Roll On, Autumn

Autumn is fast-approaching, and I’m finally ready to say goodbye to England’s poor attempts at the season of summer. Sure, we had a couple of fleeting glimpses of sun, but the days are getting shorter, the winds are getting brisker and I am so ready for it all.

Now, I won’t lie, most of my excitement right now is skewing towards knowing Christmas is only three months away, but there are plenty of facets of Autumn that are getting me hyped up, too!

  1. Fashion

Autumn is the season of oversized jumpers, scarves and big, chunky boots. If you know me, you know I’m one of those terrible people who wears the same pair of shoes every day, no matter the outfit. Spring and summer had me living in my black converse (because, at heart, I am still a thirteen year old emo), but as the weather gets wetter, I’m ready to break out my burgundy boots again. I bought them last Christmas on sale, and I absolutely adore them. They’re some of the comfiest shoes I own, and I feel like they definitely give any outfit the “autumn finish”.

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My boots, taken last Christmas!

  1. Food, Baking and Hot Drinks

My favourite foods and drinks are anything that includes cinnamon and/or ginger. I can’t wait to have a nice hot chai latte on a day where it’s not so warm it’ll make me want to pass out!

Traditionally, my little sister is the baker of our house. Just last week she made a massive batch of gingerbread… all of which I proceeded to eat. Seriously. Everyone else in my house got a single cookie. However, I’m definitely going to try my own hand at baking in the coming months, and I’ll be sure to share any success stories (or, I suppose, hilarious failures) over here.

  1. Dog walking

I love walking my dog. Recently I’ve been unwell and that’s meant I haven’t been able to take him out, but now that my health is picking up I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of regularly going on our walks. I’m hoping that the colder weather will mean they’ll be a little longer, and I think it will be a good way to wake the both of us up when the temptation to crawl into my dressing gown and curl up with a book or film instead of moving all day is threatening to overwhelm me.

There are plenty of parts of autumn to be excited about, and I’ve barely scraped the surface with this post here, but these are a few of the things that come to mind when I consider autumn. Not to mention there’s Halloween, watching the leaves change colour (I live in a very green village which means you can see the seasons in a way you don’t get to in the city centre) and so much more.

What are you looking forward to? Or are you just waiting for autumn to pass so we can crack on with winter?

-K

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pannCREATIVE: My Favourite Poem

 

My Favourite Poem

My favourite poem is the five minutes, ten minutes, sixty minutes after she wakes up, when she squeezes her eyes closed and buries her face into the pillow, refusing to make eye contact with me because she knows I won’t allow her another moment of sleep if she should. My favourite poem is the soft noises she makes as I kiss her shoulders and back and pull her against my body, my nose pressed into the side of her neck. My favourite poem is, “I’ll wake up now.”

My favourite poem is how she peers around the bedroom wall when I get home, her face split into a grin as she watches me throw my keys onto the side. It’s the way she bounces on her tip toes and hops over to me, waiting eagerly for me to shed my layers of bags and coats and scarves and gloves before she throws her arms around my neck. My favourite poem is, “I missed you.”

My favourite poem is watching her cut the vegetables for dinner. My favourite poem is the face she pulls as she cuts the chicken with scissors because it’s easier than a knife. It’s her sliding a stick of celery across the counter to me because she knows if she doesn’t I’ll pick from her pile of chopped vegetables. It’s hands on her hips as she looks around the kitchen to see what she’s forgotten. My favourite poem is, “Will you put a timer on for the rice?”

My favourite poem is her arm around my shoulders. It’s the smile in the corner of her eye as she helps me remember how to breathe. It’s the way she closes down the laptop and moves it across the room so I can’t see it any more. It’s the way she pulls me past a shop window before I have a chance to see inside. My favourite poem is, “Hey, do you see that? Do you see it? No, it’s nothing, but I didn’t want you to look over there instead.”

On Writing

So, it’s November. It’s NaNoWriMo time – almost a week in so everybody is probably feeling pretty good! In my experience, the two week point is usually when I start to slack. I thought I would finally take a break from all of my university work to post this blog post – the tips I’ve found useful for actually completing pieces of writing, from one, young, unpublished writer to another. Or, you know, whoever is reading. Hello.

Finishing projects is something I always struggled with, as evidenced by all of my failed NaNoWriMo attempts and short stories. It’s why when I write fanfics I always write one-shot-fics – anything multi-chaptered and I know it’ll never get finished. However, I think I’ve sort of figured it out now. I actually won NaNoWriMo last November, and although university has put a hold on the redrafting process, I still came out of the month with a shiny and scribbly fully formed first draft.

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My complete first draft in all its awful glory

So, how did I make that leap from beginning to end? How did I achieve this big improvement? Well…

IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM

Where was I going wrong? That was obviously the first thing I needed to address. I found that, for me, all of my incomplete projects seemed to stem from a loss of steam. I would get very excited about an idea, jump in, write 10,000 words – and then I’d be exhausted, and bored, and I’d have no idea where it was really going, and I’d just… sort of… drift away…

It was also, of course, caused by no real plan time-wise. Spit out 10k in the first couple of days, feel proud, take a few days off, fall behind, feel stressed, feel guilty, drift away.

HOW DO I SOLVE THE PROBLEM?

I wasn’t sure if I was going to partake in NaNoWriMo last November. I’d tried to do it while juggling school before and it hadn’t ended well. I was leaning away from it – and then I got an idea. It was sitting in my Friday 4PM American Literature lecture at uni that I got the idea, and I couldn’t shake it. I decided that if I could organise my time effectively for uni then setting aside an hour or two a night that would otherwise just be spent clicking around the internet couldn’t be too difficult. And that was really it – one decision that solved the “I’m awful at organising my time” problem. I decided to organise my time*.

Now, the steam problem – that took more thought. I had my idea, which was all well and good, but that obviously wasn’t enough. I had to plan enough that I knew where I was heading. I didn’t have a super detailed outline, because I knew I wouldn’t have the time in the one month I had to prepare to properly research everything I needed to, but I had something. I had an ending I needed to reach, I had flimsy character outlines/relationships, and I had a problem that needed to be solved. For me, that was enough to get me through November and come out the other side with a very (very, very, very­) rough draft.

