Lipstick & Chatter: Can We Stop With the Late Night Fireworks Now?

Everyone, can you believe its November? The German Market is just around the corner and so is the end of the year. I feel like it’s flying by quicker than I would like.

Shopping

These days, I get to come home to a great cinnamon scent in my room. I’ve been revisiting TK Maxx a lot waiting for a classically autumn scent like cinnamon or pumpkin in a reed diffuser. I own a few candles but I’m not allowed to use them upstairs for safety reasons, so the best near alternative for my room is a reed diffuser.

Now that I have my hands on a cinnamon scent, though, I think I would have preferred vanilla pumpkin or something without cinnamon as the scent is a bit strong. I’ve tucked away the reed diffuser in a corner where the scent will be less strong so hopefully, it won’t be so bad.

On the other hand, some of you may know that I love the Paper Place A4 Spiralbound notebooks from The Works. I’ve noticed that they’ve made their notebooks less pages recently although ultimately the same. I don’t know whether to be sad or happy seeing as it took me ages to get through them but now they’re less value for the same price!

University

I feel like I’m juggling so many things recently. Beyond university coursework, I’m also part of two societies, a language exchange group, a Japanese class and an extra module. I also have a gym membership and have been aiming for two days a week. I’d previously felt drained at most times during the week and at one point I started missing lectures and workshops in order to recover from my really long Tuesdays.

(This post goes out on a Tuesday, so rest assured I am probably dying at Uni as you read this.)

Until a few weeks ago, I also had two jobs. I’ve since quit the second job in order to have more time to fit all of these extra-curricular things with time to relax. The Tuesdays haven’t changed, essentially, so they’re still too long and tiring for the moment but I’m glad to have my Fridays and Sundays back – a few days where I can take time off and get ready for the next week. I feel as if I can still cramming in too much though and I’m still struggling to make it to the gym. I am hoping to change that this week.

NaNoWriMo

All this said, you’ll understand now why I’m finding it so hard to blog. You’ll be even more baffled to hear that I’m also adding NaNoWriMo to that list this year. For those of you unfamiliar, National Novel Writing Month is a writing challenge to get 50k words done throughout the month. I’ve only succeeded once in 2015 and not reached 10k in subsequent years since. So, of course, I’ve set a small goal for myself of at least reaching 10k. Right now, I’m at 1k.

On top of that, I haven’t concretely planned my novel at all, whereas I have attempted plans for most of my previous projects. This is because, in my mind, I am still in the mindset of getting to know the characters and setting and when I try to write with a plot I quickly lose the plot (pun sort of intentional).

So I am actually approaching the novel more like a plan, and hopefully all those words will help me become more familiar with my characters. Case in point is that I started this month with only three characters and simply by writing about their setting I’ve now got at least eight characters.

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Lipstick Spotlight

Recently, the lipstick I have been wearing the most is my Smashbox Be Legendary in Legendary. I know I did review this lipstick a little negatively saying that it was not fully opaque and a bit patchy at times, but it means I’ve fully embraced a messy lip look.

I want something bold this autumn and winter as well as not too drying, so I have been wearing this two ways: popping this in the centre of my lips on top of Skinfood’s tinted avocado lip serum, or using the lipstick first in the centre and using a lip brush to line my lips in lip balm and soften the lip lines. I don’t have defined lips so softening lipstick lines really improves the look in my opinion. The result is this super plushy and glossy-ish look that I like wearing on a daily basis.

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The lasting power of the lipstick is not great so depending on food type it may have to be retouched. However, with just a drink or so, it will last well and only lose some vividity, fading to a more blotted look.

I did wear a liquid lipstick or two recently but I couldn’t handle just how drying they felt so I think I am back to bullets, pigmented balmy products and glosses for life. I picked my recent gel polish to match – it’s Halo Gel Polish in Apple Red, which is slightly orangey yet not too bright. Ask your local nail salon if they offer it, and if not they’re sure to know a trade stockist that does.

