W is for Words

I am in love with words.

I love the way they sound like music when used in poetry. I love their power in a motivational speech. I love how they can entertain.

It wasn’t always this way. Not at all. I hated English classes once upon a time. I felt like they were a waste of time, and that the technicalities of learning how to write “a proper sentence” or how to deconstruct the themes and symbols in Wuthering Heights really was not the most stimulating subject matter. But, oh, how times change.

When I was fifteen, I got an English teacher that made me fall in love with the written word. I don’t know what exactly she did, but somehow I just started appreciating everything about English an the components that make up a truly amazing piece of writing.

In second year university, I wrote a piece of creative non-fiction from the perspective of Katherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry the Eighth. In this, I tried to remain as true as I could to the language she would have used during the time period in which she lived. This was when I fell in love with etymology.

Basically, I love everything about words and the power that they have over a situation, a person. I love how they create rhythm and that their meaning changes with intonation.

I mean what’s not to like?

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V is for Victoria

I have been watching the television series Victoria. It’s incredible.

When I bought it, last weekend, I had heard limited things about it. I heard that it was good, but had no idea as to what the focus of the programme would be, other than Queen Victoria.

As a lover of everything to do with the English monarchy, it was in my hand, paid for, and out of the store before I knew it. I was anxious to start watching. Queen Victoria has always been a subject of interest for me, but one I never pursued much further than watching The Young Victoria on television once. I suppose this is not much different.

There are a couple of things in the life of Queen Victoria, I have since learned through watching Victoria and the subsequent research I have undertaken, that stick in mind more than others.

  1. Queen Victoria was not the daughter of a king. She was the niece of William IV, and due to an obscene amount of luck, though she had three uncles to contend with for the role monarch, she became queen.
  2. Her name was not actually Victoria. She was born Alexandrina Victoria, and when she became queen, she adopted her second name.
  3. She married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. Though their marriage was originally somewhat arranged, they fell in love quickly and deeply. They had nine surviving children.
  4. She reigned for just under 64 years (from 1837-1901). Up until recently, she was the longest reigning monarch of England when she was overtaken by Elizabeth II (girls rule!!)
  5. She was eighteen when she became queen. There was a lot of speculation surrounding her youth and her sex and whether she was able to rule a kingdom, but she pressed on and became one of the most admired and respected monarchs the United Kingdom has ever seen.

Victoria has Jenna Coleman in the role of Queen Victoria and Tom Hughes in the role of Prince Albert. Both work stupendously together, and tell a wonderful story with the help of their co-stars, producers, directors and alike.
On the whole, I love this television thus far, and cannot wait to see more.

I think it has sparked my motivation to learn more about Queen Victoria. Before you know it, I may be able to spout her life story at length and by heart.

So from one short lady, talking about another short lady, I bid you adieu. And I advise you to watch this incredible love letter to a most admired monarch.

See you Tuesday!

***

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U is for Umbrellas

I don’t know why I woke up this morning going, “Today, I’m going to write about umbrellas,” but here we are.

Umbrellas.

It’s a weird word. It looks wrong, like somebody picked up magnetic letters a child dropped on the kitchen floor and decided to put them in any semblance of an order.

Apparently, the first recorded folding umbrella came into being in 21 AD. I know. I’m astonished too.. It was used as a source of shade on a four-wheeled carriage in Ancient China.
But they were used in ancient civilisations all over the world as protection from unruly and scorching weather.

My first recorded umbrella had Winnie the Pooh on it. It was awesome! It had alternated red and yellow panels with pictures of Winnie on the red ones. I carried it everywhere – much to my parents’ dismay. You never knew when the weather would turn sour!
On a particularly blustery day, about a year after I first got it, my umbrella promptly turned inside out, and was unable to be put right again. I remember watching its funeral procession as it was driven down the driveway to the tip on the tray of my dad’s ute. I couldn’t believe it was gone.

