Here we are again

One day I’d like to write a blog post that isn’t 75% apology and 25% lambasting myself for being useless. Today isn’t one of those days I’m afraid.

I just spent a good chunk of time scrolling back through this blog reading all the inconsistent posts I’ve shared since August last year on writing, studying and as you might have seen by the last thing I posted in June – mental health. I’ve done a very poor job of documenting my studies & my writing journey and I really want to try to make 2016 a better year for this, but I’ll need a bit of a run up so here I am trying to blog again.

I ought to give an update on what has happened since I last posted, I’ll have to try and remember the important events. My memory is pretty shoddy with my own life but I’ll give it a go.

  1.  I passed both my OU modules with a 2:1 – somehow did better on my French EMA than my Creative Writing which is insane since I spent almost no time revising for the French exam. My French luck strikes again.
  2. I submitted a story I wrote for my TMA05 to the British Fantasy Society competition – found out in October that I didn’t make the shortlist which was a pretty depressing end to 4 months of waiting.
  3. I started working on my novel again, this time I decided to go back to the beginning of the book and work linearly through it. Reworking chapters I’d already wrote, writing new ones as I got to gaps. I finished writing Chapter 13 the other day which tells you a lot about how fast I’m progressing (glacially). I nearly have 40K of this “Second” Draft now and thankfully a bit more of a clue as to what needs to happen in the middle 25K that I have yet to draft. I’ll maybe do another post talking about the State of the Novel soonish.
  4. I started  my Children’s Literature OU module. This is the first Level 3 course I’ve done so that’s a nice dollop of pressure to do well with it. I somehow got an excellent mark on my first TMA but it was about Northern Lights so I was pretty invested in it. I’m meant to be working on my 2nd TMA right now actually (why else would I be reviving a comatose blog if not for procrastination?) but I’m struggling to get started. I’ve read the books I need to but I’m in that familiar dichotomy of “Want to get a good mark, scared I’ll fuck it up, too nervous to put words on a page because they’ll be shit, ad. nauseum”. Maybe once this is posted I’ll be in a better frame of mind.
  5. I’ve got an official job! Yes it’s doing exactly what I’ve been doing sporadically since February but I’ve got a contract and legit salary so that’s swanky. It is just a six month contract until my mother found another person to take the Finance Admin job permanently (which she now has) so from January I’ll have the fun task of training up the new lady and handing over my job in March. I kinda secretly hope that she’s not as efficient as me straight away because then it’ll sooth my irrational hurt at being replaced (I never wanted to do this job permanently anyway).
  6. I’m now 25. Which is weird because it means I’m on the slide towards being 30 and I honestly don’t know what to think about that. I don’t feel like someone who is 25, I barely feel 20 with how immaturely I deal with certain things, for fuck’s sake my mother brings me lunch when I’m at work! I am more than capable of making my own damn sandwiches but I let her do it cos it’s easier. Before I turn 26 there is a *lot* of shit I need to sort out about myself because I am far too dependent on others in various aspects of my life and it’s not healthy.
  7. Speaking of what’s healthy, I’m not quite sure I am, in the mental well-being sense anyway. Since my last blog post I have had some rather up-and-down times with how I’m feeling in myself. I had a *very* bad day back in October which involved me loitering round Nottingham Waterstones alone for several hours too crippled with anxiety to go upstairs to where the YA Extravaganza was going on. There are still many questions and doubts I have about what I’m doing swirling in my head that I have barely begun to pick apart and deal with. It’s probably a task for another day when I’m not diligently procrastinating what should be my top priority.

I’m going to leave the list there. I am very fond of 7 of things (probably due to my Potter obsession). Whether there’ll be any sort of follow-up post in the near future I honestly can’t say. I have toyed with the idea of starting up the Cup O’ Thoughts posts again for the days when I’m not at work to see if that will help me create a routine for myself, but we’ll need to see if it’s possible.

