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Weekly Quote #27

“It is a most mortifying reflection for a man to consider what he has done, compared to what he might have done.” (Samuel Johnson, in Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’)

“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” (Arnold H. Glasow)

No excuses in 2016, you hear me? Do the thing, and work towards it a little every day! That dream you have? That thing you want to achieve? No one will just hand that to you! Go get it, and be proud of yourself and your hard work!

I don’t want to hear complaints next year that you wish you’d done the thing, okay? Stop dreaming and do it.

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There’ll be no more weekly quotes from January.

For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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Weekly Quote #26

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” (John F. Kennedy)

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” (Melody Beattie)

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” (Buddha)

Continuous health issues/confusions, far too many visits to the doctor this year alone and a strained relationship with my parents and family aren’t the only things in my life. There’s an awesomely amazing boyfriend, a loving/smothering cat and the perfect house, too – never mind the welcoming writing community and all my writing/blogging friends I’ve met this year! And a great job I enjoy! Yes, some things went wrong this year and I cried more often than I’d care to admit, but I’ve got nothing to complain about!

What better time to be grateful and appreciate what we have than Christmas? It’s easy to forget what we’ve already got and how good our lives actually are when things go wrong. Sickness, accidents, and unemployment are good examples for things which can make us forget everything we do have. If you’re struggling to find a job, maybe you’ve got a loving family and friends behind you. If you don’t have a family or a large circle of friends, at least you’ve got a roof over your head and bloody internet access! And don’t lie to me, if you can’t access the internet how are you reading this, hm? At a friend’s place? At your Mum’s? Well, there you go, then.

It’s easy to forget the things we should be grateful for and take them for granted instead, and Christmas is a great time to reflect. There’ll always be something that goes wrong, but something else will go well, too. And if it doesn’t go well today, maybe it will tomorrow.

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There’ll be no more weekly quotes from January.

For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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Weekly Quote #25

“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” (Madonna)

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” (Judy Garland)

Today there’s just a small reminder to be yourself, and do what you want with your life. Stand up for yourself, fight for the things you want, and don’t let yourself down. Receiving praise of any kind will mean so much more if you’ve done what you love, not what somebody else thinks you should do.

I’m not saying it’ll be easy all the time but nothing ever is, and at least you’ll know that you’ve gotten through things yourself, as yourself. It’ll be worth it.

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There’ll be no more weekly quotes from January.

For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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Weekly Quote #24

“Often the first hurdle is the writer’s own self-consciousness about the act of writing itself. And that hurdle might well take a few pages to clear, like an old car with a dirty petrol tank; the first few miles will be a juddering, stop-start journey. Be prepared for this. You are engaging with something unfamiliar to you, don’t expect to produce a masterpiece in your first attempt. Start off with what you had for tea, the last phone call you made, the colour of your lover’s eyes, your favourite CD. Give yourself a subject and write about it, without stopping or correcting yourself, for five minutes. Just generate some pages, a body of work.”Β (fromΒ ‘The Creative Writing Coursebook’ by Julia Bell and Andrew Motion)

When I go through the first draft of Rise of the Sparrows I can hardly believe that the first few pages and the last few pages are really the same book. Somewhere around the second half my writing evolved and stepped it up a notch, but you can tell that I was more than a little unpractised on the first few pages. The sentences are too long, chapters are embarrassingly short (think 2/3-of-a-page-short), and the writing itself is terrible, too. Β Calling it a juddering stop-start is giving it too much credit – but I got past those pages and the second half is something I’m proud of already even now, before I’m done with the first edit. While the beginning was painful it got easier, and eventually the words flowed more easily.

I know it’s always difficult to start something new and I know it’s not a good feeling when you feel like you’ve let yourself down, but keep going and it’ll get there. Always keep going.

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There’ll be no more weekly quotes from January.

For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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Weekly Quote #23

“A first-time encounter with your own work is not dissimilar to watching yourself on TV or hearing your recorded voice for the first time – Do I really sound like that? Oh no, I never knew I looked like that. You might well be embarrassed or disappointed. Don’t stop. This is a rite of passage.”Β (fromΒ ‘The Creative Writing Coursebook’ by Julia Bell and Andrew Motion)

When I started editing my first draft I cut the entire prologue and the entire first chapter. While the prologue wasn’t that bad it didn’t really fit, but the first chapter really was that bad. The writing was awful, the first sentence (or whole paragraph, really) couldn’t have been more boring and the end of the first chapter didn’t even make me want to continue, and I wrote the thing! If I’m bored by my own writing, how can I expect you guys to enjoy it?

Fortunately, this is normal. I wrote the beginning a while ago and my writing has improved since then –Β  it only makes sense for me to spot all those little things which are wrong with it now, when they seemed like great ideas at the time.

And don’t even get me started on my first unpublished, burnt-to-ashes ‘novel’ (I’m emberrassed to even call it that). The whole thing was awful, and remembering that I once sent this piece of crap to agents I want to write to them again, just to apologise for my ignorance. Honestly, those guys have better things to do.

