New Year’s Eve Post

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2015 is almost over and it’s time to reflect on the year behind us. As you will know by now, this is my writing related blog, rather than reflecting on personal events of the year as a whole. Incidentally, it’s been an alright year all in all. First full year at uni completed, and I’m now half-way through my second. Without descending into the maudlin, I am now officially half way through my degree…

My original New Year’s Resolution was to write every day. That was an interesting one. Back when I picked it, I’m not sure that I had looked at the literature online about whether forcing yourself to write every day is the most effective way to write. All in all, I’m not convinced it was.

I managed to keep up with the goal until the exam season of June when I missed one day and then slid straight off the wagon, but up until then on some days I had only written a word or two. It wasn’t the most effective way of keeping a love for writing alive and well.

When I was at home, or had lower levels of work, it was great. I could dedicate plenty of time to storytelling.

At uni, when the workloads were mounting? It wasn’t the most effective way of looking at writing. That all changed when I abandoned my original resolution and decided to write when I feel like it, and to keep working on my novels. (Yes, now two WIPs, not just one…)

In November I sat in my chair in my room and wrote into the early hours of the morning, despite impending essay doom, and it was the most magical thing. It was a complete return to the utter freedom I had felt as a twelve or thirteen year old writing a NaNo novel for the first time.

Another thing that didn’t work quite as well as I had hoped was the whole writing by hand experiment. It meant that editing scenes is a lot harder work and has left me setting myself a goal for 2016 to blitz through the rest of the first draft of A Twisted Dance so I have it all on a computer in front of me.

The first draft of A Twisted Dance, although primarily handwritten, is a lot cleaner so far than the first draft of my other project: OMS. The first draft of OMS is a lot closer to a draft zero than anything else.

My plans for 2016 are a little more practical and tangible, and I’ll be utilising this blog in a more consistent way next year.

I want to try and finish first drafts of both A Twisted Dance and OMS and polish them up. My writing has improved this year for sure, and that’s a trend I want to continue.

Happy New Year everyone!

Emma x

Disclaimer: I’m posting this a day early but I’m sure it’ll be New Year’s Eve in some part of the world by now! 

December Update

Wow. I hadn’t realised I forgot to update in October, meaning that I haven’t blogged here since September. In some ways everything is the same as it was then (of course) and in other ways it is a little bit different.

Writing wise, November was an interesting month for me. NaNoWriMo is a big focus for me most years, and I love the temporary writing community that springs to light in a small corner of the Internet.

This year it was also the time of one of my most significant workloads of the uni academic year, meaning that balancing writing and studying was an exercise in chaos. I attended the Creative Writing Soc Night of Writing Dangerously but had to flee before the end of the event, knowing that an essay rather than a novel would greet me in the morning.

It can be a tricky one, keeping up writing while working towards your degree. It’s a lot easier than it was at A-level though, because now there isn’t the menagerie of grades and percentage points, there’s primarily just 2:1 or Not 2:1. And that’s a good thing, it keeps me from putting undue focus on the grades and academia. I like it.

After a family Christmas, I thought I’d update now, quickly, before an end of year post at New Year’s. I’m going to try and write some more in the coming days, before the looming 10,000 words of deadlines start to press away at my creativity.

The last few days have been a perfect oasis, let’s continue that.

Review: The Game of Things

– Originally published in Indigo (Palatinate) in December 2015 –

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Game of Things in return for my honest opinions on the game.

The Game of Things is a fun card game proclaimed by its creators as “humor in a box!” It is exactly that, providing a fun distraction on a cold winter’s afternoon.

Inside the wooden box are a set of pencils, the playing cards and finally score and answer sheets. Each playing card contains a topic for discussion. One example, which created some suitably naughty responses, was “Things you shouldn’t put in your mouth”. After the reader has announced the topic for consideration, every other player writes their answer down. When they have been read out, people have to guess who has said what. The premise of the game is simple but it can work very well. Unlike a lot of games, there is very little set-up. It can be played virtually anywhere; the presentation box the game comes in isn’t really necessary.

Before reviewing the game, I hadn’t heard of it at all. Researching it on Amazon, I saw that it is linked to the more famous game Cards Against Humanity, with people often buying the two together. I can understand why, although there is a key difference between the two.

When playing Cards Against Humanity being unable to come up with a funny combination would be an achievement in itself. With the responses pre-selected, you just have to put them together in a humorous (and often dark) way. On the other hand, if you don’t come up with something at least a little witty then A Game of Things can quickly become very dull.

The game costs around £30, and is currently on sale at Amazon for £27.99. This felt a little expensive for what is an innovative but simple idea. Surprisingly, the box is a lot bigger than it appears online, close to A4 size. Another feature of the game that came as a slight shock was the suggested age limit given, of fourteen years old and above. Most of the ‘things’ in the game are very innocent and it is only the dirty minds of the players that can transform them. Of course, trying to play the game with young children would probably make it a very dull and very short enterprise.

With summative deadlines surging towards me and the rest of my housemates, I decided to take the game home with me on a trip to see my family. After dinner at my grandparent’s house one Sunday afternoon, we started to play (as an aside, don’t play this game with family unless you all have a great sense of humour!).

We quickly became engrossed in the game. Even my younger sister, who usually spends her afternoons in the living room watching murder mysteries, joined us. She informed us that she would only be joining us for the first round, to see what the game was like, and refused to sit down. For the entire time we were playing, she lurked over the dining table, but didn’t try and leave once. She was as involved in the game as we were, which shows how impressive it is.

If you are playing with people you are close to rather than at a large party, then you will often be able to guess who has said what. My sister is one of the most cynical people I know and her dry, cutting sarcasm was easy to spot among the responses. Of course, you could pretend to be someone else and answer how they would. I made jokes about having difficulty using a washing machine as if it wasn’t true.

Sometimes it was a surprise who came up with the most intriguing responses. My 72-year-old grandmother, who is usually one of the more innocent in the family, answered one of the questions with the phrase “Lick it till none is left.” I can’t quite remember what the ‘thing’ was but we can always guess!

Other key phrases included “Justin Beiber’s strap-on” and “Because I’m vomit” (answered by another player with “Nice to meet you vomit, I’m puke.”). Some were more controversial, such as responses to “things you wouldn’t say to the Pope.”

A few of the ‘things’ listed weren’t very funny at all, regardless of how we spun them, but most allowed very creative responses. This is a game that relies on you being open and willing to come up with some bizarre answers – but if you do, there’s a great time in store.