My Whole Word World

I first began being creative by making up words for Hang Man and I Spy, which my family just could not get to their annoyance.

Once I learnt how to read I loved reading all the signs in the city. I would sit in the back of the car and read out every sign until my Dad told me to stop it. I remember getting very confused between ‘to let’ and ‘toilet’.

I began writing stories and making them into proper books in primary school. My particular favourite one was about a fox and a cow who were caught in a storm at sea and were saved by a whale. The blurb on the back gave away the whole story and my spelling was appalling. My Mum keeps all the books and likes to point out all the funny spellings.

At primary school I was in a remedial English class. We had to say the vowels over and over again and play word games. But my biggest achievement was learning the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’; I know people now that still don’t seem to understand it.

My Dad bought me a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar which I used to read out loud constantly just because I could; I must have driven him mad! At the same time I remember being really into Dr Zeus books, though I thought the illustrations were a little bit weird!

My sister and I used to like writing stories for my Dad and posting them to him. One story involved a wooden boat and a walrus and yet again the spelling was positively terrible, I couldn't even spell my sister's name correctly.

I loved playing a writing game with my Dad, it involved a hat full of words and my sister and I would have to pick a handful and then write a story using those words. I remember writing one about a tree. However, my Dad told me recently that although we may have found it fun he found the stories became repetitive very quickly.

Soon after I read my first book with no pictures, it was called Santa Paws Come Home and I absolutely adored it. I bought it from the school book fair when I was in year 3 and I still have it today, maybe I’ll read it again someday.

At primary school I was into books by Paul Jennings, Dick King-Smith and Jacqueline Wilson.

At one point in my childhood we had dozens of gerbils but my two original gerbils were my favourite, their names were Bubbles and Squeak – original I know! Anyway, I loved writing stories about them, and they usually started off with the gerbils having a picnic but then getting into some sort of a humorous muddle. I don’t think I ever really ended any of them.

I used to really dread spelling test as I was absolutely awful. I had to retake them so many times. One time I cheated and wrote the word ‘temperature’ on my reading folder which I then sneaked a peak at during the test. Don’t worry though as I haven’t cheated on a spelling test since.

Whilst playing in the playground or with Barbie dolls or Polly Pockets my friends and I would come up with some very extensive and complicated storylines, they would go on for hours and were quite grown-up (there were a lot of boyfriend scenarios despite the fact we had no Ken dolls).

Taking the year 6 SATS I remember writing a story about a boy and a girl who both wanted to buy the last video game in the shop. I was disappointed when the results came back and my English was only a level 4 whilst my Maths and Science were a level 5.

In year 7 we did this great story exercise called ‘Escape from Kraznir’. It was amazing. It was basically a complete rip off of the Lord of the Rings storyline but you had to write each section in a different form, like a poem, news article, or script. You had to make up your own character as well and design them a passport and my Mum drew the lion and the unicorn in gold gel pen on mine. Year 7 English was probably the best class ever!

For three years in a row I took part in a reading competition called ‘Books and Beyond’. In one of the years you had to count how many pages you read and the more you read the further your little counter would move up the board they had in the library. I think the goal was 1000 pages which doesn’t seem like a lot now.  In another year I think you had to read many different genres of books and I remember reading quite an adult book about prostitution in China that my sister had leant me (at least I think that’s what it was about, I can’t really remember now. I just remember thinking that the librarian was probably judging me!)

In year 10 we had to write a creative piece, either an autobiographical piece or just a piece of fiction, and I think I was the only person to choose fiction. I wrote piece based on the fairy tale princesses Cinderella and Snow White and how they had both married the same Prince Charming, it was called The Princess and the Affair. I got an A* for that piece and I felt so pleased that I wanted to write more!

After reading part of a teen girl fantasy novel which I never finished because I just wanted to write my own instead (and I can't even remember the title of it or what it was about now). My fantasy story was about three sisters named after gem stones (Ruby, Topaz, and Opal) and how one of them was cursed by a witch and would die within a week, so the other two sisters set off to find the witch and possibly kill her - I really can’t remember how I was going to finish it now. But anyway, in the end it was only one sister that set off to find the witch and on the way she met a boy who she would fall in love with, aaaw. Half way through I decided to illustrate it and I drew a pretty funky map. Disastrously, my computer broke and I lost the entire story apart from some bits I had posted online. I thought I would go back and rewrite it but I got distracted by another idea, set in the same world but with different people; I thought then to make it into an epic saga (I was really into Lord of the Rings at this point). It didn’t really work that way as I lost interest and had to do school work instead. But I still have the first couple of pages and lots of drawings if I ever wanted to go back to them.

At around about the same time I embarrassingly started to write fanfiction. I found that fun as the characters and world was already invented I just had to come up with a storyline, which for me was easy. I got some good reviews, but again I lost interest and haven’t written any for nearly 4 years. (Thank God!)

As a teenager I loved reading Meg Cabot books, I especially loved The Princess Diaries and Missing. My guilty pleasure was fluffy romance novels and I could get through one of those in a night. I haven’t read any recently but they’re so easy to read which is great if you ever feel bogged down with work or just stressed. But my absolute favourite books were the Harry Potter series; I can read those over and over and over again and never get bored!

When I was 15 I started to keep a diary, I managed to write in it for six months, which is an incredibly long time for me! Diaries are supposed to be secret but my friend started to read them; I was annoyed at first but she told me she found them really interesting and funny so I let her read them every time she came around. In the end it felt like I was writing my entries to her. One day she said that it was so good that I should try to get it published when I was older. I thought it was a cool idea but decided I wouldn’t publish my own diary but try to write a story in a diary format, like The Princess Diaries. I tried and failed; I didn’t know what to write about or who the characters should be. I just kept to writing my own diary and even that didn’t last that long. Though I have been thinking about it again, and now that I've completed my course I think I know how to write it, but with some obvious name changes.

For Father’s Day I wanted to write my Dad a story. It was all about an undefeated knight called William (that’s my Dad's name) and he had a ship named after my Dad’s ship in the navy (I’ve forgotten what it’s called now, though). I finished writing it by hand but never got it typed up in time for Father’s Day. It’s still on my laptop now, maybe one day I will finish it but at the moment I just dread to think how bad it is! (I reread it the other day, and it is awful! The tenses are all over the place!)

Then for my Dad’s birthday I decided that I would write him a story, called The Act of Love, and this time finish it. This story was based on the poem The Lady of Shallot. My Dad helped me to edit it so it wasn’t a massive surprise when he got it for his birthday, but I had put a lot of effort into making it into a book and drawing an illustration for the front cover. It was longest story I had ever written at over 7,000 words.

By this point I had started my A-Levels. I had chosen Media Studies, Art, Psychology, and English. Over the summer holidays for English we had to keep a record of all the books we had read and all the writing we had done. The reading log really encouraged me to read and the types of books I read changed dramatically. I used to love reading chick-lit and romance novels but now I endeavoured to read classics and contemporary books of all different genres. This is how my reading list came into being.

For Media Studies I had to write and design my own magazine article, which I absolutely loved doing and everyone seemed really impressed. It was after this and a meeting with my careers councillor that I decided to be a journalist. However, another (sillier) reason I chose to do journalism was because I used to watch and read a lot of chick flicks and the main character usually always worked at a glamorous magazine company.

The whole school went to a University Fair, where you get to look at different booths set up by all the Universities in the UK. It was while I was there that I realised how hard journalism would be, and that I don’t have a thick skin or enough confidence to be a journalist really. Luckily, I learnt that Creative Writing was a course and picked up lots of pamphlets about that instead.

For my Art project I chose to do illustration. In year 12 I did a painting based on The YellowWallpaper; it didn’t turn out as well as I expected it to, and I was deeply disappointed.  However, in year 13 I did a painting of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber as well as Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, which both turned out fantastic. For the first piece I covered a whole canvas in words that I had cut out from a book, and boy, did that take ages! In the second piece I wrote out the whole of The Tell-Tale Heart onto my canvas. Both were big successes and earned me an A grade.

Yet again in year 13 Media Studies I wrote and designed an entire magazine called Magnifique. It was so much fun to write and everyone really enjoyed reading it. I also loved designing the magazine, especially the cover. I would still love to work for a magazine which is a benefit of doing a Creative Writing course as I can still do that as well as many other things. However, if I had just journalism I would have narrowed my options considerably.

In year 13 English I attempted my very first screenplay. Again, my Dad helped me out with the editing and it changed a lot from the original draft. The end result was something to proud of and the English depart shared it around to read. (Though reading it back now after doing a Short Screenplay module I realise how poor it actually is!) The other piece I did for A-level English was a lot harder, and I struggled greatly. The first piece I did was a D grade so I had to completely redo it in two weeks! My new piece was an article about my interest in Lewis Carroll and his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as the new film with Johnny Depp was out and I lived close to the manor house in which parts of it were filmed. My teacher loved it and I got a much better grade. I was a little bit naughty though because I have never actually read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and don’t really like the idea of it very much either!

EDIT 01/2013: I have finally read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and I wasn't too impressed.

In 2010 I got into the University of Winchester to study Creative Writing. I was so excited as Winchester is a lovely place, not too different from my home town of Ivybridge, and Jane Austin once lived here and is buried at the cathedral, what more could you want?!

It's three years later and I have now completed my time at University. This blog documents everything I have written since the beginning, some good, some bad, but all of it mine. Sometimes I wish University was a little longer, and then other times I am like, 'I am so sick of lecturers grading me, I can't wait to just write what I want to write!' Although, that thought scares me a little... 

October 2013, and I have finally graduated from the University of Winchester and have completely finished with my degree in Creative Writing. I received a Upper Second Class degree and received a First in Textual Intervention I and Sci-fi and Fantasy, my two favourite modules. I am currently writing my novel, The Stone Men of Raksaka, a continuation from a creative piece I did in Sci-fi and Fantasy, and as of this moment I am on 40,000 words. At the beginning of November I will be starting work at a local publisher's as the Executive Promoter and I couldn't be more excited! Life after Uni isn't so bad.

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