#Goals: Review and Reset 2

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#Goals: Review and Reset 2

I’m currently recovering from spending 2 hours in a car with no air-conditioning in almost 30 degree heat (that’s in Celsius for American friends), so I’ll keep this quarter’s #Goals: Review and Reset short.

It’s been a tough few months, with essay deadlines and dissertation work abounding, but I’m quite impressed with what I’ve managed to achieve.

Review:

Deliver 2 more essays for MA by 23rd of April. – Complete. After the essay I wrote in March drove me mildly insane, it was a relief to move on. I was a little worried, as I’d set myself the challenge of writing 2 papers that required me to choose my own research topic, and neither subjects were theory based. Fortunately, the lecturer leading the module where I had chosen to run an experiment was incredibly supportive and I was able to get my questionnaire out to run while I was working on my other paper. The other paper was slightly more stressful, as there was some discussion about what my question should be. But I did it. Both essays were submitted. And both went down very well 🙂

Identify data sample for dissertation by end of May. – Complete. This was completed…although it was maybe more like the middle of June, largely due to ethical problems that cropped up regarding fanfiction.net ‘s terms of service statement. It was easily solved, but set me back a few days in terms of research.

Get a firm grasp on ethics in relation to dissertation by mid-May. – Complete. Both myself and my supervisor are now fairly certain that I’ve covered my bases. Fingers crossed I don’t have to go dumping my sample again at this point (I’ve already started my analysis).

Write draft of dissertation by end of June. – Incomplete. ~Laughs~ I based this goal on when the university said we should finish a draft by, but it was never going to happen. Particularly not with the amount of gaps in my knowledge I needed to fill, and the amount of narrowing down I needed to do. I’ve essentially gone from “I want to analyse creativity and authenticity in ALL of fanfiction” to “I want to analyse the creativity and authenticity involved in the characterisation of popularly referenced characters involved in these four Sherlock Holmes fanfiction texts using these models.” It took a long time to get there, but I think I finally know what I’m actually doing.

Reach 85k of The End of Atlas by end of June.Incomplete. So close! But no cigar. I only managed to reach 84,143 words. To be fair to myself, with illnesses and dissertation setbacks, I’ve probably only had one session on The End of Atlas this quarter. I also started messing about with a short story, which quickly turned into the workings of a novella that I might try self-publishing in the future. That bad boy is 7.5k…  I do feel like I’m having an affair with these other writing projects. I really do.

Create new logo for blog by end of June. – Complete. I have a drawing done, but I’ve not had chance to digitalise or upload. I think I’m going to postpone making any further changes to this blogsite until I’m done with my masters. I really want to be able to focus and do it properly.

Write blog post at least once a week. – Complete. Popular highlights from this quarter include: The Dos and Don’ts of Double Helix Piercings, Kit the Kat: Warning – May Contain Copious Cat Pictures, and my poem from last week, Seen from a Window in Wales.

Read at least two essays/chapters a week. – Complete. Entirely necessary when trying to put together a model for a topic no-one’s really covered before. Even re-reading articles has been incredibly helpful, as well as making detailed notes in a bullet-esque notebook format. Some of my favourites included: ‘Authentic in Authenticity: The Evolution of Sherlock Holmes on Screen’ by Stephen Joyce, ‘Character Voice in Anime Subtitles’ by Peter Howell and ‘What is Fanfiction and Why are People Saying Such Nice Things about It?’ by Bronwen Thomas. If you can get hold of them, I’d strongly recommend giving them a read.

Keep daily questions journal up-to-date. – Complete.

Keep daily routine: up at 7.30 am, bed by 11pm. – Complete. Although, this routine is now more up at 8am and bed by midnight.

 

So, I’ve managed to complete 8 of my 10 public goals. In addition, I completed all 5 of my private goals, making a total of 13 out of 15 goals achieved 🙂 Not half bad, if I do say so myself.