And Finally…

On a random note, I find myself picking more and more vegetarian options recently when I am going out for food. I recently picked up a jar of pumpkin seed butter to try out – it’s the one option I saw that was not nut-based (my sister is allergic) so it was an impulse buy! I just look at what interests me and many times it happens to be vegetarian. I told myself in this regard that I would never force myself to eat vegan or vegetarian, and focus on what I like, and it’s interesting to see what I naturally gravitate to and what I could easily give up.

Until Next Time,

X

Reflection: First Term at University 

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Hi everyone!

So, as I type, Christmas is approaching really fast and so are my January exams (!!) and as this post goes up it will literally be the last day of term. I know it is often said, but this term flew by crazy fast. I can’t quite believe my course started two and a half months ago!

I’m really enjoying myself. I like the institution I’m studying at. It’s far more relaxed than my old school ever was, which brings both pros and cons but overall I prefer it. Unexpectedly, I seem to have fewer contact hours (compared to my friends on other courses or universities) which is nice for settling in and joining societies and, if you’re not local, gives you time to explore the city you call home during term time.

Heck, I’m local but I’m still discovering new places in Birmingham, to be honest.

We have a few assignments and tasks to do, but generally, a reasonable time frame is given to do them, and I find myself regularly going back to doing work without wanting to complain that it’s tedious. I may be one of the few people who like writing essays even if it’s a little challenging. I would much prefer those to the looming exams in January, anyway. Revision is still one of those necessary evils.

Overall, it’s really not bad, at the moment, and thankfully so. So far, the course has been a lot of A-Level stuff but with an appropriate dose of new concepts to keep the A-Level students on their toes, so to speak. Lots of reading. I’ve managed to keep up with everything but the required reading…

Oh, and despite getting back into education I’ve been able to continue, or at least regularly revisit, most if not all of my hobbies. In small chunks. A chapter here and there, a doodle before bed, that sort of thing. I am learning Japanese at uni as part of their languages program, alongside my first-year Psych modules, and Korean as part of an unofficial language exchange, both of which have been a lot of fun!

Making friends is difficult. Surprisingly, I haven’t found it hard to just get talking to other people. I think that may be a skill I picked up by going to events alone during my gap year.

However, I think I’m forgetting that I don’t have to be talking to people 24/7 to be friends with them after seeing the same people daily at school before. Especially at uni where everyone has their own timetables and you might get to see your new friends three times a week, max, if they’re on your course. I have to remember that I didn’t make friends instantly back in year 7 or sixth form or when I first started my job, either, and that in most cases I went through years of awkwardness before I felt comfortable with people.

At the moment, I get really worried about what other people think of me. I kind of worry that I’m not the kind of person people want to be friends with, or that I’m not approachable, or that I’m not making the effort. I worry that I miss signs when people are talking to me, too.

I find it’s best to be a little blunt when expressing myself, but I’m not particularly outgoing, so if I’m in doubt at all I tend to stay quiet. I don’t really do subtleties very well in conversation. I also don’t do well in groups larger than four people, and I don’t feel the need to fill a natural silence which to other people might not be ideal. I stutter crazily over my words if my brain is working faster than my mouth (which is to say, all the time). All of that makes me kind of awkward to talk to.

I know. I’m over-thinking some things. But when has that ever changed? That’s my only main worry so far, otherwise uni has been interesting!

Until next time,
X

‘How to Edit Your Novel’ Workshop!

Last month, I signed up to the How To Edit Your Novel workshop at Waterstones Birmingham. Writing and editing a novel can sound a bit daunting to anyone who has never gone through that process before, so it’s great to hear from authors and editors about how they go through this really intimidating process.

The panel of lovely people talking about editing were:

  • Gillian McAllister – her thriller, Everything  But The Truth is released in March
  • G X Todd – whose thriller novel, Defender, was recently released
  • Stephen Aryan – who writes the current Battlemage series of epic fantasy
  • Amanda Rutter, a freelance editor

They divided the general writing process into four steps – the first draft, the structural edit, the copy edit and the proof. I have roughly divided this post that way, but there’s a lot of universal tips scattered throughout.

