Spa Weekend!

It twas the night before spa day and all through the house,
Natalie was squealing, she sound like a mouse!
She packed up her clothes all folded with care,
With the hope that no creases would be formed while in there.
She nestled down softly all safe in her bed
While visions of pampering dancing in her head…

Hello, my lovelies!

I hope you're all feeling as relaxed as I am!

As part of a congratulations celebration for completing my degree, my mum decided to treat us to a weekend at The Hilton Hotel and Spa! It's been a wonderful day so I thought I would HAVE to give you a play by of the day so far!

Saturday 5th August 2017

– 5.30am
*looks at clock and is happy to see I have another 2 hours in bed*

– 6am
*wakes up and thinks I must have slept through alarm only to see that just half an hour has passed*

– 6.30am
*and again*

– 6.45am
*and again*

– 7am
*and again…*

– 7.05am
*gives up waiting and gets out of bed*

I'm guessing by now you can see I was VERY excited about this spa weekend! You see, I've never done the whole mother daughter away for a girly weekend thing…heck, I've never even been to a spa!

My coach to Heathrow was at 8.45am so I had plenty of time to wander idly around the house worry about forgetting something I needed and stressing about what the massage therapist would think about my back fat. Soon enough, however, it was time to leave my house and head to the coach station. One of the things about living in the countryside is how eerily quiet everything is in the morning. As my boyfriend, Charlie, drove me to town I leaned out the window and marveled at how beautiful the world is when you wake up before 12pm and don't need to go to work.

Eventually, we arrived at the coach stop where I jumped out the car and waved over enthusiastically to Charlie who looked like he was more excited to go back to sleep and have the bed to himself than anything! 🙄

As I sat twiddling my thumbs, waiting for my coach to arrive with a couple of other eager looking people with suitcases, I tried to ignore the glares from retailers heading to work who clearly wish that they too could be getting a coach somewhere nice on their weekend instead of working. (Ex-Sainsburys staff here. IM SORRY GUYS!!!)

Soon the coach arrived and after awkwardly showing the "wrong" part of my ticket to a stroppy coach driver, I shuffled to the back where the only free seats were next to the toilets and a guy with a MASSIVE flask of coffee. The next hour passed swiftly as I plugged in my headphones in to listen to my weird mixture of musical numbers, 80's rock, and 00's pop with a bit of modern day indie chucked randomly into a playlist; I prayed that the guys' bowels were handling the coffee.

As the coach pulled up to the bus station at Heathrow Airport, I hurried down the aisle away from the coffee guy who was now beginning to look a bit uncomfortable! Onto the pavement, I pushed through the crowd of bubbling holiday-goers until I spotted my mum and skipped over to join her.

"Have to get the bus" she told me after releasing me from her arms. As we waited by the bus stop we joked about how our bus made a stop at the Holiday Inn before taking us to our 'grown up' destination at the Hilton Hotel. "We deserve to be fancy after finishing these degrees!" We thought proudly.

We turned up to the hotel, and OF COURSE it is totally beautiful and we feel like royalty. We head over the the spa desk and are greeted by some lovely women who's eyebrows look like they belong on Instagram. We are given out robes, towels, and slippers and are shown the dressing room. Once changed, we headed upstairs to the consultation room which smelt AMAZING! Filled with incense and different teas next to big squishy armchairs, we settled down with a cup of camomile tea and I looked at the different spa treatments. From facials to scrubs they had it all! I eventually settled on the 30 minute 'Hot Rock Treatment' while my mum went for the 'Raindrop massage'.

Once in the treatment room, I was given a disposable mesh brief as my swimming costume was too restrictive…and let me tell you, that thing was the definition of 'brief'! Awkwardly I tried and failed to cover my butt with the flimsy mesh material before slipping under the towel and buried my head in the face rest while trying to relax.

Luckily, the massage was very dignified and the towel was adjusted with each different body part that was being treated, however, there were a couple of "woah" moments where my eyes were very capable of popping out in shock! 😂

The oil and stones were a wonderful temperature and although there were a couple of moments I felt sure would leave bruises, the overall massage was super relaxing and has really helped my back, legs, and shoulders.