The end of the next quarter will be the 30th of September, by which time I will have (hopefully) finished my MA. With that in mind, let’s move on to my new targets.

 

Reset:

  1. Write at least 1500 words of dissertation a week until the end of July.
  2. Finish and submit my dissertation by the end of August.
  3. Have a “summer clean” during August.
  4. Make significant edits to The End of Atlas by the end of September.
  5. Edit novella and look into self-publishing by the end of September.
  6. Update CV by the end of September.
  7. Read an actual book by the end of September.
  8. Keep daily questions journal up-to date.
  9. Keep daily routine.
  10. Write one blog post a week.

 

I’ve kept it to 10 goals again, as I know that the next few months are going to be hectic again, as I’m finishing my dissertation and moving. I’ve also not set a word count for Atlas because there are some major changes that I would like to make before I get much further.

I will also be setting 5 private goals for myself, as always.

I feel I should also mention, that I have now achieved one of my new year’s resolutions: keeping a plant alive for 6 months. Beaky the orchid is currently in rest mode, but his leaves and roots are still growing and very green. This is all kinds of impressive as I have literally killed every plant I’ve ever owned…including a few cacti.

Look forward to seeing you next week, folks!

Best,

EM

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Writing Writ #1: Find Your Own Voice

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Writing Writ #1: Find Your Own Voice

You hear this a lot when you’re a fiction writer. You need to find you voice, write with vision, have a perspective. And when you hear those words you think, Oh, go away, you pretentious git. And I don’t blame you. The people who tell you that you need to “find your own voice”, without any further guidance, are pretentious gits.

But the fact still remains, if you want to write well, you do need to write with your own voice.

So, how does one find this voice?

 

Step 1:

Start keeping a journal – This sounds almost as pretentious as telling you to use your own voice, but please, trust me for a minute. By a cheap ass notebook, and just scribble some thoughts down. Don’t make them frilly. Don’t pretend some great literary historian is going to end up reading them when you’re famous (~coughs~ totally didn’t do that myself ~coughs~). Write like you’re talking to a friend. Be as colloquial as you want to be and just word vomit onto paper a few times a week.

Step 2:

Copy the voices you love – Make a short list of the writer’s you really love, and trying mimicking their style. Don’t go for a full novel. Dream up a character and a short scenario, and write with the voice of a writer you admire. One of my favourites to copy was Douglas Adams, which you can see in Moving Day. His jovial, semi-sarcastic wit is so specifically him, but it’s great fun to play with.

Step 3:

Pin point what it is that you like – Once you’ve had your fun playing with that voice, it’s time to get analytical. What is it that you like about that voice? Is it the wit, like myself with Adams? Is it the simple, clean prose, like myself and Graham Greene? Or is it the fluid presentation of thoughts …like me and every modernist I’ve ever loved?

Step 4:

Blend those voices – Now comes the tricky bit. Now, you need to take all the bits you like about the work of other writers, and apply it to your own work. Sounds complicated? How can you mix Adams’ wit, with Greene’s prose, and Woolf’s stream of consciousness? First off, relax, because here’s the thing; you’re never going to sound like all of them. And that’s fine, because that’s not the aim. The aim is to sound like you, but to develop the bits that you like the most about their writing in your own. That diary you’ve been keeping (right?) get that out, and have a read through what you’ve written. You’ll likely find you’re already doing some of those things you love so much. However, you may also find you sound like you’re up your own arse (thanks, Woolf) or that you’re close to murdering everyone (cheers, Adams) or that you manage to write a whole paragraph without giving any context for what’s happening (Greene! My man!). Once you see these things, you can start to blend the voices together better. Ease up on the 1920’s English, tone down the sarcasm and pop in a few more adjectives.

