One of my Corfiot childhood friends moved to Scotland last September to begin university. I recently went to visit Tess in Glasgow for four days and fell head over heels in love with the city and its bubbly inhabitants! My camera was glued to my hand the entire trip as we were constantly walking by the numerous graffiti pieces dotted around the city - each as astounding as the next. Although it was a flying visit, my friend took me to some groovy hot-stops that I though could be handy if you ever swing by!
Before I dive in, I have to mention Megabus. My round journey came to a mere £19! Although each way was five hours, there was a plug socket to charge my devices and as it wasn't busy, I had a free seat next to me both ways, where I had the luxury of napping undisturbed. I'll definitely be roughing it again as it's a fifth of the rail price! (TOP TIP IF TRAVELLING/NAPPING ALONE: take a tote bag and loop it through your feet, keep your earphones plugged to your phone with an alarm set so you don't miss your stop!) Bar Home, Albion Street
On my first night, Tess and I had a few rounds of cocktails under the giant disco ball at this jaunt, which are just £3.25 all day Mon - Thurs! I recommend the purple rain cocktail, or if you're really feeling it - go straight for the frozen margarita jug, which is just £13!
Amore, Ingram street
One afternoon when we were a little... let's say 'delicate', we stumbled to this Italian restaurant and devoured a delicious carbonara - their tiramisu was exquisite too! It's worth bobbing by to gaze at the handsome Italian waiters alone! Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Royal Exchange Square
Whenever visiting a new city, even if just for an afternoon, it's always worth nipping in a museum or gallery (or both if you have the time)! This enchanting gallery was full of the weird and wonderful and free as a bird! During your stay in the city, you'll undoubtedly be bombarded with the image of a statue, in which a man is sat on a horse with a florescent orange traffic cone on his head (don't ask) - he'll be plastered on postcards, coasters, you name it! The gallery is directly behind him :-)
Kokomo Nightclub, W Regent St
On the Friday night, it was a friends birthday so after a wild flat party we all proceeded to this nightclub where she'd rented an incredible booth. The night (although a bit of a blur) was one to remember, not only was the DJ incredible, but the overall vibe of the place was so unique and groovy! I still keep mistaking the name of it though for Kocoum haha :-)
O2 ABC Glasgow, Sauchiehall St
One night we went out with a few of Tereza's incredible flat mates and hit up ABC. The event was called Jelly Baby and the venue was HUGE! Although the queues at the bar were a lil ridiculous, the crowd were a good bunch and the music bob on!
Whilst I was in Glasgow, I thought I'd take full advantage of Buchanan streets vast range of shops and was feeling particularly spendy! Here's some treats I picked up...
These adorable daisy flower power earrings (I couldn't resist) and dainty hamsa ring for just £1 in River Island! The ring is actually a lil big for me, but I'm going to thread it through a gold chain necklace à la Frodo Baggins...
How gorgeous are these two suede bags from River Island?!
I've never realised before how A M A Z I N G Mango's jewellery range is and I was mesmerised by a 50% off rack for quite some time. I bought this statement red cocktail ring and dainty jade earrings for £10!! It took me so long to settle on these two as their range was spectacular and I almost bought the whole lot!
Hands down (literally) the prettiest ring I've ever owned...
As you know, back in March I attended Southbank Centre's Women Of the World festival. The pièce de résistance was acclaimed author Kate Mosse's 'how to get published masterclass'. I thought I'd share all her words of wisdom that I captured in my notepad that wonderful afternoon - just in case there's any fellow budding writers amongst us!
As I said, these notes were written in haste and are mostly in shorthand/power phrased - sorry in advance for any grammar errors!
I call bullshit, Cal
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“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” - Joseph Heller
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If you're writing, you're a writer
published = lucky
2 different things: 1. pride 2. readers reacting to your work
The power is in your hands. You can't let someone's who has accepted/declined your work influence how proud you feel of what you've made.
You will be disappointed often, with others, but more often yourself.
Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism, was alongside Kate and offered her advice on how she came to be a published writer. She said that in order to make the task of writing a book less daunting - she broke it down in her mind the following way. "I know how to write articles (1000 words). Chapter's are approximately 8000 words. I'll dedicate 8 ideas to one chapter, and work through them like articles. Once I've written these 8 articles *cough* chapters, Ill bridge them together = one chapter, done and dusted!" Doing it this way made the entire process for her more enjoyable. Rather than sitting down at her desk with the scary mindset of "I'm going to write a book today", she'd instead think "I'm going to write an article".
Pablo Picasso quote: Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.
Don't succumb to writers block. In the morning when you wake up for school/uni/work you seldom want to go, but you do. Treat writing with the same respect.
We're all writers. Published writers are no better than unpublished.
Writing a book is like building a wall - you have to build it brick by brick. Kate, on average, spends four years of research per book, then dedicates 18 months on writing it.
The best thing about your profession is that there are no rules. You just need to make sure that you have something burning inside you, that you must write. The rest (getting an agent/published) can be taught.
Once you have the general blue prints / architecture of your story, the words will come to you - you just have to catch them!
Hippie philosophy: Plan, but don't plan your plans.
There's a confidence and self esteem unbalance when it comes to the writing mantra of boys and girls. Boys will buy themselves a swanky computer and call themselves a writer. Girls will write an entire novel and not call themselves a writer.
Don't get too caught up in whether your commas are in the right place (your editor will take care of that).
Every writer is different.
Don't sweat the small stuff, try to focus on the chapter you're on. Don't fret if you don't know who's going to walk through the door in chapter six.
JUST KEEP GOING!
If you can't finish chapter three, move on to chapter four. It doesn't matter if you're not writing chronologically.
Laura (Everyday Sexism) was first approached by her agent via email as she was impressed with her blog. It's a testament for how blogs create visibility for writers in this day and age. (Whoop whoop! haha)
If you're loosing your mojo writing tedious chapters, it's okay to skip and write the final battle scene, instead of dealing with pesky chapter four. By the time you actually finished the battle scene, the book will probably have shifted but it doesn't matter as you've regained your joy of writing!
Key advice = Don't get a cynical publisher who is just in it for the $ chose a feminist agent who really wants to shout about your campaign. Try and establish your key themes from the get-go. I instantly knew there'd be a chapter on virtual women / women in video games / women in politics... the process should feel organic. I was often told, which I resented, to "make it funny", as many of the stories shared were graphic and crude. I waited until an editor and publisher came along that I was confident with and whom supported me fully. I refused to compromise my writing as I was dealing with such a profound and important topic. - Laura Bates' advice
Once you've written your first draft, be brave enough to read it and be subjective. Question whether there is an actual purpose to it? Imagine you're the reader. Do you deliver to the reader what you promised? (A murder story needs a murder.)
Bookshop = Where you find something you didn't know you were looking for.
There's something magical about a story being printed. It becomes a physical object - there's a permanence to it.
The internet give us lots of access into the market, which is enormously dominated by white male middle class / privileged men.
Never underestimate how immensely important the beginning of the book is. It informs the way you read the rest of the book and instils automatically your attitude. Most of the winners of the Bailey's women prize for fiction, Kate knew they'd be winners from the first page. Also, when you send your manuscript to publishers, it's unlikely that they will read the entire thing. Many moons ago, Kate worked at a publishers and hates to admit that there was a "slush pile" of manuscripts that were sent from people without an agent - which is why Kate recommends an agent! Publishers won't lie, if they say they've read it, they have. They're honourable - there's not much $ in the field, they do it for the passion!
Before you send publishers your work, quickly email first asking whether they read unsolicited work = if they don't read them, don't send - simple. They'll only go into the slush pile if you do!
Also research publishing houses first to find out what type of books they like, don't approach someone who specialises in children's books, if you write horror! &, if on there website that say "when sending manuscripts do this, that and this... do EXACTLY what they say. They've specifically requested it for a reason - even if that reason is to check how engaged you are!
