Reader vs Book: The Very Hard Book™

 

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Like with ‘If on a Winter’s Night’, I’ll always come crawling back to this little blog. Eventually. 

If you’re a big reader, like me, then you’ll know this feeling. You pick up the book, only to put it down unfinished after a few chapters. You pick it up again a while later, determined to finish this time…only to put it down yet again. A third time, this time you’ll do it. Then you remember why you put it down twice before.

That book for me is Italo Calvino’s ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller’. I like metafiction. I like the concept, and the plot. Much of the book has me reading along happily, but I am still finding it a challenge to get through. It could be me, it could be Calvino – or maybe it’s a bit of both.

Personally, I don’t have much time for reading; I try to do it on my lunch breaks, but I am exhausted lately so that doesn’t happen as frequently as I’d like. As for Calvino, he’s a man of many words. Many, many, many words. He could be describing putting his socks on and make it last 6 pages. His prose is good, don’t get me wrong, but the superfluous rambling narrative voice isn’t the most engaging while you’re just trying to eat your sandwich and have some time away from screens.

This book is a big challenge. I have an English degree and review books on here for fun (admittedly very erratically!) and it’s a challenge, but I will finish it. I am coming for you and your needlessly long prose, Calvino! Look out for the review – even if it takes 6000 years.

See you soon,

Ro x

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Super Quick Life Update!

Hey you!

It’s been a while since I posted a non-review post (shockingly long actually and I can only apologise), so I thought I’d just write a quick update to prove I’m still here and haven’t abandoned the blog.

It’s been kind of crazy over the last month at work. I’m a temp at a bank and my first contract ended at the end of May. I went for a permanent position that had opened up doing that role but wasn’t successful which was a little bit embarrassing considering I’d been doing the job, BUT I did change to a different contract within the bank which I’m really enjoying.

My new role is basically to prove that our customers aren’t linked to any crimes mentioned in the media, and to refer any that are & could pose a risk to the bank. A system goes through all of our customers and scans the internet to see if anything mentioning criminal offences, disqualifications, sanctions etc. matches our customers’ names. It’s then my job to take the articles/pages that are flagged up and prove that it’s not our customer based on the information I have for them and any I can find about the subject of the article. It’s interesting but it can be a bit same-y if the batch has a lot of people with the same name on – if you get an article on John Smith you’re going to get a lot of customers with the same article having to be worked! It’s a research job really, so I’m using my degree, and everyone seems nice so I’m quite happy. I’m getting good feedback which is always nice, too!

I’ve been listening to Welcome to Night Vale a LOT at work and I’m now caught up… so I have nothing to listen to – please send podcast recommendations my way! I like the Night Vale format because it’s not so intrusive that I’m distracted but I can pay attention to it while I work.

Still learning to drive, I’m getting there! My test is SOON so I’m working really hard to get it to all sink in properly! I’ve booked a few days off so I can cram extra lessons in and try to perfect everything as best I can. I really want to pass & get out and about in my little red Up – I still don’t have a name for her though so any suggestions are welcome!

I completely cleared my room out recently which was really therapeutic, and I’ve bought some wall storage and new boxes from Ikea that I’m far too excited about. Expect a room tour soon!

I’ve been writing bits and bobs but nothing big – a few poems, not much prose. It’s surprising really, considering I’ve always been a prose writer I’ve been writing more poetry lately. I’ve written a couple of poems that I’d love to turn into a series/collection but I don’t have any more ideas for them lately. They work best with a visual (see the first here) so translating that to here is something I’m trying to work out.

That’s about it for me really. Still reading, still writing, still looking for a creative job, still being a super cheapskate and saving all my money. Time for you to update me now – what’s been going on with you? Anything exciting in the works?

See you soon,
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Sneak Peek Saturday!

So I don’t think this will really become a thing because I really don’t write creatively anywhere near as often as I should, but I’ve had these characters/this story kicking around for a really long time now and I’ve not really done much with it. 

