Developing Sophie Lives

Although I started to write Sophie Lives for a peice of coursework from Foundations in Creative writing with the Open College of the Arts, I am going to make the use of social isolation to continue with writing this novel. I’m not concerned about making rapid progress, just little steps. There’s no need to rush.

It’s not easy to develop the initial idea, but I have added more to the first chapter, which begins with the link to Sophie Lives above. However, saying it’s not easy doesn’t mean to say that I havent been able to continue writing, because I have, and further possible developments have come into my mind. Although I am currently adding to the day that Sophie comes round from her overdose, her sister has come into the frame, although we haven’t met her as yet. This has opened the pathway towards Sophie getting to A and E, and then how she ends up in a psychiatric hospital.  I have already written a very small part of that scene, which can then  move me into the second chapter.

I’m pretty sure that I am not following the best plan for writing a novel.  I have previously read that people develop a plan for the novel before they begin to write; ideas for structure and how the  book progresses. All I know is that I am going to write of Sophie’s journey through her pain and into recovery, intersperced with flash backs from the abuse that she suffered at Mar’s hands.

It’s quite intense to write about at the moment to be honest, and I am writing this reflective commentary for my diary, which allows my thoughts to crystalise. It also means that I can have a break form the mental and emotional intensity.

What I Could Do During Social Isolation – Freewriting

One thing that I’ve already mentioned before is writing Sophie Lives. Not that I expect to write the whole book, but I can write more of it. There’s lots of writing that I can do, I intend to keep up with my freewriting on a daily basis, whether that’s on here or in my notepad.

Meditation has been a part of my life for many years, although I have let that slip recently, and I we would like to take that up again, whether I do breath awareness or use the Insight Timer app. I like to put wax earplugs in, shut out the background noise and just focus on my breath, so I set the intent of meditating today.

My photography portfolio hasn’t been added to for s while. I think it would be beneficial if I went through all of my photos and created a folder for all of the best ones. It’s nice to know that I have taken a few good photos over the past few years and I need to make the most of these. If I have them all in one place then I can get back onto curator space and submit some of them to exhibitions and competitions.

My eating disorder recovery has involved attending online 12 step meetings, and I have a weekly routine of attending three. As well as keeping up with those, now might be a good time to log into some others, which would increase my social contact.

Of course I should continue reading as well. Currently I’m reading Palestinian Walks: Notes On A Vanashing Landscape by Raja Shahadeh. It’s a fantastic piece of non-fiction about the life of a Palestinian from the West Bank (Occupied Territories) and his walks through the landscape. It’s beautifully written, and naturally it touches upon the political landscape of living under Israeli occupation and how the illegal settlements have interfered with the physical environment. I have an interest in the political environment between Israel and Palestine, the conflict has been going on longer than my lifetime, it would be nice if this conflict would end at some point before I die. I hold out no hope for this, but I guess people didn’t believe the conflicts between Republicans and Unionists in Norther Ireland would ever end either.

During the 12 week period of social isolation I am aloud out for short walks and to the shops as well, which is something I will most definitely do.

There are more things that I can do, and this piece of writing has helped me to solidify my ideas from my previous post. I wish all of you safety, peace and love and pray that you all get through these challenging times safely and that you remain in good health.

The Kind Of Writer I Would Like To Be – Exercise 1.11

In your writing diary make a few notes about what you’ve read in the last six months. Your reading matter might include fiction (thrillers, horror, romance, literary fiction, etc.) poetry, drama and non-fiction (history, travel writing psychology, etc.) as well as newspapers and magazines.

Think about what kind of writer you would like to be. Perhaps you’re not sure yet, or perhaps there are several avenues you’d like to explore? Record this in your writing diary where it can be kept private. Writers can be very secretive about their hopes and dreams.

Firstly, I’m tired of this snowflake attitude to secrecy. We are students at the moment, and we should not be singled out as being special and different to other students. We should all be expected to complete our studies on a blog. Photographers, painters, film makers, textiles are expected to do so, along with their understanding of their processes, and these are just as personal to them as our writing is to us. That’s not to say that everything should be published, excerpts from novels we are writing, pieces of unfished journalism, poems we need to review and rework and personal projects are private until ready to publish. But not putting our coursework on a blog is patronising and being treated like anxious kids. Yuch. Rant over.