HAVE A GOAL

Now, I know NaNoWriMo comes with word-count goals, but that’s not the sort of goal I mean. I mean, every night when I sat down to write, at the beginning of my writing session, I thought, “Where do I want my characters to end up at the end of this chapter?” Sometimes fulfilling the goal meant reaching a problem for my characters to solve, sometimes it meant finding a new clue, and sometimes it meant finding an answer. But every chapter brought me closer to the Ultimate Goal – the ending I’d planned. If I was ever writing something that wasn’t steering my characters towards that goal, I knew it was unnecessary and that I was in danger of straying so far off track that I was unable to find it again. I’d reel it back in and direct my characters towards the goal.

I love engaging subplots – but what was important for me in the 30 days I had was telling a story from start to finish. If I got the bulk of it down, I could add more in later.

DO MORE THAN THE MINIMUM WHENEVER POSSIBLE

The daily word count goal for NaNoWriMo is 1,667 words. That didn’t give me enough wiggle room to be comfortable. That meant I would just about manage to scrape in a win – take the wrong day to slack and it’d be chaos. Instead, I set myself a minimum daily word count goal of 2,000. I knew I could do it – I could write 1k in 30 minutes when I was on a roll, so 2k wasn’t too much of a push. And then, I made sure to write until my characters had reached the goal I’d set them. If 2k didn’t hit it, I kept writing. The combination of these two goals – the story goal and the word count goal – helped me tremendously, and gave me enough wiggle room that eventually if life got in the way and I didn’t have as much time or energy, taking a day to write a little bit less didn’t really hurt me at all.

DON’T SLACK JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

If you take a look at my stats from last November, you’ll see that sometimes I was as much as double my target word count. I still wrote something every day. Sometimes I didn’t hit my 2k target – sometimes I only managed about 200 words, because sometimes life happens. But I was comfortable enough.

By ‘don’t slack’, what I really mean is – try your damn best to write every day. Write something. Writing 100 words is better than writing 0 words, and it keeps you in the habit of writing every day. Taking one day off can lead to two, and before you know it you’ve lost a week and a half. Write something.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE HELP AVAILABLE

Basically, word sprints were my saviour at times. I followed @NaNoWordSprints on twitter, and you have no idea how far just “write as much as you can in 20 minutes” can get you in your story. And it’s fun – people are having a laugh, sharing their accomplishments, sharing snippets of their story… it’s refreshing, and encouraging.

Writing buddies are godsends, and if you have the ability to go to a real-life writing meet up (with people you feel comfortable with, of course), take advantage of it! You’re writing because you love writing – so enjoy it.

I took a creative writing module in my second semester of uni this year, and for my portfolio I decided to write a 3,000 word short story (because I suck at poetry. Shout out to you poets. You rock!). Without going in to too much detail, my tutor kind of screwed me over with late-notice absences, lack of contact hours and just general time-wasting. I ended up writing my entire portfolio in the last… three? Four weeks of term?

I used a lot of the same techniques I’ve listed here. I had an idea, and I set myself a goal. The limited word count was a little tougher on me – I had to give enough detail that the story made sense, but every word was precious. I broke my story into three parts with three goals, all leading to the ultimate end goal. I ended up writing my whole first draft in one night.

I took advantage of feedback when it came to redrafting. In uni, we do an exercise where you read out your own piece, and then you shut up. You’re not allowed to say anything while the class discusses your story. You’re not allowed to explain or correct them. You just have to listen. It’s useful because when you publish a piece of work, you can’t chase down every reader and correct their interpretations. It meant that I could hear if something was unclear, or if something was so subtle that it wasn’t picked up at all. I could see if people were behind the characters I wanted them to be behind, and I could see if imagery was interpreted in the way I intended – if it wasn’t, that was my fault, not the fault of my readers. If my metaphor was so washy that nobody really got it, it was because I’d written a shitty metaphor.

I found it especially useful because I’d experimented a little with form and voice. Most of my short story was written in free indirect discourse, closely following one character. It allowed me to explore her attitudes, thoughts and feelings from a third-person voice. However, I broke up the parts of my story with a second, non-human voice – the voice of the sea, to be precise – and I felt that this needed to be distinct. I wrote these sections in first-person and in free verse (so, I guess, sort of poetry? But I still wouldn’t say it was good poetry). I experimented with position on the page – these sections were as much a picture as a poem. It was fun to play around with that.

Which is sort of my last tip.

HAVE FUN.

Let me know if you have any tips or tricks you find useful, or if you share any of mine! And, of course, I’m just a nobody on the internet, so feel free to think my tips are all dumb and ignore them entirely.

-K

TWITTER // INSTAGRAM // BLOGLOVIN’.

*This was probably helped by my then-recent decision to start keeping a bullet journal. The satisfaction of colouring in one of my to-do boxes was as good a reward as any.

pannCREATIVE: My Book

[This was the first creative piece I wrote for my Creativity module at uni, and it didn’t end up making it into my final portfolio. I decided to post it here. The assignment was to “rush” a book – what it would be about, what it would include, how, etc. This was my spin on that.]

A decent book needs a decent voice. A decent book about experience demands decent experiences, or at least the knowledge to decently fake those experiences. I do not have decent experiences. I do not have exciting tales of past adventures, and my voice is shaky at best. There are things I could write about experiencing, of course, because I am alive and so I have experienced, but my book would have no dramatic author lighting a cigarette and sipping on scotch, and it would have no battle-scarred narrator holding your hand and taking you through the first trees of a jungle.

My book would have scars. I have not left Britain since I was old enough to properly appreciate that I had, but I have battled in here. My book would retell the first time I tried spaghetti bolognese and decided it was the most simply delicious meal I had ever tasted, and it would retell how it turned to ash in my mouth, my throat trying it’s hardest to reject the food before it hit an empty stomach that squirmed with every piece of pasta that forced its way down. It would tell of my fast-developing hatred of school and the way my stomach clenched every morning I woke up and excitedly awaited bedtime. It would tell of how that want of sleep became bus rides wondering whether we could crash on such quiet roads, before becoming overcome with guilt at the thought of letting the other passengers come to harm just because I was so exhausted with trying to live.

