Category Archives: Early Memories

Essay: My Many Selves as a Geeky Fan

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I’ve been thinking a great deal in recent months about what it means to be a fan; bear with me, I think a lot, I write it all down, and I’m not averse to an unhappy ending. This essay is the story of who I have been all my life; I am a geek. I’m not just a geek, but that aspect of who I am has evolved over the years and is a large part of my life.

For the first time ever though I’ve evolved because of other fans and I’ve been hurt by that change. For you to understand my heartbreak you need to know the context that came before.

The Early Years

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I can remember being an obsessive person from a very young age. As a geek, it started with the Ewok cartoons, before I even knew about the Star Wars films. I was also into ‘Back to the Future’, something I have since identified as being one of my first real obsessions a one, unlike the Ewok cartoons, I am still captivated by.

I’ve always been relatively secure in my interests; if I had periods of trying to conform to ‘normal’ because of peer pressure then they were short lived. I know they did happen, and generally speaking they stopped because I was bored.

I was the kid that got called a geek, a nerd and a swot. When I was younger that hurt. Then, when I was about twelve and I turned around to someone shouting it at me with a simple reply; ‘And?”. They were confused; ‘So what if I’m a swot?”. It didn’t stop them from shouting it at me for a while, until they realised it didn’t bother me. They started shouting other things instead, but that’s different. I was sure of myself and my interests, and it stopped hurting.

This was before the internet and social media were all the rage; I spent my teen years having hushed conversations with friends about whether Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Voyager was the best Star Trek Series (for which the answer is Deep Space Nine), or whether the Klingons, The Dominion or the Borg were the best villains (despite previous answer, The Borg, hands down). That was about as much interaction as I had with other people about geeky things; I talked with like-minded folks, who also had things like ‘swot’ shouted at them down the corridors.

And I never considered myself lonely; I had friends for other reasons. Being a geeky fan was an entirely different part of my life. It had more to do with my parents than with my peers.

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The first time I saw the Star Wars films was when they re-released the films in the cinema in 1997, branded as the Special Editions of the Original Trilogy. Like the generation when Star Wars was first released, I got to see it for the very first time in the cinema.

My parents introduced me to Star Trek. I can even remember being excited about the last few series of Deep Space Nine and Voyager broadcasting for the first time. It’s the same with Stargate SG-1, which I think we watched because of me and my love for the fact they combined science fiction with Ancient Egyptian mythology.

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And then there is J.R.R. Tolkien. I was never taken with ‘The Hobbit’, which I read as a child, so Tolkien was a bit of a mystery to me overall. All I knew was that ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was one of the few books my dad would read again and again. I can remember seeing the trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring, and being intrigued by the fact my dad was excited by it. And then I saw the film for the first time. Wham! In the space of 178 minutes, I became a fully-fledged fantasy fan as well as a sci-fi geek.

It was my first evolution; it changed everything. I still didn’t like ‘The Hobbit’, but I devoured ‘The Lord of the Rings’, its appendices, and swiftly moved onto ‘The Silmarillion’ and ‘The Unfinished Tales’. It made me take interest in Harry Potter. I discovered Trudi Canavan. The Chronicles of Narnia, which I had already loved as a kid, became even more important. As a writer now I write about magic, and it is all because of Tolkien and Peter Jackson.

It was also the beginning of my passion for special features; how it was made, how they did it, how the actors felt being part of the production. I read the movie guides and re-read the books again and again. It wasn’t just with ‘The Lord of the Rings’ I did this. It spread to other passions. I practically memorised the Star Trek Encyclopaedia by Michael and Denise Okuda as well.

Being a geek was something I did with trusted friends, my parents and in the privacy of my room where I could devour my interest, safe in the knowledge that no-one could stop me from enjoying myself. I didn’t know what it meant to be an introvert at the time, but knowing that now, explains a great deal about why I was a private geek. This continued on for many years.

Discovering Fan Fiction

Up until I was about sixteen the internet had nothing to do with my life as a geek. The geekiest thing I did on the computer was read the Encarta Encyclopaedia. Despite the internet becoming more popular, it was something the cool kids did.

