my degree

Reader,

If you don’t know already, though I’d have thought you would, I’m studying a creative writing degree at university. I made the decision to change from being a joint honours Creative Writing and English Literature student to a single honours Creative Writing last year. I love my degree, even in the moments when I don’t ; ) , and I wanted to talk about it with you.

I study my subject at a creative and arts based university which means I’m surrounded by creative people every day. I question myself and my choice to do a creative degree as well as the questioning of others every day but I always come to the conclusion that not only was it the only degree for me, but that it’s a great degree to have, particularly for someone with just high writing ambitions as myself.

My course so far has focused on strengthening and increasing the reach and honing of my writing skill. We are pushed to writing things well out of our comfort zone, and work shopping our writing with our fellow students is a massive part of the course. Studying writing, at least in my opinion, is a bit different because of where you start when you come to university. In terms of the creative writing skill, most people are self taught when they come to uni. Aside from writing the occasional story in English Lit at school, most writers on the course discovered the writing community online or from books and authors they love, and learned the lingo by immersion in that community. The course that I’m taking has very much been based on the idea that we’re in need of a recap of the rules in order to break them and the first year I found I didn’t learn anything new so much as learnt how to make the writing I was already doing far far better.

This year is more about honing in and trying new things, at least for me. I’ve picked modules that support what I’ve always wanted to write, as well as modules that force me into fields that are more of a new interest. This year is far more about learning career skills in terms of writing, and I’ve embraced that by taking an open module that allows me to do a work placement as part of my course. I’m still not sure what I want to do after uni yet, but I know I want to write as a career and this year is allowing me to explore all of the ways that I can do that.

Another thing that’s been great about my degree and specifically my university is that we’re taught by successful and established writers and are constantly shown examples of how people who’ve done our exact course have gone on to be successful published writers. The connections our uni has to great writers, editors and members of the publishing industry give me the confidence to pursue my passion with the knowledge that a job will follow, whatever that might be.

There are lectures and lecturers that really inspire me and of course ones that are a bit more lacking. There are tutors that I feel don’t really understand or even try to understand what I write, but these are all in the minority to what is otherwise a great and motivating course. There are times where I question the expense of uni, particularly with the creative degree and somewhat limited  career prospects (at least in the eyes of many creative degree doubters). I still think there are many ways in which my uni and my course are failing. That being said, for the most part, my uni course only fuels the fire I have for creative writing and fills me with hope for the future. I attend one of the top unis in the country for my course and I’m extremely grateful for that opportunity.

So that’s my experience with a creative writing degree. If you have any questions feel free to shoot them at me. What do you guys study if at all and would you ever consider a creative degree?

Leigh-Ann

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september favourites

Reader,

Autumn is here and I like Autumnal things so I thought I would be rather unoriginal and just do an Autumn favourites because, well, I like talking and writing about the things that I like. After some more thoughtful posts with a bit of a sad or questioning undertone I thought it would be nice to talk about some of the things that made me happy last month.

Mustard Yellow – My new favourite colour. I don’t know what shifted, possibly the fact that I love all sorts of Autumnal type colours, but suddenly I decided it was gorgeous. It’s warm and earthy but somehow still bright, you can wear it with just about anything because it’s bold enough to act as a statement and I bought the cosiest mustard yellow jumper that I basically lived in last month. Now I just want a yellow dress, like in La La Land.

Headspace (App) – Meditation has always seemed a little ridiculous to me but when things really started to get on top of me last month I thought to hell with it and downloaded an app. With YouTube Ads everywhere I’m sure you’ve already heard of it, but the app basically just talks you through a moment of quite reflection and helps you catch your breath. I’m not completely sold yet but I’ve definitely enjoyed trying it out.

Peanut Butter – I’m not sure what more needs to be said about this one aside from the fact is gooey and delicious. Pop it on a bit of toast and I’m done for the evening. It’s a cosy form of junk food perfect for me during the beginings of Autumn.

