Blog Hopping – Why Do I Write?

It’s not often I take part in blog hops. To be honest, most of them involve topics I don’t normally write about (beauty, usually), so they aren’t often relevant. But when Bex at Futures tagged me in this one, I decided to jump on board, because I can most certainly write about writing!

Why do I write?

Honestly, I write because I think I’m quite good at it. I don’t paint, or draw, or do gymnastics, because I can’t, but I know I can write. I’m not saying that I’m the most talented writer there ever was (that would be Aaron Sorkin*), but I can certainly string words together in a way that makes sense. I like having the ability to think about something and easily translate it into words, so other people understand what I am thinking.

When I used to dream about being a writer, I used to imagine myself as a journalist, or a novelist. Blogging didn’t exist then, so I didn’t know that I could carve out my own space and just write for me. I consider myself a writer, even though I don’t technically earn a living from it, because I write every day, and other people read it. The dream, of course, is to earn a fabulous living from writing, and I think I’ve probably got a book or two in me. But times have changed, and earning a living from writing novels isn’t necessarily the easiest thing in the world.

What am I working on?

I’m always working on my blog; I try not to put pressure on myself to post once a day, but I like to post regularly. I’m so proud of it, because I know how much work I’ve put into it, and I’m pleased how well it reflects me and my life over many years. I’m constantly trying to improve it, and think of new things to write about, and not just because I want to stand out a little bit in a crowded blogosphere. I also want to continue feeling proud of that, and the only way to do that is to keep working hard on it!

In terms of other writing projects, I think I am finally at a point where I have a proper story that I want to get written down for a novel. I’ve felt this way before, but always wondered if the story was exactly the one I wanted to tell. I’m feeling much more confident with this one, it’s just a case of making a start. Obviously I’m going to need a new notebook.

I also write a column for Essex Life magazine, on (what else) books. It’s a lot of fun getting a lot of books by local authors thrown in my direction, and while sometimes I have to read some horrors, mostly I love what I get to read, and I love the fact that I have an actual column in an actual magazine! it’s a dream come true, and though it’s not a paid position, it’s great exposure, and actually great training in terms of deadlines and word counts.

How does it differ from others in its genre?

I assume that this question refers specifically to my blog. It’s a difficult question, because I think it’s both easy and hard to differ from other blogs in the same genre. Even the biggest, most popular blogs I read aren’t that different from the others in the same category, except to say that the best ones are different just because the blogger’s personality shines through. I can’t honestly say that my lifestyle posts, book reviews, film posts, life update posts and occasional OOTD posts are different to the next blog you might read. But hopefully when you read my posts, you’ll think, “Oh yeah, that’s Jane, she loves Radio 2,” or “I remember, Jane is scared of whales.” If my personality shines through, and I like to think it does, that makes me different to the next lifestyle or book blog you read, because I’m me, and (thankfully) nobody else is quite like me.

How does my writing process work?

I noticed that this question was missing from Bex’s post, but it was in some earlier carnations, so I’m including it! My writing process is basically to sit down and write. I jot down ideas whenever I have them, either in a notebook or on my phone, and sometimes I make myself a to-do list if things feel as though they are getting out of hand, but generally, I just sit at a computer, and let the words flow forth. I love the idea of having a proper calendar that I use religiously, but although sometimes I try, it never sticks, and I prefer to just play it by ear and write as and when I need/want to.

This blog hop was started by Katy at Folly & Bloom, and has been completed by such lovely bloggers as Mathilde Heart Manech, Belle Du Brighton and Hook, Line and Sink Her. I’m tagging the beautiful and wonderful Nicki at Nicki Kinickie. She’s my hero, because she manages to write a fabulous blog while taking care of her wee bubba and looking spectacularly glamorous at the same time. Check out her answers next week!

* I’m only half joking about Aaron Sorkin.

My writing, elsewhere

I’ve popped up on various other blogs recently, doing some guest posting and some other collaborations. I have shared some of the links already, but I thought I’d put them all into one handy blog post so if you fancy reading my writing elsewhere, you can take a look!

I wondered if I am too old to blog at Nicki’s blog, This Something Life.

I wrote about nicknames for Penny at Lillies and Love when she went away earlier this summer.

I gave my top five tips for blogging on the Printed.com blog.

I made a list of the ten things to love about Essex for Haydn at Squibb Vicious.

I took part in Sarah at essbeevee’s monthly Books are Awesome series and wrote about six books I love.

And as Haydn was looking for more guest bloggers as she gallivanted around the UK, I was more than happy to help with five celebrity crushes that other people probably don’t get.

Also, every now and again, I get involved over at Blogger’s Bookshelf. In October, they were asking for our favourite literary villains, so I threw my two pennies worth and talked Austen for a couple of sentence (I love talking Austen).

It’s always nice to take my writing off for a visit to another blog every now and again, just as I enjoy having other people guest post here!

31 Before 31 ~ Have an International Penfriend

I’ve been meaning to write about this for so long! According to my own rules, I can’t cross it off of my list until I’ve blogged about it, and for some reason it has taken me months to do that!

