Writer's Life · Writerly Musings

NANOWRIMO 2018

TBWD NANOWRIMO

I think you have to be a special kind of crazy to attempt NaNoWriMo during your first year of teaching. Well, I think I might just be the right amount of crazy to attempt it.

I completed NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2014. I wrote 50,000 words in one month. I wrote my first adult novel and it was a great achievement. I wanted to prove to myself that I could complete a longer piece of writing, as I was used to writing poetry and short stories. Over the last few years, I stopped writing. Life happened and I stopped putting pen to paper. The ideas were always there but my motivation to actually write them disappeared.

This year, I have started to slowly put pen to paper and write again. I have had an idea for a children’s book for a little while now and I’ve decided to use National Novel Writing Month to begin writing it. I am not going to give myself a target of  50,000 words. With my crazy teaching schedule, it wouldn’t be achievable. Instead, I’m going to give myself a more manageable goal of 5,000 words. Although, I would be amazingly happy if I even reached 1,000! The whole idea is for me to START writing this children’s novel. No pressure. Just a chance to fall in love with writing again.

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Writer's Life

For The Love Of Writing.

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Today I wrote a short story, for fun! This may sound like a simple task for a writer, as writer’s write, right? Well, I did write A LOT once upon a time. I had notebooks full of ideas, I had motivation to put pen to paper and I really enjoyed the craft of writing fiction and poetry. I did a three year degree in creative writing because I loved it so much. I completed an adult novel a few years ago (it now sits in the bottom of my desk drawer). I was moving onto writing a children’s novel when, well, life happened.

I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with my writing muse over the past couple of years. It wasn’t a writer’s block that stopped my flow of ideas and writing, but a life block. A lot of circumstances in my life should have pushed me towards writing but instead, it pushed me further away from it. Writing was at the bottom of my priority list and I didn’t realise the negative effect of doing so. Writing is a big part of who I am and by not doing it to freely express my thoughts and ideas, I was losing a piece of myself. Over time, I could feel the idea of me being a writer and writing becoming a memory, a version of myself that I could never get back.

Last week, I was in Cardiff with my partner, when I came across The Writer’s Toolbox in Waterstones. I had seen it previously and never bought it, but something was pulling me towards it. With the help of The Writer’s Toolkit, Best Writing Prompts Daily Facebook page and reading some of my old writing (to remind myself that I’m not terrible). I was inspired enough to write something today. The ideas are there. They never disappeared. It was my inner critic, the confidence in myself that I was a great writer and I had something to say that stopped. For some reason, one day, I just started to question if my writing was any good. This nagging self-doubt stopped me from actually writing. It caused me to stop doing what I loved. I don’t want it to happen again.

I shouldn’t care if my writing is any good or even if it has an audience. I just need to get back to the reason why I started writing to begin with. I need to find the joy in writing again and today I accomplished that. I’m starting my NQT year in a few weeks. Which is the first year of primary teaching. I’ll have my own class, a lot of responsibility, a lot of challenges ahead.

But I need to make time for my writing. Writing fiction or poetry for me is an escape. Such as reading a book, playing a video game or even doing a jigsaw puzzle is for others. I love to lose myself in a fictional world that I create. I love to take my feelings and emotions and turn it into a beautiful poem. This will not be a fluke. I will make sure that for the love of writing, I continue to make time for it.  I must, I am a writer after all and that’s what writer’s do…. WRITE!

 

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A Change Of Heart

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I will always be a writer. No matter what my job title is or what I do during the day, writing is my passion and I wouldn’t be ‘me’ without it. However, recently I’ve started to feel less like a writer. Maybe that’s because I haven’t really been doing much ‘writing.’ You see, a few months ago I was feeling lost, I had no job, I was on the dole, still missed being at university and had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Then, something good happened. I got a part-time job working for an online magazine and they were paying me, yes, finally, I thought!

Everything started to fall into place after that, or so I thought. I started to volunteer as a Creative Writing Workshop Mentor at a local hostel and I decided to start my own online feel good magazine called Zest For Life. I thought I was finally going down the right path, until I realised that something was missing. I was no longer writing. I was filling up my time with other projects and jobs that I no longer had the time nor the motivation to write fiction, which is a big part of who I am.

I love being the editor and founder of Zest For Life, it’s hard work and I’m not receiving the amount of help from my friends that I thought I would, but I created something from nothing, which is what I love to do. I decided to stop volunteering at the hostel because some weeks I would turn up and none of the residents wanted to take part, I was enthusiastic to inspire them but they didn’t want to be inspired.

