Cheerios: Extract from a Story

I decided to break the news over a bottle of wine; there is no need to be uncivil about these things, after all. Amber, I imagined myself saying, I loved you for twenty two years but I no longer do and I think it would be best for us to go our separate ways. I had quite a good sense of her response – one does not marry for two decades without learning to finish the others’ sentences. There would be tears, accusations and then, finally, a cold and resolute acceptance which would hurt more than her anger.

When she came home that evening, saw the candelight, smelt the perfumed air and saw the wine upon the table, a smile ghosted her lips. Those same lips brushed mine and then she looked me up and down and said,

“So, you’re going to tell me? I am glad you’re finally a man.” She uncorked the wine and poured two glasses. She passed one to me. “But I have to tell you something, too. We can’t have a divorce.” She watched me over the rim of her glass, grey eyes serious. “I’m sorry.”

I blinked. No tears. No accusations. Only a cold and resolute…what, acceptance? No, reprimand. I felt like a schoolchild held back for detention.

“Why?” was all I could manage.

“First, let me ask some questions,” she said. She sat and looked up at me. I found it ridiculous that I towered over her yet her gaze made me feel no bigger than an insect. “My first question is a little cliché but then again, you have caught me a little off guard.”

“It doesn’t seem like it,” I said bitterly.

“I wasn’t expecting the wine,” she explained. “Nice touch. So, forgive me for the cliché – who is she?”

“She?”

“The other woman,”

“There isn’t another woman.”

“No?”

“No.”

She considered, swirling the wine in the glass.

“That’s disappointing.”

“Is there another someone for you?” I remembered her earlier comment and found myself unable to say the word ‘man.’

“You aren’t playing by the rules,” she said and not unkindly either. “Please, let me ask the questions first.”

I raised my hands in defeat and she looked pleased.

“Okay,” she said. “Second question – the exact moment?”

I told her and she laughed, a full-bellied laugh, leaning her elbows against the table top and throwing her head back so that her thick hair pooled about her waist.

“Strange man!” she said. “So I will know not to eat Cheerios in the future!”

She stopped laughing as suddenly as she’d started. “Why no other woman?”

I shrugged. I remembered I still had a glass of wine in my hand and took a sip, avoiding her gaze.

“Is that your final question?” I asked eventually.

“Is that your final answer?” she returned, “Because it is dull and I will not answer yours if so.”

I shrugged again.

“Come on,” she said. “Another woman suggests that you have at least some remnant of passion in your life. I want that for you. You should want that for me also. So?”

“There would be no point,” I admitted. “I’m not after…that.”

“No one would do it better, you mean,” she said gently. “Okay, and now I will tell you why we can’t get divorced. Quite simply, we were never married.”

I stared at my wife, my lips trembling a little. I was ready to burst into laughter at the slightest sign of a joke but she didn’t laugh. I began to hate her for being so serious, for taking this so well, for turning the tables, as it were.

I walked over to the window and looked out. We live in a quiet neighbourhood, a ten minute walk from the seafront. It was dark now, so that you couldn’t tell where the sea ended and the horizon began. Streetlights dotted the path up to our road and I stared at them until bright lights danced across my vision.

“Are you going to make me ask?” I said.

“Of course.”

I could almost hear the shrug in her voice.

“What the fuck do you mean never married?” I said.

“Don’t swear at me,” she said, rising and crossing the small distance between us. “You never did, don’t start now.”

I downed the rest of the wine. I couldn’t look at her.

“Oh fuck you Amber.”

“Fuck you back, Nicholas.”

I swiveled. I’d never heard her swear before. She stood close, her eyes like fire and danger emanating from her in waves. She leaned in so close her lips almost brushed mine. She touched a hand to my arm and we stood like that for a moment, dangling on something more fragile than a single strand in a spider’s web.

“I watched you walk down that aisle, didn’t I? I said the vows. I gave you the ring. I kissed you on our wedding day before our family and friends.” My voice was steady but my eyes watered. I couldn’t help it. “How can you tell me we weren’t married?”

To her credit, Amber tells me.

How to Keep Writing After Your Degree Is Over

So I graduated a year ago this month! (All the people in the house say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat)

Here, have a picture of me looking suitably chuffed.

(And yes, I drank all the free prosecco. No regrets).

