I’m going to start this blog off with a little story about an experience I had while on a family trip to Europe in late 2015. I found myself walking through the Dublin airport, about to fly to Paris. I’d been wandering through the duty-free section of the airport when I realised my flight had been called. I began to make my way towards my gate, backpack swung over my shoulder. I was still a distance from my departure gate when a man walked straight into me. The collision caused me to drop my backpack, the contents of which sprawled across the airport floor. Here is probably the place to mention that I don’t pack lightly, in my bag I had four novels amid the bevy of travel necessities I had squeezed into the over-flowing carry-on. The man that walked into me stood above me and watched as I scrambled to shove my belongings back into my bag, he even laughed when a passing traveller stepped on my beautiful cloth-cover copy of Lousia May Alcott’s Little Women. As you can imagine, I was pissed. I planned to stand up and walk away without a word to this rude man, but he obviously had a different idea. As I stood up he grabbed my arm and said ‘Smile, Love’. I shook my arm loose and stalked away (using all my willpower to stop myself from shouting at a stranger in the airport), as I retreated the man continued to yell, saying; ‘Smile! Your face won’t fall off! [Read more…]
We all have those friends on social media that have the digital equivalent of verbal diarrhoea. It’s generally around the holiday period that these friends come out of the woodwork, posting a barrage of ‘from where you’d rather be’ images, attempting to smear their holiday in your face. When I receive this onslaught of newsfeed clogging Instagram and Facebook posts and Snapchats I start to wonder how much fun these friends are actually having.
It seems these days that as soon as I set myself a writing goal I’m unable to meet it. 2016 being the first year that I’m out of University I decided to take the opportunity to really get into my writing. I researched a bunch of competitions and devised a schedule for my blog. Then I sat down and lined up all the story ideas I’d been working on and placed them with the writing competitions that most suited the idea. After that, all that was left to do was write. I had my first idea for a competition all lined up, a story I had been devising since late 2015. I was excited to get into this piece; at 2000 words it should have been something I was able to bang out pretty quickly. The story is now due in three days and I’ve only just broken the 500 word mark.
I’m going to be honest; the last few months of 2015 were pretty shit. For the entirety of the year I’d been dealing with a resurgence of a chronic health issue- by October I was at my wits end. I was angry, defeated and feeling like everything was out to get me. The good things that were happening around me were not enough to balance out the constant bad. When I finished University at the tail end of November 2015, I dove into reading. Books have always been my escape, a sentiment I’m certain I share with many. I didn’t really set up a plan to what I would read and when, I just stood in front of my overflowing bookshelf and waited for something to jump out at me.
It was with a bevy of tears and that indescribable sadness that comes with parting from a beloved fictional character that I finished the final pages of We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. This book was incredible, magnificently written, witty, heart wrenching and absolutely unique.
I was captivated by this novel before I had even lifted it from the shelf. Its bold blue cover, contrast with yellow, black and white jumped out at me from the shelf. The title, The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett, evoked an idea within me- a thought that the novel would follow a tangent which I have thought about many times myself: If one thing was different, one incident or moment in my life, no matter how inconsequential it may be, how would that change the course of everything else to follow?
As I approached my University degree, older friends, family members and teachers constantly informed me that the coming years would be the ‘best of my life’, that I should look towards my time at University excitedly, because it would be an experience like no other.
Recently, my Mother bought me a copy of the November issue of Women’s Weekly, as there was a headline on the front of the magazine she thought would be of interest to me. The article was titled ‘Battling Chronic Skin Conditions’, but the front strapline said ‘Breakthrough: Eczema and Psoriasis Cures’. I have chronic eczema, and have done my entire life. In the last two years my condition has gotten more severe, and I have become more desperate for a way to control or even eradicate it completely. So, naturally I was pretty keen to read an article that boasted of a cure.
We’ve all been told time and time again to never judge a book by its cover, but this is a practice which I simply can’t follow. To me, the cover of a book is almost as important as its contents; the cover should give you a sense, a feeling of what’s to come. It should fill you will hope, despair or excitement. A cover should be a peek at the soul of the book, of its tone and message. A cover is there to set your expectation, and if a cover is sub-par, then you can probably assume the book is too.