Saturday, 20 December 2014

A Writing Update #4

  • So I'm adding 'graphic novel' to my list of projects. My friend said to me one day; "I want to do a graphic novel. Not sure of what, but I want to do one". We agreed to collaborate, came up with a basic idea and jotted down lots of bizarre characters over Yo Sushi. These characters are full of potential stories, and we bounce off each other really well since we're such fab friends, so it should be a very fun project!
  • Fleshing out my idea for the radio play (it finally has some substance! Yay!). Currently discussing it with the Head of Scripted, will keep y'all posted.
  • I have also finally installed Scrivener. It's THE software for writers, and it's magical.


As a result of watching Guardians of the Galaxy, I'm loving 70's music. The 'Awesome Mix' from the film is such a great playlist, and I'm rediscovering The Runaways. Wasn't so keen on them when I listened to them aged 13, but I've been listening to their first album again and it's great.

Rocking the spandex. Credit: realfilmcareer

I'm still obsessed with Lorde, especially after seeing her perform 'Yellow Flicker Beat' live:

She's pretty incredible here, her weird erratic dancing is completely let loose, she commands the stage and it's super cute seeing Taylor Swift enthusiastically cheering her on (they're close friends).

Real Life and Other Nonsense
  • I am back home for a little bit for Christmas, but it's not a holiday because I have so much uni work. Essay, 70 page journal, two exams. So much. Help me. 
  • I have realised I am slightly too content with my uni life. It's very comfortable - lovely accommodation, good degree, fun societies. Please don't take it away from me... I need to sit down, figure out what I want and how to get there. 
Merry stressed-out Christmas everyone!

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

A Writing Update #3

I was ill for three weeks straight *sigh*. Am better now, so this was what happened since the last update (I'll be posting these every other week on Sunday).

It went a little like this:
  • September/Early October: wrote some pretty good essays, but otherwise my creativity levels were pretty dire. Dug out a novella I wrote 2 years ago and started rewriting/re-editing it, but deadlines paused my progress.
  • Mid October: picked up free-writing - I brain-dump words for 10 minutes in the morning everyday. 
  • Late October to mid November: doing a creative writing module for my course, finally managed to come up ideas.
  • Late November: SO MANY IDEAS ALL AT ONCE. Now potentially writing a radio play, drafting ideas for a theatre play and two short stories. I don't know how this happened.
I've had an idea at the back of my head for a long time - wanted to write the story but it just didn't seem to work. A theatre writing workshop later, and I found the medium for the idea. Writing for screen/radio/theatre and creating a novel/novella/short story/poem uses different techniques and certain mediums brings out certain aspects of the story. So, note to self: experiment more.

Lorde is my queen. Pure Heroine is my go-to album for everything; background music, chillout music, studying soundtrack, when I'm doing the dishes - I love it. It's dark, strange and just gorgeous.

Am addicted to 'Yellow Flicker Beat', her latest song - the music video is spectacular.

Real Life and Other Nonsense
  • Making my first every Christmas list! It's such a long list - there's 3 items on it! A good camera, Scrivener, and a flask (green tea on the go = day made). 
  • I've signed up to 2 Christmas society dinners and a Secret Santa. I'm feeling...festive?

Madness. Happy December to y'all.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Writing Book Reviews

One of many perks of being a Book section editor is a lot of review books. It's pretty awesome - free book in exchange for about 500 words.

I'm just sharing what I've learnt  from experience so far. There isn't one way to write a book review, so take what you want from this (words are bold so those in a rush can skim. I'm not being patronising!).

Getting review copies
Since student newspapers are small publications, we don't get approached with books unless a student/local is promoting their work. So, I have to request them myself. I believe bigger companies are automatically sent big releases or are give a list of books they can choose from (but don't quote me on that).

'We are the media'
I keep on top of book news, knowing what new releases are coming up and when. Twitter is fantastic for this - I follow authors, publishers and book stores. Authors tend to promote other writers (which is a lovely thing to see happening), so following one writer can lead on to more.

Try and send in your request at the right time - around a month before or after the release date is your bubble. Two months after is pushing it, but can be done.

To contact the right person to contact, search through the book's publisher - not the big publishing house that encompasses many smaller companies. You want THE company. It's important to be very specific - try and email exactly the right person. After all, we're all busy people and they won't appreciate having to forward your email on. The contact details are usually in the press/publicity department (yup, you're press now!), or if it's a company abroad, you might have to locate the international department. Generally, it's not too hard to find the right person, but sometimes - have a big cup of tea next to your.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Oh My Donkeys I Need To Chill Out

I actually had to look up how to spell donkey. Too. Burnt. Out.

I found my old school reports not too long ago. There's 2 things that repeat since I've started school;
1) Talk more in class. Too quiet.
2) Takes on too much.