When I decided that I wanted a penpal, I couldn’t really work out the best way to go about it. There are lots of penpal website out there, but I’ve tried them before and frankly they are useless. They are full of people who are trying to scam you, or who are using the sites as dating websites.

Luckily, when I wrote about my desire for an international penpal a few months ago, I got a reply from Bev, a lovely English blogger who lives in Germany. We connected a while ago through our blogs (through Friday Letters), and now we are sort of penpals. I say sort of, because we’ve only exchanged a letter each, and a postcard, and it’s my turn to write to her. In my defence, I have written the letter, I just haven’t posted it, and now I think I’m going to have to add another letter to it in order to get it a bit more up to date!

I also used Sarah’s Network of Nice at Yes and Yes to try and find a penpal, and I was inundated with responses! I am being less than perfect about replying to the people I have connected with there too, but I hope that I manage to stay in touch with them, because they seem like really interesting people! Sarah, from Texas, works at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and recently got to attend the opening where all five presidents were. I can’t believe my luck at getting to chat to someone in that enviable position!

Through the Network of Nice, I also connected with Jenny from Georgia, in the USA. We’ve exchanged a couple of letters and another one to her is definitely on my to-do list!

So that’s that; I can officially cross off another item!

20. Have an international penpal

Mondaying

Right now, I am mostly…

Baking : Following on from last week’s sophisticated birthday cake, this week I tried my hand at something I saw in my Girls’ Night In bookIce Cream Cone cupcakes. They are the prettiest cakes I’ve ever made, and I love them. They tasted OK, but they looked even better.

Reading : I made the mistake of going to the library on Saturday, which means that I collected four books and have started reading all of them. I always do that when I get multiple books from the library!

Drinking : I drank white wine two nights in a row this past weekend! I know that probably doesn’t seem all that exclamation mark-worthy, but I really don’t drink an awful lot. Most of it was in spritzer form, but it still managed to get me drunk both nights.

Writing : I have finally got around to writing a reply to the letter Bev sent me, and I received another letter in the post last week from another penpal, so I have to reply to that too! There’s a post coming on penpals real soon (I keep saying that, but it’s true this time!).

Socialising : With my family! Friday night was spent at my sister’s house with my other sister, niece, and sister-in-law. And then on Saturday night, a few of us went to the pub to celebrate my nephew’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I had a nice long chat with him. He’s one of my favourite people to chew the fat with; he’s a big talker!

  

Dream Job ~ BEDM

Talking about your dream job when you don’t have any job is kind of depressing. But then, I don’t know many people who are in their dream job, as such. Some people are doing what they need to do to get the bills paid; others are happy enough in their job but have an elusive dream career; whilst others are in a living hell and really wish they could leave to do something (anything) else. If you are lucky to be doing your dream job, then congratulations!

As ever, I don’t like to narrow things down to just one option when I can narrow them down to three, so I’m going to give you a rundown of three jobs I wish I could do to make a decent living.

Writer

~ source ~

I don’t think I’m alone amongst bloggers in this respect. I think a lot of us got into this blogging lark because we feel we’ve got something to say, and we think we’re fairly good at saying it. Ever the Brit, I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, ever, but I think I am a fairly good writer. I’m not saying that I don’t have issues (I know I do, and succinctness is surely one of them). But I know that my talents outweigh any issues, and I’d love to make a career out of it. The most likely route this would take would be fiction, but ever since I started my blog I have realised that I wouldn’t mind writing lifestyle articles, so I can see myself blogging professionally – probably on behalf of a company, rather than making a living out of this blog.

Senior White House Assistant

~ source ~

I want to work in the White House, but I know that I am supremely under qualified to actually work in any substantive role that contributes to policy in any meaningful way. So really, my ideal job would be that of Donna Moss in The West Wing. She’s essentially a deputy to Josh Lyman (the Deputy Chief of Staff, which I guess makes her the Deputy Deputy Chief of Staff*), but she’s very important to him and allows him to do his job well. When she outgrows her role, she joins a campaign to elect the next president, and eventually becomes chief of staff to the incoming First Lady. This is literally my ideal career trajectory. If I could work also in the (fictional) Bartlet White House, that would make all my dreams come true.

Foley Artist

~ source ~

Ever since I watched a behind-the-scenes documentary about Friends, years ago, I have been interested in foley art. If you don’t know, a foley artist is responsible for the everyday sounds that you hear in films, television, radio and video games. For example, the sound of a door shutting or a lift bell pinging are sounds that are added in post-production, and not recorded whilst the scene is being filmed. Generally, you don’t notice them, and you certainly don’t necessarily pick up that they are added afterwards. But there is someone who is responsible for recreating them, and they sometimes have to be really inventive about it! Sound is a film or television show is so important, and when it’s done well it can really add to your enjoyment of it. I’d love to be a foley artist and be responsible for creating those sounds. I’ve looked into what I would need to do in order to make it a reality, but I don’t know if I’ve left it too late. Writing this has made me realise how much I want to do it, so maybe I’ll pull my finger out and actually do something about it!

* Congratulations if you are a big enough West Wing geek to pick up on the quote.