After the massage we headed to the spa where we were able to try out a salt room (helps the immune system, clears headaches and sinuses) and two different sauna's. A herb sauna which, although made my face felt like it was on fire, felt rather nice; and an aromatherapy room which I couldn't even walk into out of choking! The spa also had a decent sized swimming pool with plenty of hot water jets that added to the back pain relief.

There still plenty of time for us here and we have dinner and breakfast planned too (as well as a few cheeky cocktails!) but I won't ramble on any longer. I have some relaxing to do!! Check out and follow my Instagram n.p.brittain for pictures of the weekend!

Thanks for reading!

Love,

Natalie x

A Letter To Harry Potter

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Dear Harry,

First off, I hope you had a wonderful birthday yesterday. With everything you have been through in your life, you definitely deserve to have a nice day. I hope you, Ron, Hermione, and the rest of the gang are all nursing off butterbeer hangovers as we speak.

I wanted to thank you for everything you have done for me over the years. You’ve been there whenever I felt alone or stuck in a rut, you were always someone I could turn to make me feel better.

When I needed a laugh, your sarcastic humor was never lost on me from your “no need to call me sir, professor.” back-chatting at Snape to your sassy little comments with the Dursleys. I will always admire you for having the strength to joke no matter how tough life got for you. You taught me to try and be strong in times of difficulty and even when it seems like there is no hope, to try and live a normal life. In the words of Albus Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”

I learnt a lot about the different kinds of courage and bravery from you, “”It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” While I don’t see myself as a Gryffindor, I try to take your bravery with me wherever I go and although it’s not always easy, I know you’re there to help me through. (Plus, let’s not forget our lovely friend Luna who proves us Ravenclaw’s can be brave too!)

You have shown me that although we may think we can handle things alone, you need your friends. Whether it’s for sanity, moral support, or for a bit of knowledge that hasn’t crossed our minds, our friends will save us both physically and mentally. It doesn’t matter who a person is, as long as they can be loyal and with a good heart, you taught me how much I need friendship in my life.

I learnt how to grieve with you. I learnt that it’s okay be sad but also that it’s okay to be happy. That we all need to scream and cry and throw a tantrum and then get back up and fight again. You helped me to understand that every now and then, even after time has passed, that you will need to sit down and feel sad again because it’s better than bottling it up – You also taught me the dangers of bottling things up!

While we’re here, I was hoping you can also thank Hermione for me. She taught me as a young girl that it’s good to be smart and a bit nerdy, it’s good to have your head stuck in a book – as long as you remember to make time for your friends too. Also, shoutout to Ron for the way he welcomed you into his home and gave you a family. We all deserve friends who accept us into their lives without judging your past. Who, even though they have very little, are happy to share everything they can to make their friends feel better.

Until the very end, I will be there for you Harry. To defend you and love you in the way you have done for me since that cold Christmas morning I received your first book as a small child. When people listen to me still babbling about you in 50 years time and ask me “after all this time?” I promise you my answer will remain, “always.”

 

Yours Forever,

A very proud Potterhead.

 

P.s. I have your stag tattooed on my arm… hope thats cool 😛

 

 

The Books That Made Us Readers.

I was one of the lucky kids. My parents would both sit in my room before I went to bed, one on the rocking chair, and one next to me in bed, and they would read to me. They read me wonderful books filled with all sorts of magic and drama that made me the person I am today. I think it is because of them that I have always been a reader. Because of them, I have yearned to know more about different worlds and the stories that come from them. Because of them, I have the imagination of a writer…and I am so SO thankful.

It is because of this that when my friend Chloe mentioned a blog post she had read by Golden Books Girl about the books that made her a reader, I was pretty eager to join in. We quickly decided with some of our other writer buddies that maybe now would be a good time for a collaboration! So here we go! Don’t forget to check out Chloe’s list here, Patsy’s here, and Amber’s here!

