The 5 Authors I Want To

I know that I was meant to write and post this yesterday, but I was preoccupied with work and then spent my evening applying to a job with Bloomsbury’s Academic Publishing department. This is all very exciting, especially as it would be working with the Biblical Studies and Theology teams (which my degree is in), as well as the Food and Anthropology teams. I have no idea how much I have of getting it, but I’m glad I’m putting myself forward for it nevertheless.

Today has also been significant as it was the last day at my work, which is something of a relief. I really appreciated everyone working there, but as I’ve said before, the role wasn’t for me, and it was doing more harm than good. Hopefully, I’ll now be able to pursue a career in writing and publishing and enjoy life a lot more!

Anyway, the point is that after work and redrafting my CV and a cover letter (and all the other exhausting job seeking things), I played some DnD with my flatmates then zonked out, as usual. Thus, I bring my Top 5 Wednesday slightly late, to discuss the top 5 authors I want to read more of. Again, these are not in any particular order.

If you would like any further information about Top 5 Wednesdays, check out the Goodreads group here.

  1. Terry Pratchett – I honestly think this every single time I read a Discworld novel. I’ve read just under ten books by Pratchett, but I have plenty more left to read, including nine in my owned TBR list. His prose is witty, concise, and incredibly funny, but his stories are emotionally nuanced and deeply moving, and he tackles subjects such as the afterlife, and grief with incredible skill and beauty. His representation of Death is my favourite within fiction, and I actually quoted Reaper Man at my father’s funeral. I need to read more, and I intend to set more reading time aside to become better acquainted with Pratchett, may he rest in peace.Reaper Man
  2. Margaret Atwood – It is with no small amount of shame that I admit that I have only read The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood, but Holy Hell (quite literally) what a book! I’m very excited to see the new TV series, as I’m also a big Elizabeth Moss fan, and she deals with fantastic themes of dystopia, theology, feminism, and fairy tales, which tick most of my boxes, and I have The Blind Assassin on my owned TBR, which I need to read.The Handmaids Tale
  3. Angela Carter – Once again, a brilliant author that I have neglected by only reading one of her books, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. I picked this up by chance several years ago in a rickety bookshop in Ledbury, a small town somewhere between my hometown of Worcester and the Welsh border, and ever since then I’ve recommended it to anyone who will listen. These are fairy retellings steeped in the foreboding and danger of the originals, but beautifully altered for a feminist retelling. Carter’s skills were made even more obvious to me when I read Feminist Fairy Tales by Barbara Walker a couple of weeks ago, which are about as subtle and nuanced as a certain former Prime Minister near an unguarded pig orifice. I have Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales on my owned TBR shelf waiting for me.The Bloody Chamber
  4. Justin Cronin – My friend and flatmate had been recommending The Passage by Cronin for ages before I finally bit the bullet and bought a second-hand copy. Don’t be put off by the length – I zoomed through it. Haunting and incredibly atmospheric, the mix of magical realism, horrifying ultra-strong vampires and human survival in an apocalypse really makes me want to pick up the sequel.The-Passage
  5. George Eliot – As is probably pretty clear from my Goodreads page, I am not hugely into classic literature. There are some books I love, such as Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, but mostly I’m not particularly fussed. However, I need to make an exception for George Eliot, as she takes no prisoners and was the only woman I studied in my first year of systematic theology at uni. I actually read Silas Marner before I went to uni, so I need to make more of an effort. She was self-taught and an absolute genius, and I feel I do her a disservice by not reading more of her work. Ladies represent!silas marner

Feel free to drop me a comment on your thoughts – do you have any tips for me, and do you have any authors you want to read more of? See you later this week!

I can also be found lurking on Twitter and Goodreads.


Why I’m leaving my secure job to write

  As I made pretty clear in my last post, I do not enjoy my job. I’ve only been in it since the start of March, but I realised within a few weeks that it wasn’t for me, and I reasoned that I should stay in it as long as possible. After all, I didn’t actively hate it.