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And I’ve been thinking a lot about being a writer after graduating and more specifically, how difficult that can be when you don’t have a nine grand license to spend your free time writing. (Ya feel?) So for any nostalgic creative writers out there, this post is for you…it’s especially for my RoHo pals cause you know I love youuuuu ❤

  1. Keep in Touch

Okay, so this depends on your university experience. If you had bad memories at university, maybe the last thing you want to do is keep in touch with old friends, professors, or the university in general. Maybe you’ve moved to Yemen. That’s cool.

But on the other hand, maybe you miss university but instead of making the most of the connections you still have there, you’re squandering precious time being nostalgic about it. Look, the reason you wrote during university was partly because you had to, and probably partly because you were surrounded by inspiration. You had to read books/plays each week, you were secretly in awe of that person in your class who had the flawless writing, or you wanted to impress that one lecturer everybody was in love with…It’s only natural that you started to slack once this inspirational environment was taken away.

So maybe it’s time to reconnect with old friends, share your writing with one another, or to attend alumni events and be inspired by the writers there.

keep in touch

 

  1. Read what you want

Speaking of reading…take the time to read what you want. Anybody else feel slightly relieved after graduating? Anyone else think: ‘Heck yes, I can read whatever I want to now!’  only to completely forget all your reading goals?

Sometimes I feel guilty. I think: ‘I’m an adult! I should be reading Les Mis or Pride and Prejudice in my free time’. But I’m so into YA at the moment and guess what? That’s totally fine. Read what you want because it will resonate with you, and when writing resonates with you, it just might inspire you too. Go be free!

 

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  1. Start a Blog

The obvious one. I started a blog because of my wonderful friend Liling, and honestly, I’m so glad that I did. Blogging teaches you about focus and commitment, whilst also helping you to connect with readers, whilst also ensuring that you actually write in a non-pressured way. It’s non pressured because this blog is entirely mine and I have complete control over it. I write this blog for pure fun. So start a blog about whatever topic interests you – it’s worth it. It keeps you accountable.

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Speaking of which…

  1. Stay Accountable

To people. To yourself. Just do it. Find a way to keep yourself accountable, whether that’s uploading to your blog regularly or attending a writer’s group monthly. Once you have that (slight) pressure of public expectation, you’re more likely to write. Again, remember why university was so effective? It was due to the public shaming *ahem, sorry* the group feedback sessions where people would brutally *lovingly* offer constructive feedback. You probably cared at least a tiny bit, right? You didn’t want to be that person who never submitted their work for feedback…well, this is the same thing. Stay accountable. Show up and write all the words!

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  1. Set Goals

Decide what your writing goals are and try very hard to stick to them. It’ll be tough at first, TRUST ME. Or maybe it’ll be easy for you, in which case, TEACH ME YOUR WAYS. Anyway, for examples of some writing goals, see my first blog post of the year – My 2017 Writing Goals 

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  1. Join in!

There’s such a big community out there. Twitter runs ‘writing challenges’ per month. All you have to do is type in the month and add ‘writing challenge’ afterwards. i.e. ‘#JulyWritingChallenge’ or ‘#Augustwritingchallenge.’

There is also Nanowrimo and multiple ‘camps’ that run throughout the year, which are basically virtual campsites dedicated to inspire and motivate writers through healthy competition with both yourself and others.

There are writing groups on facebook, too. I also enjoy writing vlogs on youtube. In fact, in my latest video I spoke all about the joy and hardships of writing post-uni. (See below)

 

Oooooh, that segue though! 😉

 

  1. Utilise those commutes, yo

Carry a notebook. The train and the bus are great places to write. I suggest a notebook rather than relying on your phone. A phone is handy and I’ll often use it to jot down one liners that come to my mind but a notebook allows you to write in great depth and detail. Besides let’s face it, there’s just something more writerly and serious about opening your notebook and getting lost in a new world.

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  1. Continue old work

Try re-reading some of your university work. You might be surprised (in a good way) and this might inspire you to continue the story you began.

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  1. Start something new

Alternatively, re-reading your university work may inspire you to write something different completely, or at least tangential to your old project. That’s cool. Buy yourself a return ticket from Yemen and get writing!

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Love,

Nikki

Xx

Five Tips for Moving at Your own Pace

I’m 21 years old.

It’s an awesome age, a strange age and a paradoxical age in terms of societal expectations. This is because you are seen as simultaneously young and mature.

I think this paradoxical approach explains the twenty-something’s dilemma regarding what they should have achieved by now.

I bumped into someone I went to high school with the other day. She’s married, got a kid and a stable job already. I hope she will forgive me for using her as a springboard to my thoughts. I know several people my age who are married and with children on the way and I will also not be using any identifying fact in this blog post.