 

#1: The Story Giant, by Brian Patten

When I think back to those days of my parents reading to me, this is a book that stands out so heavily. Even to this day I still refer to it if I’m in need of a bit of inspiration! The book is a series of stories within a story. It revolves around the story giant who is a collector of every story ever told, but he is missing a story, and without that story, he will die. In order to find the missing story, he weaves together the dreams of four children, all from different parts of the world with different social classes. These children tell him their favourite stories in order to try and keep the story giant alive. It is a beautiful book with beautiful illustrations (by Chris Riddell) and it taught me so much not only as a child but also as an adult. It made me, like the story giant, want to know every story in the world – Even if that story is one of my own 😉

 

 

 

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#2: I, Coriander, by Sally Gardner

 

 

This will forever be one of my favourite stories! I can read it again and again and have done at least once a year since it was gifted to me by a teacher back in primary school. I, Coriander is about a young girl who lives in London during the 1640/50’s. Not only is it a historical fiction novel, however, it is also fantasy. Coriander owns a part of magical silver shoes that have the ability to take her to the world in which her mother was born in. The story deals with horrible topics such as death and abuse without making the book too heavy for children. This book encouraged me to read more historical fiction which quickly became one of my favourite genres.

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#3: Alice in Love and War, by Ann Turnbull

Another historical book, but this time without fantasy. Alice’s journey is a difficult one. Orphaned at 16 during the English Civil War (I like this time period in stories!) She lives on her Uncle’s farm until a group of Royalist soldiers take base there where a young soldier, Robin, takes a ‘shine’ to Alice. She runs away from the abuse of the farm to be with Robin and the women of the army baggage train. The story deals with the horrors of war from a woman’s perspective, not shying away from the details of murder, rape, pregnancy, and miscarriage, whilst also looking at the effects a small gesture of kindness can give to you. The story introduced me to the romance genre, as well as probably being the first story I had read with sex in it (which was a bit of a shock for a 12-year-old!). It also taught me that love and life doesn’t always go to plan, but you should never give up.

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#4: The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis

Ah Narnia. If you went to school in England, I can almost guarantee that you have some kind of love for Narnia – even if you’re not a reader. Both the books and films had such beautiful imagery of a magically snowy kingdom with wonderful characters that it was hard not to be swept in. It’s hard to explain what the books did to me as I was so young when I first read them, but they not only inspired my love of reading, they also inspired my love of writing. I loved how the author didn’t always use the same characters in the different books, I loved knowing how the world was created and how it went one once certain characters were no longer there. If a new book came out today, I know for sure I would want to know more stories of Narnia.

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#5: The Sight, by David Clement-Davies 

This book inspired me in different ways to the others on my list. When I first got my hands on The Sight, I picked it off the shelf because I loved the cover. A beautiful wolf on the front staring into my soul with its bright yellow eyes. The blurb was different to other books I had read before, there was something darker, something more mysterious. I NEEDED this book without really knowing why. So imagine my disappointment when I got home, curled up on my beanbag, opened the first page…and struggled to understand what was going on in the story. This was the first time I hadn’t really gotten into a book straight away and I remember telling one of my teachers about it, confused as to why I wasn’t understanding. She looked through the book and said that although I might be good at reading books above my level, she didn’t think I had reached the point of understanding this book yet. So the book gathered dust on my shelf while I read more and more, desperate to know more words, understand more about the world. Until, one year, I picked up the book again and those eyes stared into my own. I sat down and read like I had never read before about a pack of wolves tormented by an ancient curse. Not only do I now LOVE this story, but I love how it inspired me as a child to learn. I needed to read more so that I would be able to understand the complexity of plot twists and curses, to be able to read a book from an animals point of view instead of a humans, to fully immerse myself into a characters world for a few hours to the point that when I reached the end, I had to sit and think for a while before I could do anything else.

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#6 Judy Blume

I couldn’t single out just one book written by Judy Blume for this post, yet I didn’t feel like I could leave her out either. I first heard of Judy Blume books when watching “Holiday In The Sun” (a Mary-Kate and Ashley film) in which the books were said to be the favourites of a character. After watching the film, I headed to the library and noticed so many books by this author, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of her before. I stocked my backpack full of her books: Tiger Eyes which dealt with death and how to recover; Forever was a love story for young adults unlike any other, it was rare at the time to come across a YA story about sex that didn’t involve the girl being punished and the boy being a jerk; Deenie dealt with medical conditions in young teens, how to deal with social pressures, and the effects parents can have on their kids when they ‘pigeon hole’ them; Are You There God? It’s Me: Margaret looked into puberty for young girls; Blubber dealt with the all important issue of bullying…

I could talk about every single one of Judy Blume’s books easily but these are just a handful. I couldn’t get enough of her stories and I’m so grateful I found them at the same sort of young teen age that I was able to go through the same issues as the characters. Judy Blume encouraged me to read more teen books in order to have an escape from the pains of teen life.

