Dissertation Drama Week #7

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Dissertation Drama Week #7

My work pace feels like it’s ground to a halt over the last two weeks, at least in terms of word count. The goal set by my supervisor was to collect comment data from my fanfiction samples, and start doing the coding that I’d promised I would do, in order to narrow my focus further. But personally, I was also aiming to get my method done as well.

After writing half my method, and collecting and coding almost 200 comments, some ethical issues reared their ugly head, and I had to dump 3/4 of my sample and rethink my sampling method completely. On top of that, I woke up last Friday with a stonking cold, which I’m still not quite recovered from.

What did I learn from this shamble?

  1. If you can see the twist in the road, slow down – I had a gut feeling that my ethical issues were not 100% fixed, but I didn’t want to waste time by not doing anything. Of course, instead of doing a ton of work that I then had to throw out, I could have been reading and building my knowledge for my next steps. I was so focused on building my word count that the thought didn’t occur until after the fact. Poor planning on my part, but something that I will definitely keep in mind.

 

  1. When things go wrong, do take a break – When things went wrong, I did not stop working. I was determined to catch up with myself. So all the work I originally did in 3 days, I did again in 1.5 days. On that .5 of a day, I was already ill and knew I was only going to get worse, so I pushed myself even harder to finish up. I then spent the weekend lying in bed in a state of semi-death (although I still dragged myself upright to blog). Basically, I’m an idiot. Don’t be me. Take a break, recover, then start working again.

 

  1. Sometimes, you need to edit as you go – Of course, once I’d screwed up my methodology section, I couldn’t just continue writing it. I needed to move whole chunks around, rework parts, and add greater detail into the coding and sampling sections. It wasn’t something I could leave and come back to, like my literature review (which just needs more of an argument). My method was a mess that needed sorting, so the rest would be coherent. Don’t leave yourself a pile of trouble to come back to later. Tackle it while the issues are fresh in your mind, so it doesn’t confuse everything else.

 

  1. Reading, is working – I feel like this is a really important point to get across. I’ve reached a stage now, where there is a gap in my knowledge and I need to fill it. I’ve never really done any proper stylistics work before, so I’m lacking a model to use for my dissertation. Therefore, I’ve spent a portion of the last three days reading up on possible models I could make use of. I’ve gone from being utterly daunted, to thinking, actually, this is doable. Worrying over my word count is all well and good, but it’s never going to grow if I don’t have the knowledge to put in. Researching is not just writing, it’s reading too! A fact that I still need to hammer into my brain.

 

I’m going to leave it at four this time, mainly because DEATH still. But I hope that these little insights are helping folks feel better about where they are with their dissertations. Personally, I’m looking forward to this time next year, when I can read all of these through and laugh.

Best,

EM

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Comic Books: Reading for the Crazy Busy

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Comic Books: Reading for the Crazy Busy

You’ll have to forgive me if I my grammar’s a little groggy this week. I woke up yesterday with a nasty cold, which has now shifted and set up camp in my tonsils. Thinking is fun, I got out of breath just walking across the room to get my laptop, and let’s not talk about what’s coming out of my nose right now. I am gross.

Anyway, I thought today would be a good day to talk about my new found love for comic books. My hope is that my enthusiasm will shine through the ill.

As most of you will know, I’ve always been a bit of a nerd. As a kid, I was the one who sat in the corner writing (when I wasn’t busy being a Kidiot). As a teen, I used Star Trek and Stargate Atlantis as my security blanket to calm me down before school. As an adult…well, I’ve finally discovered joy in comic books.

That’s not to say I hated them before. I just never really got on with them. I’ve always found comfort in words on a page, but there was never enough text in comic books for my liking. Not to mention, I really struggled to process images and words at the same time, so I’d often miss a joke or plot point and would have to read whole sections again.

However, in the last year or so, I’ve found myself building a collection. It started with the Harbinger series, which I came across on Amazon. A friend bought me the collected Blacksad for my birthday, and then the wonderful Chloe Dungate (aka Scarfdemon) put up a video of comic book recommendations. Suddenly, I’m up to my eyeballs in clever storytelling and gorgeous artwork. It’s great.

