Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hail The All Powerful Goddess Of The Clouds

Yes that's right, you heard it correctly, I am the All Powerful Goddess of the Clouds, as announced by the talking throne. Though I probably look more like a witch than a Cloud Goddess. Not that I have much to compare with. Who's ever seen a Goddess of the Clouds in the flesh anyway? I did enjoy the red carpet walk up and the way he said Goddess was just perfect.

Wondering what the hell I'm going on about? (You're not alone.)

Don't look too threatening do I? Looks can be deceiving. 

Do you know how long it took me to decide on my official title? There were so many adjectives, so many places, so many nouns. I could have been anyone. You could be anyone! Dress up. Create. Imagine. Become. At The Story Museum. 

Yes, I finally made it - about a month before the amazing 26 Characters exhibit is due to close - to Oxford and the zany cluster of houses that is The Story Museum. It is a proverbial rabbit warren of colourful quirky spaces, alternate worlds, and offers much in the way of escape and exploration for all ages. 

I went on a Friday lunch time and was one of few adults milling around in their lunch breaks. This only heightened some of the worlds I was walking into. Believe me, it makes a difference wandering into Narnia, half expecting the White Witch to jump out at you when you're by yourself. I watch a lot of horror films and you do have these weird creepy thoughts as you're going around - well I did. I mean wouldn't that have been perfect? Author disappears in the Story Museum after wandering into Narnia. Alone. 

All joking aside, this exhibit is crammed full of some of the most beloved UK and International Children's authors transforming into their favourite literary characters. In each room you get to experience that character and are inserted into their world, giving a true sense of being transported with every step. 

I strongly urge anyone who hasn't been yet, to hop on the train and go as soon as possible, and even if you're by yourself as a thirty something adult and you feel a little self-conscious, get in the dress up room and get your talking throne on. You won't regret it. 

After your visit, you can chill in the lovely cafe and peruse the book shop, where you are guaranteed to want at least eighty percent of the stock. You can also pick up the guide to the exhibit, which is £5 cheaper when you show your ticket. 

The exhibit runs until the 22nd February, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so there's still time to follow the trail, complete your stamp sheet - yay, even the adults get one. Score! - and enjoy these 26 Characters. 

Now bow down to me. I am the All Powerful Goddess of the Clouds, after all. 


More details at the official Story Museum site: http://www.storymuseum.org.uk/

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The 200th. The Big One. Boom!

Wow. It's finally here. The big 200th blog. I've been panicking about making it amazing. A landmark in blogging. But let's face it, I blog about general randomness and sometimes about events I've attended, it's hardly the New York Times and it's never going to be. I make no apologies about that.

But it would be nice to have something to blog about, and as you'll soon see I don't really, I'm just waffling the words away, as I do best. But don't let that put you off. Keep reading. Please.

There's something nice about hitting a round number like 200 - as opposed to a square one like 198. It's like when you read a book and somehow reaching the first 100 pages - especially when it's a Game of Thrones type 600+ page book - feels like a small achievement.  And life's full of these 'small achievements' that somehow keep us going.

It's like when you set out a few minutes late, but still make your train. Or you think all the biscuits are gone, but you find one more in the packet. Or you find a stray pound or two in a coat you haven't worn for months. Please feel free to add your own here, I could go on.

I've also just realised this is my first Rants blog of 2015, which should also mean it's a spectacular array of wonder and enchantment. Erm. Okay. Here goes.

So 200 times people have read something I wrote online. 200 times people have - hopefully - laughed or at the very least smiled at my misfortune, or occasionally my good fortune. It means that 200 times people have heard my desperate plea for sanity and by reading and commenting and generally being supportive have kept me on the right side of the sanity/insanity line. Thank you readers, I literally couldn't do it without you.

And so, for the 200th time I'm going to waffle on about whatever comes to mind in the next few seconds whilst my fingers continue to tap out an inconsistent beat, as I pause and think, what the hell am I writing?

One thing I did realise yesterday, was that travelling by train is often the best way to ruminate on book ideas. It also used to be my conduit for songwriting. Ah, those trains from Wigan to Salford, I did get a lot done. And I don't know if it's the comforting motion, or just the fact that you are being transported somewhere and therefore so is your mind, but I always find quality thinking time when travelling by train. Maybe it's the huge windows you can daydream out of, so you can see the sky and zoom through the world pinching specks of inspirational dust. Or maybe it's just the fact that you are somewhere else, zooming to somewhere else and you relax. You are able to leave that 'stuck' feeling that you often get when chained to the computer at home, and you can just allow your mind to expand.

Yesterday I also realised that some stories and some characters will never be silenced, and even though I've had rejections for a particular story and lost heart with it a little bit, I still really need to tell that story. And not just because it was the first full novel I ever wrote and I have already spent five years on it, but because those characters need a chance to engage with readers, and tell their story, because it's a great story and I'm not giving up on it. Besides, they won't let me anyway. #fridayrevelations

So I made the decision that the first book I'll be editing this year will be my debut novel The Last Imagining, which has been written and re-written countless times, edited so many times I can't even fathom, and has been deconstructed and reconstructed enough times that I felt I had somehow lost it. But strong characters don't let you forget them. If their voices keep harping on at you, even from the proverbial mind grave you buried them alive in, then they will never rest until you've given them the opportunity to star in the story of their lives. Persistent little buggers. It only makes me love them more.

And so with the startling revelation of: I NEED TO WRITE THIS BOOK! I NEED TO TELL THIS STORY! I feel that 2015 has finally started for me. I know it's going to be tough, but time away from this project and the opportunity to breathe and write other characters has somehow given me the strength and sheer stubborn faced determination to get this book up to scratch and out there. There may be a lot of 'portal based fantasy' around, but they ain't seen nothing yet!

Well, that turned into something different than I thought it would. Sometimes writing blind is the best thing. Sometimes letting your fingers channel your mind without hesitation or censorship, can lead to this sort of garbled mess.

Anyhoo, happy 200th blog to me and to all the readers. I will continue to rant and be bitter and northern, but I have also really enjoyed blogging about events and of course my Katie Bush blogs of 2014 were so well received, I was giddy for months. Still am a little bit. I hope you'll come with me into 2015 because there's a lot more where this came from.

Oooo, and I just found out my time for parkrun this week and am very giddy. Only 25 seconds off my personal best and the closest I've been in about 6 months. Whoop!

Have a great weekend everyone.