There are many genres of writing that I would like to develop, especially poetry, auto-biography, and academic style photo essays (I particularly enjoy), and I’d also like to write a short story or a novel.

My reading over the last six months has been limited to fiction and journalism to be honest. I read the Guardian online everyday,  and I have read The Maze Runner trilogy and Lord of the Rings, and I’m currently reading Thirteen by Sebastian Beaumont (a hard book to read, and I’ll write a book review once I have finished). I’m aware I have read one other book and written a review of it on my blog, but have forgotten what it was. Ah ha, my memory returns, it was the Shephards Crown by Terry Pratchet. I have another trilogy to read once I’ve finished Thirteen. After that I’m going to try and broaden my scope of reading. I’m also currently reading through a book about anorexia and bulimia, which would fit into the genre of psychology.

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Exercise 1.10

This exercise combines three aspects we’ve covered in Part One: freewriting, the writing diary and reflective commentary.

  • Freewriting. Consider this quote, which is said to come from the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg: “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” Think about this quote for a minute or two, then complete a five-minute free write about these thoughts.

My passion is where my source, light and strengths will come as a writer. I’m very open about my life and experiences, both positive and negative. This authentic writing style has helped me to develop an online community and to build relationships. I do not hide my madness. I can also see that this authenticity will be a huge bonus in writing short stories or a novel. Writing about what I know. My opening idea for Sophie Lives comes from my experience of being abused and from my understanding of domestic violence and the tragedy that in the UK 2 women are murdered every week by their current or ex partner. This is something that I feel angry about. Writing from Sophie’s perspective of abuse and recovery is something that has the potential to be powerful.

  • Writing Diary. Read your freewrite through and think about your writing journey – the good and the difficult parts to this exercise. Make notes in your writing diary about the experience. Be as open as you like – only you will read this account.

Firstly, other people will read through my account. I don’t mind this. My community matters to me and I welcome feedback and interaction with others. However, there are some pieces of writing that will remain behind closed doors until they are complete and ready to be seen. For example, I will only reveal one more small passage from Sophie Lives, and then I’ll develop the rest of the novel in private.

Writing from a prompt has been easier than I have expected it to be. It’s a very good way to approach and develop writing. I can see why the notebook is so important, it will become a source of my own ideas and prompts, which are far better than the prompts from others. Having a starting point that comes from the heart will be the driving force of successful creative writing.

  • Reflective commentary. Read through the notes you’ve just made on the original exercise and start to think how much of this you’d want to share with your tutor. Also think why you’d want to share this. (Check the ‘two-fold purpose’ above.)

I have absolutely no problem with sharing anything I write with my tutor. I feel no shame about my writing, I don’t fear critique; the opposite is true, I value feedback from my tutor, she’s an experienced author and can guide me on my journey. Yes my reflection is self-critique and this is highly valuable in developing myself, I get that, it will be a source of strength, but I’m open to my tutor reading anything I write.

Freewriting will also be a source of overcoming writers block, which all writers experience from time to time. I had creative blocks while I was studying photography, and getting out and taking photos for enjoyment and developing personal practice helped me to move forward. It’s no different with writing. It troubles me that creative writers on the course are not expected to have a blog and are encouraged to secrecy. Why should creative writers be treated differently than other students? Yes we do need to keep personal projects behind closed doors until they are complete and ready to be published, but coursework doesn’t need secrecy.

Reflective Commentary – Exercise 1.9

Open your writing diary and make an entry. It’s up to you how much you write; write anything from one paragraph to a couple of pages. 

Choose one or more of the following to write about:

  • A book I read and loved
  • How I felt when I first wrote something for pleasure
  • What I fear most about starting to write creatively
  • The sort of writer I would like to be
  • Something I have noticed about the way I write
  • My thoughts on freewriting so far
  • My plans for notebooks and note booking. 

Be sure to complete this exercise before moving on. 

Something I’ve noticed about the way I write

Writing in the mornings is such a pleasure for me. It’s not that I can’t write at other times of the day, but I wake up early, have nothing else to do other than Instagram and Ebay, so writing is filling a void. I’m enjoying the freewriting and this has become an important part of my morning routine.

