This Year I Will…Oh, Not Again!

I’ve made resolutions every year for a long time and now, sitting here in bed at lunchtime on a Saturday, I can’t actually recall one I’ve kept. Not long term. Not for real. That’s the problem with New Years Resolutions though, isn’t it? Just a group of people standing still as the clock strikes twelve, the first day of a new year, the first day of a new you. And we feel inspired (and probably drunk). We feel invigorated. We feel like we can do anything. Flash forward a few weeks and those 20 resolutions are pretty far from your mind. And the thing is, the father into the year you get the less realistic your goals seem. The less impetus you have to actually complete or continue or work towards or start. To think the start of a new year is it, this is the one, this time I will is just dangerous. And kinda deflating.

2018 had some glorious moments. I went on more holidays than I ever have in a year before. I worked hard and I spent pretty much everything on exploring new places and trying new things. I don’t regret any of it. I saw beautiful, brilliant places and everywhere I went I fell in love. I was selected to attend the Penguin Random House WriteNow 2018 conference in Nottingham. I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that would be elicited, the passion and inspiration I would feel afterwards. I wasn’t prepared for the confidence it instilled in me whenever I look at my own work now. I wasn’t selected as a winner by PRH. But in my head I think I’ve won, something at least. I won the chance to hear real life publishers and editors and agents say to me “your book sounds so good” and “that’s the kind of book I love pitching to publishers” and “your writing is so wonderfully atmospheric”. These are all direct quotes. I have remembered them. I have written them down and inscribed them on my brain, I have cradled them and hugged them and pressed them close to my chest in moments of self-doubt and loneliness and fear. They have comforted me and driven me and inspired me. They have taught me not to give up, to stand strong, to finish this book and every book after it and to send them into the world. It was the best day of my rather short life so far. I imagine it will be the best day of my life for quite some time to come.

2018 also had some harrowing moments. I have felt adrift for a long time now. I think I’m in a bad place, and I’ve now made peace with the fact that I need to do something about it. I want to both tether myself to safety and float off into the clouds. I want to live bigger and brighter and freer and at the same time it’d be great if I could just stop. Just for a while. Just long enough to free myself of the fog that has engulfed me for longer than I care to admit to, longer, I fear, than I can remember. If the world could stop spinning for a minute or hour or day or week. If I could just stand still and stop for a month or a year, would it make it better? Would I emerge from hibernation a free woman? Would I know who I am, what I want, what I need? Or would I have wasted precious time just lying in the fog?

This year I’m not making resolutions. Not in the tradition sense. I don’t want more goals that I will never achieve hanging over my head. Instead, I have chosen an aim for the year, just one, and a list of objectives that will help me reach it. My aim is to end 2019 in a better place than when I started. I know, I know. So much for not being too ambitious, huh? How will I do this? By hopefully having more self control and motivation to complete some of the objectives than I ever had to complete resolutions.

Objectives for 2019

  1. To figure out who I am. Let’s start with the biggie, amirite? I want to spend more time learning who I am and what I want, and improving the parts of me I want to improve. I want to blog more, maybe start journalling, write more, do more art. Express myself spiritually. Maybe do some yoga or something. I want to exercise more and care more about what I put into my body. I want to learn to care for myself more than I do now. It’ll be a long slog. I don’t expect to be perfect on the 31st of December. But I want to be better. I want to feel better.
  2. To explore the world outside my home. 2018 was a great year for travel and experiences. This year I want  to continue to broaden my horizons and see new things. And not just travelling abroad – I want to see more of Edinburgh, my city, and of Scotland and the UK. I want to go to more book talks. I want to join a book club and an am-dram society and maybe a writing club. I want to go on long walks and listen to music and podcasts and audiobooks. I want to take a book with me wherever I go, and sit in new cafes and new parks and read. I want to visit all the museums and bookshops and galleries I can find, and soak myself in art and culture and shows and freedom. And I want to travel. Everywhere. Anywhere.  To establish a little corner of the world just for me.
  3. I want to be happy (or at least happier) in a job/career sense. I want to find a place where I don’t feel sick whenever I’m at work. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a forever career. Not yet. I’m only 23. I have time. But I spend so much of my life at work. I want to be somewhere I can enjoy rather than tolerate, somewhere that doesn’t make me sick with stress and anxiety and crushing sadness.
  4. I want to write more. Sounds simple for a writer. But in a more specific sense, I aim to have the WIP I took to WriteNow 2018 finished and READY TO SUBMIT TO AGENTS/PUBLISHERS by the one year anniversary of that day. So September. I have 3/4 of a year. I can do this. I also want to start writing other things. Short stories, some screenplays, little drabbles about my characters, fanfiction, everything. And I want to enter some writing competitions. Hone my skills. Make some moneys. Show myself that a career as a writer might actually be possible (hah, when I’m like 60  and have a body of work as long as 20 buses maybe). If I enter my work into things I have a shot at being published before the year is out. If I don’t enter anything, I do not. It’s just that simple really, isn’t it?