Candles and Oil Burners – So thanks to an ASMRtist I follow on YouTube, during September I took an interest in crystals and aromatherapy. Though it’s not a belief of mine, I’ve loved delving into it and I bought a cute little oil burner that’s been sending me to sleep with a lovely lavender smell. It’s actually very soothing to have soft and familiar scents in my room and on my clothes and it’s done a lot to give me that little bit of calm in a stressful day.

Tom Rosenthal (Musician) – If you haven’t checked on Tom’s music on Spotify or YouTube then I suggest you do it right now. His voice is beautiful and warm, his lyrics are both hilarious and moving and the vlogs he does with his children just make my heart melt. When I’ve needed something uplifting and soft in terms of music, Tom’s music has been right there. I’ve been a fan for years but recently I was reminded how wonderful he is. He even liked a tweet I wrote about him!

Letter Writing – I love kicking it old school and writing people letters and I’ve been doing it since the beginning of last year when I moved away to university. In September I finally started to get letters back rather than texts of thanks and it really made me smile. My friends and family picked out some adorable cards and filled them with kind words and receiving them in my new house was a lovely feeling.

So those were the things that made me happy in September? Do you have any favourites? What are you looking forward to this month?

Feeling spoopy yet?

Leigh-Ann

imperfection

Reader,

Let’s talk about self image for a second, shall we?

I wanted to talk specifically about imperfection and start by talking about it in a wider sense. Imperfection is everywhere; in places, concepts and people. It’s imperfection that makes our world unique and well beautiful. Let’s think about this.

Think of yellowed book pages and the tea cup with a chip. Think of the height marked spot on the kitchen wall.

Sounds pretty cosy and nice doesn’t it? These imperfections show signs of use and love and experience.

Now lets think about chipped nail polish and girls with freckle covered noses and stretched marked tummies, the boy with a crooked smile, twiggy arms and kink in his hair.

Imperfections in people make them beautiful. Imperfections in things make them beautiful. When we think of our favourite person, there will always be something about them that might be unconventional or “imperfect”. Something that they hate about themselves but we’re attracted to and love.

This is the same even beyond physical imperfection. Jealousy, perfectionism, a snorty laugh, a tendency to cry, a fragile soul, an argumentative temper. Seeing someone’s true beauty is knowing that these things are part of who they are and what makes them beautiful. We all know that. We all see that in the people we love. I could write thousands of words, attempt beautiful poems, about why the boy I love, or my best friend or my sister, is completely imperfect and why I love every single one of their stupid imperfections anyway. Most people could.

So why is it that we’re so unwilling to see our own imperfections as beautiful? This is an open question. I don’t have the answer. All I know is that we all do it and that we should stop. We beat ourselves up for not looking like the magazines, but more than that, for not being happy all the time or being the best at everything we do or making mistakes in life. We don’t forgive ourselves like we forgive the people we love. We don’t want to see ourselves through the same lens as we see the people we love or even with the kindness we often offer to complete strangers.

I’m needy and jealous and I worry about everything. I’m a neat freak, I’m going through a tough time and I hate admitting to not being happy, and I have a terrible relationship with food. People I love will tell you I care, and I’m organised, I put too much pressure on myself and I like sugar. The comparison of their words and mine is a simple demonstration of how harshly we view our own imperfections compared to those of others.

This isn’t supposed to be a high and mighty post and I’m not suggesting that this is a new revelation; of course people have talked about this before. But I wanted to talk about it in our space, think about it myself, and try to make myself realise that even our best qualities falter sometimes. Even the things we love about ourselves can too become imperfections. Everything has a flip side and we have to be okay with realising that it’s not a bad thing. It’s a balanced thing.

How do you remind yourself to view yourself with kindness? Let me know.

Leigh-Ann

why i’m such a morning person

Reader,

I am such an annoying little morning person. Yep, I like being up early(ish) ready to start the day; a day that’s still full of possibilities. Lying in feels good in the moment, sure, but I always wake up feeling like my day has been wasted and it’s a horrible feeling for me.

