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.
We are finally here: 2018 looms ever closer on the horizon as we prepare to bid so long, farewell to another year. I don't know about you, but 2017 has flown even faster than the last few years seem to have done?!
All in all, 2017 was a very mixed year for me. It was one that I was looking forward to, but also had many chapters of ends and new beginnings. It was a scary prospect.
Over here in England, 2017 has been an important year for my city (we've been UK City of Culture) and I've honestly never been prouder to live in it. I've seen another side to it and it's been fantastic to watch events unfold as the year has progressed.
More specifically for me, no matter how positive I felt on New Year's day, as a whole, January and February were not good months. I was bogged down with my dissertation for university and the weight of my mental health struggles at times felt like I would never improve. I didn't want to be in that final year and thought about quitting many times.
Thankfully, my support system were there for me. They included my parents, church family and so many of my friends who keep me floating when I couldn't swim through the mess. They convinced me time and time again to keep going, until I found I was make progress. I didn't get the final classification I wanted, but A) I have a degree, and B) I survived the worst of what uni, my depression and anxiety could throw at me.
I graduated in July- see picture.
(This will be a rare one of me on here.)
Actually, now I think about it, this picture isn't that rare. It's also my Goodreads and Twitter profile pics currently, but you get the idea.
I do have social anxiety, remember? :)
After that, I took the entire summer to do nothing but read, go on holiday and just have some time off. Look after myself a bit better, that kind of thing. Up until I'd finished in may and was waiting on my results, I'd barely read anything. I often didn't have time and when I did, I was too exhausted to pick up a book.
More than just a hobby nowadays, reading helps me recharge and is a way for me of looking after my mental health.
You can probably guess the fun cycle I had until I could properly pick up a book again. I also found myself struggling to do anything which wasn't related to uni in some way- and often felt guilty for doing non-uni activities. It wasn't good for me.
So I had to learn to give myself permission to give myself some space and distance and try things I enjoy. Usually in the forms of listening to music or doodling. (I won't call it drawing per se, because I really can't draw) But for a couple of months, I kind of did some fan art from a book series I adore and half owe my sanity to. Said series helped me understand it was ok for me to say no to things every now and then if they would only hinder me further.
Now I'm very active on Goodreads and I'm so thankful for all of the people I've gotten to know on there over this year! Thanks everyone. Keep being amazing. :D
My 2017 reading challenge was set to 30 books for the year, as past ones have. I did this mostly because I knew uni would get it the way a lot- I just didn't realise how much. So until the summer, I was really behind. I hit my goal in September, as I wrote in this post, which was such a big thing for me.
As of writing this post, the book I finished earlier today puts my reading challenge at 65 books read this year- 66, tomorrow when I finish my final one of the year! This will be a total of 220%, more than twice over. (I think, maths has never been my strong point) That's about 37 extra books. I'm sat here, letting this still sink in and I want to cry. It means a lot than I can express in a few paragraphs.
This GIF may represent me over the last couple of months and I couldn't be happier. :D
Sadly, my room is not a library, but I have enough books to technically own one. I still want the sliding ladders to go with it.
One of the biggest things in this year, of course, is that I've started this blog. I finally took notes in April to take this idea seriously, though it was a bit scary, and hoped I could start it in May.
Instead, I began this blog on 1st August and it's been a fun yet challenging and interesting ride so far. I'm very much looking forward to the future with it. :)
Since the start of autumn, I've been looking for a job within the animal industry and have met some fantastic people at the Warren Centre on the Achieve Project who are helping me look for said job. If any of you read this, thanks a lot. I've only known you since October but it feels like a lot longer and I'm glad I do now.
So far, no luck. But who knows what 2018 will hold for me there- I have several plans in the making, so we'll see. :)
My writing has taken off the latter half of the year. I got involved with a project for my city with the help of the aforementioned amazing people at the Warren Centre, whom I had the privilege to blog about the event for.
Personally, I finally got to take part in my first ever NaNoWriMo, which was insane, but I learnt a lot about myself as a writer in it. My first draft is practically done- the aim was New Year's Eve, but it might be New Year's Day instead. But still. Details.
Not a lot else changed much. Nothing major that I can think of, at least.
So. 2018. I already have a lot of reading and writing planned. Even a good few blog posts for January. I'm hoping to include a few new things on here too, so we'll see how that goes.
In terms of the changes in my mental health from the start of this year to now, I've noticed the biggest boost I have ever I think. I'm going to try get back to doing activities I have in the past which I know for a fact help keep my depression at bay.
Also, to work on managing my anxiety a lot better next year- that's going to be the real challenge. But I can do this.
