Monday, 22 December 2008

The return of the never ending story

Finally, I picked up the never ending story (my fantasy novel Earthwitch, which I have been writing sporadically for the last two years). It's been almost-complete, in first draft form, for some time. One of the things I thought I'd have time to do when I started my MA was go through the story so far and edit it. As usual, things didn't turn out quite the way I'd planned.

So yesterday I started reading, editing pen in hand. It hit me then. All the things we've been looking at this term fell into place; I could see exactly what needed cutting or improving, where I'd repeated myself or had slipped into cliches.

I'm still working on it. Perhaps the distance also helped; I was able to look at it objectively. All of chapter 2 has gone, and elsewhere whole scenes have been deleted. It's a liberating feeling. I have to strip it back before I can build it up again. Just because I like a particular scene is not a good enough reason to keep it in.

The good thing is that the structure seems to be pretty much there. I compared it to The Hero's Journey, and it it's not too far off.

Looking at Earthwitch again has also helped me decide that I'm probably not going to use it for my MA. I'm going to try and get a second draft up together over Christmas, but I want to start something fresh for next term. Now I've just got to decide what.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

News from the mothership

I'm regressing into my teenage self, as I usually do when I'm back home chez famille. I haven't resorted to fighting with my brother yet, but that's only because he's got his own place now and has been busy doing whatever mysterious things it is that he does.

Meanwhile, I have been talking some well-earned time out, while also stressing about not having started on my novel for next term yet. My subconscious is still working hard, and that's got to count for something, right?

Visiting my old workplace yesterday was a slightly surreal experience. On one hand, it felt as though very little had changed, almost as though everything that has happened to me since has just been a dream; sooner or later I will wake up and have to go back to work. Yet at the same time, I'm aware of how much is different. I'm totally committed to doing something that I love, whatever may come of it. It feels good.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

The end is nigh

The end of term, that is.

I still can't believe it. I've just posted my last assignment for this term online. Only a couple of small things left to do - like creating an entire website and collating my portfolio.

It really feels like the end of term now. The Christmas lights are on now, everyone is talking about Christmas/New Year plans and various friends have been in touch trying to find out where I'm going to be over the next few weeks. I'm looking forward to some home cooked meals, catching up with everyone and working on some potential novel ideas.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Untitled 3/12

I'm feeling a distinct lack of creative energy today. Or any energy at all, for that matter.

I have finally succumbed to the lurgy that is going around, right at the moment when I really don't have time to be ill. So much for making it through till the end of term without getting sick.

Consequently I don't have a lot to say, other than arrgghh! With deadlines looming, I'm getting increasingly stressed and frustrated. Particularly with the whole website thing. I'm enjoying learning Dreamweaver, but after three sessions, I'm just not there yet. So it's back to the drawing board, or rather, free websites for this one. Not what I wanted, but I guess my 'vision' will just have to wait.

C'est la vie.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Tests, allies, enemies

I can't believe how quickly these past few weeks have gone. As the end of term draws near, I've started reflecting on everything I've seen, learnt and written, as well as the friendships I've developed along the way.

Sometimes, I feel as though I'd incredibly lucky to be here, doing exactly what I want to be doing right now. Looking back on the past few weeks, I'm starting to see the changes, in my work, mentally and emotionally.

I suppose it's a combination of factors. I've been pushed outside my comfort zone; it's scary and exciting at the same time. I feel as though I've discovered new emotional depths to draw on when I write. I'm no longer worried what people think, or what my work may reveal about me.

It stands to reason that the more you write, the more you will improve. Having the time just to write has been fantastic. I've started preparing my portfolios for the end of term, and I'm amazed at how much work we've actually done.

Having the support of everyone else on the course, as well as from the lecturers has also been really helpful. Once January comes around and we start our specialist courses we're not really going to be together as a whole group again. It's a shame - this is the best group I've found.

In terms of the journey, I feel as though I've reached Stage 6 - Tests, Allies & Enemies. Now firmly in the special world, I'm totally committed to my quest. I've found my friends. Enemies reveal themselves in terms of negative comments, distractions and doubt, but pen in hand, I'm ready to take them on.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

The toil and the passion

Christmas is creeping up on us far too quickly. I haven't even thought about Christmas shopping yet as I've been far too busy trying to get through all the work I need to do before the end of term.

