The Books I Wish I’d Written

I was in one of my seminars at university, when the fateful task was set. Simply, our tutor asked us, “Which children’s book do you wish you’d written?” In the final seminar we’ll have for the module, we have to present the book of our choosing to our smaller table group, and talk about why we wish we’d written it.

So, as I was rushing out of my seminar (being let out early because it’s submission day), and back to my flat to get some things together before my study session, I pondered on this question.

Which book do I wish I’d written? Out of all the books I’ve read, loved and read again, which one would I wish I myself had written? I’m a young writer, beginning to hone her craft, and really work on her voice on the page. What book would I have wanted to have written for children? Or indeed, any audience?

I should answer this question in three parts, the children’s book I would of liked to have written, the modern adult novel I wish I’d written, and the classic book I’d love to have written.

 
Children’s Book 



Ah, The Book Thief, which was adapted into a very successful, beautiful film last year. The story of a German girl adopted by a couple, during the Nazi regime. Told from the POV of Death, the story of Liesel, the Jew hidden in the basement and the books she steals after learning how to read, among other things is one that is haunting, funny, sad and beautiful all in one book. Using an outsider who is omnipresent to tell the story in first person, with little quips every now and then, is a really clever idea that I wish I’d come up with myself in my own literature. 

Modern  Adult’s Book



Had to be this one! Telling the untold version of the story of Oz, and how the Wicked Witch of the West became Wicked, and how Glinda the Good became Good.  It is intricate, complicated, dark and erotic, among other things. This isn’t a bedtime story for the kids, that’s for sure! The way that Maguire took an established world, and completely turned it on its head, making it his own world, is something I’ve always envied. I also relate to Elphaba, the green girl who becomes the Wicked Witch we all love to hate. Her story is told in a way that is sensitive and empathetic, all those who have been shunned and abused for being different are given a voice through this prickly, angry woman. I wish I’d written Elphaba myself!

Classic Book



How could I not? This was a book that saved me when I was fourteen, lonely and depressed in a foster home where I wasn’t loved. The confident, feisty Elizabeth Bennet was a girl after my own heart. I lived vicariously through her as she went to balls, toured big houses and argued with Mr. Darcy. 

But why do I wish I’d written this book? 

The characters put in for comic effect, of course! Mr. Collins is just ridiculous, pompous, kissing Lady Cathrine’s butt in order to get ahead, and talking stupidly about her whilst in company. Not to mention his lack of manners in social situations… (Sorry Darcy!). And who can forget Mrs. Bennet? The neurotic, loud woman who is determined to ensure all her daughters are suitably married, driving her poor husband, who’d married her when she was still pretty and sorely regrets it now, into living in his study all the time, pretty much. Without these two, the novel wouldn’t be as good as it is. And it is that skill in comedic character building that I want to learn from Austen.

So, that’s my answer to my tutor’s question done. OK, I’ve gone through two books that I couldn’t look at in that class, but I couldn’t resist! 

Books, Books, Books…

They are a major part of my life. I’m not even kidding! When most women buy wine and shoes, I purchase books and tea, maybe some cosy jumpers too…

I saw an article about books affecting relationships, and about these two women’s reactions to books changing their relationships in various ways. I thought I’d respond.

I’ve even gotten into fights with partners over my reading habit. My ex told me I should stick to the TV, he did so happily, so why was that an issue? That sucked. I’d buy him books for Christmas, and he’d pretend to read a chapter before sending it on to a charity shop a week later. Another partner disputed my choice of reading material (“do you read anything post classics era? You know, published recently?”). And one moaned when I started reading Chris Ryan novels so I’d fit in with his literary discussions on the playground.

But I fell in love as a result of reading. When Matt was staying over one time, in my old halls, I had to leave him for an hour as I had an appointment with my mentor. When I got back, he was curled up with a book. He wasn’t even disturbed by my entrance, as I kicked off my heels and shimmied out of a little dress to climb back into bed. A man who reads is a man I shall attempt to be with forever!

And, we talk about books all the time! We go through the set novels on my lists for university, as well as general books we loved as children, teenagers, young adults. Even books we read for pleasure get discussed and reviewed verbally, exploring themes and ideas of the writers, coming up with our own theories.

I’m just hoping I get books for Christmas!

First Week Back!

So, I’ve finally finished my first week back in classes! I’m currently celebrating with a sneezing fit in the IT room as I type up this entry. Yes, I’ve heard a titter or two already coming from fellow inmates/students as I wonder why the hell it’s kicking off now. Maybe I’m allergic to studying?

