About Me

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I am an aspiring writer living and working in Hull. I working on a novel, as well as writing short stories to keep my writing skills fresh. I decided to start a writing blog to connect with other writers. So please, take a look around and leave some comments - I'd love to read some of your writing blogs too. Nari X

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Operation: Study

Every writer has some corner of the universe where they like to write, be it a corner of the lounge, an office, bedroom, conservatory, patio, cafe, beach hut or exotic villa abroad. Those of you who read Writers' Forum will be familiar with the variety of places talked about by different writers on the last page, 'Where I Write'.

So far in my life, I have had little choice as to where I write; my bedroom, and then the corner of the dining room when I was deemed too stressed to sleep in the same room as I worked (I'd been hallucinating. A mother worries.) Then there were desks in the corner of my room in various student houses. Not ideal, but it has given me some degree of privacy and focus. There has always been the occasional cafe day, as I'm sure I've mentioned 'The Last Word' to you before.

Now I have my own whole house. Not just a bedroom/study/dining room/living room - an entire house, with a spare room. When Rob and I signed for the house, we had big ideas for the spare room - it would be a guest room, a drum room, and most of all, a study.
Unfortunately, it has so far been Shanequa's bedroom and a storage room. I've dried washing in there a few times, too.

Miss Sanequa Jackson

Needless to say, it has not reached its full potential as a spare room yet. Cross as Shenequa may be about it, I think she secretly loves having an entire room to herself. Though I have to say, I miss having her as a roomie. She used to wake me up in the mornings by chucking gravel at the side of the tank. And when I was all tucked up in bed, I'd look over at her, and she'd be all snuggled up in the gravel ready for bed too.

Anyway, the point is, I need somewhere to write. At the moment, whenever I want to work on anything, or if I have a service to plan, I have to bring all my giant books and a notepad down, spread them all over the dining room table, plug in my laptop which is on its last legs and put on my headphones so I don't get distracted by the husband creature watching TV. Quite frankly, it's driving me bonkers. I'm finding it hard to focus sat in the lounge.

So. One box at a time, we are preparing the spare room to become, dun dun duuuuuh...a study. Wish us luck. 
Now the question goes to you; Where do you write?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Talented Miss Dale

As you know, it was my birthday last month, and I became the ripe old age of 22. My parents came to visit last week, which was lovely. Although, no matter how much notice they give me I'm never quite ready... Anyway, with them they brought some belated birthday gifts from a dear friend of mine, Miss Holly Dale. Holly is easily my oldest friend, so much so that she is like a sister to me. She is also a very talented textiles designer, as was clear from her college exhibition a couple of months back.

A few birthdays ago, Holly gave me this beanbag, an essential for students, which she had designed and made herself. She didn't just buy the fabric and go from there, she actually printed her own design fabric. This was the first taster I got of her talent. 

So, as you can imagine, her house warming gift (we had a party the other week) and birthday card are absolutely gorgeous, so much so that I felt I just had to show you all. I feel particularly honoured, as I know she is charging good, well-earned prices for her work, as she should, so to get something of hers as a gift is... well, I was chuffed.
(C) Holly Dale

It is well known that my weakness in life is ducks. I love them. They're so cute and feathery. Rob think's I'm mad because I like to talk to them, and often explain in great depth to him the inner workings of the social circles of the Ducks, and their latest confrontations with the Seagull Gang. The pigeons like to stay neutral, but more often than not, they take alliance with the peaceful ducks. I digress. The point is, I like ducks. So I got very exited about Holly's duck designs. She designed and printed lots of different fabrics, and then designed all sorts of household items, my favourite of which was her gorgeous duck cushion. She also made a (very expensive) chair, canvases, and this lovely little card.

(c) Holly Dale
Our housewarming gift is just as adorable, and is now hung on the bathroom door. These little canvases were the first of Holly's recent work I saw, when we were having a film night at her place - they covered her bedroom wall, and I fell in love with them straight away.

I know these aren't the best photos, and I wish I had more photos of her work to show you. She is hoping to open an online shop in the near future, I think, which I have been strongly encouraging. I will keep you posted on any website/blog, but for now I shall leave you with these two tasters of the talented Miss Dale and her work. 

