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Monday, 31 January 2011

Dear Diary...

I have mentioned my diary a few times.  When I was younger I used to keep a diary in the form of letters to me dear departed best friend, to let her know what was going on in my life.  I wasn't particularly good at writing in it every day.  Usually I would write consistently for a few months then not write another word for a few months before starting the cycle again.

When I started university I stopped writing my diary.  I didn't need it anymore.  I was writing fiction now instead, which was good enough for me.  But this Christmas I found a box full of my diaries.  While I didn't get round to reading them, the words filling every page inspired me to start again.  There is nothing more beautiful to me than handwriting filling pages and pages of a book.

As it happened, I received a beautiful notebook for Christmas and so on January first I started again. So far I've only missed a few days, and am almost halfway through the notebook.  Usually I write what has happened that day.  It probably wouldn't be that interesting to anyone else reading it.  But I'm not writing it for anyone else.  No one else is allowed inside my diary.  It is a place where I can complain and moan and get excited, all while knowing that my secrets are safe.  I say secrets, though of course much of what I  write isn't secret at all.

I've tried the whole journal thing.  Writing reflective thoughts down.  It only lasted a couple of days.  Besides, that's what my blog is for.  But now I don't have any rules for my diary.  I write what I want to write.  But every night, just after getting ready for bed, I sit down and write.  It is the most freeing experience to let my voice out onto the page.  As I said, I usually just write what happened that day, but sometimes, when I feel the need, I write other things. Thoughts I've had.  Ideas.  Anything I want to say really.

Why do I keep a diary?  To keep my life alive.  We rush through life so fast that we forget so much of what has happened.  I know I can't physically remember every single little detail of every day.  But I am content, knowing that it is all stored safe in my diary.  And one day I'll read it and remember.  And you never know, someone in the future might read it and I will come alive for them.

Do you keep a diary or a journal?  What do you write about?  Why?

Friday, 28 January 2011

Review: Cinders

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I ordered this book, but it was based on a fairytale so I had to give it a go.  Not to mention that I love Michelle Davidson Argyle's blog 'The Innocent Flower'.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed with the style of the writing at the beginning.  The story didn't hook me like I hoped it would.  While the story seems a little contrived to me (Christina "Cinderella", has to complete a mission to get what she wants), I have to admit that about halfway through I had to continue reading - I couldn't physically put the book down and completed it that day.

My favourite part was definitely the ending.  Be warned, if you like fairytales for their endings, this book is not for you.  If, like me, you sometimes want a little grittier, realistic, ending, then I can promise that this book will fulfill that need.

I'm not sure if I can recommend this book (especially to those outside of the USA as the postage cost nearly as much as the book itself) but believe that if you are looking forward to something a bit different, perhaps you should download the ebook and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Dreaded Writer's Block

I have read a lot about 'Writer's Block' - two blog posts this week caught my eye. Writer's block - Julie Cohen and Smashing Writer's Block to Bits and Pieces - Elana Johnson.  Now, I am on the side of there is no such thing as writer's block.  But I do believe in lack of ideas and/or motivation.

As a writer I find I am battling these problems almost all the time (except of course on those rare days when everything is sparking).  Usually I have either lots of ideas but don't really fancy writing them, or I really really want to write but have no clue what to write.  I have to say, the second problem is the easiest to fix.

When I don't have ideas I just start looking for them.  It sounds really simple and it is.  When I was first told that, I thought, 'I am looking for them', turns out I wasn't so much.  I was reading about writing (which is always a good thing) which was just making me want to write more but wasn't feeding my imagination.  I found something as simple as reading a book/magazine/newspaper spurned more and more ideas until I was over-flowing with them.  This was great.  Until I realised I now had the first problem of not really wanting to write.

Once again I read about writing, which helped a little.  I tried doing things other than writing such as cooking, tidying, etc.  The problem with this was it was making my house look fantastic but by the end of the day I didn't have any energy left to write, even if I had wanted to.  I'm sure this works for some people, but for me, I don't know when to stop doing the mindless tasks.

