Tired hands, stone feet. Frozen in the cage of time. The minutes escape me. The hours turn to dust. The days wrinkle my skin. Another year of wishing, hoping, searching, for a pause button, a moment, to stop, to breathe - EJ ©Emma-Jane Barlow, all words are my own.
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!
We spend a lot of time waiting for things from other people.We’re told from a very young age that we should treat others in the same way that we expect to be treated but sometimes, despite your best efforts with someone, you get nothing in return. In this situation, some people walk away and never look back. Then there are the people that don’t give up, that carry on trying with people because they want to believe that everyone has the same heart as them, I fall into this category.
I know that I’m a nice person, I’m kind, caring and thoughtful. I’m empathetic towards everyone around me and unfortunately, this leaves me open to getting hurt. The biggest problem with being a highly sensitive person is sometimes you give so much to others, that you neglect to take care of yourself. However, I’m learning that even my heart has a limit and I have reached a point where I have to let go.
The image in my mind of how I think certain relationships in my life should be and how my family should look was leaving me emotionally empty. I was going down a path that had no end, searching for a picture-perfect life that wasn’t there. Now, I feel like I am finally at a pinnacle of acceptance. I’m moving on from the childlike family portrait idea that clouded my judgement for so long. Sometimes families fall apart, sometimes it’s people that are in no relation to you that become your family and they show you that blood is not thicker than water after all. Relationships can change over time and not always for the better.
I now know that having high expectations of other people only leads to disappointment. The only expectations I should really have in my life are those of myself. I am the creator of my own life and I should work on improving myself as a person, instead of hoping that those around me fit into a mould of unrealistic expectations. I can’t change another person, no matter how hard I try. We are who we are. We can only change ourselves. Some of us learn from our mistakes but many of us never do.
I’ve learned to accept that I will never have the relationship I wish to have with some members of my family. I’ve realised that I should focus on the good relationships I already have. My life may look a little different to what I originally imagined but there is no reason why I can’t embrace this and be happy.
It’s been a long time since I had a story to tell. Writing stories and poems has always been a big part of my life but over the past two years, I’ve been doing it less. I would only feel inspired in small doses and I felt like I didn’t have the confidence to write well any more.
Today I woke up and decided to finally get an idea on paper that has been brewing in my mind for the past couple of months and it felt good. It’s a novel, in the planning stages but at least it’s something. I’ve decided to stop putting pressure on myself with my writing. Instead of giving myself deadlines and expecting too much, I’m just going to write, for fun, like I used to.
I’ve never lost my passion for writing, just my motivation to do it. If I only write my novel when I want to instead of when I feel I have to, I will probably start to enjoy the process again. In time I will get my confidence back and writing will become a daily part of my life again. No matter how much I write, I will always call myself a writer because I believe that writing is not a profession, it’s a lifestyle.
The amazing thing about writing is there is the freedom it brings me. There is no right or wrong, no rules on how something should be. I feel something strongly and I write about it. I create a character in my mind and write their story. I love to explore the beauty and tragedy of life, the questions I want to answer, the places I want to go through my writing.
I’m excited by my latest idea, I have a good feeling that this could be the story I want to tell but if it isn’t then that’s okay, there is plenty of time for me to try different stories and to grow and learn as a writer.
During the past few years, I have struggled with my mental health. I have General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which means I constantly worry about everything and experience high amounts of anxiety for no reason at all. It took me a long time to accept that my anxiety was part of me, something that I couldn’t erase, something that couldn’t be ‘cured’ with a prescription of pills from the doctor.
A few months ago, when I reached a dark place with my anxiety and depression, I finally admitted to myself that I needed help. I would go days without leaving the house, I would sometimes sit and stare into space, pondering on the bad things that have happened in my life or bad things that ‘could’ happen in the future. I felt like I was trapped by my own mind, it’s a horrible feeling and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.
Having an anxiety disorder is unpredictable. You may go through periods of time without any anxiety at all and then all of a sudden, it’s back and suffocating your thoughts like a dark cloud. I thought I was strong enough to battle my mental health issue on my own and convinced myself that I was ‘in control’ and my anxiety would get better over time, but it didn’t.
