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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Writing Fever

Once again, I have been bitten by the writing bug!

When you are in this state, you are constantly daydreaming about your story and itching to write the next part, and then the part after that, unable to rest until it is finished. It is a fever that can only be cured by spilling words onto the page. And even when I complete a book, it is never long before I yearn to write another!

Some people call it the writer’s curse, but I think that it’s a blessing. A lot of people struggle for their art (i.e. some writers need to be drunk or heartbroken or swinging upside-down), yet I can usually sit and write with minimal effort. Of course, insatiable writing fever makes it so much easier to get into the zone, but there are times when this fever dwindles, especially if you are writing for many months.

With my first book, which took eight months to write, the fever came in peaks and troughs. There were times when I was very productive and other times when I barely made any progress at all. But I was patient and I kept on going, one word at a time, putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the finish line. Whenever the fever came, I took full advantage and went along with it, allowing it to spur me onward like wind blowing into a ship’s sails.

Some days, I only have to sit down at my desk before I get lost in a trance and sucked into the story. But even when I’m not being productive, the story is always at the back of my mind, urging me to carry on. The main blocks for me come in the form of self-doubt and fears that my work isn’t good enough, but these concerns are usually bypassed by writing fever, which makes writing a matter of utmost urgency!

Blessed are the days where writing is as easy as breathing. Not so blessed are the days where writing is like chopping through a dense jungle with a bread knife! But we must make do with what we’ve got in any particular moment and we cannot always wait for the wind.

Bouncing back from failure

There is no shame in failure.

Confucius said that ‘our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.’ There’s a lot of power in that quote. We all have setbacks or make mistakes, but you’ve just got to pick yourself up and carry on. There are lessons to be learned from every situation in life.

Last year, I tried to set up a business, but it didn’t work out. It’s been difficult for me to move on from this because I invested so much time and energy into it, though ultimately it was my dogged pursuit of this venture (and refusal to rest when my body and mind were screaming out for reprieve) that caused me to crash and burn.

It is here that I offer the analogy of a sinking ship. When my project began to founder, I was faced with the choice of trying to salvage it or let it sink to unfathomable depths. I decided to abandon ship, but I nearly drowned in the process. Afterwards, I was in a terrible state of shock and it took me a while to get over what had happened.

Luckily, I have managed to bounce back. It’s the hardest knock that I’ve ever taken, but I’m back on my feet now. Even when there seemed to be no light, I kept on trying to shine and reconnect with my true self. Eventually, I rose up again.

These days, there is so much pressure on young people to succeed. At school, we are conditioned to think that failure is bad thing, thanks to the never-ending onslaught of exams. But it is only when we make mistakes that we can truly learn and improve… when you first pick up a guitar or learn to cook, it takes time and dedication to master your craft.

Many successful people experience setbacks and failures, but they keep on pushing forward. Albert Einstein failed at many things in his life, including business and politics, but of course he made huge breakthroughs in the scientific community. If you can learn to embrace failure, then you will be less afraid to pursue your goals. And if you fail, then you can just keep on trying or learn from the experience and move on. Of course, you can always abandon ship if something isn’t working out for you.

The most important thing to remember is never give up. Whether you’re pursuing a goal or recovering from a setback, you must keep moving forward and stay true to yourself. Do not allow yourself to drown. If something is causing you pain, then maybe you should cut it from your life. If you have a dream, then maybe now is the time to make it a reality. Whatever your situation, failure is nothing to fear.

The Fires of Resolve

You can have all the tools you need to write, but without determination, you won’t get anywhere.

If you don’t have a burning desire within you to proceed with a project, then you need to ask yourself whether it’s something that you’re truly passionate about. Sometimes, you might just need a break. Or perhaps it simply isn’t the right time to work on that particular project. Whatever the reason, it is difficult to work on something if you do not have the fires of resolve behind you!

Time is precious, so don’t waste it! You may have the best idea in the world, but if you can’t muster any passion for it, then you’re going to struggle when working on it. I’m not saying that you won’t be successful, but the road to success will be more arduous for you. So make sure that you are passionate about what you do.

As a writer, I come up with many concepts for books, but I only proceed with a project if it truly resonates with me. If I get a strong urge to develop something, then I trust my gut instinct and go for it. This saves me from pursuing fruitless projects and just focusing on the ones that I know I’ll follow through with.

Determination and passion carries you through from start to finish. When you are spurred on by the fires of resolve, the journey to success is truly effortless.

The Woes of a Writer

Why am I made to feel like a failure for not having a job? Why am I judged for following my passions? Every day, I work towards making my dreams a reality and yet because I’m not earning an income, nobody seems to agree with what I’m doing. Some people probably think that I’m taking advantage of my girlfriend – that it is unfair that she has to work and I don’t – but I didn’t create these circumstances. If there were jobs out there, then I would take one and help contribute to the household. I have done this before and I would happily do it again.

I truly admire my girlfriend for keeping a roof over our heads. When she gets frustrated with her job, I feel her pain because it dismays me when she is upset. Yes, the situation is unfair, but I can’t pluck a job out of thin air. And the last three times that I’ve landed myself a job, I haven’t even passed the probation period… what does that tell you? Dare I say that I’m not suited to certain working environments? Is it so wrong that I thrive best when I am my own boss creating my own work? Traditional employment has not worked out well for me so far, so where is the harm in me exploring other options?

Many people would tell me to grin and bear it, just because that’s what everyone else does… but I refuse. I refuse to submit to something that goes against my way of life. Sure, I might get jobs to help pay for the bills, but I will never give up on my dreams. My heart will never be invested in workplace politics and mundane tasks. There is a reason that I keep failing my probation and it has nothing to do with how much effort I put in (because I always give 100%, even when my heart isn’t in it)… the reason they keep letting me go is because I’m not suitable.

So why would I want to apply for certain jobs that I know I’m not suited to, just because they’re available? Must I apply for every job vacancy just because it’s a job? Will I only succeed in life once I become employed? Somehow, I get the impression that I will only be viewed as successful once I have a job, no matter what the job happens to be. And even if I become a published author, then I strongly suspect that some people still wouldn’t acknowledge my success, as it wouldn’t fit in with their ideas about traditional employment. But that doesn’t matter because I plan on following my dreams anyway.

Life is short, my friends! Do what you can with the time that is given to you. If you have a hobby or a passion, then don’t neglect it. I usually don’t care much for the opinions of others (especially those of naysayers) but occasionally, a narrow-minded remark can slip through your defenses, which is why I produced this angry rant. For those of you that can relate to my frustration, know that you are not alone. The problem lies not with you, but with the way that society works. Our greatest challenge in life is being ourselves in a world that wants us to be like everyone else… ignore the judgement of others and take the path that’s right for you.