Website Launch and Guest Blogging

So, I know I have been rather quiet lately, and that is because I am preparing to launch my freelance writing and editing business! I am currently putting the finishing touches to the website, but you can follow on facebook for updates – FB The Reader Writer

 

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Here is a sneak peak of the site which will be launching soon!

Most of my content will be moving over to the new site, so if you have enjoyed reading I’d love for you to follow along on my adventures.

 

I am still building a portfolio and would love to get a few guest blogging opportunities, I am seeking some out but if you’d like me to write for you please get in touch, here or view thereaderwriter@outlook.com. It does not need to be about books or writing, I have many interests from music, film, and food to beauty and fashion! Please get in touch!

Broken Promises.

Look I know we’ve been here before, I won’t deny it, we’ve all made mistakes, words were forgotten and promises broken.  But I swear this time things will be different…I promise?!


 

So I know, I know, I know I said this time would be different, I’d keep on top of posting and for a little while there it really looked like I was going to.  But who knew completing my MA, moving across the globe, and starting a new career would be so tiring! I started writing and editing for Life in the Bay a great expat blog which I am hugely enjoying, as well as starting a new job which actually involves writing and editorial work! It has been a good and busy few months.

But this has all meant of course, less reading, and less writing. I have a million and one half written posts, and even more ideas. So now that I am settling into more of a rhythm in my new life I am going to try to get back to it.


Currently reading: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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This has been an interesting experience. I read these first time round, and only time so far, as they came out. So there is a strange bittersweet nostalgia to re-reading them. It’s not that they have lost any of their magic, but I remember the total love and astonishment and amazement I felt first time around. And whilst I still love them, knowing what is coming, and all the hype which surrounds the now far too vast franchise does take something away from them. I remember enjoying the later entries in the series more anyway, so perhaps when I get there I will find some more of that magic and sparkle.

Don’t get me wrong, I am really enjoying finally giving it a second go, I just guess I wish it was all still new to me.

 

Update: Thesis. Stress. Panic!

Hi all!

War is Peace

 

Sorry things have been a bit quiet, I have so many posts at the half way point but I am absolutely snowed with thesis work. In case you don’t know (I’ve been so quiet about it!) I am writing about dystopian literature, specifically Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and The Handmaid’s Tale. 

My project is due exactly a week today so I am in the midst of collating sources, writing my bibliography and edit, edit, edit, editing! As such my brain has been everywhere and I have not been concentrating very well on my posts.

I am attempting to complete one of my posts this evening but I am not sure I will get there. So, if things remain quiet, look out for me next week when I will be free! Free to…panic about where life goes next, oh dear!?!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that certain novels are classics

Enter any book store, physical or digital, and you will inevitably find the classics section. A section in which you always know exactly what you will find. The Bronte’s, Austen, Lawrence, Dostoyevsky, Dickens, Eliot, Hardy and so on. There is little variation, and little change or forward momentum, there may be a modern classics section also, but you are unlikely to see these books integrated with each other. (In light of this, no list, if you want to find the classics I’ve told you where they are, off you go!)

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Some Classics

So why then do these classics remain ‘classic’? What is it about them which renders them classic reading, go to teaching tools, go to inspiration?

First of all, and I suppose somewhat obviously, if they were rubbish, we just wouldn’t still be reading them. No book remains clearly in the public consciousness for 100, 200, 300, or many more years, if it isn’t worth reading. If you meet a fan of literature, even if their tastes lie in a more modern genre or style of writing, it is highly unlikely they will not have read/know in depth at least a good few classics. Myself for example, science fiction, fantasy, dystopia nut, will be found, multiple times a year holding a Dickens or Austen novel in my hand.

Next up, it is a cultural thing. If you miss out on the classics, you miss out on a lot of things, they are referenced in so many places and in so many ways. I was recently watching the TV show White Collar in which a main character Mozzie, makes constant little reference to moments, characters etc from literature that you could, of course, survive not knowing, but that add just a little something extra when you’re aware of them. And this is just one recent example I can think of, I often find myself using a quote or reference to a classic novel in everyday conversation. So to miss them would mean missing out.

Next, and on a similar note, to learn where some ideas and concepts we know grew up, or even in some cases began. There are only so many narratives out there, (there are millions of things which can be done with them, but really ideas are finite) anyone who has studied literature will have had the joy of studying something like, the Monomyth, or the hero’s journey, the quest narrative structure.

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The Monomyth

 

Though something like this is only a guide and not every narrative with a quest or adventure fits it exactly it is still a useful tool. And what it shows us is that by reading the classics we can see the origin of certain narratives and ideas, and see how they have been adapted and co-opted into newer literature. And whilst it is not necessary to know these things in order to enjoy a modern novel, it adds an extra layer. It is always fun to spot where an idea has come from, and reading modern rewrites and seeing what they retain and what they lose is always an interesting activity. An example would be Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, described by the author as an homage to E.M.Forster’s Howards End. Personally I much prefer the original, but that’s preference and everyone is different, but reading both and attempting to match up characters and themes, and see where they join or divulge is a useful exercise not just in literature but in understanding our changing times, attitudes, concerns, and cultures.

