Writing Realisations

Sometimes things that should be perfectly obvious manage to, somehow, evade our notice. In terms of my writing – something you would expect I’d know quite a bit about – I have encountered two such examples. Two facts that surprised me that really shouldn’t have.

In the first instance, I was talking to some of my writing friends the other day about how it wasn’t until maybe a year after I finished the first draft of my novel (Full Term) before I realised it is, in essence, a baby fic.

For those unfamiliar with the term, it mostly floats around in fanfiction circles and just means, as the name suggests, a story primarily featuring a pregnancy and/or baby.

Now, obviously I knew there was a pregnancy in my novel – it is indeed the hook of the story – it was just that I hadn’t put two and two together and thought of my novel in those specific terms. Probably because it’s a fanfic term and the novel isn’t fan fiction. But here’s the really interesting part: when I finally made the realisation, I was embarrassed.

I really believe in Full Term and the story it tells. I’m really happy with how it’s turned out, and I’m excited to see where it will end up published. None of that has changed but, in the moment I attached the ‘baby fic’ label to it in my head, it suddenly felt foolish.

It took me a second moment to figure out why, and a third to dismiss the embarrassment as the truly foolish thing. Because what it boils down to is basically snobbery, and snobbery has no place in literature, if you ask me. But let me back up for a second and unpack that a little. Continue reading

Top Ten Most Read Authors

As much as I dislike the fact that I was denied the joy of reading as a child, the small consolation such a situation brings is that I know – and have therefore been able to list – pretty much every single book I’ve ever read. With that knowledge at my fingertips, I was curious to take a look and see which authors I had most read. Below is what I discovered. (If you are curious, I’ve finished a total of 472 books in my life so far.)

1. Jim Butcher – 17 Books

All of these books are in the ‘Dresden Files‘ series, all of which I have devoured on audiobook, because all of them are narrated by the fantastic James Marsters. For the unfamiliar, it’s urban fantasy (wizards and vampires, but set in our world. Chicago, to be precise). And I cannot praise them enough. Probably the fact that I’ve read so many tells you how much I love them.

A Favourite Author: Yes. Planning to Read More: Double yes!

2. Malorie Blackman – 13 Books

Malorie’s ‘Noughts and Crosses’ series were some of the first books I’ve ever read. She is my OG favourite author, for sure. Aside from her series, I’ve checked out a couple of her children’s books (for very, very young children, because they’re awesome and I have no shame. Noughts and Crosses is Young Adult, for context). I’ve also read ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ by her, as well as a gender-bent YA Othello retelling (‘Chasing the Stars’) and a collection of short stories on slavery she edited (and had one of her own stories included in).

Will I read more by her? Most definitely. I’m actually planning to re-read all of the N&C books again soon. Continue reading

A Light in the Dark

Being stuck inside can suck. Everybody seems to at least agree on that one point right now, but I know that some people have it worse than most. This is an open letter to those not just stuck inside, but trapped inside with abusive assholes.

I wanna start by staying you have not only all of my sympathy, but my utmost respect, too. I’m so sorry this has happened to you.

I’ve spoken here a thousand times before about my own abusive upbringing, so I know a little of what it’s like. Though, of course, no situation is exactly the same and I’m not trying to pretend otherwise. I had it bad, but I know a lot of people had it a lot worse.

That’s not important. Abuse is abuse and there’s no point trying to compare it all to say what kinds deserve more sympathy or help than others. As some else once said, you can drown in a puddle just as well as a lake.

It can sound like a weird sentiment, but don’t feel guilty for being upset at your situation just because you know it could, technically, be worse. What you need right now is to focus on the positives.

Ha! You might be thinking. What positives? 

Granted, it’s much easier said than done and there really might be very little hope for you right now. Again, I’m sorry. I’m not trying to diminish your suffering, I want to help in some small way to get you through this.

So, positive: if you’re reading this, it must mean you have access to the internet. You’ll need to cling to that. As a mental escape. A link to the outside world. And/or a way to contact the authorities if you feel your life is in danger.

If your actions are being monitored, remember to delete your browsing history when you’re done looking at websites.

If your life is not in active danger but you’re being gaslit at every turn, criticised beyond what you can handle, or being made to feel like you’re unwanted, in the way, or being exploited in some way while you can’t get out, here’s the big thing you need to realise right now: sooner or later, this will end. Quarantine will come to a close and you will be able to get out.

You will. You just need to get to that point. Keep it in your sights. Hold tight to it.

Do not give up!

The whole ‘this too shall pass’ thing is kinda trite at this point, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It may take a week, a month, or – god forbid – a year or more, but the situation will change. You will get your chance at freedom.

You deserve freedom and happiness. You deserve to feel safe and loved and all the good this world has to offer. Because this world still does have good in it. I know it may not feel like it right now, because it’s being kept from you, but great things are possible for you. Your situation now will not be your situation forever.

You need to keep hanging on. There will be daylight again.

Tips for Working from Home

Seeing as a lot of people are working from home right now, for maybe the first time in their lives, and working from home doesn’t naturally suit all personality types, I thought I might offer some advice in the hopes it might help at least some of you. I don’t consider myself an expert in this, but I have been working from home for several years so I do have relevant experience. (Other people’s experience can and will differ. As with all advice, take the bits that work for you and feel free to ignore the rest.)

Your (Physical) Space

It may be that working from home really suits you (and your home) and you’ve been wanting to do so for a long time, but have never been given the opportunity before. The world as it is right now obviously isn’t ideal for anyone, but if it’s given you this small consolation, then at least there’s that.

My Husband Steve

For everyone else, it’s going to be a much bigger adjustment. So, here’s what I recommend: as much as you’re able, try and create a distinct area in which you work. This distinct area will vary depending on who you are, how and where you live – it might be a section of your dining room table. It might be a section of your couch. It might be your garden shed, or your laundry room, or a hundred other possibilities I don’t need to spell out. You get the idea.

The point is, whatever your little area is, it needs to be defined if you’re to have any level of success at this thing. If you have lucked out and already have a home office, garden shed, or spare room, you won’t need to worry so much about packing away your things at the end of each workday and setting them out again the next, but if you’re working at your kitchen table or in bed, tidying things away and putting them out again will be something you need to think about. Sure, it’s annoying and time-consuming, but it might actually work in your favour when it comes to setting a routine – something I’ll talk more about in a second.

So: Tip One – think about your physical space and how it might work best for you. This obviously gets trickier if you live with other people, especially if those other people are now trying to work from home as well. This is again something I will come back to touch on later. For now, think about what you need and how you might get it.

For some people, getting a lot of light behind them – i.e. sitting at a window – is what helps. Some people will prioritise structure over comfort, while others will be the other way around. There is no wrong way to work, so long as you respect your own needs and the needs of those around you. Continue reading