Anyway, I couldn’t help but think how radiant and happy she looked. After we finished a brief chat, my heart was filled with genuine joy. I thought, ‘Wow. She’s so happy! Great for her, doing awesome things with her life!’ and then I walked away.

It then occurred to me that if I told anyone about our chance meeting, I would probably get the familiar response of:

‘Wow! X has a kid? I feel so old now!’

Or:

‘Look at her! Husband and job like a proper adult! And what am I doing with my life? Clubbing and watching Netflix!’

Or:

‘Ugh. She’s putting us all to shame.’

And this thought made me really sad because although I am 100% guilty of comparing myself to other people in other departments, I can confidently say I do not compare myself to others in the ‘life accomplishment’ department.

Granted, I have made similiar comments because I feel that’s what should be said. I then instantly chastise myself for making such comments, even in jest. So here is a PBA (Public Beration Announcement): I’m going to try my hardest not to say any of those silly, self-deprecating things just so I can fit in with what everyone else is saying/feeling.

There’s nothing wrong with saying such things as a joke, but most of the time I can really sense the underlying jealousy behind those words.

But how on earth do you stay happy when you’re single, not satisfied with your job and still enjoy a healthy dose of Netflix marathoning?

Simple. You stay happy!

And okay, if that’s really not helpful, here is how I’ll break it down/what works for me…

 

  1. MAKE YOUR OWN GOALS

Honestly, the number one reason I never feel jealous about life accomplishments is because I’ve made my own short-term and long-term goals. How does this help? Simple. Because my short-term goals do not currently include a 9-5 job in a law environment, nor do they include a husband at twenty-one, nor do they even include travelling the world before I hit 23 (although that would be awesome). So why on earth would I be sad that I’m not currently living that life? So when I see people accomplishing all these amazing things, I am  free to be happy for them, proud of them and even support them. My best friend recently got married. It was such a joyful day for her but guess what? It was a super joyful day for me too! Jealousy is a negative emotion and like it or not, it will cloud your reaction to these events. You can’t be fully proud and supportive of a friend if you secretly wish you have what they do. Nor can you learn from someone if you are jealous of them. But true joy for their situation gives you the benefit of listening to them clearly, free of judgement and self-deprecation. When I see people travelling the world, I am happy and I make a mental note of how they’re doing it because somewhere down the line, that is my goal. But it’s for much later. Make your own goals 🙂

 

  1. RE-EVALUATE YOUR GOALS

Just because you have your own goals doesn’t mean you won’t feel jealous. It’s entirely possible to make goals and then still want what someone else has.  For example, say you have a goal to start your own business and so you are focusing almost exclusively on that. But whilst this is happening, your other friend gets a PhD, or buys a house or moves to another country. Just because you have your own goals doesn’t mean you don’t want these things too, right? So how on earth are you meant to not be jealous?

Well now it’s time to re-evaluate your goals, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Check your values. This might be painful but it’s helpful in the long run. Your jealousy may be the result of working towards the wrong goal. Perhaps after reassessment, you realise that what actually matters more to you than starting a business, is living abroad. Well in that case, adjust your goals and work towards that one instead.  You’re human. You can be flexible. Be honest with yourself – it’s your duty to live up to your expectations. Here’s the thing –you’re going to have to make some sacrifices to make your goal happen. So make sure it’s something worth sacrificing for. Maybe sacrificing getting that postgraduate right now is worth the joy and fulfillment of starting your business. Maybe not crossing the Niagra Falls or living in the Amazon right now is worth the sacrifice of staying home and raising your kids. So acknowledge which sacrifices will have to be made and then chase what you want (not what others want) wholeheartedly. This means that when others accomplish something, you can rest in the confidence that their accomplishment is worth currently sacrificing for what you’re working towards now.

For help with establishing life goals, I recommend: How to Reach Your Life Goals – Peter J. Daniels

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  1. TAKE AWAY THE TIME PRESSURE

So, er…twenty-something’s. Here’s a little secret: you’re twenty-somethings! We’re not old, no matter how much we joke about it. So please, can we enjoy life as it is and stop thinking we need to have achieved one billion and one things? I’m not saying to be lazy and to coast through life because hey, life is short. But it’s long enough to truly enjoy if you focus on what you need to get done and not what the world tells you to get done in a very specific time frame. I know someone who dropped out of school, went travelling, published a book about it and is currently living abroad, enjoying life. Flipping yes! I on the other hand, have always lived in the UK, and am about to finish my Masters. Flipping yes! We’re both living our best life right now! What good is it to compare your life?! My path is not only different in direction, but different in time.