Over the last 6 years or so I’ve had periods of time in my life where I’ve had the luxury of being able to do the writer-y thing and sit in a coffee shop and work for hours; bliss, right? This hasn’t been possible recently, but it is how I started the idea this piece is a part of. I worked in a charity shop over the summer of 2014 and in the quieter periods there was a lot of staring out of the window while stabbing myself with the tagging gun  being a totally competent employee with perfect hand-eye coordination who could tag clothes and daydream at the same time. I once watched an older lady eat lunch at a bench opposite the shop under an umbrella – on a perfectly sunny day. That’s how the main character of the actual story, Lyza (the grandmother in this extract) came to be. I’ve got my characters mapped out and a few small extracts like this but working out a full plot is a challenge and a half. It’s meant to just be a really fun, silly little story! 

 Just for some context, as this is an extract therefore not really meant to be read alone, Wyn and Lyza are vampires, Janey is half vampire but her dad Cal (Wyn’s husband) is a fire demon. Janey’s two, so trying to control her powers in the human world is tricky, to say the least. This extract is really, really short but I hope you enjoy it all the same.

 

‘Janey, we’re going to be late.’
‘I don’t want a hat!’ Janey screamed, throwing the straw hat onto the floor and stomping her foot. Wyn scooped the hat up and put it back on her daughter’s head.
‘You have to wear it, you’ll burn otherwise.’

‘No.’ Janey glared at her mother in defiance. Wyn jumped behind the sofa, just as two rays of orange shot from Janey’s eyes and scorched the wall where her knees had been only a second before. The hat followed and Janey ran off. Wyn heard her struggling up the stairs, and took her chance.
‘Just like her father. Right then, desperate times call for desperate measures.’ She went to the wicker box next to the sofa and pulled out a thick, velvet throw. She swept out of the room, catching her daughter halfway up the stairs. In one smooth motion she had her covered from head to toe in the blanket, rushed outside and strapped into her car seat.

‘Hi mum, I’m really sorry but we’re going to be late. Janey would rather burn holes in the sofa than wear her hat. We’re on our way but I need to go to the shop and get another throw first, she’s gone through another two this afternoon.’
‘You should just let her go outside without it, she’ll be happy to wear it then.’
‘Oh let’s just give her garlic bread as well while we’re at it, shall we? I’m not letting her burn, mum.’
‘I’m kidding darling, just get here when you can. I’ll get Henry to speak to her when you get here, she’ll listen to him.’
‘Thanks mum, see you soon.’

Wyn parked the car and sighed in relief as she looked in her centre mirror; Janey was fast asleep. She silently prayed that she’d stay that way, at least until she could get her back in the car. She put on her own hat, a black sunhat with large rims, before gently placing the straw hat on Janey’s head.

‘Mumma?’ Janey rubbed her eyes, waking up just as they were at the checkout. She looked around, confused.
‘Well, look who’s awake! Hi there pretty girl!’ Wyn smiled at the cashier, an older woman with a strong Southern American drawl. ‘And isn’t that a lovely hat you’re wearing!’
Wyn froze, worried that Janey would get angry if she realised she was wearing the hat again. Janey, on the other hand, seemed quite happy to accept the compliment, giggling.
‘Thank you.’ She said, looking angelic. Wyn almost rolled her eyes as the cashier took a lollipop out of the box at the till.
‘Is she allowed one? My treat for being so good.’
‘Yes, thank you. You’re very kind.’ That’s why she was being so agreeable, Wyn thought, anything for sweets.

I know it’s short and unpolished but I hope you enjoyed – unfortunately not had much time this week but I will be back with a review for you on Wednesday! 

See you soon,

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PS I know the photo has nothing to do w this, I just didn’t have anything relevant! Plus it’s only part of my face so like, sneak peek? Kinda? It’s a stretch.

