Sunday, 28 February 2016

Running Out Of Time

how do you write like you're running out of time?
I've got to the point where there doesn't seem to be enough time for any of the things I need and want to do. GCSE's are in 3 months and there is a lot to be learned and completed before then. I want to continue writing a post a week for as long as possible and maintain the quality. I have so many books to read (my TBR list is currently at 8+) and I would love to spend hours and hours poring over them with mugs of tea. I want to dream up amazing content for both my writing platforms and just for the love of creating things for myself. I just do not have enough time in the day to do all this, for the next few months anyway, and its really stressing me out.

I think the main reason that I'm struggling a little is that I take forever to do things. I always thought those zodiac traits were a load of rubbish because I'm a Virgo and usually I am the least perfectionist person, I'll give it my best stab and if its not perfect, so what? Now I'm reconsidering this, having realised that I am a perfectionist in my writing. Right now is fine because I'm just writing in my own voice and I don't have to fret about how to word something. Writing essays and reviews take longer because as soon as you let me word-process something, I will be editing every single sentence as I go along. I also take forever to get my brain into revision mode, making every session much less productive. It's a really rubbish feeling when it seems like you're wasting time over something that shouldn't take that long!

So those are the short term reasons why I get that "running out of time" feeling but a large part of it is me wanting to spend all my days creating things and learning about the things that actually interest me. The best way I can describe it is a kind of creative FOMO (fear of missing out). The strange thing is that when I did have time to do all this, I didn't really have the motivation to do so but suddenly once I'm busy, the urge to be all creative is much stronger. I see amazing creative people like Michelle Phan and Scarphelia and I have to remind myself that I can start writing everyday when these exams are over because they give me so many ideas. 

This isn't me bragging about how many ideas I have. Believe me, I suffer from the worst blogger's block. It's just a matter of having the time to brainstorm and then work on an idea knowing that if it doesn't work out the way I wanted, I can just try another one.

Do you ever feel like you're running out of time? Or do you just think that this is a huge first world problem? :')

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo

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Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Best of the Internet: Volume 1

I spend all my time on the internet. When I'm supposed to be doing work, I'll have a Twitter tab open, which I'll check every 5 minutes and I'd better hope that nothing cool is linked or I'll be straight down that rabbit hole. This is kind of a huge problem for me but it does allow me to soak up some pretty amazing content from all across the web. Today I want to share a little love for all the brilliant people that are bringing important discussions and also things that made me smile.

Formation - BeyoncĂ© (x) If there's one thing that has been really preying on my mind in the last few months, its America's huge race problem. Its absolutely sickening that the police can get away with such brutality toward people of colour and BeyoncĂ©'s new song and music video addresses this and calls it out perfectly. She definitely has the profile to get her message to a large audience but I'd like to see more effort put in to give a voice to those who are being silenced.

It's Not Over - Bernie Sanders (x) This is another important video regarding the racial inequality in America. It features Eric Garner's daughter, Erica, talking about how she lost her father and the way she has protested in order to protect her daughter from the systematic oppression that she and her father have faced. Despite being a campaign video for Senator Sanders, it feels like its completely focused on Erica's story. Its an emotional watch but a necessary one. 

Girl Lost In The City Newsletter (x) If you're anything like me, you'll love sitting down on a Sunday to read lots and lots of amazing blog posts. Emma's weekly email helps me to find amazing new content and brightens up my inbox when it arrives. She goes through her own week, her recent posts and all of the posts that she's read throughout the week. There are always some absolute gems in there and Emma herself is one of the best writers I've come across on the web.

Why I'd Rather Be Single Than Settle - Vix Meldrew (x) Vix is one of those bloggers that hits it out of the park with every single post. She's so funny and sassy, you should really follow her on Twitter (#vixswipes is an absolute classic) This is a fantastic post and it makes so much sense so head on over to her blog and show her some love. 

7 Ways I Used To Be A Toxic Person — And How I Changed My Behavior (x) This was one of the fab posts on Emma's newsletter and I was taken aback at the honesty shown here. The post speaks for itself but I was seriously impressed by this refreshing piece of writing.

Swipe Right - Wonderful You (x) I found Megs' blog because so many people on my Twitter feed were raving about this particular post. Its really cute and gave me all the feelings!

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo

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Monday, 15 February 2016

Life Lately: Nell Gwynn + Competing in a National Mandarin Competition

Last Tuesday I went to London for two really exciting things. If you'd described this day to me from 5 years ago, one of the things would make her incredibly happy and the other would probably horrify her. Its pretty obvious which is which because this was the day that I got to see Nell Gwynn at the Apollo Theatre and I also competed in a national Mandarin speaking competition. 

Lets start with the horrifying one. Last Autumn my school entered the British Council and HSBC’s Mandarin Chinese Speaking Competition and my Mandarin teacher put together a group of us from the GCSE and A Level class. There were individual competitions and a group one; thankfully I was only in the group one because the individual one sounded pretty stressful; I have so much respect for those who entered. So back in December we headed down to London to compete in the regional stages, as it was split into North and South. 

Our piece was written by the girls in the year above and I think the story from a few different Chinese folk tales. To quickly sum it up, three brothers are given a magic pillow by their grandma (nai nai) and wake up with superpowers. Then it turns out that the Nian Shou, the monster of the New Year, is attacking a village nearby, so they go to try and defeat it. It's really fun and the girls did an amazing job at making it funny as well as using language that is sophisticated enough to please the judges. I'm quite used to learning lines for drama but it is so much harder when you have to do it in another language, especially as each syllable has to have a specific tone. 