I had tried all of the ‘self-help’ options and nothing worked. I was crippled by anxiety, always worrying about the future or feeling sad about the past. I reached a dark place, where I thought medication was the only option for me to proceed. Then, a shining light appeared and everything changed for me. I found the strength to ask for professional help. It was a waiting game but I finally got on the list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
I have to be honest, I was sceptical at first. I had convinced myself that my natural way of thinking, the negative way I approach life and every situation couldn’t be reversed. After a few weeks of therapy sessions, I started to notice a change. I had unconsciously started to think more about my ‘unhelpful thinking style’ and started to rationalise with the voice in my head when negativity surfaced. The great thing about CBT is that it strips back to the bare bones of how you think, how this effects your behaviour and how you can change this in the future.
David, my therapist was amazing. He was honest, critical and helpful in our sessions. Always sending me home with ‘homework’ to do, such as thought diaries and weekly schedules, he discovered what my triggers were and how to remove them from my life. For me it was during my alone time that I experienced more anxiety and more depressive thoughts. The answer for me was to always keep myself busy and distract myself by colouring, reading, doing yoga or simply doing some meditation.
Ever since I started CBT, I managed to pull myself out of the depressive state that I found myself in for months, started to fight against my negative thoughts and made small changes in my life that were going to improve my overall wellbeing. I am going to do yoga as often as I can, learn how to meditate, practice mindfulness and make sure I find time to relax each day. I’m going to still have bad days and now I realise that it’s okay to feel sad sometimes and it’s normal to worry, as long as it doesn’t take over your life.
I feel like I am reaching a mental health milestone. I have learnt in the past few months that anxiety cannot be ‘cured’ it can only be ‘managed.’ I have discovered that if I give attention to my anxiety and say to myself that I am mentally ill or there is something wrong with me, it only fuels my negativity and it will probably erase any progress that I have made.
I feel like I have reached a pinnacle of understanding. I accepted my anxiety was a problem, I asked for help and now I no longer feel alone on this journey to achieve a positive mindset. I have a long way to go but I finally feel like I can see the light at the end of a dark tunnel of worry, insecurity, anxiety and doubt. Like a butterfly, I feel free to go anywhere I want to go and do anything I want to do. I want to believe in hope instead of fear. I want to see the glass as half full instead of half empty. My anxiety will never ‘go away’ but I’m confident that I’m now in control of how I think, how I feel and how I behave.
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.
So, I have decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo. After the success of winning NaNoWriMo in November last year, completing 50,000 words in thirty days for my first full length novel 1:58, I decided that it was time to do it again. Camp NaNoWriMo is the same as NaNoWriMo but there is more freedom, I can choose my own word count goal. However, I’m still sticking to 50,000 words. I can do it. I know I can.
I feel like I have lost a lot of motivation in the writing side of my life and the less I write, the more confidence I lose and I knew that it was time to transfer the novel that I have been planning for months in my head, down on paper. I have started to outline and plan a novel called The Last Letter. I have it planned up to chapter twelve and I am going to spend the last few days of June planning the rest to start the Camp NaNoWriMo on July the 1st.
I have planned many novels and many of them have never been written but this one, it just feels different. I can’t really explain why but this is the story that I really want to tell. Completing the challenge last year boosted my confidence enormously because I had never completed a longer piece of writing from start to finish. I had written poetry and short stories but never succeeded in writing an entire novel. Now I can say I have. And I am going to do it again.
I have so much time on my hands right now and I feel like I am wasting it. Day in and day out, I do nothing productive and it is only getting worse. I don’t want to be the writer that doesn’t write. I don’t want to be the woman who says she wants to be an author but never even tries to make the dream a reality. I want to write this novel.
The Last Letter is my chance to prove that I can write novels. It is easy for some writers to just write a 100,000 word novel from start to finish, start revising it, complete it and then send it to publishing houses. But what about the rest of us? The struggling writers that don’t always have the discipline to complete what we start? The writers that listen to the voice in their heads that says they are not good enough and believe it. The writers that know they can do it but have to convince themselves that they won’t fail.
I can manage 1,600 words a day. I have done it before. There are a few days in the month of July that I will be busy but I will have to work around my plans and make sure I get my daily word count. I know I can do this. I have done this before.
July has one extra day than November. I have thirty one days and 50,000 words to write and this time I am going to revise the novel and redraft it and get it ready to be published. No more messing around with ideas and wondering if I am good enough to be published. I need to start believing in myself. I can be an author, no, I will be an author and doing NaNoWriMo is just a stepping stone on my journey to achieving this dream.