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May be where I got Cal’s name from. Maybe. [x]

 


Writing About Writing | Easy Inspo for Writers’ Block Sufferers

 

So you have writers’ block. Whether you’re a blogger, creative writer, journalist or any other kind of writer, it happens to the best of us and boy is it bad when it does. There are times when nothing seems to get the inspiration flowing; no level of playlist making, book reading, exercising or meditating on mountain tops helps (okay, I may not have actually tried the last one and I know you’re all laughing at the idea of exercise, work with me here). Don’t panic, there is still some hope for you yet!

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I’ve been writing properly for about 5 years now, and in that time I’ve been struck with writers’ block several (hundred) times. In that time, I’ve done what I’m sure many writers do; tried thousands of fruitless google searches to motivate myself, given up and binge watched box sets instead until another idea pops up. I have, however, collected several unique and interesting methods of writing, ways of getting new ideas and general tips for getting over writers’ block – so while I do still succumb to the box sets more often than I should (I am in fact searching for the remote so I can put Merlin on as I type), here are some ways that can be used to deal with the dreaded curse.

Written Prompts

Okay, this is an obvious one, but definitely effective. Oneword.com is a site dedicated to this – they have a new one-word prompt every day. The set-up of the site allows you to write as much as possible on the word in 60 seconds before submitting it to their forums, however you can of course just as easily use the word without setting a time limit. Setting a limit can be useful, and of course you can extend and edit after the minute is over, but it isn’t everyone’s style.

If you’re looking for inspiration for an existing story, it can help to pick several mismatched or random words, and attempt to use them in a single paragraph, page or chapter. There are a lot of websites and sources (including other blogs) that have lists of words – I pick a list, then use a number generator and pick the words in line with 5-10 of those numbers. To get you started, have a few words on me – do with them what you will:

Stale

Jewellery

Ice Cream 

Undesirable 

Boiler

Strength 

Rain 

Jasmine 

Lucid 

Possibility

Photographic Prompts

I recently finished reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (come back on Wednesday for my review!). Ransom Riggs used photographs not only to inspire his work, but wrote them into the narrative. The peculiar children are based on real photos from Riggs’ collection, which are featured throughout the book. This is a style of writing that I’ve only tried once, but which can make for an interesting experience for both writer and reader – and with an image already there you don’t have to worry too much about description and focus on the story, which can be helpful when inspiration is waning.

Try this on for size:

 

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I’m sure it would seem a lot more mystical without my dog there, but there we go.

Music/Poetry

Try doing the same with music or poetry. Many writers use others’ works, particularly poems, as inspiration. They don’t have to be at the forefront of your work, but you could take the meaning or even just a line you like and turn it into a piece.

Found Pieces

Found poetry is where you take existing texts and use them to create something else – this could even work for prose. I once wrote a poem only using text messages from my inbox.

Be Nosy

Listen to conversations, people-watch, pay attention to things that seem interesting in your day to day life – you’d be amazed at where inspiration can come from. In the summer before my final year of university I worked at a charity shop. One day I watched an old lady eat her sandwiches on a bench outside under an umbrella on one of the hottest days of the year. 18 months later and I’m still working on a piece centred around that scene.

The Sky’s the Limit?

Try setting a time limit, or trying to write something to an exact word count. My first assignment for a university seminar was to write a love story of exactly 101 words. You could try only writing sentences with an odd number of words, or start every sentence with the same letter. Writing to strict rules can be difficult, but it’s also a really good exercise and could help get the imagination flowing in the way you write as well as what you write.

And if none of those work…

Take A Break – You Deserve It.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to take a step back, have a breather, and come back to your work with fresh eyes. Whether you go to work on something else or finish the aforementioned box sets, a break can be beneficial.

 I hope this has been somewhat helpful in curing writers’ block, or providing some new ways to approach writing. These are all things I’ve tried and while they don’t always help, they are a challenge and fun to try. Let me know if you give any of these a go and how useful you found them! (Or useless, as the case may be). 