If you're writing a book about a very serious topic, don't send a picture of you and your cat - no, look serious! Set the tone and understand appropriation! You'd be astounded - although this nugget of advice sounds obvious, people often skim read and miss vital information.
Publishing = needs more range. It used to be about idealism, now it's about the markets. We're tiptoeing back slightly, thanks to the power of the internet.
You don't necessarily need an agent to get published = Laura's publisher emailed her directly, she came to her. However there are many benefits to having an agent. Ask yourself: do you want to sign a contract in a world you don't understand - you'd be very vulnerable. It's also very scary handing over something so precious. Do you want to be the one saying "I want more $"? If not, get an agent! The relationship between the agent and author is the most enduring relationship, as a pose to editor and publisher. Over 25 years, Kate has had numerous editors but one one agent. They're the first person to reda your book/ hear your suggestions, before your editor does - they're always at your side. They'll drink champagne with you when things go well, and whisky when things go sour.
How to get an agent?
- remember they're trying to impress me. Remember that without us, they wouldn't have a job. Don't feel inferior (or superior).
- DON'T accept the first person who comes your way.
- Do you have to have a big following before you go to an agent? A following helps, but it isn't mandatory! If you check out famous writer's twitter accounts (eg Kate's!) you'll notice that there is absolutely no correlation between their followers and best seller records!
- How do I know choose which agents to approach? The internet is your friend! Do your research!
- When sending emails to an organisation (i.e: you're unsure of exactly who it will be received by), remember that there's nothing worse than addressing an email "Dear Sir"!
- Gage from their online presence their character and whether or not they're playful - from that, decided how to approach them and which tone to use.
- Younger agents would probably appreciate a photograph of yourself when you email them, which has a lot to do with marketing. HOW SAD IS THAT?! :-( Kate said that she personally wouldn't attach a photo of herself as it encourages the idea as a woman that "you are what you look like". Also, she believes that it's all about taking control from the get-go. Be bold when you first present yourself.
- Kate's top tip for finding an agent: go to a bookshop and write down the name of the books that are broadly in your genre. Research who the agents are of the authors and go from there. Quick version to do this, is to open the book and go to the acknowledgement page. If the same agent comes up repeatability, that's a good guide/sign! Discover who is buying what and what they feel affection to.
If there's one theme you like, read other books with a similar theme. Does the book patronise? Does it present something stereotypical?
Be original. Present things in a way people have never seen it before. See mundane things with a fresh pair of eyes. Turn things upside down. When it came to picking winners for the Bailey's women prize for fiction (which they are both judges for), Laura concentrated on the voice/glue of each book, as opposed to which had the most battle scenes and epic chapters. EG: One book had mind blowing metaphors which were super original. That was the magical glue that stuck the book together.
Sometimes planning suffocates the book and characters.
You might read loads of fantasy, But you might not be a fantasy writer. You might be a romantic writer. Listen to your writing voice, let it guide you. We might be one person as a writer, but a different person as a reader.
You can't be a good writer unless you're a good reader. You again something from every book/poem you read.
If a reader is reading a book they don't enjoy, they stop reading the book, When a writer reads a book they're not enjoying, they wonder why - dig, Lazarus, dig!
Non - Fiction: You have exclusive access eg: what writing a book about growing up with Walt Disney as your brother. Only you can write that story (unique), sell the idea, then write the book! When it came to a brief discussion on non-fiction, Kate recommended checking out Anthony Beaver's Stalingrad.
Fiction: Before approaching an agent, make sure you've write nit first. It's easy for your idea to become hijacked, so make sure you're written it first exactly how you want it! Don't let your book be edited, before you've even finished it!!
The biggest difference between fiction and non-fiction (generally speaking) is: Non-Fiction: Buying the idea Fiction: Buying the text
Funnily enough, I actually bumped into Jessica Hynes outside Southbank centre
last year at a networking event called 'we are not a feminist tribe'!
- Before you worry about publishers and how you're going to market your book, you need to write it first! Unless you've written it, there's nothing to publish/market anyway!
