Sunday, 19 January 2014

Chapter Nine – A Book You Thought You Wouldn’t Like But Ended Up Loving

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte 
 Here's where the picture's from.

I did not think I would enjoy this book when I saw it upon my first year reading list at university. I thought it was going to be dreadfully dull and typical of that time: over bearing and boring, perhaps too religious.

I was not aware what a wonderful and enchanting book was before me.

I had no idea of the brilliant, gothic undertones, which presented an entirely different book to me – one that was actually interesting, and held my rapt attention.

I had read Jane Austen previously, thinking I must attempt a literary great, especially because I was living in Bath. Needless to say, I absolutely hated Persuasion, and I had a terrible feeling that Jane Eyre would be similar.

I was so wrong! Even if I did not quite enjoy some of the lon speeches and moments with St John I loved the language – I regret not writing down any of the quotes, blustery and stormy as they are.

I loved studying it too, and I remember that my essay was about animalistic imagery in the book.

I brought the edition I read, most likely in a charity shop for some scant amount. It pleases me greatly as it is a first edition published by Penguin. 

I’ve read Wuthering Heights and was equally impressed, Anne, however, - I’m sorry. Your books are too much ‘proper’, and your siblings’ are beautiful and full of heart.

I wish all of the classics were like this!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Bookish Resolutions

Books are a main feature in my room.
I’ve been pretty lazy with my blog posts recently. I’m not entirely sure why – I don’t really have any excuse and plenty things I should be writing about – bookshops and book memes galore.

And even though I’ll never achieve the fantastic level and wonderful reading other people do I will continue to post articles. It’s a way of getting work out there, a way to show the world what I can do – and to practice. And Lord knows I need it.

I’ve recently started writing for The Hex Dimension and I’m proud to say I have two articles up there already. Don’t worry. If I actually get off my bottom and write, I have endless content for both blogs.

It’s the New Year, and I’m going to blog my resolutions.

I bet you weren’t expecting that.

I have quite a few resolutions - including being nicer to my mum and appreciating being at home more - that fit my personal statement - when I'm not reading books, I am writing them. And when I am not writing books, I am binding them – and I’m going to explore those here.

So, a general resolution – the blog every week, whether it’s for here or for Hex. 

Writing Resolutions

Just before NaNoWriMo 2013 I started a creative writing club at the secondary school where I work. I somehow managed to get through a pretty arduous November with ten year sevens who all looked adorably chuffed with their NaNoWriMo certificates at the end of year assembly. There’s another of my resolutions – dedicate more time planning for writing club. That’s going well so far, I spent three hours planning and creating resources for them over the weekend.

In our first club of 2014 I made a shiny power-point and we made our own writing resolutions.

Finish my novel before Camp NaNoWriMo (April 2014)

I would like to re-write my first ever NaNo novel in April, and preferably from start to finish, and not, as usual, to finish in a different NaNo. Before I can do this I need to finish part 1, general editing and all. This will give me more of a complete sense of the series and hopefully allow me to have a good and fresh start.

Write every single day in 2014

Really this should be the mind-set of every writer ever and I’m determined to prove to myself that I can do it. Writing includes blogging, editing, writing up books in my Moleskine book journal, diary entries, applications and letters. It’s worked so far, and will set me up properly for NaNoWriMo, which I somehow always find difficult. 


I’ve just thought of something else. I really, really miss peer work shopping. In fact, I started editing The Boyfriend’s novel last year, and it’s so good that it makes me ‘squee’. If I need anything inspiring, I can read that. And I’m not just saying that because I’m going out with him. I truly believe that if he can get off of his bottom that he can publish and be successful. So: finish editing Soft Touch, or as much as I have of it. 

Reading Resolutions

I love reading. A ridiculous amount. I’m a strange reader. I can listen to entire conversation between the boyfriend and his siblings of all the details and characters of novels but I barely remember anything. All throughout university we were told that we needed to read lots in order to improve our writing. I’ve read hundreds of books but...I don’t think reading had made a difference. I can barely remember scenes of books unless I’ve read them several times. I have a memory of a goldfish, but I don’t think this is good.

Well that was depressing.

Anyway. I will continue to try and fill my Moleskine book journal with elusive letters such as K, X, Y and Z. I received a new journal Christmas 2012 and I wish I had started it afresh in 2014. I also need to let go, eventually, of filling up the journals perfectly every time. Like I said, some of the letters are so few and far between that I’m almost tempted to title my novel with those letters to fill up the alphabet.

Another resolution carries over from last year is my 100 book goal. I read 64 books in 2013 when I know I could have read a load more. Remarkably, getting a bus every day to work has meant that I’ve already read two 500-ish paged novels since school started on the 5th. I will try to be smarter this year by reading smaller books during the week and big ones when I have more time at weekends and during the school holidays.

Series are mostly made up from narrow and manageable, brilliant books and there are several series I wish to finish this year, including The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hornblower books, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes. I’m still debating over A Song of Ice and Fire. I think I love the television series too much – love being shocked and astounded by it – to read the events in the book. I started A Storm of Swords Part 2 this weekend but I think now I’ve caught up with the series I think I’m going to stop. Reading up the colourful celebration ceremony was absolute HELL. I don’t think I can through knowing what’s going to happen again.

I saw somewhere on the internet that 2014 could be the year when you finish those books you got half way through in 2013. Well, I have so called ‘classics’ on my shelf that are gathering dust with bookmarks more or less half way. (Not that my books get especially dusty. I’m a bit of a freak when keeping my books dust-free, but for now, I think the sentiment still counts.) I will endeavour to finish them, but I can’t make any promises, as they’re all horrible and there’s a reason why I haven’t touched them for two or three years.

Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. I have over 500 pages of this dreadful edition to read. (Over 1000 pages, bound in one volume, using ‘perfect’ binding. Ridiculous. Penguin, you should ashamed.) During university my friend spent several days in hospital and finished it. I’m not sure how she recovered, but I bow down to her endurance and determination.

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni. Picked this up from a charity shop because I wanted a challenge. Didn’t think it would be this challenging.

Confessions by Jean-Jaques Rosseau. If I can get anything from this, it’s the time period I suppose. I like the 18th century and that’s when I’ve set my novels.
Confessions by St Augustine. A lot dryer than the above. It will be interesting looking at the development of language etc, even if this is a translation.

Ulysess by James Joyce. I DETEST this book. Normally i can a horrid book if I’m studying it in a seminar with cleverer people but I just did not understand why this book is lauded so much. It’s far too clever for me. But I will try. I WILL TRY TO FINISH THIS BEAST SO I CAN BURN IT AFTERWARD. Or, plan those cool secret box in a book thing, which actually, Clarissa would be perfect for. 

Binding Goals

I haven’t done any binding in quite a while, but this will be the year to resolve that. I’m going to try and complete at least one binding project a week, though it’s difficult because of the patterns I work in – I can bind well in the early evening but then there’s work and ohmygoodness no time.

The thing is, binding is so important to me, because I’ve applied to West Dean and I desperately want to go there. And I really, really need to practise lots.

I’m just afraid I won’t be able to achieve my dream.

Join me in a year, and see how I’ve done.