Next time I'll introduce Operation:Study with pictures. Maybe it will give me a kick to get the study finished if I post updates...

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

'Writing for Performance' at Fudge

Fudge is a local cafe and restaurant, situated on Princes Avenue in Hull, and I have been there a few times for tea and cakes and dinner. And, of course, home-made fudge. All of the above have been delightful. I was there the other week for the wonderful Nikki Joy's graduation dinner, and happened to stumble across a little advert in the ladies'.

The course was run by two tutors from the University, lovely ladies - Jackie and Susan. It sounded like a wonderful opportunity to meet other local writers, learn some new skills and just to get writing. It's the kind of thing I have been known to talk myself out of for some ridiculous reason or another, but this time I was determined not to get in the way of myself. So on Friday, I booked myself in and paid, so that I couldn't back out. 
It was a good tactic because on Saturday morning I found myself sat in the upstairs room of Fudge surrounded by new friends talking about life and writing...and Dr Who.

We all introduced ourselves and settled down with laptops and pen and paper. What did I forget? A notepad. But, because we are in the 21st century, we were allowed to use our laptops to write. Phew.
We started off with ice breakers, going round the room introducing ourselves by saying our name and then talking about our names for a minute or two. Then we wrote down three things about ourselves - two of them true, one of them false, and had to guess which one was the lie of a partner. This was a classic warm up at Uni, and emphasised the nature of fiction. If you make something convincing enough, then nobody will know if it's true or not. Still, I;ve never been very good at this exercise, and wished I could have come up with a more exciting lie than 'I've got a rabbit.' Maybe next time... (unless, of course, you count that time I talked at great length about my little sister, Lauren, to the poor girl in Blue Banana... I thought that was pretty convincing.)

We were then given the task of thinking of a pair of boots or shoes we had had when younger, and to write a short descriptive piece about them and what they meant to us. I didn't get very far with this, but enjoyed it nonetheless. I wrote about my first pair of boots - they weren't DM's, but in the same vain, as I recall. My Dad had encouraged the buying of them, and I remember they were black with multi-coloured flowers all over them. I with they still fitted me, because they were awesome.

It was time for a tea break. I was delighted to find Earl Grey teabags in the box and helped myself. I haven't bought a new box since I ran out, because at the time I still lived with Nikki; her tea collection is the greatest in all the land.

Now it was time to get down to serious writing business. 'Think of a particularly vivid or important memory,' we were instructed, 'and write a short piece of prose about it.' Again, a classic topic, and classic for a reason. We constantly make new memories, and life writing has a certain richness to it, especially this form, because we tend to choose the things that mean a lot to us and have a lot of depth behind them.

So we all got to work. I leafed through my 22 years of memories and wondered which one was good writing material. The memories I am most in search of at the moment are those involving my Grandfather. I wonder sometimes if I sound like a broken record. But I hope you understand that I must write about him, because I must remember. 
So I thought through all the memories of him I could find; taking me round galleries, the first time I went inside his studio - when he taught me to use oil paints, the time he took Heather and I on a pub crawl around London - to the places only a select few would know about. And I settled on one particular memory that has been fluttering around my head recently - you see, I found my old year 9 art book when clearing out my bedroom, and in it I found a landscape painting that landed me an A. I remember producing that piece as though it was yesterday - the lessons I learned that day. Because Granfer took me out and we painted together. He taught me about  colours, about light, and about looking through the things you think you see.

As you can tell, it was a very important day for me, so I thought it would be perfect to write about.
I'll tell you, I'd forgotten just how great it is to sit and write among other writers; I had got talking to the lady next to me, Lynne, and so we were helping each other out a bit as we wrote.
'What do you call this action?' or 'What's a better word for this?'  It was a wonderful atmosphere. At the end of our twenty minutes, we read our pieces out to our partners (in crime) and gave each other feedback.
After redrafting, we had a look at various writers performing their work on YouTube, including Benjamin Zephaniah. I'd forgotten how much I love him. I was lucky enough to see him perform about six years ago now I think, as did most people my age. He was in the curriculum, you see. 