Oh, and I will start to tackle my massive DVD pile which I've let build up. Look out for lots of film reviews next year! :D
That's all for now. I think I've covered everything. In many ways, 2017 has brought the positives which I felt it might at the start of the year, but there have been other things that have been hard to get through. But I know myself a bit better now and think they helped regardless.
Once again, all that's left for me to say is: All the best for 2018 and happy New Year!!
Hi. Today's post comes inspired from another blog: Howling Libraries, and it's the HP Yule Bingo. Destiny has themed her TBR pile from it for this month and created this.
I thought I'd change it slightly and do my version, fitted for the end of year instead. Let's see how well I do. :)
So, thanks Destiny! (go check her blog out too)
All book covers in this will be the UK ones since good old rainy England is my home (and it's actually not raining today).
Here's the board Destiny made:
Weasley's: Family Goals- As usual, I'm struggling, so am going to start off by cheating slightly by picking two books. These are Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Both have characters who care deeply about their families and will protect them as much as they can.
Harry: "Chosen One" Trope- I think I'll have to say the Frostblood series by Elly Blake. Both it and book 2, Fireblood came out this year, and the final book comes out next year which I'm looking forward to. The main character and her powers probably fits into this trope, I guess.
Dumbledore: Wise Mentor- I think Coppelia fits here, from The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. Coppelia is a mother figure to Irene at times, but is also her supervisor, so I'm sticking with this choice.
Marauders: Book with a map- I love a good map in books! They make things more exciting and the world feels a lot more real. There have been few this year, but one of my favourites has to be the map in A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas. The map in the series has become more detailed as Feyre- and we readers- have needed to know things and I love how it's turned out in ACOWAR.
Snape: Morally grey character- There were a few options for this, but then I came across our precious Lada, a mina character in the And I Darken trilogy by Kiersten White. Lada was scary enough in book 1, but in Now I Rise, she is terrifying. Yet I love her.
Of course I'd have her back in a fight- she would be as likely to stab me as an enemy otherwise.
Voldermort: Book with a villain- The Sultan in Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton. He wants all the power, will enslave people, encourages his children to fight each other to prove themselves worthy of the throne after him, and will even kill his own children without hesitation if it suits him.
Malfoy- Character you love to hate- This one is easy for me- I will say Tamlin from the ACOTAR series. He redeemed himself a bit in ACOWAR, but, honestly? I still wouldn't complain if he dies in later books.
Nagini- Book with a betrayal- Alright, so if you've been reading the Talon saga by Julie Kagawa, then this betrayal won't be a surprise, as it was already coming. However, the thing for me which made me hurt for the main characters was that it potentially could have gone either way, but instead was really solidified in Legion.
Luna: Loveable sidekick- Can I not pick Luna anyway?? Aside from her...
For this, I nominate Aithinne from The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May. She's such a great friend, but is deadly in a fight and so loyal. See, all traits shared with our (at least, my) favourite Ravenclaw. :)
Moaning Myrtle: Tearjerker- Again, there were a few options. ACOWAR made me cry a lot, but I can't keep picking that book, so I'm saying Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch. It's the last one in the trilogy, in the middle of war, so of course there were deaths. One unexpected had me crying a bit.
Ollivander: Books with spells- This one was a bit harder, but I think The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull should count enough, since it has witches in it.
Room of Requirement: Favourite genre- My favourite genre is fantasy. I've read plenty this year, with varying elements to them as well. In addition to all previous entries in this post, I'm going with some urban fantasy/historical fantasy now, so have again chosen two books.
The first is The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, which includes killer water horses. The second is the Lady Helen series by Alison Goodman, particularly this year's The Dark Days Pact, which I loved, and contains Regency Era England mixed with many supernatural creatures.
Newt: Book with magical creatures- I feel like I've covered this with about half of the books I've already mentioned, but I'm going with Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas. We've had the wyverns previously in the series and now we have the ruks as well! The skies are going to be dangerous in book 7 when (they have to!) they all fight together.
Cedric: Friendship goals- This goes to Safi and Iseult from the Witchlands series by Susan Dennard. As of writing this, I've only read Truthwitch just a bit earlier in the year, but loved it. The girls are best friends and practically sisters and it's so refreshing to see in YA, rather than having girls fight each other all the time.
This is also nominated secondly to the Inner Circle in the ACOTAR series. I want them all to be my friends and have no shame in that. Fight me.
Tonks: Strong Heroine- Yes, Tonks is. This one is actually going to be HP themed...