On beauty

On a personal level, for comfort, you know what you’re going to get. With regard to my above statement that I will often be found with a novel by Dickens or Austen in my hand, I am almost always re-reading. Though I do not claim to have read all the classics, in fact there are many on my list that I really need to get to, (Anna Karenina how have I not read you?!) but there is something quite comforting about returning to a classic novel you know and love. A lot of this is to do with many of the reasons above, the way literature permeates and underlies much of our culture, its unchanging nature means you always know what you’re going to get. It does what it says on the tin!

Linked to these last two ideas, to make us better writers, understanding what has gone before, what has been done, what can be done, makes us a better writer. They fuel ideas in our minds, and further being able to make similar allusions and references to these things in our own works, makes them better. It adds depth and resonance and an extra layer. And whilst we’re on the subject of making us better writers, they are well written. This is not to say that modern novels aren’t, but in a world of self-publishing and vanity publishing, there is a lot of rubbish out there. I am absolutely all for the publishing revolution, allowing wonderful undiscovered talents who would never get a chance to share their voice, to shine. But in a world with so so many books reaching the market, it can be hard to find something truly good, well written and worth the read. In times passed it was much harder to get to the point of publication, and often times women had to use a nom de plume in order to ever reach that stage. The Bronte’s as Currer, Acton, and Ellis Bell, and George Eliot being Mary Ann Evans by birth. If it made it far enough to reach publication, it had to be good!

They’re easily accessible, this one is quite simple. I have a lot of classics, I have multiple copies of multiple classics, and so many of them cost me very little. I buy them second hand at charity shops, and specialised charity shops selling only books, I get a book, and some money goes to charity, what’s not to love!

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Just a few of my charity shop finds…

And finally, to return to the first point, because we love them! They are classics, because we love them, and we love them because they are classic. And though we may not love each and every one of them (looking at you Villette), there is a reason they remain so collectively in our consciousness, they are worth the read!

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Entering a Brave New World…sharing my fiction, for the first time ever. Eek.

So this is is…time to be brave. For the first time ever. Sharing my writing. Sharing some fiction.

This is the roughest of rough drafts, and a very small excerpt from the beginning of what I intend to be a much longer piece.

I’d love feedback, any and all, it has been a long time since I have written and this is very scary, so I am very happy to be criticised, as long as it is constructive, and it possible at all nice.


 

The In Between Forest

“Oh God. No. Not now.” Of course, I hadn’t planned for this shit, not today, well at least not now, but I had clearly fallen asleep on the sofa. If I had known I was going to nod off I would have changed my clothes. I’d had a shower when I got in and settled into some pj’s to watch some TV for the evening. And now I am in the fucking woods, wearing pink shorts, a ratty old t-shirt and fluffy Christmas socks. Wonderful. Normally I get into some outdoor clothes before sleep. Yes that’s right, I sleep in a t-shirt, sweater, camo trousers, wool socks and hiking boots, holding a wax jacket in one hand, with the strap of a backpack wrapped around the other arm. It is quite a feat that I sleep at all really.

Do you ever get that deep falling sensation, dragging your insides to the depths when you’re unconscious with sleep. You wake. A wave of nausea grasping your insides, you’re covered in goosebumps, your heart is racing, you can feel the pressure of your pulse in your throat, close to asphyxiating you, sweat drips down the nape of your neck and you can barely breathe, and you begin to wonder where you are?  You’re momentarily confused as you re-acclimatise to the real world, leaving the dream world’s you have visited far behind, just a shadow on the edge of your consciousness. Have you really been anywhere? Was it real? Are you still in the same place that you were when you fell asleep? You’re unsure what is real, and what is not anymore.

Well not for the first time, I actually had woken up somewhere entirely different to where I had gone to sleep. I am still trying to find out why, why this happened to me, did I cause it? was I always like this? When I fall into a deep sleep, and that falling sensation begins to grip my insides and attempt to tear them from me, I know I am leaving my world. Not my physical world, but my time and place in the world.

This is the third time it has happened, the first, I was positive it was a dream, I curled up under the roots of a tree in the forest in which I had awakened, closed my eyes and returned to sleep, this took me home. I awoke, positive that it had all been a dream, I found some dried brown leaves stuck to my sleep socks, but it was late autumn, they blew in almost constantly when I left or entered my apartment, and could easily become stuck to the wool. I thought nothing of it. Then it happened again, I arrived to the exact spot as before, of course I again believed it to be unreal, I explored a little in the lush dream forest, and again I eventually settled to sleep and awoke, sweating and breathing audibly but in my own bed.