 

I want to leave it there. I’m not going to overwhelm myself. And I’ll try not to beat myself up if it gets to the end of February and then March and then April and I’m still sad and stuck and struggling. It’s a process. It’s a long one. But by focusing on the one thing I want (to be happy) and the four general steps (okay, four general leaps) I can take to get there, maybe I’ll end this year in a bit of a better place. Even marginally. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Whether you stick to resolutions or not, don’t get yourself down. All that matters is we’ve all survived another year, and fingers crossed when we look back we can still see some good for the bad.

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So Resolutions, Huh?

Like I said in my new years resolutions post – you can find it here – I’m pretty bad at keeping on track. I thought I might have an easier time staying on the straight and narrow if I checked in with myself occasionally to see how things are going. This probably isn’t going to be a monthly thing, but I’ll try to check in regularly and see if it helps. Feel free to use the comments as your own checking in page! How are you getting along? Have you broken any resolutions? Changed any? Are you smashing through them like the gods/goddesses you are? Let’s chat in the comments, and spur each other on!

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We’ve Changed Our Name!

So this blog has been Secrets of the Student Life since its conception. And that name fit for a while. It fit when I was a broke student trying to make sense of the world. But now I’m a broke graduate trying to make sense of the world. A broke professional. A woman with a job that I go to every week, Monday to Friday. And, well, Secrets of the Student Life just doesn’t really fit anymore, does it? Because I’m not living the student life anymore.

SO. I’ve decided to change the name of the blog. I thought about for a while, what I want to convey with the name. Names are important. Names are cool and fun and I love them. So who do I want to be in this blog? Who do I want you to see? I settled on Blank Pages Vivid Dreams. I rather like the sound and the flow of it, it lilts nicely and when I say it the name rolls off my tongue. And it really embodies my life. I have vivid dreams both in and out of sleep, and blank pages are the basis of my life. They are the canvas on which I spill my words, the foundations of my life and world. And they go together nicely, don’t they? Pages and dreams. Who doesn’t talk about the most interesting dreams they have? I’ve had many weird and wacky ideas come to me in dreams, and it’s always a rush to write them down when I awake before they skitter off into the ether never to return.

I’m not really changing anything else. I’m still writing about the same things, and the URL will stay the same until I’ve figured out how to change it (or have the money to!). I’ve just changed the name on the front of the blog to better reflect me. And I’m pretty happy with it for now.

2018 Goals and Resolutions

Happy New Year! And yes, I’m aware that it’s pretty beyond the new year now, but I was in Valencia and this is the first time I’ve sat down this year! 2018! I sometimes find New Years Resolutions to be a waste of time. Who actually sticks to them, eh? Certainly not me. But there are things I want to do this year and I’m (hopefully) a bit more determined to see them through. I’ve also kept these resolutions as a note on my phone, and may write them into my 2018 day planner/diary so that I’m reminded of them more often. There’s no point in a resolution if you forget about it until November and then say “ahh well, too late now”!

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Why Am I Always So Behind on Goodreads?

My Goodreads profile is always a long way behind my actual reading. I like my short Goodreads reviews to compliment my more in depth reviews here on my blog, which means I tend to write them at the same time. But…I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty useless at keeping up. I even have a column on my reading spreadsheet reminding me to write reviews, but I still manage to fall behind. It’s just not that easy to write a long, detailed review when life gets in the way, and that means I don’t update my Goodreads either. I’ve been having some struggles recently (and not so recently) that have thrown me way off base, and I’m struggling to know what to do next. I still read but my reading is marred by reality’s ugly head, and having the time and mental energy to review has seemed impossible. While I can think all to well about what I want to say, when it comes down to actually getting it done and dusted I seem stuck. And that blows. A lot.