I did however, have one really good session with them whilst I was volunteering there. I managed to inspire them to write, a member of staff told me that it was the first time she had seen some of them smile like that in weeks, I had a warm feeling in my chest as I left the hostel. I knew I had made a difference to someone’s day. That’s when it hit me. The epiphany, the impulse to help people, the day that I started to doubt my career choice.

I want to teach. I don’t know why I didn’t realise this before but it hit me and now the feeling won’t go away. Of course, my anxiety reminds me daily of everything that could go wrong if I decide to do it and I am still on the fence about what I really want. I thought I wanted the 9-5 office job, sitting at a computer all day, writing. Now, I’m not so sure. I get bored easily and I want a job that is different every single day. I also have this need to help and inspire people. I have always loved children (even though I am definitely not ready for my own). So why not take the plunge and train to be a primary school teacher?

I’m at a crossroads, I am so confused about what I really want and exactly who I want to be. One thing I know for definite is that I love to write, what ever that may be. I think my lack of writing fiction is due to having too much going on in my mind right now, once I sort through it, I’m sure the ideas will come and I will start writing again.

I was so sure that I wanted to go into publishing and magazines and a small part of me still wants to, but I would have to relocate to London and I’m not willing to do that. I have definitely had a change of heart, I just need to decide what to do with it. Do I ignore it and carry on knowing I’m not full happy with my career choice? Do I leave the world of publishing and magazines behind after all of my hard work and go into teaching?

What ever decision I make, it will change my life. I just have to picture the future version of myself in my mind and decide exactly what I want that picture to be.

Writer's Life

New Ideas & NANOWRIMO

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 I’ve decided that this year is the year that I will not only attempt but win NANOWRIMO. Now if you don’t know what NANOWRIMO stands for, I will tell you. It stands for –  National Novel Writing Month. That’s right, I’m going to attempt to write an entire novel…. in a month! That’s impossible, you’re probably thinking. It isn’t. Thousands of people do it and this year, I will be one of them. I have all of my character profiles done but I still need to write down plot points from the beginning to the end of my story, I still have time though. Once I’ve done that I will confidently be waiting for the 1st of November when I can get my first draft done in just 30 days.

This is the first year that I am seriously taking up the challenge, I have plenty of time on my hands. I have no job and nothing to tie me down, the only thing I lack is motivation. I’ve added some writing buddies on my NANOWRIMO page and if I get stuck I can talk to one of them or one of my other writing friends. I need to do this. I need to prove to myself that I can really do it. I know I can complete a novel from start to finish, I just need to believe in myself. Winning NANOWRIMO will help me with this self belief.

My new idea is my fourth attempt at a novel. I feel like I haven’t found the right story or the right genre yet. I’m sure I will find out during the NANOWRIMO process if this is the right fit for me. The story is women’s fiction, I would describe it as a chick lit with suspense. The story follows two woman who have an unlikely connection, the story will reveal a big secret and there will be plenty of shocks and surprises to keep the reader turning the page.

I’ve worked out that writing 2,000 words a day would get me to 62,000 words and I only need 50,000 to complete the NANOWRIMO challenge. I’m sure I can manage more then 1,500 words each day. There will be distractions, situations and obstacles but I am really excited about the challenge and I hope that my confidence stays high and I remain focused on the goal. I would love to post another blog at the end of November and tell you all that I did it. Wish me luck… I’m going to need it!

Reviews

‘Lucy’ Film Review

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Lucy is a heart-pounding action packed thriller with eccentric possibilities. 

Luc Besson’s latest film Lucy has been compared to Limitless, a previous film starring Bradley Cooper but the thriller explores further fictional realms. The plot begins with the main character Lucy played by Scarlett Johansson, a student living in Taiwan. Her latest boyfriend Richard tricks her into delivering a case to a group of business men in a fancy hotel. In a matter of minutes Lucy is thrown into a mess of blood, drugs and crime when she and three other men are used as drug mules to transport a mystery drug CPH4 to different countries.

After being kicked in the stomach where the drugs are stored Lucy experiences the devastating effects of the drug leaking into her body. The sub-plot centres around Professor Samuel Norman played by Morgan Freeman, who’s area of academic expertise surrounds brain activity and cerebral capacity. The plot switches between the action of  Lucy discovering her abilities and Professor Samuel Norman talking about what would happen if humans could use more than 10% of their brains.

When the characters collide the fast paced plot soars and the mind blowing blend of science and fiction creates an exciting  film experience. The words that really stood out to me during the film were ‘Without time we don’t exist.’ This profound sentence captivates the entire meaning of the film and makes you wonder if we actually exist at all. There are very few films that leave a lasting effect on the viewer, Lucy is one of those films. It is a gem, the best film I have seen this year and if you love science fiction, action or thrillers you will definitely love this film.

