Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Books Baby!

Yo yo yiggidy yo cyber tappers. Let's just ignore the fact that I haven't posted in a while cos you know, that's just what I do.

Now I can go on and on about how busy I've been and all the fabulous things I've been up to but you and I both know that would just be lies, LIES!

So quick update (woohoo!), I've been forced to switch to part time work for a month thanks to glandular fever using my immune system like its play thing (cheers biatch) and I can't work more then 4 hours a day so ya'll be hearing a lot from me over the next 4 weeks - lucky you! Also, I've challenged myself to read 30 books this year, yeah it sounds like it's a lot but I read a lot, I always have and I want to have my own personal library (like that bit in Beauty and the Beast were the Beast shows Belle his awesome library and she's all like "love it" and he's all like "yeah girl", that's what I want) and you can't have a personal library with only a few books, you get me?

I've bombed through 15 already and some have been brilliant and others not so great. I thought about writing down an individual review about the first 15 books but I'm not sure how much I can be bothered to do that, instead I'll just let you know how I feel about what I've read, standard init? Here we go!

Book 1: "Rebecca", Daphne du Maurier. Really enjoyed this story, I thought it was beautifully written. *****

Book 2: "The Fifth Elephant", Terry Pratchett. Anything by Pratchett makes me happy. ****

Book 3: "The Long Earth", Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter. First of their Long Earth series, so imaginative, what a brilliant partnership. *****

Book 4: "The Long War", Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter. Not as enjoyable as the first one, more exposition then anything else. ***

Book 5: "The Turn of the Screw", Henry James. Did not enjoy this story, I get how it might have been scary when it was published and it is well written but I found it boring.**

Book 6: "The Memory Keepers Daughter", Kim Edwards. Incredibly touching. ****

Book 7: "The Alchemist", Paulo Coelho. This came at the exact time I needed it to. All about listening to what the Universe wants for you and following those omens! READ IT NOW! *****

Book 8: "Frankenstein", Mary Shelley. Yeah it's a classic and a lot of people find it amazing but I didn't. It was far too long, the point had been made long before the ending and I switched off. ***

Book 9: "On Chesil Beach", Ian McEwan. Surprisingly enjoyable, I've never read anything he's written and I'll definitely read more. ****

Book 10: "Love in the Time of Cholera", Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Another classic, I did enjoy reading it but it didn't suck me in. ****

Book 11: "The Long Mars", Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. 3rd book in the series (4th ones out in July), enjoyed the continuation of the idea but anything to do with space makes me uncomfortable, I have no idea why that is. ****

Book 12: "Lolita", Vladimir Nabokov. No. No. No.No. No. No. I don't care if it is a classic, this book made my skin crawl. NO STARS.

Book 13: "The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman. Loved this, Gaiman can't do me wrong. Such a fantastically written story. *****

Book 14: "City of Thieves", David Benioff. A great story, I always enjoy fictional stories around WW2 and this didn't disappoint. ****

Book 15: "We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves", Karen Joy Fowler. Unexpectedly delightful, I can see why it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. ****

Phew! If you want to recommend a book that you'll think I'll enjoy then come at me bruh! I'll take any suggestion seriously and I've noted down the ones people have already sent (Fight Club anyone?). I've got a lot of time to kill and I want to read as much as I can before I have to do my PGCE reading (more on that another time, I don't think I've got the energy to write about it now), I've 6 books in the pile but I need more dammit!

So for now I'll try and get my head around this whole "relaxing" business as I find it super difficult to chill out and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself. I'll binge watch Netflix and have a few coffees - that's a start right? Oh and I won't forget to read.

Rachel Out!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

...And Where Are You Now?

As always I start these posts harping on about how long it's been since I've posted anything and blah blah blah. I won't do that today, you and I both know my excuses fall flat, so to cut a long story short, I've been incredibly busy saving the world and thinking up terribly important world saving techniques that could err save humanity...

Now that that unpleasantness is out the way we can get down to the nitty gritty, the real stuff, the topics that actually matter. 

"But Rachel" I hear you murmur "What about your story challenge? How far did you get? Where, oh where are these promised chapters?"


In answer to your above questions I haven't finished said story - or stories, as I started writing one then realised I had no idea where it was indeed heading, so gave up on it and started another one afresh and then the same process repeated it self and the outcome is very much the same.

So I decided to ask an old friend for help.

We hadn't seen each other in almost a year but I can count on him being honest about what he really thinks when it comes down to my writing. So I explained what both stories were about and he (thankfully) is keen to read them both and give me some feedback (what a saint). Whilst discussing the various states I'd left my characters in, said friend paused the conversation and asked "Rach, why are all your characters either waking up or falling asleep?"