The first time I was nominated for the Liebster Award was June last year by Dare To Dream, Live To Write. She said some really nice things about my blog and since then my blog has taken on a different identity, attracted more readers and inspired many people so thank you to KatWilson04 for nominating me for the Libester Award 2015.
Here are KatWilson04‘s questions and my answers:
- What cartoon character would you be and why? I would say I’m Tinkerbell from Peter Pan. I’ve been called Tinkerbell quite a few times by different friends growing up. I’m small, fiesty and can be ill-tempered. Tinkerbell has two sides to her personality, she can be jealous and firey but also kind and loving. Minus the blonde hair, I’ve been told by a lot of people that I remind them of Tinkerbell.
- One item of clothing you couldn’t live without? Oooh, that’s a hard one. Probably my favourite pair of jeans that I wear most of the time. Although I really love my fashion scarves. I have quite a collection now and wear them with different outfits, my favourite is a pink butterfly one that I have just bought. It’s not the piece of clothing I couldn’t live without per say, but it is my favourite thing to wear right now.
- What made you start blogging? We were told in our first year at university on my Creative Writing course that we had to create one for class, so that we could review the books that we were reading but since then AnotherBeautifulRhyme has become so much more than that. It’s a place of expression, inspiration and motivation. I want to inspire people with words, talk about my journey as a writer and talk about my love for yoga and my journey to happiness. I’m really proud of how my blog has turned into something positive and I love seeing how many people like my posts, it makes my day.
- What’s the best question you’ve ever been asked and why and what was your response? The best question I’ve ever been asked is if you could live in another era, which one would it be? I love questions like that because I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in the 50’s, I’m fascinated by that era and although being a woman in that time period was extremely hard, I really love the idea of living in that time, I love the style of music, the fashion and the simplicity of life. I sometimes think I was born at the wrong time.
- If you could be part of a band/music group, who would you choose and why? I would be Taylor Swift’s back up singer definitely. I’ve always been a huge fan of hers, I found a video of her playing on YouTube before she was even famous and before she even released her first CD. I’ve been a fan ever since and I feel a connection with her even though we have never met. If she lived next door to me and she wasn’t a famous singer, we would probably be best friends because we are very similar. I would be her back up singer because I feel like I have always been there for her as a fan, so it would be cool to be on stage with her every night and watch her shine.
- What’s your favourite recipe, and where did you get it from? I’m not really a cook and it isn’t my recipe but my mother in law makes the best Spaghetti Bolognese. She’s shown me how to make it a few times and I just love it!
- If you could move to live in another place or country, where would it be and why? That’s a hard question! I’m one of those people. I’m in love with countries I have never visited and in love with people I have never met. I can’t wait to travel the world, explore new cultures, meet new people and experience new things. I like the idea of Italy, Rome to be exact. There is a romantic notion associated with it and I believe that it would be a great place to live and it would be a great place for a writer to be inspired on a daily basis.
- What one thing would you change about the world permanently and why? I would change the way we treat each other, the way the world is divided. Without money, religion, race or class, the world would be a completely different place, a nicer place. I would get rid of these divisions somehow. I have never understood the way the world works and I often dream of a better way things could be.
- Favourite animal? I love animals, I have a Guinea Pig called Theo and I adore him, I love dogs, orangutans, elephants, tigers, bears and meerkats. I prefer animals to humans sometimes.
- Favourite perfume/fragrance? I love Taylor by Taylor Swift, it smells sweet yet sophisticated at the same time, I love it!
- If you could give one tip or one bit of advice to a person, what would it be? I give a lot of advice to other people but rarely follow it myself and I really should. My one bit of advice would simply be this, be happy. Find a way to be happy with your life. We all have problems, challenges to face and things we are waiting for but if you learn to be content with the way your life is right now you will be much happier. Don’t forget to appreciate and love the people around you and most importantly, love yourself.Thank you for the questions KatWilson04!
Here are eleven random facts about me.1. My eyes change colour, sometimes they are green and sometimes they are blue and sometimes they are both green and blue (magic!).
2. I prefer the inbetween seasons, Spring and Autumn. Winter is too cold and Summer is too hot. I love Spring because of the pink blossom on the trees and I love daffodils. Autumn is a beautiful season because of the orange and red leaves falling to the ground.
3. I started writing poetry at the age of five, yes really, I found one of my old poems and I was five, nearly six when I wrote it. I’ve always loved poetry and always been obsessed with rhyme, hence my blog title.