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#7: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, by Louise Rennison

I couldn’t go through a teen book obsession without picking up Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging. When the movie came out, everyone fell in love with Georgia Nicolson and her Ace Gang of hilarious friends. Georgia was SO relatable and her books so incredibly fun to read. I ended up writing a notebook full of Georgia’s favourite words and catch-phrases and handing them out to friends at school (NERD ALERT!) I wanted to know everything about Georgia’s life and how to be a perfectly-unperfect as her and because of that, her books went with me everywhere.

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#8: Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling

How could I write this post without including Harry Potter? It would be impossible! NEVER have I been more immersed in book world than I have with J.K.Rowling’s fabulous series. I don’t need to tell you guys what these books are about because you would have had to have spent the past 20 years under a rock to not know this story. I was given the first book as an incredibly young child, maybe 4 or 5 years old and I have grown up with Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the rest of the gang. I have a tattoo of a stag on my arm with the Deathly Hallow symbol, spells and all sorts on my arm and I can’t express how much I am in love with this world. I could talk forever about what Harry Potter did to me but if you’re a Potterhead like me you’ll know it’s Harry’s birthday very soon and I can guarantee you that I’ll have a whole post on him coming up soon!

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If you’ve stuck around to read all my waffle on the books that made me a reader, I’m impressed. Thank you so much! I know it was a bit of a long one but once you’ve asked me to talk about books I could honestly go on for days!

I’ll try and write before Harry’s birthday but if not, you’ve just 6 days to wait for my next magical, Pottertastic post!

Let me know what the books that made you a reader are. Do we have any books in common?

 

Talk soon!

Natalie x

The Pros and Cons of a Creative Writing Degree

“Creative Writing? You mean English…Right?”

“Creative Writing? Is that a module you’re doing for your Literature degree?”

“Creative Writing? So…Do you want to be a librarian?”

“Creative Writing? What a waste of three years!”

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If you have ever entered, or even considered entering into a Creative Writing degree, I can guarantee you have heard one of the above lines. I would even go as far to say that it should be listed on the ‘Things Included On This Course:” page of the university prospectus.

Okay, sure the course has its cons, it’s weird moments, and it’s occasional “do we really need to know this?” moments…But doesn’t every course?

Let us start with the good things though! Here is my list of ‘pros’ for doing a Creative Writing degree…

 

Pro #1: Friendship/Networking!

One of the best things I found about this course is how willing everyone is to help each other. You learn very quickly within this degree that you can’t get anywhere without contacts, and the course will quickly help you build those friendships with people who understand you. Take one look at Twitter for example and dive into “Writers Twitter”. As you will have seen from my last post, Tweeting For Twits,  “Writers Twitter” is a MASSIVE community and there is one simple reason for that. Writers need each other. Without a community of friends, writers could very easily become hermits, shutting themselves away from the world to write in a dark corner alone, only to come out from said corner with a sad, crumpled manuscript that hasn’t been gazed upon by anyone’s eyes other than their own. Which leads me to my next point…

Pro #2: Workshopping!

That manuscript of yours isn’t going ANYWHERE without some workshopping! A big thing my Creative Writing degree taught me is, no matter how proud you are of your work, something is wrong with it, and something can ALWAYS be improved. You have to remember when writing that if you want to be published, you’re not just writing for yourself, you’re writing for an audience. While something might make perfect sense in your head, there’s a very high chance that an outsider isn’t always going to know what’s going on. Workshopping makes sure that what you see in your own head is being seen by your readers too which is SO IMPORTANT when you’re trying to get across all the weird and wonderful things that are brewing out of your brain and onto a page.

Pro #3: Learning New Things!

