Things I learnt from my father

The other day I had to fix my laptop, a mundane task. However, throughout the process I heard my dad’s voice telling me what to do and how to fix it and even to back up everything just before I wiped it accidentally. A lucky escape! This got me thinking, my dad taught me how to fix a laptop but he also taught me many other things that have shaped my view on the world and how I conduct myself. I never really acknowledged some of these things until now but it seems appropriate to make a post just over two years after his death to show how he really did affect and teach me things that would last a lifetime. This is a list of things my father taught me and that I am still trying to use in my everyday life.

Things I learnt from my father:

  1. Never make excuses. You either have a good reason or you don’t.
  2. Don’t bullshit anyone and eventually they will stop bullshitting you. Only do this if you are willing to take people’s true opinions.
  3. Respect yourself completely.
  4. Even the longest and darkest nights end.
  5. Earn people’s respect. Then work to keep it.
  6. Never break a promise.
  7. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.
  8. You will end up where you need to be, just trust yourself and enjoy the journey.
  9. Don’t tempt fate.
  10. Friends are common, good friends are rare and enemies are earned.
  11. Stand up for what you believe in even if you stand by yourself. The buck stops with you.
  12. You’ll go through hell…
  13. but sometimes life is very very good.
  14. The world doesn’t owe you anything. Work for it.
  15. If you love someone, show them.
  16. Offer no context. The people who matter don’t need it and no one else will listen anyway.
  17. Always apologise for your temper, especially when you lose it.
  18. Love what you do.
  19. Follow your dreams while you are young, while you can.
  20. Stop worrying.

Kimberly

Work experience, writers and the big wide world

This week I have been doing some work experience for Nottingham Writers’ Studio. It is the first time I have had a proper working day. I have had freelance jobs but never a nine to five job for five days a week. Man, I am tired.

Working at the studio, I wrote some copy for blog posts, edited webpages and copy, did some research to create some writers’ resources. That was very fun because I got to think of things that I would like and need, and then create them for other people. I thought of ideas for FAQs and forum ideas for the studio to help with their new website.

Since they had moved premises, into a bigger and better studio, I put some flat pack furniture together and helped give ideas of where to put the rest of the new furniture. I shadowed a meeting with a councillor talking about a UNESCO bid for City of Literature title for Nottingham. It was brilliant to meet someone so passionate about culture and culture in Nottingham. I helped proofread a copy of the brief for the bid.

I attended a branding workshop, which was actually extremely helpful. It was like a little crash course in branding and marketing and I learnt a lot of skills I will be able to take forward into the future and my future projects. I also went to Waterstones to help an author, Sarah Dale, to advertise an event helping to launch her new book. I got to talk to people and heard many interesting stories and saw how an author has to market their book in person in this new changing industry.

This week was also leading up to a coursework deadline on the Friday, and then another in a week’s time as well as other social commitments. I really had to learn how to organise my time and use the time I did have effectively. I had to make sure I was productive.

I know a lot of you are reading this and thinking, “yeah welcome to the world of work,” however it is hard when it is something you have never had to do before. To clarify, even though it was was, it was rewarding, I learnt so much this week, it was exciting and I did so many different things. I am looking forward to finding full time work now because I know there are enough opportunities out there to keep me busy and occupied and, although working really hard, having fun as well.

It is true it is a lot easier to go through everything when you are doing something you love. I was surrounded by amazing writers and interesting people, I got to write and be creative, I got to organise and make the best out of myself and I thrived. Even though I had my coursework deadline coming up, and almost no time to complete it except very late in the evening which lead to a few all-nighters, because I picked a course I adore it was fine. The base part of myself was still pushing myself forward because this is the world I want to be in. This is why everyone should try and do what they love.

“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

I partly agree. You will work. However your motivation will be so much higher, you will be able to push yourself further than you thought and you will achieve more than you ever dreamed of. The work you do in the day, no matter how bad it even gets, you will be able to get through it. After the day is done, you will look back and know it was worth it.

