National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so I've added it below.
If I'm also lucky, I'll be able to find the instrumentals online for songs with lyrics, particularly if it's an older song. But I like a mixture on a playlist, so sometimes they can be a bit varied. But that's always fun. :)
That's it for today. These have all been some of my influences talked about in each part, both in established writers and how other people's creativity influences my own on a daily basis.
What or who are your own influences? Do you write with music behind it, or do you prefer to work in silence? And, like me, do you write in multiple formats?
I'm going to leave you with my current mood. All the best. :)
Today I wanted to talk more about my writing, since I don't always, therefore I'm coming at you with some of my writing influences for various styles and formats I write in. I got the idea from reading this post on influential writers for this author.
So the following people are ones who inspire me or who have careers I admire, ect. I'll talk a bit about each person as I go along.
For anyone who doesn't know, here's what I write:-
- Short stories (not so much nowadays, but this is how I started out)
- Novels (also how I started out, and still my go-to area because I've been doing it for so long!)
- Plays (way different from the above two, but still great)
- Spoken Word/Poetry (a recent thing but one I've grown to love)
1. William Shakespeare
Since Shakespeare invented half the modern English language, I think he definitely deserves a spot on this list. His plays are very distinctly set into three categories- Histories, Comedies and Tragedies- and the characters are all so human, whatever their archetype and despite the language changing over 400 years. That is the part that always interests me.
Now it wasn't always this way. From the start of high school, I was put off because Shakespeare is just something on the curriculum and teachers didn't care either. I never understand any of it- until the year we started Romeo and Juliet.
For the first time, something in that play stuck with me and though I didn't get the language, I understood the story. It's still my favourite Shakespeare play to this day. Thanks to a few of my favourite actors in screen/film adaptations- as they're meant to be performed- I became a fan and have been for a few years now. I haven't read all of the plays yet, but I'm working on it! :)
2. Leigh Bardugo
I picked up Shadow and Bone when it was released only going by the blurb, and I don't often do that. It was a very good decision. Leigh Bardugo is now one of my favourite authors and I'm excited for her future releases, both inside the Grisha-Verse and out. Her characters are all flawed yet still human, even the villains and her world building is fantastic. Her career definitely inspires my own writing and what the YA fantasy genre can be.
3. Kiersten White
Another one of my favourite authors, Kiersten White was one of the first whom I can remember really puling me into the YA genre. Fun story- when I first picked up Paranormalcy, I somehow mistook one of the author blurbs on a side of the cover to meant they'd written the book! It was a good mistake though and, to quote Shakespeare, all's well that ends well. :)
Now, her books cover so many themes and categories, such as And I Darken being a re-telling of sorts about Vlad the Impaler (Bright We Burn is out in July, people!), which is really dark at times, but I love them. I'm really excited for her future books. And she is the sweetest and really funny online, like Twitter. Her career is definitely one that inspires me for when I get to the period that I'll be aiming to get published.
4. Emily Bronte
While she and her sisters are best known for their books, Emily Bronte started out her work as a poet. I didn't actually know this until I watched a fictional TV programme a couple of years ago, To Walk Invisible, which was based on their lives and struggle for publication being women.
So while I'm still not the most knowledgeable about her poems, the fact that she did both is proof to me that doing multiple forms of writing is possible. Plus, I'm also from Yorkshire and know how beautiful and inspiring our countryside and landscape can be for lots of things, and I guess writing poetry is one of them. I'm rather lucky. :)
5. Kate Mosse
I'm most familiar with the novels Kate Mosse has written, and Labyrinth was made into a small TV series a few years ago. She manages to fit real historical events, fiction and modern times within each other by using the time-slip method and they still flow together almost effortlessly, making stories that I highly enjoy. Along with her books though, Kate Mosse has also written a few plays- again, telling me it's possible to do both.
I would like to try my own time-slip novel one day- I have the idea about half planned out currently, but even if it doesn't work out, I'll have something there I can use in the future. But I want it to. I like my idea. Along with the short and full length plays I've written, I also have several more ideas and WIP's going on. So many things!
6. Daphne du Maurier
Not a huge fan of horror, I've only been reading Daphne du Maurier's books over the last couple of years- including reading Rebecca for the first time ever last year. One of my favourite things about hers are how she brought so much atmosphere to the little things as much as the big ones, keeping the suspense, high stakes, and guesses from the reader coming.