But, as I said – and as The Creative Writing Coursebook states – this is normal. If this describes you perfectly chin up, you’re not the only one!

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Weekly Quote #22

“When I meet these people, whose confidence has been knocked or who haven’t had the chance to try their hand yet, it’s often apparent that, whatever reasons they give for not having written yet, they still really want to do it. It’s still the thing they would most like to do. They need to clear some space for themselves. Complicated things like guilt, underconfidence, ambition, pride, and the rest off everyday life – these need to be set aside for a little while. They need to get to know themselves all over again, I think, and get some words down on paper.”Β (fromΒ ‘The Creative Writing Coursebook’ by Julia Bell and Andrew Motion)

Just a brief reminder this week that if there’s something you really want to do, the only one standing in your way is yourself. I know a small handful of people who either used to write but haven’t written for a while due to various reasons, or who have never written but want to and just don’t know how to start.

No one needs to give you permission, and there’s definitely no secret to getting started. If you’re waiting for a sign or a cue to start you’ll be waiting for a while. I understand everyday life can be hectic, but I think if there’s something you really want to do – be it writing a book or something else – all you need to do is start. Make time, set some time aside even if it’s just ten minutes, and do it. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it doesn’t even need to be good. The only thing that matters is that you’ve made a start.

Otherwise it’ll always be that one thing you wanted to do but didn’t, and you’ll wonder what could have been.

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For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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Weekly Quote #21

“You have to remember that no one can write exactly as you do. You are the unique product of a unique life history. Even if you had an identical twin, they could never write precisely the poems, plays, stories that you will. So if you don’t write this text and in your own particular way, then no one else ever will. No one can do it for you.” (fromΒ ‘The Creative Writing Coursebook’ by Julia Bell and Andrew Motion)

I get intimidated when I read a really great book. Not as often as I used to, but sometimes it still happens. Some of the books I’ve read recently were so brilliant they made me doubt whether I can really do this. Who am I, to think I can do what they do? How dare I call myself one of them? And to an extend I’m right. I can’t write exactly what they’ve written, but they’ve been doing this for a lot longer than I have and I wouldn’t really want to write exactly what they’ve written, anyway. Those are their stories, there are plenty more in my own head I can write! Likewise, they wouldn’t have been able to write what I’ll write. They’d have written it differently, maybe/probably better (again, they’ve been at this for waaay longer than I have) but it wouldn’t have been the same. Only I can say the words in exactly the way I need to say them, and the same is true for you and your story.

So stop making excuses, and don’t let those amazing, big names out there intimadate you. You don’t have to write as they do to be amazing and earn your spot amongst them. You need only to write, and to keep writing.

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Weekly Quote #20

“A story leaves a deeper impression when it’s impossible to tell which side the author is on.” (Tolstoy)

When you’re writing a book or a short story chances are you’ll want your protagoniost to win, like any good parent would. He or she is the hero after all, the one who will fix everything and save the day! Your reader, however, mustn’t sense your bias. Here’s why.

If your readers know from the very beginning that the protagonist has a really good chance of winning there’s no point of reading until the end any more. They’ll already know who you support. It also makes for more one-sided story-telling. Your antagonist needs to be as rich and well thought through as your hero, and you need to talk about them in exactly the same way. Every book should have the chance of your hero failing until the very end. If your bias towards your main character is clear right away I won’t believe that this chance exists. What’s more, if your antagonist is just as rich and detailed your readers might begin to see your antagonist’s point and maybe even understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Long story short, your characters will be more believable when your bias isn’t obvious and things could go either way. And that’s a good thing.

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Weekly Quote #19

“This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth… You can’t give up, because if you give up… You’ll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always always always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweety? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.” (Marilyn Monroe)

I love this quote for so many reasons. No, it’s not directly related to writing but indirectly it’s related to just about anything you want it to be. Nobody can control your life for you. It’s yours and doesn’t belong to anyone else. All other people in it only have as much control over you as you allow them to have. If you want anything, you’ll have to go and get it and take responsible for every aspect of your life.

It’s your life. You’re in charge. Do the thing, because no one else will do the thing for you (and if they did it’d be meaningless because you need to achieve your goals yourself if you want it to mean anything).

If you fail and get hurt, brush off the dust and bandage your wounds and then try again. There’s no one responsible for your happiness but you, so go and do the thing you want to do. Who cares if you fail?

At least you’ve tried. And then you’ll try again until you nail it.

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Weekly Quote #18

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” (Anne Lamott)

This week I’ve just got a brief reminder for you that your first draft is allowed to suck. Even your first book is allowed to be imperfect. No one starts out with something new, something they maybe have never done before, and are already perfect from the start. You get better as you go, you’ll improve as you take feedback on board. Don’t beat yourself up if your first attempts didn’t go as well as you hoped. You’re allowed to do badly at first, just pick yourself up and try again. If you keep trying you’ll improve along the way.

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