So, what caused this change of heart? Well, two things:

  1. My understanding of how comic books work has greatly improved since I was a kid.
  2. My life got ridiculous.

When you’re an English student, people make the assumption that you spend every waking moment of everyday having a good old read of a nice book. But, the last time I managed to read a standard prose novel of my choosing was over the summer, before my course started. Even then, I was reading Supernatural books because I thought I’d end up covering Supernatural fanfiction for my dissertation. Turns out, I should have been reading the collected work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The best laid plans, hey?

The fact is, I’ve been so swamped with reading heavy linguistics papers that the last thing I want to do in order to chill out is read more dense text. Hell, I’ve been struggling to get myself to write because I know I need to make edits to The End of Atlas before I can continue, and ow, my brain.

But in comic books, I’ve found something rather wonderful. A place I can enjoy the quiet comfort of words without having to summon an image of the whole world. Instead, it’s right there – on the page – drawn for me. Not to mention, a number of comic books are so quick to read that I can sneak one into the hour before bed, or into that awkward period after breakfast, but before I have to trek to see my dissertation tutor. They are the perfect reading material for someone whose life has become crazy busy.

Somehow, I’ve grown to love comic books so much, that I’ve even found ways to incorporate them into my MA work this year. In my first semester, I wrote a paper outlining how Harbinger uses non-textual elements to tell its story, and then used that as evidence to support myself as I ripped into two of the main theorists on the topic of “visual grammar” (possibly a little too much). For the semester just gone, I proposed my own question, analysed the use of gesture in Princess Princess Ever After, and provided a comparison between those gestures and the gestures we use in real life. I showed, amongst other things, that gesture in comic books can be used to replace language in order to avoid cluttering cells with lots of texts. So a cheering crowd can be represented by characters waving and punching the air.

Basically, what I’m saying is, comic books are super cool. They’re short and sweet, but they’re also this incredibly complex communicative tool. They frequently get put in the box of “kid stuff” or “nerd stuff” (as if that’s a bad thing), and are ignored for no good reason. There’s such a variety of comic books out there now, beyond the traditional superhero stories, that it’s just impossibly frustrating to hear people dismiss them as “not my thing” without ever having read one (as happened to me the other day whilst perusing the comic book section in Waterstone’s).

So next time you’re busy, but you really want that joyous feeling of reading a whole book in one sitting, try a comic book. Or two. I mean, no pressure, but you might be pleasantly surprised.

 

Best,

Em.

Dissertation Drama Week #5

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Dissertation Drama Week #5

Writing that number, number 5, makes my stomach feel a wee bit queasy. I can’t believe how fast things are going.

This past fortnight has been a bit of a douzey. After spending a weekend in London, my motivation took a bit of a nose dive. Getting back on top of things has been a real uphill struggle, but I’m getting there, and today’s supervision session has certainly set a fire underneath me.

Thus now, to work! What have I learnt this these two weeks gone?