Of course, it didn't help that yesterday was spectacularly unproductive. I have no idea where most of the day went, and it didn't help that I had to go a buy two new tyres after running over a nail and then finding out my spare was cracked.

I'm now really glad that I turned down paid work over Christmas. The money would have be useful, but as we found out this week we have to produce an outline and the first thirty pages of our novel for January, it looks like it's going to be a busy 'holiday.' My dilemma now is which idea to go for? I have an existing novel I've been working on, plus a couple of new ideas which I'd love to take further.

A conversation with one of my flatmates helped to put it all into perspective. Living in a house with nine other people who are all in and out all the time means you don't necessarily see some of them all that often. So when you do run into each other it's good to catch up. He was asking me about the course (one thing I have discovered since I started the MA is that writers love to talk about their work, and I am no exception), and after I had talked for some time, he commented that I seemed really passionate about the course, and my work.

Afterwards, I felt better. Passion for writing is why I'm here - I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing right now. The truth is that sometimes we all need reminding why we're doing what we're doing. You can get bogged down in the details when what you really need to do is take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Monday, continued.....

So I'm still on yesterday.....

Instead of doing the sensible thing and getting on with my scriptwriting assignment, I decided to head into Falmouth.

It was a beautiful, if cold day. I went for a walk on the beach and then had a coffee in the beach cafe overlooking the sea. I felt very 'writerly' as I got out my Moleskine and continued drafting some ideas for a story I've been working on recently. I'm not sure exactly what form it's going to take, but sometimes that's half the fun. I don't want to say too much about the story at this stage, only that it's about a girl who is gradually going blind, and her encounters with an angel. I'm pretty sure it's going to have a happy ending, although I haven't figured out exactly which direction to take it in yet.

Various people have commented on the fact that you can often get inspiration for writing just listening to other people's conversations. On the bus on the way home, I overheard the funniest conversation. I almost had to stuff my scarf in my mouth to hold the laughter back.

A group of undergraduates was sitting in in front of me. One was commenting on the other's recent essay about 'Youth in Asia.' She had written a 15 page essay on the topic, misunderstanding the word 'Euthanasia.' I kid you not.

She had no idea what euthanasia was, and expressed her surprise that everyone else did, wondering why the term had the word 'Asia' in it, when in fact, it actually had nothing to do with Asia! She went to say that she'd thought it was a little strange - after all, what about youth in other countries? Weren't they just as relevant?

You couldn't make it up......

In which I discover I am a closet geek/nerd

The time has come for me to admit it. I am a closet geek.

Technically that should be nerd, but somehow geek sounds better than nerd. OK, I'll explain. I'm remembering a conversation I had with a friend not so long ago about geeks, nerds and dorks. I'm sure many will question the following descriptions, but here goes:
1. Geek - someone with an obsessive interest in a specialised subject area. The classic example of this is a computer geek.
2. Nerd - someone who loves learning generally
3. Dork - often clumsy, awkward and always doing/saying the wrong thing.

My earlier capering around the library would but me firmly in the nerd category. But nerd just isn't really a word we use here. Unlike many Americanisms, this one hasn't really caught on here.

I went over to Woodlane library today to check out the graphic novels and picture books - a little bit of research for something I've been thinking about. Most of the books I was looking at were reference only, however, I still managed to come out with four books to add to the growing stack beside my bed.

One of the great things about this course is that you can justify reading almost anything. Today I came out with a couple of books of short stories, Alan de Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life and a book about Chick Lit that had an interesting cover and blue & pink pages. Whether it will be any good or not remains to be seen, but I'll give it a go.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Reading, writing & dreaming

Two blogs in one day? What's going on?

I ditched my earlier plan to go into uni and work on my website there. It kept raining, and I was nice and cozy at home with a cup of tea and a Penguin biscuit. I can't remember the last time I pppppicked up a Penguin. Unlike some things fondly remembered from childhood, Penguins haven't lost their allure. Clubs biscuits aren't nearly as exciting, and Creme Eggs have definitely shrunk (although they're still pretty damn good).

I've just finished reading recent Guardian Children's Fiction Prize winner The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I raced through it, and now I'm left feeling slightly unsatisfied. The reason for this is that it's the first in a planned trilogy. Which is great, because that means there's more to come, but it also means I'll have to wait some time for it; I'm not sure the cliff's strong enough to support me.....