I never did find another umbrella I loved as much; nor have I had such an interest in them. I find myself missing that loud, red and yellow monstrosity. I don’t know why.

Perhaps the most famous depiction of an umbrella in fiction is Mary Poppins’ classic parrot handled umbrella. I’m quite excited at the possibility of seeing it return in the movie remake (Yes, I did just say that).

When I was a kid, I thought it would be such a cool thing to have an umbrella that could talk to you and help you fly. I mean, what kid wouldn’t. I don’t think I ever went as far as testing out my Winnie the Pooh umbrella in this way. I could have been in for quite a shock if, on a rainy day, Pooh began muttering ‘Oh, bother’ at the rain dripping on his head.

Now, though, I just see umbrellas as a pain in the behind. They are bulky and difficult to carry without getting in the way – whether that be folded or unfolded. If there is even the tiniest bout of wind, the umbrella either turns itself inside out, or, the rain ends up soaking you to the bone regardless of whether you have the umbrella up or not.

Though I understand there are immense pros to having an umbrella handy, for me, those cons are irrefutable … even if they are as cool as my Winnie the Pooh one.

***

See you Saturday!

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T is for Tradition

Traditions. Everyone has them. Humans are creatures of habit and repetition. We inherently make tradition.

The first tradition we are introduced to as children is, obviously, birthdays. Every year, we roll out the streamers and the balloons and endure the dreaded birthday song, written by Patty and Mildred J Hill in 1893. Sorry, ladies, but to sit in silence whilst a room full of people sing that song to you is completely awkward and embarrassing. No. Just … no.

But birthdays are the first form of tradition we become attached to, because who wouldn’t want cake and presents just for them?

Then comes Christmas, Hanukkah, Passover, Thanksgiving, New Year, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day – and they’re just some of the big ones.

Then we have family traditions. For instance, my family get together in November and bake bucket loads of cookies every year. And when I say bucket loads, I am talking BUCKET LOADS. It usually takes between 2 and 3 days to bake them all (8.30am-5.30pm, at least 4 or 5 people working). That’s the scale I am talking about. What can I say? We have a big family, and we like to eat.

I have mixed feelings about traditions. I like the fact that we find enjoyment in revisiting those things we have done every year for so many years. I like the fact that some traditions span generations and years before and after we are born and die. I like that aspect.

But traditions are also dangerous. We become too comfortable with the traditions we hold. We become set in our ways. We don’t want to deviate, we want to stick with what we know – our comfort zone, and the memories that remind us of childhood.

I am one such person. I like pattern; I hate change. When someone decides to disrupt my routine without telling me, or consulting me, I start to freak out. Though I am getting better with handling such things, I’m still not great. To all those who have to deal with me during those times, I apologise. Though I go along with the altered plans, I grumble and growl and generally dig my heels in as much as possible. I’m stubborn; very much so. I’m your friendly-neighbourhood Grumpy straight out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

But is tradition good, or bad?

I’d like to think that it’s good. Not just because I am set in my ways, and I don’t like deviation from ‘the plan’, but because if we did not have tradition, we would have no vehicle in order to remember those things and people that we have lost. We carry out tradition to honour those who are no longer with us. We do it to remember who they were, and the joy and hope they have provided us with. They are an opportunity for us to look back and see how far we have come, though we still carry out the same tasks year in, year out. It gives us togetherness and kinship that oftentimes are out of our grasp.

***

See you Tuesday! I’ve got another five word challenge coming!

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S is for ‘Supernatural’

Supernatural is my fave. It’s my go to. I have the third episode of the first season playing on my television as I write this. It’s the one where there’s something mysterious in a lake drowning a whole family of people …

But, Sarah, what is it about Supernatural that you love so much?
I don’t know. I want to say the humour, but that didn’t really kick in full force until about season three or four. I’m not a fan of the horror genre (which is definitely the vibe the writers were striving for in the first couple of seasons). I don’t think there’s an actual equivocal reason; I just love it.