All jokes aside, it has been great to be back doing what I love to do, that is, being in the academic environment, being in a routine once again.

Not to mention that there are some really interesting classes this year, compared to last year, with journals in Writer’s Workshop 2, in which I can get away with writing about the obcsene poems inspired by Ginsburg, and talk about not reading but screwing (sorry Matt!), reading picture books in Writing for Young People (Where The Wild Things Are, fabulous!), reading chick lit in Genre Fiction (even when a girl complains how deeply offended she is by the term ‘chick lit’, calling it highly mysoginistic, and that we should be banned from reffering to it as such, even though the industry itself refers to books as such. What do you lot think? I’m not overly fussed!), and writing poetry to be yelled at in Performance Poetry. I’ll admit that I did skive Sudden Prose to go to my Comedy Society session, but after an email from my professor asking me whether I’m still in the module or not guilt-tripping me, I’ll have to drop Comedy for a bit. It’s only for one semester though, so I can chillax.

So, it’s been a good week, other than realising that using a manual wheelchair to get around campus is an absolute nightmare, especially when your lecture/support session is at the top of a hill, or the postroom has been moved to a completley inaccessable spot on campus. In the next week, I’ll be writing an official blog post about my experiences as a person who is trying to get around in a wheelchair/crutches in and around Bath and Bath Spa University, and how I feel that things could change for the better in the way that people are being supported and assisted in these situations.

In the meantime, my laptop is back to normal now the malware’s off, I’ve got a journal to update, and Matt is over tomorrow, so I need to tidy up as much as I can! Woo?

Officially a 2nd Year!

Today I crawled out of bed, and wheeled into the main academic building to sort myself out academia wise. I’ve had to switch a module due to health and safety, so that was easy to do, then I actually had to enrol.

It’s official, I’m a second year creative writing student! I’m taking Writing for Young People – Reading as Writers, Sudden Prose, Performance Poetry, Genre Fiction and Writer’s Workshop 2. My timetable looks to be pretty darned packed! Not like that’s a bad thing, I like to be kept busy, and this year I am determined to be an excellent student, but it’s going to be an exhausting term, what with the leg and all.

I was going to have an electric scooter to get around, however student support (bless them) couldn’t get it to work, so I’m using a manual wheelchair to get around. Later in the week, I’m going to talk about my experiences in a wheelchair in more detail, as you realise that you take so much for granted when you’re mobile!

In the meantime, I’m off to the Freshers Fair later this afternoon, that’s after the Second Year Creative Writing talk I have to attend (should go get some pens and a notebook for this academic year in a bit), and tomorrow I have a hospital appointment for my leg and the Liberation Rep stuff to do in the afternoon!

Back to Work!

It’s been a while since I last posted onto thi8s blog, I know.

I’ve been back at university for a fortnight now, and it’s been really manic. My laptop has been sent back to the manufacturer to be fixed or replaced, as the actual company who were supposed to get the laptop actually fixed didn’t bother to do so, meaning that I haven’t really been able to do much in the way of studying, blogging or writing. It really does wind me up that people have been messing me around, but there you go. 

I’ve also had my Irlen assessment done, as the university have discovered that I suffer from visual stress, especially when reading and working off of a computer screen and bright white paper. I’ve now got to wait for the report to see what recommendations the assessor would make to DSA and the university. I’m hoping for special glasses to help me to read better when working, but we’ll have to see. I’m just waiting on my ADHD assessment in order to see whether I’ll need medication and extra strategies in order to help me study properly. Not only that, I’ve got to see the doctor as I’m struggling to sleep properly, something I’ve had a problem with even when I was a girl.

But enough of the gloomy stuff, and onto my life.

I’ve got a big gig coming up with The Idle Playthings, and I’m really nervous as it’s such a massive gig! It’s at a big comedy club in Bath, where the likes of Russell Howard have played in the past. I’m in a sketch involving lots of swooning and ankle flashing, so it ought to be a rather awesome night. Not only that, but it’ll be the biggest audience I’ll have played to, so it’s very exciting!

Not only am I rising up in the Playthings, I’m also beginning the research process into a novel! Yes, a novel. I’ve been intrigued for a long time about the world of the geisha, and now I’m aiming to write a YA novel (50k words) set in 1920’s Kyoto, telling the story of a young girl who is sold to an okiya, and ends up changing her life forever. As I said, it’s not a polished plot yet, as I’m still trying to research on the subject, which is proving very difficult as there isn’t much good, wholesome information in the library, or the Internet. So it looks like I’ll be relying heavily on Memiors of a Geisha and Geisha of Gion to influence my work. I suppose that’s not a bad thing, although I’ve heard that the former isn’t the best interpretation of what it was like. I’ll reread it and make up my own mind.

Other than that, it’s all about my university work, which I’m behind on due to my laptop going to hospital again. I can write short stories and poems by hand, but I would like my laptop back so I can actually study properly, I need the software that has been installed on it so I can focus on my work and be a proper student again. I know tomorrow I’ll be helping to write a very strongly worded letter to the company providing the equipment to put in a formal complaint about everything that’s happened. Exciting stuff!

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

It’s 2014 folks!

Like every single year, I’ve made New Year’s resolutions. Last year I said that I would actually take up exercise. I’d go running, I’d do sit ups to firm up my tummy. I would even think about joining the gym, or getting someone to be my running buddy.  I also said I would write a whole novel, but that never came about either. So I’m going to make those my resolutions yet again.

But I’m also going to be taking on a challenge, a challenge I have never attempted in all my life.

I’m going to read 100 books. Yes, you read that right. I’m taking on the 100 book challenge! From now til December 31st, 2014, I’m going to be reading 100 books, as well as the books I’ll be reading for university. You never know, it cold inspire a novel of my own! It’s very exciting!

Of course, I still will have to get some running gear…

I Went Shopping!

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Today I went to Southampton, and took my vouchers from Social Services with me. TO WATERSTONES!

Sadly, we do not have indie bookshops in my part of the world, which breaks my heart. But even if there were, the love to shop vouchers wouldn’t be valid in them. But I didn’t get that much time to pick the books that I would cart back with me. I had to top up my spending by a couple of pounds on top of the vouchers. But so worth it.

I might actually sit down and write a To Be Read list, like other bloggers tend to do. I could even start vlogging if I wanted to, now I have a DSLR on the way (And when I get my laptop repaired), but that might be too much effort for me, especially as I have got a whole module to catch up on. I might do a reading challenge though…

So, I thought I’d share with you the books that I have purchased today, why I have bought them, and my expectations of the book.

1) The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry.  It’s a French novella that’s been translated from its original language. It’s about a librarian who discovers that one of the readers has unwittingly been locked in the library all night. The story seemed intriguing, and when I read the first couple of pages in the shop, I knew I had to get it. It’s told in second person, with no paragraphing or chapter breaks. I haven’t read much of it yet, but it is a charming little book, and the cover looked nice too.

2) Skellig by David Almond. This guy is one of the professors on my degree program, and he gave a talk to us at a plenary session. He was really inspiring, so I’ve been on the lookout for his debut novel about a strange birdman creature a young boy finds in a shed. I’m looking forward to reading this, seriously.

3) Stoner by John Williams. This is the Waterstones book of the year, and after reading the blurb, I can’t wait to give this novel a good go. The main story is about this guy who goes to unit to study one career, ends up doing something completely different, marries an unsuitable woman, and dies as an unmemorable person.However, it is also supposed to be a deeper story. Intriguing.

4) The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend. This is a cult classic involving the diary of a young, awkward teenage boy, which changed YA and the way it was viewed forever.

So, that’s the start of the to read list! Can’t wait to get started, alongside all my uni reading! Yay for books!

Itchy Fingers…

Let’s face it. It’s the winter vacation. I know I am meant to be having some sort of holiday, where I don’t even so much as lay eyes on pen and paper, let alone write whole pieces of literature. 

However, I do have to draft an essay for Poetry, which involves going through all the lecture slides from the lectures of last semester, which I missed because I was originally in Scriptwriting. I also have to write three or more short stories for my Creative Project, which is basically going to be an anthology of creative work sold to students and lecturers alike to raise money for the National Autistic Society. Therefore we wish to write pieces involving the issues faced by people with AS, such as isolation, being accepted by other people, being different, that kind of thing. I will probably have to write an author bio, and find someone of significance to write a foreword for it, before we go to print. We’ll have to pay for the anthologies to be printed, and bound, out of our own pockets. But it ought to be worth it.

But, I also want to start another novel. I did attempt the chic lit piece, but it didn’t feel right. So I want to try something different.