Going to head off now in search of some food. I might even switch off my laptop and try to get some work done analogue style. I don’t know why I’m finding so hard to be productive in my office anymore. More questions all the time. *sigh*

Hope your Sunday is going better than mine.

Speak soon perhaps

Ray x





So I think I had an actual panic attack last night.

I know that’s a terrible greeting after having ignored this blog for months and months but I need to get some thoughts down and this is the only place I can think to do it. Bear with me folks.

Now I am fairly certain that I’ve not previously had an experience like what I had last night. What started as just some eye-rolling at my Mother telling me (not for the first time) to give some thought to possible careers as I got in my car to drive home after a four day holiday to Centre Parcs, spiraled down over the evening into increasingly louder thoughts of incompetence and uselessness and “what the fuck am I even doing with my life?” until it all came to a rather scary culmination of me sobbing and hyperventilating as I rocked on my bathroom floor. By some freak chance I managed to calm myself down eventually by running my hands through my hair repeatedly. This was a bit of a surprise to me as I hadn’t realised just how soothing I found it – clearly my hair-twirling all these years has been a self-soothing mechanism for when I’m feeling stressed or antsy.

Before I went up to bed yesterday I had been pottering about on my laptop (4 day separation made for a lot of catch-up time) and saw on Facebook a video that had been posted by my ex-boyfriend of him filming in Jamaica for the travel agency that he now works for. Out of some weird curiosity I watched this video and then got probably more angry than I had reason to be – I was finding so many things about him so fucking annoying, like his voice, his mannerisms, his unnecessary vehemence that his “man-bag” was not a handbag (seriously why emphasise that of all things?). I then started thinking about other things which really angered me about him  – like the fact that in the 3 years we were together he had never considered reading the Harry Potter books even though he knew I adored them and he fucking owned 4 of them yet hadn’t read them because he thought they seemed boring. But only a few months after we split I remembered seeing on FB that he’d read the 5th book and I was inordinately pissed off by that. Who does that? But that is kind of besides the point.

This anger was not entirely aimed at the Ex but in part at myself. I am so frustrated sometimes at how little progress I’ve made in some aspects of my life since I was 18 or 19. I am one of the only people out of the friendship group I was in during Sixth Form who doesn’t have a degree, I don’t really have a clear plan for my professional future – fuck I don’t dare admit to anyone in my real life what I’d really like to do is fulfill the ambition of my seven-year-old self and become an author. Technically I am already a writer but that still doesn’t make me an author – that will require me to actually get published and that’s the scary bit to which I’d need to really commit myself. I felt like such a failure for being almost 25 and still not having settled on a career path or got a full-time permanent job which could become a career.

I can’t deny that I am really fucking lucky right now to be in a relationship with a fantastic guy who is so supportive it’s unreal. Soon I’ll have been with Le Boyf for longer than I was with the Ex although it does already feel like years longer. I moved in with Le Boyf after less than six months and we bought a house the following year. I’ve been living with him longer than anyone other than my family which is kinda crazy when you think about it. But I am not contributing financially to this situation – yes I pitched in on the deposit for the house but I’m not on the deeds or mortgage. Currently the only income I have is from the few days of work I do for my mother each month to cover the finance admin work for her company along with my sister. I am more than capable of doing that job and it would save my mother a whole load of hassle in having to search for someone and train them if I just said I would do it permanently. But it’s the kind of tedious office job that would bore the fucking life out of me if I had to do it everyday for more than a few months. I don’t want to be an accountant like my parents, I just don’t want to do it and no amount of financial incentive will motivate me to actually care and try to do a job I’m not interested in.

So right now I feel like a fucking sponge, living off my boyfriend’s wage and goodwill. While he has said that he would be happy for me to try and write full-time – at least to get my novel to a point where I could start querying agents with it – I know that he wouldn’t be completely happy for me to carry on like that for the next 2-5 years. While he can support both of us with just his wage I know full well that he’d appreciate it if I actually had something to contribute to maintaining our situation beyond my sporadic efforts at chores (that has been a real issue with me during the last few months). I don’t do enough and we both know it. I am hideously selfish and oblivious to things that need doing around the house far too often and Le Boyf won’t say anything until it builds up to the point he’s so irritated by it that he stops talking for half a day and then I actually twig to what a piece of shit I’ve been.

My fears that Le Boyf will eventually just get so fed up of my flaky home habits that he’ll just give up on me fed into my anger and frustration at myself for still not having a clue about what I want to do with my life outside of my relationship, my bitterness that everyone I went to school with seems to have their shit together and have actual goals and plans for their future, my dread that every day that I’m not looking for a job or thinking about looking for one is another day that I’m disappointing my mother and letting down everyone who is supporting me, my terror that even if I do finish writing my book and actually edit it that no one other than Jess and Le Boyf will want to read it and my childish dream of becoming an author is just a pointless impossibility. All of that was blaring in my head as I tried not to wake up Le Boyf with my crying last night.

I feel so out of control of my life right now. And it scares me shitless. I am not happy in myself at the moment and I don’t really know what to do about it.

This post has been rather a mess of a lot of emotions and personal craziness so if you have made it this far, thank you. I’m now going to go take a shower and do some colouring to calm myself down a bit.

Hopefully the next time I post here it won’t be about me having another meltdown.


2015 – A Few Resolutions

While it seems a bit late to now list the things I want to improve or change in 2015 but we’re still within the first few days of the New Year so I reckon it’s still OK. I did not feel like making this post yesterday as I was quite down and not very positive about myself or 2015 so any list I wrote would have been full of self-loathing admonishments about the personality flaws of mine which make certain resolutions damn near impossible without outside intervention.

I’m still not in the best frame of mind for this but I want get it done so I can focus on the other things that need to occupy my thoughts today *coughwritingassignmentcough*

Resolutions for 2015

1. Be Kinder to myself – I can be very self-critical as the above paragraph will imply and I don’t want to spend time in 2015 calling myself a piece of shit because I’ve left something to the last minute (which is gonna be a whole other resolution in itself) or lambasting myself because I may have not felt like blogging for 3 months. If something happens that brings up feelings of self-loathing I’d like to be able to just shrug it off and focus on how I can get closer to what I want and not focus on all the ways I’m somehow inadequate.

2. Get things done in a timely manner – This is what I mean by not leaving things to the last minute. I spent three weeks procrastinating a French assignment in December because I didn’t like the topic until I was left doing the whole 4 minute speaking task *on* the day it was due and submitting it 6 hours after the supposed cut-off time. (It still got marked though and I somehow got a 78 by a god-damn miracle) In 2015 I need to get things done far enough ahead of my deadlines that I don’t stress myself out to the point that I want to defer my module to avoid doing it at all. This also applies to doing the damn textbook work which I’ve not done properly for 2 months.

3. Prioritisation not Procrastination – This is something I struggle massively with  all the time. If I don’t particularly like a task that I’ve got to do or if I’m finding it marginally difficult I  will invariably procrastinate it until I feel more comfortable with it. This is very flawed logic I know since if I’m not sat working out what I find difficult then how will I ever be more happy with getting it done? I’ve gotten very hardcore about my procrastination methods recently – I literally learnt to crochet in order to put off doing my French which is a large step-up from merely scrolling through tumblr for a few hours. I am not regretting learning this new skill but it needs to take a backseat when I have more important things to do like assignment that are due in a week. In 2015 I need to be better at prioritising the tasks I *have* to get done and use things like knitting, crochet and tumblr as rewards for when I have completed them. It’s going to involve a great deal of self-control which so I hope I’m up to the challenge.

4. Finish the book – It feels a little weird having this down at number 4 but I think those more self-improvement resolutions needed to come first. I am remarkably close to having a first draft of  my novel complete – there are still maybe 6-8 chapters that I have to write and unfortunately they are in the muddy middle which is why I didn’t get round to finishing it before the end of 2014 like I originally envisioned but I want them done by the end of Feb *at the latest* so I can start the epic process of redrafting and research. I have a metric fuck-ton of notes in various notebooks that I need to amalgamate into my Scrivener file so that I can easily refer to them when it comes to the second draft. I’ll do a post about my plans in detail soonish.