- Marketing isn't integral, it's about the actual book 1st and foremost!
- Here's Kate's thoughts on self-publishing: It's brilliant, although too many are published too soon (and are littered with spelling/grammar errors). Never publish anything closer than a third draft. Be rigorous with your editing process!
- Just because you can press send/publish, the second you've finished writing your book, doesn't mean you should!
Kate's schedule: Throughout the year when she isn't writing, she is the deputy chair at the national theatre. When she is writing a novel, however, she doesn't allow any other work commitments, as they're distractions. When you're pulled away from writing, your characters become ghosts. When your characters come to life, it's hard to engage with real day-to-day life as your writing can suffer and become marred. 4 years = research / 18 months = writing. She wakes up very early to write, 7 days a week - until she has her first draft, which takes between 4/5 months.
Kate's advice is to get your writing out of the way. Either wake up at the crack of dawn and write vigorously before the day has started, or treat it like a nightcap. Kate begins writing at 4am, writes for 3/4 hours - that's her most productive time of the day. That's the time of day when her imaginary friends are the most real. & If something important comes up during the day, she already has 4 hours of writing under her belt.
Laura writes on a treadmill. She feels like there aren't enough hours in the day, so she tries to multi task. Although writing as she exercises may seem extravagant, it's necessary. It has often been said throughout the ages, that the best ideas come to you when you're moving.
Some writer's don't actually write by hand, they use a voice recognition. (Basically, where there's a will, there's a way!)
Top tip from Kate to all writers = look after your back.
Kate is known for her commitment to extensive research and at one point was asked about her process. When a writer approaches a scene that needs research, how long should you dedicate to research? the answer, is basically how long is a piece of string? Kate personally makes sure that she has researched everything before she begins to write, as it drastically impacts momentum, pace... - also, particularly as her novels tend to be period pieces. & as Kate's novels are all about action, she can't stop in the middle of writing, as the plot/characterisation will be jeopardised. Kate needs to know every detail about the shoes, make up and corsets (constriction) that the women used in that century, as it effects how the character walks, runs and speaks! On the odd chance that she does come across something she needs to research when in mid-flow, she uses a little asterisk which symbolises that she needs to return to this passage. Kate likes to create the stage and props before she puts her characters in.
Characters pull the plot forward.
If you come across any hurdles when writing your novel / or in the process leading up to writing your novel (eg: whilst researching), for a small fee you can pay the society of authors who will give you their advice. For instance, if you need legal/ contract advice, or are worried about who owns the rights to something.
If you ever don't feel like a character is authentic or right, you're right. When you're sure, the problem goes away.
Every word must earn its place. There needs to be an element of spareness, even if you're writing a huge book. Treat your words as a poet would, who only has five lines.
- In every other art form, it's universally accepted and acknowledged that practise makes perfect. It's no different when it comes to writing! Writing is a muscle - stretch it! There's a silly idea that writing is a precious/rare skill and comes naturally - the truth, and overall bottom line, is that 5 minutes of writing a day is better than nothing. What you write in those five minutes may never make it in to the book - or even be read by anyone other than yourself - but you practised, that's what counts.
- Sometimes you have to accept that things often don't sounds as good on paper as they do in your head. Some days you delete it all, some days your on a roll.
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Yup, I somehow managed to miraculously scribble all of that down during the workshop. I hope this helps anyone out there who's in the same boat as me. If you are, drop me an email or tweet me - the unknown's less scary when someone's plodding along with you!
Here's a video of the beautiful (& badass) Anne Rice sharing some of her writing pearls of wisdom. Definitely worth a watch if you're a writer, particularly if you dabble in fiction. I watch this on days when I need a lil boost - best part? "Go where the pain is. Write about what hurts."
Finally, remember that it isn't going to write itself and in the words of E. B. White: Writing is both mask and unveiling.
Back in March I was fortunate enough to attend Southbank centre's annual W.O.W (women of the world) festival. If you ever find yourself in the capital, I can't recommend swinging by Southbank centre enough! Since moving to London for uni two years ago, this wonder has been like a second home to me and leaves me in awe and bursting with inspiration every time I leave. They run various weird and wonderful events, there truly is something for everyone!
