My Favourite Writing Quotes

As I sit here feeling ever so slightly under the weather, I thought it might be nice to inject some positivity/motivation into my surroundings. And fortunately, I can do so from my bed (the joys of the internet) 😉 Here are some of my favourite writing quotes. I hope you find them as encouraging as I do…

  1. You can’t edit a blank page – Jodi Picoult

This is number one for it’s sheer brilliance. Every time one of my friends shares their writing woes with me (from insecurity to plot struggles or just general frustration) I refer them back to this quote. I know, it’s so simple that the pure genius behind this mantra might not resonate yet. Take a moment and let the message permeate you

As writers, we must finish our work because the work will never be any good until we finish it. People procrastinate work (myself included) because they’re scared the finished product won’t be any good or the time it’ll take to refine is too long.

But the time is going to pass anyway.

2. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better – Anne Lamott

Well, it’s true…

3. Don’t tell me the moon is shining – show me the glint of light on broken glass – Chekhov

These words are  moonlight – both illuminating and beautiful. Chekhov doesn’t simply state ‘show don’t tell’ and leave it at that. He shows us just how it’s done.

  1. No man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. ~CS Lewis.

I like this because it’s a real reminder to stay HONEST with yourself. This also removes the pressure of having to be original as well as the pressure of trying. Here we are encouraged to just be

  1. Know that the Creator lives and moves and breathes within you. So those dreams? Risk them. Those words? Write them. Those hopes? Believe them. ~Elora Nicole Ramirez

Words are powerful. With words, God spoke creation into being. God loves art and therefore so do you. Never waste love.

6. I find that discussing an idea out loud is often the way to kill it stone dead. –  J.K. Rowling 

I’ve never agreed with anything more. In the age of social media I think it’s so tempting to post every little thing we’re engaged in but as Rowling has said – why kill ideas stone dead?

7. Write with the door closed – rewrite with the door open – Stephen King

Always helpful to be reminded of how to write and edit a book- you know, the fundamental part of authorship.

8. ‘I want to be a writer when I grow up. Am I insane? ‘Yes. Growing up is highly overrated. Just be an author instead’ – Neil Gaiman

INSERT ALL THE CLAPPING EMOJIs. This is great and I think every child should hear it.

9. ‘Be ruthless about protecting writing days’ – J.K. Rowling

You can shut yourself away from the world and focus on your passions. J.K.  Rowling says so.

10. Unless the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter – African proverb 

Let’s tell our stories and our realities.

11. Writing is the best way to talk uninterrupted – Jules Renard 

I remember the first time I read this quote and I felt so…ENGLIGHTENED and INSPIRED and felt the need to write there and then. I hope this quote fills you with the same reminder of the sense of utter freedom that comes with writing.

12. Either write something worth doing or do something worth writing – Benjamin Franklin

Ironically, a great quote about writing tells you to just go outside, ignore writing, and LIVE for a little.

I like (Y)

 

 

So that’s it! Which ones do you like with/disagree with? 🙂 Any I should add to the list? Let me know!

Nikki

x

Seek | Spoken Word

I’m beginning to treat every day like a child,

To wake up with a sense of utmost curiosity,

To see rain not as a curse

But as liquid manna pouring from the heavens

To have that childlike trust in my Father

And sleep as He takes the wheel,

As my brother slept on the ship during the storm,

To be curious and bold and true

To weave stories in the palm of my hand

To be an unabashed chatterbox who can talk her way from Birmingham to London

At just six years old (true story)

To not ask ‘How do I look?’ before leaving the house

Because I already know I look good

To let others take away the pain without the guilt attached

To have no limit to my dreams

To never wonder whether my opinion counts

To never wonder whether my feelings are real

To never wonder whether war and death are allowed

To spend hour upon hour sprawled amongst sheets of paper

Scribbling not for money but for joy

To know that the most important thing

Will always be joy

To not be nostalgic because

Ain’t nobody got time for that

To seek and stay and yearn and be perfectly content.