At least, that's how I always feel. I'm always wrong about something, which is fun- as well as often being left with lots of questions. Her books have definitely changed the way I look at my own writing in these ways, and to pay attention to foreshadowing and the little details.
7. Kate Tempest
Finally, I want to mention Kate Tempest. Being fairly new to the Spoken Word scene, I've only recently heard of her, but she's certainly an inspiration to me. Her main thing is Spoken Word and poetry with rap put to her words. The poetry is also often done with music and done lots of both. She's also written a novel and a couple of plays.
Sometimes, it feels as if I do too much writing, in terms of writing novels and plays and now poems- the latter is something I could never imagine doing only a year ago, as I only joined the group I'm in around October 2017. But Kate's body of work is proof that it can be done, and I enjoy writing in each style, so I'll continue to do so.
I'm currently working on my own zine and our Spoken Word group are about to finish our first collective one in a month or so- and it will be the first official thing I'll have published. Onwards and upwards. :D
That's all for today. All the best.
Again this week, a couple of personal things have gotten in the way, but I'm hoping to be back to an actual schedule again next week. I do plan on doing this coming Top Ten Tuesday- which I haven't taken part in for about two months or something ridiculous.
Today is a round up of little things, as I've done in the past. Then I'll have a book review for you on Saturday. :)
What I'm Listening To
I've been listening to so much of Ruelle's songs lately. She's really talented and really under-rated. I was discussing this the other day with Michelle @TheWritingHufflepuff and was glad to find someone else who's heard of Ruelle.
One of my favourites (and one on the playlist of my current WIP- more on that below) that I listen to a lot id called Madness.
Today, I've also listened to the theme for Bucky in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as a key piece of the playlist. I started the day by checking it could definitely fit and then I've been doing a breakdown of various points. As a whole, the piece is potentially a little long, but it really works for the scene I want to write.
What I'm Reading
I'm currently in a bit of a fantasy slump and am only reading one book at a time, until I get out of it. Fortunately, I have plenty of contemporaries on hand. On the other side of that, half my physical TBR is fantasy, so I'm hoping I can get out of it soon. Actually, I've recently a great series, so think I'm having a bit of a book hangover from that.
So the book I'm reading is Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell. Despite the slump, it is a fantasy book, but I'm slowly making my way through it. Going well so far.
What I'm Writing
I have several big projects I'm working on at the moment. Given the above musical section, I suppose I should start with that.
My new novel is slowly taking form; though I'm still doing lots of planning for it- and will probably do throughout- I have started writing a few bits, or have ideas for others stored in my head. It's something of a horror, a genre I rarely watch in films since I get scared way too easily, but these characters came to me and wouldn't leave. I am making a Pinterest board, so when I've written more, I may do another update on how it's going and link it.
I'm also working on a brand new, somewhat scary, idea for a new play. It's autobiographical. That's why it's scary. Then I'm working with my Spoken Word group on a compilation zine about love and relationships, which is a lot better in practice than I thought when we started out.
Lots of things to keep busy! :)
Now for the first time ever, I'm also going to share a snippet that I have done from my new novel, of two characters in a book shop. It's the first bit of that scene, and unedited. Therefore I'm probably going to regret it after I publish this post, but oh well. Everything starts with a first draft.
I have Ilsa @AWhisperofInk to blame/thank for giving me this idea after she's been posting snippets of her writing and thought this was a great idea. Now here I am too! :)
Flower represents my nervousness here. You're welcome. :)
That's it tonight. What are on your respective lists for the categories I've talked about?
All the best.
I'm finally back to a normal schedule this week, so I'll get to catch up on a few posts I should have done a while ago. Life and all.
Today, I'm going to discuss my experience of the annual Grow Festival at Hull Truck Theatre, held this year between 10th-12th May. Grow Festival is the theatre's annual programme for artists development, no matter where people are in their careers. This year's was the second time I'd been, and I got so much out of it!
By the way, this post will be quite long, but I do have three days to cover. :) I'm still sorting through various contacts and things I wrote down, so that will take a while.
The annual pass was £40 for the whole festival, but I didn't opt for that and paid £25 overall, a mix of both paying and free events, as I couldn't make all of it. So I'll talk through each event I did attend and my thoughts and whatnot.
Also a quick disclaimer- if I forget to mention anyone in the events I attended, then you're all amazing and thanks for having me! :)
Thursday 10th May
Northern Venues: Artist Development Trade Fair
The first thing on the menu was the trade fair for theatres and companies around the north, mainly for those around Yorkshire. Or, as I like to think of it- tons of networking.