Given they called me names in person and my books didn’t, I didn’t really gravitate towards using emails, MSN messenger or MySpace, because books were better. The first email I sent was when I started university in September 2006. I didn’t join Facebook until 2007 because my boyfriend (now my husband) persuaded me, and also set me up a personal email account at the same time.

Before then I hadn’t shown much interest; I can even remember the first time I accessed a website. It was at school, and one of the German teachers looked at me as if I was completely thick when she told us we needed to access a website and I said didn’t know how; conversation went like this.

“Miss it doesn’t seem to be working.”

“Type in the correct web address.”

“Yeah Miss, I’ve done that, but it isn’t coming up.” So I closed it down and started it up again because she thought it must have been the connection. She watched me type in the address again. I waited. “See Miss it isn’t working.” Then the look came.

“You need to press enter,” she said in an incredibly condescending tone.

“Oh, I didn’t know that,” I said. I pressed enter; it worked.

“How did you not know that?”

“Never used the internet before Miss,” I answered. The look again; I got it from quite a few classmates as well.

Admittedly, I must have been about fifteen, this was 2003 and the internet wasn’t exactly in the flush of youth anymore. I think using the internet was expected to be a basic skill. Needless to say I try and watch my tone when people admit they can’t do basic things; if you’ve never been shown then, HOW are you supposed to know?

And now I had been shown, I still wasn’t interested.

It’s rather miraculous really that I ever discovered online Fan Fiction. I’m not even entirely sure why I found it. I think it was because I’d been writing Harry Potter fan fiction (from the Marauder Era, but my protagonist was a character I created, and J.K. Rowling’s characters were just there for me to practice with). When I discovered other people did this too, it never occurred to me to join them and publish my writing online.

I was taught that sharing online was a dangerous thing to do because there were nasty people on the internet. There still are and I’m still careful, and I think the re-definition of ‘troll’ is one of the best examples of how language can be re-purposed.

It was also because I had no desire to share my stories online. If I was going to be a writer, then I wanted my work to be in a book and printed on actual paper with ink. I still want that now. I dread to think what people would have thought of my writing, because reading it back it is terrible. But it was practice. I did however have a very short phase of reading other people’s fan fiction with great interest, but I was only ever interested in Harry Potter. I knew Lord of the Rings stuff existed, but I had no interest in it.

It was I guess my first introduction to what we now call shipping. As a fan of the Harry Potter books I always thought Harry and Hermione would end up together. I still think that, but I’ve always been of the opinion that J.K. Rowling as the writer had the right to do what she wanted with her story, and I accepted that. In Fan Fiction though I was drawn to Hermione and Severus Snape ending up together.

It is weird thinking about it now, but all I can assume attracted me to it was the fact that I related a great deal to Hermione as a teenager, in the same way I did to Matilda when I was even younger. They were both girls that loved books and were rather clever, and they were accepted as such; I say the shouting of ‘swot’ down the corridor stopped hurting. It would however have been nicer to not have to hear it at all.

And Snape was for me the perfect complex character. I didn’t quite know what he was really thinking or who he was really working for; he was a mystery and I loved him as an anti-hero. At this point Alan Rickman had also been cast, and I have a soft spot for him, because I loved him as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

I cried, several times, when I learnt he had died; I do that very rarely for celebrities, Natasha Richardson having been the previous instance. All I can assume is that I liked the combination of Hermione and Snape, because as a hormonal teen, it was a weird way of having a crush on an actor.  This phase lasted probably about three weeks as a deep obsession, before I got bored and it petered away, and I went back to how I had been before; private.

There is however a reason why I have mentioned it; it was my first foray into the idea that people explore stories outside of canon. I’ll come back to that.

The University Years

I consider being a student at University as my formative years. Because in university, I met more geeks, and being into geeky stuff at university isn’t uncool. I didn’t have to talk in a hushed voice about my opinions. People in university are a lot more grown up than school kids.