I’m always at my most productive in the morning. I never snooze my alarm but drag myself up and out of the covers with as much get up and go as I can muster (which isn’t always as much as I would like, granted). There are so many motivating factors when it comes to the morning from the fact that breakfast has always been my favourite meal of the day (so many good food options!) to the fresh morning air or the songs on morning radio or playlists. Morning is before all the chaos and possible disappointment of the day, it’s the breather you have before the day starts. It’s the time to sit with your thoughts and organise your to dos without having to worry about the lack of time to do them. I mean you have all day, right?

When I get things done in the morning, no matter how little these things are, I’m left with that self-satisfied productive buzz all day and even if by the end of it, the day hasn’t been so good after all, I always have that little bit of time I took to myself and the things I needed to do that morning. If I’ve had an energised morning, I usually feel good about rewarding myself with a very chilled evening and can do so with the knowledge that I took and experienced every moment of the day that I could.

When I think about a cosy future, the kind that I would like to have some day, my head always skips to a morning. I wake up next to the person I love, pull myself sleepily out of bed to drink warm coffee and watch them lazily slip into a shirt. And maybe as I get older and have a family the mornings get more hectic but if I’m going to a job I love and I get to kiss the person I love goodbye every morning over the chaos of the food splattered table then I’ll be happy.

A made bed, an alarm clock reset and a somewhere between healthy and sugar rot breakfast is a thought that just brings this sort of complete and content feeling to the forefront of my mind. It’s that I crave. And yes sometimes things go terribly wrong after this, but morning is my reset and I’ll do the best that I can to make sure it’s not tainted by the previous day.

Morning is my moment. What is it to you?

Leigh-Ann

autumn is coming, did you hear?

Reader,

You’ve probably already noticed, or if you haven’t, been told, that it’s already September. And what’s happens in September? The autumnal craze begins of course. Now I would love to sit here and tell you that I’m not one of those people who goes banana’s the minute the leaves start turning brown  but then I would just be lying. I am in fact an autumn lover and I just wanted to make a positive little post about why that is.

Cold weather means warm clothes – I love layers and snuggling, hats and gloves and I always look forward to getting to pull out all my comfortable oversized jumpers and baggy hoodies, and just generally enjoy the feeling fashionable as well as snuggled up cosy.

Autumn makes for a great aesthetic – if you saw my last post then you’ll know that many people describe my aesthetic as cosy and so of course autumn is a fun season for me. I love the browns and greens and reds, and I love the knitted, bobbley textures. Autumn is indeed beautiful to look at.

Autumn is a great time for self care – when it’s a bit sad looking weather wise outside I always feel more of a need to take care of myself. I think autumn is a time when lots of people pamper themselves a bit more whether it be through coffee or long baths, beautiful walks, cosy nights in or time to sit and think, autumn pulls us all into ourselves a bit I think.

Autumn is a great time to read and write – maybe its the colour or the fact there is  less of an inclination to go outside but writing always comes more naturally to me in the autumn and winter months. I’m inspired by nature and the structure I have and find writing and reading a lovely way to relax in the autumn. I start to see it as a hobby rather than a chore again.

Autumn is a good time to start over – maybe it’s because I’m still within the education system, but September and the beginning of Autumn have always been good times for me to take inventory of my life and work out how to move forward with a fresh attitude and positive habits. Unlike the traditional spring clean, I’ve always like to clean myself and my life up in the Autumn ready for the start of a new academic year as well as the coming of the New Year itself.

Crisp leaves, fresh cold air and dimly lit nights are simple pleasures that I love to take from the Autumnal season. Autumn is my mind set changing attitude following a fun but high pressure to have experiences summer. Autumn forces me to reflect and be grateful and enjoy the little moments separate from worrying about the bigger structures of life.

What do you think of when you think of Autumn? What does it mean to you?