We got through to the national finals as you already know, which is crazy. Most of the schools that were in our regional were from London and we were one of the only state schools competing so it was even more amazing that we got through! Fast-forward to last week and we went down to London again, but this time to the British Museum to compete in the finals. It took absolutely ages to get in but we arrived and had a little time to get ready before our slot. The whole thing was over so quickly but it went really well. After that we had the opportunity to listen to a cool talk about the history of Mandarin characters and how the early ones evolved into what we see now. 

When the results rolled around, we didn't place but it was an amazing experience and its definitely going on my CV. We went down to Chinatown after that for a cute meal before the others went off to catch their train and I met up with my dad to go to the second cool thing of that day.

We had a spot of time before we needed to be in the theatre so we went to the Theatre Cafe beforehand. I've followed them on twitter for a while now so I had a bit of a fangirl moment when I went in and saw the table with all the signatures of actors. They had original cast recordings playing and there were so many playbills on the walls, I want to spend all my time there. Then we went to see Nell Gwynn, which was brilliant, especially Gemma Arterton's performance. London Theatre Direct were kind enough to give the tickets to me and I'll link my review once it's up on their website. 

How has your week been? Let me know down in the comments!

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo 

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Sunday, 7 February 2016

3 Unexpected Things That Have Shaped My Life So Far

A few years ago there was a tag on Facebook going around that asked you to name the 12 songs that have "stayed with you" and tag 3 friends to do the same. The sort of thing that fourteen year old me loved because it meant I could pretend to be really cool and cultured by picking old school artists like Keane, Fleetwood Mac and Michael Jackson. Well at the time, my family teased me a lot about this, they joked that if I answered honestly, the list would be a little more High School Musical and a little less Dexys Midnight Runners (though Come On Eileen is an absolute jam). At the time I was all righteous and indignant but then I realised that they were right. Thinking back, Disney musicals like High School Musical and Camp Rock were the first dominoes in a long line that forms a big part of my childhood. So here are 3 unexpected things that have shaped my life...

High School Musical. This sparked my love of musical theatre, which has become a huge part of my life. At every point in my life since then, I have been involved in some sort of drama production and have seen too many shows to count. I'll always stand by my love of HSM because it introduced me to this amazing world of theatre. High School Musical was first shown in 2006 (I was turning 7) and ten years on I am performing in my Drama GCSE practical, seeing brilliant shows in the West End regularly and obsessing over original cast recordings (is it bad that I've had Hamilton on repeat for the last two weeks and nothing else?) I may have discovered musical theatre anyway but I have to credit HSM for opening my eyes to something that has been a constant throughout my youth. Theatre is one of those passions that never really goes away for me, I'll always come back to check out a new show or to reminisce over an old one.

Hermione Granger. Okay so I'm one of those people who puts a lot of effort into schoolwork and has pretty solid grades. I've always been good at academic stuff but I think Hermione gave me the confidence to embrace that and be proud of it! She's naturally clever and could probably coast through school if she wanted to but she always works hard to achieve the best. I was massively influenced by her as a little girl, she's such a strong female role model and her character development is just as important as Harry and Ron's. Without her, maybe I wouldn't have got into my school or chosen the same career to pursue. I probably wouldn't have dared to study Mandarin and look at all the amazing things that I've got out of that!

Volunteering in a charity shop. I'm pretty sure I keep going on about this one but it is crazy how much more confident I have become over the past year. I put that purely down to working on the shop floor of a book shop. There's nowhere to hide when you're working on the till, you have to keep that friendly persona on even when dealing with a difficult customer. I've gone from a socially awkward introvert to an introvert that can interact with strangers fairly easily and confidently. I now feel as if I could actually function at an event or at a job interview in the future, rather than just collapsing in a heap and crying!

What has influenced you in unexpected ways? What do you think of mine?

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo

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Monday, 1 February 2016

Interviewing Cecelia Ahern

At the beginning of January I didn't feel all that excited about 2016; I was plunging straight into mocks and I didn't really have any concrete plans except my summer exams. This has all turned on its head completely in the last two weeks. I have two holidays planned (including one to New York!), multiple theatre trips confirmed and I'm going to the national finals of a Mandarin competition in a few weeks. That's all awesome but something really cool has already happened, setting 2016 off to a brilliant start...

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to interview Cecelia Ahern for a Guardian Childrens Books Podcast about her new book Flawed! I'm a member of the Childrens Book site, you can read all my reviews for them up in the Other Work tab on my nav bar, and I applied to interview her after reading about it in one of their newsletters. When I first received the confirmation I was absolutely buzzing with excitement and pride, ask anyone that was in a class with me that day! After that I was a little more nervous, so I didn't actually tweet about it until after it had happened, mainly because I didn't want to jinx it! 

I got permission to miss school for the day and headed down to the Guardian HQ in London. There I met the awesome Book Elves that run the Childrens Book site, the other girls taking part in the podcast, Rebekah and Amy, and of course Cecelia herself. The podcast consisted of Cecelia reading an excerpt of Flawed and then answering questions posed by us. It went really well, if I do say so myself! Cecelia is so lovely, I've thought about how to describe her and the best that I can come up with is that she's like a magical writing fairy with an incredible talent for creating brilliant characters. It was such an amazing day, just being there at the Guardian offices made me so much more determined to become a journalist. 

There were a few issues when sending me the book to read before the interview so I ended up having to read it over 2 days but it was certainly not a hardship to do so because Flawed is so good! Here's a quick description of Flawed...

Imagine a world where a moral or ethical mistake will be your ultimate downfall, you'll be despised and isolated by society. You will receive a painful brand of "F" for Flawed and be forced to live life as a second class citizen, enforced by a powerful but respected Guild. This is the world that Celestine lives in. Her boyfriend is the son of Judge Crevan, the head of the Guild with the power to decide whether someone is Flawed or not. She strives for perfection every day but one decision may bring her life crashing down.

What are your fave YA books at the moment? 

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo