Hey everyone, hope you’re doing well. If you haven’t already, please check out my latest short story. Part One is here and Part Two here.
For today’s chatty post, I wanted to discuss a piece I’ve just finished. It’s for a competition and the brief was simply “Life Writing” or in other words it needs to be about an experience of the authors that’s “intended to be true, but not fiction.” At first I was a bit confused, so I decided to just pick a prominent experience I’ve had in life and write about it.
I usually tend to lean towards more sad experiences. I believe sadness is such a powerful emotion, it is often the dark times that wedge themselves into your memory rather than the happy. Or maybe that’s just my pessimism.
I decided to write about regret. I wrote a short story of around 5 pages based on an experience I had as a teenager, that still visits me in my moments of contentedness. Almost as if it demands to be acknowledged, and for it to be acknowledged, I need to feel all the emotions that come with it. Grief, anguish, sadness, regret and then some more regret.
It’s the first time I have ever written about my grandad. For those who don’t know, I lost my grandad in 2017 and it has taken almost 3 years to be able to think of him without crying. However, as I reflected on this moment in my life that I shared with him, I did cry. I cried when I remembered the day, I cried after I wrote my first sentence and I cried once it was finished.
It was extremely difficult to write. I hope in writing it, I will somehow find the strength to put the regret I feel to bed, for good. I’m not feeling it just yet though.
Maybe once the competition is over, I will post it here.
To end this post on a slightly happier note, here is a book recommendation.
I said this was a happier note? Apparently I don’t know the meaning of it. Although this book is sad, it follows a group of friends who undergo awful treatment, but still manage to salvage something from it. Small victories in a life full of large downfalls, are still victories worth celebrating.
On Saturday night I decided to deep clean my room the following day. Then I decided I better wait until Monday, everyone else will be at work and I won’t disturb anyone if I did it like that. I’d be completely free and alone.
It’s now 6.25 Monday morning, the day I planned to start the desperately needed spring clean, and yet sleep has once again evaded me.
I find when I have something planned for the next day, insomnia says “Ha, you really thought you could achieve that?”
I want to let insomnia and self doubt win. I’m too tired to fight it. I’m waiting for my boyfriend to wake up to go to work, I might even go to the shop with him on his way. I probably won’t though. More plans I will inevitably cancel.
Why is sleep so bloody tricky? Why can my boyfriend close his eyes and be asleep within seconds? How does he manage to stay asleep for so long? How does he turn his thoughts down?
I love sleep. Especially dreamless sleeps, the comfortable nothing of a deep slumber is all I want.
I will try to sleep for a few hours and maybe I will find the motivation to clean. I hope so.
Last night before I fell asleep I was overwhelmed with anxiety. Most of it was due to it being Christmas and then New Year. New Year for me has never been something I look forward to, because I have never really known what the year will have for me.
This time, I have a plan but I’m still terrified.
I decided I don’t want to wait till the 1st of January to start making the necessary changes. So I thought I would immortalise my ‘resolutions’ here in the hope it will motivate me to continue.
Read At Least One Book A Week
Now, I can read anywhere from 3 to 6 books a week on a good week.
However I am in my last year of University and need to dedicate most of my time to academic research and reading.
One book a week feels doable.
Focus On University/Dissertation
As some of you might know, I have been at Uni since 2014. I have had a very hard time during uni, I’ve suffered a loss, been through unimaginable pain and suffered with debilitating depression and anxiety.
I feel I’m slowly coming out of it, but I won’t succeed unless I truly focus.
I would like to think I’m an intelligent person, but my grades don’t always reflect that. But that’s due to me never actually trying 100%. I didn’t revise for my GCSE’S but managed to coast through. I then didn’t revise for my A Levels and again managed to get by.
I want the grade I know I deserve and I’m the only person who can make that happen.
Revise Maths Every Day
I failed two GCSE’s: French and Maths. But the issue is I failed my maths GCSE 7 times. I got a D, 7 times.
Of course my dream is to one day be a published author. But I also want to be a teacher. My university let me in without maths but to be a teacher you need it.
I have always struggled with maths. Numbers don’t make sense to me, I can’t visualise any numbers in my minds eye, the way I can with words and sentences and story ideas. Maths has always been my worst enemy.
That’s got to change. I need to work hard on maths because it doesn’t come naturally to me. I want to revise for at least an hour every day, until I can sit my exam in June. If I start now, who knows a miracle could happen and I might get more than just a C.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any resolutions you’re putting off until New Year, maybe think about starting now!
This might be hideously early to say, but as I am not usually one to be excited for Christmas, I’m going to say it anyway:
I am looking forward to Christmas!
I have set up my little Christmas tree and have completed my Christmas shopping (early for once!)
I have been with my partner for coming on 5 years, and we have never spent Christmas Day together. Mainly because, I don’t see my family as much as I used to, so I would feel disgustingly guilty all day if I were to spend it with my partner and his family. The same goes for him. He spends every boxing day with his family of which the holidays are the only time in the year they all get together. Same goes for me and my family traditions on boxing day.
Although I have managed some years to do both, but that involves travelling from one side of London to the other which is a bit of a pain in the jingle bells.
Anyway, this year we had an overwhelming brainwave. Why not have our own “Christmas Day” together? We looked at eachother as if to say, WHY HAVE WE NEVER THOUGH OF THIS BEFORE?
I love my family, but I always miss my partner on the big day. But this year, we have planned our own! I have bought plates, crackers, napkins, candy canes and more Christmassy things. We will be spending the day watching Christmas movies, drinking Bailey’s and playing Cluedo!
I feel so blessed to say I will be enjoying the festive season with everyone I love and I am so grateful that I am in a position to do so, for the first time.
I usually suffer with depressive episodes during Christmas and other holidays in which ‘happiness’ is almost expected. It makes me feel guilty, as if I’m doing it wrong, which of course sounds mental.
Anyway, I do hope everyone has a blessed and happy holiday season! I feel so grateful.
Hello everyone, I hope you are doing well. I thought I would come on here and discuss something I have recently come to realise. I have always been a firm activist for the preservation of physical books. They, in my humble opinion, are superior in many ways. I love feeling the weight of a book, as it reminds me that these words came from someone’s imagination. A book makes them feel real. I have many more reasons as to why I prefer reading books, but that’s a completely different blog post.
Recently, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to pick up a book. The motivation to do so has been laying dormant somewhere inside me. But the desire and urge to read remained. I’ve been focussing most of my time on academic reading for my degree, of which has left me devoid of motivation for recreational reading.
I’m an Amazon Prime customer and am constantly bombarded with Audible advertisements, offering me 2 free credits for any audio books of my choosing. As I mentioned earlier I haven’t read a book in some time, so I decided to try Audible. I chose a book that interested me and decided I would try to fall asleep while listening to it. My only experience with audio books would be when I used an app that read soft sleep stories, in soothing hushed tones that lull you to sleep. I quickly realised this experience was vastly different. The voices were very expressive and demanded to be heard. I ended up listening to 5 hours of the book without realising it.
I finished the audio book and swiftly selected my second free title. I was equally as drawn in to the story as I was with the first one. I am very shocked to have enjoyed it so much.
It has definitely helped me reinvigorate the motivation to read again. Almost. To be fair to myself, I have been writing more recently which is a positive thing.
Anyway I hope you enjoyed this little post, it’s a lot less serious than a lot of my other posts recently.
I had my first job interview in what feels like years today. I won’t say where but it is a well known company in London.
I am usually very good in an interview setting, although inside I am falling apart until the last minute.
I got to my interview 45 minutes early which is good, but that also meant there’s more time to panic. I have been known to panic so much to the point I turn around and don’t even go to the interview. I build it up to be the most terrifying thing ever. Which in a way, it is.
A lot of my anxiety stems from an intense fear of embarrassing myself or being judged. The issue with interviews is, that’s the point, to be judged.