I should write a book about growing up surrounded by a cloud of mental illness so thick it took over a decade to realise that my family, mentally, was the Other. I should write about how much I adore my family, but how absolutely exhausting it is to all hold each other upright when we all want to topple. It would talk about the guilt I felt for resenting my sibling for her attempts of suicide all while yearning for the same. I should tell people about the doubt. I should tell people how I worried I did not have enough reason to be depressed, and how that is not even how mental illness works. I should tell people about the drugs, and the advice, and how slowly I stopped seeing a doctor not because I was better but because I was so damn tired of his breezy dismissal. It should be an eye-opening account of a girl who took twenty years to admit she was depressed, and how I am not better but I am still kicking. But I won’t write that book.

I won’t write that book because of all the reasons I should. I still doubt the validity of my own mental illness even though I have studied and researched enough that I know that no one person has more ‘valid’ mental illness than any other. I won’t write that book because the guilt still consumes me every time I recall all of the horrible things I have thought and I am afraid that if I admit them I am permanently stamping myself as a terrible, irredeemable villain. I won’t write that book because my scars are still wounds and I am afraid they will always be wounds, and a braver or more elegant person should write that book. But their book will never be my story.

There are other books I should write, offshoots from the one tree that represents my life, entangling themselves beautifully with all of the darkest, heaviest pieces of myself, and with the branches that hang highest and proudest. I should write a book about falling in love. I should write a horribly cliché book about her smile and her eyes and her cackling laughter, but I won’t because I am selfish and I want to keep the softness of the curve of her neck to myself, and I want to keep the way my chest swells with pride when I make her laugh to myself, and I want to keep the way she babbles in her sleep to me all to myself.

I could write about her discreetly. I could write about falling in love with another girl in a terribly Catholic school. I could write about the fact that the students were over us within a month but the adults, the teachers, the people I had believed I could trust singled me out, threatened me, made me so scared to come into school that I had to jump over their heads and ask the headmaster for help. I could write about how he was surprisingly angry at them, about how he assured me that there was no need to worry. I could write about how I believed him but the fear did not leave and I ran from that school as soon as I could.

I could write that book, but I won’t. I won’t write that book because I refuse to let my voice be that of a scared teenager. Scared teenage voices are important and beautiful and they hold the hands of thousands of frightened youths, but that is not my voice, and I cannot pretend that it is. I will leave that story to someone less selfish than me; I will leave that story to a willing guide to those troubled teens and I will walk on. They will not tell my story, but they will tell an important one.

The problem with writing a book from my voice is that I am tired of it. I am tired of my own disillusioned experience and I am tired of hearing myself sarcastically mutter, “this is fine.” I am in love with reading because there is little more precious than those few hours where I am allowed to be someone who isn’t depressed or poor or stuck in a town that she loves but knows too well. I am in love with reading because I am in love with other voices, and I am in love with writing because I do not have to relive my life. Being a writer means my voice is every voice, and that is the story I need to tell.

I need to tell the story of something I am not bored of. I need to tell the story of the girl with the daunting family legacy that rips her from her home and forces her to have an adventure. I need to tell the story of a girl who is not the chosen one but is the one that just so happened to be around and so was chosen. I need to tell the story of a girl with the fire of a dragon and the cunning of a fox, because those are things I do not have.

The story I want to write is not about me. The story I want to write is about Her. It is about the sun and how after thirteen days without rain the sky feels so desperate for moisture that it is like walking through a fine powder. It would tell in great detail about the crack of the sky as it splits and rain pounds the tarmac like gunfire and every drop makes your skin feel like it is being torn to shreds. It would tell about the way fear of the ferocity of the storm mingles with excitement in your chest because it feels new, because you had forgotten how the air tastes sour after rainfall and that the tarmac smells like winter and summer are locked together in a dance for dominance. And the heat! The rain stops and it is suddenly still so hot that you are overwhelmed with regret that you fled from its forceful embrace and you long for rain to return so you can join it, so you can remember a cool evening and not just the way walking barefoot made your feet feel like they were made of blisters and your vision swim whenever you entered a building. In the story I want to write you would find me in the fickleness of the weather, undecided as to whether I was up or down, always on the edge of my seat waiting for the downpour.

The story I want to write would have a festival I have never seen. The streets would crawl with people decked out in colour, the town kissed by a rainbow and blessed by an artist’s favourite palette. There would be music so loud and clumsy with joy that it beats the most perfectly performed symphony and every child is screaming along with it, tiny feet pattering the floor with passionate dance steps. The young would rub elbows with the old. Boundaries would be lost and every lone attendee would become part of the whole. Art would drip from every person marching down the street, in poems and songs and masks and paint, splattered over shoulders and sticking to old clothes with new memories. The festival itself would be a celebration of everything. The festival would be a celebration of the fact that everyone at the festival has made it that far. The festival would celebrate the fact that every person there has survived every single thing they have encountered up until then, and it would be a reminder that there is no reason they cannot keep surviving. The festival would be a celebration of hope, and in the story I want to write you would find me in the spirit of that festival, clinging on for dear life.

In the story I want to write there would be a train journey. Through the train window there is barely time to glimpse the world around you; it is an odd experience to move so fast and yet be stuck in one place, unable to move. There would be green fields and grey platforms and yellow shores all within seconds of each other, and yet She would remain in the same dirty white room the entire time. In the story I want to write the people around her would not ask to chat as they boarded and exited the train. They would sit beside her and bury their nose in their book or newspaper and She would sit, eyes focused on a smudge on the glass because to look beyond the window would be to accept the journey, and just because she is already on it does not mean she is ready for that. In the book I want to write you would find me in the nervous turmoil of fast and stopped, of inside and outside, of setting out on a journey to an uncertain destination because life does not slow down long enough to give us time to think.

If I were to write the full story of Her you would need to see all the people that she brushed arms with, all the people that moulded and shaped her and all of the people that made her shape herself. You would need to see their good intentions and see the crumbling road they paved. You would see her mother and father, well-meaning but overwhelmed, and see how she tried to find her own footing but was too unsure and slipped on those rocks just the same. You would need to meet the friends she found at the bottom and see how when they made it back to the top the rest were already gone. You would need to see the rats, the common rats you would already know but the gentleman rats, too. The gentlemen rats, and the gentlewomen rats, of course, who have climbed from the bottom and lost their hope. They are selfish because that’s what life requires, because you can fake class just as easily as all the rest of them and nobody will question the stench of your elegance. They are rotten inside and She will see them and understand them and reject them, because understanding is not acceptance and she will hold onto her hope until it is plucked from her cold hands.