After consideration, I'm going to have to say Hermione Granger. This choice doesn't need explaining. I started my own collection this year with the 20th Anniversary edition and I'm sure it's entirely a coincidence that Destiny put this one under the Hufflepuff categories, when I'm also a Hufflepuff. :D
Butterbeer: A sweet book- This was quite hard for me to choose, since a lot of what I've read this year has been fantasy with a darker edge- please don't read into that as a view on my personality- I'm a Hufflepuff, remember. :)
In the end, I'm going with The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg. It's really short and I only finished it a week or so ago after a friend lent it to me. It wasn't particularly taxing to read and was just what I needed as I was in a partial reading slump for the first half of December.
Here ends the Harry Potter Yule Bingo and I've really enjoyed doing this. It's been nice to look back at what I've read in 2017. If I finish the two books I'm currently reading, that'll take me to 64 books. I've reached my Goodreads reading goal twice over now, so I'm happy.
Thanks to Destiny for providing the inspiration for this post.
Thanks to Goodreads for the reading challenge and giving me access to see what I've read this year, else I couldn't have written this...there is no way I would have remembered everything I've read. I can only just about remember what I've read this month!
Thanks to people for reading this post. I'll be posting a few things in the coming week, but not a lot, since I just won't have the time. If anything, I'll make notes on some things and blog about them in the new year.
How is 2018 nearly here? Though I'm not panicking about this fact too much...I don't think.
Anyway, all that's left for me to say is this:
Merry Christmas and New Year to everyone!
Have a fantastic time. All the best.
Hi! Now I know it's been about a week since I last blogged about anything, but this week has been crazy and I have a proper post coming up later today, slightly later than planned. It's my first more 'professional' post and I'm really excited to share it. :)
For now, though, I'm going to go through various things that I have been doing this week, just to let you know I haven't abandoned my blog. Honestly, I haven't.
What I'm Listening To (and Watching)
There is nothing specific in terms of artists or albums that I'm listening to right now. However, as I'm writing this I keep playing the title theme of the BBC TV show 'Merlin', which is called 'The Call of Destiny' by Rob Lane. I'm currently re-watching the show (yet again) from the beginning and am roughly 3/4 of the way through series 1.
Now, 'Merlin' was first shown between 2008-2012 and in those five years, took up the mid-latter of my teenage years. I still love this show and it was thanks to the show that I first became properly interested in the Arthurian Legends (I didn't know a great deal when it began). Over the last couple of years, I have written a play based on the legends and this year, my first attempt at NaNoWriMo has resulted in a novel and a loose re-telling as well.
So here is the main theme song from 'Merlin': The Call of Destiny.
What I'm Reading
Thanks in part to NaNoWriMo, I'm currently in a bit of a reading slump, but am still managing to read. Slowly. My list of books for December has had to be decreased and now may have to be decreased even further. I do however, hope to have two books finished today and tomorrow.
Here we go. In order of how far I am, according to Goodreads:
The Paper Magician- Charlie N. Holmberg
This is a book a friend lent me and is very short and has an intriguing concept; I was hoping I'd have it read in a day or two, but It's been at least half a week. I should get it read tonight easily enough.
Prince of Shadows- Rachel Caine
This is a re-read and somewhat of a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet from Benvolio's POV and featuring Rosaline a heck of a lot more than the play does. Now R&J is my favourite Shakespeare play- actually I quite like a lot of the tragedies...I don't know what that says about me!- but Prince of Shadows is so well handled and I'm loving reading it again.
It has been on my reading shelf for a week though. Hoping to have this done by tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest.
Kingdom of Sleep- E. K. Johnson
Since I rarely have time to read at weekends, I count this as doing well for now, since I started it mid-week. I'm thinking this is also a spin-off from 2016's A Thousand Nights, which I really enjoyed, as well as a part re-telling of Sleeping Beauty. I think.
So hopefully I will be done with this by the end of the week, and can try and get my progress on track.
And this is the end of my round-up. One more finished book and I will have hit 60 books read this year, according to Goodreads! Yay. I'm also hoping these will bring me out of my slump. In other news, I have a few films to watch this month, either at the cinema or DVD's I own but still haven't gotten around to from who knows when.
Stay tuned for more! :) As always, all the best.
On Thursday 7th December 2017, the young people of the Spoken Word creative writing project at the Warren Centre took part in the Substance Panel, along with Emma Hardy, the Labour MP for Hessle and the west of Hull, and Kathy McArdle from the British Council. Part of the debate to do with Brexit and politics arose after the Next Generation UK report. This event was in partnership with the Hull City of Culture 2017 team.
At the Warren Centre, the Spoken Word group is run by Joe Hakim, a local poet and Merrick 'Mez' Sanders-Green, who also works with the young people in music and other areas.