Those are still applicable. I'll talk about the first one some other time.

I had an idea that I was going to write this post with everything figured out, with a clear list of things to do in order to strike a good work-life balance. But that's not happening. I'm used to doing lots. There's so much out there - shows, gigs, interviews, talks, exhibitions, socials, articles to write, people to meet, things to try. I want to do EVERYTHING.

Here's some of the stuff I'm doing this year:

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

A Writing Update #2

It's been a while.

I spent a month in Hong Kong (it was significantly less fun than it sounds). Ironically, as HK has one of the fastest internet speeds in the world, I barely had access to WiFi during that time.

After being reunited with Martin the laptop, I finally finished the short story for the Benjamin Franklin Literary Prize, as mentioned in the previous update.

Also have been doodling down some poems, which is a relief as I thought my burst of surprisingly good poetry several months ago was a one-off. Am hoping to write a little collection of poetry and get some feedback on it.

I AM OBSESSED WITH JAZZ-HOP. It's so good - here's my favourite playlist:

I went on to find this album: 'Coffee House Swinger: Brewing Sessions' by Boho Fau & Elevated Soul. It's sublime, I was playing it pretty much all month during my exile holiday abroad. You hit play and pretend you're in a jazz cafe - it's smooth, chilled and beautiful. You can set whatever price you want to buy the album (can put $0, but please do give what you can).

Real Life and Other Nonsense
  • Watched 'How To Train Your Dragon 2' and discovered how it feels to love a film so much it breaks your heart a little when it ends (been playing the soundtrack on repeat).
  • Take 2 of driving test is coming up on Friday. Irritatingly, the more lessons I've been having, the worse I've been getting. Which is worrying, to say the least.
  • Going back to uni very soon. Being stuck at home makes me restless, and after watching HTTYD, I'm ready to go adventuring out into the world. Despite it being my second year now, I'm still a little worried about meeting people. However;
"There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met."
- W.B Yeats

Sunday, 29 June 2014

A Writing Update #1

I keep a database of writing competitions and potential projects. It's been tremendously useful - I've been entering as many as I can over the last year, just building up practice.

I've just entered this writing competition by Dying Matters, a coalition of people raising awareness of dying, death and bereavement. I'm quite pleased with my entry, and I've learnt a few things as well (I have been tweeting them for later collection):

  • Just write. Don't fuss too much with the first draft. Make all your mistakes, get the ideas down and then apply the following things.
  • Tell the story. Don't explain it. Weave the backstory into the story, don't just plonk it down. 
  • Grammar! I'm not very good with speech marks - got correct examples on a post-stick note now.
  • Less is more. Don't cram too much into one sentence. Don't bother with a big word when a normal one will do nicely.
  • Structure. I managed to structure this story fairly well, but it was a little loose at times. With a short story, each section/paragraph should count and stay strong.
  • Feedback is awesome. Singularly the most important part of writing. Aside from writing
Then went into a slump for a week (and was rescued by KickthePJ, but more on that later) and have now moved on to this competition by the Benjamin Franklin House. Task is to interpret this quote by Mr Franklin;
"When the well's dry, we all know the worth of water"

Took me a little while to come up with an original idea, but I think I have a good one.

Music: I love listening to soundtracks and I am currently LOVING Transistor. It's the second game by SuperGiant, creators of the award-winning Bastion. I haven't played it yet, but I saw TotalBiscuit's intro/review and VintageBeef's Let's Play. The artwork? Amazing. The music? Just listen...

And finally - I've rediscovered KickthePJ. He creates beautifully awesome short films and spoken poems. His work is very colourful and *slightly* surreal, packed with imagination and a creative energy that's managed to pass through the screen into me. It woke me from that mid-projects creative slump  and just made me love creating again. This is my current favourite video of his:

"I then live within another world for seven or eight hours. And then I wake up."

Art creates art. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

A Room of One's Own - Nevers, Parents and David Tennant

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write"
- Virginia Woolf 

I moved out of my uni room for the summer. It sucked, but at least I saw David Tennant at my uni (more on that later).

(My room restored to its generic self. That's the mattress
cover, by the way, not a deflated ghost)
I'm not too sad about losing the room. I mean, I was sad about the Nevers; I'll Never be in that room again, feeling at home. I'll Never sleep in that bed and wake up to that view. I'll Never have all the familiar things about it. But, I'm going to a better place in the Autumn Term, so the physical room itself isn't too big a loss.

It's the independence. You see, in order to measure my freedom, I ask myself this question; "If I wanted to, could I go for a walk at midnight?" I know, that's not a very safe or sensible thing to do (although, a friend once said "It's Exeter. What are they going to do, steal your hummus?"), it's very nice to know that you could just get up and get out.

I like living on my own terms. I am not judged, and if I am, I am not hurt. My decisions are my own - whether it's modules or grocery shopping. If I break something, I broke something that was mine. There is no one else to be told or to intervene.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

An Online Portfolio

I'll be updating this page as time goes on (all links open a new window).

Stories, Competitions and Commissions :

All my articles can be found under my tag here. Highlights of my writing include:

(Holly Smale. Credit: HarperCollins)


Bully - 'Feels Like' album

Review - 'Fargo' (2 May 2014)


Credit: Jack Dean


Photo credit: Bethany Baker




Monday, 26 May 2014

100 Things To Do

In no particular order:
  1. Finish this list
  2. Knit a scarf
  3. Try 3 new recipes
  4. Make ice cream
  5. Have a picnic
  6. Create a painting (acrylic) that I'm proud of 
  7. "" but with watercolour
  8. Write a screenplay
  9. Write a radio play
  10. Write a children's book
  11. Volunteer and help the homeless
  12. Write and sell a book
  13. Write a letter to a politician
  14. Go for one day away from screens
  15. Go on a hike
  16. Go to the movies by myself (2014 - Lego Movie!)
  17. Visit a cafe by myself
  18. Learn a song on piano
  19. Play 'Syrinx' (Debussy) on flute
  20. Play 3 songs on ukulele
  21. Make a skirt/dress
  22. Learn French to a conversational level
  23. Learn Italian ""
  24. Learn Japanese ""
  25. Get a tattoo
  26. Read the Bible
  27. Read the Qu'ran
  28. Read a Confucius text (bonus points if read in Chinese)
  29. Perform a spoken poem (March 2015)
  30. Create a collection of 20 poems
  31. Go to a gig (bonus points if it's an Amanda Palmer gig) (Saw and met her in Bristol in May 2015)
  32. Dye my hair (Put semi-permanent bright red dye in my jet black hair - had a nice red sheen for a while)
  33. See a Shakespeare play in the theatre (MacBeth, March)
  34. Be in a theatre show (in orchestra or on stage)
  35. See the Northern Lights
  36. Spend min 2 weeks living abroad
  37. Vote
  38. Swim in the sea
  39. Swim in a river
  40. Be part of a flashmob
  41. Go to a convention
  42. Have a sleepover
  43. Go to the Hobbit (pub)
  44. See Muse live (Fri 20 March 2015, and met the band)
  45. See Regina Spektor live
  46. See Einaudi live
  47. Eurovision party
  48. Hold a dinner party
  49. Go inter-railing across Europe
  50. Live in London for min 2 weeks

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Make Good Art - Make Bad Music

(All photos courtesy of Beth)
Some friends and I went off to Wagamama's to celebrate the end of our exams and the academic year.

(I was too pro at chopsticks to even be offered a fork)
We ended up buying 2 tubs of Ben & Jerry's and 3 packets of Oreos (we looked like three teenage girls who had been simultaneously dumped) whilst the lady next to us carried her Ryvita crackers and whole wheat food.

Back at Beth's, we were going to watch a movie but ended up lounging around, eating melted ice cream and talking about music. Beth is pretty good at flute (to say the least) and plays viola, and Emily plays/ed the violin and piano. I used to have flute lessons and mess about with the guitar, whilst longing for a piano and a ukulele.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

"Make Good Art"

In 2012, Neil Gaiman made his famous commencement speech at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, which you can watch here:

There's a lot of great messages in his speech, but the one I love most is; whatever happens, make good art.

So that's what I'm going to do.

I want to write. It's my way of making sense of the world, and if I try chasing after anything else, it just doesn't feel right.

I've been waiting for long enough to write properly. For a while, all I could see was roadblock after roadblock, and with no idea how to get over them (I still don't). The problem is; I like to plan well. I want to know what to do at every step. So, if I write, how do I know it's any good? If I do anything good, what do I do with it? If I want to publish it, who's going to accept it? And if it published, will it be successful? What if it is? What if it isn't?

But - there's no point worrying about those problems when I'm nowhere near them. And if I'm going to even get close to these roadblocks, I'll need to actually start.

I'll be using this blog to record what I'm doing (about time I knew what I was doing with this blog), how the writing is going, and so forth, creating something to look back on.

In the long run, I'd like to support myself by writing, but money is a poor motivator for creating things. So, just make good art. Make things up and record them. Write short stories, novels, poetry, scripts. Pick up that cheap notebook and scribble down notes, doodles and ideas. We all have to start somewhere.

Friday, 11 April 2014

A Very Long Absence

Yeah. Sorry.

I might be more motivated if I actually wrote interesting things...

So over the past six months, I: