Frustrating February

Frustrating February or the not so happy new year…

… I had mentally written this whole blog earlier in my tornado of thoughts. Inspired by a short text conversation last night with a good friend of mine who pointed out that my blog was kinda catharsis for me. This I like and has given me the urge to address my Frustrating February in clear words, to focus on all that rumbling shit in my head and transform it magically into words so that it lifts this dark cloud of gloom from my life and I feel tremendously restored to my usual shiny glittery self…

… Trouble is, as soon as I sat down with my lunch at the keyboard, all those words, all the deep grumbling doom, all that stress, shit and general misery… It’s not there, the careful yet painful words I wanted to share, my speech, my inner monologue… Nothing, Silence… Beautiful clear peaceful silence. As though the decision itself to sit and write has lifted a veil from my soul, a calm voice in the back of my head is like a soothing warm perfumed bath I can sink in to and relax.

… Ooh the shit is still there, but I don’t hold the stress that had fueled my desire to write all that shit down. Granted I have coffee and (Birthday) cake with my lunch, this alone appears to be a magical winning combination, which turn the lips up into a content warm smile. My inner filing cabinet system has neatly filed away such emotions under the ‘don’t-get-stressed-over-shit-you-cant-control’ heading and I feel more inclined to sit back and ride the wave instead of drowning in an emotional tide.

… I’m not sure if it’s the meditation class I attended last night, the decision to write or the fact that I spent this morning mentally writing everything anyway… Maybe, possibly, could-be a happy combination of these… But it’s gone and I feel lighter, my shoulders don’t ache so much, my headache has ceased and my inspiration has returned.

… Maybe with March on the doorstep I can finally cast off this drowning sorrow and focus ahead upon my forthcoming adventures and new courses. With a new month, a new day (and pay day) a time of travelling awaits me instead of ragged nerves over a situation I can not control… That feels much better…

 

Anne Harrison 26.02.16

 

 

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A New Adventure…

…With an old theme!

I just can not appear to let go of studying, neither can I let go of Creative Writing as I embark upon another course with this theme. Creative Writing is a passion of mine, yet I still continue to maintain that I am not a writer, nor do I desire to be published. This is my little corner of public exposure and my audience is more like an intimate family, I share tiny bits of myself, my inner voice as well as my humble attempts at writing. Mostly this is a safe nest where I can pool forth my thoughts and clear my mind.

Why I have chosen to start yet another course on a subject I have already studied at University level? Why am I going backwards, restarting at the very beginning, with the very basics? It’s not as though I want to write a best selling novel, I do not desire fame and fortune, I can not imagine my characters gracing the silver screen wearing a famous face, my stories naked for a world of critics, fans and action figures.

I love writing as much as I love studying and learning! I believe I can use the knowledge I learnt at Uni (as well as a Screenplay course I *also* attended at the same time) to accompany another direction of learning. I can adapt, merge, agree, disagree, blog, get frustrated, inspired and yet never bored upon my journey of discovery.

After all… Doesn’t this look exciting!!!

Syllabus

  • Lesson One
    • What is Creative Writing?
      • The Ritual of Writing
      • Inspiration
      • The Inspiration Journal
      • Short Writing Exercise
  • Lesson Two
    • The Writing Format
      • The Novel
      • The Short Story
      • Poetry
      • How to Begin and Complete a Novel
      • How to Begin and Complete a Collection of Short Stories or Poems
      • Commercial and Literary Fiction
      • Short Writing Exercise
  • Lesson Three
    • Genre-Specific Fiction
      • Autobiography
      • Fantasy Fiction
      • Science Fiction
      • Futuristic Fiction
      • Mystery and Thrillers
      • Horror
      • Magic Realism
      • Historical Fiction
      • Children’s Fiction
      • Conclusion
      • FurtherReading
      • Short Writing Exercise
  • Lesson Four
    • Points of View
      • The First Person
      • The Third Person
      • Conclusion
      • Short Writing Exercise
  • Lesson Five
    • Characters
      • Character Types
      • Inspiration for Characters
      • Inventing Characters
      • Introducing a Character
      • Using Plot to Enhance Characters
  • Lesson Six
    • Inventing a Fictional World
      • Using Real Places in Fiction
      • Using Weather and Landscape to Add Atmosphere
      • Using the Five Senses
      • Short Writing Exercise
  • Lesson Seven
    • The Voice in the Text
      • Finding and Using a Character’s Voice
      • Speech Tags and Action
      • Using Dialogue to Show what’s Going on
      • Language and Dialect
      • Presenting Dialogue on the Page
      • Short Writing Exercise
  • Lesson Eight
    • More Creative Writing Techniques
      • Showing and Telling
      • Metaphor, Simile and Symbolism
      • Suspense and Drama
      • Using Time Effectively
      • Short Writing Exercise
  • Lesson Nine
    • To Publish or Not to Publish
      • Writing for Pleasure
      • Writing for Publication
      • Novels
      • How to Find and Approach Agents and Publishers
      • Self-Publishing
  • Lesson Ten
    • Writing for Publication (Continued)
      • Poetry and Short Stories
      • Small Press Magazines
      • Writing Competitions
      • Dealing with Rejection
      • Writing Groups
      • Courses and Other Sources of Help
      • Conclusion

 

Truth is, I’m not sure where this adventure will lead… But you could say that about each waking day, where will this day lead? What adventures will cross my path? Usually the mundane, chores merged with events which are bright sparks upon our way. I adore the mental stimulation, the challenge and the fact that I have fell in love with reading again, exploring books of genre previously alien to me. I am quite a different person from who I was when I started my course at University, I am hoping to take some of this new me into a new course, to expand my horizons, embrace my new found passions and enhance my creative nature.

I think it might be fun to blog as I go along, to include lessons and my thoughts on these lessons and also my answers… I expect there maybe a few rants and tears of frustration, but this blog was designed to accompany my creative writing, not just my insane maudlin thoughts, sharing more than just my inner monologue on insignificant musings… Such as old emails and my past.

So we embark together, my mind and my unseen little audience, upon a new quest… What characters will be birthed? What situations and dramas will form in an unknown world? Who can say? I mean I need to wait for my first lesson to arrive, until then, my nose is firmly buried in two books I’m loving and my mind is free to explore clear thoughts among the chaos of daily life.

 

Anne Harrison 23.02.16

Mental Clear Out

Sometimes it is the most simplest acts which can make all the difference.

There were around 900 emails in a ‘saved’ folder in my old Hotmail account. Emails from  people I would sooner forget, people who are dead, people I have forgotten and a very different me…

Emails dating back to year dot, crap that got bombarded around before social media made it easier to share pictures of cats.

Useful Useless snippets of information witch *might* be interesting one day… Old orders, old mailing lists, old blogs, old Myspace notifications and general shit…

It took less than 3 minuets to delete EVERYTHING without thinking, it’s all gone, finally… Those last tendrils of connections finally severed and released. An email clear out,  an emotional clear out, a mental clear out.

Sometimes it is the most simplest acts which can make all the difference.

 

Anne Harrison 19.02.16

Learning to Read Again

This is a personal blog today, to reflect upon my love for books, poetry and all things decorated up in pretty words. Learning to read again was possibly one of the most difficult yet rewarding goals of recent years, considerably aided by my University course and a graphic novel that I got last Christmas.

The ability to read, to focus upon the words and absorb stories was cruelly stolen from my mind, a lingering side effect from the TIA in 2013. It was this health scare which helped me turn my life around (which appears to be an ongoing long … possibly life long process of self development with brief episodes of ‘Meh’) the same health scare which spurred me to enroll in University in the first place.

I’m going to try and put my frustration into words. I have always loved reading, from an early age when my Dad read ‘Lord of the Rings’ to me as a bedtime tale. I collected books, novels, naturally, but also many books upon the Paranormal and the Supernatural. Anything weird and wonderful, mysterious and exotic. I read with a hunger, soaking up words, delighting in each morbid case. Then I lost it all, following the TIA, the simple of act of reading was gone from my mind. I would stare at a page, the same page for what felt like hours, I would look at the words, I knew what the words meant, I knew if I string together a series of words that they should make sense in that order, they would create a sentence and tell me something. I knew that, so why was I still gazing at the same word? Why was I stuck? I felt like there was this invisible barrier in my head, all the words went in, through my eyes, hit this barrier and splurggggedsssdsfg… Nothing, my brain could not translate words and my heart was breaking.

It has taken me three years to finish  The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski three bloody years to read a simple 300-ish page novel, the sort of shit that should have taken no time at all. Yet each word was like agony, I read and re-read pages, chapters, sentences… I gave up and for a long time the book haunted me like a ghost of reading past, mocking me, mocking my broken abilities.

The reading list we were given at University filled me with dread, I was struggling to read the handouts, class was like this jumble sale of ideas and chatter, a close knit of friends who adored to share knowledge and opinions without hostility and I flourished with this verbal exchange. However I could not work my slow painful way through a single novel, I improvised enough to scrape through classes with a vague understanding of each story, which only heightened my desire to re-read again as I was introduced to classics, old favorites and shit I really hated.

As a child one of my teachers thought I might have had dyslexia, one of the only teachers I had who didn’t think I was just ‘slow’… Though I moved home and nothing more was said about this in my new school and the idea was dismissed, it’s not something I know much about, but I do know that the use of coloured paper can help and this is how a graphic novel lead me in my own adventure back into books…

The images brought to life the snappy dialogue and brief narratives. There was just enough for my addled mind to read and I delighted in the action packed drama, all wrapped up in glorious technicolour. I felt like a big kid again with my weekly issues of 2000AD, thrilled that I could grasp a story without blankly letting the letters merge together into a puddle of nonsense.

I did not express my struggles to my lecturer, I’m not sure I’ve really approached this subject with anyone really, it’s not something I’ve ever felt comfortable discussing, or should I say admitting… I felt ashamed with my inability to read on a creative writing course, yet it also propelled me with some determination to get over this stumbling block. I mean the ability to read still had to be inside my head somewhere, I just needed a way to rewire the route between my eyes and the little bit in my head which translated the scribbles into scenes. Having the scenes there assisted this process and even though sometimes, when I get tired my brain goes blank and stops consuming words, so the letters dance on the page like a morbid mockery, then one simply rests.

I’m reading two books currently and delighting in every word in both, I’m buying new books and looking forward to delving into their pages, I’ve even devised my own reading list and branching my new found literacy discovery into various directions of genre. My passion has returned and with my desire for reading I am also writing more, even if only through the pages of my little blog.

 

Anne Harrison 18.02.18

Monday Morning Musings

Then suddenly it happened, exhausted with the constant drama, politics and depression awareness re-posts, the unspeakable happened. The mobile phone went away in the bag and instead of the never ending thread of scrolling-scrolling-scrolling I reached for a book and opened the too-long-closed pages and breathed life back into the words. My mind felt refreshed as I let go of social network, for a while at least. Its strangle hold upon my attention is diminishing as I feel the need to check updates slipping away in favor for the next chapter, am I just replacing one hunger for another? Or am I reading to expand my own spiraling thoughts? At least by reading I do not feel so many tumbling emotions, I’m not annoyed, frustrated, angry… This cocktail of negativity having lifted as I have withdrawn my attention from so much bull shit, looking back briefly as I have over the last few days, I become aware of this heat rising in my chest, like a mini tornado of emotions and cute pussy cats… Why do I subject myself to all this nonsense when reading helps?

It is not the only thing I have neglected recently for the sake of my own peace of mind. I have ceased to write in my pretty pretty green notebook with a rainbow unicorn design and such pretty pretty pages. I have left it at home since it was damaged in my bag, it has taken up resident within a crate of various notebooks, smash books, colouring books and a sewing bible, I brought with every intention of teaching myself to make my own clothes. Most of these pretty pretty books are crammed full of ideas, plots and plans, rules and regulations I self imposed upon myself for personal development and self improvement… Drowning Drowning Drowning… forever drowning in a whirlpool of my own ideas!

I paint such glorious images in my mind of how my life should appear to be should I actually implement any of these ideas, instead of writing the same to-do lists over and over again in different words, so I feel good about having a plan then get home and do nothing! Because I find myself so bewildered by how much I want to do, I find that I don’t have the energy to focus on any of them, nothing zip… Adding to the frustration already circling around my thoughts, numb without motivation, I start scrolling-scrolling-scrolling and here we go again…

So the phone is away, in my pocket, the book is at home, I’m a few chapters more into my book and the only list I have for today is a shopping list.

This feels like a huge turn around in a few days, already I’m sensing a few subtle changes… I cease to mentally torture myself if I miss my morning exercise routine, I listen to my body instead of forcing myself through glum moods, period pains, the illusive cold (which neither comes out in full or fucks off completely) and plain tiredness are all valid reasons to rest and I should be able to rest without guilt. In fact I feel better for doing so, I’m ready to face a 5am start with a fresh mind instead of a tortured soul…

All these elements feel as though they are related to this unending need to impose self restricting expectations upon myself in order to live a life that the media would conclude us to believe is normal and healthy, when I actually like biscuits and never see anyone in reality skip and dance through the streets as they do in adverts.

My health is important to me, this impact has been painfully enforced upon me by old photos of myself, horrific memories (which turn my soul cold) and the current illness of my own Mother, yet neither do I desire to live as a nutritional monk, sweeties are nice, chocolates taste good, cake is possibly my largest weakness and I also feel comfortable with the fact that I will never have the body of a 20 year old model, or a fitness fanatic. I’m starting to love my body as I feel healthier, even with it’s flaws and battle scars. My mind feels healthier as I release myself from my own fucking to-do lists and never ending reaching out for a life, which really isn’t my own. As such, I’m actually getting more done by actually doing stuff instead of constantly planning ahead to do stuff.

Maybe the answer is to just let go, breathe and do whatever feels right to do along side what you need to do to make the most of each day, whilst allowing yourself to relax and simply unplugging yourself from social networks, getting lost in the pages of a book, freeing your mind and writing your own path instead  of trying to follow others…

At least that appears to be working currently…

Anne Harrison 15.02.16