Strange(r) Conversations #1 – Creative Writing Series

I’d like to introduce my new blog series: Strange(r) Conversations!

I was inspired when I took a walk recently, realising how much I’ve missed being out of lockdown and seeing other people, even if not speaking to them, and how you can pick up the most interesting and out of context dialogue simply from walking past people mid-conversation. And I thought – why not start writing about it?

I used to share a lot of creative writing on this blog, and then I stopped for a while, focusing a little more on book reviews and lifestyle content. So, it’s making a comeback.

Can you guess what inspired this short flash fiction piece? (Reveal at the bottom of this post!)


Wish There’d Been More For Me

He remembered the time he would sit there, hair slicked back with that greasy old hair gel – the kind that got forgotten about. His feet would tap tap tap away at the base of the opposite booth, his arms stretched across the table to mark his territory. But his head hung low, drained.

“Omelette, sir.”

The waitress with kind eyes would place the plate on the table and he’d think, oh that’s awfully nice of her, that nice waitress with the kind eyes. But that’s the thing about waitresses – they’re all nice and they all have kind eyes if that’s who they choose to be. He wasn’t any different from any other customer. Tap tap tapping away at the base of the booth. At his thoughts. As the omelette dropped into his hollow stomach.

And he’d leave with the chime of the bell like he did every week because you can’t leave without it. And the wind would dare break his hair slicked back with that greasy old hair gel but it was too strong. He was too strong. He told himself that as he trudged down the road leading endlessly down the side length of the weeping forest.

I just wish there’d been more for me, he thought.

He was thinking about the food. The menu. The combinations of plates that could have been slung in front of him. But it was more than that.

He pushed a hand through his hair. Not that he needed to. Not that he really needed to do anything, but walk on.


The overheard conversation that inspired this piece:

I was walking past a park where a guy on a picnic mat was telling his friends:

“Restaurants have definitely got better at serving vegetarian food. You used to go to restaurants and ask for vegetarian food and they’d be like “oh do you want an omelette?” But now they’re really good.”


I hope you enjoyed reading the first post in my new series.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or even share your own short creative writing piece using the same prompt!


5 Things I Learnt When Writing The First Draft Of My First Novel

During lockdown, I (finally!) embarked on writing my novel! This is something I’ve been planning on doing for such a long time, and so I’m really glad I pushed myself to sit down and churn it all out.

I’ve done a lot of writing over the years – short stories, poetry, a novella in my early teenage years – but I’d never completed a novel, so this was a new kind of journey for me!

I found that it was a very very long process, not even in the span of time (I aimed to complete it within two months), but the amount of dedication and consistency that has to be committed to get it done. Some days I really didn’t want to write but I knew I had to!

However, overall, I feel like I learnt a lot, so I want to share this with you all. I’m sure you writers out there can relate! And perhaps it will give you some positivity and motivation for your own novel.

 

Here are 5 Things I Learnt When Writing My Novel:

 

1 – Just when you think you’ve come to a standstill, and that you can’t write anything more of value, you will find a way. Every time.

2 – Sometimes you will hate writing. You really won’t feel like it. But it’s worth pushing through those parts for the moments when you feel really proud of yourself, when you feel like what you’re saying really matters, and that it can be something truly great.

3 – Trust yourself. Trust that whatever complications are forming within your thoughts of self-doubt, you will be able to fix when it comes to editing. Because nothing is perfect first time round, but that does not mean it is a waste.

4 – Writing is scary. It’s frightening when you’re writing something that means a lot to you, but equally feels like a huge looming statue over your head that might topple and break at any moment. But it is fear that produces the best results.

5 – Don’t judge the first draft. Mine was a lot shorter than I expected, and when I read it back, there were moments when I questioned whether it was good enough, or if anyone would even like it, but the first attempt is never perfect.

 

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Now that the first draft is done, I am onto the editing process!

I wish everyone the best of luck with their own writing projects. Let me know what you’re working on in the comments below! Or if you have any writing advice of your own.

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Goodreads: mymindspeaksaloud

Weekly Wellbeing Challenge: Week 3

The challenge for this week was: Mindful Reading!

2020 has been my year of getting back into reading for fun and it has gone so much better than expected! Not only do I have a lot more time to read, now that we’re in lockdown, but I’ve created a routine where I read before I go to bed each night. It helps calm my mind and I always look forward to it!

For this challenge, I decided to focus on increasing my reading time by reading during the day too. Some days I sat out in the sun which was really lovely! Other days I sat in the conservatory with the fresh air flowing through the patio doors.