Step 5:

Figure out what you bring to the table – This isn’t exactly easy to do for yourself, which is why I always advocate sharing your work with trusted friends/ family/ writers. In my case, it was my lecturer, Dr Richard House, who made me realise what I added (although I’m fairly certain my mum had told a very small Emma something similar). When Richard read the opening to The End of Atlas, he said to me that I had a very filmic writing style. At the time, I thought this was really odd way to describe it, but I’ve come to realise that it’s how my mind works. When I’m writing fiction, I see things as if it’s a film playing in my head. I see the shots, and the look, and I target the elements of the scene to describe which I think will have the biggest impact. Knowing this helped me see how I was holding three very different voices together. Simplicity, fluidity and hella humour, woven together with a filmic structure. That is how I like to roll.

Step 6:

Acceptance – Finally, there’s one small thing you need to know and accept. You’re never going to stop fiddling around with your voice. Mainly because, if you’re any good at writing, you’re never going to write the exact same character twice (unless you’re writing a novel series). Even if you don’t write in first person (like myself), and you rely on a third person narrator, your characters will inevitably have some influence over the tone of your narration, and you will certainly need to be able to adapt your voice for dialogue. Writing is as much about acting as it is about prose. However, don’t be disheartened. Having a sense of your own voice will 1) help you pick the projects that you’re going to enjoy the most, and 2) figure out when your character is just you in disguise (I’m looking at you John Green).

 

If I’m honest with myself, I do worry about where I’ll go after The End of Atlas is finally finished. I’ve become so familiar with the voice of Alec, my protagonist, that he kind of feels like home. But I know, when the time comes, I’ll pick up the parts of him that are me and develop a new character, and a new project which I’ll hopefully enjoy just as much.

Hope you’re enjoying your Saturday!

Best,

E.M.

P.S. Today’s featured image is a small snapshot of an essay I wrote before Easter…in which I sound like Dr Seuss.

Staying Sane Through Essay Pain

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Staying Sane Through Essay Pain

This week’s blog post comes to you from the small town of Irony (The Town of Irony is an excellent name for a book by the way. I called it, it’s mine.) Since late February I have been in a place of constant stress, as I attempted to write one essay where I felt entirely clueless, one where my essay question hadn’t even been confirmed, and another that involved copious amounts of maths…MATHS (I’m a linguistics student for those who don’t know.)

So I’m not sure I’m 100% qualified to be writing this. In fact, I’m definitely not, as I’m not a psychologist/psychiatrist or any kind of certified counsellor. I’m just a girl, standing in front of a mountain of work, asking it not to give me a stress induced heart attack at the age of 25.

However, now that I see the light at the end of the tunnel (I have 1700 words left to write, and then 4 re-drafts to do) I can also see the things I’ve been doing that have really helped me push through this mess. And I thought they might come in handy for folks that I know are still working like me…and for the dissertation hurdle yet to come. Thus, I depart my widsom:

1. Snacks
Find snacks that bring you joy and, if you can manage it, that have few calories. I have become and in this particular area over the last 2 months. My cupboard and freezer are now stocked with Wotsits, Bacon Frazzles, frozen Froobs and Mars Bar Ice Creams. All of which remind me of being a kid, running round the playground and genuinely wanting to learn about everything, while not putting me into a food coma. These are foods that aren’t just about stress eating, but are about bringing a bit of glee to life. Go forth, find your favourites, and make sure you have a variety to choose from.

2. Meditation 
I hate meditation. Or at least I did. Up until 9 days ago, I really didn’t get it. I’d tried the Calm app…where the woman is positively condescending. I’d tried the odd practice from Youtube, which often go off on a weird spiritual ramble that jars with me greatly. I’d even tried, you know, sitting in silence…but that wasn’t exactly effective given that I need a visual (imagined image), verbal (music/podcast) and physical (hand on chest breathing) stimulus to concentrate on, just to switch off properly and sleep. However, 9 days ago I gave the Headspace app a try. The bloke’s voice is very down to earth, and the guidelines are simple, but really work for me. I use it as a gentle way to ease myself in to the day, and I’d recommend giving it a go, even if you’ve struggled with meditation before.