I also theorise that alcohol, partying, and the freedom to do whatever you wanted outside of parental constraints but within the law, changed most people that thought being a geek was a bad thing by teaching them a lesson. The lesson being that people are allowed to be whoever they want to be. All the geeks, nerds and swots actually had a head-start on the cool kids with that freedom, because we had been free being ourselves for a lot longer.

I went out in Newcastle on my first night as a student; I was out until 3am with a girl I didn’t know but who I had to now share a bathroom with. I was also utterly naïve to partying, and I hated every minute of it. I stayed sober, and somehow managed to get myself to my 9am introductory lecture in the morning. I was bleary eyed, but I paid attention enough to discover I could be a student representative, and thus started my interest in politics, but that’s another story.

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That night, rather than go out again I stayed in reading a new book I’d treated myself to with my student loan ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger. It is the only time I have read the book, because the context I read it in is too important for me to consider going back to it just yet (this is how I still feel ten years later). I lost myself in its pages, rather than go out to ‘have fun’ just because I could. I already knew who I was as a person, and it was the sort of person who curls up with a good book rather than light up the ‘Toon’.

I did meet people at university though, including the man that is now my husband. I did it my way though, via social interaction that didn’t involve being hungover the next day. I was bruised, but that happens in Karate. I made friends on my history course, and through my hobby, and discovered commons interests with them. With my partner, we shared our interests by binge watching box sets, and talking about geeky stuff we loved as we got to know each other.

I was no longer a private geek; I had my partner and I had friends at university that were a lot more open to accepting me as being a geek. I was also becoming a great deal more certain about the fact that I want to be a writer. This lead me to the internet.

Social Media

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I have this blog, and it is the foundation stone for my platform as a writer. It links to Facebook and to Twitter. It linked to Google+ and being a good little social networker, I set myself up on Pinterest and Tumblr too; I was connected.

Google+ was the first to fall away due to it being mysterious. Pinterest never really worked for me and my blog. Tumblr just became somewhere else where I copied my WordPress posts to without much readership. It is only really on Facebook and Twitter that I’ve maintained my author platform.

Pinterest and Tumblr though become something else to me; they became the places I went to follow my geeky interests. I find crossovers amusing; there are some really great examples of fan art out there, and while I don’t participate myself I have been stunned by the creativity and dedication some people put into their passion.

I evolved again; I was no longer a private geek, I was a social media geek. I laughed alongside everyone else at the joke about the ‘basic’ girl being a bit frightened by fandoms.

I began to identify as being part of fandoms. I connected with other like-minded people. It became something that I would share with my partner; I’d even share content on Facebook with my non-geek friends as a demonstration of who I am as a person. I would laugh at, like, re-blog, pin, and tweet about things geeky that I loved. While my platform was still there for writing, it also became the online extension of the geeky part of my personality.

I was no longer a private geek, and when on this very blog I started to write reviews, I deliberately developed sections dedicated to certain fandoms. I doubt that I am alone in having done this, and I would very much correlate this rise in geeks creating content for the internet with the rise in franchises. Because why not? Fan content is free marketing. Why create something new, when what you can do instead is simply add to an existing franchise with a fandom that will go on to passionately share their fan-art and memes. Many will even go on to write fan-fiction.

This is who I became. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t admired everything that I’ve seen over the years with wide-eyed naivety. There are things that don’t amuse me, there are fandoms that I’m not a part of, and I don’t always agree with everything shared on the internet.

I am also just not that into shipping; the foray into Harry Potter fan fiction was brief. I also very briefly developed in interest in Reylo because of one sketch by a fan. I read one fan fiction dedicated to Kylux. Then people started shipping Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver, and alarm bells went off in my head. I stopped paying attention to shipping and went back a step to crossovers, memes and great art work.

To be honest, I ashamed that I didn’t see what happened next coming from a mile off.

‘The Final Problem’

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Needless to say I no longer laugh at the joke about the ‘basic’ girl being a bit frightened by fandoms. Whether she was ever real or not, the joke was real and that girl saw something I didn’t. She saw the obsession of some fans and was frightened by how intensely protective they are their interest.

I’m not frightened; I am really disappointed.

