I Miss Being 11 Years Old…

aged 11

I went out for a run this morning, and thought about what my 11 year old self would think about meeting the woman she’d grow up to be ten whole years later.

When I was 11, I started secondary school, going to the local special needs secondary school in the area. I had my first ever crush (who I’ve cropped out of the above image because privacy), and went on a medieval school trip in costume, where the above photograph was taken.

I was also the most avid reader.

Considering the childhood I had, it was better to escape into a little world of my own for a few hours rather than face the reality of my situation, that I was in foster care, autistic and being bullied both at home and school.

So I read a LOT of books.

And I’d get through at least five books a week. I read anything I could get my hands on, be it for children or for adults. I even read Shakesphere, Dickens. Breaktimes would be spent either in the school library reading Anne Frank’s diary, or in the playground tucked under a tree with The Butterfly Lion by Michel Morpurgo. I’d go to Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione, time travel through Horrible Histories, walking through the streets of Heaven with Mel Beebie and her angel friends.

So, it’s safe to say that I read an awful lot, so many I can’t remember them all.

I also wrote a lot of stories. I wrote about the ‘Rainbow Agents’, where each of my classmates and I were representing a colour of the rainbow and saving the world from all sorts of crazy things that I can’t really remember anymore. It was ten years ago!

But what about now, ten years later? Would 11 year old Heidi recognise herself in me?

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think she would.

Since then, I’ve been studying, growing up, working, making friends and having relationships. I have a flat to care for, bills to pay, family to spend time with…

And I’m expected to write as well as look after my general health and well being.

Which doesn’t give me much time to sit down and read several books a week, or write a whole story in under ten minutes. Or the energy and motivation.

I spend too much time outside of studying, trying to manage my home and seeing other people dossing around on the internet and playing Sims 4 instead of reading and writing. It’s really not the best of habits, when I could be totally spending that time curled up with a book or jotting down a few lines of prose.

So, as of today, I’m going to start reading one book a week, and writing something daily, even if it’s something I end up scrunching up and throwing away. It also means actually blogging more often than I have been, and generally just being more focused on my goals.

I do miss being 11 years old. But I would like to think that she’d be proud of me ten years later, and starting to read again should help.

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!

Liebster Award!

So, the lovely Katie at Page by Page (http://katewrites2.wordpress.com/) nominated me for an award!

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Here’s the rules!

  1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them.
  2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
  3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.
  4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

 

The 10 Questions…

  1. When and why did you decide to start blogging?

I started this blog last year, as I wanted to really start focusing on my future career as a writer, get an audience, and broadcast myself as a writer and general human. So far it’s been a wonderful experience!

2. Are you a structured writer (or reader) (do you set deadlines or goals for yourself, or do you just go with the flow)?

I kinda go with the flow, much to the annoyance of my university lecturers, who expect 2500 words of a portfolio by a certain date, but nothing I’ve written or wanted to write would be suitable for the task! Or, I just don’t feel like writing, that also annoys people! I find that my best work is done when I write of my own accord, rather than when someone is nagging at me to get to a deadline. I dread to think of my future editor/agent’s sanity!

 

3. What’s the number one book you’ve read that you wish you wrote and why?

I would say Wicked, by Gregory Maguire. It’s the kind of rebellious, satirical novel that really examines society and politics, and is a really clever book. Unfortunately it’s not my style, otherwise it would be amazing! I also wish I’d written the poem Howl by Allen Ginsburg, which ended up being the inspiration for Grey Hearts and Dancing Minds.

4. Is there a certain time of day you find writing (or reading) easier, or can you write (or read) day or night with pretty much the same ease (or difficulty 😉 )?

Night time tends to be my best time for blogging and recreational reading, and day time tends to be good for drafting/university reading and work. Even then, I need to be highly motivated to work, and recently that’s been pretty tricky with everything that’s been going on with my personal life. But now I’m coming out the other side, I think I’m picking back up again 😀

 

5. When and why did you start writing and/or reading?

I started reading properly when I was seven, as it was an escape. I could hide from the bullies who taunted me for being awkward, shy and quiet, and go on adventures that beat even my wildest dreams. Writing started when I was ten, and given a notebook as a diary. I also wrote a short story in English about the way I was born, all false, obviously, that I’d had a dramatic forceps birth, my mother had nearly bled out on the table, yada, yada. Turns out I was just a premature baby. Boo. But I got bitten by the writing bug, and haven’t really stopped since!

6. Have you ever written (or read) a character whose personality (or had a personality trait that) was similar to your own? If not, have you ever written (or read) one completely different and can you describe him or her?

Arthur Fitzwilliam, you are so bloody similar, we might as well be the same person! We’re both awkward, gangly and shy, although he is a lot quieter than I am. We want to prove ourselves to the world, but for different motives. Scarlett is the polar opposite to me, very outspoken, cheerful, confident in herself. It’s nice to write a character excited by life.

 

7. What is your favorite genre to write (or read) and why?

I enjoy reading historical fiction, but the research into writing it can be a pain in the neck! I’m branching out into comedy, which I’m enjoying a lot. Performance poetry is also something I enjoy working on!

 

8. What’s your least favorite book of all time and why?

I’ve had to read some pretty awful books in my lifetime… But I recon I’ll get lynched in a moment!

I couldn’t stand Of Mice and Men. I don’t get why a book about how a guy with severe learning difficulties getting killed because he’s too innocent in the mind to deal with the world is good! I’m sorry, but it actually really offended me as a person with mental disabilities! Rant over.

