Do Something Creative Every Day

Today I’m going to write a post that I’ve been wanting to write for a while but life things have been getting in the way. This past weekend I moved into my new flat and I’m SO EXCITED ABOUT IT! I won’t actually be living there until I go back for university in September but I’m thrilled that my stuff is all moved in and the way the place is looking. That has taken up a lot of my time recently but now I’m back and ready to write something!

If you’re a creative person like me then you’ve probably, at some point, had a bit of a blip where basically no creative stuff has been happening. I’ve been there and it’s the worst feeling. To feel stagnated and like you’re not making any progress towards the things you’re passionate about sucks. Recently the phrase “do something creative every day” popped into my head and I don’t think I’ve broken it since!

I study English Literature at university and my passion is writing in all its many forms (blogging being one of them), so I have a list of things that I class as creative things and I try my best to do one of them every single day. It doesn’t necessarily have to take much time if I’m super busy but it makes me feel a lot happier and more fulfilled to know that I’m contributing a little something to the things I love every day.

For me these creative things include writing short stories, blogging, recording and video editing, reading (not directly creating but is a massive part of the process), editing things I’ve already written and also watching acclaimed films and TV shows (that doesn’t mean spending 8 hours in front of Pretty Little Liars on Netflix).

I started making a concerted effort to do more of these things about 2 months ago and since then I feel like I’ve achieved quite a lot, probably more than I’ve achieved in the past year actually! Most importantly for me though it just makes me feel a bit better about myself and my life! These are the things that I love to do but in a society that leaves you so exhausted at the end of the day that all you want to do is watch Love Island and go to sleep and in a society full of instant gratification and shorter, faster forms of media (Youtube videos, Vine, Snapchat stories) that has trained our minds to have shorter and shorter attention spans it becomes almost impossible to do these things! At least it became that way for me and now I feel like I’m taking a small step towards having more balance and more control over the things I spend my time on.

I just thought I’d share this little piece of my brain with you today in case anybody else relates or is currently in a bit of a creative rut! Make small steps towards the things you want to achieve and you’ll probably be surprised with the progress you make!

Until next time,

J x

this road is red alison irvine review

Books about Glasgow: Past and Present

The title of this post is probably a slight misrepresentation of what I’m going to talk about today. I’ve recently read 2 different, unrelated books about/set in Glasgow. One was written in 1992, Poor Things by Alasdair Gray (Click here!), and one in 2011, This Road is Red by Alison Irvine (Click here!). So when I say “past and present” I really mean “not really written that far apart in the grand scheme of things” but let’s just brush over that.

Poor Things – Alasdair Gray

poor things alasdair gray review

I recently read Poor Things for one of my English courses and then wrote on it in my exam (let’s not ponder that too much). Despite it having been published in 1992 the bulk of the book is set around the late 19th – early 20th century. It is the memoirs of Archibald McCandless and his experience with an old friend and his wife Bella Baxter. Without spoiling too much he describes how his friend and physician (Godwin, cleverly named I imagine) found a pregnant woman after a suicide attempt and salvaged her body and the brain of the fetus and created, essentially, a new human being from the two. Archibald then met and fell in love with this woman, Bella, despite her having the mind of a child. After McCandless finishes telling his story and we find, has died, Bella is left with the manuscript and adds her version of events on to the end.

The book won both the Whitbread Novel Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1992 and has been acclaimed for its intertextuality (frequently compared to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and full of Gothicism). Personally, I found it an engaging read and whether you’re from Glasgow or not I would recommend it. If you are from Glasgow though, you’ll recognise many of the landmarks referenced throughout the book, such as Park Circus and Charing Cross.

This Road is Red – Alison Irvine

this road is red alison irvine review

This book, in my mind, is decidedly more modern than Poor Things. It is set from the 1960’s to the late 2000’s, the majority of the lifespan of Glasgow’s Red Road flats. The flats garnered a lot of attention over the years, being the highest residential blocks in Europe when they went up and becoming an infamous slum in their later years. It’s no surprise that now, after they’ve been demolished, they remain culturally and historically significant.

I enjoyed this book so much. It contains so many different, interwoven, stories (almost in the style of Love Actually). Each of the stories is full, well rounded and interesting which makes each chapter of the book refreshing and exciting to read. Again I’d recommend this book wherever you are from. Simply as a work of fiction I rate it quite highly, but knowing that it is grounded in reality makes it all the more captivating. The book was also shortlisted for the Scottish First Book of the Year award at the Saltire Society Awards in 2011.

I hope you enjoyed this little book post 🙂 if you’ve read either of these books or have any other suggestions please comment below!

Until next time,

J x

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is one of my favourite books for many many reasons. I read it about 3 years ago when I was in my last year of secondary school. I read it along with The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and wrote my “dissertation” (technically what it was called but it was only about 4,000 words long) on them.

Some books stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page and, for me, The Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of those books. It was the first book I ever cried my eyes out at (despite everyone calling me heartless for not crying at Rue’s death in The Hunger Games).

Charlie is an introverted adolescent boy just starting high school in America. Throughout the book, which is written in epistolary (letter) form from Charlie’s perspective, we slowly start to understand the somewhat unusual way Charlie sees the world. He is incredibly passive and, in many situations, goes completely unnoticed by other characters, simply witnessing other people’s lives and never really living his own. Patrick, one of the other main characters, remarks on this at a party and says:

“He’s a wallflower. You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.”

This is, of course, where the book gets it’s name. After befriending Patrick and Sam Charlie begins to grow in confidence and his letters become more positive. The book explores many topics such as abuse, sexuality, mental illness and the role of authority in young people’s lives.

Ultimately the exploration of all of these themes boils down to one overarching message, which Chbosky puts very succinctly:

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

This line struck me because, at least in my opinion, it is largely true. I know so many people who have allowed themselves to be treated badly due to low self esteem. When Charlie reiterates his teacher’s poignant words to Sam there is a kind of quiet clarity. The entire purpose of the novel becomes apparent and all of the different character’s stories are put into perspective.

Chbosky’s writing is simple, easy to understand and almost child like at points. His art, however, lies in his subtlety and his ability to write an enamouring, emotionally driven novel.

The Perks of being a wallflower book review

I can’t write a review on the book without mentioning the movie. The script was written and directed by Chbosky, which means it remains very true to the book. The film is incredibly nostalgic, as is the book, referencing old TV shows, songs and films throughout. It is, of course, set in the 90’s so the fashion is always eye catching (if at some points questionable). The sets are colourful and traditionally American which, even if you’re not from America, adds a sense of familiarity.

Emma Watson - The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Lastly, the casting of the film could not have been better. You may not know this yet but Emma Watson may be my favourite human on earth, so as soon as I found out she was going to be in the film I was SOLD. Logan Lerman played Charlie with the nuance and emotional complexity that was necessary for the role and I can’t imagine anyone else playing the part. Ezra Miller, who played Patrick, has been known for his impressive performances in other films like “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and he proved his diversity as an actor in this film, portraying sweet-natured yet exuberant Patrick perfectly.

Well I think that’s just about all I have to say for now (other than if you haven’t read this book GO READ IT NOW). I hope you enjoyed this and thank you for reading. Comment below if you also love this book or want to suggest any other books I might like 🙂

Until next time,

J x

Childhood Reading Tag

Hello! I was stood in the kitchen the other day waiting for my pasta to boil, scrolling through my reader on WordPress and I was seeing so many cool, interesting posts people had written about books they’ve read or are reading. It got me thinking about everything I’ve read over the years and I thought of an idea for a tag! I’m not under any illusions that this is going to become a thing. I basically just wanted to do it for myself, but if anyone does want to do it then go ahead I’d love to see what other people read throughout their childhoods!

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First Love – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’m sure this is one that pretty much everyone can relate too. Harry Potter was one of the first things I read (or had read to me when I was really young) and it’s remained my ultimate favourite ever since. I absolutely love high fantasy in which you can just become completely immersed and forget about any troubles you may have had at school that day or that deadline that’s fast looming over you that you should really be working on instead of reading Harry Potter… Not that I’ve ever done that haha.

I don’t even know what else there is to say about one of the best selling book series’ of all time. I’m sure you all have but if you haven’t read them DO IT! I firmly believe everyone should read these books before they die. Recently my gran told me she hadn’t seen the movies and I could not contain my horror.

Blyton's Famous Five.

Oldest Reading Memory – The Famous Five by Enid Blyton

These books take me right back to my oldest memories of reading as a child. I don’t think they’re books I would particularly enjoy reading now I’m 20, but back in the day I loved a bit of Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy. The one I remember the most is the “On Kirrin Island Again” book. I think I must’ve read that one over and over again. As much as looking back the characters’ speech is quite comical, I used to get pretty swept up in the drama of these guys’ summer holidays.

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School Reading Memory – The Magic Key by Roderick Hunt

I’m not sure what everyone else read in the early years of school but I know that everyone at my school read a lot of books from The Magic Key series. I didn’t properly decide that English was my favourite subject until the end of secondary school but I definitely remember looking forward to reading what happened next with Biff, Chip and Kipper. This was so long ago I can hardly remember the individual storylines but I guess this series was pretty instrumental in me learning how to read, so deserves a mention in my opinion!

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YA Favourite – Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

This is another super high fantasy series. I was really invested in the first book, then went on to read Inkspell and the start of Inkdeath. Unfortunately I think Inkdeath was either too advanced or too slow paced for my young mind but I remember absolutely loving Inkheart. A film adaptation was made of the book but unfortunately it wasn’t received very well and the sequel was never made. I’m not sure if it was the budget or just the wrong time, but I think that some amazing films could be made out of these books. Especially given the rise of the internet, fandoms and the popoularity of fantasy series’ like The Hunger Games.

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Guilty Pleasure – My Diary by Liz Rettig

Well I can’t exactly claim that this was academically challenging or anything but I’ll be honest with you, I loved these books. At the end of the day reading is reading and sometimes it’s just fun to read something a bit silly. These books contained the over dramatic internal monologue of Kelly Ann and I lapped up every page until, full disclosure, I was probably too old for it to still be acceptable. Oh well, that’s why it’s a guilty pleasure, not ashamed!

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Honourable Mention – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

I can’t finish up this post without mentioning The Chronicles of Narnia. I can’t quite place in my mind what age I was when I started reading these books but I think I was quite young. I remember watching the 1988 BBC TV series with my best friend Megan when we were children and later seeing the movies. As I’ve said previously I love fantasy series’, it seems criminal that I still haven’t read the Lord of the Rings series (I know) but I will get around to it! Obviously when I was younger I never understood the heavy religious themes of the books (Aslan is literally a thinly veiled lion Jesus), but to me Edmund was the original bad ass and he just couldn’t deny himself that turkish delight! A classic.

Well that’s everything from me just now but please do this tag if you enjoyed it! I felt really nostalgic writing it but probably forgot so many things that I read when I was younger.

Until next time,

J x

Update: thought I would tag a few people who’s blogs I’ve been enjoying recently.