5. Share more of my work – I am still very shy about my writing and have posted very little here on this blog for my fellow creative writing students/twitter writer friends to read. Admittedly I don’t have a lot by way of presentable material due to my proclivity for not finishing most of my pieces or not properly editing them if I do finish them. You folk deserve better than my scrappy first drafts so I’d like to post more finished pieces of writing on here over 2015, maybe that’ll prompt me to work on smaller ideas while I’m wrangling with the novel.

6. Keep up with my craft stuff – Now that I’ve learnt to crochet and picked up knitting again I want to keep going with it since it’s really fun to be able to actually make something that I or someone else can wear or use. I’ve already made myself a hat which while looking a little lumpy does an excellent job of keeping my head warm, I’m also in the process of crocheting another hat for my sister and knitting myself a scarf (I’ll start doing some posts on my crafty projects I think) so I want to progress to more complicated projects once I’ve done those.

7. Try to keep up with blogging – This one I don’t want to be too firm with since I know that as soon as it feels like an obligation to post then I’ll just ignore the blog for ages until you all think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth. I think doing those daily posts took up too much time that I then regretted because I lost 2 hours from my morning that I should have put towards my creative writing or my French. If I feel like I have something I want to share or talk about then do the post but I don’t want to force myself to do a post every morning with a detailed list of what I want to achieve since each day invariably ended with me not having done even half of the list and the following morning’s post was just progressively more angry and pissed off at my inability to get shit done.


Right so I’m going to leave the list like that. I could probably list dozens of things that I want to do or achieve in 2015 but we’d be here all day and I may not remember to do any of them once we get out of January. I will be doing a separate resolutions post for my Reading goals over on my other blog Ray Reads Books so if you happen to be interested in what I plan on doing in terms of reading books in 2015 look out for that.

For now I hear the crackling of bacon as Le Boyf cooks up brunch (too late to call it breakfast now) so I shall be off.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year

See you soon

Ray 🙂

Too soon to say?

So it was only on Wednesday this week that the student website went live for my OU Module A215 Creative Writing. We finally were able to see the assignment questions for the TMAs and the final EMA which is worth half of the marks for the module *gulp*.

The EMA is where we get a chance to show how we have really developed as writers over the course and demonstrate the skills we’ve learnt in one or more of the forms taught (Fiction writing, Poetry and Life Writing). We’re encouraged to gather material and think about ideas for the EMA from early on in the course and build up a cache of characters, plot ideas and intriguing words & phrases that we can use for assignments.

One of the EMA options is to write a piece of fiction (either complete short story or the first couple of chapters from a potentially longer story) that’s 2500 words long. The choice of subject, themes, style and voice are yours with the caveat that it’s not what would be termed “Writing for Children” (which is a phrasing that crops up a few times and is irking me slightly) or journalism. Unless I discover previously hidden skills/love for poetry and life writing I am likely to want to choose the solely Fiction writing option for my EMA.

But is it too soon to have an idea in mind? I mean, a proper fledgling plot idea with a main character who is drawing my attention and a world that I want to plunge many hours into researching and developing. Hell I’m even referring to the story as #DragonBook (cos I’m a twittering weirdo) which of course kind of gives away what sort of book it is :P.

I had said to my dear friend and eager Alpha reader Jess that after I finished writing my current novel – which I haven’t completed yet because of PROCRASTINATION – I wanted to write a dragon book. Regardless of whatever else went on in this book I wanted there to be dragons because fucking dragons dammit! So now that I am doing this Creative Writing module I have the opportunity to write 2500 words of something that I want to write so why not the beginning of my Dragon Book? I mean I don’t exactly have to write the whole thing but if I get the first few chapters written and polish them to a submittable standard and outline where the rest will lead, along with researching and world-building I can always go back and write it properly when I’m done with the drafts of my other Fantasy novel (this will perhaps become a noticeable trend in my writing).