There would be places. There would be so many places that I have never seen and that is why they would be there. There would be red clay begging for a stream that has long dried away, and there would be rivers snaking into the distance, swarming with life and undoubtedly death, too. There would be forests that were unnaturally red and woods of the most shocking green. There would be slate grey rivers and ice blue streams. There would be yellow sand and brown rocks. There would be heat and burning and there would be winds so furiously cold that you would swear the Anemoi had left Greece and were blaming you for their confusion as they tried to find their way back. The nature would be a character itself; it would influence her story, it would shape her decisions and it would be her support and her antagonist. It would be more than a backdrop to her story because that is not the way the world works. How could it be there and be anything less than what it is?

If I were to write a book I would lend my voice to a new story. I have lived and am living my story and it has given me my voice and I will hold it proudly, but it is not the story that needs to be told. I am not enough of a writer to do justice to those people that have shaped me, to the parents and to the friends and to the rats. I am not enough of a writer to tell you about the days of rain and how the grass behind the school building was always waterlogged and we would squelch home, shrieking and bouncing on the balls of our feet. I am not enough of a writer to tell you about the fairgrounds and the lost pennies and the way the excitement buzzed from person to person so vibrantly you could hear it in their voice. I am not enough of a writer to tell you about the woods, about falling into patches of nettles and coming out unstung, about the trees we climbed despite our parents’ warnings, about the fields of wheat and the walls we climbed over, about the rotting plank of wood we placed over the stream so we no longer had to jump from bank to bank. I am not enough of a writer to tell you about the car rides and train journeys and the way anxiety spread to my fingertips for so long that I didn’t realise it was anxiety until it left and only upon its return could I painfully give it its name. I am not enough of a writer to tell you about the ups and downs, and downs, and downs, and I am not enough of a writer to admit that up is still a way off and to admit it in a way that tells you I believe that it is still there, or that I will arrive there one day. I am not enough of a writer to tell you that sometimes bad things happen and there is no reason for it, and sometimes things don’t get better in the way you think they would. I am not enough of a writer to confidently tell you to make the choices I made and I am not enough of a writer to tell you that any outcome is better than any other.

I am not enough of a writer to tell you my truth but I believe I could tell you another truth. I could fabricate something I believe in and it would be more important than my story would ever be. I could make up a story and believe every word so deeply that it becomes true, and in that story you will see me far more clearly than you would see me in any experience I could retell you because you would hear my voice and glimpse my attitudes and feel my values, and that is the story I would write. That is the story my voice is shaped for.

There will always be more stories to tell, and there will always be new characters to add, and there is no point in telling you my story because it will never be yours and yours will never be mine, but I will tell you a story that we can share because it is no one’s story. I will tell you a story that can be anyone’s story.

Life Updates

Since I’ve been AWOL for the past couple of months, I thought that I’d write a nice, short little life-updates blog post. Honestly, not much has happened – my absence has mainly been due to anxiety and mental illness and not because I’ve been busy – but I still have a couple of fun things to share!

  1. Pokémon GO

Pretty obvious from my Pokémon GO book tag post, but I’m also joining in with the craze. I’ve waited years to be a Pokémon trainer and now my time has finally arrived! I’ve really enjoyed going out on walks so often whereas before now I rarely went out unless I had a destination in mind – just wandering around, discovering new places and visiting some places I’ve always loved (like the Albert Dock) has been fab. Plus, the walking has inspired me to get back on the work-out train, because if I’m going to get fit I might as well go all in!

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Sunset, taken from the Albert Dock

  1. Hair Changes

I’ve changed my hair pretty frequently the past few months. I dyed it red, I shaved in an undercut, I dyed the long part of my hair silver and blonde, and now? I just went all in and shaved it all off. My hair has been giving me some confidence issues for a while, which is why I’ve been playing around with it so much. I decided that maybe I should just start over, and after numerous friends assured me they thought I would suit a shaved head, I went for it.

I’ve honestly never felt more confident, and I’ve been feeling a lot better about posting selfies!

mee

Pictured: Me, liking a selfie of myself for once

  1. Cosplay

I recently found myself in a cosplay rut. There was nothing I was interested in, projects I’d been excited about now made me feel nervous, and my confidence was at absolute zero. Then I watched Voltron: Legendary Defender and I was suddenly excited all over again.

Some upcoming plans that I hope to make a good start on as soon as I have some extra cash are:

Lance (Voltron)

Roman Torchwick (RWBY)

Kunizuka and/or Kagari (Psycho Pass)

Leon Kuwata (Danganronpa)

Plus one or two things that should be happening soon but I’m trying my best to keep quiet…

  1. Books

I’ve got a handful of new releases that I’m waiting to begin, but at the moment I’ve begun re-reading A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. This was my favourite series growing up, and reading it now as an adult has reminded me just how fantastic, funny and unfortunate this world really is. These books may not have had the cultural impact of some other MG/YA books, but they’re a series I’d recommend to every reader – not only because they are a fabulous way to help young readers develop their vocabulary.

With the promise of an upcoming Netflix series, now is as good a time as any to delve into the tragic lives of the Baudelaire Orphans if you’ve never before experienced them.

Since I said I was going to keep this short, I’ll leave it at that. Let me know in the comments what’s been going on with you, or if you have any opinions on anything I’ve mentioned!

-K

TWITTER // INSTAGRAM // BLOGLOVIN’

Pokémon GO Book Tag

pokemon-go-book-tag

Listen – I have loved Pokémon for as long as I can remember. I mean it. I’ve played the games, watched the anime, had guides and books and board games and pokéballs and socks. The first person I ever fancied – a boy that was in my class – I fancied for literally around five years, and then I stopped fancying because after I mentioned Pikachu one day he said “Pokémon isn’t cool anymore.”

