“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.” – Oscar Wilde
Ever wondered what it’s like to live in a town which sits right next to the shore?
I’ve lived by the sea nearly my whole life. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. The beach in my home town, Sheerness, is something I can’t fault. Despite the town’s many flaws, it can be quite elegant in the summer.
Everyone says they hate the place where they grew up. I’m guilty of it. I have a love-hate relationship with this town which so interestingly has a lot of history behind it. If you look out to sea carefully, you’ll be able to see the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery, and the various different buildings scattered in Southend-On-Sea. Fun, right? Sometimes. I might complain a lot about it, but this is home to me and it will always be. I’m not particularly proud of where I live, but come on, who actually wants to stay in the same place for the rest of their lives? Definitely not me.
When the sky is blue and there isn’t a cloud in sight, it makes the town look like a paradise. A rare sight considering this is Britain we’re talking about. I’ve walked across the promenade many times by myself and it’s such a great place to escape to. I consider it my ‘happy place’ and I always have.
There’s just something about the tranquillity of the beach; the high waves crashing graciously against the shore, and the local townspeople walking their dogs or cycling between the two white chalky lines. Sometimes, I’m tempted to just pick up a book and go there to read, but naturally, I don’t get round to actually doing it.
In August every year, Sheerness often holds a carnival and fair that nearly everyone enjoys. During the evening, fireworks are lit on the beach and you can see the protruding colours pour into the sky, illuminating the water below. It’s a wonderful sight.
Even though there isn’t much to do here and my constant complaints about the boredom, it’s still home. It always will be, and a part of me will always belong to the sea.
My second year of uni is coming to an end, and I feel like it’s time to reflect on how this academic year has been.
Without exaggerating too much, it has been one hell of a year. While it’s been emotionally and mentally challenging, with hurdles and obstacles along the way, it has also been great. I finally made sense of my identity, discovering more about myself and taking big leaps into being the person I am today, and I’ve learned from my mistakes and improved upon them.
In second year, our grades are actually counted towards our final mark in our degrees. It has been an incredibly stressful journey, having failed one assignment last term and worrying about under-achieving, but I think I’m doing well. I’m not completely failing so that’s good.
I’ve come out of my shell a lot this year. I went out with a bunch of friends at Halloween, which was actually my first night out since I started university. It was a great night and I ended up on the brink of being tipsy, but I still had fun. Everyone who knows me well knows I tend to be on the introverted side, so this was a new experience for me as I had only been out with my family and close friends to the local pubs, which didn’t have quite the same effect. We played Cards Against Humanity, watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show (even though I arrived at my friend’s house just minutes before it ended), went to the Student Union and played pool. As expected, I lost. I really hope we can have more night outs because I absolutely loved it.
As mentioned above, I faced failure on an essay I didn’t particularly like. I expected a poor mark, maybe a third, but never did I expect to fail. Needless to say, I was shocked and disappointed and upset, but it was all my fault because I allowed procrastination to get the best of me. I definitely won’t be doing the same thing again. Nevertheless, I didn’t fail the overall module, so I was relieved to hear that.
I’ve set myself some goals which I hope to fulfil in 3rd year, which will undoubtedly be the most stressful year of my career as a student, so here is what I have so far:
- Stop procrastinating and get on with some work.
- Finally publish something, even if it’s just on Wattpad.
- Eat healthier, drink more fluids and sleep earlier.
- Don’t worry too much about assignments.
- Go on more night outs.
- Live more.
- Be more confident.
Obviously, I can’t say I’ll achieve all of these, because who knows what third year will bring. But this year has taught me that I need to buckle down and stop wasting my time because after all, I will leave university next year. I will graduate and I will wish I never left, so I’m determined to make 2016-2017 the best year ever before I graduate and say goodbye to everything I’ve dreamed of for the past sixteen years.
Every teenager at some point feels embarrassed by who they are. It’s unfortunately common, given the impending pressure of adulthood and examinations where we’re expected to grow up quicker than we should. We start to lose sight of who we really are.
As a 19 year old reflecting on my past, I’m ashamed to say I was one of those teens.
I went through a brief phase of being embarrassed by my love for the Harry Potter series. I was always mocked for being too obsessed with it, even to the point where I didn’t pick up one of the books for a long time in fear of being made the centre of a nerd joke. I started to avoid everything that made me happy, including reading and music, simply because I cared too much about the opinions of others.
I was insecure. I felt like the outcast at school. I didn’t want to be hated because of who I was, so I changed myself to impress other people – especially those who I believed were above me on the popularity scale. I was desperate for validation. I was self-conscious about what other people thought and said about me when I wasn’t around.
But most importantly, I was lying to myself and I was refusing to embrace my individuality.
If I could go back, I would honestly slap some sense into myself.
There is nothing wrong with being a nerd. To this day, I unashamedly obsess over Harry Potter and other books. I enjoy sitting down with a nice cup of coffee, watching the latest episode of one of my favourite TV shows on Netflix, and writing. I love blaring my music out loud from my headphones and singing out loud to all of my favourite songs. I love going to gigs and being pushed around in the crowd, and losing myself whilst seeing my favourite bands live. I love being weird with my friends and coming up with lame puns.
And I love it. I love being myself, even if no one else approves. I slowly realised that I wasn’t born to impress anyone else but myself.
One lesson I gained from this was never be afraid to be you, because there is no greater feeling than living the life you want to lead.
And I say it loud and clear: be yourself and be proud.
Music is something I’ve loved since forever.
Is there a day I can go without it? Of course not.
There is nothing better than sitting down after a long day, with a steaming cup of tea in one hand, blasting your favourite songs, and just forgetting about the problems in your life.
I come from a family where music is everything. My late great-granddad used to play the saxophone, my dad and granddad play the drums, and my brother and I are learning to play the guitar (even though I’m still an amateur). It’s constantly playing in my house, and even though it irritates my mum, she never tells us to turn it off unless she wants to watch her TV shows.
I have always relied on music as a means of letting my bottled-up feelings out. There are songs that make me laugh, cry, think, or just simply want to dance to, and that’s the beauty of it.
- Original air date: 2011 – present
- No of seasons: 5
- Episode runtime: 43 minutes
- Writer/producers: Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis
- Country: USA
- Network (UK): Netflix
- Starring: Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Ginnifer Goodwin, Emilie de Ravin, Sean Maguire, Rebecca Mader, Robert Carlyle, Colin O’Donoghue
And so, they all lived happily ever after…or did they?
For Emma Swan, life has been anything but a fairytale. Abandoned by her parents when she was just a baby, she has endured every kind of heartache and disappointment. But on her twenty eighth birthday, when the boy she gave up for adoption arrives on her doorstep, she begins an incredible and life-changing journey. Returning with him to the curious seaside town of Storybrooke, where the residents are cursed fairytale characters, Emma must find the strength and learn to believe if she is ever to restore their memories and be reunited with her family.
Once Upon A Time’s authenticity as a fantasy series is truly unlike anything I’ve seen before. Horowitz and Kitsis deliver a promising tale where the characters we’ve grown to love interact with each other, with a major twist in every episode, rendering us speechless. Every episode is split into two segments; a flashback of a character’s past, and the other set in present-day Storybrooke, which works really well. This unique spin on a world where reality and fantasy collide is enough to make any TV fanatic turn on their screen. The diversity of the cast shouldn’t go without applause; many beloved and well-known characters of different ethnicities, as well as strong, independent female protagonists. The series displays unfamiliar, but distinctive fantastical elements which you will never see in any other fantasy series.
As a creative writing student, I think finding the “perfect voice” in your work can be exhausting. Obviously I can’t speak for every writer out there. Sometimes, voice just comes naturally to oneself and they specifically use it for their desired medium. However, that isn’t the case for most writers.
What is a voice?
When I say ‘voice’, I don’t mean writing dialogue. I mean using your own words and styles to convey the plot to your readers. It’s no good writing in a bland, uninteresting manner if it doesn’t have a touch of your personality within the words. When I write, I usually tend to find my voice isn’t powerful enough to provoke a reader’s emotions or to keep their interest in my work stronger. It’s similar to painting a picture and not using giving enough detail or colour into your piece.
Do you like using short, simple sentences? Use them. Do you like using complex sentences? Again, use them. Your voice is yours. Utilise it in whichever way you want. In my experience, I’ve been afraid of my readers not liking my writing because it’s too ‘fancy’ or too ‘complicated’. Does it matter? Of course not. Unless the words are completely undecipherable or have never been taught in English class, then I would advise you avoid using ‘big’ words that no average reader on earth would understand.
An uncertain voice can also impact the genre in which you’re writing. If it’s fiction, don’t be afraid to include modern vocabulary. Your characters are your mouthpiece; if they’re narrating the story, use them to your advantage. Use slang words and inappropriate words (but, don’t overdo them!) The same applies to poetry, screenwriting, playwriting etc. There are no limitations when it comes to the voice.
Using your voice in character dialogue
Utilising your voice in dialogue is just as important. Do you want your characters to sound like how you speak in real life? Do whatever you wish. Make them as informal and colloquial as you possibly can! It makes them more believable and human.
If it’s possible, inject dialect and accents into your character’s speech. However, I would NOT advise doing this if you lack knowledge of how a certain accent sounds. This can lead to major complications, such as stereotypes and clichés. It’s optional. Your readers will imagine the characters in their preferred accents.
Voice IS relevant to the plot
The voice relates to the plot of your novel. Without it, the plot would be devoid of feeling or action. Your voice is what drives the story forward, as well as character and setting. The language you use influences your characters’ decisions and thoughts.
If you use a typical sentence, unfortunately seen within fiction, such as: “The sky was blue and the trees were green. I looked up and stared at the clouds,” you’re not going to get a lot of positive feedback on your work. People will get bored, and this will have a negative influence on your target audience. Ask yourself 3 questions:
- What language would I use when describing events, people, or places?
- How do I want to describe my characters and settings without making them seem dull?
- How can I make the language more engaging for my readers?
When in doubt, I’ve asked myself these, and it’s usually worked out. Would you say “said” all the time? Would you use simple language to describe amazing experiences? These are all questions that will make a difference to your voice and your writing in general. Here’s some advice I will openly offer if you’re struggling to find your voice:
- Use detail and imagery to create atmosphere.
- Write from all three tenses, and decide which one suits you best.
- Include plot twists and cliffhangers – nothing screams interest more than leaving a reader dumbfounded or desperately wanting to know what happens next.
- Ask other people if the words flow well.
- Accept criticism, and utilise it during your editing to help find your voice.
- Revise the word choices you make and ask yourself if they’re necessary/relevant to the story.
- Create five characters and write short pieces from their perspectives.
- If you like how you’ve written a scene, continue writing like it.
Finding your voice when you’re writing can be difficult and it hits even the best of us, even if we’ve already written something. Voices change, and that’s okay. If you’re struggling, just keep searching and you’ll find it. Become original and write in a way that’s comfortable for you, and one that won’t drive your readers away. Be clear in your writing, and you will find your voice just like that.
Tonight’s post is a rather short one, I’m afraid. All I wanted to say was:
Happy New Year!
So, 2016 has arrived upon us. At midnight, I held up my glass of champagne to toast the new year, and spent my time laughing and talking with those I love dearly whilst I listened to the fireworks outside. It’s definitely one of my favourite nights of the year, because the entire world unites to celebrate the passing of another orbit around the sun.
2015 was one hell of a year. I passed my first year of university, got my second tattoo done, saw two of my favourite bands live for the first time, met new people and became more confident and honest with myself. It was a year of experiences. I’m hoping 2016 will be the same, if not, better.
This year, I turn 20 years old and I already have many experiences lined up spread throughout the year – including two more concerts, and I’m hoping going out with friends will be on the agenda, too.