3. Vent, But Don’t Volcano
In times of stress, we need to vent. Whether it’s rambling to a parent on the phone, putting all caps messages into the group chat, or going downstairs to “make coffee” and spending an hour talking to your housemate about how much you hate everything, venting is a necessity. But, at a certain point, talking and talking and talking means that you’re not getting anything done. You’re just making yourself and everyone around you miserable. There’s letting off steam, and then there’s releasing lava, destroying the villages on the island, and generally making a mess of everything. It’s fine to talk about how stressed you are, just make sure you’re working on making yourself not stressed at some point in the future. Write the essay, don’t just complain about it, because it will only make things worse in the long run.

4. Routine
Around March time, I finally managed to get back into a routine and it’s done wonders. Sometimes I don’t want to wake up at 7:30, sometimes I sleep in until 8:30, but usually by 9/9:30 I’m up, dressed, fed and ready to start doing things. I start with any practical life stuff: laundry, washing-up, shopping. Then make a drink, sit down and work on my essay. I normally stop for lunch at around 12/12:30, depending on how engrossed I am, and how hungry I am, and give myself an hour to eat something tasty and watch something that doesn’t require a lot of brain power (thank you Netflix and Great British Bake Off). After that, another drink is made and more work is done, until 17:30, when I start making tea and switch off my laptop for the evening. Having scheduled time for me has been a real mood changer (and I finally reached the end of Borderlands 2, after almost a year).

5. Do Before You Think
A long time ago I encountered a Tedx Talk called “How to stop screwing yourself over” by Mel Robbins. During this talk, she states a simple fact, that we are never going to feel like doing the things we need to do, to be everything we’re capable of being. Harsh truth, but true truth. She also brings up the concept of activation energy, the energy required to get us to do something that veers away from autopilot. For example, stop eating pizza in bed and get up and write your essay. Robbins suggests it takes about 3 seconds to talk yourself out of doing something. In those three seconds, you have to force yourself, to apply that activation energy and do the thing.

Personally, I find it easier to get to work from an upright position. So, say I’m in bed, I think, “Let’s go get a drink.” I go downstairs, I make the drink, and when I get back upstairs, I don’t get back in the bed, I sit down at my desk. Lure myself out of my nest with warm beverages, and suddenly I’m in front of an essay. May as well write while I’m there, yeah?

Don’t let yourself sit there and think about how hard your essay is going to be to write, how it’s never going to be good enough anyway, how it’s going to take so much time and you want to go see your friends (although, please do schedule time for friends. Don’t be an essay hermit. That’s not good). Instead, get up, get dressed, sit down, write essay. Do it, before you have time to think about it.

6. Do the Freaking Do
I wanted to have a nice neat 5 tip blog post, but honestly, I can’t emphasise the importance of doing enough. And the most important thing is, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT. The first draft of your essay should be a mess. It should have citation errors, and poor paragraphing, and a section of method that you forgot to wedge in. Don’t focus on getting it perfect the first time. Focus on getting something on paper. There’s nothing quite so relieving as having this abstract “essay” become a physical concrete thing. It becomes more manageable and less stressful, because okay, it’s not fantastic, but the words and ideas are there. All you need to do is carve away the bits that don’t matter, and polish up the features that do. So get the thing down on paper/computer screen. It’ll make you feel at least 70% happier with life.

And that’s your lot. At least for now. I may revisit stress management when I’m knee deep in dissertation and need to discuss further ways of keeping my sanity. If any of y’all have tried and tested suggestions I’d be interested (more than interested) to hear them.

As an advanced warning, next week’s blog post will be full of cat pictures, so bring tissues if you have allergies.

Best,

Em.

#Goals: Review and Reset 1

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#Goals: Review and Reset 1

Well, it turns out it’s the end of March today, which means it’s time to review my goals for this quarter, and set my next lot.