First of all, the young people each performed a poem or two which they had written for the event. These are all listed below, with previously filmed footage of two of these pieces.
Spoken Word Performances
Jodie Langsford- Flex It and Seventeen
Andrew Gooch- The Young People's Manifesto and The Job Market
Jack Foster- Fight
Frank Mathers- Fiction or Fact and Power of the Wasters
Josh Weaver- This was an untitled piece at the time and the panel was Josh's debut.
Below are two performances of some of these poems when filmed for the Talking Doorsteps project. They were filmed in part of the city centre in Hull.
For more information on this project, visit the website here.
In the second half, the panel then discussed several different topics, both the young people adding their input, along with Emma Hardy and Kathy McArdle giving their insights as well.
Topic 1- Education
How do you feel about your own experiences within traditional education? Do you feel prepared for the modern world?
Several of the young people answered these questions by saying they didn't feel prepared enough with what the had received in the modern education system. They discussed how schools take you through lots of exams, but there isn't enough preparation for practical life skills, such as helping with mortgages and paying tax, among other things.
There was also mention that school work experience had been cancelled in some cases, leaving them without the skills and knowledge which could be gained from this. One of the young people gave the analogy of them being a plant, and that the education system isn't giving them the right nutrients to grow and succeed once they've left school.
All were agreed that the Warren has helped them in different areas where the educations system didn't.
Topic 2- Politics
Local vs National politics. How do you bridge the gap between local and national politics? How important is it to demystify politics to young people?
This topic was passed along to Emma Hardy, whose first visit to the Warren Centre was in April this year. She noted the importance of provisions for young people with places like the Warren. She is also working to make changes both in having more community centres and helping the young people to engage more with politics.
Topic 3- International Relations
The project with Talking Doorsteps involved people from Trinidad working with the young people at the Warren Centre.
It was noted that the young people felt they didn't have the opportunities to go abroad for work and other reasons. Kathy McArdle said that the British Council want all young people to have international access and are working to improve on this. She noted how making international relations can be life changing, and having the experience of being abroad with other cultures can be very positive.
Topic 4- Class
Do you feel class is important in modern society?
The final topic in the panel was about class, talking again to the young people. Some of them said they didn't notice they were from a working class background when they were growing up, but it became more apparent as they got older. They said how being from a working class background meant that certain opportunities are closed to them because there seems to be a bigger influence on money over the talents, skills and knowledge they have.
Other points made were the media influence, which focusses on London a lot of the time, and also wit being a lack of working class icons. It was acknowledged that there is a class divide, when there should simply be equality for everyone.
Panel: Joe Hakim, Frank Mathers, Jodie Langsford, Andrew Gooch, Jack Foster, Emma Hardy and Kathy McArdle
Personally, I found myself agreeing with many of the comments made by the young people at the panel, especially in terms of class and also with the education system.
It was approximately at the beginning of October when I began coming to the Warren Centre and not long after became involved in the Spoken Word creative writing. In this short time, I can also testify to the fact that being involved in various areas provided by the Warren has helped me, as it has with the other young people on the panel.
My confidence has improved a lot with meeting new people, I'm learning new things I didn't get the chance to at school, such as learning to cook and getting information on paying bills and taxes. Being involved with the Spoken Word writing group has also given me the chance to improve on my skills as a writer and push myself to try new things I didn't think I could do before.
So. After joining up in 2015, then not being to do it at more or less the last moment, and with no way of being able to take part in 2016- I finally did National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2017.
Please, enter the puddle of thoughts...I mean, my brain. Of course I do.
I hereby promise I will do my best to make this post make sense. I'm going to break each part down and try to explain why I did this venture. (If anyone else knows that answer, please feel free to let me know. Thanks. )
The main point of NaNoWriMo is to write a novel in a month. 50 thousand words in 30 days. People from all over the world take part every November, every year. I'd decided in about September that I was going to finally take part. The main thing for wasn't writing 50K words, I've done that before a few times- I was struggling to figure out how on earth I'd fit it in 30 days.
All the same, challenge accepted.
I came up with an idea in October and began planning it out. I'm an organised person, most of the time. For practical reasons and because my anxiety demands it of me. When I set out to write an outline of a new idea, I usually know where it's going, or put down what I know and leave the rest to come to me later. My October idea wasn't fully there yet, but I was quite confident I could something of it, even if it might not get me to 50K at the time.
Then came a spanner in the works- a totally new idea! I was thrown, but when the idea presented itself as loosely based on Arthurian Legend, I couldn't resist listening to it.