Some of my goals for this year are all writing-related, but not all. Here they are:
- Stop procrastinating.
- Complete one of my projects.
- Publish something!
- Get a part-time job.
- Pass my second year of university.
- Grab every opportunity.
- Attend more than two concerts (I already have 2 lined up!)
- Finish learning Italian.
- Go to another city other than London.
- Live my life the way I want to.
Do you have any goals set for 2016? Share yours in the comments!
I hope you all had an amazing night and I wish you all a safe and happy 2016! Make this year count!
At some point during the writing process, a writer is bound to face the frustrations of writer’s block.
What is it? It’s easy: it’s the enemy of every writer on the planet. It’s when you are unable to think of what to write, or having little to no motivation to continue writing.
When I’ve been struck by it, I feel extremely stressed and mentally exhausted. Sometimes, it causes me to procrastinate (which we all know is never a good thing!) It’s an aggravating situation to be placed in, especially when there’s a set deadline for your work to be completed by.
Is there any way to prevent it? It depends on the writer. However, every writer can overcome it. It takes a lot, and I mean a LOT, of determination.
While I’m talking about it, I’ll list a few handy tips which have helped me a lot when I’m faced with the devil’s work that is writer’s block:
- Listening to music is quite relieving when trying to generate ideas for a new story. Just the simple line in a song could do the trick!
- Go out for a walk. It’s ironic as writers are stereotypically seen as being introverts, but it’s great to view the world from your own perspective. It could also work wonders for your brainstorming later in the day.
- Read more books. I can’t stress it enough, READ! It could help with coming up with new plot ideas and characterisation if you ever find yourself struggling to come up with a new idea for a character or story.
- People watch. I know, it sounds creepy, but if you’re ever struggling to come up with character development, it can help a tonne!
- Drink coffee. Unless you have an intense dislike for caffeinated drinks, drink a coffee or latte at your local Costa store or in your own home. It’s been proven caffeine increases a person’s creativity. Think I’m lying? Coffee has been a life saver when I’ve been stuck on what to write for my creative assignments!
- Write in a ‘stream of consciousness’ style. I’ve only been introduced to this exercise recently by my tutors. Write whatever comes to mind, and see where it takes you. Alternatively, write to a specific sound or look at a photograph of a place, person, or object, and use it to your advantage.
- Socialise with other people and learn from your conversations. You might be thinking “yeah, right!” Honestly, talking to other people and learning about them can help so much with new ideas! I’m not the most talkative person in the world, but I always find myself overwhelmed with new ideas when I’ve had a lengthy conversation with someone else.
- And importantly, don’t doubt yourself too much. Lately, I’ve noticed one of the leading causes of writer’s block could be your own critique and worrying about what other people will think about your work. We’re all protective about our writing, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about being a creative writing student, it is to embrace criticism and to not compare yourself to other writers.
So, how can you beat writer’s block? WRITE. WRITE. WRITE! Let your imagination run wild and write to your heart’s desire! I can’t stress it enough.
Writer’s block is temporary, after all, and it will eventually go away once a new idea is eager to claw its way into your mind. If you ever find your brain at 3%, recharge it to 100% and let your mind do the work for you (poor reference, I know).
Inspiration is everywhere. It’s limitless, but we all face the times when we struggle to put our thoughts into words, and that’s okay. It’s like wanting to paint a picture but not knowing where to start, or what colours to use. It’s like wanting to make music but not knowing the correct chords or notes. It’s like spending half an hour trying to solve a mathematical formula. It’s inevitable, but it’s not impossible to tackle.
Writing is a fun process, but it can be a pain in the backside at times. If you ever find yourself suffering from writer’s block, just think of it as your imagination being full and needing fresh ideas to replace the old, unwanted ones. Trust me, it works.
Well, what are you waiting for? Get your creative juices flowing! You’ve got some writing to do!
Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything… It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus. – Enid Bagnold
(Quote courtesy: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/72-of-the-best-quotes-about-writing)