Review:

Update Atlas with edits from Writeryjig Clubamabob (WC). – Incomplete. Honestly, this is probably something I could have squeezed in somewhere, but this semester at university has been, uh, somewhat stressful. I greatly appreciated the WC for taking the time to give me feedback, but let’s just say I wasn’t in the right mind to implement their advice. I will get round to this soon.

Reach the 90k mark for Atlas. – Incomplete. I have no idea why I set this word count. I believe I was on around 75K when I set the goal. Bear in mind that, on a good week, I knock out around 1k, and I only had 13 weeks to write. I plucked a round number out of the air and didn’t do the maths until 2 weeks later. A more realistic goal would have been 80k, with all the work I was doing for uni. Happily, The End of Atlas is now at 82,327 words.

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Celebrating the WC

Redraw Atlas timeline. – Complete. This was something I wanted to do as a number of side characters have become somewhat more important to the plot…and for those of you who don’t know…my narrative is non-chronological, which means I’m keeping 4 separate time periods ordered in my head. Now at least, I can see when certain events should happen in the early years. Wow, this paragraph is vague. This is what happens when you try to avoid spoilers.

Write a blurb for Atlas. – Complete. This has been done! Although I imagine it will change a great deal before I finally send any of this stuff off in the hopes of getting published.

Celebrate 1 full year of WC. – Complete. Very much done 😀 In case you missed it, last week’s blog was a celebratory How to Run A Writing Club, with a side of this year’s WC achievements. We also celebrated at the last meeting by singing Happy Birthday and eating cake and brownies. Much fun was had by all.

Moth Child CoverWrite a blog post at least once a week. – Complete, as of the release of this post. The experience of having to blog once a week has been interesting. Some weeks I came up with topics easily, other weeks were a struggle. I enjoyed seeing the response to Moth Childa short story that had been growing dusty on my hard drive. I also enjoyed reminiscing over the tales of Kidiot Emma (1, 2, 3) and revisiting my old work…it’s odd to think how much I’ve improved as a writer since my first year of university.

Redesign blog. – Semi-Complete. I have sketched out what I would like the blog to look like, but it took a long time for me to get adobe working on my computer (the old boy has had a hard life), at which point I was already knee deep in essay research. Hopefully, I can get this done by the end of the year.

Rebrand blog. – Complete. Gone is the Let’s Read branding of yore. I would like to change the blog URL, but I don’t want to mess with the links. And I’m hoping someday I might be able to buy my own URL, in which case I’d end up messing with them twice, so for now I’m sticking with emmort.wordpress.com.

Write 2 linguistic essay drafts before the Easter Holiday. – Completeish. I completed and submitted one essay (let’s not talk about that), but I’ve also come up with my own research question and half written my second essay, and come up with a research question, delivered a presentation and started collecting data for my third essay. If you’d like to take part in my study, you can find the questionnaire here. I’m counting everything I’ve done so far as basically the same amount of work as two whole essays, just in a different format.

Read all the required material for my classes. – Complete. It was a struggle toward the end, but I got there. I think reading all of the material for a degree, even if it’s not relevant to what you’re going to end up writing about, is important. You never know when that reference is going to come in handy further down the line.

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My hair in the middle of all this.

Try and read 1 extra article/chapter a week. – Complete. Initially, I started by reading chapters from the books on fanfiction, which I’d been bought for Christmas, to prepare for my dissertation. Then, as we got into the world of assignment deadlines, I was reading essays, bits of books, or…the whole of Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (good read for anyone who’s interested, although he infuriated me with his use of the words “icon” and “symbol”. I struggled to get through this thing on Peirce and Saussre, but if you’re going to use the language of semiotics in an academic text, you should sure as hell know what it means.)

Write MA dissertation proposal. – Complete. The main hurdle here was not having the form to fill in. But it’s done, and it’s gone, and hopefully I’ll find out who my dissertation supervisor will be sometime soon.