As with most degrees, there are many different modules to choose from during your time at university, however, this is especially important in a Creative Writing degree. You may have spent your entire writing life thinking you’re the next Stephen King…Only to find out that people don’t find your version of horror that scary. That’s a bummer right?! Without a Creative Writing degree, you might just end up giving up after your (what feels like) billionth rejection letter…HOWEVER, with a Creative Writing degree, a tutor or classmate might point out that they really like the magical aspect of your writing which could lead to you choosing a fantasy module. Or maybe someone thinks your writing is pretty funny, taking you to comedy. Maybe, you’ll go in completely a different direction and try your hand at non-fiction and learn that memoirs are your calling, or perhaps you discover a natural talent in songwriting or scriptwriting! Your degree is three years giving you plenty of time to explore the different types of writing and learn where your talents lie.

 

Now, while all of this is pretty great, I won’t lie, the course can make you feel a bit lost at times… Here is my list of ‘cons’…

 

Cons #1: It doesn’t make you a writer.

If you don’t have a natural talent for writing, you’re not really going to get it on this course. A Creative Writing degree will help you to learn how to improve but it won’t turn you into J.K. Rowling if the closest you’ve ever got to writing is “The cat went outside and fell asleep, I watched it but nothing really happened. I made some tea but it was too hot to drink. I’m bored.” You need to go onto this course with an excitement for adventure and a brain full of ideas. Sure you’re given plenty of writing prompts in lessons, but if you don’t know what to do with those prompts, then it’s going to be a very dull three years.

Cons #2: It doesn’t mean you’ll be published.

I remember one of my first lessons in this course. Maybe 50 of us sat in a room, ready with our notepads and pens, bright eyes and bushy tailed eagerly awaiting the tutors’ words of wisdom.

“So, who wants to be a published author?”

(Let’s guess here that maybe 48/50 hands shot up into the air…)

“Damn, that’s a lot of shattered dreams!”

Now, that might seem harsh but, unfortunately, that’s the reality of the industry we, as Creative Writing students, are heading in to. Our tutors’ hit us with the harsh reality that only a handful of us would probably make it as published authors. Yes, maybe we have a higher chance than the average Tom, Dick, or Harry, but when you think realistically of the millions of people sending in their precious baby manuscripts to agents and publishers…Your chances are pretty slim.

Con #3: You can’t always write what you want.

If you’re thinking of doing a Creative Writing degree, I’m almost betting you have a brilliant idea for a novel that you can’t wait for everyone to gasp in wonderment at. FORGET IT. “Why?” you ask? Well, that brilliant idea you have might not work for your first assignment about “The Life of A Rock.” Nor may it work for your second assignment which requires you to use a piece of art work as inspiration for a poem. Not to forget, just when you think a module is giving you an assignment you can use your idea for, the tutor may ask you to only work on things inspired by the module texts or on things you started during a writing prompt in class. Plus you have to take into consideration who your tutor is; if you’ve written a beautifully romantic tale of star-crossed lovers and your tutor hates love stories (or even worse, has just gone through a bitter divorce!) then that assignment might as well not be handed in!

Let’s say you’ve made it to third year and you’re about to start your dissertation/ECP/final project. You open the drawer you filled back in first year with all your notes and plot lines for the idea that started it all. You brush off the dust and giggle with excitement, you’re FINALLY going to write the novel of your dreams! and…it’s shit. After all your learning and studying you realise that the whole story doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t follow the right rules or break the wrong rules, it’s not original, and it’s not quite going anywhere. Once you’ve cut, rearranged, added, and polished that novel, it’s not the same novel anymore…But, trust me, it will be SO MUCH BETTER

And that, I suppose, could be a pro.

 

Hope you enjoyed this post, it’s certainly something that’s been playing on my mind for a while!

Do you have anything you want to add to the list? Or maybe you have some other questions? Just send me a message and I’ll get back to you ASAP with an answer!

 

Love,

Natalie x

Tweeting For Twits

Posting for the second day in a row?! Am I okay?! #Sendhelpithinkimawriter!

WELCOME BACK MY LOVELIES!

Did you miss me? If you follow my Twitter account @NP_Brittain I’ll be very surprised if you’ve had the time to miss me! As you may have noticed, the past 24 hours has become a slight writing spam from Facebook and Instagram, to this very blog.