Don't blame me- I have a weak spot when it comes to these legends, and in the past, I've written a play more firmly based on them. As much as I like Arthur, my favourite person is Morgan le Fay. I'm pretty sure this comes across as obvious in my work.
But I have zero regrets on this.
A fun part of the NaNoWriMo website I've found is that you can assign yourself certain personal achievement badges, along with the ones you get for hitting certain goals, like a checkpoint in a game. Over the course of November, I gained 9 writing badges, and 11 of my personal achievement ones, such as finding music for a playlist, telling people I was doing this and even one for making myself cry.
Yep, I teared up a bit at two scenes. Which is good. If I can cry, anyone reading it might too.
From here on, I'm going to add lots of gifs in- they might explain a bit better.
I also had handy help in the forms of my local library and the internet. I don't use my library a lot for research, but now have decided to do more of it. Reading a physical book on archery was a lot more useful than reading something on the internet. Even though many times, I also said this:
But all of this did generally make some scenes better and improve my own understanding.
How do you reach 50K? The average word count per day is roughly 1,670, which isn't a lot split up like that. But when they add up...I was behind for most of the month by about 10 thousand words. I took the 9th off because I'd not slept well and couldn't focus on writing, or anything much else, that day. I think it was the 18th where I did no writing to refill my 'creative tank'. I ended up being the better for that.
I had quite a few main and secondary components to this novel that revealed themselves more and more as I went on. I knew straight away there would be a lot of magic used:
And f/f romance (actually this is quite accurate of some things):
Of course, with the nature of the novel, buildings had to get damaged and blown up:
In addition to writing I managed to do a few other things in the month. On the day the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War dropped, I stopped all I was doing to watch it and have no regrets there either.
Alright. For the big question: Did I manage to reach the 50 thousand words in 30 days?
No. Not quite, but was far closer than I thought.
You remember me saying earlier that was behind a lot of the time? Well, I- eventually- learnt to just take it easy and write this for myself. It's only a first draft and mine are ALWAYS half-baked messes when they're done anyhow. So no rush. Plus, I realised that I'd have to go over 50K in the end. There are still a few scenes that are needed, plus I haven't figured out how many chapters, ect, I have yet. I think the end of my first draft will come to between 50-60 thousand words.
Here are my official NaNoWriMo 2017 stats:
Writing 47,637 words in this month is such a huge achievement for me, regardless of the fact that I didn't 'win'. Though my biggest spike was the 30th. Let's discuss that.
Basically, I entered the last day knowing I would comfortably hit 40,000 words and anything after would be an extra bonus. I reached this milestone in the morning with a few big scenes left to write. Of course, I did a rough 'guesstimate' of these word counts- and somehow wound up wondering if I couldn't hit 50K after all.
Ha ha ha ha. Ha. When my brain thinks of things like that, I do wonder if I am slightly crazy. This meant I would have had to write 11 or 12 thousand words. I hit just over 9 thousand. That was my biggest triumph in November.
I wrote 9 thousand words in one day! That is a big deal for me and certainly has never happened before. Now I know what my own unrealistic expectations, the pressure of a deadline and being ill in the final week can create.
It doesn't matter that I didn't hit the 50K- I nearly did it. Besides, I now have 47,637 words of a brand new novel which I didn't have an entire month ago. The journey taught me more of myself and what I'm capable of writing-wise than I imagined. One reason I took part in NaNoWriMo this year was to push myself- and I did.
That is something worth being proud of.
Coming up next: December and my Novel
I'm taking the weekend off and catching up on a few things. Finish one of my books. Hopefully get better. Catch up on some TV.
Then I'm going to spend some of the next two weeks finishing the first draft. While I want to keep up the momentum of NaNoWriMo, honestly I don't see that it will help to keep going as much as I have been. I deserve to take it a bit slower. But I will have this first draft done by Christmas and have edited it a but for typos and the like. I have a few friends who are looking at it as sensitivity readers for me, so it'll be going to them early next year.
From October, I have a few extra small projects I also want to finish. I have a few other projects it's about time I finished in 2018, all first drafts too- I'm looking to get the last few chapters done on a manuscript I've been working on since last summer, and go on a visit to a small town on our coastline for research in order to finish another manuscript I'm halfway through (the one I paused to do NaNoWriMo).
After that, who knows? The idea of one day being published is a nice dream, but even so, I'm nowhere near to making that happen yet. I do plan to do lots of reading in 2018 of course, and for December this year to make up for much slowing reading times in November.
And that's the end of this post. My first attempt at National Novel Writing Month was, all in all, a success, I'd say. And certainly a valuable and important process for me personally and as a writer.
Hopefully, I'll be doing it again next year! :D