Vet possible fanfiction profiles for MA dissertation data suitability. – Semi-Complete. I’ve perused, but I’ve not nailed anything down yet. Honestly, I feel like I need to have a chat with my dissertation supervisor first, before I start identifying possible sources of data.

Talk to personal tutor about ethics for MA dissertation. – Completeish. So I didn’t really talk to my personal tutor about this, but one of my module lecturers, Dr Ruth Page, specialises in online research and provided some interesting information about ethics in our final session. I need to read more, and probably discuss it with my dissertation supervisor (when I get one), but I feel a little more in the know about this now.

Keep daily question journal up-to-date. – Complete. While I haven’t been able to keep up with my real journal, answering this quick question a day book has been relatively easy to keep on top of (#notspon). I’m looking forward to re-reading my answers next year and seeing if the responses have changed much.

So, I’ve completed 11 and 2 halves (for a total of 12) out of 15 main goals. Given how busy I’ve been with university work, I’m really chuffed. And of my 5 private aims I’ve completed 4/5, which isn’t half bad.

While I’ve worked with to do lists and resolutions before, this was my first time trying to complete quarterly goals and it’s been an interesting experience. I quickly discovered that some of my goals weren’t going to be feasible with everything else I had going on, such as reaching a 90k word count for The End of Atlas. It was just never going to happen.

I’ve also been made super aware of just how short three months actually is. Janurary, February and March have flown by in a mess of car problems, essay mania and trying to destress with friends. But, going into the next quarter of 2018, I feel like I have a better grasp on what’s going to be realistic. So next up, here are my new goals.

Reset:

  1. Deliver 2 more essays for MA by 23rd of April.
  2. Identify data sample for dissertation by end of May.
  3. Get a firm grasp on ethics in relation to dissertation by mid-May.
  4. Write draft of dissertation by end of June.
  5. Reach 85k of The End of Atlas by end of June.
  6. Create new logo for blog by end of June.
  7. Write blog post at least once a week.
  8. Read at least two essays/chapters a week.
  9. Keep daily questions journal up-to-date.
  10. Keep daily routine: up at 7.30 am, bed by 11pm.

I’m going to keep it to 10 this time, mainly because I think life might get a bit chaotic and twirly once I start working on my dissertation, and that will be 15k. I also have 5 private goals again.

And with that, I guess I’ll catch y’all next week.

But, uh, I will leave you with this picture of two fire engines trying to get a bengal cat (named Ben) off the roof of a house across from my parents. I feel like everyone should know that this is a thing that happened.

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Provided by my mum.

Growing up Starbucks

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Growing up Starbucks

Over the years, my obsession with Starbucks has been met with raised eyebrows, scoffs and looks of disgust. On a couple of occasions, I’ve been berated for not supporting “local” business (including the 50 store strong chain, Coffee #1), despite the fact that Starbucks is a franchise, and therefore the stores you see are usually owned and run by local people who pay a sum to use the Starbucks branding.Photo-0466

However, the fact is my love of Starbucks has never been political.

As a child, I never really went in coffee shops. My mother can’t stand the smell of coffee, so she avoided them like the plague. So, my relationship with Starbucks – and journey through caffeine addiction – didn’t start until I was 13/14.

My best friend at the time was a sarcastic boy with Tony and Guy hair, limited addition converse and a penchant for caramel macchiatos. He would drag me into the dark gloom of a Starbucks, and I would drag him swiftly out again, intimidated by the noise, smell and complicated menu. I still remember the first time he gave me a sip from his mermaid embossed cup; we were standing in the Virgin Megastore in Cardiff (RIP), and I had to struggle not to spit the sickly sweet coffee all over the CD’s.