See you soon,

 

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Always in the Write | Why I Chose My Blog Name

I’ve had a lot of compliments on my blog name, and being honest I’m actually quite proud of it – I think it might be the highest quality thing to come out of the cloud of dissertation preparation that was November 2015!  At the time I was thinking about what the hell I was going to do come graduation (tip: don’t take 8 months to figure this out and still not come up with anything!!), and decided that a blog would at the very least keep me writing, even if I wasn’t in a relevant job. A stroke of genius while trying to think of decent literary puns led to me saving Always in the Write on WordPress. I left it to be picked up when I had more time. I didn’t have more time until May, but I did pick it up – which if I’m being honest was a bit of a miracle. Looking back I probably should’ve planned ahead and written at least some ideas down in the months between coming up with the name and actually going live, but I’m not that clever. At least I went and did it, and I haven’t given up yet.

 

 

 

Here we are, still. I’m not in a relevant job yet, but the blog still motivates me to write. I’m invested in this now – this isn’t just a way to hone skills or something that looks good on a CV, this is something I truly care about and want to do well.

That’s great Ro, but why did you choose the damn name?

On to the name itself, there are several reasons I chose it –

  1. As I said before, I love a good pun.
  2. I AM always in the right. Ask anyone.
  3. I wanted this to be about my writing. I didn’t want to lose my love of writing (and reading) and I thought that if I had it in my blog name I’d be more inclined to, y’know, write. I committed to going into a writing job after initially planning on going in to teaching – keeping writing as a focus in my life and blog is a way to ensure I don’t lose focus or touch with my goals.
  4. Hello, it’s genius. I’m a genius. Perfect match.
  5. As cheesy as it sounds, it felt right. I’m a big believer in my own intuition and I had a good feeling about this name – perhaps like wands the blog name chooses the blogger…or I’m just a genius (see point 4)

I really like my blog name. I think it’s cute, clever and sums up what I want the blog to reflect – good quality, interesting writing and lots of books! I did think of it while the goal was to have a more creative writing focused blog, but I still think it fits me and my written voice well.

That’s my opinion, what’s yours? How did you choose your blog name and what do you think of it now?

See you soon,

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I’ve been binging It’s Always Sunny again.


Always in the Write | I’m Back, Baby!

Hello, hello, hello!

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Look at me, actually publishing things – how swish! I’m so glad to be back, I’ve truly missed posting and sharing my thoughts with you guys. I’m back and ready to share what I’ve been working on over the past few weeks with you. I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped, I’ll admit, but taking the pressure of having to post off has helped a lot. I’ve had the time to re-evaluate what I’m doing, work out what isn’t working and how to fix it.

Good for you Ro, but why should we care?

Well, I’ll hopefully be posting more regularly and with higher quality content. I’ve been thinking about how to achieve this, knowing how damn lazy I am and what little time I have. I’m struggling to find a perfect solution, but I think cutting down how often I post, just for now, is a good idea. I rarely managed to post on ‘Fandom Friday’ anyway. So here’s what’s going to happen:

  • I’m keeping Review Wednesday as is. It’s the one day I manage to keep up with, and doing a weekly review is good for me.
  • I’m not posting on Monday and Friday any more. Instead, I’m doing Saturdays, at least right now. Maybe I’ll go back to Monday-Wednesday-Friday again soon but for now I need to know my limits and work around my schedule better.

What will the result be?

Well, I’m hoping to produce better quality, longer posts that are closer to what I want to be putting out into the world. I have some strong opinions (I am a strong woman, after all – comes with the territory) and there are things I’m always saying ‘I could write an essay on this’; so why don’t I? I want to have less posts that I see as ‘filler’ compared to what I want to put out. Look forward to seeing more creative pieces, more think pieces, and of course more reviews.

Okay, what else?