 

4. SEPARATE INSPIRATION FROM JEALOUSY 

So what happens if you have the same life goal as someone else, which you projected into the same time frame but said person has accomplished the goal and you haven’t? On one hand, yeah, that sucks. But on the other hand, this is awesome! Why? Because it means your goal can be accomplished! You have physical proof of this before your eyes. Sounds like inspiration to me. It also means that you now have someone to listen to and learn from. And, if you’ve been nice to them (continue reading to find out how this works – dang it, I should’ve written this in order shouldn’t I?) they will probably be glad to help you out. My mother calls this having a ‘teachable spirit’ and she is right. Be inspired by people and ask them how they did things. Inspiration promotes motivation which promotes action, which promotes hard work, which promotes results. Jealousy promotes bitterness.

I also recommend this video by iiSuperwomanii.

 

5.  DO WHAT YOU CAN 

I genuinely think that if you’re so busy working on yourself, you’ll have no time to work on harvesting jealousy. It’s a theory though, so test it out and let me know what you think. A while ago I found myself comparing my weight to someone else who had a six pack. Why oh why wasn’t I exercising as much as them?! But then I realised, hey, I was in a position of getting four hours of sleep a night with constant back to back meetings every day. Not only was time scarce, but so was energy. Could I change that? Uhm…not if I wanted to accomplish what I was working towards in that specific moment! Therefore it was obvious I wasn’t going to be able to schedule in an hour’s workout every day. So instead, I worked on what I could change: i.e. walking up the stairs to meetings, instead of getting the elevator, increasing my steps during my commute, etc. And I felt whole lot better because I knew I was doing what I could do, not what somebody else could do. Same theory applies to our love lives.  During university I wasn’t too bothered by relationships at all, yet when I left I thought I’d try out this whole dating thing as I now had more time. Instead of sitting around complaining that there were ‘no good guys’ I simply bought a book, read up on the dating scene and used it to get from 0 dates a week to at least 3. (I recommend Get the Guy by Matthew Hussey). Personally, I really enjoy and benefit from self-help books. Maybe that’s not your style. Cool. So find the method that works for you. The trick is to do what you can, when you can.

Image result for get the guy matthew hussey

So, I hope this was helpful. I truly believe being happy for others helps you in the long run. Why? Because jealousy is a whole lot more obvious than you think. And someone is a lot more likely to help you out if you’ve genuinely supported them in the past or at least been glad for them. We all know those friends who claim to be happy for us but are secretly seething when we accomplish something.  On the other hand, we hopefully have friends or colleagues who are so happy for us. It’s contagious! Be honest. You’re more likely to feel more favourable to the latter friends, right? So don’t go around pretending to be happy, just be happy. I have a friend who is AMAZING at this. She is constantly overjoyed whenever I achieve something. And guess what? I’ll return the favour! She’s doing it right!

So that’s just how I’m happy in the moment. I hope you are too 🙂  What works for you? Let me know!

GUINNESS

–It’s Welsh.

— It is?

— What is?

— It’s Irish. Obviously.

— Most people think it’s Irish. The man who’s famous for creating it –

— was Irish

— was Irish, right but was actually travelling from Wales to Ireland when he

[SOUND OF A CAMERA SHUTTER]

— Guinness. We’re talking about Guinness?

— he came across a nice little Welsh pub.

— nahh

— it’s a well known fact. Loved the drink so much he asked for the recipe.

Pause. 

bought the recipe and took it with him to Ireland.

— I don’t believe it.

— It’s a well known fact.

— I like real Irish beer. I want to go back to that place that did the free pint. the two pints for the price of one deal

— paddy’s lock

— yeah that one but i want to go with people who don’t like beer so i can get all their free ones. like rich does.

— rich does that?

— yeah he goes around the pub asking people for their spare pints when they don’t drink them

— nutter

— and he just says can i have that pint –

— and they let him/have it

— they let him have it!

Beat 

— what was that place in brighton? they did American shakes kinda thing…

— can’t remember

— it was nice there/wasn’t it?

— really nice

— how long till we’re

— 20 minutes

— home

— no less than that. if we’re…no less than that…10 minutes i’d say

— got your purse?