As you can see from my essay, I have evolved as a fan over the years. I was the little girl pouring over books, and watching the television with my parents. I dipped my toe here or there into the internet, before becoming a confident half of a partnership not scared to be geeky together. And then I became the social media geek.

Over the years, what I have liked has changed. I mentioned ‘Matilda’ before; I was a massive Roald Dahl fan. That faded for years until I recently read ‘Love from Boy’.

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I am still a massive fan of ‘The Lord of the Rings’, ‘The Silmarillion’, and I also like ‘The Hobbit’ films, despite the fact I dislike the book.

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I have had a love/hate relationship with the MCU for years; I hate Tony Stark, but ‘The Winter Soldier’ made me fall into love with the rest of the MCU. Now though I’m a bit ‘meh’ about it because I’ve got bored.

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I’ve also figured out why I’ve struggled to connect to Doctor Who in recent years because of the cancellation of Doctor Who Confidential which satisfied my love of knowing how it was made.

And there are many more; I am a Browncoat; I find joy in Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus books. There are standalone books like ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ that have wormed their way into my heart. I’ve never blogged about Harry Potter, but Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them re-sparked inspiration for my own writing.

I blog reviews and I talk about my passions a lot. However, except from having the odd discussion on WordPress with other bloggers, all of which have been pleasant even if we haven’t always agreed, I was only ever really an observer of internet fandoms.

I’m really struggling to be that anymore. Every time I go on Tumblr now I leave it feeling low. I’ve pretty much stopped because instead of cheering me up and being a place of refuge it has become a place where I only find hatred. If it was not for the fact I go on Tumblr to also read about Feminism, LBGTQIA and INTJ, I might have already followed through with my deleting my account entirely.  I’ve retreated on Pinterest; I haven’t deleted my ‘Geek!’ board but it is now a private place just for me and my husband.

I want to be a private geek again; someone who talks with like-minded people in person. The appeal of being part of a fandom died a sudden death and it utterly broke my heart. There have been actual tears because I loved going on the internet and seeing that I was not alone as a geek. I even tweeted this not long ago before I’d come to fully realise and process all of my recent feelings.

Like I said I wasn’t lonely as a geeky child, but there were fewer of us. Before the internet I hadn’t really been able to discover the true richness of being able to share your passions with other people. I was able to become that person over time and through the development of technology that put other people in the palm of my hand wherever I was, provided I had enough battery and a decent 4G signal. Pulling back from what I had become hurts.

It hurts all the more, because it isn’t what I love that’s changed and changed me like it had been before. Other fans crossing the line has forced this transformation.

I have been disappointed over the years by things I love. I don’t like ‘The Half-Blood Prince’ all that much, either the book or the film. I don’t hate J.K. Rowling because of it though. I was deeply disappointed by ‘Civil War’; I don’t hate the creators of the MCU though. I don’t dislike Tolkien just because I’ve never liked ‘The Hobbit’. I might never forgive the BBC for cancelling Doctor Who Confidential, or Fox for cancelling Firefly; I don’t hate the people who made that decision though.

And I might not have been thrilled with ‘The Final Problem’ the last episode in the fourth series of Sherlock, but I mostly certainly don’t hate Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss because of it. I certainly don’t send threating tweets or blog on Tumblr about how the creators are now not allowed to identify themselves as being who they are because people disliked what they didn’t do in Sherlock. I don’t lash out angrily at other fans because they are fans of Sherlock in a different way, and didn’t have the same hate-fuelled reaction to the episode. I don’t believe my opinion is the only one that matters and anyone else is wrong, which therefore justifies bullying.

I have never hated a writer because they did something I disliked. I’ve been disappointed, and fine yes the first time I watched ‘The Final Problem’ I was a bit bored. I wasn’t the second time though and while it will never be one of my favourite episodes it is still better than most television I’ve ever watched. In fact I would credit Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss with sparking off a bit of a television revolution. I doubt clever shows that don’t dumb it down for their audience such as ‘The Man in the High Castle’ or ‘Westworld’ would exist if the foundation of modern clever television that started with Sherlock hadn’t been laid.

