Blog 56: Christmas Book Recommendations.

It’s the run up to Christmas and you’re looking for the perfect present that isn’t plastic toys, socks or alcohol? Well, maybe I can help. When it comes to books that are being read by the people around me, particularly those closest to me, I like to keep my ears and eyes open. So the last few months I’ve done just that, I’ve watched what people have been reading and what customers have been buying at the large bookshop where I work part-time. I’ve got book recommendations from myself, friends, family, bookshop owners and complete strangers, so without further ado, here are my book recommendations this Christmas… read more »

Blog 55: Artists and Authors.

You might not think that authors are often artists too, but it seems to be true that creative people like to explore lots of different creative avenues even if their efforts are purely for pleasure and never taken seriously. With the recent opening of the British Library’s ‘Harry Potter – A History Of Magic’, I was surprised to stumble across blogs and articles claiming that J.K. Rowling herself has drawn pictures of her characters, though it is unclear as to whether or not any of these drawings are actually on display at the British Library. But if you’re dying to have a look at Rowling’s artwork, you should be able to find her drawings with a quick google search or a visit to her Harry Potter website Pottermore. read more »

Blog 54: My First Collaboration and What I’ve Learned From It – Jen Hughes.

In life, you have groups you work well in, and ones you don’t. It applies just as much to writing collaboratively as it does to everything else. I conveniently forgot about the horrible experiences I’ve had working with others when I eagerly signed up to contribute to an online magazine in August last year.

I found an opportunity on one of the many Facebook writers groups out there. The website was run by a Dutch guy looking for extra writers for his website. From the get-go, you could see it was his brainchild and his artistic vision. It had parts of his complex novels and his stories on it. There is only so much content, however, that one man- even to the imaginative powerhouse such as he- could produce.

So this is where I came in. read more »

Blog 53: One Year In A Book Shop.

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So it’s the one-year anniversary of when I finally moved out on my own and started volunteering part-time in a book shop, and it has been an amazing and rewarding year, both for my general confidence and my writing. I’ve learnt more about the world through direct experience and talking to people in one year, than I ever did at school or university, and I feel that that is a really important thing to note. I’m not saying that traditional education doesn’t have it’s uses, it does, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that our educational systems are somewhat lacking in life skills. But enough about that, education is a topic I could talk about for forever and I want to share with you what I’ve learnt in the last year. read more »

Blog 52: Stage Fright – Jen Hughes.

I was a bit worried. Not overly worried, just a little. My little brother was having a party. (I can’t call him my “little” brother anymore, seeing as he’s 6 ft and I’m 4’11” but oh well). He wanted me out of the house, not because he hated my company or anything but because it was a teenage party. Full of spotty youths being drunk and falling over. Not really my kind of thing, but it does dent your ego a touch when the dog is more likely to get invited to a party than you are.

Luckily for me, I had something else to do that night. Stage Fright was on. I hopped on the number 6 bus to the little café at Queens Court, Ayr which is run by local cultural movement Freshayr. For those who don’t know, Ayr is a town on the west coast of Scotland and is best known as being the hometown of our national poet, Robert Burns.

Robert Burns is most famous for New Year’s Eve favourite Auld Lang Syne, however he has written many poems and songs adored throughout the world such as Tam O Shanter, Tae A Moose (where Steinbeck’s novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ got its title) and My Love is Like A Red, Red Rose to name just a few. Not surprisingly, Ayr has milked tourist revenue to ridiculous proportions, with countless Burns themed pubs, restaurants, festivals, statues, you name it, it’s got a Burns reference somewhere. Yet it has little to offer to actual poets who live in Ayr, which is why Freshayr came into being. read more »

Blog 51: What Writing A Novel Looks Like.

When I tell people that I’m an author and that I write YA fiction, I am often met with looks of wonder and awe. Most people seem to think that writing a book is an amazing feat, something that ordinary people just cannot do. It is flattering to say the least, and as much as it does take a certain type of person with a good imagination and determination, a lot of it actually just comes down to hard work and perseverance. These looks of wonder and awe are often followed by questions about my work and life. Questions which I struggle to answer adequately on the spot, so here is a picture instead.

This is a conservative picture of what my work and life looks like when I’m working on a novel. I say conservative because this picture is minus the caffeine, sleepless hours, hundreds of binned crumpled notes, dozens of typed draft versions, culling of characters, the rewrites, and the final edit. This picture is just part of what it takes for me to write a story, a story I’m not sure anyone is going to read or like at the end of the day, and as for sales, well, I hope so!

People often ask me how do I write a book and what is it like? read more »

Blog 50: So I Guess I’m A Blogger? – Jen Hughes.

I wonder how I should start this… Hello, I guess? I am on a quest to find out the meaning of the blog. What is it to blog? What does it mean? Is it just talking fluff about yourself or is there some deeper meaning?

But “who are you?” I hear you ask. And “what are you doing on the Diary Of A Young Writer?” My name is Jen Hughes. I’m not your conventional blogger, and the more you read of me, the more you’ll know why. I hope to be a novelist, create and write some great films and TV shows- maybe the odd Doctor Who episode or series- and make poetry cool again. I say ‘I hope’ because I’ve only ever completed one novel, forgotten how to write scripts and, well, there are already people out there making poetry ‘cool’.  I just want to be one of those people.

I wrote a whole big memoir piece about my writer’s mind, so I won’t go into that again. I’m also going to study English Literature and Film at university, so I expect to have some anecdotes to share with you whether you want to hear them or not. But that wasn’t where my days of talking fluff about myself began.