This festival was a week long, although I only bought a Saturday pass - a little heads up to fellow students, we fall under the concessions bracket, so can go to most events for a fraction of the price!
TOP TIP: Use the elevator - when you arrive at each floor, a choir sings the level you've reached and changes key at each stop.
Wait till you reach level five!
The first event I attended was a 'WOW views on the news' panel. Jude Kelly, campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez and Domino Pateman discussed current affairs and set the tone for the day. They covered recent atrocities that occurred in India and explored the global inequality of the sexes.
Afterwards, a delightful American woman took to the stage and forced the audience to step out of our comfort zone and be vulnerable. Over the course of 20 minutes, she asked us a serious of yes/no questions, both silly and incredibly raw. We were all asked to stand up as she began to read through the set of questions, one by one. If we had experienced said event, we were asked to remain standing - if our answer was no, we quietly sat down.
The answers ranged from "have you ever been caught having sex?", "have you ever said "I'm never drinking again"?, to the more intimate "have you ever had an abortion?" and "have you ever lost a parent?". Besides the soothing voice of our conductor, you could hear a pin drop throughout the entire exercise. The idea was to show us that we weren't alone, that people in this very room are going through the same things as us. It was beautiful.
Afterwards, radio personality and the ray of sunshine that is Gemma Cairney took to the stage and broadcast her documentary about the way young girls in the UK experience and perceive the world around them. It was heartbreaking to hear girls as young as nine speak about the pressures they feel growing up in a world inundated with photo-shopped images and being exposed to sexual lyrics and references. Everyday sexism founder Laura Bates and rapper Little Simz joined her on stage and shared their thoughts on the matter. The event was riveting and such a vital conversation to tackle!
Next, I went to a workshop called 'man up or man down' all about combating sexist language. We focused on how gender inequality is seamlessly woven into our everyday language. It was led by feminist writer and progressive publisher Cat Crossley - who I might add what absolutely phenomenal! I left feeling enraged (for all the right reasons) and empowered. We were dared to challenge people from now on when we hear sexist slurs. Here's three examples off the top of my head:
1. Apparently, the most common 'justification' is "oh you know how women can be" - call them out on their shit! "No I don't actually, enlighten me" *then glare with daggers*.
2. Or if you hear someone derogatively exclaiming "don't be such a pussy", act as though you're on their side and retort "yeah, don't be such a vagina" - their baffled look will be hysterical and hopefully make them think twice next time!
3. & Finally there's the classic "I'm sorry if I offended you" - to which there is only ever one response: "If?!"
Remember: society is language, language is society!
The penultimate event I attended was the reason I went out of my way to go to the festival in the first place - Kate Mosse's how to get published workshop. The one and a half hour masterclass was undoubtedly the most fascinating event I've ever been to, in terms of my writing career. The amount of questions that were answered was outstanding and I felt a rush of adrenaline throughout - I couldn't wait to get home and write away!
I was initially planning on sharing the notes that I furiously jotted down during the workshop, on various numbered napkins, notepads and programmes, in this post. However, this post is already one of my longest ever written - no worry, I'll dedicate an entire blog post just to her words of wisdom in the near future!
Here's a glimpse of what's to look forward to, this was written in the event programme: "Find your writing voice as a woman, how to negotiate the process of finding an agent and getting published, the pros and cons of independent publishing and how to achieve what you want as a woman writing without compromising what you want to say."
The final event I attended was women and immigration - a subject very dear to my heart. "Brits think that, on average, immigrants make up to 24% of the population. Actually, it's closer to 13%. So why do we hold such a skewed view of immigration?". Whenever the discussion of immigration comes up around friends, family or colleagues, things can get heated pretty quickly - I tend to either walk away or ask, politely, if the subject can be changed. The way I hear some people talk about immigrants makes me cringe and rage, I often think they forget they're humans too! This discussion was brilliant and explored a heart wrenching story about a female refuge's plight and struggle with racism and adapting to living in a country with low tolerance for immigrants - unfortunately, it's one of many.
