The Christmas of Experiences

Writing Workshops

I am so excited that nearly everyone I speak with is more interested in buying loved one’s experiences instead of stuff this Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong, I love stuff and a new bottle of the perfume I have just run out of will definitely be on my list, along with about 50,000 books but so too will be Gift Certificate’s for experiences.  Something that will bring me joy, or create memories.  Something that I can do with my family, or quietly on my own (yes, this is a hint for a Reflexology treatment voucher if any of my family are reading).

And this is why I am SO excited to have developed a gorgeous Gift Certificate for the Let’s Start Writing online workshop that is starting in January, so that you can give this fantastic experience to anyone you know who loves reading or writing.

Gift Certificate Let's Start Writing.png

Just book the place, email me the name of who you would like the certificate to be made out to and I will email it over to you.

This workshop is ONLINE so your loved one can take part from wherever they are in the world.  Read more about the Let’s Start Writing online workshop here.

Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Let’s Start Writing

Sign up now to join the Let’s Start Writing Workshop starting Monday 7th January 2019

£20.00


stay in touch... copyimages-2 Unknown-2 images-1

 

Let’s KEEP Writing

Creative Writing, Writing Workshops

Quite a few people emailed me after finishing the Let’s Start Writing online workshop saying that was so great, I want to do another one.  Well great news, now you can!

Let's KEEP Writing imageStarting on Monday 12th November, Let’s KEEP Writinghas been specially designed to be the perfect follow-on from the first workshop.  Taking the same 3-week cycle as the Let’s Start Writing online workshop, this workshop focuses on how to keep the inspiration coming, the all-important editing and developing your work.

This workshop is aimed at people who have already completed an online workshop with me.  If you haven’t and would like to, that’s awesome.  Sign up for the Let’s Start Writing online workshop which is starting on Monday 7th January 2019.

Both workshops are completed online and over email, so you can take part no matter where in the world you are!

Places are limited so make sure you book today to avoid disappointment.

Really look forward to seeing you on an online workshop soon!

Nicola x

3 Spine-tingling Short Stories for Halloween

To Love To Read

The cleverest part of short stories is how in very few words the author can fit so much in and still unsettle your nerves!  If this Halloween you fancy reading a little tale that’s a bit spine-tingling-creepy, I have the perfect thing…

1. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

It seems incredible that this story was published 70 years ago then it feels so current.  One of my favourite short stories ever written and it still freaks me out!

2. The Woman at the Store by Katherine Mansfield

There is something about including childhood innocence in a to a story that always adds a level of discomfort, especially in this tale.

3.  The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs

What would you wish for if you had three wishes?  And more importantly, are you sure you really want it?

stay in touch... copyimages-2 Unknown-2 images-1

The Reality of Getting Ill After Cancer

Cancer & Me

What do you do, when your favourite place is also your absolute worst?  When I remember having cancer I am always in one of two places.  One (as you would expect) is the hospital, the other is in bed at home.  Both were accompanied by dark emotions of fear, anxiety and discomfort — physical and mental.

Although it was more comfortable being in bed at home, it was also scarier.  The security of having medical staff, diagnostic tools and the (seriously good) painkillers nearby would be stripped away and I would feel so much more vulnerable.  I couldn’t press a little buzzer and say to someone within a matter of moments; Is this normal?  Should I be concerned?  I think something is wrong.  I had to determine those things on my own and would be constantly double guessing my own judgement.

img_7779

If you follow me on social media, you will probably know that over the last few months I have had a number of bladder infections, kidney infections and Sepsis.  The most recent being last week when I ended up in A&E — again!  Each time these illness’ have seriously knocked me for six and I have ended up back in bed for days whilst the medication does its thing. Immediately I am thrown back into a very strange headspace.

I don’t worry about it being cancer or anything like that, but being back in bed is still very triggering for me.  Those feelings of fear, anxiety and discomfort come back.  The vulnerability of taking responsibility for whether I am OK or not and the constant double guessing of myself, overwhelms me.  The ability to see an infection as just an illness being easily treated is lost as I fall headfirst down the emotional rabbit hole.

Being in bed whilst sick gets me so upset and tearful, even though logically I know I am being ridiculous.  I know I haven’t got cancer.  I know once the antibiotics kick-in I’ll be fine.  I know that unlike before, I’m not going to be stuck in bed for months on end with a complete lack of control over myself and my health.  Even so, it still triggers all of these negative emotions and connotations.

img_7784

There is a reason for this.  It is caused by the way our brains hold onto emotional memories and create shortcuts.  Once the brain associates a ‘thing’ with an ’emotion’ — in my case, being in bed sick = fear, vulnerability and very long-term, severe illness — the brain will quickly recall that emotional memory when in a similar situation.*

As horrible as my sickness recalls are, they are nowhere near as bad as they used to be.  I’m getting better at saying to myself – this is just an emotional memory, it’s not what’s happening now, but it’s not a flawless system.  Sometimes I’m so in the depth of despair, I’m not able to remind myself, but I do try and I am getting better.  Plus, as I continue to get ill and recover, my brain will start to create new shortcuts and I will have a different set of memory recalls.  It will just take time.

img_7769

I think this story serves as a reminder that cancer isn’t over and done with as soon as the doctor says, you’re all clear.  As with anything, it takes time for the emotional fall-out to settle, for your emotional resilience to build back up and for your brain to create new shortcuts.  It is also a great reminder that it is not a straight upward line from feeling shite to feeling fine all the time.  Like life, there are up’s and down’s, followed by one step forward then ten steps back, followed by a few stumbles along the way.

So if, like me, you are feeling all the things right now, logical and completely illogical, just know that you’re not alone – I’m right there with you!

Stay healthy!
Nx

stay in touch... copyimages-2 Unknown-2 images-1

About Nicola
Nicola is the author of ‘The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer’ part memoir, part guide for people going through, or supporting someone going through cancer.  Nicola has also published creative fiction and non-fiction, and copyedits and writes for others.   Nicola also runs online  Writing Workshops throughout the year, sharing her love of reading and writing with everyone!

*You can read more about emotional memory here…

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Book Review

Wow!  This book is claustrophobic, stunning and full of distorted truths.  It is beautifully written and even though it is based ‘somewhere else’ the imagery Mackintosh creates paints the most wonderful pictures and brings the whole place alive in your mind.

What is even more crucial to this story is the relationships between the characters.  Between siblings, between parents, between lovers, between friends, they are all complicated, raw and full of sharp observations from Mackintosh.

Unknown-1

The language in this story is incredible and moving.  Every word was placed with consideration, builds into the narrative as a whole and creates a feeling of unease.  Even when falling in love a character says ‘My heart swells like a broken hand to twice its size, the same sort of tenderness.’  Even love in this world has an undercurrent of potential danger.  This unease also swells throughout the story through the clever use of language.

Although Mackintosh is writing about an unknown dystopia; our own world, our treatment of each other, the taught behaviour and performative gender are all reflected back at us, offering a fascinating commentary on our own world and our own actions within it.

I can see why some people are not sure about this book, it is impossible to place and throws you straight into its dystopia with no explanation, but personally, I think it works brilliantly as it builds into the confusion that the three sisters feel.

This book will certainly be added to my favourite reads of  2018.

Read more about The Water Cure here…

31BqZ3-VqGL._AC_US218_ images

What have you been reading recently?  Let me know and let’s have a chat about it in the comments.  I’m always on the lookout for new great reads!

Happy Reading!

Nicola x

stay in touch... copyimages-2 Unknown-2 images-1

Thank you NetGalley and Penguin for sending me a Kindle edition of The Water Cure in exchange for an honest review.

 

Book Review // Educated by Tara Westover

Book Review by Nicola Bourne

Educated is the incredible memoir of Tara Westover who, after being raised on the edge (in so many ways) seeks to educate herself (also, in so many ways).  Westover seeks education in the literal sense – she has no formal education growing up.  In a worldly sense – her parents are extreme fundamentalists who cut their children off from interaction with ‘outsiders’.  And in a personal sense – how does a young woman fit into a world she has no sense of?

Unknown-1

At the beginning of the memoir, I found it very hard to place this book, or put it into any sort of time period, but I think that was the point.  I want to bring order to the book because my childhood and life is relatively ordered.  Westover’s was not.  She cannot put a timeframe on her life because she didn’t even know her own birthdate and only had a rough idea of her age.  Westover very cleverly brings this feeling of displacement of time into the text.  Geographically, I found this novel memoir very hard to place, but again, that’s the point.  It’s based somewhere out on the fringes of society that you don’t normally see, that is easily ignored.

One of my favourite things about this book is that it steers away from having a breakthrough moment, where everything after that point is fine.  Even once she is ‘educated’ the emotional struggle and need to find her place is in a continual flux.  At points, you think she has left her physically violent and mentally toxic family behind, only for her to go back to them.  Like life, her journey ebbs and flows ad the trauma of her childhood echo’s through into adulthood.

I found this book completely engaging and I highly recommend it.

Click here for more information on Educated by Tara Westover

stay in touch... copyimages-2 Unknown-2 images-1

Thank you NetGalley and Random House for allowing me to review Educated by Tara Westover.

 

Collapse

Creative Writing, Poetry

collapse title image

Stars don’t die quietly

they scream light into the blazing sky

with Ares’ sword pointed towards themselves

 

spitting and burning the

truth

they splatter blinding supernovas

into the black padding of the night

 

dying stars don’t wink at the moon but take

pride in their indifference to

Death

and their

Love of the withering

light that burns them up from the inside

constellations of dust and

dents that hold the everlasting dark

 

until they do no more and

_

 

stay in touch... copyimages-2 Unknown-2 images-1

This Isn’t School!

Creative Writing

A few people have said they want to take part in the Let’s Start Writing workshop but are worried as they are busy Monday.  Please do not worry!

I will email you the details on Monday 7th May but you have plenty of time to do them and work at your own pace. You don’t send anything back to me for a couple of weeks so again, plenty of time.

Rest assured you can do the tasks on a day that suits you & there’s space for catching up – this isn’t school! 😊

img_6188

There is only one place left so sign up now and I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Let’s Start Writing

Sign up now to join the Let’s Start Writing Workshop starting Monday 7th January 2019

£20.00