Pulp Idol 2017: I’m Through To The Final!

This is my first post in many months, as life has been distracting me to no end, but I come bearing excellent news! I recently entered Pulp Idol – a local writing competition in Liverpool – and got through to the final! Can you believe it?

This was the third consecutive year that I’ve entered and I almost didn’t bother, but something compelled me to submit my novel hours before the deadline – I’m so glad now that I did!

In the competition, each of us had to read out three minutes from our opening chapter, followed by a series of questions from the panel of judges. I brought great passion and energy to my reading and enthusiastically answered the judges’ questions, sensing that my piece had been well-received, yet hardly daring to hope that I would get through to the final. As we waited for the results, I had such a strong gut feeling that I would be successful, but of course my inner critic simply dismissed this as wishful thinking.

When the judges called out my name, I cannot tell you how overjoyed I was! After all the rejection emails I’ve received from publishing houses, as well as my run-in with a vanity publisher, it was so special to hear such positive feedback about my writing. The judges said my opening chapter was well-structured, eloquently written and wasn’t drowning in too much description, with interesting characters that showed great potential – this was so affirming for me and it has restored confidence in my writing.

I’ve barely written anything these last four months, so this victory has given me a much needed confidence boost. Going forward to the final next month, there is a chance I could actually end up with a publishing contract, which is so unbelievably exciting! I dare to dream that it is possible and intend to carry forth my passionate energy to the final, letting my inner light shine as I present my work to the judges once more.

Wish me luck, my friends!

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“The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

I just love Lewis Carroll. He was definitely smoking something back in the day.

All of his work is so trippy and psychedelic, I love it! Check out my performance of “The Jabberwocky” below:

And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

I bloody hope so! It sounds terrifying!

Overcoming fears of public speaking

Public speaking scares me, but I’m getting better at it.

Within the last fortnight, I’ve done two public readings of my work and they’ve both been very successful. I think it will be a case of the more readings I do, the more at ease I will feel.

I am told that even the most confident people get nervous when speaking publicly. It’s a natural fight-or-flight mechanism that we’ve all inherited through evolution, so we just have to work with it. But being nervous is a good thing because it shows that you actually care about what you’re doing. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone give a half-arsed performance!

Nerves actually help you to perform better. With all of that adrenalin rushing through your body, you just do what needs to be done and lose yourself in the moment. But of course, being nervous can lead to stuttering, shaky hands or complete stage fright.

Personally, I like to get my nerves under control with a bit of deep breathing and meditation. It also helps to put aside your fears of other people judging you. Just remember that the majority of people struggle with public speaking (myself included), so you’re not alone.

I’ve got another public reading coming up soon, but I think that I’ll be okay. Recently, I’ve broken through some sort of invisible barrier and overcame my public speaking fears. I’ve discovered that getting nervous “puts you in the zone” and the inevitable adrenalin rush should be used to your advantage, not your detriment.

Here’s a video of me performing a passage from my first book, Pearl’s Hereafter. If I can do this, then so can you:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ea841b1eb0oax6o/Nick%20reading%20at%20the%20enchanted%20forest.mp4?dl=0

Learning from the masters

Struggling with your writing? Not sure how things are meant to be done?

Whenever you are struggling with punctuation or dialogue, or pretty much any literary problem, then you should take a look at how the “professionals” did it. Generally, you will find that most successful writers abide by the same set of literary rules, especially when it comes to matters of grammar and punctuation. Even though every writer has their own unique voice, they still manage to ensure that their story reads like a novel.

Of course, some people would argue that rules are there to be broken. It is totally up to you how you shape your project, but if you’re ever in doubt of your approach, then it might be useful to seek guidance from the millions of existing books. Most writers are encouraged to read widely and learn from the masters, though it is perfectly okay to do your own thing. I guess what I am trying to say is that it’s good to know the rules before you break them.