  1. There’s a difference between taking a break and avoiding work – After the first few weeks of working, I felt pretty pleased with what I’d achieved, and my supervisor was happy as well. So, I felt like I deserved a break. I scheduled some social stuff. And then some more social stuff. And pretty soon that nervous itch that signals I’m procrastinating raised its ugly head. It’s good to take breaks, breaks are incredibly important to keep your energy levels up. However, let it teeter over into just messing around because you “don’t feel like working”, and you’ll find yourself struggling to get back to work when you need to. Try to find a balance.
  1. Internet ethics are more troublesome than you would think – When dealing with ethics, there are a few standard considerations that spring to mind. Do you have consent? Are your participants over 18? Will your research cause harm? Easy to answer right? Nope. Step online and things get blurry fast. Someone has published something in the public domain, so that’s fair game right? Not necessarily. And how are you supposed to know someone’s age when you can’t see their face? Also, you might think that citing your fanfiction source is giving credit where credit’s due, but what happens if someone recognises the username, and it gets the writer into trouble? As for Terms of Service…let’s not go there.
  1. Being proactive is never a bad thingI left the above queries about ethics with my supervisor, who said that he’d have a chat with some of the other staff in the department. But what I also should have done was message the folks of fanfiction.net, and the writers whose work I’d like to use. Instead, after having my lack of proactivity highlighted to me today, I’ve only just messaged the relevant people, and will now have to wait however long for them to get back to me before I can start my proper data collection and analysis. I’m kicking myself, because I’ve taken an unnecessary chunk of time off the clock. But I guess it’ll give me time to read.
  1. The narrower the focus, the better – I’ve said before that I’m a little nervy about the fact that this is my first extended piece of research. As a result, I guess I’ve gone a bit overkill on the amount of ideas and work I was intending on packing into this study. My supervisor today pointed out that I was planning on analysing the comments, analysing the original source text and analysing the fanfiction, not just once, but multiple times, for multiple linguistic attributes. I balked, and suddenly understood why he was so keen on me picking a specific model. My approach was far too broad, and he was trying to get me to narrow it down. So I have a loooooot of thinking to do this weekend.
  1. Plans may change, but that’s okay – If this course has taught me anything, it’s how to be flexible when the wind starts blowing. The fact is, you can start one project and land on something quite different. Now my data sample will undoubtedly be the same, and I’ll stay in the same stylistics ball park, but the model I found this week, I’ve already realised I can’t use. And that’s fine. This is definitely one of those stories that’s going to end in a way I couldn’t have predicted at the beginning, but that will just make sure that I spend time editing and editing and editing. As long as I stay flexible, the pieces will come together by the end.

And so ends Dissertation Drama Week #5 . I hope these are proving interesting. I know I’ve been scaring some of you with how much I’ve written, but I can promise you…it’s mostly garbage and I will end up hacking it to pieces by the end of this mess 😉

As always, if you enjoyed this article, likes, shares and comments are met with a warm welcome!

I hope you’re having a great weekend and I will catch y’all again next week 😀

Best,

EM

Poem: Astrophile

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Poem: Astrophile

Alone, Artemis stood by the road,
Lingering in the caress of exhaust fumes.

It was a night fletched with leaves of amber and honey
That danced in the spotlights of street lamps,
Cut off from Orion by mist.

She watched a dog
Attempting to rest its hind-quarters on the cold tarmac.
It stared into the fluorescent lights of the take-away,
Waiting for its master to return,
Tail between legs; a quivering loyalty.

She didn’t shoot the dog.

 

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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.

How to Run a Writing Club

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How to Run a Writing Club

Last night my friends and I celebrated the 1 year anniversary of the Writeryjig Clubamabob, our little writing group. I baked a birthday cake, Jo baked brownies and we all sang Happy Birthday to the club. I think we’re all a little surprised, but very proud that we’ve made it to the year mark.

So, as a little extra commemoration, I thought I would put together a how to guide, for anyone thinking about setting up their own group. If you’re an aspiring writer, I highly recommend joining, or creating your own group, because WE ALL NEED SUPPORT. No novel is written alone.

Step 1: Getting the Idea

The idea to start our writing group was born one afternoon in a Costa. I had just announced I was starting a masters, a couple of my friends were in the middle of theirs, and Jo turned to me and said, “This is making me think I want to do a masters. But I don’t. I just want the consistent feedback that we used to get in seminars.” (Or something to that effect.)

I suggested that she join a writing group, but I think we both quickly put that idea to bed. There’s a certain level of trust required for sharing first draft fiction, and the idea of reading stuff out in front of strangers (as many writing groups require) put us both on edge.

“Well, I guess we’ll have to start our own then?”

“Yup.”

Step 2: Setting Up Shop

Jo and I talked a bit about how we would want to run a writing group. As feedback for all was key, we decided to base the structure largely on how our seminars were run at university. Later, when we introduced the idea to a few others, we decided we would need to stay small, with work circulated at least a week before the session so that everyone had chance to read and make notes about the work submitted. We also decided to set a word limit of 5000 for each submission, so that it would  be a manageable amount to read.

Step 3: Social Media

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The long standing, randomly selected header image for the WC. I wish I knew who made this.

In order to make life easier, I decided to set up a private Facebook group where we could vote for and discuss meeting dates and exchange work. Having the group also meant I could invite everyone to the events with minimal difficulty, and we could bug each other with writing jokes when we felt like it too.