2010/2011

I was in first year at secondary school. I was becoming a teenager faster than you could even say the word. Instead of being the kind of teenager who had a social life, I spent most of my time writing. At this stage it was ideas for teen romance novels, Young Adult fiction, terrible song lyrics and lots and lots of diary entries and lists. The lists weren’t part of my actual writing, but more an opportunity to dream about my future, write down my notions and feelings. I didn’t see the significance of them at the time, and especially after I realised I didn’t have the drive to realise the goals I wrote down.

2015

I’m in my final year at school and dating some man I met on a dating site. He suggests that I start a blog, as that’s what writers do right? Maybe he noticed the fact that I was hitting a major bout of creative block. My brain went from a hive of buzzing bees to a void over the course of a couple of months. I did attempt a ‘Facts About Me’ post, which I knew wouldn’t do anything because I didn’t feel it was serious writing. It wasn’t that fun to read and I felt pretentious even considering posting it (not that I knew where to post it on), so I dropped the notion and got on with my studies.

2017

I’d been knocked out of my work schedule by a horrible chest infection and have spent the past three weeks trying to shake it off, without much progress. I’ve had a website set up on WordPress since June last year, and I was posting a weekly stream of flash fictions and the odd poem. I was also managing to have some of my works, such as short stories, published on online magazines and journals. Sadly, combining ill health with a six-day work schedule meant that I had no time or energy to even think creatively, let alone write another flash fiction. I needed to apologise to the (very few) people who actively followed my work and give them an idea of my plight.

Thus, my first somewhat readable blog post was born – Down With The Sickness. I thought it was hilariously appropriate to use a heavy metal song by Disturbed as my title. Not just because of the title summing up my life at that point, but sometimes the vocals sounded like my actual coughs. (Yep my chest infection was that bad.) Besides, if you don’t laugh you’ll cry, right?

But I didn’t catch the blogging bug until I wrote a reflective piece about being a teenager – 11 Life Lessons from my Thirteen Year Old self. I mentioned earlier that I wrote lists when I was younger and didn’t really think much of them, but I looked at this one that I’d totally forgotten I’d written, and thought ‘Gosh, she has some points.”  I wanted to keep it as relatable as possible. We’ve all been teenagers at one point. I also wanted to structure it in headers for each lesson, to make it easier to read. After all, the more relatable it is, the more people want to read it, right?

So I hope that I can add to Diary of A Young Writer with my own experiences and learning processes. And who knows, maybe someone out there can benefit from them.

 

 Jen Hughes will be a regular contributor to Diary of A Writer’s Blog. She is a young writer from Ayrshire, Scotland who has been writing since she was seven. Her work has been published on a variety of online journals and magazines such as the McStorytellers, Minus Paper, Oletangy Review and Pulp Metal Magazine to name a few.

If you’re liking what you see so far, you can find more of her work in the links in the article/down below and on her website dearoctopuswriting.wordpress.com. (Her website is full of original short stories, poems and flash fictions.) You can also follow her on Twitter (@dearoctopus4) or Tumblr https://dearoctopuswriting.tumblr.com/  or give her a like on Facebook (Dear octopus writing).

 

 

Blog 49: Four Twitter Micro-Stories

I’ve written several micro-stories for Twitter, but inevitably tweets are drowned and lost in the thousands of tweets posted every second, which on average is actually 6,000 tweets per second. So I thought I would share my Twitter micro-stories for you here, just in case you missed them. Writing a micro-story for Twitter is no small feat if you ever want to try it yourself, you have 140 characters to play around with and that includes all your spaces and punctuation too. Here are four of my micro-story tweets and I shall explain my thoughts and ideas behind the writing for these pieces.

For this micro-story I was actually daydreaming about characters, more specifically creating characters and how our ancestors gifted certain circumstances and natural objects to human-like deities. read more »

Blog 48: On ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

A children’s book? Fiction? Or philosophy? There is no unanimous agreement, but then that’s probably because ‘The Little Prince’ appears to carry aspects from all three genres. Antoine De Saint-Exupéry or his much longer name, Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Rodger, comte de Saint-Exupéry, was a French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist, and pioneering aviator born in Lyon on the 29th June 1900. He was a successful commercial pilot before World War II, joined the French Air Force until 1940 and later joined the Free French Air Force where it is sadly believed he died on a reconnaissance mission in July 1944. read more »

Blog 47: On ‘The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Brontë

Anne Brontë was born on the 17th January 1820 and was one of five daughters and one son to Patrick and Maria Brontë. Patrick Brontë, originally Patrick Brunty, changed the spelling of the family’s surname at some point, there are many theories as to why he chose to do this but no one knows for certain. Sadly, Maria passed away shortly after the birth of her sixth child (Anne) due to developing cancer, and the two eldest daughters (Maria and Elizabeth) passed away in their late childhood due to TB (Tuberculosis/Consumption). Charlotte, Emily and Anne also passed away due to TB at the ages of 38, 30 and 29 respectively, although the cause of Charlotte’s death may have actually been due to severe morning sickness. The sole son, Branwell Brontë, passed away at the age of 31 due to TB, alcoholism and other addictions. Patrick Brontë outlived his wife and all of their children and passed away at the age of 84.

Anne Brontë wrote under the pseudonym Acton Bell, a name that is masculine according to online baby name forums. Acton means ‘village with oak trees’ and the surname Bell has many origins but is probably an occupational name for a bell ringer or bell maker, or a read more »