I will never agree with the reasons people are justifying those actions ; the creators are human beings and that in itself is enough for me to be respectful. I reserve hatred for rare examples of human beings who are actively making the very real lives of human beings miserable. I’d never hate someone because of something fictional.

The fact people are acting like this has actually made me ashamed of being a geek, something I have never felt in my life.

I shed tears when I first saw Gandalf fall in Moria; I still cry when Dumbledore dies; I struggle to watch John Watson talking to Sherlock’s grave; and the ending to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress chokes me up just thinking about it. I’ve been moved to tears many times over the years because of the books, films and televisions shows that I have let into my heart.

I never thought I’d ever cry because another fan had hurt me, but I have, and those tears have been the most painful, because they came from the very last sort of people I ever thought; the sort of people who like me probably got called a ‘swot’ or a ‘geek’ or a ‘nerd’ when it was meant as an insult rather than as a way of identifying ourselves.

Moving forward…

I detest the word fandom now; I’m seriously contemplating editing my entire blog to remove the word. If it does disappear then you know I did.

I’m in two minds about keeping my Tumblr account, and I doubt my ‘Geek!’ board will ever re-emerge as a public board on Pinterest. I’ve stopped reading the comment threads on twitter, especially on anything Mark Gatiss tweets. I’ve followed him for years, for various reasons and loved reading the commentary because many of his fans are witty and respectful. Now, I always find one that isn’t.

I don’t want to be associated with that backlash. I don’t want to be thought of as a member of any fandom, because for me the word has come to be associated with being part of the ownership of what has been created. Rather than the writer being the owner, the audience is instead, which is a very postmodernism viewpoint and I dislike postmodernism for many reasons.

Fan Fiction in the days when I developed an interest in Snape/Hermione was a bit of fun. I should have known when people started shipping Daisy and Adam, rather than Rey and Kylo that the lines between reality and fiction, canon and fan fiction have become blurred. For some people I don’t even think they exist at all.

And I think it is going to take me a long time to come to terms with the disappointment I felt when fans of Sherlock lashed out in hatred.

For now I’m just pottering along; I’m still going to blog, because I’m not going to silence my voice because I’ve been disappointed by what others have said with theirs. I’m using twitter to tweet some geeky stuff, because I’m not going to deny part of myself because other fans have made me feel ashamed.

But the most recent evolution of myself as a geek has shaken me to the very core and I’m not going to get over that easily. I also don’t see this evolution of myself as a geek being able to move forward with the sort of positive progress I have made over the years; I can’t ever go backwards, but I don’t see forwards as being an option either.

I’m stuck as a geek who can no longer entirely trust other geeks to have my back even if we have a different opinion. We didn’t all hush our voices because we were ashamed of being who we are, some of us just weren’t as confident about being a geek as others. We whispered to save those that were a bit embarrassed from being overheard by our bullies.

I never thought the geeks would become like the bullies. Maybe I am just a bit more wide-eyed and naïve than I had thought.

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#throwbackthursday – St Patrick’s Day

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I have mixed feelings about St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve never really got into going out and drinking Guinness on the day (though I do love having an occasional tipple of Guinness).  My strongest memories of St. Patrick’s Day come from childhood, in particular St.Patrick’s Day about 20 years ago.

I was living in Roanoke, Virginia at the time and I was used to going to school in America by this point. I had got over most of the culture shock of having moved from Britain. I was young and I was adaptable. I wasn’t particularly sturdy though when I woke up one morning, I found that my pet gerbil had died.

I don’t think it was St. Patrick’s Day precisely as it must have been the weekend closest to the date. I’d got up to watch cartoons when I made the discovery, but I strongly associate that memory with St. Patrick because later that day we went to see the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

At the time I wasn’t really aware of what St. Patrick’s Day was for and why it was celebrated. I knew it was associated with Ireland, but not knowing any Irish people it never really registered with me as a child. Until of course I saw a parade in the centre of a small city in America celebrating their pride in their heritage by walking down a street and displaying it for all to see.

