Just writing a little update in bloggy-form on what I've been up to the last few months as I know things have gone a little quiet on the old Western front... Sadly, I haven't had much that I can share publicly at the moment, but I have been working on lottttssss of different projects behind the scenes! So here's a bit more info for you guys on what I've been doing...
1. Editing my new novel
So, reading through my old entries I've discovered that it was October (!!) when I finished the first draft of my new book and I foolishly proclaimed that in 6 months time it would all be edited, polished up and ready to go.
Ha ha ha. HA HA HAAAAAAA. *manic twitching*
So here's what happened. I went through and edited the book to the best of my abilities by myself. And pretty much nothing changed except some tweaks and a whole load of highlighted sections with gazillions of question marks typed up next to them. Yup, I was completely stumped and stuck and had hit my creative limits.
Since then, my project partner (ooh mysterious) has come on board to really help me and push this book back into the right direction. And with her help things are finally, finally getting there. She completely gets my characters and the stories I want to tell, but she's also thoroughly brutal when it comes to shaping it into a proper product. Unnecessary description? CUT. Weird joke that doesn't land quite right? GOODBYE. Clumsy prose? GONE. ONLY PERFECT SENTENCES.
It is a long, hard process that we are barely even halfway through yet, but I am learning SO much and definitely becoming a better writer because of it. I'm discovering my bad habits and weaknesses (such as CONSTANTLY DESCRIBING DOORWAYS MAKE ME STOP) and also getting to grips with how to be more succinct and make every word count.
As such, the book is now transforming from an endearing but kind of ugly caterpillar into a fully-fledged beautiful butterfly and I am SO EXCITED ABOUT IT. This is easily the best thing I've ever done. And you know what? Whatever happens next, whether it 's destined for greatness or not, the fact that I've even created it at all is utterly thrilling to me. I have never taken on an endeavour this enormous before and to think that it's changed from the seed of an idea on a walk home from the shops into this huge, expanding, team-built, marvellous THING feels like one of the biggest achievements of my life.
Of course, we ain't there quite yet... There are many more snatched Skype sessions to get on with, many more plans and brainstorms to make and many more words to pick at. We have lots of ideas of where to go next, but we can't put anything into action until the bloody thing is finished. And it takes as long as it takes.
Luckily I have lots more time over my summer break from work, so the plan is to GET SHIT DONE. Watch this space. (Did I mention I am VERY excited about all this?!)
2. Songwriting/Setting Up My Home Studio
As well as living the book-life, I'm of course still making music as much as I can! I have a brand new home studio set up in my computer den and having somewhere to record decent vocals from the comfort of my own flat has opened up sooooo many more possibilities for me. I am finally able to say YES to collaborating with producers who live far away and YES to friends who I've been meaning to write with forever but we just can't get the time to meet in person.
I had a little studio set-up before, but it was getting super old, laggy and crappy with a broken laptop and a mic that just sounded dull and fuzzy. Now my new equipment has made me so much more confident with home-recording and the results are sounding a million times better. THANK YOU to my parents for lending me the money to get started up, and for buying me the iMac as a present :'( I am soooo lucky!!! And they have told me I can make it back to them one day when I get a big hit and buy them a luxury Villa in France with the royalties. (Well, we can all dream right?)
I've been working on all kinds of stuff the last month or so. A lot of K-Pop pitches in various different styles, as well as gaining connections for more advert work. Ads are something I LOVED doing in the past and I'm really excited to get back into that world again. I've also had a funky gospel session singing job and been building up connections with loads of different people for future jobs and collaborations. I love that I now have the freedom to work with lots of super amazing people on such varied briefs and I really hope this summer I can sew the seeds for being able to do more of what I love in the future.
3. Writing "Whispers Beneath The Waves" On Wattpad
So all the while I've been focusing on my new book and new music, I've had this little idea bubbling in the background. I know how much my previous gay romance stories have resonated with people so I thought it would be fun to keep that side of my writing alive with a brand new story, this time with a fantasy twist. WBTW is all about a young guy called Lennon and his relationship with a merman. It's very slow-burning, mysterious and smouldering - pretty different to my usual light-hearted contemporary stuff. I've never written anything with a fantasy or supernatural theme before, but it's something I'd like to explore more in the future so this has been a fun starting point.