You see, last night, I was sitting in my newly-moved-into home, listening as the rain tap danced away on my conservatory roof. The sound was so soothing it reminded me of the yoga soundtracks I would play when trying to finish a uni assignment at 4am while huddled in a corner of the library. It reminded me of my poor abandoned blog that I was encouraged to start a mere 4 months ago. A blog that was supposed to help me build a fan base who would be eagerly awaiting my first novel. A novel whose notes have been sobbing in the bottom of a moving box, wondering if they would ever see the sunlight again.

As the army of tap-dancing rain drops pitter-pattered on my roof, I began to open some boxes. Coughing as the plumes of dust raced out of its dark enclosure, I slowly weaved through hundreds of crumpled notebooks and loose pieces of paper. Three years worth of ideas for stories and poems flooded back into my brain, pushing away the many negative feelings of doubt and despair that have plagued me recently.

Don’t forget us! Expand me! Fix my plot hole! Write me, write me, write me!

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While unmuddling all of my muddled thoughts from the past three years, I remembered my Twitter account, which along with the blog, had also be left with a strong feeling of abandonment. I began to browse through the one aspect of media I have little experience with and noticed that many of my writer buddies had picked up a fair amount of followers in the time I had been away. Although incredibly proud of their hard work, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit left behind, like the Grandma of my writing group struggling to cope with the speed of technology.

“You need to learn about writers hashtags.” Pointed out the ‘Mommy’ of my writers’ group chat, (on Facebook, of course!) Writers hashtags? “There’s a #writerstellme one that gets used for all sorts.”

With my unmuddling-muddled mind, I head to my favourite place on the internet, GOOGLE, and I gets-a Googling!

  • #AmWriting
  • #AmEditing
  • #WordCount
  • #WriterWednesday (or #WW)
  • #WritersLife
  • #YALitChat
  • #LitChat (every M/W/F)
  • #MemoirChat (every other Wednesday at 8 pm ET)
  • #BookMarket (Thursday’s at 4 pm ET)
  • #ScriptChat (Screenwriters)
  • #PoetTues
  • #ZineChat
  • #WritingParty
  • #IndieAuthors
  • #WriteChat
  • #NaNoWriMo
  • #WANA (We Are Not Alone community)
  • #PBLitChat (Picture books only)
  • #RomanceWriter
  • #SciFiChat
  • #KidLitChat
  • #RWA (Romance Writers of America)
  • #ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)
  • #MGLit (Middle Grade Lit)
  • #SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators)
  •  #MemoirChat
  • #FlashFic
  • #Romance
  • #Horror
  • #FanFic
  • #YA
  • #History
  • #Biopic
  • #WritingTip
  • #WriteTip
  • #GetPublished
  • #BookMarket
  • #BookMarketing
  • #PromoTip
  • #SelfPublishing
  • #SelfPub
  • #Publishing
  • #AskAgent
  • #AskAuthor
  • #AskEditor
  • #EBooks
  • #IndiePub (or #IndiePublishing)
  • #BookMarketing
  • #PubTip
  • #WritingPrompt
  • #StoryStarter
  • #WordAThon
  • #Creativity
  • #WIP (work in progress)
  • #1K1H (write one thousand words in one hour)
  • #FridayReads
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #MustRead
  • #LitChat
  • #StoryFriday
  • #MustRead
  • #TeaserTues
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #FreeBook
  • #FreeDownload
  • #Kindle
  • #Nook

This isn’t even half of the hashtags out there and it just goes to show what a ginormous community of writers there are in the world of Twitter. I may be a bit of a twit when it comes to Twitter but I’m sure I’ll be a regular #tweeter in no time! Let me know if you have any favourite #hashtags!

 

Talk soon!

Natalie x

 

 

Welcome To The Real World

University is officially over! So pleased to announce that despite all the tears and tantrums, I will be graduating with a 2:1 (Second Upper Class) Creative Writing Degree in October.

The past four months since my first post have been a whirlwind of emotions from saying goodbye to many incredible people, moving to a completely new area, job hunting, and life planning. They say University is like riding a bike through a burning corridor…Well upon leaving University, that corridor has been burnt away and you’re left stumbling lifelessly through the rubble, choking on the ashy embers that have taken away everything you know and love.

I had a council tax bill come through the door the other day which was a massive shock to the system after being exempt from paying as a student. How am I supposed to afford this?! I panicked, crunching the numbers while my last paycheck from my part-time job hung miserably in front of me, looking slightly crumpled and rather useless. I know how you feel, buddy! 