The First Draft

Firstly, they discussed their approach to writing their novels. Gillian McAllister wrote her first draft in three months, and stressed to us that it was absolutely terrible. She then scan read it (it’s too terrible to try and read any other way) and condensed it all into scenes on index cards. From there, she decided on weaker, ‘saggy’ parts of the story or ones that could be removed entirely. Then she would move on to the second draft.

GX Todd, on the other hand, took a very different approach. She aimed to write 2000 words a day and each day, revise the 2000 words from the previous day before writing more. It’s similar to my current approach only with less daily words!

Stephen Aryan said his approach was a mix of the two. He noted that he has to read the end of his chapters for the hook that keeps one reading. Amanda Rutter added that the Davinci Code by Dan Brown was a good example of a book with great hooks as it meant she finished the book in one sitting!

Some tips for re-reading

Get critical beta readers. Pay attention to all they notice, good and bad, reason or no reason. If they’ve noticed it, it’s something you should probably pay attention to. If all your readers say the same thing about a specific section, then pay special attention. If they say something different about the same section, take their words with a pinch of salt, although it is clear that there’s something to pay attention to even if it stands out less.

Read your work out loud, especially dialogue. This is a common tip and it’s not hard to see why – it’s dialogue, it’s meant to be spoken.

When reading though your work, do it in a different way. Chances are you were staring at your laptop for ages,so try reading your work on a kindle or printed (double spaces with room in the margins to annotate) or change the font to something different.

The Structural Edit

Let the first draft go~! You may become emotionally attached to a draft you spent months or even years on, but the first draft is always gonna be pretty terrible and that’s a given.
Don’t be afraid of big structural edits, and keep an open mind as to the direction of the story!

From what I heard, it seems structural edits look more at the work as a whole, an overview of the project. The major themes of the story, the plot, the characters and their roles, all are sorted out in this editing step. I say ‘sorting’ but it could be ‘figured’ out afterwards. This is the time where you get an idea of where your novel sits on a bookshelf – its genre.

Some extra writing tips from the panel included ‘never start with waking up’ and ‘don’t be too continuous’. If it doesn’t progress the plot it may not be necessary. This is one of my problems! I somehow have to move my main characters from place to place without writing a documentary of their day.

Another plot advancement tip is ‘achieve more than one thing with a scene’. This means don’t just focus on advancing characters development in one scene and plot the next. Make one scene do twice the work.

2nd drafts can get bigger instead of smaller! I think the numbers thrown around were 80k to over 100k!

Know the 1 sentence pitch of the book. Keep it in mind as you write. You might say ‘it’s ____ meets ____’ but also keep in mind not to overshoot your ambitions by , for example, ‘it’s Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings!’

The copy edit covers things like spelling and punctuation but also fact checking. For example if you’ve mentioned someone shooting a bow and arrow, that detail has to be right because eventually, someone who knows how to shoot one may read it and get very annoyed at any detail that is wrong. I know I would get annoyed!
Structural edits may be suggested at this point as well but you don’t have to implement their suggestions.

The Proof

Finally the proof. Final checks are made like in copy editing, but this time there’s also a physical version, something that’s being sent out to reviewers. In the meantime, the authors will keep reading their own book, and making tiny changes. GX Todd mentioned that she read her novel start to finish at least 34 times before it got published (throughout the entire process) and McAllister says she read hers about 20 times.

GX Todd adds that she didn’t pick up the book again after it was sent off to publish… Not until she had to write the sequel, anyway.

They all agreed that deadlines are a good thing for them, because they’ve never felt like their projects were finished. There’s this urge to keep working on the manuscript but if they followed it, it would never be published!

Again, they stressed that Fresh Eyes are important. This is why fonts are changed and we read things on kindles and we have beta readers. The more ways of reading a project like its new, the better, since most readers will be new to your story. To add, try reading stuff in reverse! Read your manuscript starting from the last chapter or just work back page by page. Rutter says it good to stop yourself from getting caught in the story.

Lastly, tips for finding an agent. They mention and praise the Writers’ and Artists’ Handbook which is published annually and includes a list of agents and what they publish. An agent is pretty much essential and they stress that having one is worth every penny.  They will make sure you get paid decently for your work.