It was, by no means, love at first sight. I really didn’t get the appeal, but on one occasion I succumbed to peer pressure. I was desperate for a drink, so asked my friend what he would a_cup_of_history_by_emortrecommend. Something with no coffee. I ended up ordering a Strawberry Cream Frappuccino. It wasn’t great – it tasted like jam and regret –  but we were in there so often that I began experimenting with my order, until I stumbled across the Iced Mocha. My gateway drug, an summer love. The chocolate disguised the coffee just enough that I grew accustomed to the bitterness, and  it wasn’t long until I graduated to unflavoured lattes.

Friendships shifted, and I took to spending almost every Saturday in my local StarbucksDSC00070 (also RIP), tucked up the stairs on a bar stool by the window. There were only two seats, so I could be completely alone and write. First came 20,000 words of a vampire novel, about the teenage vampire with a pulse, that got swiftly abandoned when Twilight became popular. Then came Idiots, the first novel I ever got anywhere near to completing. It involved a fictional retelling of the lives of myself and my two closest friends – tall, lanky heroes who got me through hard times – living and working in a coffee shop in London. I still have my eye on an old fire station, hoping one day it’ll go up for sale and I can convert it into my dream store.

I got older, went to 6th form college, and my social circle expanded. Starbucks became the place I brought people at the end of days spent in town, but only good friends made it up to that balcony seat at the back. It was odd how private I was over a very public space, but it became an in joke. They were my seats, and I would sit with friends and glare at any strangers who dared to take them.

Then the day came for me to head off to university in Birmingham, leaving behind my 11255209_10152987978808897_4982465154794542299_nold home on the high street. My first major concern was establishing which of Birmingham’s vast array would be my Starbucks. You laugh, but I was literally 100 miles away from creature comforts. So the research and dedication I put into this was 100% necessary and I don’t know why you’re looking at me like that.

Fortunately, a couple of friends had provided me with Starbucks gift cards to go away with. Unfortunately, the Starbucks on university campus did not take these cards. Not to mention it was ridiculously busy all of the time, which quickly ruled it out as my new place. However, I lived close to the city centre in first year, so I had options. I took a walk, and found four possibilities on my first try; two in the Bullring, one on New Street and one just off Victoria Square.

I won’t tell you which I chose, but it was a fairly easy decision. After all, my criteria were: height, bar stools, and a view.

My current Starbucks has seen me develop as a writer and build The End of Atlas into what is almost a complete manuscript. It’s also the first Starbucks in which the baristas have learnt my name…and my order. Which was weird, so I dyed my hair just to confuse them. That didn’t work. I have a problem. And I have a gold membership on the app now, which I consider to be all the more impressive since I quit caffeine in 2012.

21034348_10155084615918897_4212018558492282820_nOh. I can also literally find a Starbucks anywhere, from Brighton to Barcelona. I’m a human radar. It’s impressive.

So I guess, what I’m trying to say is, my relationship with Starbucks isn’t political; it’s historical. It’s where I spent a decent portion of my time forming as a writer and a human. Want to take me somewhere else? That’s fine. But if I’m alone, I will always choose to hunker down in a shop with a two tail mermaid in the window.

 

Please note: All of the images in this article are mine. Some of them were taken on a Samsung SGH-D500 from 2005 (hence the quality). Oh, and yes, I made the tiny Starbucks logo on miniature lollipop sticks. It was a graphic design project at AS level. Don’t judge.

 

 

 

 

 

#Goals

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#Goals
In my post earlier this week, you may have noticed that there was a general theme of #Goals.

Not many people know, but since 2014, I spend some time on the 1st of January making a list of New Year’s Resolutions in the back of my latest journal, and I’ve gotten quite good at completing them.

Okay, finishing The End of Atlas has been on that list since I started this practice, but I didn’t say I was perfect.

Last year’s goals included:

  • Get into a regular writing pattern.
  • Read at least 12 books.
  • Get MA offers.
  • Get MA funding.
  • Go on holiday.