Honestly, I haven't really done too much like this before. The chance to leave my room and properly introduce myself into the real world as a writer and what I do was both scary- I have social anxiety which unfortunately likes to follow me everywhere- yet something it was finally time for me to do. So I did.
I met so many people and continued some already existing connections from the last few months. It was great, so thanks everyone. A special shout out goes to Helen Goodman, who put so much of this year's festival together. I first met Helen on the Thursday- she's one of the sweetest people I know of and I'm looking forward to getting to know her more in the weeks to come.
First Time Out
On the evening, the final two things of the day happened. The official launch was hosted by The Herd, which was fun and crazy, followed by First Time Out. This is the scratch night, where new work is previewed in the early stages, with audience feedback. There were three pieces, all of which I enjoyed and I'd want to see the full thing one day.
Again, I want to do a shout out to Lydia Marchant, who is an amazing writer and has somehow put up with me for the last three years (how has it been that long??). At some point on the evening, we discussed the idea of me doing something for next year's First Time Out- more on that later.
Bottom line is, I'm actually debating it. So Lydia...er, thanks. :D
I ended the night exhausted but excited for what was to follow. So far, so good.
Friday 11th May
Collaboration Speed Dating
My schedule would only allow for the one event on the Friday, but at least I didn't miss a day.
Now, in the normal sense, I've never done speed dating, nor would want to. Thankfully, artist collaborating speed dating was a lot different. Though, while I know it was necessary, by the 10th time I'd introduced myself and what I'm working on, I was kind of saying it on autopilot, just to get to the different conversation. Can't help that- I'm an introvert. Meaningful conversations are what I'm after, rather than the small talk.
Big thanks to The Roaring Girls for hosting it and making it lots of fun. As is often the case, I'm on holiday when they perform their new show, but after seeing a sample in last year's scratch night, and having properly met them this year, it will be fantastic.
The good news about only doing one thing after a full day before was that I got to conserve some energy for the almost full day that was to come. Lots of writing and creative stuff. :)
Saturday 12th May
Bryony Kimmings Workshop
What do you call an intense 4-hour workshop where out come out feeling like your head's going to explode?
The best kind.
This Saturday was the first time I'd met Bryony and she's amazing. Both at what she does and as a person. It's rare that I meet someone with such a positive mind-set for everyone to just go and do stuff. In the workshop, we danced, we wrote, we asked some serious and not so serious questions, and finished it with a picnic.
We each came out with a new idea for a play and honestly, the timing couldn't have been better. I went pretty deep in some of the questions I wrote down over the session and the one that I ended with is an autobiographical piece.
Over the last couple of months, I've pretty much been writing the novelised, not-as-autobiographical version. I haven't gotten very far, which makes me wonder if writing it as a novel was ever the right thing. I don't think it was. I think I just fell back on the style of writing I'd had the most experience in and knew best how to do.
After Bryony's workshop, I made the decision to scrap the novel and writing the play. And the vague sense of an idea that Lydia and I talked about for next year's First Time Out?
Well, there you go.
I've got a year.
Hull Truck Shorts
This was only the second thing I took part in as an audience member- so unlike last year, for various reasons and I'm glad of it. However, it was nice just to sit back and watch what other people had created.
The pieces were all written by local writers and all were brilliant. It was a nice way to end the festival and I still can't believe it went as fast as it did.
After that, was the Grow Festival after party and I got to just talk with various people I'd met over the three days. Yep, that's right- little 5ft, socially anxious me actually wanted to talk to people. I definitely didn't recognise myself from last year, again a good thing. :)
So that was my Grow Festival for 2018. Once again, a huge thanks to everyone at Hull Truck for putting this on, and to everyone who contributed, took part, ect.
This last time I did one of these was in December when I was super busy and wanted to post something. This time is quite similar and in real life, I'm doing a few things to help with my mental health, ect, so I'm taking another break for at least a week, just until things calm down again.
All planned posts- and they're piling up- will be arriving at some point, probably on any kind of schedule or my usual three posting days. But I don't need any added anxiety about not doing those posts, so please bear with me. :)
I may love that GIF a bit too much, but pandas! Anyway, so I'm going to separate this into sections of what I'm listening to, watching, reading and writing, on this occasion.
I also know I titled this as a weekly round-up and it's only Tuesday, but a lot of what follows has been going on for a week or so, therefore I'm counting it as part of this too!