Finish the manuscript before you start to approach agents. The panel agreed on three rounds of editing before sending the work off to one. It’s going to be edited more with the agent as well as the publisher too.

Remember that agents read 8000 submissions a year! It takes a bit of luck and being the right manuscript at the right time.

If an agent has a social media profile, go stalk it a bit. You might find they are in the mood for something in the genre you wrote in. Twitter has made them ever more accessible with hashtags like #askanagent, too.

That sums up all the advice we got from this talk! It was super helpful. My main takeaway from this was that, as much as I am working my butt off on this draft, it really is just the start – the tip of a bottomless iceberg or something. Therefore I should really stop fussing over how perfect my second chapter has to be at the moment.

I hope you found this helpful too. I didn’t get absolutely everything in my notebook but I tried my best to get down as much as I could. Lastly, a special thank you to the lovely panellists and Waterstones Birmingham for hosting this workshop!

Until next time,

X

 

The Gap Year Diary: December/ January 

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So, last month I didn’t put up a Diary entry because I had it written and just forgot to schedule it – So now I have combined it with January events this time around. This is what I got up to…

  • Uni Offers
  • New Camera
  • Progress with revision and languages
  • Novel Progress
  • Novel Editing Workshop
  • Archery Competiton

University Offers
At the beginning of December, the two universities that had yet to respond to my UCAS application finally did… with rejections from both. One of the rejections I was unfazed by, whilst the other was from Warwick, which I have visited a few times and was a place at which I was really hoping to study. It’s a shame (sigh). That said, my remaining offers are all very reasonable so my hopes of actually getting into a university on Results Day haven’t plummeted just yet. I felt a bit dejected but what’s done is done. I have my target grades, now I just have to aim for them and like, not miss this time (*worried laughter in the distance*).

New Camera!
Following the previous part, I then proceeded to treat myself and spend all my summer savings on a new camera. It’s an ‘entry-level DSLR’ from Canon, the EOS750d which is a newer model from that line, and it’s really really nice… Who knows, maybe there will be YouTube videos?? Haha. No.

I’m still using the automatic features a lot, but slowly I am learning about the different components that make up a shot and want to practice as much as possible. I’d like to learn about post-processing too. Whatever it is, it means some great shots for the blog in the future!

Revision Progress
Ploughing along as usual. I am working myself into the habit of picking up my flashcards when I have time and testing myself, and I need to keep it up into the year, especially as I start to switch up the topics and subjects a lot. But I also need to remember to wind down in the evenings to sleep, and to know when to stop.

Now that we are officially about halfway through the academic year, I’ve been rethinking my motivations. I dream of being able to pump a fist at life on Results Day. I think of that image a lot, and I make sure to think of that image day and night, and that has been helping. I also think of that wad of my own money I used to pay for this year’s exams, which is also pretty motivational.

Language Progress
I have now finished my first Japanese course, and have decided not to take on another class. My main issue is that the next course runs through the exam period and I don’t want too many commitments during that time (with my job and archery and all). Over the last few months I have liked having classes as an extra spurt of motivation and I definitely feel more comfortable directing my own self study in the language. I think I have these conjugations sort of making sense in my head, and I have been memorising some kanji, too!

How is that novel going, by the way?
I made some surprising progress this month! I’ve been making more time to just sit down and ponder about how to take the story to where I want it to go, even if my characters don’t seem to want to go there. I’m trying to stick to a daily goal of 200 words on my project, and have finished the first chapter at last. I let a friend read it and she gave me some really good feedback and pointers that I hadn’t thought of. I work on multiple chapters at once because that’s just how I like to write, and just before the end of the month I hit 10,000 words on my draft, which is the furthest I have gone with a project without scrapping it and that is an achievement in itself!

There are some crucial parts of the story that I have found still need developing, like the main characters’ families (!! important!) and since my main protagonists are all Vietnamese, I’m having to consider other aspects of the family dynamic like how they use language at home, the various names they might have, and so on. Thinking about it, it’s pretty interesting and I’m looking forward to developing that part of it more.