To be okay with grey days because indoor play is the ISH

And tomorrow will be a better day anyway

To open up more

Because betrayal only lasts as long as a graze to the knee

And we have unicorn plasters, wet paper towels, and kisses.

I’m beginning to treat every day like a child

To teach people how to treat me

To only hang out with those who make my heart soar

To make my own heart soar

higher than when I’m on the swings and Dad pushes me too hard for a laugh and I think I’ll do a loop-de-loop over the bars at the top and I scream

And ice-cream never tasted better

than it does today

because it was never about the treat

but the moment.

My brother eats his so slowly it melts

and time melts when we allow it.

I’m beginning to treat every day like a child who speaks loudly about right and wrong

A child who sings aloud because she has yet to be categorised into

Alto, Tenor, Soprano

Who laughs aloud

Because she hasn’t been taught political correctness

And who wears what she wants

Because fashion only exists in magazines she doesn’t have enough pocket money to buy

I’m beginning to treat every day like a child

Because I am His child.20170330_142054[1]

The strangest reading slump ever aka the war on narrative

This is a cry for help. I am having the weirdest (non) reading slump I’ve ever experienced in my life.

If you don’t know what a reading slump is, it is basically a phase in life where you no longer feel like reading.  You start a book and can’t seem to finish it. A reading slump is ruthless. It can last for months, or if you let it, years. It doesn’t care whether the book is excellent. It seeks…restlessness and anarchy! For an avid reader, reading slumps are annoying/stressful. (I went into a year-long reading slump during my undergrad, which was a bit awkward seeing as I was doing a BA in Creative Writing).

The trick is usually to keep on trying to read, and reading different things. If you usually read YA Fantasy, switch it up to a contemporary romance, or a crime novel, etc. It excites your brain which very often just wants variety.

Since January, I’ve been feeling very apathetic about the books I was reading. They weren’t awful, don’t get me wrong, but they just weren’t holding my attention. I tried to read a variety, but everything just annoyed me. Irrationally even angered me. I had no idea what I liked to read any more, no genre to comfortably slot into, and that scared (and kind of still does scare) me.

And then my friend loaned me a copy of Optic Nerve by Catherine Walsh. And then I began thinking about House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski, and then I began reading more and more books on racial history for my MA and then the nail hit (the pin dropped/insert random maxim here)

I bloody hate narrative.

I am going through the WEIRDEST reading phase whereby I cannot STAND narrative. Who cares about carefully constructed plots? Slaved over characters? Neatly pigeonholed themes? Solutions wrapped and tied up with a nauseating bow?

Not me.

Give me drama, give me despair, but let me think. Or don’t let me think. It’s all the same.

Which is why this is so strange. It’s not a reading slump per se, because I can and do want to read. But it feels like a reading slump because it’s characterised by me looking at 98% of the books on my shelf and thinking “ughhhh” regardless of it’s artistic merit.

Optic Nerve by Catherine Walsh is an epic poem. The words seem randomly jumbled together (and at points, are):

High wide

hand

            understand

away

          ancient gardens

wake up

                happening

Head full of

       immensities

world small

again

expansive

stretchy

 encompassing

 

sketchy

      life

 

But I love this. My brain didn’t have to think – and you know what? It didn’t want to. I enjoyed reading words for words’ sake. Letting the rhythm, and sometimes non rhythm, of the words wash over me, soothe my narrative-tired brain, and allowing me to take in words for nothing more or less than what they are. This poetry book has made me think more deeply about issues than other narrative-based books. I can’t even tell you what it is about, but I can tell you what it made me think about at certain points.

Words in any sort of logical, chronological format are really annoying. Too traditional. NEXT.

It’s so much more interesting and stimulating to have words splashed all over the page, sporadic, interrupted by an “incorrect” use of grammar. Total linguistic anarchic feast for the eyes and the mind and your soul.

I am aware, by the way, that I’m becoming that sort of weird arts enthusiast who walks into an abstract expressionist exhibition and claims to find depth in a blank sheet of paper with a single ink drop on it, but hey, someone’s gotta be that girl.