I enjoyed almost every second of my work experience week and I didn’t have any bad days because I am lucky. However, the fact that I didn’t sleep for over 72 hours at one point this week, was the hard part. But it was brilliant. And I would do it again. I will do it again. I owe a big thank you to everyone I met this week, it was fantastic and I hope to help you as much as you helped me one day.

By Kimberly 

 

Independent Publishing… Help!

One of my modules on the BA Creative and Professional Writing course requires me to write a research essay about publishing on the topic of my choice. I have chosen to do the advantages and disadvantages of independent publishing in the current publishing environment. I chose to do this topic because I really prefer the independent publishing market, and am interested in pursuing a career there one day, so thought as I have to research something I’ll do the thing I am passionate about!

I would like to hear about experiences of publishers, so if anyone happens to be one, or knows one, then please feel free to come have a chat!
These were my questions.to begin with.
Now, my readers by now know how much I value their opinion so even if you are not a publisher, if you have an opinion that is strong enough to want to share, please do so in my comments or email me at k.e.jamison@hotmail.co.uk

1) What do you think the advantages are for you being an independent publisher rather than traditional?

and 2) Have you faced any major challenges being independent ? For example, maybe with competition with traditional publishers, marketing books, or staying afloat in the economic climate.

Feel free to think and debate and write. I need the opinions for my research.

Thank you my lovely readers!

Kimberly

Writing, doubts, writing doubts and how to combat them

You my dearest readers put up with a lot of my rants no matter how nonsensical they may be. I appreciate this. Recently I have learnt another life lesson and I thought I would pass it on to you in thanks. You probably already know what I have just figured out, because you are all clever and lovely people, but you never know. This might help at least someone.

Recently I have found myself doubting a lot. Doubting my choices, doubting my ability, just doubting myself. I am a writer by trade and recently I have hated every single thing I have written. It is all rubbish. I have thought have I lost what little talent I had. I have also become less confident with people. Efforts to organise social events with people from my course have mostly ended with a lot of rejection. There is only so much you can take, you know? I have seen the anthology stress people out and I have now started doubting my ability to organise other people, calm them down and generally do what I do best. My health has not been that great recently either, I am going in and out of clinics and slowly think I am losing my mind.

Well. All of this was until I realised, it was doubt. Just doubt. I am not a confident person, I am quite insecure but I have always been confident in my abilities to get things done. So I reverted back to type and made a list. Everything that was getting on top of me, I listed down. I then wrote a second list of all the things I needed to do to fix these.

I got on with the high priority things. These included doing my edits for the anthology. I had been procrastinating and I didn’t want to do them. But I got them done and now it is up to the writer to get back to me. It is out of my hands.

I got some blog posts done and some presentations done and slowly, I found that I had had a really productive day. All because of a list.

I then looked at the harder things to fix. The confidence. The insecurity. The doubt.

Now that I had all of the practical things out of the way I could see a lot clearer. It was kind of like the opposite of when I was younger. When I was nine years old I was convinced I would never see the age ten. Not because I thought that something dreadful was going to happen or anything, it just seemed so far away and unimaginable that I could never see it happening, so I didn’t believe in it. The opposite is happening now. Everything is happening so quickly I feel like I am imploding. I am in my second year yet I have to think about the final project for third year. Then in turn thinking about the final project makes me think about my career when I haven’t even finished all my modules on the second year yet. It is getting ridiculous how quickly time goes.

I went back to my list. I found I could already cross off certain things. I realised that no I was not going mad and no I was not going to fail everything completely. I am far to organised for that. I then realised since I am trying to organise my internal emotions by listing things, then I am far too organised for my own good. And someone who is as organised as that should have no reason to doubt themselves. I will get everything done. I will get everything done to the best ability I possibly can.

I think I just needed an hour or two just to sit down and, almost revel in the doubting mood. I needed to embrace it to realise that I had no reason to, at least not at this point in my life. Yes everything is getting hectic, but you know what, it is more fun when it is hectic. More things are happening and I will meet more people and get more done and the trivial things like people not turning up to things, and getting bad critique will fade from my memory.