Am I jumping the gun though? Is it too soon to get fixed on an idea for what will be worth 50% of the marks for this module? Should I be keeping an open mind and just gather potential material like the Almighty Big Red Book suggests? I will be intrigued as to what my tutor or the other people doing A215 thinks about this issue and what my fellow students are planning to do, even if the EMA is waaay down at the far end of the tunnel.

Any other OU A215ers got any ideas a-brewing for the EMA already? I know some folk are cracking on with the first TMA and I have had a go freewriting (as I currently think I should do it) from one of the prompts but will have to try out all of them and see which produces the most intriguing nuggets. Do share any thoughts you may have on this subject, I’d really appreciate some additional views to offset my daily mental ping-pong war between “don’t write that it’ll be a fail, wait for the course to start” and “fuck it, WRITE THE DRAGON BOOK!”

Now I might go lie down before I fall asleep onto my keyboard

Ray 🙂

Writing Ray – The Difference a Year Makes

So yesterday I happened to be pottering about on my Youtube channel and I saw a video I did last July entitled Why is Writing so dang hard? It was about 8 minutes of me grumbling about my difficulties with writing and how although I had several story ideas and many notebooks half-full with scribblings that none of it ever materialised into actual novel-sized pieces of writing.

In that video I showed two notebooks that had both got some notes on the first five pages or so – those are the notebooks for my current WIP that I have been working on this year. The yellow legal pad is now nearly full with plotting notes and scene snippets that I did in pencil (exclusively in that notepad I don’t know why I just preferred it that way). The other notebook is not quite as full but it still has quite a lot of pages that are crammed with snippets, thoughts on characters and story timelines.

So if you think that a year ago, all I had an idea that was bouncing round my head, some scribbled thoughts and little else. Fast forward to now when I have nearly filled a notebook and have written **Monday Edit** nearly 67,000 words on this idea… that is some pretty awesome progress. Just since the start of 2014 I have written more than twice as much as my longest previous piece of writing.

According to Scrivener my book is currently equivalent to 215 pages in a paperback so when I get to my intended word goal it will be around 285 pages. If I overshoot a bit maybe it will end up as a round 300pgs. It will be a very strange thing indeed to have to print over half a ream of paper that will have my words all over them.

That’s not to say that this year has been a cakewalk getting all this writing done. I’ve had to juggle my full-time job, my Open University studies and my home life while trying to write. My boyfriend has been amazingly supportive of me, even when he’s nagging me to actually get my OU work done when I’ve been neglecting it for too long. But I think without the push from him last year to try and write this idea I might not have got started and I’d still be that grumbling non-writer lamenting the inability to get her thoughts out onto paper/pixels.

No gushy post about my writing progress will be complete without me mentioning, once again, the Amazing Alpha Reader/Slave-driver that is my best twinnie Jess. She has been my touchstone throughout this project. Every time I’ve sent her a scene to read I’ve been sat anxiously wondering “will she like it? What bits will she not like?” and when she sends me her feedback it all gets filed in the “Do not forget” part of my brain and when it comes round to editing this book those emails are getting printed out as the starting point.

So again, THANK YOU WITH SPRINKLES ON TOP Jess for keeping me locked in my Writerly Cage and rewarding me with cashews when I done good 😛 I’m pretty sure you’re first in line for a dedication if/when this book gets itself into an actual printed format. You’re the best first reader a girl could wish for.

Twinnie Jess on the left 🙂

A year can change a whole lot, while I’m not 100% confident in my abilities as a writer (heck I don’t like to think what the real percentage might be), I have irrefutable proof that I *can* get my ideas out in a reasonably coherent manner and create a story that at least one person wants to read. Which is a pretty damn good feeling. Who knows where I’ll be next year? Charging ahead with edits on Book 1? Maybe have a first draft of Book 2? Be Plotting Book 3?? All of the above?!

I’m looking forward to finding out. I hope you guys don’t mind me dragging you with me on the adventure.
Ray x