What I'm Listening To
I've been listening to various bits and pieces, but one constant is the brand new project and EP by Jen Ledger, who has been the drummer for the band Skillet for the past decade. I've always loved her drumming skills as well as her voice, so was really excited when she announced this project alongside still playing in Skillet.
The EP came out on Friday and is amazing, in my opinion anyway. Of course, I can't seem to stop listening, so below is the first track released, Not Dead Yet.
What I'm Watching
Once again, I'm all about the box-sets. Last time, I'd just started re-watching 'Merlin' series 1, and now I'm up to re-watching the third series, once I get round to it next month. The reason for that is because I'm currently watching two other box-sets: Blindspot series 2 and Agents of SHIELD series 3, both of which I got for Christmas.
I'm not very far into Agents of SHIELD S3 yet, which I probably should fix ASAP since I've been playing- and failing, let's be honest here- catch up with Marvel's TV shows, since I got caught up with the MCU in 2015 enough to watch the films at cinemas when they're released. If you want a picture of how bad I've been at watching DVD's over the last year and a half...well, I've had the second and final series of Agent Carter since Christmas 2016- and I still haven't watched it yet...
I'll just leave now.
Secondly, I got into Blindspot because one of the main characters is played by Jaimie Alexander (Lady Sif in the MCU). But I've grown to really love the show and trying to guess how things will play out in each episode and overall for the series.
I have had some medium level spoilers for S2, but that's no different to Agents of SHIELD, really. At this point, with series 3 currently showing on Sky in the UK (which I don't have and wouldn't be able to watch even if I did), I'm actually surprised I'm still in the dark about a lot of things. :)
Also, Luke Mitchell has played characters in both shows which I only recently found out, but yay, cause I like him in both (and yes, on SHIELD, I have been spoiled).
What I'm Reading
Currently, the only book on my reading shelf is To Kill a Kingdom. I'm enjoying it, but it's been on the go for almost 2 weeks and I'm about 60%, due to not having massive amounts of time to sit and claim for myself. But thankfully it's not hard to get back into after a few days away, so I'm hoping to have it finished sometime early next week. That would be nice.
What I'm Writing
As with the reading, I've not written too much too much lately, even though I have projects on the go and self-imposed deadlines I keep having to add to and push back.
My latest novel first draft is what I'm using, as much as I can so far, to take part in WIPJoy on Twitter. It's always a lot of fun for the writing community to get involved in. Like everything, though, I'm currently behind. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Shout out and thanks to Bethany @simmeringmind for organising it quarter annually. :D
In other writing news, I've been doing more poems, something I was convinced I couldn't do as a writing style until about half a year ago.
This last Saturday was actually the first time I performed two of my poems to a small audience! I was probably running on a mix of nerves and adrenaline, so don't remember much beyond speaking them and adding some brief background beforehand.
But...I did it!! :D
Also, the picture/meme below is an actual representation of what writing I have done this week- and it's not for my novel I mentioned.
That's all for today. What's on your lists for these categories? Any music/books/shows/films I should add to my own? (Really, books shouldn't be on there, but oh well) All the best. :)
Here we are, at the 4th and final part of this series. Where has the time gone? But as much as these posts have been a bit stressful at times, they've also been cathartic and I'm glad I chose to write them. As I've said, if someone reads this series and realises they're not alone, then I've done some good in sharing my own experiences.
So, if this is new to you, here are Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
I've always loved horses, though haven't yet fully learnt how to ride. It's a thing on my bucket list- not that I've officially made one of those yet, but still. Heartland has been a part of my life for years and I wouldn't want it any other way. I remember picking up Coming Home in my school library and devouring it in barely any time at all, since they're teen books and not really that long.
I soon borrowed the 2nd, and that's where it ended, as the other others were a couple of the later ones, which made no sense to me (and still doesn't). Thanks to a book magazine my school library had, in my final year and only a few months before I left, I was able to order all 20 books all complete with the original covers. Talk about close timing! :)
Heartland follows the life of 15 years old Amy Fleming at her home and horse ranch in Virginia, USA, where the family help heal and re-home previously abandoned and abused horses. After the death of her mother, Amy faces massive challenges in being one of the main runners of Heartland and learning more about herself in the process. The series ends when Amy graduates high school, though there have been some special editions afterwards, but I've not read them.
The tagline for this series is : Healing horses, healing hearts.
Honestly, it couldn't be summed up any better. I've learnt a lot about horses, various alternate therapies, always alongside vet treatment of course, and some great bonding techniques, ect. I've never been lucky enough to own a horse of my own, but the series has been educational and this way, I get to be an observer into the lives of many different horses, even if they are fictional.