It’s the fact that Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins are manufactured from fine wine, isn’t it? Don’t lie.
Excuse me? Who do you think I am? I mean, it helps … but that’s not the reason, no.

What’s your favourite episode?
That’s like asking me whether one particle of air is better than the one next to it. But … I have an intense love of the ridiculous, so there are a few episodes that stand out from others:

  • ‘Bad Day at Black Rock’ (Season 3, Episode 3) – Sam and Dean encounter a lucky rabbit’s foot. If you touch it, and it remains in your possession, you are all sorts of fortunate. If you lose it, you have so much bad luck, you die.
  • ‘Mystery Spot’ (Season 3, Episode 11) – Sam relives an endless amount of Tuesdays on which Dean dies every single day in every way possible eg. falling pianos, slipping in the shower, and eating bad tacos.
  • Wishful Thinking’ (Season 4, Episode 8) – There’s something fishy going on when everyone in a small Washington town has their every wish coming true. There’s talking teddies, superhuman kids, the whole shebang.
  • ‘The Curious Case of Dean Winchester’ (Season 5, Episode 7) – Dean makes a series of questionable life choices, and ends up becoming an octogenarian for half an episode. What’s not to love?
  • ‘Changing Channels’ (Season 5, Episode 8) – Parody central. The Winchesters find themselves in a series of TV shows and advertisements they can’t seem to find a way out of.
  • ‘The French Mistake’ (Season 6, Episode 15) – Alternate reality. The brothers break the fourth wall and find themselves in ‘real life’ where Dean is Jensen and Sam is Jared. Riveting stuff.
  • ‘LARP and the Real Girl’ (Season 8, Episode 11) – Charlie + Live Action Role Play + Fairies. Yup.
  • ‘The Purge’ (Season 9, Episode 13) – Sam and Dean go undercover at a health retreat where people’s fat is being extracted by the bucket load (and sometimes to the point where they die). Gross, but still a fun one.
  • ‘About a Boy’ (Season 10, Episode 12) – Sam and Dean find themselves in some twisted version of Hansel and Gretel (yes, even more twisted than the original), where Hansel turns him into a pubescent teenager. Awesome.

I have probably missed a few. There are so many to choose from.
Writing the synopses like that makes me cringe. It makes them sound so idiotic. But that’s the beauty of them. Trust me on this.

Who’s your favourite character?
Oh, God. No, no, no, no, not God … he’s not my favourite character … He’s cool, though.
Dean’s my favourite. I try not have them, though. They’re all great, and loveable, despite their flaws.

Somehow, Supernatural has this power to cheer me up. It’s full of unnecessary and heartbreaking death, and some pretty horrifying creatures, but somehow it cheers me up. There’s a meme that describes the feeling perfectly. I swear, I’m not nuts. It’s the humour, as I said before. It’s the comedy that the writer’s have paired with the horror, that makes me smile.

So, if you have never watched Supernatural, I hope this post has inspired you to give it a crack.
If you have watched Supernatural, you’re a wonder and I love you.

I will catch you guys on Saturday. Don’t forget to give my social media a follow!


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R is for R U Posting Today?!

Hi!

I have to be honest with you, I forgot to write a post for today. I’ve had a very busy week, and today, instead of being a good little writer/blogger, decided to take a “me day” today. Thus, I forgot. Oops.

But, yes, I am posting today. I am here. I am writing at 11pm.

And I am completely blocked.

Isn’t that always the way? You are the most blocked when you have to write?

***

It is nonsense
You sigh for all things you cannot alter
You tear yourself apart
In attempt to find a cure
To solve something from the past
No one told you
The past is past
Only the future negotiable

You are nonsense
Yet you cannot change yourself
I tear myself apart
Knowing I am part of why
Witnessing your struggle
and your pain
Help is no option
And endurance non-negotiable

We are nonsense
Who says what is normal
In a world of sublime abnormality
We tear ourselves apart
In attempt to find assimilation
No one told you
Individuality is not so individual
When the flock always follows the sheep

***

There you go! That was my attempt at writing some poetry for you.
Let me know what you think!