Well this threw me. I had no idea that's what I've been doing, especially concerning the last couple of stories I'd written (and he's read) so I told him so. He responded "it's not a criticism, it's interesting, something to think about". And so I thought. I sipped my pint and I thought.

"Well" says I "I guess when I write, I'm always aware of the reader, I want to give the reader a rounded sense of my character and what that character does from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed or (as it is in most cases) pass out." I paused. I sipped my pint. "So how do I stop doing that?"

"Why should you stop?" said he "think of it as a process, write everything you want to write and then edit and edit and edit and edit until you've done so much editing there is nothing that can be changed - of course there is always something that can be changed but edit to the point where you can physically see nothing else to change and all those little bits will naturally fall away". Sound advice.

That dear cyber friends is what I plan to do - after I've finished thinking up a thousand different ways to save humanity from itself. I will then and only then post the first chapter of each story and let you have a read and tell me what you think of it. What you honestly think of it, I promise I won't sulk if you hate may just be edited out of my life saving humanitarian plan, that's all.

But that leads me to another point, editing and friendships. When do you know if it's time to edit a friendship or in some cases completely delete a friendship?

I get a few people from previous school days adding me on Facebook - still not quite sure how they find me as my profile is private but hey! The beauty of Facebook. Most recently I've had someone add me who I haven't spoken to in well, 8 years I think and I just thought, why? What do we possibly have to talk about now? We were close friends then but not now. Now it would just be awkward reminiscing about days gone by and frankly I just don't have the time or the energy to even want to. Is that mean? I feel like I HAVE to because we WERE friends. I feel guilty for ignoring the reminders that so and so added me and is still waiting for a response.

But then I get to thinking, do you truly want to reconnect and start up a deep and meaningful friendship again or did I pop into your head one day and you thought "Oh, I wonder what her life's like now, I know, I'll check Facebook, the stalkers yellow pages and see if I can snoop around her photos." But damn, private profile! "Oh well" you think, squatting behind your computer screen "I'll just add her, she'll say yes because everyone likes having lots of Facebook friends". ERRRR wrong you are there matey.

Needless to say I haven't added this person and needless to say I'm probably thinking about this far too much and devoting a lot of time to this thought process, a lot more then said person thought when they clicked the "add friend" button. But my profile's private for a reason. It's a gateway into my life, into the lives of the people that I care about and I have the right to say yes or no to people when they ask to be let inside. You wouldn't let a stranger on the street come home with you just because they asked so why do it online? I'm probably coming across as a self absorbed arse wipe and those who genuinely know me know that to be true sometimes but mostly I just over think everything. Absolutely every tiny insignificant thing.

I'm over thinking this post right now.

I'm worried it's not coherent enough. That it doesn't make any sense, that I haven't used enough commas, that I've used too many commas, or God forbid, that it's BORING.

It's probably the reason why I write about every detail of my characters lives because I think it's important you know EVERY TINY DETAIL about them.


But why should I care? Why? It's my blog, I'll do what I damn well please thank you! Hahahahaha.

(Please don't hate me).

And on that slightly weird tone I shall leave you, I feel like I'm headed in a odd direction and it's probably best to take myself of my blog and stop mind splurging all over your screens and do something productive with the rest of my night. Like maybe, edit?


Here's hoping.

Friday, 3 October 2014

...Oh comma, Where Art Thou?

So it's nearing the end of the second week of my challenge and well, it's not going great - it's not awful, I haven't flung myself out of the kitchen window from sheer frustration (don't worry, the fall isn't that far and I probably wouldn't break anything) but, to say I'm finding it hard is an understatement.

The biggest problem being, well, there's several problems but I shall hone into the two that have been nagging me:

1, writer voice. It sounds silly right? It sounds like something writers yell at each other when they feel their peers are being wankers. Through drama school we called it the "Shakespeare" voice and it made you sound like an arse. But the problem is I know what voice I have when I'm writing - it's my voice (obviously) with a sarcastic twang, much like how I write on this here blog. But when I try to "write" it becomes really wanky and self indulgent and it's frustrating. I know what my voice should sound like but it's not translating. I'm not sure if it's because I'm putting so much onus on telling a "good story" or because, in fact, I'm not telling a true one. RAAAAAHHHHH, RANT, RANT STOMP!

2, the comma. The bloody comma. It drives me insane. I use commas as a break in speech where you expect the character to breathe - that's how I understand commas (thank you drama school...). So if there's a massive paragraph without a comma, it's not because I'm not quite sure how to use it, it's just that my character is worked up in a way were they wouldn't take a breath during that sentence. But is that the right way? Does that make me look like an incompetent user of commas? Will the comma police come after me, twirling comma battens and demanding my blood? It's all too much to bear, it's like trying to find a more interesting word then "said" - I'll tell you about that next week...