Luckily, I have an interview for a nicely paid office job lined up and with any luck, I will get it. However, (this is where the pain of a writer comes in) the job is full time leaving me less of an opportunity to write. I know I will get there though, especially with the support system I have around me.

Each one of my family and friends shine around me like flashlights at that end of that ashy corridor, letting me know that I am not alone and that I’m not far from reaching the safety of my dreams.

I’m kicking the novel back up the butt this evening and I’ve started doing some research into the seventh child of a seventh child and I’ve sent out a couple of emails to some experts in witchcraft. “What is the novel about?!” I hear you cry! Never fear, my darlings! You shall find out in due course.

I promise.

 

With love,

Natalie x

Post-University Life

I handed in my final project/dissertation/ECP the other day and that felt as good a time as any to start a blog. I had been working on this story for EIGHT YEARS and the ECP in general for a year, then, all of a sudden, it’s gone. Finished. Caput. After I handed in the project, I went home and had a look at some different job adverts for teaching or editorial, and then I cried. A lot.

It’s hard to explain the feeling of emptiness you get when you hand in something you’ve worked so hard on for so long. My ECP only consisted of the first two chapters of my novel but I know I want to continue it and hopefully, one day it will be published. Chances are, however, even if I do manage to become a published author I’m probably going to have to have a ‘normal’ job for a while to help pay the bills. This is where I become stuck, I currently work in retail and my current job isn’t too bad, I like a lot of the people I work with, (and there aren’t many places that blare Disney music out loud before the store opens leading to staff creating their own musical!) but I don’t really want to work there for the long hall.

As a third year at University, I get asked a lot what my plans are for after graduation and it’s pretty tough seeing the look of judgement or disappointment when I say I haven’t a clue. I want to be a writer! That’s it, there isn’t really anything else to it. Except, there is… I keep thinking that maybe if I learn to be a teacher I will have whole summer holidays to write; if I become an editor, I can learn trade tricks and get to know what will make my novel interesting to a publisher. Yet I can’t help but shake the feeling of not being good enough for either of those careers.

I wish I had enough money to not need to work for a year, or even six months, I could just set up my desk and write. I could do my research without thinking about the other things I should be doing for my job or other assignments. I could use that time to finish my novel and send it out, hopefully attracting the attention of an agent or publisher who thinks my novel is good enough for an up-front payment. I don’t really care about the amount of money I make, as long as it’s enough to live. If I can make enough money to pay my rent, bills, and eat, then I’m happy. If I can’t, then I’m not.

Post-University Depression (PUD) is a term I came across a few hours after handing in my ECP. As a massive Google fan, I turned to the search bar after an hour or two of crying and typed in how I was feeling, I’ve handed in my final university project and I feel lost and empty, I then read an Independent article about ‘Graduate blues’.  The article not only points out that students basically live in a three-year-party that is cancelled rather abruptly; but also touches on the feelings of shame or disheartenment over not walking away from a degree with a solid job in their field of choice.

I would have to agree with the article that there isn’t enough awareness about PUD. We hear of a mixture of success stories with students walking straight into their dream jobs, and we hear about a few students having to move back home as they can’t afford rent alone. We rarely talk about the feelings of those individual students and, as far as I’m aware, we never talk about those students in between. The ones who know what they want to do but for some reason or other cannot do what they want. The ones who may have a job and can afford to live on their own but feel like they have no other choice.

These may be ‘millennial-first-world-selfish’ problems, I can’t really deny that, but nevertheless, it is still a real problem. We need to ensure that all students have a decent support system around them and make sure they know it’s okay to not have the right job straight after uni. I can wish with all my heart that the government suddenly decides to give students money to live on for the first year after graduation, but chances are I’m going to have to stick with retail for a little while longer.

Luckily (?!), I still have six more assignments left during my time at uni (this may or may not be one of them!) so I didn’t really have the time to mope around and fret over ‘The Real World’. We can, however, hope that my ECP has really kicked me up the butt to finally finish a novel about the world I started dreaming of when I was 13. Hopefully, I will be able to show you all my nice shiny new series within a year or two!

For now though, this blog will have to do!

Natalie x