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

5 Things I’m Grateful For This February (2020)

Here’s my monthly reflection on gratitude!

 

Going out of my comfort zone

This is something I try and do as often as I can because it encourages self-development, but I feel like I did a lot of it this month. I had a lot of scenarios that made me feel particularly anxious, such as reading out my creative writing in class and doing a presentation in front of my seminar group. These are things that, back when I was really struggling with social anxiety, I used to avoid at all costs. However, this month I forced myself to do them, but with kindness. I reminded myself that the danger was all in my head and practiced positive affirmations in front of the mirror. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it involves speaking aloud positive phrases to yourself to change the way your mind thinks. I used the phrases ‘I am confident’, ‘I am likeable’, and ‘I can do this’ and I really noticed the way it made me feel more confident and happy within myself.

 

Seeking internships

Following on from going out of my comfort zone, I also sent out some speculative emails for potential work experience. Since, I’m nearing the end of my degree, my goal at the moment is to get as much experience as I can and learn more about the working world and how I will best fit into it. I had a couple informal interviews (one over the phone and one in person) which I was a little nervous about, but they went well and I’m proud of myself for taking action.

 

Walking

Over the past month I’ve noticed, through the health app on my phone, that my average steps a day has increased a lot compared to previous months. I’m hardly walking 10,000 steps a day, but compared to my own previous statistics, I’m a lot more physically active. I think this is something that is hard at university, especially when I’m only required to be in uni for 6 hours a week – it means I have to be more intentional with going out for a walk. But I bought some walking boots a couple weeks ago and I’m planning on doing even more walking to boost my health and wellbeing. I’ve found that going for a morning walk is a great way to start the day feeling productive and refreshed.

Check out my other post on why walking is so important here.

 

Going to the cinema

Lately I’ve begun to really appreciate the experience of going to the cinema. Films are something I’ve always enjoyed, but I never used to go out to see them much – I suppose because society is so driven by online streaming sites now, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. But I’ve found that I never focus on a film in quite the same way as I do when I’m shut away in a darkened room in front of a big screen. I’ve found that it’s a great way to relax – to leave behind any worries – and fully immerse myself in something. I feel like in modern day, with technology and multi-tasking, it’s not often that we focus our attention on something for two hours, if at all, and it’s kind of sad really. The cinema is probably one of the only few places which encourages this.

Check out my film reviews from February below:

Jojo Rabbit

Little Women

 

Creative Writing

Last semester I didn’t study a module in creative writing and I kind of missed it. This semester I am so I’ve been doing a lot more writing and creative stuff! I’ve been working on my first assignment which is a 2000 word short story and I’m really enjoying creating a dystopian world for it. I’ve also been working on a separate project with my cousin (who is an artist) – she is painting portraits and I am writing short creative writing pieces to match each one. She is then having an exhibition showcasing these in April 2020 (in Brighton) and in June 2020 (in Burghfield) which is really exciting! So if you happen to be in one of these areas at the time, feel free to check it out! (message me for details)

 

Overall, I feel very grateful for the direction February has taken me. It’s been productive and creative and a good mix of work and enjoyment. Not to mention, I’m still really enjoying reading more books for pleasure!

 

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What are you grateful for this month?

Let me know in the comments below!

Take a peek at my social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

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…

An Exciting Opportunity!

The last week has been very exciting! A writing opportunity popped up and I’ve spent the week planning, writing and submitting stories which will be appearing on an app in the near future! The app company is focused on stress management – tracking stress, finding its root cause, and making changes for the future. One particular section is focused on stories that you can put earphones in and listen to when you’re feeling overwhelmed – this is the part I’m taking part in!

I didn’t expect all of this to happen so quickly but, after putting together these pieces of writing, I headed off to London a few days ago to go to Dean Street Studios! It was such an insane experience – I’ve never been to a recording studio before, but to visit one that a lot of famous and influential people have been to made it even more exciting!

I had a look around the various studio rooms, took a couple photos, and then listened to the recordings! It was such a strange but wonderful feeling having my writing read out by actors and recorded. It didn’t feel quite real – almost like it wasn’t my writing at all – and I had to keep reminding myself that it was!

It was really interesting seeing what goes on behind the scenes and how things are produced and put together. There is a lot more to voice acting than it would seem – it’s not just about the sound of the voice, but the pronunciation of words, the pacing, the emphasis on certain syllables of the words. Every little bit makes a difference and it’s important when trying to get across a certain type of message.

I had such a great day learning how it all worked, meeting some lovely people, and just enjoying the whole process! I’m really excited to see how it all turns out!

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You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

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