See you Tuesday! I promise!

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Q is for Quotes

I’m a fan of quotes. I like that one sentence can sum up someone’s view, someone’s mindset at one particular moment in time.

I just find it interesting that something as powerful as a sentence, orated or written, usually by a person we have never met before, can motivate us, inspire us, speak to us, on a level that an ordinary conversational sentence cannot.

One of my favourite quotes comes from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand:

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.

This quote has been with me for a while. It reminds me not to lose faith – in me, in my writing, in my ability to write. It reminds me that people there are people out there that aren’t going to believe in me, or that I can make something of this, but that writing is the fire that burns within me, and I shouldn’t let others try to put my fire out. It reminds me that, though there are days that are frustrating and full of disillusionment, it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. I need to have faith and determination.

Another quote I found recently comes from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon:

Because to step outside the group, let alone stand against it, was for uncounted thousands of years death to the creature who dared it.

This quote I like because, to me, it sums up one of society’s flaws. Outwardly, we promote individuality and how important it is to show the world who we are individuals. But as soon as someone steps out from crowd, whether that be with their opinion or their identity, they are judged because they are different from what society deems as normal. We must be individual, but we must assimilate.

The next quote I was reintroduced to is one from Reality Bites said by character Troy Dyer (played by Ethan Hawke):

Honey, all you have to be by the age of 23, is yourself …

I found this quote again when I was the age of 23. I am now 24, but I think that it still applies. In fact, I would argue that it applies to all ages. You don’t have to be a doctor, you don’t have to be a mother. All you are obligated to be, throughout your entire life, is yourself.

Have a think about which quotes have spoke to you. What are they? Why do you like them? Did they help you understand yourself better, or understand the world around you better?

***

See you Tuesday!

xxx

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P is for ‘Pride and Prejudice’

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a well-reputed 19th century classic. I love it. It’s my favourite book, and I own four copies of it and pretty much every spin off/parody/fan-fiction ever printed. I have also seen pretty much every movie adaptation and spin off as well.

I’m a little obsessed.

It all started when… my mother took me to the library. I found an old subtitled VCR copy of the five and a half hour BBC adaptation. I was about fourteen, and I had never heard of Jane Austen, nor Pride and Prejudice, before.

I pulled it off the shelf, and my mother, looking over my shoulder said, ‘I think you’ll like that’. So I borrowed it. Over the course of the loan period, I think I watched it about 4 or 5 times… that’s 1635 minutes – 27 and a quarter hours. That’s over a day’s worth of view time!!!

From then on, I have not been able to get enough of the conflict between the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet and the proud Mr Darcy. There’s just something about it that keeps making me want to revisit the story.

For those of you thinking that the reason is because Pride and Prejudice is a romance novel and is basically a chick flick in written form, I may just slap you. I know it’s easy to dismiss Austen’s work as a girl book that has no depth, but please don’t.

I had a very heated argument in a class once about this topic. My classmate, a male, wrote Austen and Pride and Prejudice off as girly trash. And I objected wholeheartedly to such a notion.

I’ll tell you why:

Jane Austen was not your typical 19th century woman. Instead of being obsessed with finding a husband, as was the norm of the time, she instead was interested in making herself a living through her writing. To say that all her characters are “marriage obsessed” grossly misinterprets what I believe to be the true comment she is making on society. Instead of saying that all young women should find husbands, she is saying that being obsessed with marriage can be detrimental – as per Lydia with Wickham. She is saying that to be obsessed with marriage is foolish, and portrays this by comically exaggerating obsession within Mrs Bennet.