I decided to try something I’ve never tried before – having a “day” book and an “evening” book. This week, I read a non fiction novel in the day and a thriller in the evening, which made things more atmospheric!

I’m one of those people who never normally reads two books at once (unless it’s for studying purposes). I was having this discussion with one of my friends who is also really into books, and she said the same! We agreed that if we were reading two books at once, we’d end up ditching one of them and just focusing solely on the other!

What I found out this week was that if I choose books that are completely polar opposites, such as a non fiction, self-help book that is written in a more scientific way, and then a thriller novel that is completely fictional with made up characters, then my brain doesn’t get confused. I can easily switch between the books and I don’t need to remind myself what details are from which world and so on (since the non fiction is in the real world, after all!)

I can’t say I’ll be following this two-book rule forever – in fact, I’ve now finished one of the books so I’m back to one again! It was an interesting experiment though, and it’s a good way of consuming multiple types of books in a daily routine.

How did you get on with the Weekly Wellbeing Challenge this week?

Let me know in the comments!

And if you’d like to join the Weekly Wellbeing Challenge (an email newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday!), you can sign up here.

Empty Voice [Microfiction Competition Entry Round 2!]

A couple months ago I posted my story from the first round of the NYC Microfiction Competition. I made it to Round 2 so thought I’d share my entry with you again.

Good luck to anyone else who is taking part!

The prompts for Group 15 were:

Genre: Horror

Action: Washing the dishes

Word: Talent

 

I’m home, but I don’t feel at home. I sit on the sofa in the front room, the streetlamps outside casting a subtle light in the darkness. It feels real – being alone with the tears that stain my face from the memory.

Get off me.

It’s just as dark as it was that night, but this darkness calms me. I don’t see a talent to sadness, but I think he did.

The gentle rumble of cars lulls me to a sleep-like state. They sound like his voice in my ear, but I know with every increase they’ll slink away into the night. I can’t make out what they’re saying. I could always make out what he was saying.

Get off –

A car siren wails. My eyes shoot open. A figure stands by the window. I know he isn’t really there.

I wash the dishes for a while. The bubbles pop each of my nerves until I remain an empty body in an empty house. I think we do anything we can to distract ourselves.

Get –

Turns out when something wants to get in, it will.

The wind thrusts open the window and he stands before me, fingers curling around my neck.

I dangle there a while – in his strangled grip, in a dream-like state of craving and hurt. All I can do is smile and hope to wake up to the pain.

Those three words tickle the edge of my tongue.

 

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

walking. [flash fiction]

sometimes I walk and I feel immersed in nature, picking up leaves in my mind and admiring the breeze as it carries people on their separate journeys. Other times, I can’t seem to get out of my head. Everytime I focus on the outside world my mind internalises my thoughts until I forget where I am, what I’m doing, where I’m going. I guess the brain is clever in that way; it does what it wants to do. And all we can do is try our best to control it in the right direction.

rain walks. [flash fiction]

It’s like being in a whole other world – in the rain. The darkness sliding down my throat and radiating the slow warmth of each streetlight through my skin… I feel it. I feel it in the water that cleanses me of the dirt – the night that exists only in the day. ironically now, in the darkness, it all dissipates. I feel low like the puddle below my feet but just as alive as the sky as it pours out everything it has been hiding. It is a moment of honesty. that’s why we all hide from it, shoving our hoods over our eyes or screaming for cover. but sometimes we’ve got to accept it. sometimes it’s necessary to bask in the real world. and this is real… allowing ourselves to become the rain as we drop to sleep, falling into the next day…

remember this. [flash fiction]

it’s okay to holler to the wind. if you want. if you feel safe doing so. if your words seek no other home and you wish for them to be caught in something fleeting.

sometimes temporary is best.

this world likes to be permanent. we like to be permanent. we hate on fluctuating weather and people bouncing, but how else are we meant to learn?

it’s okay to holler to the wind because if you never holler to the wind you don’t go anywhere.

you don’t have to go, but you don’t have to stay either.

remember that.

The Souls of War [Microfiction Competition Entry!]

At the weekend, I took part in the NYC Microfiction Challenge 2019! It is a competition with hundreds of contestants who all work in under 24 hours to produce a piece of microfiction based on three prompts. This is the first time I’ve entered a competition like this before so it was most definitely a challenge, but I really enjoyed myself!

Here is my entry below!