Lunch was glorious. Truly divine. It was a buffet provided by Fudge, and they really know how to put on a lunch. There was all sorts, but if I go into it I may never stop. I had second helpings, needless to say. 
So then Jackie and Sue performed pieces they had prepared earlier to give us an idea of what we needed to produce. We were put to work editing our pieces to be performed. 

This was an interesting task. Writing descriptive prose is one thing; writing descriptive prose to be performed is quite different. There was a lot I had to take out and replace words with an intonation or an action, and I found myself adding more in to make it more lively.

And the climax of the day was an hour of performance. We were each given a slot, and five minutes to perform, with a tea break in the middle - Fudge's sponge cake. Wow. 
Everyone's work was great, and it was inspiring to hear how people's pieces had changed and improved from the first draft. There was such a mix of good talent and different approaches to the task, and it was really fun to watch everyone perform. I was a wee bit nervous to begin with, but after about the first line, I got into it. It's strange how I wasn't phased compared to a few years back, when I wouldn't have done anything of the sort. I guess it goes to show that all that Preacher Training has paid off.

I'm really glad I went to what turned out to be a wonderful day of creativity, learning and making friends, so thank you to Fudge, Jackie and Sue, and everyone else who was there for making the day such a great experience. 

Has anyone else been on a day course or workshop like this recently? I'd love to hear about it :)


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

On the Nineteenth Day of July, My True Love Gave to Me....

Editor's Note: This is a bit overdue, sorry. It's been sat in my drafts for weeks, and I have a busy weekend to fill you in on too.

On July the 19th 2011, I turned 22. I got completely spoiled. 
Not only did Rob take me out for both Lunch and dinner, take me to see the new Harry Potter film and make me breakfast in bed, he also bought me some wonderful presents.

Firstly, he bought me The Sims Medieval, which I've actually had for a week already because he was nice and let me. Whilst it is very different to what I expected, it is a good game and I am enjoying it. It just feels very close to the original Sims, which of course it effectively is. It's not a development of the Sims, but rather a creation of something new, so I feel it is still fledgling.
That said, it is good fun and has got my imagination rolling. You see, you get to be in charge of a Kingdom. What fun.
I really like the character creation aspect of it, though it is still fairly basic; but, new from the Sims 2, you have to pick two traits and one fatal flaw of each character you create. The traits affect how the character interacts with others, and the fatal flaw can have a specific negative affect on their mood, for example insomniacs never sleep a whole night and gluttons are constantly hungry. 
It got me thinking about character creation in stories, and took me back to reading Christopher Booker's '10 Basic Plots' in writing class; he talks a lot about the fatal flaw aspect of plot, and the driving force behind it. Everyone has one, and it's almost essential to think about the thing that most plagues a character - the thing that they strive to get the better of. 
So I've begun a character review for each of my characters, seeing if all the vital aspects are there and if my characters are as fully rounded as they could be. 

He also bought me the Shooting scripts from the first series in the remake of Dr Who, which I saw years ago and thought it might be useful to have on my bookshelf. I like to get to the root of the story, and seeing the script on paper is really useful, I feel, to get an idea of how television programs come to life. I've not written any screenplays or scripts in the last five years, although it used to be one of my main forms of writing. I don;t really know what happened, but I'm wondering if I might have another bash, even if just as an 'exercise' for my writing muscles. 

Oh there's more. I am a lucky lady. We had been talking about my 'secret' project, which I am about to give an enormous hint about, and I mentioned that I needed some help in the form of books. Lo and behold, what should turn up on the doorstep, but these:

I've read bits from both of them, and they seem like they're going to be really helpful. I've never tackled anything like this before, but have always been itching to. Anyway, that's all I'm saying on that for now. 

And finally, he bought me some beautiful garnet earrings from Past Times. He had been looking for Ruby ones, as it is my birthstone (and I love red), but couldn't find any. And I love my Garnet earrings. 

And.........A partridge in a pear tree.

Thank you Rob. I consider myself well and truly spoiled.