They seem important now, but I doubt they will in a few weeks. I think I will have found a new thing to worry about in a few weeks.

So dear readers, what is the lesson?
Just take time out of your life to sit back and think. Embrace the bad emotions. People tell you to get over things and pressure you to internalise things but you shouldn’t. If you are doubting yourself, let it out. Doubt yourself, but if you do, don;t forget to figure out why. My guess is by the time you figure out why you will have figured out that the reason is only in your head, like mine.

So, I am now looking forward to getting my coursework finished, the anthology published, getting better, getting the novel written, getting work experience and generally being happy. Just looking forward to things makes me happier, and knowing I have the support base that I do makes me feel safe and secure.

No more doubting, just writing. Good or bad.

Kimberly

So you know I’m trying to be a writer…

WELL GUESS WHAT!
I now get paid for writing!

Somehow, I landed a part time job copywriting. I write online adverts for a website. How exciting is that?! The best part is because have been rejected from every other job that I have applied for, this is my first ever job. How many people can say that their first job was what they actually wanted to do?

The hours are great. The pay is great. I can now have a “previous employer.” I will now have experience in advertising. And I can say my favourite thing ever… TECHNICALLY A PROFESSIONAL WRITER!

I sent off my first advertisements today. They should be up around Monday or Tuesday and I’ll definitely be posting a link here.

This might sound as soppy as a puppy, but if you just go for things and believe in yourself, you can do it! I’m the biggest failure I know and I have just managed to get on the first step of the ladder to the rest of my career. I am so unbelievably excited and I wish absolutely everyone luck in everything they do, especially if it is career related, because when the hard work pays off- it is brill.

Lots of love to my supportive followers,

blogger and new copywriter,

Kim xxxxx

“Are Creative Writing Courses Worth It…”

“Well, are they Kim?” a particularly anxious friend asked me.

Every now and again, you’ll get a question thrown your way that makes you evaluate your whole life. This one was mine.
I do creative and professional writing at university, so my aspiring writer friend thought I was the person to ask, since I had experiance of it.

My answer, ever poetic, was “err, depends.” This is why…

If you want to be a writer, chances are you are already writing. You therefore can already call yourself a writer. You therefore technically do not need a course to make you a writer. (However, getting paid for it is another thing.) You need to ask yourself why you write. Is it a deep feeling that motivates you to put pen to paper, or are you just not sure what to do for the meantime? Do you want to earn billions or do you want to make a living doing something you love?

Writing is a hard career. Many people write who don’t make their way in the world by writing. They pay their bills with teaching or waitressing or whatever jobs they do in the meantime. Doing a creative writing course doesn’t mean someone will knock on your door saying “I want you to write me a novel, have a billion quid to start with and we will see how you go.” It doesn’t mean you will make it.

However. However.
Don’t despair. Doing a creative writing course (as long as you pick a GOOD one) will mean you pick up skills that will potentially help you find a job in the industry. I, after a year, have editing contacts and publishing contacts and author contacts etc… This means I could be earning my wages to pay my bills surrounded by the world I want to be a part of. To me, this is amazing. And I am willing to pay for the expertise of all the people that I have come into contact with. If you find creative writing courses, make sure you look for their links, their contacts, who is actually teaching and do they know people, like know people.

There is the other never ending debate. Can creative writing actually be taught?
I would say yes, as I am paying a lot of money for this.
However (again) You. Do. Not. Need. A. Course. To. Write.
That is a fact. If you have talent and send your work out, it will get seen and you will be herded to the right people who will make it better and teach you stuff and show you the correct way to do things. Just keep sending stuff out. Be a nuisance. Show yourself. Write.

The advantages I have found with my course are the fact I love learning how people learn. Our tutors constantly teach us how to teach ourselves. All of my tutors are absolute experts in their fields and are all currently working in their fields. They are active writers and editors and publishers etc. Therefore all the advice and support they give me is current. It is never out of date words from a textbook that hold no relevance to this day and age. They know all because they have done it and they are doing it.