I want to be around more. I feel like I’ve been a terrible Teacup lately, abandoning my beloved chat just as Mama Teacup has FINALLY come back to blogging (catch Breanna over at Too Cute For Life). I want to engage with the blogging community more, especially my favourite bloggers, & I hope that in getting more organised I’ll have more time to get on to twitter chats, meetings etc. and read more blogs. Once I have a better schedule properly in place I might put one night aside a week specifically to get reading & commenting on more blogs. You can’t expect people to like you if you don’t give anything back, right?

One last little thing. I think I’m gonna be more relaxed about taking breaks – taking two weeks to plan and knock a few posts out has been really good for me & hopefully the blog. I’m not going to be scared any more about stopping if I need to – in blogging what I’ve learnt is that quantity is good but quality is better.

Anyway, that’s the plan. I’m getting my butt into gear and working it out – I hope you’re as excited about it as I am.

See you soon.

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Man I’m glad I’m back.

 


525,600 – A Year in the Life

These things are sent to try us.

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What a year. A lot of people are saying that 2016 has been the worst, and just needs to die already. In some ways I agree, but this simply isn’t accurate for how my year has actually been.

Truth is, the year started out better than I could ever have imagined. The first six months were amazing. I spent them in my home, my Aberystwyth, surrounded by wonderful people and made some wonderful memories. My last year in Aberystwyth couldn’t have been better, and it was those 6 months that made it – I have so many people to thank for that. I appreciate you all so much and can’t quite believe that such amazing people spent time with a slightly drunk loser like myself.

It wasn’t until I graduated in July that things took a turn for the worst for me personally. Leaving Aberystwyth was, and still is, an incredibly difficult experience. In the last 5 months I think all of my worst fears have been realised (except dying or being forced onto a rollercoaster), and yet if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from it all it’s this…

I’m still here.

We’re still here.

We are currently surviving, even if it feels like the world is falling apart. A massive bag of racist satsumas stuffed into a suit is about to become the most powerful man in the world and make our already fragile political situation a million times worse, and we don’t even have Princess Leia around to fix it; but humans are tough as hell. We might not always thrive in the face of adversity, but we muddle on. We survive.

I know myself a little better. I know that I am freaking strong, man. I’m not scared any more. Careful but not scared. I can survive, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to take silly risks. I think that would be good advice for politicians, if I do say so myself.

3 Things I Learnt This Year:

-Vote. First Brexit, then Trump occurred because no one thought they would. No one bothered voting, or protest voted for options they didn’t want, and the world is far worse off as a result.

– Think. Stay Grounded. Don’t lose sight of who you are. No matter what happens, you can’t go wrong if you’re true to yourself.

– Work hard, but don’t be afraid to quit. In the last few months, I’ve moved from a job I could do but hated to a job I can do and love. I feel incredibly lucky to have found something that I truly enjoy, even if it’s only temporary; this never would’ve happened if I hadn’t have left my last job. I don’t like quitting; but this was the best thing I could’ve done.

Let’s bookend this post with musical quotes, shall we? 2016, because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

Bring on 2017.

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Count the musical references in this post.

 


Spot The Difference – Why There’s No Review Today

So unfortunately there will be no review this week (booo – look out for my review of A Monster Calls next week though!). This is because I have some very exciting news instead!

We’ve had an upgrade!!

Okay, so you’ve probably already seen the new domain/the inevitable mountain of tweets I’ll make on the subject, but I upgraded the blog! I was super excited to be able to put money into this once I got a job and today was the day I decided to do that. I won’t be posting a review today for that reason – the blog will be a little temperamental for the next few days (according to WordPress, anyway) and I want to spend what little free time I have at the moment exploring the new features, tweaking the colour scheme to properly match my logo palette etc. Also I spent my blogging time today trying to get past a really hard level on Best Fiends.

Sorry this is kind of a rubbish update but these are exciting times for Always in the Write so watch out! Now to go and update all of my social media accounts – oy vey.

See you soon,

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Me right now. [x]