Freewriting is a skill that I haven’t used before, and I feared that I would write poorly, something unstructured and random, but this hasn’t been the case at all. Mostly, I like to undertake my freewriting with pen and paper, and the time flies by. This morning I’ve written about my athiesm and god, or more to the point that there is no god.

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I’m finding that I’m writing a lot of auto-biographical snippets. A year or so of this and I’d be able to collate these snippets into a book.

Writing about myself, my life and my beliefs is really enjoyable, and I find the structure flows easily. I invest a lot of myself into this style of writing, and I write authentically, but I don’t want to limit myself to this form of writing. I’d like to explore poetry in my freewriting as well.

I have managed to write a couple of poems, as well as a couple of passages for a potential novel or short story.

All in all I am enjoying the course, and being able to write freely. I’m doing far better than I thought I would, and my practice has brought around better results than I expected.

Notebook Journal

I have decided to have one post for my notebook so that I’m not having to continuously open different posts on my blog to recall ideas, that could be quite a painful thing to do, and I’d lose track of ideas and themes.

Spring

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Gender Identity

Something that I could journal or explore as I go through counselling.

Pronouns – they/them

Wearing a blouse in public

Stew and dumplings

I can smell the sweet aroma of stew and dumplings in kentish town road. It makes me want to find out where its coming from and to eat it. I’m going to have to find a recipee, make it and see if I can write poetically about it. My cousin makes it in a slow cooker and it doesn’t have the same aroma. Maybe a few hours in the cooker will be the best way.

Exercise 1.8

First, go to http://weareoca.com/creative_writing/how-many-notebooks-does-it-take-to/  to read more about keeping a writers notebook.

Now decide what kind of notebook works for you and get a supply in (or just make use of your phone or tablet or other device – whatever suits you). Go out for a walk near where you live, or in your lunch break at work. Jot down a few things in your notebook: It doesn’t matter what – descriptions of your surroundings, thoughts about any people you pass, or any other thoughts that pass through your mind.

Get in the habit of having a notebook with you as much as possible and try to use it every day for a week. 

When I set up the pages on my blog for creative writing I set up a page for my notebook. I’ve decided to keep my notebook online. It’s more practice for me as I take my phone with me everywhere. I used to be a paper and pen kind of person, but with my studies over the past couple of years I have embraced technology. There are some things that I write down in a physical notebook, perhaps the occasional idea that I want to build upon before it goes on my blog, but I may post them and password protect them at some point, so that I can keep my writing in one place. What’s more, digitising my notebook means that I can upload photos as I go along, such as my exploration of spring.

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I’ve also decided that it’s probably for the best if I stick to having one post that I add to so that all of my ideas are in the same place.

 

Sophie Lives – Character Development

This is a page in which I will update ideas for Sophie Lives.

28/02/20

Sophie is going to have flashbacks of the domestic abuse that she suffered, and I wrote part of one of the flashbacks. Three o’clock in the morning is as good a time to write as any other.

03/03/20

Sophie is going to wear clothing which is black, or that is not feminine in any way as she does not wish to attract attention to herself.

She can learn boxing or a martial art so that she builds confidence and a means of defending her self. I want her to get help with coming off of methadone, and for her mental health, but not an inpatient admission. Maybe even at some point on her journey into recovering from domestic abuse sexuality could be explored. An existential crisis that leads her into a same sex relationship.

Research points

  • Martial arts
  • Lesbian sexual identity in response to violence for a previously heterosexual woman
  • IDAS
  • Refuge

Notebook Quote

“And it wasn’t just that I’d never let go during sex, it was that I’d never truly let go in any experience I’d ever had.” (p138)

This is why photography is so important to me. I let go as a photographer. I am free to be in the moment, at peace even at peace with my insanity. My camera is my haven.

“The girl who has already got out, leans back into the cab, as if she wants to give me a kiss, but I’m too far from her. ‘Have a nice life. ‘ she tells me. ‘Have a beautiful life.’ I laugh, charmed, and say ‘I’ll try.’ She looks suddenly earnest, totally serious. ‘Please do.’ she tells me.” (p142)

Beaumont, S; 2008; Thirteen; Newcastle Upon Tyne ; Myrmidon