It was a group interview which makes it even worse.
I decided to use my spare time to write some thoughts down. Some are a bit like poems, others are just quotes.
The main one I wrote again and again was:
It’s okay to be afraid as long as you try.
So that’s what I did. I tried my best and that’s all I could do.
I thought I would share some more of my thoughts here as I found it so helpful to get them out on paper right before taking a deep breath and being the best version of myself possible.
We are all in the same boat
But what if this boat sinks?
Don’t fret it will stay afloat
But what if the winds take us away?
Don’t fret everything will be okay
It’s okay to be afraid
It’s okay to want to run
But it’s not okay to give up
You must try your best
It’s all you can do.
People rushing past me
I wonder where they’ve been
Or where they’re going
Their faces a vision of focus
Their eyes glued straight ahead
I steal a look once or twice
But we quickly divert our gaze
We have all been places
We are all going places
You Sir, are you okay?
Excuse me miss would you like a hand?
I would like very much to understand
How we all live alone in our minds
But we’re never really alone
Everywhere you look there’s people
Happy, sad, depressed or other
Why cant we all be kinder to eachother?
Instead people rush past me
And I can’t help wondering
Who they are
So there’s a little insight into the mind of an introverted anxious interviewee.
So who is Jen? Who is the author behind this blog? The part-time poet? The part-time writer? The part-time Blogger? Yes, yes, yes and… Yes.
I see myself as all of the above, but there is more to me than that. I reluctantly shared a short extract from my current WIP of which I refer to as “Project Delilah”. After sharing and posting it, I came to a realisation. Although I have an “About The Author” page on my blog, it is only there as a temporary measure. I do believe it is important for anybody who may be interested in my work, to know a bit more about me and why I have decided to start blogging, as well as my motivations to write in general.
I can’t expect anyone to be invested in my work, without knowing more about me.
Hello There, My Name’s Jenny
So my name is Jenny. My last name is a double-barrel name from both my mum and dad. I love my name as I am pretty sure I am the only one alive (well, my search on Facebook came up empty so that’s close enough, right?) My middle name is Maureen, as an ode to my great grandmother who sadly died the year before I was born. It also helps me feel a little more connected to my Irish roots.
I am 23 years old and am trying to complete my BA (Hons) Sociology and Criminology degree. I started this degree in 2014 and am still yet to graduate. This is due to some unforeseen circumstances of which seem to come up almost every year. I am determined to finish and come out with a high grade as I am more than capable of it.
I have always been interested in crime, criminals and especially serial murder. Any type of crimes that involve complex methodologies, piques my interest. In sixth form I wrote a 6000 word mini dissertation in which I posed the question of: “Is serial murder solely a psychological issue?” Spoiler: It is far more complex than that!
Creative Writing > Academic Writing
Although I love my course, I do have a greater love for creative writing. Not dissimilar to other writers, I have filled up countess notebooks since a very young age, with stories, poems and sometimes even drafts of novels.
My most memorable attempt was during my early teens, in which I bought a 250 page Pukka Pad and decided to handwrite my book that was inspired by Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak. I called it, “The Nightwalkers”. I dedicated it to my primary school teacher who was the first to recognise and nurture my flair for creative writing.
There is something about academic writing that is restricting. You need to stick to the facts, figures, statistics and specific terminology. However, all writing is writing. All writing is practice.
The Big Write
I had a wonderful Year 6 teacher, inspiring, encouraging and strong. She told me to dedicate my first book to her and that is a promise I intend to keep.
My love for writing really began to flourish once she become my teacher. She created an initiative called “The Big Write”. Every Friday after 1st break, some students would stay behind to prepare the classroom. The blinds would be closed, the lights dimmed and electric candles and bowls of dried fruit were placed in the middle of the tables. Soothing concentration music hummed quietly in the background. On the table sat a brief for us. It could say anything from, the first line of our story as a writing prompt, to instructions of the format we should write in. Every Friday the prompts changed and we created unique stories, letters, diary entries or even pamphlets from the same few lines.