One of the things I loved about this novel was the strong voice of the adolescent protagonist, Todd. If you want to get technical about it, I suppose you could call it skaz - a particular way of speaking with a lot of slang and idiosyncrasies. This is enhanced by spelling some of the worlds phonetically, such as 'direkshun' for direction. You get the picture.

Without wanting to give too much of the novel away, Todd lives in a world where all men's and all animals' thoughts can be heard; a phenomenon they call Noise. Noise is represented visually through different typescripts on the page, giving it an almost graphic feel. I haven't seen that done before. It's an effective technique, which reminds me of some of the children's picture books I've been looking at recently and the way picture books are now starting to play with text on the page.

I'm quite drawn to the idea of combining writing with illustration or photography, or some combination of all three. I know they've got a good collection of picture books and graphic novels down at Woodlane, so I'm going to try and head over there tomorrow and see if I can find some inspiration.

Things are on the up.....

This weekend has been pretty productive; I'm feeling really positive right now.

After doing some story analysis on a couple of books I've read recently, I've got a clearer idea of the 12 point story structure. Reading Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey has also helped. It still took three tries before I found a story idea I felt comfortable with that I thought worked. Once I'd plotted the outline, actually writing the first two parts of story was fairly stress free.

But now I'm starting to think - was it too stress free? Am I missing some vital piece of information? I posted it online last night, so I'm sure I'll find out soon enough. Time to move on.

Before Tuesday rolls around again I really want to do some more work on my website. I've just started learning Dreamweaver. It's quite different from anything I've done before, but I'm enjoying the challenge. I have a vision of what I want to create; now I just have to realise that vision.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Decisions, decisions......

I'm tired tonight: it's been a pretty intense day.

As usual, my head is full of ideas, thoughts and random crap. This week, we've had taster sessions in Features and Non-Fiction writing. Pretty soon I'm going to have to make a decision about what I'm going to specialise in next term. I particularly enjoyed the non-fiction session - but now I'm more confused than ever as I hadn't even really considered taking non-fiction before. The whole process of coming up with an idea, researching and pitching it to the rest of the group was fascinating. It also sounds as though there is more opportunity to get published, which has also got to be a consideration. Hmmm.......

Highlight of the day was the session with literary agent Victoria Hobbs. Victoria was kind enough to give us some of the tricks of the trade (including what not to do when approaching a literary agent). I felt as though she gave us a realistic picture of the current status of industry and our chances of being published.

Interestingly, she told us it's actually easier to get published as a new writer than someone who has already been published. And the best news - everyone wants young adult/crossover fiction. Now all I have to do is finish the novel. Speaking of which.....

Monday, 17 November 2008

Stuck on the Form

I was writing this blog yesterday when the internet went down. Grr. So here's a completely different one.

I feel as though I've accomplished something productive today. And guess what? I actually left the house today! Admittedly it was only to go to the shop (about 2 mins walk away), but at least I made contact with the outside world. Sometimes I do feel a little like the Lady of Shalott, sitting here, typing away in my room. I digress.

So this week, I've been wrestling with a form of a different sort for our Writing Structure class. We've moved on from rhetorical argument to the story form. Strangely enough, I've actually found this more difficult. It was slightly depressing to see some of the beautifully constructive, creative offerings that some people had posted. I suppose it's just a different way of working. While I can see the point, the discipline sits uneasily with me.

I'm not much of a planner when it comes to writing. Generally I'll work with an idea, a theme or an image and see where it takes me. It usually comes out in some sort of organised structure, and then I can go back and tweak it later.

The other problem I've been having this week is that I seem to have so many thoughts jostling for space in my mind. But then that's another part of the discipline I'm trying to take on board - learning to write about what I have to rather than what I want to write about.

My notebook is filling up with ideas I want to come back to later when I have a little more time. Although right now I can't quite imagine when that will be.....

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Footprints in the snow

I've just put pen to paper for the first time on my Moleskine notebook. It's a strangely sensual experience that cannot be replicated by tapping away on my laptop.

I was given the notebook in question as a leaving present from my work colleagues. It has been waiting patiently for inspiration to strike me. It would have been sacrilegious to sully its pages with any old jottings; the simple elegance of the notebook demanded a worthy idea.

While most people have not used a fountain pen since their school days, I'm still fond of this rather old fashioned writing implement.

The ink glides across the page. It's the same sensation I felt as a child: the joy of being the first one to walk across a pristine snowy wilderness.

While sometimes I'll go straight to the computer and start writing, sometimes you just can't beat the feeling of ink upon paper. Thoughts flow differently, somehow.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Return of the blog

It's been a while since my last blog. There's been a lot happening this week, both in terms of actual events and stuff that's going on in my head.

The return of my teenage insomnia gives me way too much time to think, and that's never a good thing. The most frustrating thing is that I can't actually do anything productive with that time, but I can't turn my mind off. That's when doubt starts to creep in and I start stressing over all the the things on my list that still remain undone.

On Wednesday I went to see the fireworks with some of my housemates. I was slightly disappointed that there was no actual bonfire (Bonfire Night without the bonfire - something missing, perhaps?). The fireworks were really good though, although the choice of music was a little odd. Most of the songs they were playing were really popular in 1998 or thereabouts. As I reminisced about what I'd been doing back then in those halcyon days as an undergraduate, I noticed the slightly blank looks from some of my housemates. Then I realised they must have all only been about ten then.

I've spent most of the weekend at the film festival, volunteering and trying to catch some of the events while the opportunity was there. After working on numerous arts festivals previously, it was quite strange to see things from a volunteer's perspective. Generally it was pretty easy going; most of the other volunteers were good fun and I didn't really have to do anything more taxing than check tickets and make tea. Plus I got a cool t-shirt.

Probably my favourite event of the weekend was John Yorke's lecture about story structure, which was also attended by at least half of the people on my course. He was a dynamic speaker, and I could have quite happily listened to him talk for much longer.

I also went to see a silent film from the 1920s called Sunrise, which was accompanied live by Cornish band Wurlitzer. I'd never actually seen a silent film before, so I was intrigued to find out what it would be like. I found myself fascinated by the images on the screen combined with modern music. It was a slightly strange combination which really seemed to fit the mood and tone of the film.

Whatever else is on the list is just going to have to wait. I'm done for tonight.

Monday, 3 November 2008

It all depends whose shoes you're standing in....

Last week we were looking at point of view in one of our seminars. As I was working on the assignment at the weekend, it got me thinking. What would it be like if you could see something from someone else's point of view? I don't just mean from what you imagine their perspective to be, but what they actually think.

It would be an interesting superpower - just think of all the things you could do with it! OK, you can stop thinking now..... There would inevitably be people who would use it for less than honourable purposes. There's a big difference between wanting to find out if someone you're attracted to is interested in you and using this 'overheard' information to reinvent yourself as a criminal mastermind.

As a writer, you are in the unique position to know exactly what all your characters think about a given situation. I'd never turned a scene around before and written it from a different character's viewpoint. It was fascinating what changed; tiny things took on new meaning when seen through someone else's eyes. I had fun with the scene, looking for ways I could play with the meaning. It made me realise how much of everyday life is open to interpretation. Each of us makes our own interpretation of everything we experience. Perhaps it's good to step into someone else's shoes once in a while......

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Remember, remember....

It's been cold today, much colder that it has been lately. Proper bonfire night weather. It reminds me of going to fireworks displays as a child, getting all wrapped up to huddle around a huge bonfire, eating sausages as the anticipation builds while you wait for the next set of fireworks begin.

It's pure magic. With sparklers.

I've been to a few fireworks displays as an adult, and have always been faintly disappointed. It wasn't as cold (I've found myself leaving half my layers in the car), the fireworks weren't as spectacular and sometimes there weren't even any sausages!

The weather is making me feel rather nostalgic. I may have to hunt down some sparklers and track down a fireworks display to see if the magic has returned.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The death of sleep

I'm in a curious, reflective mood tonight. Ideas are literally clustering around me, jostling for space in my already overcrowed head. My notebook is fast filling up with things to be developed at a later date.

Recently I've noticed a return of the insommnia that peppered my teenage years. Too many thoughts, too little time. I guess that means I'll be burning the midnight oil again.....