Leigh-Ann

my personal version of journaling

Reader,

I am a very introspective person. I like to think and spend a lot of time (probably almost a destructive amount of time) reflecting and thinking about how to improve myself. Though I probably do it too often, this is a part of myself that I’ve always quite appreciated because I think I’m a reasonably self aware person and I think this helps my understanding of myself and how I communicate with others. Anyway, this need and love of reflection and expression of my inner thoughts is a massive reason behind why I write and one of the ways that I write is by journaling.

I think I’ve always journaled in one way or another but I’ve never stuck to one method enough to feel qualified to talk about it or be part of the huge journaling community on the internet. My journal is not pretty and organised. My journal is just for me. It’s messy and disjointed and lots of the pages are blank or scribbled on. I would never dream of a journal flip through or show and tell. It contains my thoughts and is purely there for me to get my thoughts in order. Writing things down has always helped me this way.

I think this method of journaling has been extremely beneficial to me and in a way blogging itself has been some form of journal for me too, just one filled with the thoughts that I am more comfortable sharing. Since the whole essence of this blog is about how writing things down helps me piece together myself and my life I thought it would be a good thing to talk about here.

My journal is a bright yellow notebook with blank pages without lines and each page has a rainbow coloured edge. It’s very quirky which I like. I tend to pick pretty notebooks to use as journals as for some reason I feel more inclined to fill them and it makes me feel good to look at the book filled with my messy thoughts and still think it beautiful.

I have no order or rules for my journal. I don’t write in it every day or once a week, in fact I don’t have any sort of schedule. I write when I feel like I have to. Sometimes I just stream of consciousness write, sometimes it’ll be one sentence in the middle of the page written in tiny writing. Sometimes I draw scribbles, sometimes I stick photographs. The only rule is that I remember that nothing has to be perfect and no one is ever going to read it but me. My journal isn’t about keeping secrets. It’s not about documenting a day. It’s like a bin almost, somewhere to dump thoughts that are busy and overflowing in my brain. They don’t all have to be sad thoughts, in fact one thing that I wrote in it is a list of all the things that I could think of that made me happy. The list is still growing and it’s a great thing to refer to when I need to smile.

I think the problem with journaling is that lots of people don’t know where to start but the thing is, neither did I. I just remember feeling something really strong and needing some sort of an outlet. I picked up a notebook started writing and bam. I remember throwing out my first journal. I didn’t like some of the things that I’d written about myself or my situation. I learnt after though that journal entries are like snap shots into one moment in a lifetime and the person or head space that you were or were in at the point of writing it will probably quickly change, but you shouldn’t be ashamed about the past, but learn from it.

Journaling and writing to me mean sanity. What do they mean to you?

Leigh-Ann

me at nineteen

Reader,

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube recently, particularly videos called “me at…” which are people documenting themselves at a specific time in their life so that they can look back at it later. I don’t have the talent in media to make an artsy video, but I did like the idea and so I thought I would make a blog post instead.

Me at nineteen is a lot of complicated and contradictory things and my life looks much the same. 

I lost a lot of weight and I managed to find myself and lose myself all in one year and I think I’m only just starting to find myself again. I feel beautiful sometimes but my body confidence, general confidence, was found and lost too. 

I’m having a hard time with my emotions and seeing myself as enough. But I’m working on it.

Me at nineteen lives away from home in England with five beautiful and wonderful friends and still misses my amazing family and friends at home. I’m still in contact with them though and this makes me happy.

Me at nineteen has a boyfriend. An amazing, supportive, intelligent, gorgeous, dorky boyfriend whom I can solidly say I am hopelessly in love with. I never thought that would happen to me, especially at nineteen.

Me at nineteen is sad and scared to see him move away. 

I’m worried I’m being naive. 

Me at nineteen is also sad and scared and excited to start a second year of university, to start planning my future. 

I’m positive, but feel like I’m starting to have to really fight off the cynicism of adulthood.

Money is becoming increasingly important to me the less of it I have. I dislike this.

Me at nineteen is trying to get a hold of things, trying to understand and pull all my shit together.

Me at nineteen is trying to be a better person. 

I think this time the reader is likely to be me.

Leigh-Ann