Any insight on the comma dilemma will really help. It really is something that I think I'm struggling with, but then it throws up the question - what is the RIGHT way to structure a story? Who says what's the right and wrong way? There are so many stories that have been published where people exclaim how fantastically different the structure was and how it "made" the story. I remember reading about a story where on one page were the text was shaped to look like a whale or shark... is that the wrong way to structure a story? Does that aid or destroy the story? If it's "artistic licensing" then whose to say if it's right or wrong? RAAAAAAHHHHH, RANT, RANT, STOMP! Someone please put me out of my misery.

Now because I've been going round and round in my thinking I've not written much. I've fallen gravely behind on how much I should have written to hit my "quota" and what's worse, I hate the story I started to write so I've started writing another one. *sigh* this is just getting messy isn't it? I blame the inner critics, they were gearing up for a bloodbath and I just couldn't let them have it.

The fella, bless him, said something that touched home a few days ago. He was watching me scribble away and asked how many pages he set, I said 300 and he said how about 30? My ego bruised I lashed out (typical) because I thought, he thought, I couldn't do it (to be honest, 300 pages in 30 days in a little bit out of my reach), so I said how about we half it and call it 150? He then replied, I'd rather read 30 pages of a genuinely great story then 300 pages of shit. Well said. And I agree (not because it shortens my "sentence") but because it gives me some breathing room, I can play around now and not worry about where the stories going or if it's any good. So chums, I'm gonna write more then 30 pages for sure, but maybe not as many as 300. Either way it'll be a cracking story.

So here's the deal cyber fellows, I'm going to post the first chapter of both stories and I would like some feedback, if you want, you don't have to if you don't want to, I won't take it personally, like I said before the kitchen window isn't that far off the ground...

But seriously, I want to know which story to, after the 30 days, take further, to develop greater, to really make my own and your help will be much appreciated. It might quiet the inner critics, momentarily...

Here's hoping.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

...Finding Creativity

So lately fellows I've been feeling really lost when it comes to my writing. I go to pick up my special writing pen, (because everyone has a special writing pen - obviously. If you don't well, something's clearly not quite right...) and I wait, hand poised in position above my notebook, eyes staring uselessly at the page willing my hand to just start moving. 

Then the brain kicks in and starts screaming "Write! Just write something, for the love of God! Move your bloody hand!" And so I do, I start writing, something, anything and I think "wow this is amazing, an uninhabited stream of consciousness, this is pure gold". I imagine publishing houses fighting over who gets to publish this masterpiece, the book flying of the shelves once published and critics all over the world exclaiming how my work, my glorious work, is better then anything they have ever read, ever. Better then Bronte, Austen, Dickens, Wilde, Pullman, Angelou, Keroac, Orwell, better even then Dante's Inferno, its THAT good. 

And I become excited, throughout this daydream I've let my hand continue to write, not wanting to spoil the marvellous work I'm subconsciously creating and when my hand gently grazes the end of the page, I look down, proudly. I take a deep breath and let my eyes make their way slowly to the top of the page and begin to read. Soon that feeling of joy dissipates. As I continue further down the page all I can think is "What the fuck. Who wrote this shit? It's so smug, I just want to punch myself in the face for being such a pretentious wanker". The daydream I had previously returns and the publishing houses are mocking me, laughing at my failure, the critics turn vicious and start swiping at me with their own writing pens, tearing down my masterpiece and leaving nothing but tattered lines of dialogue, floating hopelessly around my bruised ego. I shudder and put my pen down. 

And this is how it's been for the past few months. 

"Well", I hear you screaming, "what are you going to do about it? Mope around like a little pansy or get back on it?"

Good question, I've tried the moping and it's futile, it just makes whatever I try to write worse, so I'm gonna get back on it, I'm gonna kick writing in the face and make it my bitch. I'm gonna make it crawl and bow down to my superiority. 

(It's a little sadistic I know but hey, whatever works, works, right?) 

However, in order to do this I need a little help (typical). Yesterday I asked the boyfriend to give me a genre, length and deadline and now I've got 30 days to write (at least) a 300 page Thriller novel. Never let it be said that Rachel Elizabeth McKenzie shirks away from a challenge. I'm going to do it, it may be a load of drivel that no one in their right mind would ever read or it may be a bit of alright and a few select people will absolutely love it. But that's the risk isn't it? And why the bloody hell not! 

I'm throwing myself at this with everything I've got and we shall see what emerges on the other side. I'm not going to censor myself, I don't care if I offend, better to write something that gets people talking then writing something that people forget within a matter of minutes. I even done a story arch - THAT'S how serious I am.

I'll post a few bits and bobs on here and give you a few updates - unless I'm huddled in a corner, broken and crying, then expect nothing from me. 