Also, the support. My life! the support is amazing. I entered this course thinking I was one type of writer and now I think I am another. The friendship I have with the people on my course can not be bought. We help eachother, if brutally at times, we rip into eachother, we tell eachother if that was the worst thing we have ever written. And it is okay. Because we all know it is for the best. My writing has improved so much just because of the people around me. Their influence will continue long after my course is over.

So there you have it.
It depends.

I always encourage further education, its fab. However, you need to know if it is right for you. We have had some people leave our course because it wasn’t the right thing for them and that is okay.

If you think honestly you can improve and you think that you might want to be in the creative industry, then go for it.
If you just want to write for yourself and are too scared to show others your work, then maybe not.
It is your decision, but if you are thinking about it, I hope I’ve helped.

Happy learning,

K

Sweet and Sour: My first taste of editing

Today was the day I have been looking forward to since I joined my University’s creative writing anthology editing team. I am not going to lie, the vain part of me loves the fact I can say I am an editor. It will also be epic work experiance with the added fact that I am only one of two first years who made it onto the team. Yes, I feel special.

Basically, the day consisted of us all reading the pieces each. For poetry we marked it with our initials and then a straight forward YES or NO. For fiction we numbered it from 1-3.

  • 1- epic, must go in, little editing.
  • 2- must go in/ debate whether goes in+ a lot of editing.
  • 3-just no/ too much editing.

I was surprised how ruthless we became. We started out lovely, saying all the good points in each piece but then as the hours (literally hours) dragged on and on and on, we became so harsh. “It would be good if their was a plot,” “I think it is ****,” and “You are just saying words!!!” were some of my favourite phrases of the day. However, I did come across some absolutely amazing work as well. This is the sort of work that makes you swear that the author can somehow see into the very depths of your soul. Some of the work genuinely moved me and some made me giggle like a little schoolgirl on laughing gas.

We also had to judge artwork to go in. This was even harder because everyone has even more varied opinions about art. I swear, at times a bare knuckles boxing fight was about to break out. Pistols at dawn, kind of thing. It got intense. We argued a lot. We fought our corners for our favourite pieces. I drank way too much coffee even though I have sworn against coffee (see previous post.)

But would I do it again?

HELL YES.

I learnt so much doing this. I learnt about commercial aims of books, about readership and target audience. I learnt how much work actually goes into the editing process and that I should be thankful for my own editors and not whine about how they are destroying my work or just don’t get me. They do. They really do. But the thing is, they are trying to improve it, FOR YOU. Editors are like that one friend you have that you always take shopping. She doesn’t tell you that you look nice in everything, she tells you the truth. Yes, you do look fat in those jeans and no, pink does not suit you. They tell you these home truths because they love you. Editors try and get your work to the highest standard they can, FOR YOU. Yes, it can sound a bit harsh when they say “change this and that and this and that and all of this bit and just for goodness sake change that and call him Earl not Jim.” But chances are they know better. Chances are they know what sells. Like it or not, at the end of the day that it what counts, WHAT SELLS.

I have also learnt the value of presenting your work well. If you put in the effort, my friends, it does show and it makes the editors like you so much more than the random person who submitted their work with coffee stains, no punctuation or grammar and really blurry images. As editors we are so much kinder to people who put in that bit of extra effort just to make our job a bit easier. Yes, I am talking to the people who forget to number their pages.

Do you know how long it takes to figure out what is going on when you first have to order the pages? A long time, my friends, a long long time.

Guess what my mood will be like when I have finally done that? Not good, not good at all.

Will your work be put in? Probably not. Shame, mate.

It isn’t right, I know. But that is how it happens.

I am buzzing right now. It could be the coffee, it could be the editing. Now I just can’t wait to get my individual pieces to copy edit. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into a piece and thrash out changes with an author. This has got to be an option for my future career. Got to be. It is stressful, brilliant, exhausting, engaging, weird, brutal, harsh, aggrovating, argumentative, contraversial, wonderful and totally worth every second. I even stayed late to help get all of the entries looked at. I know, right. Me, do extra work? Weird.

I hope everyone else has had some sort of uplifting/ inspiring moment recently.

K.