Wednesday, 17 December 2014

What's Up Wednesday | 17/12/14

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk as a way for writers and readers to stay in touch!

What I'm Reading

Last week I was away for my graduation for three days, and before then I was on a roll. During those three days I couldn't find any spare time to do any reading and now I can feel myself heading towards an end of year slump - which I don't want!

So I'm continuing on with some festive/seasonal reads, and right now I'm in the middle of The Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan and Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I'm also still reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, which is intriguing but hasn't quite hooked me yet, but I have only read the first four chapters so far.

What I'm Writing

Right now I'm working on my PhD proposal. I'm hoping to return to university in a year or so to pursue a PhD in Creative Writing. My MA went well so I have my results to back me up, but I want to make sure my proposal's great, too. Over the past couple of years I've become fascinated with the representation of minorities in historical fiction (women; people of colour; the LGBT community etc.) and how, in some ways, historical fiction can be more useful to us than historical fact because it's often better at inducing empathy.

I've had an idea burning away in the back of my head for a few months now that I'd love to work on for my PhD, which is a lesbian retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in 17th century Virginia, featuring a Native American protagonist who is raised by a Puritan preacher with a white savior complex. It's basically a mixture of a lot of things I enjoy writing and talking about, from sexuality to race to identity, and I can hear my protagonist's voice so clearly in my head (meaning I've already written a few sentences here and there!)

What Works For Me

My journey to and from work. I don't/can't drive. I had driving lessons during my teens, failed my first, and so far only, driving test (even though I think I should have passed, my examiner was a grump) and then I started university before I could take another. Since then I haven't drove because I don't enjoy it; in fact being behind the wheel of a car both unnerves and terrifies me. I wish it didn't, but I just hate driving. Obviously since I've started working full time I need to get to and from work during the week, but luckily for me there's a regularly running bus service that only takes 20 minutes to get into town (and I can use this bit of time to read if I feel like it). 

Anyway, this is all a very long-winded way of me saying that I enjoy my journey to and from work because it gives me time to think, and when I'm walking/going on the bus somewhere on my own I do tend to slip into brainstorming mode. I've come up with some of my best/most useful ideas while journeying. Plus this journey gives me some of that time alone that I mentioned needing last week.

What Else Is New

Honestly not a lot! I had a wonderful time at graduation - thank you to everyone who congratulated me last week, it was really lovely and appreciated! - and caught up with some of my friends, and then I visited my sister and her family. My youngest niece, born in October, has started smiling. She's gorgeous.

Other than that I've just been getting used to working full time, but it's not something I resent at all - I'm really enjoying my job!

Next week is Christmas Eve so there is no WUW. With that in mind I wish all of you a very, very Merry Christmas! I hope Santa brings you everything you want, and if you don't celebrate Christmas I hope you have a lovely week all the same!


  1. First of all, huge congratulations on your graduation! I'm glad to hear you had a wonderful time. Secondly, I like what you said about historical fiction inducing empathy. That's a really great point. I think it's one thing to learn facts from a text book but another thing altogether to feel history come alive through fictional characters. The latter is definitely more memorable and makes a bigger impact for the average person. I wish you lots of luck working on your PhD proposal and this fascinating Beauty & the Beast retelling you're hoping to write! Have a very merry Christmas! :)

  2. Wow, your idea sounds really unique! Best of luck with the proposal, and have a fantastic Christmas! :)

  3. I'm a terrible driver, too. Actually, I have a huge fear of it. No one gets it.

  4. Congratulations again on graduation! Is there really a world where you can write a book for your PhD? I did not go into the right field. Sigh. You make a really good point about teaching empathy through historical fiction. I've often pondered how useful it is to retell history through the lens of our own culture, and I've never thought about it in quite that way. Thanks! Have a very merry Christmas Jess!

    1. Thank you! =) Haha yep - I wasn't even aware Creative Writing was something you could pursue at university until I found myself doing it as a minor in my very first year. I've loved it ever since!

      Have a wonderful Christmas, Melanie!

  5. Good luck with your Ph.D. proposal! That sounds like a fascinating retelling you have in mind, far from an overused idea like some other retellings are.

    I agree about establishing empathy through historical fiction. It helps to show what people of the past really went through, beyond facts and figures.

    1. Thank you! =) One of the things I love most about historical fiction is how, as cliche as it sounds, it brings history to life.

  6. PhD in Creative Writing? Serious envy over here! That sounds fascinating! As does your story idea. I'm going to echo what my sister said and agree with what you had to say about historical fiction and empathy. I still remember the books that first got me interested in WWII and history in general. And they sure as heck weren't textbooks!

    You've just described in a nutshell exactly how I feel about driving. I don't have my license either and failed the only driving test I ever did because of a grump examiner. Sounds like we had a similar experience! That was more than a decade ago, and I dread the thought of ever doing it again. Ugh. BUT you get things done on your commute, so that's a bonus, right?

    Have a Merry Christmas, Jess! :D

    1. Thanks! =D Haha yep! I've always been a huge nerd when it comes to history, but it was novels that got me interested in the people who lived in the past, not my lessons at school.

      *highfive* It's good to know I'm not the only one! I keep telling myself I really should learn to drive, but the thought of getting behind the wheel of a car makes me feel a bit sick! Plus I think us writers are naturally nosy people, and public transport is one of the best places to spy on people...

      Have a brilliant Christmas, Jaime!

  7. Merry Christmas! :D

    Good luck prepping for the PhD! Sounds very exciting ^_^

  8. Your Beauty and the Beast retelling sounds fascinating! I would be all over that!