This was also the point at which a name was needed. Writeryjig Clubamabob was a name that I made up as a place holder…but it very much stuck. However, when it came to singing Happy Birthday last night, we called it “Club” to save ourselves the tongue twister.

Step 4: Recruitment

When it came to finding club members, we didn’t have far to go. We started with a few friends from uni, Jo and I, Megan, Rachel and Tori. Some of us had done English with Creative Writing, some of us English. Some of us had been writing fiction most of our lives, some of us had never really tried before. It was a good mix. On top of that, we extended a few invites to folks we knew outside of our group. Ian, my physicist/metallurgist friend and former flatmate, joined the group when I sarcastically said to him over dinner, “So if you ever decide to write a novel, feel free to join.”

Little did I know…he already had many, many….many words written.

Later, James joined our group, after what I imagine was a much politer invitation from Megan. And thus, we have our current group of seven.

Step 5: Location, Location, Location

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The Floozie in the Jacuzzi

Finding a suitable place for the group to take place was a little tricky. A lot of us work and some needed to catch trains at set times to get home, so we were looking for somewhere that we could all get to by 6ish.

Fortunately, in Birmingham, there are a few coffee shops that stay open quite late. Although we did end up changing venues because Starbucks started messing around with the closing hours and we ended up having to finish one club session next to the Floozie in the Jacuzzi in Victoria Square. Wasn’t the best.

If you can run club sessions in your house, or some other quiet location, I would recommend it. But if not coffee shops are a great option.

Step 6: Reassess and Rota

As I mentioned, we intended to keep the club small so that we could give everyone regular feedback. However, at 7 members, we were already running into problems. Mainly, getting through everyone’s work before people had to leave or waiting staff came to boot us out.

After playing around with word counts, and trying to tighten up the running order, we eventually decided to set up a rota, with 4 slots per session. This meant we could keep the semi-freeform feedback and larger word counts, but still stay within the time constraints.

Step 7: Dinner time!

After every session, we usually head somewhere for food and hang out for a while. This is mainly because you can’t really eat much in a coffee shop, so when we finish at around 8:30/9:00 pm we’re all starving.

It gives us a chance to chill and unwind. Sharing your work can be stressful, and things occasionally get a bit heated, so I think it’s good to have some time after where we can talk about life and remember that we’re arguing out of love 😉

Step 8: Celebrate Achievements

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The Crown of Publication feat. Jo and Rachel trying to lean out of view, while Tori attempts to mask them with her jumper.

Finally, I think it’s really important to celebrate achievements, which is why I’m really psyched about the wonderful “Crown of Publication” that Jo brought to the meeting last night. The crown is to be worn in our author photos when we finally get published. It’s a fantastic idea, and I can’t wait to say I’m worthy of the honour 😀

But, of course, we also needed to celebrate having successfully run the writing group for a whole year. In that time:

  • Megan has reached the 10k mark of her first draft, and introduced FEMALES into what I think we all hope will turn out to be a fluffy gay romance, but probs not given the terminal illness and everything.
  • Jo has set a personal best at staying motivated and working on a single novel idea for and extended period of time. And she made Tori cry in the process.
  • Rachel has given us 4 drafts of her novel opening, each one better than the last, and has solved the problem of having too many balls. I should say it’s a historical romance novel.
  • Ian has learnt that paragraphs shouldn’t be 1000 words long, and has blown us away with many badass women.
  • James has proved himself and excellent re-drafter and kept us in suspense over murder. GIVE US MURDER.
  • Tori has introduced us to a character with more snark that one could possibly dream of, and another that we all just want to roll into a duvet burrito and protect from the world. Oh, and she’s grammared us all, hard.
  • As for me? I’ve provoked multiple arguments over whether my novel is one about romance or abuse, and have officially surpassed the word count for the last novel I tried to write by 10k.

So, I guess, this blog is not just to commemorate the group reaching its first birthday, but also to celebrate all of our achievements this year. We did the things guys. Well done to all of us. Here’s to the year to come.

 

P.S. To the lady who came up, rubbed me on the shoulder and wished me Happy Birthday after we all sang. You made my night, even if it wasn’t my birthday. Bless you! And I’m sorry if I couldn’t keep a straight face.