Wish me luck. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014


Hello cyber fellows, I know it's been a while, many things have happened, blah blah blah and all that bollocks. It's not an excuse, in fact I have no excuse. But whats drawn me back to your lovely bosom is, I guess, because everything's changing. Not in a bad way, in a very, very good way but it's still scary. Change for me is terrifying (yet somehow I still run into it head first).

So as the title says, this post is all about signs. I'm a great believer in signs, not the ones you beg for, on your knees on a dark thundery night but the unexpected ones, the ones you don't see coming and that really take you off your feet. I never look for signs and I never ask the universe for any. I think that if I need a little assistance then it will be given to me, regardless of whether I asked for it or not and whether I think I need it.

Take today for instance, I decided that what I needed for my lunch tomorrow was a brie and cranberry sandwich (random I know) so I popped into the local co op and whilst I perused the brie, completely engrossed in my task - should I choose French or Somerset brie - what, in fact, is the difference? I noticed the couple next to me chatting and being all couple-y and something clicked, I thought, fuck, that voice sounds familiar, I stole a glance at the chap and my heart sunk, I don't think I've moved that fast away from two people in a long time. I didn't even have a chance to deploy the duck and cover procedure, so instead I ducked down the bread aisle. And waited. *deep breath*.

Eventually I popped my head out and made my way to the bread rolls and bumped into him, I pretended to be completely engrossed in the seeded wholemeal bread rolls and tried my best to avoid having a heart attack. Needless to say the co op is out of bounds for a few days.

The whole thing got me thinking though. The next couple of weeks is full on, I'm moving in with my boyfriend, selling the house, embarking on two new projects and trying desperately to keep in shape and not stuff my face with Pringles, but it's hard. And then you start to think, is it worth it? Should I just stay where I am and not embark on another adventure? Not take the next step? Not to try? And I sit here, tapping away on this keyboard and I look around my room that is filled with memories; bits and bobs in corners, secrets tucked away in cupboards, hidden under the bed, the very fibers of my room screaming to be organised, looked at - make a decision!

Make a decision.

I'm with the best person I have ever been with, we're completely absorbed in each other - in a healthy way(!) and it's such a good thing, I'm ridiculously excited and I can't bloody wait to live with him. And ironically, today was the push I needed, seeing a face I never thought I'd see again, feeling that dread, that awful sickness, I just knew, this is a sign (I know I sound a little crazy but please bear with me, I have a point - I think). Life is moving forward and I should go with it, take this sign and run with it - the universe is throwing the gates open and telling me to run, that this is a new beginning.

So I had to stop writing this last night because I became completely engrossed in watching Orange is The New Black - ridiculously addictive. But it did give me time to reflect (you must really hate me now) and I stand by all I've written above. I don't know what the future holds for me - none of us do - but you either embrace the changes and let the current push you forwards or you fight it and have a bloody difficult time with it. I choose the former. It may take me to places I didn't expect to be in or it might just land me exactly where I want to be - wherever that is...but fuck it. Let's do this shit.

I'm gonna raise a glass to new beginnings, to throwing caution to the wind and just living. Now. Right now. The next time you hear from me I will (hopefully) be running in the same vein and keeping one eye out for signs (suggestive wink).

Here's hoping.

P.S the sandwich was really good, I added spinach which made it 100% tastier.

P.P.S I went with French Brie, sorry Somerset.  

Monday, 24 June 2013


Hello cyber lovers, it's been a while - I say that every time and every time I'm shocked that it has been so long. I've been busy working, trying to save money for my next adventure and I've been reflecting - a lot (surprise, surprise...). I've found a way to express what I've found - what I've found so far - in a way I haven't used in a while. So here's a poem, it's got a title. 


You know a year ago I would have slapped you,
Forced you to recognise the pain you caused, 

Told you that you don't mess around with girls from South London.

But I let you go when I crossed over borders. 

When I climbed a mountain with monks, 
When I sat by the ocean and let it's waves tell me a story.

When I saw beauty 

and realised it has nothing to do with you.

I have journeyed; I have found and understood what it means to be alive.

I am me,
With no need for you.

Friday, 15 March 2013

...Have A Little Laugh.

So today is comic relief (in Britain, not sure if it happens in other countries, wait no I'm sure it doesn't happen in other countries...) and lots of people are doing lots of silly things to make people laugh and raise lots and lots of money. Well I'm not involved in anything comic wise but I still like to make people laugh so here it goes.

I found this video via the Huffington Post and it is HILARIOUS! It sure as bells made my Friday morning so why not spread some cheer I hear? And just for you I will!


Happy Friday people and please enjoy St Patrick's Day/weekend responsibly. (It's on Sunday but why not devote the whole weekend?)