Naturally, I’m ecstatic about Pokémon GO. Being a Pokémon trainer is my dream, and if this is as close as I’m going to get then I’ll take it. I got the game a little after everyone else because I had an old phone, but I worked hard to catch up to all of my friends because I wanna be the very best.

Anyway, when I saw Read At Midnight had created a Pokémon GO book tag, I knew I had to do it. Combining two things I love is a sure fire way to get me to join in. Let’s do this.

Pokemon-Tag-01Starters

For the record, I always pick the fire starter.

I’ve loved reading since I was a tiny thing, like most book bloggers. I remember my mum sitting in our shared bedroom (us meaning my two sisters and I – we had a small house) and reading The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to us. The first books I remember reading independently that really set me on this path were The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. As I got a bit older I discovered things like Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events (which I am currently reading to my girlfriend who never experienced the tragic lives of the Baudelaire Orphans in all of their… well, misfortune). These books really, truly, are what made me fall in love with reading. I can still find echoes of Lemony Snicket in my own writing.

Pokemon-Tag02Pikachu

Pikachu was one of the first Pokémon I caught when I started playing GO, and now whenever I complain about not having seen a Pokémon (WHAT I’D DO FOR A VULPIX OR A MANKEY) my girlfriend likes to point this out. Apparently, I’m not allowed to complain.

Harry Potter is an easy answer for this one, but considering I’ve already mentioned that once I’ll pick a classic classic. I’m studying English at uni, so I’ve read my fair share of them. My first thought was Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett, which I hated whilst reading it but absolutely fell in love with once I began to analyse it, but that’s a play so I won’t count it. My favourite module so far on my degree has been 19th Century American Literature, and I loved pretty much everything I studied on that – especially Edgar Allan Poe. I love the Dupin stories so I think The Purloined Letter” could definitely go here… this is tough.

I think I’m actually going to have to disregard American Literature (although The Last of the Mohicans and Moby Dick are both interesting reads and tremendous fun to study), and say Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I do love the book itself, but more than anything I love the inspiration I find in Mary Shelley herself.

Pokemon-Tag-03-Zubat

Zoobs, you plague me in every cave I visit on my Nintendo and lurk around every corner I walk in my real life. When will I be free of this curse?

I try not to be a dick when it comes to any kind of media anymore, because hating things just because they’re popular is something 13-year-old me would do and I like to think I’ve grown as a person. However, I have a truckload of problems with the C*ptive Pr*nce series, and I really wish people would at least stop pretending that the text isn’t enormously problematic.

Pokemon-Tag-04-Ditto

I can’t wait for Ditto to appear in the game. The episode of the anime where the Ditto can’t change its face is too cute – I love seeing the various Pokémon with his cute little smile!

I’m struggling to think of a book I love that reminds me of other books, but Say Her Name by Juno Dawson has a lot of horror tropes that remind me of various TV shows and movies – you know, things like The Ring? Still, I absolutely love this book, it’s probably my favourite of all of Juno’s novels, and I think it would make an amazing TV miniseries.

Pokemon-Tag-05-Snorlax

Oh my God, I have seen one Snorlax and he ran away from me. It was devastating. I want this big soft bundle of sleepy cuddles. Come home, Snorlax.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to look into the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson for ages, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. I really will… but I’m really trying to cut down on the amount of books I buy before I read at least some of my TBR pile.

Pokemon-Tag06-Gengar

Squidge. I love Ghost Pokémon.

Both Only Ever Yours and Asking For It by Louise O’Neill kept me up all night because I couldn’t put either of them down. They’re both incredibly powerful, important, harrowing reads, and I would definitely recommend them  (though Asking For It is extremely triggering for rape and so I would always trigger warn any one I recommended that to).

Pokemon-Tag07-NidokingQueen

I’m glad Read By Midnight clarified that this was not expected to be a heteronormative answer.

Me being me, it’s very rare that a ship I actually care about becomes canon, so prepare to disagree with me! I think, honestly, my longest standing book ship is Remus/Sirius from Harry Potter, which I will ship until my dying breath (no, I don’t hate Tonks, I love Tonks, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop shipping Remus/Sirius).

Pokemon-Tag08-Rapidash

I love Rapidash. I had no problem collecting Ponytas until I was one away from being able to evolve a Rapidash, and I haven’t see one since.

I’m not sure if everyone would agree, but to me The Foxhole Court by Nora Sagavic (which immediately became my favourite series of all time after I read it) fits this. It’s a fantastic book that honestly I can talk about for hours. I can’t do it justice, and I urge everyone to read it (the first book is free on kindle!) but PLEASE look up a list of triggers before you do! It’s phenomenal and everything is addressed properly and well, but it can be incredibly triggering. Some triggers include: physical/emotional/sexual abuse, including rape, drugs, self harm, alcohol, torture… but it is amazing and LGBTQIA+ and so beautifully written. And I hate sports and yet I have never been more excited at a game than reading those Exy matches.

Pokemon-Tag09-Eevee

I love Eevees. I love every Eeveelution. I will never get tired of them. I can’t wait for the other Eeveelutions to make it into Go and you bet your ass I am going to make sure I have every one (I do that with every single Nintendo playthrough anyway).

I’m actually kind of… blah, about spin offs. I don’t mind when it’s new characters in the same world, but I get a bit tired of processing all the emotions that come with letting characters go and saying goodbye or continuing to develop my own detailed ideas of what happens next and then suddenly having those characters taken back and experience things that make them completely different people. Like, listen, I understand authors can do what they want and it’s not my place to tell them to stop, but I don’t tend to care about spin offs for this reason.

That said, I’m excited to finally take a look at the new Lemony Snicket series because since reading ASOUE again I’ve remembered how deeply I love this world, and I can’t wait to dive back into its secrets.

Pokemon-Tag14-Magikarp

MAN you know when people get salty when they hatch a Magikarp? WHY? You need 400 candies to evolve a Gyarados and you get more candies when you hatch them! If I hatched nothing but Magikarps until I had a Gyarados I’d still be happy.

Although I haven’t finished the series yet (I have the last book but I haven’t started it yet), I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Did I Mention I Love You? By Estelle Maskame. I don’t usually care about books concerning Heterosexual Romance, but I did really, really enjoy it.