But apart from the lack of sleep, this can only be a good thing. After all, this is what I came here for. I've been reading some more of my coursemates' Lady of Shalott inspired stories the evening, I'm impressed. It's fascinating seeing the variety of responses to the same exercise. Each is unique, and distinctive, offering up a different perspective. Every week, we are challenged to do something different, something outside our comfort zone. The best thing is that it doesn't matter if it doesn't work. You learn from it, and you move on.

This morning we had a session on writing for children. We began by looking at some examples of children's books, including one of my all-time favourites, The Hungry Caterpillar. It's amazing how a book can evoke so many memories and feelings. I can still vividly recall numerous books from my childhood that literally transported me into the world they created. It's the compulsion to capture that feeling, to create a world and characters that readers will become lost in, that drives me to write.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Welcome to the dark side

Recently I have noticed a change in my writing. I'm drawn to the dark side.

It's ironic, really, as I've always been a sucker for a happy ending. But the twist, now there's the rub. The way a story hooks you in, and then dashes your expectations when you least expect it. I'm beginning to see how to use this, to play with the emotions of my readers. It's not a nice, safe world out there. There are monsters under the bed (although they may actually be more afraid of you than you are of them) and things that go bump in the night. The latter is usually just me tripping over the crap strewn around my room in the dark.

I've also been reading a lot of Angela Carter and Neil Gaiman. I love the way they take myths and fairytales and subvert them. We've been looking at narrative and genre recently in our Writers' Toolkit sessions doing a similar sort of thing. The idea is that you take the kernel events from a well-known story and then use them as a jumping off point for your own work. It was amazing how few markers we actually needed to identify stories that everyone is aware of, such as Little Red Riding Hood. We are all so familiar with the story that it takes very few references to realise we are reading a version of this tale. It's a great way to start thinking about stories.

Carrying on with the theme of cannibalism from one of our Writing Structure seminar, this week I've created a dark tale based on the Hansel & Gretel story. By using well-known tales as a starting point, the challenge is to weave the references from the original into the new version. I was amazed by the number of very different, inventive and engaging versions of the Icarus myth members of the group came up with. Makes you think....

That's what it's really all about. Anything that makes you think, makes you look at things in a different way. The possibilities are endless.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

A Visit from the Time Thief

This morning, as my alarm went off at some hideously early time on a Saturday I dragged my slightly hungover self out of the comfort of my bed and headed into Falmouth. It was a still, calm autumn morning, and dawn lit up Penryn harbour; everything was bathed in a soft amber light. I decided the walk would do me good, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a few photographs while I had the world to myself.

The Cornwall Film Festival kicks off in Falmouth 6-9 November, and I had decided to volunteer , partly because it is a good way to get a free ticket and pick up some useful insider information, and also because volunteering at festivals can be a lot of fun. This morning's meeting was a bit of an induction, a chance to meet the team, check out the venues and mingle with other potential volunteers (as well as we could at 9am without the benefit of serious amounts of caffeine).

Despite my good intentions to return home after the meeting and get on with something a) useful, b) meaningful or c) work that I actually needed complete, I still managed to spend rather a lot of time wandering around Falmouth where I bumped into a couple of friends and bought more stuff in Tescos that I don't really need. The rest of the afternoon disappeared in a blur.

I think someone out there is stealing time. It's the only rational explanation as to why this keeps happening. Several other people I know have reported the same phenomenon. Surely this can't be a coincidence?

Suddenly it was 6.30pm and as I was whipping up another culinary masterpiece, I became rooted to the spot. what strange enchantment was this? Luckily I managed to free myself by the time Strictly Come Dancing had finished, but I was so overcome by this effort that I had to recuperate by spending some time phone talking to one of my best friends.

It's now after 10pm, and I'm just settling down to get started. I think it's going to be a late one....

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Fiona is currently unavailable...

Earlier this evening I attempted to add today's musings to my blog, I got the message Blogger is currently unavailable. Strong language followed as I refreshed my browser window, only to be greeted by the same frustrating message.

I want to write my blog, and I want to do it now!

We live in a society where instant gratification is the norm. We have become a society of petulant toddlers; if our desires aren't fulfilled at once then all hell breaks loose. As fond as I am of the internet and the convenience of my mobile phone, I can't help thinking that being in contact with the world 24/7 is not necessarily a good thing. Our lives become a blur as we rush from one thing to another, rarely taking the time to savour the moment, the 'now' of our existence.