[SOUND OF A CAMERA SHUTTER]

— reckon the barriers are open

— we could jump the barriers. jump em and see if the police come running after us

— i’ve actually done that before

Beat.

— in paris. with fifty kids. cause we were on the wrong er

— you didnt!

— the wrong er

Laughter. 

— we got the wrong tunnel

— its illegal

— no its not. its ingenuity. resourcefulness.

— listen to her – it’s illegal

— not as illegal as telling fifty kids to jump a barrier so they could see the Louvre

— in paris!

— paris!

— only me

beat.

— we didnt see the Louvre

— anyway, youre the criminal

— me

— yeah

— me

— yeah

— wheres my wallet

— honestly i reckon its…

— yeah but just in case

— …open

— hang on. me? criminal?

— yeah. you. the true criminal.

— what on earth for?!

— for saying its Welsh, duh.

8 Things to Look for in a Writing Mentor

I have a confession to make: I have never actively sought out a writing mentor. So what – I’m sure you’re thinking – am I doing writing a post advising others on writing mentors?

Well somehow, I have been blessed enough to have some great people in my life who, once I reflect upon it, are not only friends & inspirations but are actively my mentors. We’ve never sat down and had The Mentor-Mentee conversation. I’ve never specifically asked them to be my mentors, which seems counter intuitive to all the advice out there. I remember reading an article when I was younger which encouraged you to ring up an author you admired and straight out ask them. My fourteen year old self had dreams of an hour long conflab with Anthony Horowitz on the phone (landline of course – back in the day mobile data was EX-PEN-SIVE).

But honestly, I never asked anybody to be my mentor. I didn’t intend for it to happen but I’m glad it has. And anyway,  this isn’t a post on how to FIND a writing mentor (although if you’re interested, I could do a post on that); but rather a post on the key qualities you should look for in one.

First of all, let’s start with a definition of the word “mentor” shall we? This will help us to decide upon the qualities one should have.

“A wise or trusted adviser or guide” who…“gives a younger or less experienced person help and advice over a period of time.” (Source: A mash-up between dictionary.com & Cambridge dictionary)

When we put it like that, the definition of mentor in itself is not too complicated. I always thought it was. “Mentor” was this weighted word which conjured up images of Yoda or Master from Kung Fu Panda. How was I ever going to find that type of relationship? But when I looked at what a mentor truly is, it became easy to understand that I already had these figures in my life.

But whilst the definition of “mentor” is seemingly straightforward, the role itself is not. Here are some things to look out for…

 

  1. YOU ADMIRE THEM

Yep. The first step is on YOU. Sorry buddy. I know this seems obvious but it’s not. Why? Because as a young writer (or even an experienced writer seeking advice in a particular area/looking to venture into something new) it can be tempting to want advice from someone super famous just for the sake of it. But I don’t think this is a great idea. Refer to the above definition. A mentor is your guide. This means, for good or bad, you will inevitably follow in their footsteps – at least a little bit. So if they are not somebody you look up to, somebody whose work you respect and admire, then this is going to be an issue down the line.  I’m not saying you have to work in the exact same genres or move in identical circles  however, you should be able to genuinely enjoy their work, respect their advice and respect them as a person…otherwise what can you truly learn from them? And why put yourself in their hands if you don’t trust them and their work anyway?

 

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  1. THEY “GET” YOUR WORK

Even though you may not work in the exact same circles as your mentor, you’ve got to make sure that they “get” your work. By this I mean your mentor should understand what you are doing (or trying to do) regardless of their own personal preferences. If you write horror fiction and your mentor never reads horror, can’t understand your intentions and constantly advises you to write something ‘more light-hearted’ then evidently she/he is not the mentor for you. However, if you write horror and your mentor’s favourite genre is romance, yet they can still articulate what exactly is working in your writing and why, then I personally see no reason why this can’t be a set up for a successful mentor-mentee relationship.

 A good mentor shouldn’t enforce their preference – rather they should respect your goals and help you work towards them. Your work should be the starting point for their criticism. Look out for people who “get” it.

I once wrote the opening to a crime novel. Being heavily inspired by Karin Slaughter, I knew I wanted my book to have a really entertaining plotline but also very in-depth character development and truthful relationships. I sat down and thought, ‘Okay girl, your goal is to somehow show all the relationships between these characters within the first two chapters WITHOUT negatively impacting the pacing. Somehow the gruesome murders need to happen alongside stunning character development. Even if no one picks up on that, that’s YOUR personal goal.’