Pokemon-Tag12-Legendary

If you think I’ll give up playing GO before I have a Legendary, you are wrong. So very, very wrong.

Anyway, for some reason I still haven’t picked up The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I’m excited to finally pick it up and maybe even more excited to read The Ketterdam Duology afterwards. I might even end up reading Six of Crows first…

Pokemon-Tag15Mew-MewTwo

I can’t even find a Mankey. It’s going to take me god knows how long to find a Mew/Mewtwo.

Anyway, without beating around the bush, I’m poor. I’ve never really fussed much over collector’s edition because they’re expensive and I don’t like to long for something I have no chance of owning. That said, the Discworld Collector’s Library copy of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is beautiful… but my copy of Good Omens (I went to abbreviate it and then released it’s GO) is signed by Neil with a personalised message so… I’ll keep my tatty paperback, thank you!

Pokemon-Tag10-Egg

Everyone seems to be hatching Vulpixes and Vulpix is my favourite Pokémon and yet here I am, hatching Drowzees.

I’ve heard a lot about Caraval by Stephanie Garber and it sounds right up my street. Despite my extreme phobia of clowns (and yes, I mean phobia, not fear), anything vaguely circus-themed is sure to appeal to me. I’ll definitely be checking it out.

Pokemon-Tag11-Lure-Module

Lures haven’t really been attracting anything interesting near me lately, but still, there’s nothing more pleasant than heading out to a pokestop in a nice secluded area and having a picnic taking turns setting lures.

Maureen Johnson is probably this author for me, closely tied with Juno Dawson. Their books are like pick-me-ups to me, and I always feel a bit better after one. I actually discovered Juno because she was doing a joint tour with Maureen and I’ve loved her since!

Pokemon-Tag13-Server-Down

I haven’t actually seen this screen since I started playing, even though I constantly see the spinning pokeball as it attempts to connect to the server.

I have a really bad memory and even when I’m excited about something, if I wait too long I tend to forget about it and miss its release. I haven’t been waiting forever, but September can’t come fast enough if it’s going to bring me The Graces by Laura Eve.

This was a really fun tag! It took me a lot longer than I thought it would to complete, but it’s definitely made me think about joining in with more tags in the future.

Also, VALOR.

-K

TWITTER // INSTAGRAM // BLOGLOVIN’

REVIEW: Rooster Teeth’s ‘DAY 5’

[[Minor spoilers for Day 5 episodes 1 and 2]]

If I should die before I wake…

Screenshot 2016-06-27 22.57.13

SO… WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Sobering up after a well-timed drug bender, addict Jake (Jesse C. Boyd) is fortunate enough – depending on what you count as ‘fortunate’ – to discover he’s one of the few members of the population still alive after an epidemic set in rendering sleep fatal. With most of the world already dead in their beds, and with fatigue and delirium beginning to set in, Jake teams up with a quick-thinking 13-year-old (Walker Satterwhite), an overnight doctor (Stephanie Drapeau) and a red-eye pilot (Davi Jay) to search for answers… but is sleeping again a possibility, or is it just a dream?

Day 5 is an apocalypse like no other.

BUT… WHO IS ROOSTER TEETH?

Alright, if you were referred here by me, you probably aren’t asking this question, but this is the part of the review where I throw in some production details, so bear with me.

Rooster Teeth is the company behind many internet sensations, including (but not limited to) the incredibly successful, longest-running-web-series-ever Red Vs Blue and their newer, also incredibly successful anime-style cartoon RWBY. Day 5 is their first dramatic series, and it seems set to be a hit. It doesn’t have the humour of the two aforementioned shows (though I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve cried my eyes out at both of them), but it’s clearly been injected with the same pure, undiluted brilliance.

AND… IS IT ACTUALLY ANY GOOD?

TL;DR: Yes

Since the next stop for a TV show after the mind is the page, I’m going to jump into reviewing the script. I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of Day 5 considering that I’ve never been a fan of apocalypse-style programmes, so shout out to writers Josh Flanagan and Chris Demarais for hooking me. There are no wasted words in Day 5: there is a clear understanding of the power of silence, especially with a concept such as this. Characters don’t always need to be discussing what’s going on – seeing Jake frantically running around his empty town is suspenseful enough to give us that squelching horror in the pits of our stomachs as we watch his futile efforts. There’s a good balance between desperation and denial and the sickening calm of acceptance:

“This is a nightmare. I just smoked some bad shit, and I’m gonna wake up soon. Wake up, Jake. Wake up. Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

“You are awake. Sorry, but you’re awake. Trust me. Otherwise, you’d be like them.

Day 5, Episode 1: Waking Nightmare.

There’s humour, too, but it’s not light-hearted at all. It’s clear that these characters are scared and when all hope is lost it’s better to theorise becoming a shark than to actually face the fact that you’re probably about to die. It’s raw, but it makes a nice change from panicked screaming and in-fighting or sleepless delusions.

I’m a big fan of the voices of each character, too. Jake is floundering, always seeming on the verge of tipping over but never quite ready to accept a fate. He’s a desperate drug-addict, but he’s also clearly carrying a lot of pain and baggage and ready to accept some sort of flimsy sense of responsibility. Sam is a brilliant 13-year-old, but smart as he is, he’s still 13. He’s scrappy, but he’s as scared as any kid would be. Ally and Ellis are both smart in their own rights but provide obvious contrasts to each other: Ellis is your typical lone-wolf character who has accidentally picked up a scrappy gang of misfits, but he’s still ready to set off solo at any point, whereas Ally is insistent upon sticking together – there’s safety in pairs.

The different settings all provide unique explorations of survival: a house of regulated pill-popping, a systematic hospital, a literal dance-till-you-drop rave. These are complimented beautifully by the actual shot-choices, but I never studied film and am less-able to properly discuss that. Shit looks good, my dude. It’s obvious when we move from reality to hallucination but it isn’t jarring enough to pull you out of the world you’re engrossed in. 45ish minutes isn’t enough.