This is where my advice massively contradicts Elana's (it's true that there are as many ways to write as writers and you will have to find your own way).  I find that the best way to make me want to write is to write.  This year I have started writing in my diary again (I'm going to do a post on diaries soon).  And recently found a fantastic site 750 words which is basically an online version of the 'write three pages each morning' theory (it even analysis your writing).  Since I have been doing all this extra writing (and yes, writing in a blog does count) I've wanted to write more and more and more.  To begin with it doesn't matter what you're writing, as long as you are getting words out.  And once you're motivated, you can start/continue on that fantastic idea you had earlier.

Do you believe in writer's block? How do you get youself through it?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

The Worst Day

Today has been one of those days - you know the ones - where everything goes wrong. 

This morning I found I'd misplaced something kind of important (as in, I needed it within the next half hour).  Now, my desk is not exactly tidy, so when I started looking for it, I ended up causing a giant cascade of paper.  Which knocked over my mug of fruit tea.  Thankfully it had cooled so didn't burn me, and amazingly I managed to catch it before the whole mug went over my (yellow and white) bedding.  I did eventually find what I was looking for - down the other side of the bed, the side next to the wall.

So my calm morning I'd organised myself, ended up with my rushing as I tried to look for something, tidy up the mess I'd made and change the bedding.  By some miracle I wasn't late for my supervision session with my uni tutor.

After a talk and coffee with Diamond, I lugged myself home with more books than I should've been carrying (sales at libraries are dangerous places to be).  I decided to make myself a drink, and in the process knocked over a mug (not mine) which shattered on the floor.  At least it was relatively easy to clear up.

And now my body is emitting smells and other bodily functions that I'm sure you don't want to read about.

But you know what I realised?  It doesn't matter.  Because tonight I'm going out to dinner with the man that I love and who loves me.  Tonight is about us.  And whatever catastrophy is waiting for me, I can deal with it.  Because the thing is, when I remember this day in the future, I won't remember the shit that went down.  I'll remember him and me and us.  That's what's important. 

In the end it's always the good things we remember, not the bad (unless you are some seriously pessimistic person, in which case I wish you luck with life).

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Writing Bug

As you know, these past few months I've been questioning my choices, particularly in regards to my writing.  Well, the writing bug has bitten me once again.  I think this is mainly due to excessive reading as well as the start of my final project at university (I can barely believe I only have 3 months left!), and a website I discovered - 750 words.  This is my new favourite website.  The aim is (you'll never guess) to write 750 words each day that will never be read by anyone else.  I strongly suggest this to all of you (even if you're not a writer you have no idea how therapeutic it is).

So anyway, I've been writing a LOT these past couple of days and am loving this feeling of excitement of loving what I'm doing.  I'm beginning to feel like a writer once again.

Monday, 17 January 2011

About to Scapbook

One of the things I got for Christmas was a small scrapbook (8"x8").  I've tried scrapbooking in the past but never did more than a few pages.  This book, however, because it's smaller that the average size, seems less intimidating somehow.

The only problem I've had is that there aren't that many pages and yet the only way to buy the backing pages of the right size is to buy a giant pack of them (needless to say this is quite expensive). But then a few days ago, guess what I found in poundland?

Each pack contains 5 pages that are the right size and, as you can see, a small cutting of each page as well.  Now I have more than enough pages and feel ready to get started.  I'll be posting the pages as I create them and if anyone has any ideas they want to share, don't hesitate.  I'm planning on using it as a showcase for things I love and enjoy rather than specifically pictures of events as I feel that's where I fell down last time.  I'm really excited and can barely wait to get started but I really have to do some writing first.

Friday, 14 January 2011


Today I started a new cross-stitching project (you know the one I mean Kess).  Before I started I spent quite a lot of time organising the threads so that they were the right length, sorted by colour and threaded onto an index card and labelled.  I'm sure I could do the sewing without spending this time but in the long run I would waste time trying to work out what colour to do next and cutting each piece to the required length each time.