The panel consisted of Ghada Rasheed from women for refugee women, Roma community support worker Ewelina Pawlowska, Diana Nammi, Director and founder of the Iranian and Kurdish women's rights organisation and winner of the woman on the move award special jury prize, Maria Patsalos, immigration specialist at Mishcon de Reya and Ayah Omar from the network of Eritrean women ("the north Korea of Africa").
The festival was exceptional and I felt truly privileged to be amongst so many inspiring and courageous women!
P.S: I HAVE to mention, if you do make it to Southbank in London you must try the dinky doughnuts! As you exit the Southbank centre, turn left and walk towards the OXO building - follow your nose and you'll find the street vendor who sells the best doughnuts in the world. (10 for £2 & word to the wise, they only accept cash!)
P.P.S: ^ I'm not sponsored, I just really love doughnuts and could talk about these particular ones until the cows come home!
I mentioned in my last empties that I'm currently trying to use up lots of my lotions and potions. I recently heard a minimalism tactic in which you wait until you've finished five products before you treat yourself to a new one - it's really given my skincare and make up routine a new lease of life!
I received these travel sized wild rose Korres creams for Christmas which are ideal for my nomad lifestyle. Although when first applied they smell wickedly pungent, I adore how plump they leave my skin. Once I'm back on Greek soil, I'm going to stock up as they're cheaper in their native land!
For a week I used this Clarins gentle foaming cleanser sample and was pleasantly surprised - I think I might have to have a looksee for this when I'm at duty free next week!
I usually double cleanse in the evening, so use my Bioderma as I find it so gentle and relaxing on my sensitive skin. I massage the product in using the Japanese brand DHC's silky cotton pads. Even if I haven't been wearing make up, you'd be amazed (disgusted) how much dirt can collect on your skin living in a city! Apparently there's a blue bottle of Bioderma which is specifically for sensitive/dry skin so I'll keep my eyes peeled for that!
I also just finished up this travel size St.Ives apricot scrub - it's quite harsh so I only used it once a fortnight to exfoliate my face.
I'm a sucker for hair masks, but there's only ever been one that I've been loyal to and that's Herbal Essences Bee Strong - I've used it at least once a week for a good four years! I was first lured in to buying it when I saw Nicole Scherzinger advertising it back when I was in high school - THIS STUFF IS MAGIC (& smells good enough to eat)!
Another day, another travel size product - this time in the shape of L'occitane's lavender shower gel. Whenever I have a particularly rough day, I hop in the shower 20 minutes before going to sleep and douse myself in this gel ~ its aromatherapy properties works wonders for any hectic mind!
When I cut fizzy drinks from my diet, I immediately notice a difference in my skin and overall mood. My pop of choice has always been Fanta so when I crave the sugary drink I instead have one of these (1 a day) - not only are they bursting with vitamins, they also satisfy the sweet craving!
Just thought I'd also note that during term time at uni, I keep a few sachets of emergen-c in my handbag as many of my workshops begin at 9 - meaning I have to set off on my commute around 7:40. It's a miracle if I have time to brush my hair, let alone make breakfast! On those wild mornings, I add a sachet into my water to feel human,
Here's a travel size version of Lancôme's Bi-Facil eye make up remover that I got in a Christmas hypnose mascara gift set - sacré bleu, it's incredible!
I keep this mini sudocrem on my top shelf as it's so handy - I dab a tiny dot of this thick cream on spots and find that it really helps to soothe any redness and calm the beast.
You will always find an evian spray on my bedside table, whether I'm in the blistering heat of Greece, or in gloomy Manchester - a spritz of this is heaven when you're feeling a lil flustered.
My final empty is this anthropologie avocado and mint candle which has been never ending. This and their vanilla/fig candle are my all time favourites and leave my room smelling of guacamole and fig newtons... mmm mmm mmmmm!