My prompts were:

Genre: Historical Fiction

Action: Turning off a light

Word: Float

 

 

Ypres, Belgium. 1914.

 

I crouch in the trenches. Men line up like dominoes waiting for bullets to knock them down. One by one by one by –

One foot over the barbed wire and we’re facing No Man’s Land, plucking courage out of the reminder that one day we might go home.

I used to think there was a story for war. As I lined up a few months ago, with no idea what I signed up to, I thought war was strategic – it’s always had a beginning and end. But I live in the unknown. War doesn’t plot itself out.

I take each day as it comes, shuffling past men as we scuttle across the duckboards. No more than a glance, yet so much strength and care in our words.

“Hold fire!”

 

My hands often shake along with the ground. I light a match for comfort. Boots pound across the mud just as loud as the bullets that knock them down. It is no place to call home.

I thought the end would be when the war stopped, but as shells are thrown over into our territory, I watch lives end every day. Unlike the rush of war, the smoke floats gently into the sky. Bodies drift up to heaven as if there is an honour in dying – maybe there is.

I blow out the match, turning off the light.

The light of soldier’s lives switch off across the country.

We are all left in darkness.

 

I never give half of my heart to anything. [poem]

I never give half of my heart to

anything.

stitched up like a blanket

it protects itself,

bounded together

so whole it can’t be

broken.

 

(if given away,

it is swallowed whole)

 

the stitches do not come undone

because I do not love things in

parts.

I could not love anything in

parts because what would be the

point of loving at all?

 

you’d think the strength of my heart

would keep me safe;

it only means that sometimes

I have a heart full of

all the sunshine in the world

and other times

I don’t have a heart at all.

 

(given away too much)

 

then, I sit and wait.

 

 

wait for it to come back.

 

 

meaning behind this poem:

whenever I invest in something, whether that is a friendship or a hobby or giving advice, I always go into it with my whole heart. this is what produces some of my best creativity and best connections (like my decision to invest time in this blog!) but it also means I’m easily hurt when things go wrong. feeling in extremes means I sometimes have to distance myself from things/situations to prevent a drop in emotions which sometimes is super hard to explain to people! (because it seems like I don’t care, when in reality I care too much). however it’s part of who I am, and I’m learning to accept the fact that being sensitive is a good thing.

You can view the photo alongside this poem over at my instagram here: @mymindspeaksaloud

Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

 

fighting the dark clouds. [flash fiction]

I wrote this piece a few days ago. It was one of those moments where I just felt down for no reason at all, despite everything going so well lately. All my blog posts have been happy and positive recently and I love that, but I always want my blog to remain wholeheartedly me, even on the days when I’m not so happy. So this is something a bit more personal. I don’t know why these feelings came back – maybe it was the weather or starting uni or hormones or an array of reasons – but, regardless of any of this, feelings are always valid. And I’m learning to trust in my ability to overcome them. 

 

 

I know when that dark cloud is falling over me. I know that now and you’d think it’d be easier because I know, but it isn’t.

It’s something I can never pinpoint, but it happens. I know it happens when suddenly I’m a distant star, staring at this galaxy of blended people like I’m not really part of anything. Like I can be seen, I can be heard, but my wails only rattle inside my chest and all you see are my smiles. Nervous smiles.

I know it happens when I start to feel empty. Neutral. A feeling that isn’t really captured by either of these words but I just can’t find the right one. The feeling of just being stuck inside one stagnant emotion in a moving world, like suddenly I’ve lost the control to move about the world like a functioning being. Physically, I can. Emotionally, I’m too far gone.

I know it happens when I wake up and I sit here and I want to write things like this when two weeks ago I was in a world of summer and fun and real smiles and a happiness I hadn’t felt in a very long time, if ever. And in contrast, I feel stupid.

The reality is that if the world and other people and the climate can change, so can I. The reality is that you have to live in the moments in between before you find your footing again and that’s what I’m doing; that’s what you’re all doing even if you don’t know it yet.

When I sit here and I feel myself sinking into the ground it’s easy to let it happen. It’s easy to live my life like a ghost walking through crowded corridors because that’s what I did. That’s what I did at my worst and I don’t want to be my worst anymore.

Instead, I’ll put on my shoes and I’ll walk. I’ll walk until my feet hurt instead of my insides. I’ll walk until the beat of the music in my chest is out of happiness, not fear. I’ll walk until I’ve walked until I walk until the walk comes to an end. And I just have to trust the end will be bright.