 

9. Where do you see yourself ten years from now reading or writing wise?

Ten years… I’ll be thirty! Gosh, that seems like forever away, but, like the past ten years, they’ll probably fly by, and I’ll be sat there, with ten hundred cats wondering where the heck that time went! In seriousness though, I would hope that I was published as a proper writer, with a couple of novels and poetry anthologies under my belt, as well as performing my poetry across the country/world. But, more likely, I’ll be sat at my laptop eating Doritos and screaming at misbehaving characters to do as they are blinking told!

10. Would you rather never be able to read or never be able to write again? [This one’s mean, I know, sorry ;)]

Yes, it is rather mean! You should be ashamed of yourself for asking that Katie! Would probably have to be never reading again. I couldn’t live without ink on my fingers, the constant need to buy notebooks… *sighs*

Technically this is where I’m meant to nominate 10 bloggers. But you’re all too blooming good for me to pick! I know, I’m copping out, but sleep…

So if you wanna answer my questions, go for it, just link to me at the bottom!

1. Choice of writing snack/drink?

2. What would be the soundtrack to your life?

3. Perfect weekend?

4. If you could go back, and change one part of your life, what would it be?

5. Best written piece?

6. Worst?

7. Who would play you in a movie of your life?

8. Classics or contemporary?

9. Where do you see yourself as a writer in 10 years time? (I liked this question, so it’s going in!)

10. What would you tell your 16 year old self?

 

So, this was fun!

 

On Being a Writer

It’s not the glamorous life that one expects, being a writer. I remember being a child, and dreaming of sitting at a little table with a cup of tea, a posh notebook with creamy white pages and a fountain pen, looking out of the window for inspiration with my hair flowing down my back. And everything that I wrote would be of first class standard, suitable for being a published best selling novel, with my name in lights. Fans would adore me, begging me to visit their schools, sign copies of the books, have interviews for their newspapers and magazines. People would even name their children after my characters, I would be so amazing.

However, I had the shock of my life. I had a tutorial about the last creative assignment that I handed in. I only just passed, with a third class mark. It was humiliating to be shot down like that, to be told that actually I need to pull my socks up, smell the coffee, see reality. I need to stop letting people in my family and circle of non writer friends tell me how amazing a writer I am, for they don’t know the craft, and what they are talking about. Being a writer simply isn’t about the dreaming, it’s the lifestyle involving sheer hard work, the slog, constantly editing, constantly changing. It’s all well and good to get the initial draft down, but that’s not what makes you a writer. The writer is the one who can look at a piece of work they’ve written, and thinks, ‘hmmmm, how can I make this better?’. A writer weilds the red pen like it’s the fountain pen they’ve used to initially write the little darling on the page. The red rips the tale to shreds, before carefully piecing it back together again, ready for the editor’s perusal. 

It’s like one of my favourite animes, Whisper of the Heart, about a young middle school student who wants to become a writer. She writes her first draft of the novel that she is working on, and brings it to the owner of an antique store who she has become friends with. He reads it, and tells her that it’s good, but needs work to make it better. When she is sad about this, he shows her a rock on his desk. He explains to her that her skills as a writer are like the rock, unpolished and rough. But he then shows her the inside, and reveals the rock to be a geode, with beautiful crystals inside, which he refers to as some of the best pieces in her novel. He explains that once the novel is completely polished, the crystals will be revealed for the beauty and brilliance they are, but, for now, they need to be brought out through editing.  

I collect crystals, and bought a geode in a shop in York last year, when I attended the NUS Women’s Conference. I like to have it next to me when I’m working on my writing, in order to remind me that I’m still rough around the edges, and that I need to keep polishing before I can see myself as a proper writer. I might write things, but until I learn to edit and accept criticism, I can’t really call myself a true writer. It’s not glamorous to be sat in your pajamas, on a loan laptop from the company who has messed things up with your own one, in the kitchen because said loan won’t charge its battery, trying to frantically type up some sort of story before the seminar you should of written for two weeks ago, on top of searching online to find the basis of the book you were supposed to read for that class. 

It’s an interesting idea, though. My idea of what a writer is has changed so much. I can almost imagine all the writers of my childhood getting up early, all stressed and untidy, swigging coffee and Red Bull as they sit in front of their computers and frantically write out a chapter before the deadline their agent has provided for them. It’s not a relaxing life, not at all! It’s bad enough that I have to write to university deadlines at the moment, without having to worry about how my life will pan out in the future!

So, for now, I’m going to enjoy what little literary freedom I have left, being able to work on little projects here and there. I’ve jotted down a few poems in the past three weeks, but am yet to write another short story. In the meantime, that’s my aim for this afternoon, once I’ve battled the storm to go and check the mail…

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!

SOS!

Guys, I have a problem….

I actually haven’t got anything to read! I’ve read all my books in my personal collection, and I don’t want to read any of the novels in my reading lists otherwise it will ruin it for when I get around to studying them. I’ve just polished off Memoirs of a Geshia, for, like, the second time, so am getting desperate!

I always like to have a novel that is unrelated to my studies in my uni bag, it’s just nice to be able to grab it whilst waiting for a lecture, or when sat in a coffee shop before work, and is brilliant on long bus journeys when I go to Bristol, as well as when I go on the train back to Hampshire. In order to be a writer, in my opinion, one must also be a regular reader, always having at least one book on the go.

So, if there is a book you think I should really have in my life, now is the time to tell me!