Then I had gotten up to go to the bathroom, I always had to go to the bathroom if I awoke in the early hours, I looked in the mirror as I washed my hands and saw a small cut across my cheek, below my eye. It was deep, and still bleeding a little but nothing to worry about, but it had not been there when I had fallen asleep. And I remembered, I’d caught it, on a branch, in my dream?! I had really been there? In a forest? But where, why… oh no, acid began to pool in my throat, and I expelled vast luminous bile across the mirror, not even making it to the toilet basin.

I stood bewildered, staring at the gash across my cheek, the mirror streaking my face a putrid green, trying to understand, I was obviously mistaken, still asleep, or not fully awake yet, or unwell, something, anything. Insane? I must have passed out or collapsed I’m not really sure, but I awoke, in a pool of my own vomit, on the bathroom floor, sometime later. I reached up, the cut was still there, and sore, clearly a little bruised, it was real, it was all real. I looked down at my socks, caked in mud, the forest had been damp this time. My mind began to spin and spiral, the acid was rising again, “breathe!” Deep breath, deep breath, holding my head against the cold porcelain wall tiles. And it passed, the wave of nausea calmed. “Clean up, clean up, and think.”

I thought, for days I thought, thinking, wondering, turning it over, thinking, over thinking.

And what did I come up with, nothing, nothing. This was all a week or two ago and I have been almost entirely afraid to sleep since, permanently sporting the aforementioned outfit in bed in preparation, the backpack filled with essentials I may require. Because next time I went there, I was determined to find out why, or where, or when, anything. But of course, after a rare day out of my home office, researching and in meetings, I had arrived home exhausted and fallen asleep with no preparation. And now I was here, unready. To sleep and return with my prepared belongings, to risk not finding my way back. Or to attempt to find what I could now, in case this was my last chance.

So, this is where you find me, in the woods. The dream forest, the real dream forest, the in between forest, in my pyjamas.

 

Why do I read? Why do I write?

Since taking part in my university’s student led conference on the theme, ‘What do we read? Why do we read?’ at which I presented on the subject of dystopian literature and why we read it. I have been thinking about why I read, and write, and where the love for both came from.

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For me, I always wrote, I had a typewriter for Christmas at the age of 4 or 5 and absolutely loved it, and loved writing, later at the age of perhaps 12 I remember being at the word processor writing ‘books’ for my mum. I remember 2 prominently one called the GORDY’s about a chimera like race, with each letter representing a different animal, sadly I do not remember which animals. The other was a story about a group of teenagers camping on a river side cliff, one dies but is saved by the river goddess, only on the premise they return every anniversary and make a replacement sacrifice. Yeah, I may not have been the most normal of kids, but I loved to write, always.

Reading for pleasure, was also, always there, but the studying of literature, the deeper love of dissecting literature, getting more from it, that came later, I can almost pinpoint the moment.  At the age of 16, studying literature for my A-Levels, I first read Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ And I fell in love with reading, I realised that reading, and so writing, could be so much more, it could do so much. It could say so much more, it was not only an escape, a fantasy to go to, another world to inhabit. But it could inhabit my own world, the real world, and help me to question and learn and discover things I might never have thought of before.

handmaids

And so now I prepare to write my thesis on dystopian literature, because it is the literature that showed me there could be more, that I could question the world through writing. It is the writing I wish I could create. A way to challenge the world, to challenge the control and censorship all around us, to challenge religion and politics, and sometimes, that feels more important now, than ever.

To Welsh, Or Not To Welsh?

That is the question!  So I am in the research stages of my attempt at a novel and am researching Welsh mythology. Ghosts, goblins, ghouls and witches etc.  Now I am having my first….well first major writing related dilemma, to use Welsh or not.

Now to begin I must admit, to my eternal shame, I do not speak Welsh, I can read/say the most basic of things and normally fathom how a word should be pronounced but that is about it. Thanks to a national curriculum requirement of a single 50 minute lesson once every two weeks! Shockingly this is not enough to make you fluent.

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Now to the dilemma, I would like to use Welsh in my novel.  Not a lot, but a little. I don’t fully know what will be in the novel or not yet as I am currently researching still but I am finding a lot of creatures, witches, ghosts, fairies, etc. that exist in many mythologies but with Welsh versions and names.  Though I doubt that one, this will ever be published, and two, it would sell enough for it to be an issue, there is a feeling of…what if?! What if it did do well?  Would the fact that people wouldn’t know how to pronounce these things when they read them matter?  Dilemmas, dilemmas. 

I of course, have time to think about this as I write but if anyone has thoughts?

Do I use the terms and history of the Welsh versions?  Use the Welsh terms and explain them in relation to their English language counterparts? Or just use the most recognisable term?