I can’t fault the acting. Boyd has done a brilliant job of getting viewers invested in Jake – we want him to succeed and we feel his pain despite his obvious (huge) personality flaws. He’s not a bad person because he’s an addict, evidenced by his close friendship with 13-year-old Sam – possibly influenced by Jake’s loss of his younger sister to the sleep epidemic. Jake also isn’t just magically better because the situation calls for him to take control – he’s struggling, and clearly finding a way to sleep won’t be the end of his list of problems to fix. Satterwhite likewise does a brilliant job of portraying a teenager who is in many ways the opposite of Jake: Sam has his own issues and his own secrets, but he uses initiative and is perhaps (…well, definitely) more useful to the group than Jake is. But, as previously stated, he’s still 13, and he’s still scared.

REALLY? NOTHING TO FAULT?

My dude, we are two episodes in. I honestly don’t really have anything to fault at this point. My only hope at this point is that more episodes of this quality are in store for us, and that any more questions we have are answered in due time. I’m going to stick around to see, and I hope others give it a chance.

-K

Day 5 airs Sundays at 4:00pm CT for Rooster Teeth sponsors.

You can become a Rooster Teeth sponsor here.

You can find all available episodes of Day 5 here.

Episodes are also uploaded to the Rooster Teeth YouTube channel one week after they premiere on the site.

Songs Shaping and Saving 21 Year Old Me

Ah, music. It’s important to all of us, probably. It makes us happy, it makes us cry, it gets us through long bus journeys and the daily walk to uni (or, you know, daily walk to wherever your daily walk takes you to). Its influence really sets in during our teenage years, I think, and it never really leaves you. Sure, tastes develop and change, but it’s all still music, you know?

13-year-old me was all about the music. I bought a guitar (that I still can’t play), I bought the Kerrang! Magazine every Wednesday, I only really hung around with people who had similar music taste as me. I’m not as… obnoxious as I was then, though. I don’t judge people on the music they like any more. I can appreciate a good JBiebs song even if I’m not a fan of him as a person, and 1D has some bangers. I like dancing to music in clubs and I think pop music is fun as heck. I’m varied now.

At the start of 2015, I made a playlist of songs to get me through the year. All positive, fighting, keep-moving-forward songs. I didn’t do that this year, and I haven’t touched that playlist in a long time. However, lately I’ve been thinking about the influence music still has over me. I’m not in the best place in my life, and music is one of the things that keeps me moving. Here are a few of the songs shaping and saving 21-year-old me.

IMG_0123

SONG: Migraine – Twenty One Pilots

FAVOURITE LYRIC(S):

They’re trying to eat me, blood running down their chin,
And I know that I can fight or I can let the lion win,
I begin to assemble what weapons I can find,
‘Cause sometimes to stay alive you gotta kill you mind.

Shadows will scream that I’m alone,
But I know we’ve made it this far, kid.

WHY?:

I think there’s something, for me, about the struggle, the perceived helplessness, and then – the fight. “Am I the only one I know waging my wars behind my face and above my throat?” God damn, I feel that. My mind is my biggest enemy, and sometimes it can feel like the only person that doesn’t want me to succeed is my own head. It’s what stops me from getting out of bed in the morning, from picking up my pen and doing the work I know I really need to do now. But, like 21p say – we’ve made it this far.

SONG: The Ballad of Me and My BrainThe 1975*

FAVOURITE LYRIC(S):

Well, I think I’ve gone mad – isn’t that so sad?
What a shame; you’ve lost the brain that you never had.

WHY?:

I love The 1975. This isn’t even my favourite song off their second album, but I haven’t skipped it a single time since I got it. There hasn’t been a time when it’s come on my iPod or iTunes and I’ve thought “nah, not in the mood for that”. It’s another, “wow, I need to take care of myself” song, and it’s true. Asking for help and taking time to take care of myself is something I really struggle with, and it’s a problem I come back to again and again and again. I know it’s okay to ask for help, I know it’s okay to not be okay, and yet I always end up just pretending I’m fine until it’s almost too late. This song is a reminder to me: look after your brain, and yourself, before it’s too late.

SONG: Turbulence – Bowling For Soup

FAVOURITE LYRIC(S):

And we’re all just passengers tonight,
And we’re all just travelling through our lives,
We will reach our destination,
So just hang on for the ride,
Say a prayer and close your eyes,
It’s just a little turbulence.

WHY?:

Bowling For Soup were my favourite band when I was younger. I stopped listening to them when I was still in high school, not for any reason but just because I just sort of drifted away from them – but I never stopped loving them. Then they came to Liverpool last February, and my partner got me tickets to see them, and all of that love started burning up again. It was at that gig that I first heard ‘Turbulence’, and it just makes me think that everything can get better if you give it a chance to. Turbulence is temporary – if you can get through this bad patch, you’ll find something better on the other side. I’m only 21, so there’s plenty of time to smooth out the bumps.

SONG: Stay AliveAndy Black

FAVOURITE LYRIC(S):

Stay alive for the good times,
Stay alive through the bad.

WHY?:

Okay, it’s a bit on the nose, isn’t it? But why is that a bad thing? We don’t always need metaphors and similes and personification and all of those beautiful nuggets of imagery – sometimes we don’t need to force people to dig around to find what we mean. Sometimes it’s okay to just say it. Sometimes that’s all you need to hear. Stay alive.

I’ve never been a fan of Black Veil Brides simply because it’s not my music taste. I was really surprised when I discovered Andy’s solo album and found that I love every song. It’s very different to BVB’s sound and much more to my taste. This, again, isn’t even my favourite song, but it’s one of them. So, get this: Tuesday before last (May 10th, 2016) I discovered Andy Black, listened to his album, and decided I loved him. Last Monday (May 16th, 2016), I saw him live. That’s less than a week. That sort of sealed it for me – obviously, the stars had aligned for me to love Andy. ‘Stay Alive’ was the first song Andy played at the gig, and let me tell you, it’s just as glorious and encouraging live as it is recorded.

I think it’s just that simple, really: stay alive for the good times, stay alive through the bad. He’s not saying it’s easy, he’s just saying it’s worth it. And it probably is. Like I said – I’m only 21, what the heck do I know? It’s a struggle, and it’s exhausting, but I’ll try.