Also, let’s talk about cultural theory and non-fiction in general. This is so much more interesting than anything else at the moment. I think the reason I’m enjoying reading so much theory at the moment is because

  1. It’s fascinating. So many theories. So much knowledge out there. I’m hungry for it
  2. These non-fiction books aren’t telling me a story and I really appreciate that.

This is very much at odds with what I do as a writer. I love to write fiction. I LOVE creating a narrative. As a writer, I love and appreciate narrative so much. It’s not only my interest but my skill and my passion.

Which is why this is the weirdest reading slump ever. I’m enjoying it but I’m also wary of the fact that I need to be careful and not let this last for a year. I should, as a writer, be reading fiction too!

But then this takes us back to House of Leaves by Danielewski, which I CANNOT wait to finish reading. (I had to place it on the backburner due to being busy) but it’s fiction in a way that won’t annoy me because not only is the story so unique, but it is an example of ERGODIC literature, in which the information is presented in a unique and totally mind-boggling format, making you question your idea of what a novel can and can’t be.

I end this totally ironically sporadic blogpost with a recommendation: Everyone should read House of Leaves. Everyone.

:’)

You are Precious

Yesterday I worshipped the Lord God Almighty. I was listening to a song whose lyrics state “I sing for joy at the works of your hands”. (Shout to the Lord – Chris TomlinMy heart was filled with such joy as I raised my hands and considered the works of His hands – I thought about the beauty of nature, the miracle of trees and birds and our planet. And then suddenly God’s voice told me, “You are the work of my hands.”

That hit me. That was something else. When I listen to music praising God’s creation, I often think of nature, of the miracle of our solar system, of the grass, of mountain peaks and valleys. But God reminded me that am His creation. And if I am His creation, then I am Precious. There is no shame in singing for joy because I exist.

After this, I read Psalm 49, the title of which in my Bible was “Trusting Money is Foolish.” I therefore was expecting to read a Psalm all about loving God, rather than money. And while this Psalm had a message for both the rich and the poor, verse 7 says,

‘No one can buy back the life of another.

No one can pay God for his own life,

because the price of a life is high.

No payment is ever enough.’

Again, this really opened my ees. No one can buy back the life of another? Really?! Yes, because our lives are worth more than one hundred trillion pounds or dollars. Our lives are worth more than any amount of money. The cynical part of me kicked in. How could this be true? How could this flesh and bone be worth more than all the gold in the world? Of course, it sounds nice to think of a human as worth more than all the money in the world, but how true is that?

As I sat and pondered about how that could possibly ever be trrue, God encouraged me to break down the verse a little. I am precious, yes. But more precious than a million pounds? Okay, but how?

‘What are you?’ God asked me.

‘Made by you,’ I replied.

‘What is money?’ God asked me.

‘Made by men,’ I realised.

And that’s when it hit me. We are more precious than money in God’s eyes, because we are more precious than anything man-made. We are not man-made, we are God-made and God sees us as precious. And if the maker of the universe sees us as such, then we are.

Believe you are precious. So precious the God of the world loves you and wants to know you.

You are precious.

 

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=shout+to+the+Lord+

 

 

 

 

Hey Booktube – Speak Up!

Something has been bothering me about Booktube lately, and no, it’s not the fact that every single booktuber and their mother seems to be in the process of writing their own book. (I think writing a book is awesome and the recent controversy surrounding this topic is understandable, yet not really necessary. But anyway!)

I initially shied away from this topic because I was unsure how to articulate my thoughts. I also didn’t want to be harping on about diversity again but you know what?! Until things are truly diverse (a.k.a. until we reach a point in life whereby ‘diverse’ in itself is an outdated word) I’ll be harping on about it.

This article is in no way intended to demonise Booktubers, and nor is it hard fact. It is rather my opinion (as a hardcore Booktube fangirl) and an attempt to disseminate a rather disturbing trend happening across Booktube right now.

