I’ve been performing my poems for about three years. I started out performing at open mics in local pubs and as part of women’s poetry group Wummin’s Words, before performing at a festival on the Largs coast and in FreshAyr’s poetry events. Around this time, I found a treasure trove of spoken words events in Glasgow, which I couldn’t go to that regularly until I moved there late last year. In 2018, I made it a new year’s resolution to perform at these events more regularly, and I’m now a regular at a long-running spoken word open mic in Glasgow called Words and Music (or Tinhut Tuesdays, as it’s lovingly nicknamed). So, I thought I would share with you some wisdom that I acquired over the many gigs I’ve performed.
- Know your set-list
I’ve written it before and you’ve probably heard it before, the English teacher exclaiming that the colour of an inanimate object is a clever tool used by the author to convey and deepen an emotion. I mentioned this briefly in Blog 37: On The Importance of Words but I didn’t explain why the author chose blue curtains and why your English teacher was probably right in saying that they did reflect sadness.
In the end it all comes down to psychology and how we associate certain feelings with certain words. There are certain word which we dislike and involuntarily shrink away from, this is called word-aversion, and there are some words which we like and are instantly drawn to. Different experiences and circumstances may affect which words you like and which words you don’t like, for instance I have a friend who hates the word ‘blood’ and seeing ‘blood’ for that matter, yet this word does not affect me. This can be very useful when building characters in a book and it can add an emotional human quality to your characters. read more
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
“Read a lot. Read anything you can get your hands on.”
“Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river.”
If you’ve clicked on the link and read up to this sentence, you are already some of the way there. This point has been driven home by so many writers already, it has become a cliché. To be a good writer, you should read regularly. (Maybe not as much as a thousand, but it’s a goal? At this point, you may either say, “Duh, what’s new?” or “But I can’t concentrate on reading while I’m writing.”. read more
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
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
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
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
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’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