It was another culture shock for me, because apart from the Easter Parade and Remembrance Day Parade in the small market town of Hedon where I grew up (neither of which are times of celebration, in fact quite the opposite) I had never really seen such a spectacle before. We’re not really proud in Britain of our history, even though we have so much more to celebrate than the US.

In fact, when it came to my heritage in America I was bullied because I’m English, not Irish or Scottish. For the time I spent in America I felt discouraged because I wasn’t of Celtic origin, but English; the enemy as students were told in history class. I was teased mercilessly for it, and it took me a long while to get over it, especially when I moved back to Britain and got teased for being an American (oh the irony).

It is the source of my mixed feelings, because I was never allowed to feel by my peers that my heritage was something to be proud of displaying. My other very strong associations with that day because of my pet probably hasn’t helped, but thinking back to that day now that I’m less emotionally charged and a lot more secure in my own identity, my memories of St. Patrick’s day are honestly fantastic and those Americans I saw having so much pride in their heritage rather puts the tradition of just going to the pub for a pint to shame. It also put my bullies to shame for not being able to comprehend that I had a heritage of my own, and they made me feel awful for wanting to identify myself with it.

Puzzles that taught me how to write fiction

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For the last month or so my mind has been a complete blank when it has come to my blog. It has not been because I don’t have ideas; my brain has just forgotten how to express them of late.

I’ve also been doing a great deal of reflecting. This is I suspect because for the majority of this year I’ve actually managed to keep up with writing my diary. I don’t just end each day and forget about it the next. I sit down, usually on the commute home, and write down my thoughts.

Last week, for reasons unknown to me my mind, decided that it wanted to return to some stories that when I was about nine or ten used to capture my imagination. Amazon, apparently, is great for supplying these sort of whims.

I used to borrow from my local library on a regular basis copies from the Usborne Puzzle Adventure Book Series. On every page there was a puzzle that was included as part of the story, which you had to solve to move on with the story and clues that you needed to remember to understand the plot and answer later questions. They are great fun. I sat on Sunday morning working through ‘Escape from Blood Castle’ . Doing this I remembered how much fun I used to have, while finding a new sort of joy in revisiting the book nearly 15 years later and still having a great time.

I brought a couple of omnibuses of them so in the next couple of months I’m going to have puzzles on my mind, because I will sit with a pen and paper like I used to and enjoy myself solving problems and reading great stories.

It isn’t just a happy trip down memory lane either. These books taught me how to create a plot using cliffhangers and clues weaved together with brilliant illustration to tell an entertaining interactive story.

My plot building skills might be more honed than they used to be but for the moment I’m quite content remembering and revisiting the puzzles that taught me how to write fiction.

If you get ‘The Twitch’ be prepared to admit you’ve gone wrong.

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I will admit that occasionally when it comes to my writing, I don’t get everything right the first time around. This is known as the shoddy first draft. No writer in the history of writing gets everything right the first time around. If such a writer does happen to exist, they sure as hell haven’t shared the secret on the web. That and they also cannot possibly be around every time I accidently hit the wrong key on the keyboard, usually the vowels, and it’s not picked up by spellchecker because technically I have spelt a real word if not the one I’d intended to spell. If humans can’t programme computers to help write the perfect first draft, then it simply doesn’t exist.

For the longest time in my writing career I was an isolated writer. I wrote stories, normally in my free time in school. I remember once being sat alone writing in a classroom while the England football team were playing in some important match or other in the Football World Cup, while everyone else sat in the common room because the teachers had arranged a special session near the end of the school year for everyone to watch the game. I opted out and finished the first draft of the first novel I ever attempted to write. England lost, and I was too happy to care (not that I was very bothered in the first place anyway, but that’s beside the point). This was in the days before Facebook, Twitter and all the guys in the band came and gathered the writing world together in social media. The minuteI joined up though and began to take writing more seriously and looked at platforms to launch myself from, the first bit of solid unwavering advice I got was about the fact you can’t always get it right. It still shocks me now that I thought I had got it right all those years ago.