 How to Edit Your Novel Event at Waterstones Birmingham 
No, I haven’t finished my novel, but of course I was going to turn up to a great opportunity for advice and insight! I took quite a few notes and it was lovely to hear some authors talk about their processes – it really solidified the idea that writing methods are different for everyone. I have written up a blog post on this, so keep an eye out for that!

Archery Competition 
I have to admit, I’ve been feeling far less enthusiastic about archery than I used to. Main reason being that it feels stranger and stranger to walk into my old school and not be a student there. Thankfully the other students I’m familiar with are usually there and have really helped me feel less awkward.
Anyway, after a Christmas break, I did feel quite under prepared for a competition so Twerp and I did our best to make use of all the sessions by going to every one leading up to it, even if I was suffering from cramps one week and a very bad cold the next!

The two of us were so nervous going in, as it’s our first ever archery competition. We shot a Portsmouth round, and I was one of the scorers on my target. In actuality, I was probably more nervous about the prospect of doing mental arithmetic under time constraints because I kept making mistakes on the score sheets! I was also pretty tense during the first half of the shoot but after resigning myself to doing badly I was able to relax. There’s nothing I can do about arrows already shot!

In my competition category, I didn’t win any prizes. My score was over 120 points from the bronze score. Twerp managed a bronze in her category, though! Right at the end, though, I unexpectedly got a handicap award, which I think means taking into account experience level and stuff like that (I’m a novice, and went up against veterans!) I won a little thing. I’m pretty chuffed~!

All in all, it’s been an eventful couple of months. February should be interesting, as it’s my birthday month and all…!

Until next time,

X

Two Years of Twenty Swans!

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This blog survived another year! That’s pretty cool, if I do say so myself. I have followed many a blog that has just disappeared after a few good posts. More than that,  I am proud to have just stuck to putting things up even without a schedule or promoting my posts on social media properly.

For any regular readers, know that I am so thankful that you glance at my stuff and I hope you’ll stick around for the years to come.

Want some stat-related tidbits? Sure you do.

  • The total amount of views for 20S in 2016 were almost quintuple the amount in 2015 (!!)
  • But! I also posted far less, with 26 posts in 2016 compared to 134 posts (!!) in 2015. I think I went from thinking about posting often to posting less, but more quality posts that I took time and real effort to do and am proud of. I have also begun to use a diary to keep track of various things and in a way, vent off some thoughts that won’t go on the blog anymore.
  • My most viewed post includes a terrible sheet-masking selfie. Half the views I got this year came from this post.

I am really surprised and proud of the humble bit of growth this blog as seen, numbers wise, haha. I have to admit, I got the Blog’s birthday wrong. I had this post in draft mode for sometime next week, but it turns out to have been today! Cue a lot of last minute panic. Last year, I gave the blog a new banner to celebrate. I still really like it. I still use the same theme (Plane) and same standard WordPress domain. This year, the Blog Gift (am I making this a thing?) is nicer looking photos!

I also had a bit of special blog-related reflection time based off last year’s anniversary post. I think I did work a lot on improving my beauty reviews and making them as detailed as I want them to be, and the photography/lighting issues have pretty much all been sorted in one swoop since I bought a new camera at the end of the year.

On the other hand, I completely forgot about my personal spending goal and whilst I definitely didn’t stick to it (especially with that camera) I think my willingness to spend has kind of levelled off a little. I’m less impulsive about my purchases and stricter about using up products before I buy more. On the other hand, I am way more likely to buy books…

What are this year’s mindful things?

  • Actually keep goals in mind. It’s so easy to lose track of annual goals as the days go by, especially now that I can barely keep track of the days.
  • Be better about doing to-do lists. I’ve been trying to use them to keep track of my daily progress and work on daily streaks and habits and stuff, but for some reason I’m leaving at least one point empty all the time. Heck, I could have only one thing on my to-do list but not complete it.
  • Finish that novel. I’m not sure any more needs to be said.
  • Read and review more books! BOOKS, I TELL YOU.
  • Maybe get back into knitting? Knitting was possibly one of the main reasons that I started this blog (it gave me something to write about!) But I’ve barely touched my needles since last year. I also have a big box of yarn to use up. I just don’t feel like I have much cause to sit down and space out any more. I really miss it though so I’d like to take more time out to do it.