Elizabeth is not one of these women who is obsessed with finding a partner. She is quite content with her books, and the friendship of her elder sister and her father. She is not closed off to the idea of marriage, but she does not seek it. She judges the world around her by their degree of obsession with matrimony.

The thing to remember with Austen is that she is deeply, deeply sarcastic, and you cannot take anything that she writes about life and marriage on face value. What can be seen as “girly trash” actually contains a multitude of layers.

So if you are planning on reading P and P, or have read it and have given it the label of “girly trash”. Read it. Find those layers. They’re there. Appreciate the genius that is Austen.

***

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O is for Originality

In a world where creative content is created by the bucketload every minute, how can we make ourselves stand out? How can I be original when there could be someone, somewhere in the world creating very similar (if not the same) content as me?

Originality. That’s key.

I think it’s inevitable, though, that every piece of creative content borrows elements from other works. I think it’s impossible for an artist – whether that be painter, writer, sculptor, musician, or anything else similar – cannot produce a piece of work without being influenced by other works in their field (and sometimes other fields – see Bastille’s ‘Poet‘ inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18).

In my opinion, originality comes when an artist creates (or reimagines) something that makes an audience member think about something differently. For instance, I read Nicola Yoon’s, The Sun is Also a Star the other day. I thoroughly enjoyed it. For me, it was original because, though I had read books that discussed fate and how one decision can set of a chain of subsequent events, Yoon made me consider the possibility of some aspects of life being inevitable no matter what decision or outside influences impact your life. (I’m sorry if this is vague, I am trying to not ruin the book for you).

I guess what I am saying is, that originality (in some ways) is subjective. It depends on how a piece of work is interpreted by an audience member, and therefore whether their interpretation matches that of another of their interpretations.

So in a world where creative content is abundant, I’m just gonna do my thing. This what I know. This is what I do best. I’ll write what I want, and let the things I read influence and better the way in which I write. After all, we, as people, are just an amalgamation of the art we digest and the experiences we’ve been exposed to.

See you Tuesday!

Much love xxx

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N is for Novels

It’s no secret that I love a good book.

They are my sanctuary. My loves.

My favourite types of books are the ones that engross me by challenging the way in which I view the world that I live in. They make me think.

An example of this would be Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

The protagonist of this novel has a gift (or maybe its a curse) that causes her to feel the emotions through food. For example, if her mother was sad whilst baking a batch of cookies, the protagonist would feel those sad emotions as she ate the cookies.
It got me thinking about how this gift/curse would both enhance and ruin someone’s world. It made me think about the things that we choose to ignore, the things we fail to consider, about the world around us. When we buy food, we walk into a café, order the food, eat it and get the hell out of there. We don’t care who made it, we don’t care about the process of cooking (provided it’s not going to make us sick). All we care about is whether it tastes good and whether we get it in a timely fashion. We are a selfish species. We care about things that only benefit us.
Though I don’t suddenly deeply care about the backstory of the chef that has prepared my food, I have, since reading, tried to be more considerate of those around me. To not be so selfish, and to remember that just because I may be having a good day, it doesn’t mean that every one else is.

Another that has had a similar effect on me is Jennifer Niven’s Holding up the Universe (review here).

The male protagonist, Jack, has a condition called Prosopagnosia, or face-blindness (video to help you understand it here). It means that he cannot recognise faces – not even the faces of his parents. Every time he sees a face, whether the first or the thousandth time, the person is as good as stranger. He wouldn’t be able to pick his mother out of a line-up.
This book made me, again, consider something I take for granted. Something that I can do without thinking. It made me think about how scary and big the world would seem if I couldn’t recognise a familiar face in a crowd. It made me think of how strong people with this condition would have to be. In some ways, I find it incomprehensible.

And, in the process of writing my own first novel, I am brought back to the same thought:

Am I challenging someone else’s world view?

I guess only time will tell…

Don’t forget to follow me on social media, and I’ll see you Saturday! xxx