I'm not sure how the book is being received by readers, but hopefully they are enjoying it! I don't have tons of time to invest in it and have only been updating on Wattpad once every few weeks, but I'm hoping to try and finish it slowly but surely. If you'd like to read what's online so far, check out the link below:
4. Playing A Gig!
At the start of June I played my first headline gig in a long time at The Wave Maiden pub in Southsea. I organised the whole evening by myself, inviting two awesome talented friends Corinna and Marley to play on the night too. It was a chance for me to test out loads of new material and perform with Cam on acoustic guitar for the first time. Along with my friend Chris on electric guitar, we had a really nice, country-tinged sound on stage and I had the best time performing an hour-long set of songs. I even sang two duets with one of my best friends Paul, so it was such a special evening. Loads of people came out to show support and I was so touched at how passionately people got into the evening and how lovely everyone was!
It was also MY LIVE RAP DEBUT. I'm not gonna lie, I feel pretty proud of myself for getting through the entirety of Eminem's "Lose Yourself" without messing up. Here's the video:
I don't perform super often but when I do I always enjoy it so much and I'm truly thankful for everyone who came out. I'm already planning my next night for December 15th when my old pal Chris Ricketts is home from the Cruise Ships and wants to put on a show together. More details soon, but it should be fun! :)
5. Getting Into The Book World
I have a lot of musical friends and contacts but when it comes to bookish pals, I don't know so many people. And since this is a world I really want to learn more about I've been doing my best to get involved (and try and read more, I'm such a slooow reader waa!)
First off I've booked tickets to YALC in July which I'm super excited about - I went a few years ago and absolutely loved it. It's such a great convention to meet authors, hear talks, buy books and get advice from agents working in the industry. If anyone is going then make sure to come say hi!
Secondly, I've started adminning a brand new Facebook group run by the people behind the Maximum Pop! online blog. It's called Basic Book Life and it's a place for discussions on Young Adult books, recommendations and all other kinds of fun interactions. We are talking about ways we can make the group more exciting and perhaps hosting giveaways and such in the future so please come and join if you like teen fiction:
Keeping fingers crossed that I can keep building up connections in this world as I love it so much, both as a reader and a writer, and I'd love to get more involved in the community!
6. Seeing Gigs
Ahhhh I have seen such amazing gigs this year - there was Dodie in Brighton (who is a real current fave of mine) then Nerina Pallot played the Wedgewood Rooms and it was amazing to hear her play some of her lesser-known tracks and B-sides. I love when we get to hear a really unique set from someone with such a huge, amazing back catalogue.
I also saw Ben Folds last month in The Anvil theatre in Basingstoke. We were SO close to the stage, watching just him and a piano as though he were sat in our front room. It was utterly spectacular, one of the best gigs I've ever been to! It left me feeling so inspired. He even did an epic drum solo where his stage crew built a drum set around him! Just... WOW!
This week I'm super excited to be seeing HAIM in London for the first time. Then next week I'M SEEING TAYLOR SWIFT AT WEMBLEY AHHH!! AND Charli XCX and Camila Cabello are supporting. I'm so excited I could faint! Then in July it's Kate Voegele and Tyler Hilton. I've been SO spoiled for all my favourite artists this year, it's going to be sooo much fun.
7. Seeing Friends
A few weeks ago my friends Kanata and Tomo came over to Portsmouth from Tokyo for a visit - they showed me and Mat around Shibuya on our Honeymoon so now it was our turn to return the favour! It was sooo lovely to have them to stay and show them Southsea and Brighton. We even watched the Royal Wedding together with scones and jam which was so special!
We've also seen lots of people over summer for gigs and drinks and days out. We have such lovely friends and family and I really love getting to spend time with everyone :)
8. PLANNING MY BIRTHDAY!
So this June I turn 31, which I know is a weird age to hold a birthday party, but I didn't do much to celebrate my 30th as I was in full-on wedding planning mode so I decided to go all out and have a big celebration this year instead.
The theme for my party is 90s/00s and it's fancy dress - I'm so excited and hope we'll all have the best time dancing to cheesy music and having a laugh. I know who I want to go as but I'm having trouble finding the right costume (Arghhh!) - I've also spent ages making little fortune tellers with "Who is your 90s BF/GF" and kissing dares on. It's going to be so funny haha!
Soooooooo... that's pretty much all my news for the time being! :) I've also been working my day job in the art shop and making plans for where to go travelling next. After visiting Budapest with Mat in April (which was beauuutiful) we definitely have the travel bug!
I am loving life so much right now - it's busy and hectic and there is so much work to be done, but everyday I wake up pumped to start the day and to make a little more progress. I'm definitely feeling super inspired and full of happiness, and I just can't wait to see what the second half of the year will bring.
I'll keep you posted when there is more news - and if you've read all this, thank you so much for the interest and support! :D
Wishing you all a super great summer - speak again soon!