4. I love pugs! I’ve always wanted a dog growing up and I really want a pug and hopefully, when me and my boyfriend get our own house in the future, we can have a pug or maybe even two!
5. I am the world’s biggest procrastinator. I want to write, I let ideas float around in my mind for weeks before I actually write them down. I start the day with hopes of writing my novel ideas down and writing poetry but I always end up watching Pretty Little Liars or searching for new music on YouTube.
6. I always want to learn something new, I taught myself how to play the guitar and keyboard and I have recently reached level one in British Sign Language and I really love it. I’m not sure what the next thing will be, maybe I will learn Spanish or learn how to draw.
7. My favourite colour is Green.
8. I love old music, anything from the sixties, seventies, eighties or nineties. I prefer it to modern music.
9. I wear glasses, I can’t see anything clearly without them.
10. I started doing yoga over a year ago and it has changed my life. I practice Hatha Yoga and also love to meditate.
11. I play acoustic guitar, keyboard and sing.
Here are your questions:
1. What’s your favourite season of the year and why?
2. Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
3. What’s the meaning behind your blog name?
4. What’s your favourite thing about life?
5. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?
6. Which three novels would you recommend to your friends?
7. What is your biggest dream?
8. What is your biggest fear?
9. What’s your favourite thing about yourself?
10. If you could be any person for one day, who would you be and why?
11. Why do you love to blog?
Six Simple Rules Of The Liebster Award
So it’s almost August and I wanted a lot more of my novel written than just 3,000 words. I’m a bit disappointed in myself for not sticking to my goal of at least 6,000 words by the end of July. However, I have been busy working at Female First and the days that I don’t go to the office I am starting my third year preparations for university. I have managed to list the ideas I have for each of my classes this year. For the first time we are studying Screen writing and our biggest assignment is to write a short film or TV pilot episode script. I have an idea already set up but I am yet to begin writing it because I don’t have the knowledge of how a script for screen is presented. I am sure this is what I will be learning in my final year but at least I have a solid idea written out in my journal. I have titled it ‘One Step Closer’, it will be a TV pilot episode of a drama about children living in a care home. I have some character profiles and I know some of scenes that will take place in the first episode.
I am making good progress with my third year preparations, I just wish I had made more progress with my novel for my dissertation. I know where I am going with my novel it’s just finding the time and the motivation to write it. As for fiction next year, I have a few story ideas drafted in my journal. One of them is a story about a little girl that goes missing and the story is told in three points of view, the mother’s, the child and the kidnapper. I have a title because I usually start with a title when I am writing and it will be called The Girl In Red.
Although I have only written 3,000 words I am already deciding to make alterations to my novel. At the moment it is in first person, present tense. I want to keep it in first person because I believe it to be the best way to tell the story but I am going to re-write it in past tense to see which I prefer. Better doing it now with 3,000 words than 30,000 words. I have far too many distractions to do it. It’s frustrating. It’s Sunday tomorrow. I have nothing to do. I might go to the gym for an hour but that’s it. So I am going to write. I am going to re-write the 3,000 words I have and change it to past tense. Then I will decide which is better. Saying I am going to write and actually writing are two very different things. I need to stop this laziness and get something written. If not, I’m sure I will regret the heavy dissertation workload that I will be bombarded with in September.
I was given three weeks to complete all of my work and I thought this was enough time. I don’t think time management is one of my strongest skills but I decided to create a schedule but it just didn’t work out. I hated the restrictions I was setting myself and I wanted to do what work I felt like doing instead of doing what I wrote in a timetable. Now I have eight days to finish my 30 page script, my personal development plan, add more poems to my 15 poem portfolio, add 1000 words to my 2000 word short story and at least start my 3000 word report.
I feel like my head is going to explode! I know I have another week but I feel like I haven’t got enough time. It’s not like I haven’t done any work. I have been doing little bits of each piece every single day. Maybe this wasn’t enough. I just can’t wait to get all of these assignments in and then I have a few weeks left of this term then it’s summer! That thought scares me too because I have no plans or job as of yet. I am trying to complete all of this work in time but I don’t think I am going to do it. The good thing is they are not all due in the first day I go back so I have a little time.
The main focus is my 30 page script because that assignment is in first and so far I have 11 pages that I am happy with. I am very surprised with my patience with writing this script. I am out of my comfort zone but I am enjoying writing for this medium. It makes a refreshing change from short story writing,. something I am more familiar with. I really need to pull it together. I’m sure I can do it! Time is ticking.. I better start typing!