We would write in silence from the minute we sat down, for the next hour and a half. I remember feeling like it was never enough time. Ideas were born from other ideas, characters forming before my eyes. Our teacher and the lovely teaching assistants would walk around reading over our shoulder. If they felt what you had just written was interesting, well written or impressive, we were told to take a piece of dried fruit. It was like a message to our peers that we have talent. As a child, your pride is huge and it would encourage us to carry on writing the best that we can.
Our teacher helped us create “portfolios” of all of our stories. By the end of the year, we each had a portfolio filled with 36 short stories. My teacher wanted to expand the initiative to other schools after she successfully implemented it within our entire primary school. She chose a handful of the best portfolios (including mine) and showcased them to other schools in the local area. I have always wanted to re-read these stories but unfortunately I never received them back.
Unfortunately I found out she passed away nearly 2 years ago. It was heartbreaking to know, she will never read the book I am writing. She will never read my dedications page and see just how much she inspired me. Her unwavering belief in me is what is driving me to continue on this journey.
I Dedicate This Book To…
Of course, I shall be dedicating my book to Ms. S. But there is another kind soul I shall be sharing the honour with.
My grandad. He was my hero, my saviour and my inspiration. He was the most hardworking, funny, loving and annoying grandad a girl could ever ask for. I am so thankful for him and I genuinely would not be alive today if he wasn’t there. He was my rock when I needed strength and my clown when I needed to laugh.
There is so much more I could say about him, however it is still very hard to talk about him without asking why? Why was he taken from me? I don’t know. I will never stop needing him or missing him.
What I do know is, all I can do is try my best to make him proud. I can hear him say “Stop crying girl. You know I love ya don’t ya?” He would be so happy to see my writing this blog. I am such a shy person with a lot of paranoia. I have never fit in and doubt I ever will. I just want to finish my book and as my grandad would say “You’re the boss Jen” and he is right.
If You Made It This Far
I hope this gives you a little bit more of an insight into who I am.
“We read in bed because reading is halfway between life and dreaming, our own consciousness in someone else’s mind.”
– Anna Quindlen
Like any reader knows, we have good reading weeks and we have bad ones. We can all empathise when we see others in the dreaded “reading slump”. When your TBR books bore into your soul every time you go to pick one up, but make a cup of tea and get into bed instead. Maybe that’s just me, but it can be difficult finding the time to read; especially if you fall out of the habit.
Sometimes it’s a case of taking a break only to come back with a replenished sense of eagerness to read. Other times there are things you can change in your daily routine that can help you read a little bit more.
These tips are just what I do when I feel like I need to read more! Maybe try some and see if it helps.
Put Your Phone Down
It sounds simple enough but I’ve found that you can either pour through social media scrolling endlessly seeing snippets of other peoples’ lives; or you can dedicate those lost hours to reading that book that’s collecting dust. When I’m on my phone it feels like I blink and its three hours later. Comparing that to the feeling I get after getting lost in a book for three hours is what makes me think twice when I wake up in morning. I consciously ignore my phone and reach for a book instead. Take thirty minutes to read silently, welcome the day with a good start and an exercised brain.
In short: put away your cellular devices and pick up that book.
Read What You Like
Again, it sounds really obvious but I ran into an issue with reading a few years ago. I wanted to read the books everyone else was reading, so I only read books that were trending at the time or on a bestselling list. I’m not saying they were bad books because I enjoyed them. The issue is, none of them were so gripping I couldn’t put them down. Not until I discovered the genres that suit me best and the kind of stories I am interested in. I still read multiple genres but key ones such as psychological thrillers, crime thrillers and horror are definitely my top favourites.
When you read a book you enjoy but wasn’t necessarily sucked into, it can demotivate you to carry on reading. Just keep reading, a lot, until you find the types of books that really excite you and motivate you to read more.
To cut a long story short: read whatever interests you, don’t focus on the popularity of the book because who knows, it might be your new favourite.