Five stars *****

Book Reviews

‘The Naughty Girls Book Club’ By Sophie Hart Book Review

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I have never warmed to erotic fiction and I definitely didn’t join in with the fifty shades of grey phenomenon so when I heard that The Naughty Girls Book Club was put in that category, I almost didn’t read it. However, I gave it a chance and it’s proof that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, I wouldn’t call it an erotica novel at all. It’s a fun chick lit with a cheeky dialogue and sexy scenes, definitely my kind of book.

The story begins with Estelle, who decides to set up a book group in order to bring in more customers for her struggling business Cafe Crumb. As the first book club meeting ends with Estelle suggesting to the other members that they read an erotica novel, she soon realises that it is just what the members need to spice up their lives and her own. The sizzling choice of novels that follow inspire the group of shy suburban readers to shake off their inhibitions and discover a new side to themselves.

After a couple of chapters I was hooked on the story, the plot is fairly simple but the novel is character driven, which is why I could immerse myself in their world. The book was definitely not what I expected and although Sophie Hart was inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey, her novel has reached a pinnacle that E L James could never reach. The novel was well written for a start, it was entertaining, clever and had the right amount of heated moments scattered throughout, the story had a perfect balance of naughty and nice.

I loved that this book was about modern women who want to explore their female sexuality and the main reason why I couldn’t read Fifty Shades was because it was about a man objectifying a woman and I found it difficult to agree with the rest of the world when they called it ‘great literature.’ Sophie Hart’s novel on the other hand is evidence of a true talent to keep a reader turning the page.

I can’t wait for Sophie Hart’s new novel The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees which is to be released in September, if it’s anything like The Naughty Girls Book Club, I’m sure I will love it!

Four Stars

Stories

Treacherous

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A beacon of light saved me.  July 15th was the day that everything changed. It was an ordinary morning, the sun was shining but sadness clouded my mind, I was on the edge of destruction, praying for salvation. Darkness had snatched away the hope that I would one day be completely happy. I had no positive thoughts left to keep me going, I was living a pitiless life on the streets and I didn’t want to carry on. It never crossed my mind that a single moment could change the direction of your life. I thought that my miserable life was all that the fates would allow for me. But now I realise that life is a treacherous journey, you never know what will happen day by day. Life is a stream of  moments. A collection of photographs. Before I met James, my photographs were black and white. My life had no purpose. But now my life is colourful. I have to keep the shadows of my past locked away to enjoy the lease of life I have been gifted. If James ever discovered the ghosts of my childhood or the insidious struggles of my young adult life, he would leave me. Just like everybody else does.

   ———————

  One night I slept in the ginnels behind The Slug & The Toad pub on Western Avenue. I was lucky to find somewhere cosy for the night but I knew I couldn’t stay there for too long, I needed to keep moving. It was roughly day seven on the streets. I was past the point of desperation now, I managed to get by like most homeless people do but I was hoping that luck would reach me soon. I was twenty two years old and I had never had a place that I could call home. The second the hand on the clock reached twelve on my eighteenth birthday I left the children’s home. They wouldn’t come after me; I was able to do what I wanted to do. I stayed in a few hostels but I never spent long in each one. I was at my fifth hostel when things spiralled out of control. I had been in the hostel for a week or two and one night there was a new girl who was about the same age as me, or she may have been a tiny bit older. She sat in the corner, withdrawn and lifeless. She had extremely shallow cheekbones and her ratty blonde hair was tied in a messy ponytail, I noticed that the skin around her right eye was bruising silver. Her eyes were pale green, she hardly blinked in the few moments that I watched her. I never usually introduced myself to the other girls in the hostel but pity took over my natural instinct that night, I walked over to introduce myself.

I tapped her on the shoulder.

‘Hi, I’m Erin. What’s your name?’ I waited for a response.

‘I know it seems scary in this place but it isn’t that bad once you get used to it, are you okay?’

Her eyes darted in my direction. She stepped towards me and before I had time to even process her actions, she had punched me in the face. Sharp blows continuously imprinted my cheek and she didn’t stop until someone had to pull her off me. Stunned, I walked away in silence and all of the other people in the room quickly ignored the existence of the fight. I assumed that it was something that happened  frequently in hostels , but I wasn’t prepared to stick around and find out. The next morning I left. I decided that I had to go it alone, no more hostels. Ever since I have been living on the streets. I still don’t understand why that girl lashed out at me, something terrible must have happened to her before entering the hostel, not that it gives her any dignified excuse to attack me. I tried to forget about her but her troubled eyes have been carved into my memory ever since.

To be continued.