So that’s what I worked towards. And when I received my feedback and mark for the story, my tutor at the time had written something along the lines of:

“You’ve done a great job of maintaining the needed pace of a crime novel whilst developing all the characters and letting us understand their relationships.”

I remember being quite shocked – at no point did I think that was something anybody would notice; it was simply a personal goal. But it felt really nice that someone had noticed.

I remember sitting and thinking, “Okay so…he gets it.”

 

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  1. THEY GENUINELY WANT YOU TO SUCCEED

So the writers who I look up to/have and are helping me out in terms of my writing are people who genuinely and I quote, want me “to succeed.” You don’t need them to verbally express this or get their well wishes in writing;  it should be evident in the way they act around you and the sort of things they offer to help you out with.

There’s a little girl who I mentor. She’s amazing and I CANNOT express how much I love that kid and will help her to succeed. I offer to read so much of her work & point her to new authors. I am so happy about all her achievements!

I recently met with this amazing playwright who, without me asking, told me to send her my writing and any applications to competitions I might be considering; in other words, she was invested in my work and wanted to actually help me achieve my goals.

I have another mentor who read about five drafts of my Masters application, helped me out by writing my reference, and even invited me round to her place for a cup of tea and a chat about my future. She also points me to people who can help me out and offers advice and a listening ear. You just don’t do that if you’re not an amazing person who cares about the mentee’s future.

(This goes both ways, I should add. You should be so completely 100% invested in your mentor, which shouldn’t be difficult if you’ve already nailed point number one. I once had a mentor tentatively ask if I would edit his book for him. He was tentative because he knew I was super busy. But OF COURSE I was super happy to do it. It should work both ways when possible!)

tenor

  1. THEY CONSIDER YOU WHEN THEY DON’T HAVE TO

I have a super nice mentor who sends me links to writing competitions which I qualify for. Often times, I didn’t even know that the competition existed. He doesn’t have to do that. Not only is that nice but that’s like…awesome mentor material right there (y)
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  1. THEY CAN ARTICULATE WHAT ISN’T WORKING

Sometimes when I’m writing I can sense something is wrong even if I don’t quite know what it is yet. I once approached my old lecturer with my play and explained to her what it was about. Without even reading it herself, within ten minutes she had NAILED exactly what my issues with it were. (HOW?! I kid you not when I say that all I did was very vaguely explain the plot).

In other words, you’re looking for intelligence, understanding, patience and articulation.

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  1. THEY HAVE EXPERIENCE IN THE DEPARTMENTS YOU DON’T

This step also requires *you* because if, unlike me, you are going out to find a mentor INTENTIONALLY, I reckon this is pretty important: decide what exactly you need from a mentor. Make sense? Do you suck at character description? Well then get somebody who is awesome at character description. Do you suck at marketing? Well find someone who is so good at it their middle name might as well be “Brand.” Is your only goal to be published? Well then, you should probably find somebody who has been through the process of getting published.

People on your level are not mentors – they are buddies. Writing buddies. Which are great. But again, look at the definition of mentor and you will see that “experience” is a necessary part of it. So make sure they have experience in the departments YOU personally want to learn more about.

TJMAA2t

  1. THEY KNOW WHEN TO PUSH YOU

So I like to think of myself as a pretty hardworking person but there have been LOADS of times where I have simply slacked off when it comes to writing. I remember once moaning to someone I now consider to be my mentor and excusing my lack of writing by saying, “What I’ve written isn’t good enough to hand in to you yet. It just isn’t.”

I think I was lowkey expecting some sort of sympathy.

I kid you not, this guy just looked at me, all deadpan and went:

“Then make it good.”

It’s a good job he said that too. It was a kind of “tough love” statement that kicked me into the right gear and I finally finished that work I had been procrastinated for weeks in just a couple of days.

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BONUS;

  1. THEY IMPROVE YOU AS A PERSON

I guess they don’t have to do this but if you find someone who improves you PERSONALLY, then that’s awesome. Example?

I once had a teacher tell me I was far too shy about my faith and that I should own it. (I had written a book which was, for all intents and purposes, a Biblical allegory). Not only was it really cool to have somebody who – as far as I was aware – was non-religious, tell me to be proud of my Christianity, but this comment fundamentally changed how I approach my writing and improved my own confidence and artistic practice as a whole. And of course, this wasn’t a comment on style, structure or even the story itself. However I needed to hear that and it ended up being such an integral comment to my practice.

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So that’s it. Let me know if you have any questions xx

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]