Blog 52: Stage Fright

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?

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 »

Blog 46: An Interview With Young Writers’ Short Story Competition, 2017 Winner, Holly Kybett Smith.

  1. I loved “Laboratory Angel” and the exploration of science ethics in your ideas. Science is obviously something that interests you. Do you have a science background at all?

To be honest, I don’t. I’ve got GCSEs in physics, chemistry and biology but that’s about as far as my background certifiably extends. My interest in science – biology especially – has always had a strong influence over my writing, though. A lot of what I read is science fiction, and when I was studying biology at school I had a very enthusiastic teacher; she taught my class way more than what was on the syllabus and all of it with this crazy-excited gleam in her eyes. These days I think any background I have in science can be classed as hobby-work. I like reading and learning about it when I have the time.

  1. What are your thoughts on AI and the growing trend for creating intelligent robots?

I love this question. The whole concept of AI – specifically robots mimicking human cognitive functions – seemed like absolute fiction when I was growing up, and it astounds me to think that that wasn’t even very long ago, considering how far scientists have come since then. Personally I’m both excited by the prospect and terrified. While I would love to see where we could go with these sorts of technologies, I’m worried about how we as humans will play it. I don’t want things turning out the way they did in Laboratory Angel, for example! read more »

Blog 45: A Trip To Pendragon Castle

The 12th century Pendragon Castle is now a ruin located in Mallerstang dale, Cumbria, south of Kirkby Stephen, and close to the hamlet of Outhgill. You can reach the ruins today via the B6259 or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous and confident in your driving skills, you can take the single track Tommy Rd, which is what I did by mistake, but if you’ve read my Wigtown blog you won’t be surprised by that.

Legends say that there was an original castle built here by Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur during the 5th century. Unfortunately, there is no current evidence that there was a former castle at this location before the 12th century, though given that a previous castle would have probably been made out of wood this is hardly surprising. Many places throughout Cumbria claim connections to the legend of King Arthur, but only the author of the legend, Geoffrey of Monmouth (if he were still around) would be able to tell anyone for sure. However, he probably wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about Pendragon Castle. The first mention of Pendragon Castle was apparently in the 15th century written in Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur. Malory didn’t invent the stories independently either, ‘he translated Arthurian stories that already existed in thirteenth-century French prose and compiled them together with at least one tale from Middle English sources to create his text’. Despite mentioning the illusive Pendragon Castle, Malory left no clues as to where it’s actual location may have been. read more »

Blog 44: The Language And Terminology We Use In Writing.

I already touched on this topic in Blog 37: On The Importance Of Words, but I wanted to write more about the language and terminology that we use.

As a writer getting the language and terminology right for your characters, setting, plot and storyline is important. The writers who nail this often have the best-selling novels, whilst the writers who don’t, often trail behind. Now that’s not to say that every best-selling novel is a good book and every other book is bad, but you can definitely tell when a book is more likely to be good, based on the language and terminology that the author uses.

Language and terminology can be used to add colour and complexity to your characters without compromising on your word count. Sticking to stereotypes for now, the evilness of your antagonists can be increased with the language and terminology that they use. If their language is mean, cold, and/or condescending, it is likely that the reader will ‘dislike’ these characters. Similarly, the goodness of your protagonists can be amplified by the honesty, good-will and politeness that may shine through in how they speak and interact with other characters. Not only this, but the language and terminology used by characters when they talk about other characters, can be used to paint pictures and nudge the reader’s opinions of those other characters. This happens all the time in real life, you see it in advertising, music, the media, and pretty much every single thing that is written, everyone has an opinion and their own lives, and naturally this will come through in their work, their mannerisms and what they say, even if they’re not aware of it. read more »

Blog 43: Notes On Book Marketing.

The idea of marketing your book can be overwhelming, especially if you’re an indie author and you’re just starting out. Below are some of the thoughts and suggestions from a marketing friend of mine who has been looking at the most effective promotional tools for authors. From branding, to online and offline marketing, here is everything you need to know to get started…

read more »