Archive for the ‘life’ Category

It’s Happening

Three years ago, I read and wrote about a book which concerned itself with the process of planning and drafting a screenplay, Syd Field’s Screenplay. At the time, I read it with an eye to plotting in a novel in a regimented three-act structure just like a film. I had decided that this was the key to my first novel: if it’s a regimented structure, planned in advance meticulously, there is less possibility of failure or non-completion.

Between then and now, I have completed a Creative Writing MSc, and I finished the 25,000-word dissertation which accompanied that, along with a number of short stories. But after the MSc, life got in the way for a while. After agonising and mentally beating myself up, I gave myself a reprieve, and carried on plotting and planning and intending. 

I have not finished a novel yet. Emphasis on the ‘yet’, because a novel is what I am working on right now. In April this year, something happened in my life which seemed to push a ‘RESET’ button in my brain. Suddenly, I wanted to spend more time on my own. I was happy to stay home and miss out on a party every now and again. I wanted to write.

I re-read Syd Field, and plotted a novel from beginning to end, resulting in an 8,000-word chapter plan, one which is so exhaustive that I hopefully have no excuse but to continue until it is written. And then I started to write.

It’s been a slow process, and I’m nowhere near the end, but I’ve got a 20,000-word draft so far and I’m still going. I’m writing blind: typing madly, not re-reading, aware that if I look back and see the trail of terrible sentences I have scattered in my wake, I’m doomed. As long as I get the first draft on paper, I can fix it later.

For now, it’s write, write, write. I’ve set myself a deadline: first draft by November 20th. It’s a bit ambitious, so I might need to try harder to say no to the fun parties, and ask some friends to nag at me a little more (I respond well to nagging).

Here’s the great thing: it’s happening. I’m doing it.

Read Full Post »

Dear Future Me

Five years ago, I found a website which enabled you to send an email at some predetermined point in the future. Fully immersed in an early-twenties ‘what-am-I-doing-with-my-life’ panic (which some people call a ‘Quarter Life Crisis’), I wrote an email and released it into limbo for five years, and then promptly forgot about it.

Until last month, when this arrived in my inbox:

Subject: Hello to the Me of the Future

The following is an e-mail from the past, composed 4 years and 12 months ago, on June 18, 2008. It is being delivered from the past through FutureMe.org

Dear FutureMe,

Don’t forget all the things you need to do. Don’t get bogged down in the same job for years and years – there are things out there which need doing and experiencing.

If you’re bored – hand in your notice in your job. Go travelling, explore your own country, learn to drive, write a book (for God’s sake, write a book if you haven’t already. Go on a Creative Writing Course or something).

This is the best age you can be – the opportunities available are endless and it is stupid not to take advantage of them. Don’t settle down, don’t buy a house, don’t have kids – not yet. There’s too much to do. Whatever you do, don’t get to 50 and feel resentful and bitter. It would be no one’s fault but your own.

I hope that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you’re happy and you haven’t forgotten how promising life is. I hope you’ve had excellent experiences and realised who you are.

Feel comfortable in yourself.

I don’t know what it is I am trying to say to you – there’s too much. I guess the message is:

Don’t lose yourself in trying to find yourself. Make sure you don’t look up from your desk one day to realise that all the thinks you were “going to do” have become things you “could have done”.

You wanted to be a writer, an actor, an artist, an ecologist, an explorer, a traveller, a musician, a gardener, a historian, a buildings conservation officer, a museum curator, a psychologist and so many other things.

You’ve always had that itch to produce something – that feeling that something wonderful is bubbling inside you just waiting to explode from you in a fountain of creative greatness. Don’t forget.

You’re vivacious and interesting, exciting and fun. You’re friendly, kind and nice. This is your identity. I hope you’ve realised and remembered.

Don’t forget who you are,

Love from you,

Aged 21

On the day I received this email, I was on a trip to Skye, seeing more of the beautiful country in which I live. I’d handed in my notice at my job, because it felt like time for a change, and I’d started writing a novel, because the time felt right. I haven’t bought anything bigger or more expensive than a fridge, and I don’t yet intend to, because I still believe that it’s not yet time to settle down.

And at this moment in my life I know, infinitely more than I did when I wrote that email, that I’m okay with the person I am and the decisions I’ve made. But I’m very pleased that 21-year old Rosie popped up out of the blue to remind me I’m on the right track.


Read Full Post »


In a previous post, I was furiously writing a long piece to submit as the dissertation for my Masters. That seems a like a very long time ago now! I submitted 21,000 words of a novella called Watching the Asylum, and I graduated with a distinction, so I’m very pleased!

Since then, I have been working in a bookshop and enjoying it a lot. I’ve also got a short-term (paid!) writing job connected with my previous employment at a university, so that’s fantastic news.

I have been having a great time during the past few months. But, crucially, I haven’t really been writing very much. So it’s time to knuckle down and really do this. Expect more posts.

Read Full Post »

My plan for June, July and August, aside from reading as many books as I can cram into my free time and writing lots, is to send some stories out into the world for the first time.

Stemming from A215, I will have three stories which are almost submittable, in my opinion, and this is reflected in the marks given to me by my tutor. So I plan to submit them to one place at a time, and keep a record of where I’ve submitted and when I expect to get a response.

Thinking out loud (as I haven’t researched this with specific stories in mind yet, aside from my TMA05 story), I would prefer to send off to print publications, as seeing my writing in physical print strikes me as more satisfying and exciting than online.

Similarly, I might look at some competitions, but I’d probably prefer conventional publication if it’s achievable. I might like to aim some new stories at specific competitions in the meantime, writing specially for them.

As well as this, I will be reading a book about writing film scripts, not because I want to write them, but because I suspect the advice is applicable to novel structure, and I would like to finish my chapter plan for a novel idea I had a few weeks ago. At the time, I felt that I didn’t have enough knowledge of novel structural conventions to complete the plan and begin writing, as the second draft would need significant structural reworking if I started too early.

I’m looking forward to my three months of commitment-less (except job-work, of course) writing before the MA starts, and I intend to take advantage of it as much as possible.

Read Full Post »

All Change

I’ve got a place on the MSc in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. It’s conditional on completing A215, and although I’m not counting chickens, we only have one assignment remaining before the end of the course.

So this week I told my boss at work that I am leaving at the end of August. I’ve spent the last few days discussing with Ed what we’re going to do about houses, furniture, etc. And I’ve told a few friends here in Birmingham that I’m leaving.

I’m very, very excited and also rather terrified. Some might say that quitting a relatively secure, autonomous, reasonably well-paid job, with nice people and in a nice environment, in the middle of the biggest economic downturn of my lifetime, in order to spend one year studying (self-funded) a subject with little to no further employment prospects…. is a little bit silly.

Well, yes.

But I say that I’m 23 years old, I’ve finally found something which makes my heart sing when I think and talk about it, and if I didn’t do this I’d regret it a lot. (alot)

Read Full Post »