For those of you who don’t know, Booktube is a growing reading community on the Youtube platform. Booktubers are famous for posting videos such as ‘book hauls’ (in which they share the books they have just bought), ‘book reviews’ and silly/fun  ‘book tags.’  Booktube has also been stereotyped as only being a platform to discuss YA books (very often YA Fantasy) and contemporary novels. It is also worth mentioning that I am personally inspired by many Booktubers.

Now, for a few Booktubers with thousands of followers, Booktube has become a job. Some publishers work in partnership with booktubers and send them ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of books in exchange for a review on their channel.  Sometimes booktubers will receive books months in advance, and will speak about these ARCs on their channel, giving their honest opinions on things such as the book’s blurb and cover.

Now herein lies the problem. I won’t name names but some of the biggest (and my favourite) booktubers – the crème-de-la-creme of Booktube, shall we say – really lead the community. If they create a tag, sooner or later, you’ll see other booktubers creating similar tags. If they ramble on about a book, sooner or later, the entire community is obsessed. The biggest booktubers instigate major excitement regarding ARCs, set up book discussions, and attend some of the biggest book conferences and meet-ups in the Western world. They are the first to be on any sort of book hype and the first to know about a release…

So why are they so alarmingly quiet when it comes to diversity?

Now we all know that Booktube in general has diversity issues (namely that the big booktubers with very few exceptions, tend to be white) and that this is not an issue exclusive to Booktube. BUT ALL OF THAT ASIDE, why are the biggest Booktubers so quiet when it comes to Diversathon for example? Diversathon, in case you are unaware, is a large booktube initiative to encourage readers to read more diverse books, whether these books are diverse in terms of race, sexuality, and so forth. So why do I see Diversathon featured on BAME Booktube channels but not on the FOREFRONT leading channels? It’s beyond disappointing to see people you support, people who are vocal on pretty much everything else for a living, clam up when it comes to supporting the community as a whole. Arguably, these big platforms, these white youtubers, cannot help being in their privileged position, but I have a real problem when said privileged position isn’t used to help others.

I’m writing this because I’ve noticed how shockingly quiet these big youtubers have been around Angie Thomas’ book The Hate U Give, which was birthed out of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and explores deeply moving topics regarding race in society.

Everywhere I looked (left, right, centre) I saw ARC copies of The Hate U Give being spoken about on Booktube. This was very inspiring until I noticed that Thomas’ novel was *mostly* being championed by black Booktubers. This is crazy! The Hate U Give is a BIG BOOK. Everyone was talking about it.  John Green called it ‘a classic of our time’ for goodness sake! And if there’s one thing we know about much of Booktube, it’s how much we LOVE John Green and LOVE to take authors’ opinions into account when deciding what to read next. Logically, The Hate U Give spelled B-o-o-k-t-u-b-e with a capital “B.” This is the kind of book that Booktubers die to get their hands on, that the major booktubers won’t stop talking about months before its release date.

Except it wasn’t. This book with a black protagonist about super important political issues, wasn’t being spoken about. It got to the point where frankly, it was embarrassing, awkward, and strikingly obvious that big booktubers were blatantly refraining from even mentioning the largest trending book in the contemporary youtube sphere (heck, in the YA publishing industry as a whole). And yes, the big Booktubers are finally mentioning this book now & yes, saying some lovely things about it (some of them, anyway) but we have to ask ourselves- if big booktubers always instigate a trend, how could it have missed their radar? Short answer: It didn’t. So why did it take so long? The biggest booktubers get the news first. That’s just how it works. They certainly don’t get the news months after smaller channels.

Now, we could say it’s down to the publishers. Maybe the publishers deliberately sent ARCs to black and minority ethnic booktubers, knowing it was a YA book which may resonate with certain ethnicities more? But I really am grasping at straws here because no matter what, publishing is a business, and regardless of race, a publishing house will send out ARCs to the channels with the biggest followers.

What seems more likely? That publishers who have great working relationships with all these big youtubers suddenly decided, ‘hey, let’s just not send them our book’ or that these youtubers at the top of the food chain were staying silent for another reason?