Although I am usually a paperback kind of person, e-readers can be so useful when the desire to read strikes you whilst travelling on public transport. However long it takes you, if you have a Kindle or the Kindle app on your smartphone, you can utilise that time to squeeze in a quick chapter or two. They are so portable and you can choose and download a book instantly while you wait for the next bus.
If like me you prefer a hard copy book, make sure you always pack at least two in your bag the night before. I find that when travelling somewhere I like to have a couple of options as sometimes the story is too complex to fully absorb while you are out in public. Sometimes I can but other times I find it difficult to fully commit, which is why I pack a more light-hearted book just in case.
If you feel comfortable eating lunch by yourself, I recommend trying to find a quiet place close to your workplace to eat and read. I used to work in a very fast-paced and busy environment so I liked to be alone during my break in order to recharge my batteries. Having a quiet and beautiful spot to read and be alone is a lovely way to get more reading in, as well as relaxing you half way through the work day. If you use an e-book, the wind can’t blow your pages around while you eat with one hand and hold the book with the other.
TLDR: Read on transport and during your lunch break.
Read In The Bathroom
Yes that is correct. Read in the bathroom. Or the toilet. Whenever I am really into a book, it becomes more like a third arm than a book; it comes with me everywhere I go. That includes but is not limited to the bath. There is nothing more relaxing than taking a steaming hot bath with candles (a substantial amount as I am blind as it is) and a book. Of course, it can delay the cleaning process but you just need a bit of self discipline. Tell yourself to read up to a certain page or chapter and then put it down.
Create A Goodreads Account
Managing a Goodreads account is an amazing way to track your reading. You can see all the books you’ve read, all the books you want to read as well as thousands of ratings and reviews to help you decide what to read next.
I got back into reading around three years ago and I loved to watch my collection grow. However, it was difficult to appreciate just how many books I was reading, until I created a Goodreads account. I was both shocked and excited at how many books I managed to read.
It is an amazing platform for both avid and casual readers to discover their next favourite book. Goodreads also has a list function in which its users can compile lists such as: ‘Best Thrillers’ to more niche lists such as: ‘Books About Videogames and Virtual Reality’. Whatever you’re interested in, I’m confident you will find something on one of the many lists available.
Listen To An Audio Book
Another relatively obvious tip, but if you enjoy being read to this might help kick start your reading again.
I personally always always fall asleep when listening to an audio book so it takes some time to finish one. Their voices are so soothing and calm it lulls me off into a deep and peaceful sleep.
I hope if you’re reading this you’ve found one of these tips useful! If you have any of your own feel free to leave a comment.
Just remember, you only have to read as much as you want to. There is no correct number of books you should be reading. If you find yourself in a slump, give one these a go. Reading is like exercise for the mind, sometimes its hard to find the motivation.
Daily Reading Recommendation
“A priest I knew once told me “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”
– John Marrs
I came across the book whilst scouring Amazon for new books to devour. I read the synopsis and went to buy it when I realise: it’s not coming out for a couple of months. I was upset I wasn’t going to be reading this amazingly original book the next day, but on the otherhand I had something to look forward to.
Marrs eloquently delivers a hardhitting, thought provoking and relevant story in such a unique manner. I would urge anyone to read this book.
I am currently working on a full book review of “The Passengers” so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested.
Left alone again
While colours and patterns consume you
Sweet dreams and hope settle around your slumbering body
While I am tormented by my mind
Black butterflies invade my churning stomach
While I look upon my sleeping love
Not a single dream appears to be of me
While I doubt and doubt and doubt
Not you, but me
While the sting of hot tears briefly warms my raw skin
Where are you? Where are you?
While I handle this sharp blade
Contemplating, longing for a different sting
While I try to push the evil aside
The anger, oh this anger is raging inside
While I pull my hair hoping for relief
Left alone again
I have just started my blog to document my writing journey! I would never go as far to say I am a poet, but I do dabble in poetry now and again. I only…