And I suddenly realised that this is exactly the same as writing.  Okay, not exactly the same but run with me here.  Many times I've launched into a new writing project with no organisation, desperate to get the words down.  Now, while it's good to be writing, I can tell you that out of the stories I've finished, these weren't among them.  Because when I just launch in I have no idea who I'm writing about or what I'm writing about or anything at all other than some random scene in my head (and sometimes not even that).  So after a while I peter out and lose momentum.  Of course this could be the point where I start working out what I'm writing, but then I would probably have to go back over what I've already written and change it to fit - wasting time.

The stories that have worked for me are the ones that I've planned for.  I don't necessarily mean step-by-step planning (though if you work that way, good for you) but just getting the basics down.  Who am I writing about?  What do they want?  Are there any themes I particularly want to address?  This last one, I am aware, can be a bit unnerving to ask, particularly if you haven't written much in the past.  But I believe it should be asked first, just so long as you are happy to deviate from it - then at the end you can see what you wanted to write about and what you actually wrote about.  This planning doesn't have to be intensive but it can make a great deal of difference when you get stuck in the middle somewhere.

Just like cross-stitch, writing needs a little prep work too if we want to save time and our sanity.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

A Drop In The Ocean

I used to believe I could change the world.  I wanted to make it a better place and that dream took me to South Africa.  I couldn't have imagined the amount of suffering and poverty that I was to behold. 

Seeing that amount of pain made me believe there was no way I could help.  I am just one person - how could I possibly have imagined that I could make a difference?  Then someone told me something that is only now beginning to sink in.  You may only be one person but imagine if every drop of water in the ocean decided it wasn't important and so disappeared - there would be no ocean.  It is the same with us.  One person may not be able to change the world by themselves.  But if everyone decided not to bother because they didn't feel they could change anything - nothing would get done.  But if everyone does a little something, big changes can happen.

So I want to remind you that you are important.  Your contribution to the world is necessary.  If we work together, exploiting our strengths, we can change the world (and hopefully for the better).

What are your strengths?  Any stories of changes you want to share?  Please feel free to use this space to comment and discuss anything and everything.

Monday, 10 January 2011

One At A Time

As you know, I don't really make New Year's resolutions - and technically this isn't a New Year's resolution as I decided to do it today.

I have decided I am going to try and do things one at a time.  I am terrible for starting things (particularly stories and crafts) and never finishing them because I get waylaid starting something else.  Today I was telling my boyfriend to slow down to "do one thing at a time rather than try and do lots of things and do nothing" and realised that actually that's good advice.  So from now on I'm going to try and focus on one project (at least of the same medium) and hopefully have more to show for it rather than many half finished projects.

Does anyone else have this same problem?  Any tips on how to keep my focus as I'd really like to hear them?

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

A Crafty Year Ahead

In the past few months I have noticed that I have become more and more interested in crafts.  I've always been into card-making and cross-stitching on and off.  But this year I feel that I really want to experiment with a few other craft endeavours.

This is mainly because I'm feeling in a more creative place than I've ever felt before.  I realise that the writing I do is creative (it's in the name creative writing!) but I'm thinking more visually creative.  I've always had a problem with being able to visualise anything I'm not writing, but lately it's like a switch has been flicked in my head and I can see things in a different light.

I received a small scrapbook for Christmas so that's where I'm going to start.  I've tried scrapbooking in the past but it never took.  This time I'm going to go about it in an entirely different way - showing my hobbies and joys rather than specific memories.  I plan to indulge in creative work I can find online and perhaps even visit a museum or two.  But in general I just plan to not limit myself.  I've always found breaking limits really hard so I'm going to push past them and unlease my visual creativity.

I'm not telling you all this because I expect you to care or because I want you to feel jealous (or smug), but because I expect that at least a little of what I discover will filter into this space.  I am not going to censor myself on what I can show or write here any longer.  I am going to discover who I am and I truly believe that this blog will be an important part of that discovery.  I hope you follow me on my journey and perhaps you will discover something along the way as well.

Happy New Year Everyone!