You see, I was watching the latest Hobbit movie with Josh for our date night on Monday, and was watching the scenes involving the dragon very closely. After all, The Hobbit was originally a set of spoken tales by Tolkin to his young children, before he wrote it up as a novel for children. Considering the movies are being marketed to adults, it’s incredible the way that the original audience for the story was for children.

I used to say that I never wanted to write children’s fiction. But I’ve been in some wonderful lectures with children’s writers, including David Almond, who wrote Skellig, which I need to get my hands on when I get a chance to. I love it that children get more involved with the stories, with the writers too. I know that this sounds mad, but I love the idea of spending time at my desk, with posh paper and a fountain pen, and a bottle of perfume, and writing handwritten responses to all my readers who write in to me, and slip in a bag of sweets just for the extra thrill. I know how much children rely on stories. I know I did when I was a little girl. I remember climbing up to a low branch in a tree where the bullies were to scared to climb, and curled up with a battered old book. I also remember reading The Phantom Tollbooth when I was fourteen, and being able to escape into the crazy world of edible words and talking numbers, because the real world filled with mean students and cruel foster carers wasn’t as fun.

So, I want to write a children’s book. 

Itchy fingers, man…

Prep for Post November!

So, I was thinking that it might be a sensible idea to start thinking about what I’ll write about on this blog post NaNoWriMo. It might be nice to do a Christmas Count-Down, see if I can find a festive theme for this blog. 

In all seriousness though, I’m considering a few ideas:

1) Lush Reviews – Where I write about Lush products I’ve started using, and if I like them or not, and rate them out of five stars

2) Book Hauls – I seem to buy so many books at the moment (blame all the awesome bookshops in Bath!), so book hauls and even posts about bookshops I visit like in The Matilda Project’s blog (which I loved!)

3) Tea/Hot Chocolate reviews – If I’m not in Lush, a vintage clothes shop or a bookshop, I’m buying all sorts of lovely hot beverages to curl up with on these cold winter nights.

4) Weekly Catch-Ups – Making sure I post at least once a week, to let you all know I’m alive and kicking

5) Weekly Writing Post – Where I put a piece up that I’m happy not to submit to my degree stuff each week, as well as writing tips/advice

That’s all I have so far! I know I need to start up the feminist stuff again, but I haven’t been up for ranting, just too tired! But, any other ideas you might have I’ll consider!

Thanks again, folks, you’ve been great readers!

Tomorrow Ought To be Interesting…

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So, tomorrow I plan to pop into Southampton, on a solo trip to Ikea. And Bear Factory. Fred has this little suitcase, and I do believe a couple of bits and pieces are in order. I also want to check out the prices for various things, including crockery, cutlery and wine/beer/shot glasses. I also have been informed by a colleague at work that I ought to own a bottle opener/cork screw. Apparently this will make me new friends at flat parties. I wouldn’t know about this sort of thing, but I will invest in one. You never know how unorganized people can be sometimes.

I also need to finish up my tidying from this evening. I’ve unpacked the two suitcases I brought back from Josh’s this weekend just gone, but now I have to find places for everything. I have to say that I have managed to fill two charity shop bags full, though I shall be buying some bin bags tomorrow so I can properly chuck stuff out. I was naughty though, and bought some more books…

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I wasn’t a huge fan of The Time Travller’ s Wife when I attempted to read it back when I was fifteen and reading it whilst waiting for my foster mum to let me in the house (well, more dipping in and out of it whilst attempting not to move her bookmark, as there was only one copy in the house), but it is on the recommended reading for university, so will start reading it tomorrow. I also thought getting the Writer’s Yearbook would be sensible, considering my chosen course of study. And I finally picked up another study skills handbook, simply because a university student can’t have too many of them. I am dreading getting my full reading list for this year though, there seem to be so many modules, and the course guide book on the university website confuses the heck out of me. With 29 days to go until I leave, there is an awful lot to do…

Also, I know someone thought I wasn’t being very polite about leaving work behind (thanks Twitter!) So I might use this opportunity to note that I can’t wait to leave Hampshire in general, although work does wear me out at the best of times. I love how sometimes even non Aspergers folk read the written word so literally. It’s nothing personal, I just marvel at it. I apologise, therefore, if this wasn’t taken in the right way, it wasn’t done on purpose.

On that note, I shall wish you all good night, tomorrow another World According To Fred, where Growing Up will be the discussion point. Also, I think he might get his Kate Moss head on after the shopping trip!