Naturally, the main part of the books is the characters focussing on teaching the horses to trust people again, but the other side of that coin is the characters all learning to trust each other. Amy has had some complicated family relationships in the past and, in the wake of her mother's death, several of those get dragged into the present. The transitions of this and trying to keep Heartland open through many situations is where their hearts can begin to heal.
So what does the Heartland series have to do with me personally, and why have I added it to this series? Well, the main thing they taught me about myself growing up was how to handle the grieving process better. I was 7 when my granddad- the relative I'm sure gave me my own love of horses- died, and for a long time, I related these books to help me deal with it where I maybe hadn't. In my last year of school, one of my nannas also passed away. Along with other books, I went back to Heartland for a while.
Almost all of these books make me cry, no matter how many times I read them. But the book which means a lot to me is book 9, Every New Day, cover above. This is the first book set fully outside of Heartland and Amy goes through a lot of transition. Being away from family and home, living with almost complete strangers save for the older members whom her mother knew, and a horse who doesn't seem to want to improve in his condition prove tough for her at times. But it's also the book where she begins to realise that, though her mother is gone, Amy will always have her memory and carry the work of Heartland on which Marion started.
Every New Day taught me a lot about being open and honest with myself and others. The Heartland series as a whole has shown me time and time again that bottling things up never works long term and that there is more support available than it might first seem. With my mental health struggles, I have a whole host of supportive people around me who have seen me at some of my worst moments, such as uni, and been there anyway, no matter how long it took.
That's what family does. We may get on each other's nerves and fall out at times, but we'll always be there for one another. Heartland gives a good picture of what that can be like. But this series comes with horses, so more bonuses. :D
The Heartland series was turned into a TV show in Canada, and is now on its 11th series/season. It's the longest running family show in Canadian TV history and as such has moved well past where the books end, but is evidently still great.
Over here in the UK, the first series or two were shown about ten years ago, if I remember right, before the channel just stopped it. I don't why, maybe distribution rights or something?? Anyway, that meant that I've basically been spending time- whenever I've thought about it as a show- that I'm way, way behind, but will catch up one day, whether through DVD as the first 10 complete series are available. But I will catch up! :)
I plan on re-reading the books this year, as it's been quite a while, so maybe that will get me finally moving past season 2 of the show this year too. That would be nice. :)
And that's it for this series on me and books in relation to my mental health struggles of the past and present. Again, I really hope this has been useful to someone reading the posts. You're amazing and most definitely not alone. All the best.
Welcome back to this series. :) In Part 1, I talked about Hermione and discussed Luna in Part 2, but today, I want to move away from the HP world to another book series I really wish was real. This week's post will be a bit heavier than the past two, but I'm trying to be as honest in these as I can, show other people they're not alone, and try to help break the stigma around mental health.
If I can do even one of those things the tiniest bit, then that's my job done.
So today, I'll be moving to the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, by Sarah J Maas, particularly the second book A Court of Mist and Fury. Regardless of your feelings on the series and the author, this book has been an important part of my life over the last two years. It's responsible for me keeping my sanity somewhat intact when everything was falling in pieces around me and I don't say that lightly.
Today's inspirational characters are the main protagonist, Feyre, and Morrigan (Mor for short), the cousin of Rhys and a very good friend of Feyre's. Originally, I was going to split these characters into two posts, but decided it would be as good fitting them into one.
For anyone who hasn't read the series yet and/or wants to,
there will be minor spoilers from book 1 to follow.
We meet Feyre 3 months after the end of ACOTAR and she's very much a changed person. Not only is she having to deal with her transformation from human into High Fae, but the events of book 1 have left her with PTSD, depression and anxiety. It's fair to note here that all of the main characters- Feyre, Rhys, Tamlin and Lucien- now suffer with PTSD in some way during ACOMAF, but how they choose to deal with it affects them, and those around them, all very differently.
Feyre has withdrawn almost completely from life, isn't eating properly and has vivid nightmares of what happened Under the Mountain. No one in the Spring Court is helping her to deal with this. When Rhys arrives back on the scene to call in the bargain they made, he treats her very differently to Tamlin from the start. In these times, Rhys teaches Feyre to read, something that helps her massively from then on.
"I was burning through books every day- stories about people and places I'd never heard of. They were perhaps the only thing that kept me from teetering into utter despair."