Again, thanks for reading, and here’s to yet another year!

Lots of Love,

X

 

The Gap Year Diary: November

Well, I am a little late, but without further ado, here’s what I got up to this month!

  • UCAS all done and dusted
  • London Trip
  • NaNoWriMo
  • Progress with languages

UCAS. DONE.

Let’s get the more depressing topic out of the way first. Somehow at the beginning of the month, I mustered the motivation to finish and send off my university application for this year. Once I got down to it, the personal statement took no time at all. I really liked my previous one, so I only replaced two to three paragraphs with more recent things. This time, I also knew to edit more characters out to avoid the copy/paste fail that I had last year – I had exactly 4000 characters but after it was pasted it turned out to be more!

Well, anyway, it’s done. I was warned that it would take longer due to the school prioritising the Y13s of this year, but the notification email from UCAS came in only 11 days later, giving me a real shock. In fact, at the end of November, I had three offers and was just waiting for the last two universities to respond. It’s been some great motivation to just get down to revision (however early it is…)

London!

How many more British cities am I going to visit this year? I went to London by myself in order to see Korean R&B artist Crush in concert, which took place on the 27th in the evening. I stayed over the night as well seeing as the concert was so late. As I booked my train tickets really early, they were non refundable (but hella cheap) and I kind of regret not leaving much leeway for sightseeing – it’s London after all! However, it’s also my first inter-city trip alone so hopefully my parents can’t argue with future trips seeing as this one went well. I did a separate post on my experience at the concert here.


NaNoWriMo

This didn’t go well from the start. For the first week my word count was consistently low and with a renewed focus on my other work I really didn’t think I would have time to catch up. I wonder how I managed to do this last year, considering my school workload!

So, instead of NaNo, I attempted to revise my story plans again, although it seems a spontaneous ‘plantsing’ style is best for me. I like to know where my story is going and a very good idea of what sort of scenes are going where, but getting it all to fit together and flow from one point to another is another story, so to speak.

Progress with languages

I am reaching the end of my Japanese Beginners’ course and I’m really enjoying it. I am wondering whether to continue on in the new year with the Improvers’ course or do a course in something completely different (I am thinking of something musical) and self-teach myself the languages at home. I am currently learning the Korean alphabet too and getting used to reading it, and practicing my Vietnamese by reading some of the Vietnamese manga I bought in Vietnam some years ago and didn’t get around to reading, haha. That makes it three languages at once. That’s… not too much, right? I can do that if I take my time!

That’s all the updates this month – see you in 2017 for the December entry!

X

 

 

The Gap Year Diary #2: Sept – Oct

Fortunes from Lily @ #BookityBooks

Here’s what I got up to this month-and-a-half!

  • The school squad group chat is quieter these days.
  • #Growingpains tour
  • School-related things
  • Beginner’s Japanese
  • Bookity Books
  • NaNo Prep
  • Trip to Edinburgh
  • Goodbye to the nail salon

Uni things
Towards mid-September I said goodbye to a number of school friends that were heading off to Uni and moving out. I’m hella excited for them! They’re heading off to do a huge variety of exciting things. Although they’re all my motivation for working my butt off this year, most I’ve heard is that things are expensive, and freshers’ week is a blast, and they have lots of cool student discounts, yet things are still expensive. Their workload seems to be increasing at a pretty fast rate, too…

#Growingpains book tour
I went to the #Growingpains tour in Waterstones Birmingham featuring four lovely authors: Laura Dockrill (Lorali), Julie Mayhew (Mother Tongue) , Claire Hennessy (Nothing Tastes As Good) and Jess Vallance (The Yellow Room).
I hadn’t read any of their books but rest assured that they are all on my reading list after hearing them talk a bit about them – they are all funny and lovely people! I also managed to get some great writing advice from Laura Dockrill and Julie Mayhew about the plotting and structure of a story which has inspired me to approach my current project differently. I was suddenly bombarded with ideas, and also did a bit of a horrid thing and cut out a few of my beloved, yet unnecessary, characters to archive them for another story. Thus began my prep for this year’s NaNoWriMo.

