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
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
- 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.
- 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
Outlet Publishing and their team have kindly asked me to help judge their short story competition, and even though I haven’t written a short story myself, yet, and I’m certainly no expert. I am an avid reader and I have been through the writing and publication process, so I do feel in my humble opinion that I have a basic understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Over the past two months I have read dozens of entries written by young, hopeful candidates. Some have been very good, others not so, but as the entries have been piling up around me I have noticed similarities and reoccurring patterns. The same mistakes have been cropping up again and again, and there appears to be a preference towards particular genres and themes. The latter is neither strictly bad nor good, but the former is most definitely bad. With this in mind, I am going to share with you some insight into what I feel short story competition judges are looking for, and hopefully help you and your short stories shoot to the top of the winning pile.
Tip Number 1: Read The Rules.
This may seem obvious, but make sure you read the competition’s specifications, rules and guidelines. I don’t know if it was because candidates couldn’t be bothered to read the rules or if they simply misread them, but a couple of the short story submissions I have recently received didn’t sit within the required word count. Judges may be able to forgive a word count that falls 10% above or below the maximum and minimum requirement, but if your story is more than 10% above or below then don’t submit it. Also, some competitions state a specific age range or country of residence, so make sure you read everything carefully before submitting your work.
Tip Number 2: Quality Over Quantity. read more
A warm hello to everyone!
Since this is the first Diary of a Young Writer blog of 2017, I hope you had a happy Christmas and a great New Year. Despite 2016 being a pretty bad year for a lot of people, I can actually say that my 2016 was pretty good, though that’s only when I ignore the political world.
2016 held a number of firsts for me, some of them were difficult and others I ploughed on ahead like an unstoppable steam train. I finally moved away from home, I reread my first published novel again and actually enjoyed it, and I’m being paid to do what I love. I also read forty different fictional novels during the year, just six shy from the previous year. read more
I have recently read George Orwell’s essay ‘Bookshop Memories’ – the cynic in me was delighted. I’ve been working in a second hand bookshop part-time for the past couple of months and even though I haven’t come across all the types of customers Orwell describes, it’s safe to say I had little trouble imagining them.
I can understand honestly Orwell’s frustrations, but I think his account is somewhat unfair and not quite so accurate nowadays, though I guess time may change my mind. I do believe that you have to be a certain kind of person to enjoy working with books, and although I’d struggle to describe that type of person, even to myself, I can tell you what type of person it most definitely isn’t. read more
Have you ever heard a friend, a family member, or even perhaps a stranger wishing out loud that they were more creative? Or maybe you’ve heard some of these excuses: ‘but I’m not creative like you’ or ‘I’m terrible at drawing’ or ‘I don’t have the time to play a musical instrument?’ Yet, these are the very people who will often look on at a piece of art or watch a musical performance with a mixture of awe, jealousy and yearning?
If you grew up in an academic environment, surrounded by people who attended public schools and colleges, then it’s likely that your view on what being creative means falls into the narrow fields of those who can paint and those who can play an instrument. It’s also likely that you were guided away from creative pursuits unless they somehow benefitted you academically. I know this because I went through the exact same schooling system several years ago. I’m not sure if much has really changed since then with public schools and colleges, and I don’t know enough about state schools (also known as public schools outside of the UK) or state colleges to comment.
What I do know is that there appears to be a common misconception that it is almost impossible to get a job in the creative industry or make your way in the world as an artist, read more
It’s that time of year again when it’s great if you’re a kid, sociable if you’re a teen, and usually pretty sucky if you’re an adult. Yes, of course, I’m talking about Halloween.
As much as I love kids (and dressing-up), I can think of better ways to spend my evening which doesn’t involve getting up to answer the door every five minutes. To all you poor souls who don’t have a table booked or a cinema viewing or another excuse to avoid the house, all I can offer you is a blog and some book recommendations to help you fill the minutes between grazing the candy bowl and answering the front door.
I don’t have any horrors for you with these next three novels but scroll down to the bottom of this blog for some scarier suggestions. However, for the spookiest day of the year, I do have a Witch, a Wizard, and a Changeling… read more