That first draft I finished in my geography classroom is on loose paper and is truly, utterly very shoddy; it doesn’t make me any less proud of the fact I finished it, even though I doubt I will ever make it into a proper novel one day. The complexity of my fantasy compositions have developed beyond those characters and that story; quite frankly so have the audience. The issues I deal with in my books now are not just about getting the characters from A to B, I have tangents in my character development, and the current rewriting of my novel is testimony to the fact tangents can make characters more interesting especially in the long run. As an epic fantasy writer this is very important, but as I’ve been finding out it isn’t any easier to write despite having a great deal more practice since those school days.

However, I’ve been recently working long shifts doing event catering, and I’ve had a lot of time stood on my feet trying not to think about the fact I felt as if my feet were going to fall off in the pain. Other than thinking about my MA dissertation that I’m outlining and writing in the next month, I’ve let my mind wander into my own fantasy world, especially about the fact I’m not convinced that I have done the right thing.

There, holding my hands up and admitting I’ve gone wrong. This is certainly not the first draft of the novel (far bloody from it), but I still get what I call ‘the twitch’ every now and then in the back of my mind. Even through I am writing about a completely different world, where social rules and norms are different from ours, and are so for fundamental reasons, every now and then something just does not feel right.

It usually starts when I’ve finished writing what I wasn’t convinced was right for the novel in the first place but I decided to try it anyway: sometimes it works spectacularly well, and then those other times…well I’m sure you can imagine. The twitch in the back of my mind gets worse when I realise I don’t know how to write the very next scene after I’ve done something that doesn’t feel right. Then instead of attempting to move forwards I move backwards in the novel and rewrite scenes to justify and set up the action that I’m not convinced should happen in the first place. For me this can take a few attempts, and instead of justifying the action, I end up ruining previous scenes and beautiful moments in an attempt to ensure I don’t surprise my reader in a few pages time.

When that happens, my gut instinct that something is wrong kicks me out of trying to justify it and instead think about how to fix it. In the particular case that’s been bothering me for the last week or so I can surprise the reader, but not because the two characters in question do something, but rather, it works better for the book and the long term that they surprise everyone in my little world and in the real world that they choose not to do something. It requires no set up (thank goodness for track changes and back up copies to re-fix my justifications) and I now know how to write the next scene. All it required was to let myself lean up against a wall in a ladies toilet and zone out for a few moments to realise that, one I had a problem, and two it was really very easy to fix, especially if I just stopped being stubborn for a second and listen to my gut instinct.
It is not always that easy, but that is what the shoddy first draft is there to help you do sometimes. It helps you to learn how ‘not’ to write your novels. Learning to admit you got it wrong though is a lot harder to learn and develop, but if you let ‘the twitch’ in the back of your mind guide you to realising something is wrong, then it makes it a lot easier to accept that you are not a perfect writer.

And if you are that perfect writer the first time, each and every time, come on already and let the rest of us in on the secret.

My Little Blue Desk

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From etsy.com - Like my blue desk as a kid. Not quite the same, well mine was made of wood, but as similar as I can find.

From etsy.com – Like my blue desk as a kid. Not quite the same, well mine was made of wood, but as similar as I can find.

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories of writing is sitting at my little blue school desk at home, surrounded by my mint green bedroom walls, when I was about six years old. Why I had a school desk at home I don’t really know but I was very fond of it and very sad when I outgrew it. I sat there for hours carefully writing by hand a story called ‘Brown Rabbit’. It was a silly story kid’s story, but I loved writing it, and adapting it and changing it as my life experiences grew richer and my understanding of the world developed my story.

I have loved writing ever since, and I’m thoroughly addicted to creating worlds out of words, so addicted that I remember when I lived in America getting teased at school for using my free time at the beginning of the day not to sit and gossip with the other kids, but to sit and write my stories. I didn’t have my little blue desk with me as it was an ocean away back in England, but I had my imagination.

This blog is about writing, how I have found joy in bringing characters alive that otherwise would only live in my head, but through using words I can bring to other people’s lives as well. It is about how I have come to the realisation that I am a writer, that I always have been and that I always will be, and as I discover myself as I develop, I should never forget where I came from and I that I should never forget the joy of sitting at my little blue desk.