Hello, my darlings, I have missed you. Yes, you. And you. But especially you, *winks*
I’m here to regale you of my tales since my last post, because let me tell you, I’ve been busy. Mainly busy sleeping, as of late, because November as a month was MAD, and December in general is also mad, so it’s taken a lot out of me.
Firstly, let’s get it out of the way – I wrote 35,127 words towards my novel in November! I know it’s not the 50,000 I needed to qualify as a NaNoWriMo winner, but in my eyes I still won. Because 1) I’ve beaten my personal best in my history with NaNo (I usually tap out at 20,000 words, if that), and 2) look at all of these word I have to play with when it comes to editing down the line!
As you can see, the last week or so of that chart looks pitiful because LIFE, UGH. It just keeps getting in the way of my creative endeavours. But I ain’t mad. Now that Christmas has done its thing, I shall continue on to try and get some semblence of a completed first draft together.
Something of significance that also took place in November was my attendance of the Superlatively Rude workshop, How To Write Words That People Want To Read, run by Laura Jane Williams. There was a bit of drama in the weeks leading up to it; the workshop was on Saturday 26th November, and I had found out that I had to work a day over the weekend due to Black Friday/Cyber Weekend/whatever-the-fuck. This meant that I would have to travel from Sheffield to London and back in a day, as I would have to be at my desk at work, bright and breezy, for 9am on Sunday. So not really much in the way of a weekend of relaxation for me. GREAT. Not to mention the Gilmore Girls revival had dropped on the 25th, so I had to factor that in somehow also (I have very skewed priorities).
Nevertheless, I persevered. I got up at 6am to get to my (surprisingly packed) 7.30am train, where I couldn’t even nap due to rowdy football men drinking beer (really?!) and having my personal space invaded by a woman in an overbearingly fluffy fur coat. The fun didn’t stop there though – I won’t bore you with the details, but it involved a very crowded London underground and a delayed Piccadilly line (coincidentally, the only line I needed to take to get me to Gloucester Road). By the time I stepped out of tube stop, I legged it to the flat that would be host to the workshop, and by the time I was greeted by none other than Laura Jane Williams herself, I was pretty out of breath because 1) I’m so unfit, and 2) lateness anxiety, gah. In a way though, I’m glad that I had all that to distract me, because it would stop me from no doubt fan-girling over the fact that I was in the same room as Laura. Not looking at her on my phone through Twitter or Instagram, but was actually sat a few feet away from her, ohmehgerd.
I’ll be honest, I can’t find the words to express how truly invaluable this experience was for me, or at least, not any that would do it the incredible justice it deserves. But I will say this: I have never been to a writing workshop before, so I had no idea what to expect, not really. I knew that the workshop’s aim was about learning to write more like yourself, by writing about yourself, and in Laura’s email a few weeks prior to the workshop, she said that she would work us hard. I imagined there would maybe be some sort of critiquing session, but otherwise, I was still clueless. I had no idea then, on the day itself, when Laura prefficed by saying “some of you may love today, some of you may absolutely hate it, and the rest will be so-so,” that I would come away feeling so rewarded and validated by wanting to make my dream of being a writer a reality.
“Start with this: nobody cares what you write. Don’t let it inhibit you; let it free you.”
Before that day, before I was sat in that little pink palace amongst a dozen other brilliantly talented women, I hadn’t shown, let alone read aloud, any of my writing to anyone. Not really. I had joined various writing forumns in the past, under an anonymous screenname, posting short stories for strangers on the internet to read. I had had teachers mark several creative writing pieces over the years. But never had I been in a situation where I was asked to write about something deeply personal, read it aloud, and hear what others thought of it in real time. And you know what? It really wasn’t that bad. Maybe because we all knew we were in a safe space, free from judgement as we were all as nervous as each other.
My writing muscles had been flexed like they hadn’t been flexed before (both mentally and physically – the hand cramps, oh the hand cramps). Laura is a fantastically inspirational teacher, because she’s not really teacher-like at all. She’s not stern and authoratitive, picking people to read aloud for the sake of it. Laura is massively inspirational in the way she speaks, because she is so passionate. She is confindent, encouraging, and so, so receptive to feedback from others. And not to mention, one of the loveliest and most ‘real’ people I’ve ever met, like, ever. In many ways, she wasn’t a teacher at still, she was one of us, and we were all learning from each other.
This is the only picture I managed to take all day and that makes me feel a bit sad because this place was UH-MAZIN’. But I’m not sad really cos the times I would have spent trying to curate the ~perfect gram~ would have commandeered my workshopping time. I learnt so much today about myself & how to edit & how NO ONE CARES (but in the best possible way). I want to be a writer because of the way books/blogs/articles make me feel. I’m so protective of my writing due to fear of not being ‘good enough’ so I always hold back, but I remembered today that everyone relates to stories in their own way, too. So I should stop focusing on if what I write is ‘good’, because who cares, it’s about how people FEEL when they read it. I dunno. I’m tired and headachey and flustered from the ‘mare tube journey, but filled only with love, love, love. And my reserved seat on my train back to Sheffield is both at a table & by the window – score! Maybe I’ll even get some more writing done because I am in the ~zone~ (but will probably, most likely, end up falling asleep listening to an audiobook) WHAT A DAY ✨ #laurajaneteaches
I’m not gonna sit here and keep gushing about Laura (though I could, endlessly), or reveal too much of the inner mechanics of the workshop (I don’t want to reveal all of her secrets, after all). But I will tell you this: How To Write Words That People Want To Read gave me the confidence to publically say, “I am a Writer.” A capital ‘W’ writer. Because it made me acknowledge, through various writing exercises and reading my stuff aloud, that hey, maybe I do posses some kind of talent? It gave me the basics on how to edit myself effectively, and how to give good, valuable criticism when it comes to others’ work (two positives, one ‘learning curve’). Basically, I can’t wait until Laura does more of these workshops, because this one made me feel bloody fantastic about my future.
I don’t know how to end this other than to tell you to ~watch this space~, and also follow me on Instagram, where I have been posting ‘microblogs’ of sorts on some of my pictures. Until next time, folks, I promise I won’t leave it over a month this time.