Now this other reason could be fear of discussing race. This makes a little more sense when discussing readathons such as ‘Diversathon’ (but actually, don’t get me started on the silence surrounding Diversathon because I might get angry), but how does it makes sense in relation to simply SHOWING a book and saying ‘I’m excited to read this’ which booktubers do with Every. Other. Book? Often in a book haul,  it is acceptable to mention a book for just a few seconds. Title. Author Name. Publishing House who sent it. Blurb/Vague Idea of What It Might be About. Moving on! So really, I’m not sure fear is the culprit.

Again, I’m not demonising the community. No community is perfect and Booktube is such a big inspiration for me. Whilst I don’t consider myself a Booktuber, my interest in creating content for Youtube has, in part, stemmed from my interest in Booktube.

So Booktubers,

don’t be scared to discuss diversity (if you are). You are in a unique position. Do not think your viewers don’t notice when you stay quiet on topics. Staying quiet does not mean being neutral. It means contributing to issues. Get your act together. You are at the forefront of an important community and helping the readers of tomorrow. And in a community where you are the leaders, the instigators at the very forefront of every discussion and championing new releases, it really is unacceptable to remain quiet for so long on books as pivotal as The Hate U Give.

If you have any thoughts regarding the silence surrounding certain topics on Booktube, give me a shout! I would be very interested in hearing another explanation for this lack of discussion around race.

My 5 Biggest Writing Distractions & How I (Should) Deal With Them

We all know I’m writing this for myself rather than anyone else. However, if the shoe fits…

Here are my current five top writing distractions and some solutions I/we should use to combat them.

  1. PHONE

I’ve put this at the top of the list because my phone is THE number one time killer. Recently I’ve been using my phone to scroll (and rescroll) through Twitter, or to check my emails repeatedly. I commute a lot but instead of using that commute profitably, I’ve been on my phone. No more, I say, no more! From now on, my train journeys shall also involve writing. Phew. I said it. Now I’ve got to live up to it. Waaaaa.

  1. BUSY LIFESTYLE

This is a genuine reason. But authenticity doesn’t make it okay. Yes I am busy, but you know what? If writing is something I care about, I’ve GOT to make time for it, otherwise what’s the point? Writing is something that makes me truly happy, so how dare I not make it a priority in my life? When you start thinking about the things you’re good at, it’ll be a whole lot harder to justify not doing it, because every day you spend not doing what you love, is another day wasted. I only have approximately one or two free hours in a day, and I’m usually so tired that I spend that hour chilling, but guess what – maybe I should, um, do things I care about?!

  1. YOUTUBE

Now here comes the real obsession. I just love Youtube, okay?! I’m not as bad as I used to be, but I could easily waste an hour or two on there watching vlogs and comedy videos and discussion videos and blah blah blah. As a youtuber, occasionally I’ll watch videos for research but this is very rare. Mostly I watch them because I enjoy them. So really, I’ve got to cut down on that youtube time. But hooooow?!!! I really, really love it.  I guess it ultimately comes down to prioritising certain videos. Yes, ten new videos may have popped up in my subscription box, but realistically, I could just watch three, not six.

  1. NOT KNOWING WHAT TO WRITE

Aye, there’s the rub. Let’s not lie; I’m no longer being forced to write short stories as part of my degree. Back in the days of Royal Holloway, if I had a short story to hand in on Friday and I had no inspiration, sure, I might procrastinate a little, but at the end of the day, I would MAKE SURE I had that short story finished (and to good quality!) because I had to. I’m very good at being responsible to others, but now, I WILL BE RESPONSIBLE TO MYSELF.

  1. WANTING TO WRITE ON PAPER

Recently, I keep cringing at the thought of using electronic means to write. I *know* that the creative juices will get flowing once I start writing on paper. So um…this one is easily fixable. Find the mode that works for you (right now I’m craving paper) and…uh…just do it.

(Why does EVERY blog post I write justify the Shia LeBeouf meme, seriously?!)

So, as I said, this is just an article berating myself. Join me and find some time-wasting devices you’re clinging onto and let’s carve some extra time from our schedules together!

Nikki