Stop the world, I want to get off....

Spending a year doing an MA is an opportunity to concentrate on the things that really matter to me. I think I finally got to the stage where I realised that I couldn't just keep squeezing my dreams into the ever-shrinking amount of time I had to call my own, the time that wasn't taken up by work, family, friends, updating my Facebook account and all the other tedious minutiae of daily life. A few months ago, I faced a choice. 'Now or never' sounds a little dramatic, but I'd reached a point where it was put up or shut up. After the first day of the course, I knew I'd made the right decision.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Random thoughts on a Wednesday evening

Why is it that when I can't actually physically write anything (for example, rushing into campus this morning, or standing in the shower) my mind is full of things to write about, but as soon as I click 'new blog' I find my thoughts scatter like a flock of birds disturbed by a sudden movement....

I have been known to scribble down my thoughts and ideas on whatever paper comes to hand when I wake at 3am. The only problem then is deciphering what appears to be the scrawl of a five year old. Inspiration will strike wherever, whenever it likes, without warning, invitation, or any sense of what is convenient.

Right now I'm thinking about cannibalism. I should probably explain that 'cannibalism is good' is the subject for one of my assignments this week, rather than a macabre and somewhat disturbing new interest I've developed. I'm intrigued to see what everyone else is going to write on this; I've yet to decide what angle I'm going to take on the subject. It has certainly provoked a lot of discussion, covering everything from the anthropological to the ridiculous.

Earlier today we had our introduction to business writing. For part of the session, we were asked to think up promotional slogans for a well known charity. Hmmm.... Cannibalism: 'I'm loving it' Perhaps not.

Food for thought......

Monday, 20 October 2008

What makes a good book?

I've just finished reading The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It's probably the best novel I've read in a long time, and I can't believe I've only just discovered it. Poignant, beautifully written and structured, I didn't want to put it down, and at the same time, I wanted to prolong the experience of reading it.

This has led me think about the experience of reading. What makes a good book? What do we mean by 'good'? It is a complex question that I can't easily answer.

There have been novels I have breathlessly rushed through in order to find out what happened, so caught up in the intensity of the story that I felt I had little choice but to read on. Some of these were little more than compelling froth, but that didn't mean I didn't enjoy them at the time. Other novels I have read more slowly, content to pick them up and put them down, reading a little at a time and savouring the prose like a fine wine. Then there are old favourites, books that I will return to time and time again, old friends I am delighted to visit (Lord of the Rings and anything by Jane Austen come into this category).

It is amazing how some books, particularly those we have loved and read over and over as children affect us. One of my most vivid memories from my childhood is of reading The Chronicles of Narnia. It was just before my seventh birthday. The magic of that time has never left me. For at least a couple of years afterwards, I continued on my quest to find Narnia whenever we visited my grandmother's house. As a child, her house seemed huge, and there were several wardrobes filled with fur coats. I remember thinking that if I kept trying, sooner or later, I would get there.

Although I never reached Narnia, it did not stop me trying. However, before long, I discovered I could create my own worlds, vast countries that I could access any time I liked. I'm still doing it now.

Saturday, 18 October 2008


For the past few years, I feel as though I've been on a journey, a voyage of discovery which has ultimately led me up to the point where I find myself now.

What I'm feeling at the moment is a sense of homecoming. I've only been in Falmouth for two weeks, since I started my MA in Professional Writing, but every day I am struck by the realisation that this is where I'm meant to be. Right here, right now, I am currently doing exactly what I need to be. Paradoxically, it's almost as if I had to come home in order to commence what may be my most ambitious journey yet.

Spending time in New Zealand and Australia last year in the company of other travellers made me realise the value of living in the moment. It's something too easily forgotten in the rush of everyday life; work, friends, family and process of just living takes over. All too often, we forget how to live in the moment, continually reminiscing about halcyon days or looking forward to the future.

Meeting, and working with other fledgling writers has been an incredible experience. There's an almost electric atmosphere here; the air is literally crackling with creative energy. My now is filled with a kind of slighly apprehensive excitement which is shared by most of the people around me. We're all in the same boat, settling sail on a journey into uncharted waters. I have no idea where I will end up; the only thing I know for certain is that it's going to be one hell of an adventure.