Just today I moved 6 books from my current list to my read list. I still haven’t reviewed them, but my head seems clearer today than it has in a long time so maybe I can blast some out and get back on track. Just putting a rating and “review to follow” on my books has allowed me to shift them off the current list, and it means I’m catching up to my Goodreads target again. Now I just need to start writing before I actually forget what I thought of the books. For this very reason, I keep rough notes on my phone as I read, so that I can build on them more, but still, it can be hard to remember weeks later what you planned on saying.

We all have our ups and downs, and for the most part reading helps me through mine. I like to review my books so that, later on, I can look back and remember why I enjoyed it (or didn’t), so that I can see whether it’s worth it to reread. It would be nice if my reviews introduced people to books they’d never read too, though reading is so subjective and I always think that it’s better to read and form your own opinion on a book instead of avoiding it because others didn’t like it (or worse, feeling as though you have to enjoy it just because everyone else thinks it’s the best book in the world). Most of the time, writing a review is just part of the reading process to me. It helps me slow down and consider what I’ve just read, rather than running from one book to the next without breath, without remembering what I’ve read or how it made me feel. In these times though, when life itself seems such a chore, reviewing can seem almost impossible. I’m trying though. I hope it picks up. I hope I can get some done before the next wave hits. And maybe this time I won’t fall so far behind.

I’m Back!

Sooooo…it’s been a while, huh? Almost half a year if we want to be specific. I’ve been so busy and stressed the past few months, but now that everything has died down for a while, I realised just how much I miss blogging. It’s been so long but now I’m back and (hopefully) I’ll be around for a very long time yet.

So what’s happened since I last posted? I went to London for a few days (which was amazing), my birthday was in February (which was also amazing) and I had my end of year exams (which were…exams). I bought myself a new camera for my birthday – a Nikon D3300 – which I’ve been getting to grips with. It’s my baby and I love it so much. I think I’m getting rather good too!

This summer’s exam period was one of the worst, most stressful I’ve ever been through – makes sense seeing as the stakes are getting steadily higher. I really hope I’ve done well though – I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

And now for the most exciting news of my year – I’M GOING TO PARIS!!! On Friday, actually. I’ve never been to Paris before (in fact, I’ve never been to France unless you count docking at Calais on a school coach trip to Germany) and I could not be more excited. I’m going with one of my best friends, and we’re spending the weekend at the Bite Me I’m Famous convention in Paris, for the TV show The Vampire Diaries. Then we have until Wednesday to sightsee. We want to go to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, and the Notre Dame cathedral. I want to go to the Shakespeare and Co bookshop and the graveyard where Oscar Wilde is buried, and my friend wants to go to the huge department store. It’s going to be so exciting!!

I leave you now with promises that I will return shortly, and a plea for help. I’ve compiled a little list of cheap-to-cheapish cafes and restaurants that we can eat in when we’re in Paris, but if any of you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them!! Comment below with suggestions. Speak soon!

Do you use YouTube?

Recently, I’ve been getting into YouTube videos A LOT. YT has always been a take-it-or-leave-it thing for me – I can go months without even thinking about it, and then spend 4 hours straight watching fridge tours. It’s kinda insane. I have a YT channel to subscribe to people and comment on videos I like. Nothing else. I tried making my own videos but I was just so ridiculously awkward in front of the camera, and I REALLY don’t like my voice recorded. Plus I’m a writer, not a performer. Give me this blog any day thanks very much. But I do love watching other people’s videos, and recently I’ve caught myself watching more than ever.

I follow crazy amounts of beauty YouTubers, and a LOT of Booktubers. They’re my main fix. But recently I’ve subscribed to a lot of lifestyle vloggers too, and for some reason I’ve found most of these to be vegan. Now, I’m not vegan. I’m a pescatarian but I don’t drink dairy milk and I’ve drastically cut down on other dairy products because they don’t make me feel good. I’m far from vegan though. But for some reason I just can’t get enough of the vegan fridge/pantry tours, food hauls and what I eat videos. I love them. In fact, I think I watch them more than beauty videos at the moment.

But BookTube is, and has always been, my favourite part of YT. I devour reviews, hauls, tags, collabs and anything and everything else that probably a good 70-80% of the BookTube community churns out. I love blogs, I do. But I love YT too. Having started this blog I can appreciate how hard it is to keep up a blog, and I have the greatest of respect for everyone else who does it. I can only imagine how much effort it is to film and edit videos – blog posts are bad enough!! They’re brilliant fun though, and it’s very rewarding to see your hard work pay off. I have you lot to thank for that!

Do any of you watch YouTube videos? Or BookTube? Who’s your favourite YouTubers?