BONUS: SONG ALBUM: Astoria – Marianas Trench**

FAVOURITE LYRIC(S):

‘Cause I’ll find out in all due time what happens to never say die // Sometimes you can’t yell loud enough, Sometimes a whisper’s just too much // Don’t let go tonight; by tomorrow this will be yesterday // And I’ve been broken but I’m better every day // I’d rather be a riot than indifferent // [THE ENTIRE BRIDGE FROM DEARLY DEPARTED BUT IT SEEMS EXCESSIVE TO POST THE WHOLE THING…]

WHY?:

There isn’t a song on this album that I don’t love. I think this might be my favourite Marianas Trench album – influenced only a teeny bit by the fact that The Goonies is one of my all-time favourite films. I love the 80s sound, I love the words. I love everything about his album. It makes me want to get up and that’s enough. But also… just, there’s fight in this album. We’re back to the ‘fight’ thing. It’s defiant and it can seem a little bitter but it’s powerful and I love that. I want to be defiant, too.

I’d rather be a riot than indifferent.

Okay, so, common theme here is that all (most?) of these songs relate to mental health, which is the thing I am struggling with the most right now. I’m not going to pretend that these songs have made me all better, because that’s not it at all: these songs encourage me. It’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to not be okay, it’s okay to break things down to their simplest parts if that’s how you can complete this task. Ask for help. Get through today. Stay alive.

There are dozens and dozens of songs that I love and that make me happy and they are equally as important as these songs, but when I got the idea for this blog post and started thinking of songs to include, all of these came almost instantly. This is, basically, a miniature keep moving forward playlist.

I would love to hear what songs are important (or have been important) to all of you: they don’t have to be as on the nose as mine. Does ‘Call Me Maybe’ get you out of bed? Does ‘What Do You Mean’ make you want to get up and dance? Are these songs having an effect on you? I want to hear what’s important to all of you, so leave a comment!

You can also find me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAMand follow me on BLOGLOVIN.

-K

*No YouTube link for this one because I can’t find a video with the whole song! Check it out on spotify instead (you’ll need an account!)

** Since this is an entire album, again, it made more sense to link to spotify. You still need an account!

The Liebster Award

3and3quarters.net_1

So! My wonderful best friend nominated me for the Liebster Award! I’m really touched, because blogging is something I’ve dabbled in on-and-off for years and we recently had a big (slightly tipsy) discussion in which I decided it was something I wanted to pursue more seriously. Leigh is a great blogger; she’s handled multiple blogs for a few years now, ran the wonderfully successful Nottingham Bucket List over the course of her university career and now blogs over at The Writing Campbell (TWC) on everything from food and TV to life tips and tricks! She even wrote her dissertation on blogging – she is my Blogging Friend™.

I suppose a few people might be discovering my blog via this nomination, so a little bit about me and this page would probably be a good way to start this, no? Here are some random facts about me:

  1. My name is Kitty. It is a nickname.
  2. I am 21 years old, and I study English at university.
  3. I am perpetually bitter that this ironically leaves me with little time to read for fun.
  4. I am a cosplayer. Not a great one, but still, one.
  5. Almost every piece of clothing I buy is bought with a fictional character in mind.
  6. I think Liverpool is the greatest city in the world.
  7. I am depressed.
  8. I keep a picture of Kermit the Frog at the theatre on my phone to look at when I am sad.
  9. I am pansexual.
  10. I love Shakespeare.

Okay! Now I know Leigh has some questions for me to answer, so let’s just jump into those.

What’s your favourite photo of you and your friends?

This is actually a really tough one for me because I have shockingly few photos of my friends as a whole, so can I cheat and post three separates?

the ultimate dad joke

the longest cuddle

me and leigh

***I don’t have a nice picture of me and my other best friend, because we only ever take pictures when we’re drunk. Sorry, Kate!

If you could have a candle that smelt like anything, what would it smell of?

Oh my god, is it really weird if I say the 007 Seven scent? I bought it for my partner for Christmas and it’s my favourite scent that she wears and I just think it’s a very comforting scent for me? Is that really lame?

If not that then I really love the dragon fire candle from GAMETEE but I could just buy that…

How early do you wake up on Christmas day?

I used to wake up every year at 2am, fall asleep until 6am, and wait until 7am to get up. The past couple of years I’ve slept in until around 9-10 and it’s driven my younger sister mad.

What was your favourite book when you were a teenager and why?

Unsurprisingly it seems for my gen, it was a John Green book. Looking For Alaska, to be precise. I thought it was wonderful, I adored the community, I loved the school and the characters, and despite knowing that he is not a good boyfriend I was in love with the Colonel.

It has since changed and I haven’t even considered re-reading this book in years, but I’ll always have a soft spot for it.

Can you walk in heels?

Yes, but I avoid it as much as possible because I am The Worst.

And now it is time for my nominations and questions!

NOMINATIONS

  1. SomethingLikeLydia – Lydia is a wonderful book blogger and one of my favourite booktubers. I always end up with piles of recommendations from her and she’s a delight to follow and chat to!
  2. Tea Party Princess – Can I really not nominate a fellow “20-something tea-addicted bookworm”? REALLY?
  3. PowisAmy – Yet another book blogger… but still! I’m always eager to read more reviews, and her posts are always easy and fun to read.
  4. Rachel’s Rambles – Another blogger I found through the amazing #ukyachat. Rachel is a younger blogger, too, but so determined, so I would really like to show my support to her! She recently moved blogs, too, because she wants to post more varied kinds of post (from reviews to diary style blogs), so definitely check her out.
  5. Rose Dymock – Rose is a friend I met at uni and has just started out on a brand new film/book blog! After hearing her views on the texts we study together, I’m certain that she’s going to have some really great reviews coming (and in the mean time, check out her post on Captain America: Civil War!)

QUESTIONS

  1. What is the last book you read? How did you feel about it?
  2. What is your go-to comfort drink?
  3. Favourite animal to keep as a pet? (I feel this gives more insight than “cats or dogs?” because there are lots of different kinds of animals out there!)
  4. If you could have any miscellaneous item from a fictional world, what would it be? I don’t mean something huge, like the Elder Wand or a Piece of Eden or anything like that, just like… would you like a Weasley jumper? The Pig from The Raven Cycle? An Exy racquet?
  5. What is a goal you have for the next month?

Thank you again to Leigh for nominating me!

Remember, you can follow me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM.

-K