Exam Scripts
The day after that, I went into school to pay to get my exam scripts back, and pay for the archery club which I still go to. I can’t wait to see what went wrong four months ago, in a gut-dropping, sigh-inducing way. My UCAS application is also well on its way and hopefully should be finished soon. I’m in no rush as the staff from my old school are prioritising this year’s Year 13 and have warned me that they’re not going to put mine first – fair enough, really. I think I have just sighed a hundred times just having to write this paragraph, but it’s something that has to be done.

Japanese Lessons
I signed up for a course in Beginner’s Japanese in September which started last week, as it’s been something I’ve always been interested in doing. Had I gotten into Uni I would have used the module-switching opportunity to do it, but thankfully I found a way to do it anyway. I have previously tried to learn at home but I’ve never had any lessons so my knowledge is random and I can’t string sentences together… There was a beginner’s Plus option but it’s good that I went for basics as the course includes a few things I hadn’t covered in my self-learning and it’ll help me to reinforce the things I do know. I am also using the lesson structure to go over my Vietnamese as well.

Bookity Books
In my first write-in session at #BookityBooks (as opposed to the ones where we just talk about books), we did a couple of word wars and I got stickers (always fun), a fortune cookie (always fun) and won a prize (YEAH. GO ME.)
I had decided not to bring my laptop and wrote by hand for my word wars, which I didn’t have much high hopes about because I know I’m a really slow writer. It turns out that I’m actually pretty fast under pressure – I did 300 words exactly in fifteen minutes, which is about a side and a half of stretched out handwriting on A4. In the ten minute war, I almost matched that with 248 words.
There’s hope for my Psych essays this year, everybody! Even if the average word size in my essays is larger!

NaNo Prep
NaNoWriMo is coming up, so I was very good about planning and did it all in a two-day sitting. By planning, I mean I summarised ideas for scenes that I’d like to write and made sure there were loads just in case I got stuck and wanted to move on. It’s a pretty long list. We did a bit of criticising at the month-end session at #BookityBooks so I had the other members (and by that I mean just Maddie) look at my intro. My issue is that descriptive paragraphs sound fine in my first-person POV style but not in my third person because it sounds less personal and just too much. So now I am trying to strike up a conversational tone in third person that should hopefully be easier to read through.

The Spontaneous Trip Up North
Coming into the second half of the month, my Dad invited me to go up to Edinburgh with him for a couple of nights. I was a little worried about it at first, but decided to be positive about the idea and went along. My family and I have never been to Scotland at all before as it’s a bit of a long drive – estimated at about 5.5 hours but that ended up being longer due to weather, construction work and general traffic.

Anyway, Edinburgh and Glasgow (where I went on our second day) are really lovely cities that I’d love to visit again to explore better. All the buildings in the city centres have a charm to them that’s unique to their cities and not like my home Brum at all. I mostly had to tag around with my Dad on this trip, but I want to come back and visit Edinburgh Zoo and all the museums I spotted on our drives around the city. We visited the seafront in the early morning when it was still chilly, but it was still really nice – I love a nice quiet beach. If you are visiting, I recommend the Mussel Inn in Edinburgh as a restaurant to eat at in the evening, although be sure to book a table first!

We also dropped by Newcastle to visit one of Dad’s acquaintances on the way back. That makes three cities in three days!

 The Nail Salon
As we go into November, my parents have sold their nail salon to focus on their new business ventures full-time, and I have to say that it was sudden and that I’m not quite ready. I had no idea that earlier this year I’d be walking into the place for the last time. The place is virtually the same, just that it will have different people working there from now on. I liked the neighbourhood it was in and the familiar local faces – faces that probably assumed I was a local too. My parents ran it for over a decade, which is over half of my life so I do feel a bit of a sad pang knowing that I’ll probably never go back.

That’s what I’ve been up to this month! Next time, you’ll probably be hearing a bit about NaNo, UCAS and my progress in languages.

Until then!

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