This, I think, is the most important and exciting part of creativity.
I am always learning.
For me, this is also one of the best things about growing older. As I get older, I get better at my craft. It makes the wrinkles / laughter lines easy to deal with!
I got side-tracked as a Young Adult / Middle Aged Adult into all sorts of things. Shop work, bar work, acting, bingo calling, food packing, teaching, the list goes on. But now I have found what I want to do with my life at the tender age of *cough, cough* and it is the beginning of learning something new.
With an absolute heart full of joy, I am learning my craft bit by bit, every day.
There is so much freedom in admitting that you are still learning.
I can make as many mistakes as I want to! Yippee!
And another MASSIVE plus is that I can actually call reading - which is my favourite pastime - WORK! Hurrah!
I wanted to share with you three books I have read very recently that have been absolutely invaluable not only as gripping stories but as pieces of craft from which I have learned so much about the art of story-telling and the power of words. They are in no particular order other than the order in which I read them.
First up is the utterly stunning 'Eden Summer' by Liz Flanagan (David Fickling Books)
'Shy, gothy Jess and stunning and popular Eden are best friends. They've supported each other through some of the hardest things you can go through – death, bullying, love, heartbreak. They know everything about each other.
But then Eden goes missing and Jess knows she has to find her, and fast, because the longer someone is missing, the more likely it is they won't be found. So Jess starts exploring her memories, things Eden said and did in the last few months and she starts to realise that maybe they don't know each other as well as she thought.
Set in the beautifully described stunning countryside of West Yorkshire, an incredibly pacy page turner as the clock runs down on the likelihood of finding Eden alive.'
Gripping. Utterly gripping. I couldn’t put it down. Exquisite writing and description. Such brilliant story-telling. You care so much about the characters. You want to know what happened as if it is really happening to you personally. So much so I didn’t get out of bed until I finished it. Spent most of the day in my PJs. (Am not usually a slob).
Secondly is the scintillating ‘Strange Star’ by Emma Carroll (Faber & Faber)
'They were coming tonight to tell ghost stories. 'A tale to freeze the blood,' was the only rule.
Switzerland, 1816. On a stormy summer night, Lord Byron and his guests are gathered round the fire. Felix, their serving boy, can't wait to hear their creepy tales. Yet real life is about to take a chilling turn- more chilling than any tale. Frantic pounding at the front door reveals a stranger, a girl covered in the most unusual scars. She claims to be looking for her sister, supposedly snatched from England by a woman called Mary Shelley. Someone else has followed her here too, she says. And the girl is terrified...'
Atmospheric. Gothic. A ripping good yarn with hugely creepy elements and plenty of EEK moments but also a story of depth and relevance and such terrible sadness. I read it in the sunshine and felt I was at the centre of a storm.
Thirdly is the luscious ‘A Library of Lemons' by Jo Cotterill (Piccadilly Press)
'A poignant story about dealing with grief through the magic of reading and friendship. Calypso's mum died a few years ago and her emotionally incompetent Dad can't, or won't, talk about Mum at all. Instead he throws himself into writing his book A History of the Lemon. Meanwhile the house is dusty, there's never any food in the fridge, and Calypso retreats into her own world of books and fiction. When a new girl, Mae, arrives at school, the girls' shared love of reading and writing stories draws them together. Mae's friendship and her lively and chaotic home - where people argue and hug each other - make Calypso feel more normal than she has for a long time. But when Calypso finally plucks up the courage to invite Mae over to her own house, the girls discover the truth about her dad and his magnum opus - and Calypso's happiness starts to unravel.'
Poignant. Moving. Lots of young people I know NEED to read this book to understand they are not alone. The characters are so beautifully drawn and the subject matter is so tenderly dealt with. Expect weeping. Expect laughter. Expect to be charmed.
I just wanted to share these three with you because they all touched my heart and inspired me to be a better writer.
And whilst I am in no way a reviewer and have only managed a few vaguely coherent words by way of review, if you are a newbie writer like me, I highly recommend getting your hands on these three beauties and marvelling at the very different ways these three authors write and at the squillions of things you can learn from them!
I'll be reading them all again very, very, very soon.