ACOMAF was of help to me when I was in my second year of university, but absolutely in the third and final year. While I had- and still do have- the best support system around me I could have ever asked for, and still don't know what I did to know these people, whenever I felt like I couldn't keep going, and even they couldn't get me out of it, ACOMAF was there to pick up the pieces too.
They were times when I was burning through it- not the entire thing, but certain passages that have really helped me, some I'll talk about as I go through; others- and varying valued quotes from other books- you can find in amongst this week's Top Ten Tuesday post here.
In that year, it felt like I was having breakdowns every week. I was definitely crying almost every day. I had my biggest and longest ever panic attack one night due to a mix of bad depression and anxiety over my dissertation- something which I never want to experience again. I've had plenty of mild ones, but this one lasted close to an hour, and kept deceiving me into thinking I was calm before it would start over. In short, it was terrifying.
"There are different kinds of darkness." Rhys said..."There is the darkness that frightens, the darkness that soothes, the darkness that is restful." I pictured each..."It becomes what the bearer wishes it to be, needs it to be. It is not wholly bad or good."
This short passage was useful when I was trying to sleep after the aforementioned panic attack, but also on nights when my insomnia, probably triggered by my depression, made me stay awake and worry about everything I could not control on my degree. It made me realise that if I chose sleep over worrying, I could. That those kind of nights wouldn't last forever.
Over time with the Night Court, Feyre learns to control her new abilities, emerges from where she was at the start of the book to a place where she's doing much better. It's worth noting that, unlike a lot of books which tackle mental health, ACOMAF is not one of those where 'love cures all' and everything's new and shiny.
Earlier on in the above conversation, Rhys tells Feyre she will be dealing with what happened to her in book 1 for the rest of her life. And Feyre is still struggling at the end of the book- she's says as much to Rhys. She's just learns how to not let her memories and mental health struggles control and define who she is and what she can do.
This is something I've come to realise is true for me, in its own way. I graduated university last July, and in some alternate book that isn't true to life, perhaps all of my mental health illnesses would have disappeared forever on that day.
In reality, I still have social anxiety and depression, close to a year on. I'm always going to have SA, probably depression too. And while, yes the depression has lessened a great deal since the day I finished uni, it's still there. I still have bad days.
As the Inner Circle/Court of Dreams helped Feyre began to heal, so did I also through that. But just like Feyre, I have to choose how to deal with the depression and anxiety and what I let it do to me in the long run.
"The Court of Dreams. The people who knew that there was a price, and one worth paying, for that dream. The bastard-born warriors, the Illyrian half-breed, the monster trapped in a beautiful body, the dreamer born into a court of nightmares...and the huntress with an artist's soul."
"There are good days and hard days for me- even now.
Don't let the hard days win."
"You do what you love. What you need."
Another character who knows all about this is Morrigan. These two above quotes are by her to Feyre early on when Feyre has met the whole Inner Circle. I talk about these a bit more in the Top Ten Tuesday post I liked earlier, but the first one always makes me feel a variety of emotions. It made me feel and know I wasn't alone- that even in a book, there was someone who understood what it felt like to lose part of you and lose sight of who you are to circumstances you can't control. This was the quote when I knew I was going to love Mor.
Likewise, this applies to the second too. When all everyone was talking to me about, or asking was "How's uni going?", there was a lot of pressure for me to solely give it my focus. I didn't do hardly any reading because I felt guilty for it, but it did feel like I'd lost part of myself. Hitting my Goodreads challenge last year was something I didn't think would happen, something I talked about in the post I wrote for it in that section of my blog.
This post has been about my experiences in how A Court of Mist and Fury helped me at a time when I really needed it, and it kept me as sane as it possibly could. Velaris is one of those places I could easily spend my days if it were real, and, just like Narnia and Hogwarts, I highly wish it were.
I'm not the only one of the fandom who has cited ACOMAF as being the book that helped them through an event in their life, or helped them see they weren't alone for various reasons. Though I know this won't be the case for everyone, I do, however, believe that there is a book that people can say is/was a lifeline for them. Personally, I have several books for various times in my life.
On Goodreads, there is a section called 'Lists', where you can search by tags, such as mental health for example, and browse books that might be of use. Books on Goodreads include standard information, along with reviews by people in the community.
Remember that you're amazing and not alone.
And that's it for today. I hope this has been useful for someone.
Next Saturday will be the fourth and final part of this series, where I'll be discussing one of my favourite childhood series (also one of my series re-reads for the year!)
All the best.