And I’m happy to say I ticked all of these off. My writing pattern is now knocking out 1000 words in Starbucks on Sundays, and Grace the barista has taken to coming and asking how the novel’s going. I’ve read a considerable number of books, then switched to a 100 pages of research a week when my MA started, so I consider that a success. Lancaster and Birmingham both offered me a place for my MA, and after choosing Birmingham, I managed to get an MA scholarship from the College of Arts and Law. In August, a couple of friends and I went to Barcelona. It was the furthest away and hottest country I had ever been too, and while I can’t say my pasty-white-self was built for the weather, I had an amazing time.

Not everything worked out  exactly how I had planned it, but 2017, all things considered, was a good year.

This year, I really want to focus on my writing, my career and getting Atlas off my resolution list once and for all. So, I thought I would take a leaf out of Jenna Moreci’s book and make a quarterly goals list. I normally update my resolutions list anyway, but this will mean I get into the habit of regularly reviewing it, and keep up the momentum throughout the year.

From January through to the end of March, these are the #Goals I will aim to achieve:

  1. Update Atlas with edits from Writeryjig Clubamabob (WC).
  2. Reach the 90k mark for Atlas.
  3. Redraw Atlas timeline.
  4. Write a blurb for Atlas.
  5. Celebrate 1 full year of WC.
  6. Write a blog post at least once a week.
  7. Redesign blog.
  8. Rebrand blog.
  9. Write 2 linguistic essay drafts before the Easter Holiday.
  10. Read all the required material for my classes.
  11. Try and read 1 extra article/chapter a week.
  12. Write MA dissertation proposal.
  13. Vet possible fanfiction profiles for MA dissertation data suitability.
  14. Talk to personal tutor about ethics for MA dissertation.
  15. Keep daily question journal up-to-date.

On top of this I’m going to set 5 private aims, that I’ll keep track of in my diary. At the end of March I’ll do a review, let you know how it went and what I want to do for the next quarter. ~Fingers crossed~ I’ll have a whole draft of The End of Atlas and an MA to show for my pains by the end of the year!

The Sequel Part 2: Return of the Sequel

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The Sequel Part 2: Return of the Sequel

On the 7th of June, 2014 at 12 am, I posted a super short blog post called “The Sequel” that, to this day, has 1 view. It was my way of drawing a line under the work I had previously done on this blog, and starting afresh.

The way I did that was by creating a schedule and producing some really rigid boxes that I had to tick off every week. In a way, while I was just post graduation and unemployed, it was an excellent idea. It kept me focused and it gave me something to break up the monotony of job applications and failed interviews.

But, when I finally went back to work, it became clear pretty swiftly that I was not going to be able to stick to that routine.

So here I am in early 2018, drawing another line in the sand and starting afresh once again. You find me now doing a Master’s course in Applied Linguistics, something that I have long wanted to do, but finishing my MA is not my only goal.

My plan for this site is to return it to what I always intended it to be. I started this blog in the first year of university with the intention of making it a platform for me and my creative work, and then I got the ususal writer’s paranoia about putting things online, so it turned into something very different. Don’t get me wrong, I still read my old articles and smile, which is why I won’t be privatising them for this reboot (feel free to have a flick through if you fancy). 

Instead, I’ve made a goal to fill this site with actual blog posts about life, thoughts about writing, and *shock horror* samples of my work. Those of you who follow me on Facebook, Tumblr or Instagram already know that I have been working on my novel The End of Atlas (previously known as Rimjhim…don’t ask) since the final year of my degree, and I’m happy to say it’s almost finished. I’m aiming to have a completed first draft by the end of the year, at which point I will be sharing snippets, talking about editing, and moving on to how the hell am I gonna get this thing published.

Basically, I want this blog to reflect who I am and what’s happening in my life. The plan is to post every Saturday, and if I find the time, I may throw in the additional bit here and there. For those of you who have been following this blog for a while now, I hope you’ll enjoy the switch up. For those of you new to the site, hello! I hope you stick around 🙂

Welcome to The Sequel Part 2: Return of the Sequel

Prepare for change!