  I have learned, however, that you don’t need to hate something for it to be unbearable, and while I do not want to go too intimately into the reasons why I am leaving this particular job, I realised that it was taking too much and giving too little. I don’t mean this in a monetary sense, but with regards to my mental health. Unfortunately, having a chronic illness lends itself well to mental issues as well, partly through the knowledge of future pain and deterioration, and partly through the fear and strain that the condition has upon your immediate experience. Or at least, this is how it is with me. However, my main issue is that I suffer from PTSD, which has largely gone untreated, and which affects me far more when I am under stress. My job means working in a high-stress environment from 8:30 to 6, and can often go on longer, and the work itself, while I have learned a lot, is something I am not passionate about nor particularly interested in.

  But I’m paying my bills, with money to spare, and I’m hardly working in a sweatshop, so why should I quit? I made the decision that, while I know my situation could be a lot worse, it could also be better, and we can only judge how we feel within our own lives. I stopped thinking beyond my immediate needs, and looked at what I wanted to achieve, and I do not want a career in business. It’s not that I just fancy a career as a writer; it is something I need to do. When I write, I connect to the core of who I am, how I understand the world, and how my experience is different from those around me. As a disabled writer, my writing is hugely informed by my pain and fears, and I know how lonely a struggle it can be. I know how it feels to be isolated from your peers, watching other teenagers do things that are too risky for you. I know how it feels to dread an operation that may save your life, but may also kill you, or take some of your quality of life with it.

  It’s not that I just fancy a career as a writer; it is something I need to do. When I write, I connect to the core of who I am, how I understand the world, and how my experience is different from those around me. As a disabled writer, my writing is hugely informed by my pain and fears, and I know how lonely a struggle it can be. I know how it feels to be isolated from your peers, watching other teenagers do things that are too risky for you. I know how it feels to dread an operation that may save your life, but may also kill you, or take some of your quality of life with it. I know how it feels to see your father have a stroke (a memory that still haunts me) from the same condition you have, and to wonder after his death whether the same will happen to you. And worst of all, I know that while these aspects (and many more) still cling to me, they are also being experienced for the first time by others.

  While the novel I’m writing does not solely focus on disability, it plays a large part within it, and within my stories in general, because this is the only experience of life I have had. When I write able-bodied characters, they are still influenced by my disability, because I have never experienced life not being disabled. And, in all honestly, we need more disabled heroes in novels who break the mold and have active agency beyond being someone to feel sorry for. So yes, while it’s going to be difficult to find a way to either write freelance or to get part-time work so that I can dedicate a good amount of time to my writing, I cannot live with myself if I do not try. I don’t know what the rest of my life has in store, but I know that may be shorter than expected, and I can’t let myself waste a second of it.

I’m back with my Top 5 LGBTQ+ Books/Authors!

Hello everyone (or seeing as I have a handful of followers, remember that this was a blog you decided to follow?) I have finally gotten around to posting on here again. I stopped posting for a while (close to a year) as I had a lot on, from writing my dissertation, to doing my exams, to graduating (with a 2:1, yay!), to being unemployed/sporadically employed as a tutor for while, to getting a full-time job at the start of March. I now work in corporate governance which is… Yeah so I know it’s not for me, but I’m trying to work out what I can/want to do with my life. Apart from knowing that I want to read books all day and write (which I am pouring as much time as I can into), I’m pretty adrift at the moment, and it’s hard. I’ll try to stick out this job as long as I can, but it constantly feels like it’s grinding a bit more of my soul away every day, which isn’t ideal.

HOWEVER I really want to get this blog properly running, and talk about my reading as well as my writing. I’m not going to set any particular day/amount of times I’m going to update this, mostly because work can be unpredictable, more so as it’s now the peak season, but I’ll try to do it fairly regularly. Thus, without further ado, I will get started with my Top 5 LGBTQ+ Books/Authors!

For those who don’t know, Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group for book bloggers/booktubers/book podcasters/book enthusiasts in general, and more information can be found here.

The theme today is your top 5 LGBTQ+ books/authors, and I have a terrible confession to make: I haven’t read a lot. Seeing as I am bisexual myself, this is bad, and I am trying to remedy this. For this reason, I didn’t have a large pool to choose from, and I have decided not to do them in order of preference – they all stand within my top five equally. I am listing them purely in the order I read them.

  1. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson – I read this very recently, only a couple of days ago in fact, when I went back to my parents’ house with my boyfriend for Easter. I was very close to finishing The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (which I thoroughly enjoyed, more than I thought I would actually), and I was pretty sure that I would finish it on the train journey home. Instead of taking another book with me, as space was tight, I decided to borrow this from my mum. I had given it to her as a present a few Christmases before, and she has been recommending it to me for a while. It is a modern classic, serving as a fictionalisation of Winterson’s experience of growing up as a lesbian within a conservative evangelical church in the Midlands. It’s a fairly short book of just over 200 pages, and the prose is both beautiful and minimal. Winterson does a fantastic job of showing rather than telling, and this is a deeply personal, rather than polemical, piece of art. I’m a sucker for ambiguity and bare bones description, and this ticked a lot of boxes for me, particularly as it also featured a legend woven into the narrative.
  2. Virginia Woolf – Admittedly, I had a couple of issues with putting Woolf on this list, as although I like her writing style and her intentions, there are some difficulties in reading her in the modern day. I’ve only read A Room of One’s Own and, more recently, Jacob’s Room, so I do not have hugely extensive knowledge of her writing, but her feminism is definitely classist, and I am aware that some trans critics have described parts of her writing as transphobic. I recognise this, and we shouldn’t ignore these criticisms, but I find her writing extremely engaging, and her development of stream of consciousness narrative was extremely important within English literature.
  3. The Color Purple by Alice Walker – I read this a couple of years ago, and I actually read it to expand my reading of black literature, especially as I enjoyed Push by Sapphire, which was inspired by the book.  The story revolves around a young, uneducated black woman living in the Deep South in the 1930s, and her struggle for personal freedom. She is forcibly married to an older man, and eventually befriends and falls in love with his mistress, who helps her to achieve independence. It’s a very important book on many levels, and I especially wanted to include it because the LGBTQ+ movement should be as inclusive as possible, and too often PoC voices are sidelined.
  4. Wilfred Owen – Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t actually realise that Owen was gay until I came to write this article, but this was probably due to the fact that I have only read parts of his war poetry when I was studying A Level English Literature. I am not particularly interested in poetry, as evidenced by its lack on my Goodreads books and general commentaries. I understand and appreciate the complexity of poetry, but most of it isn’t for me. However, I absolutely adore Owen’s poems about WWI, particularly ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’, as a rallying cry for the pacifist movement. His poetry is haunting, tender, and fiercely political, and his association with Siegfried Sassoon at a mental hospital for PTSD sufferers only makes me like him more.
  5. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters – This could apply to a number of Waters’ books, of course, but I have only read Fingersmith, and I greatly enjoyed it. I actually read it a long time ago, as in, over ten years ago (oh dear God I feel old) when I was in Year Seven. Admittedly, I might have been a little young to read this at the age of twelve, but I was fairly well educated in terms of sex and relationships, and I was very interested in the book from both a romantic and historical perspective. I’m still a big fan of historical fiction, and I have fond memories of this book. It’s an excellent look at gender politics in the 19th Century, sexuality and pornography, and the dangers of being under a man’s control. It is also written in engaging prose that makes for an enjoyable, nuanced read.

  That’s my top 5 for this week! Please let me know if you have any suggestions for LGBTQ+ books to expand my repertoire, or would like to comment about anything in the article. I hope to write another post perhaps later this week, but I may not have time until the weekend. If anyone is still following this, welcome back – I’ll try to do better this time!