An Ode to Fangirls

By Sara Valle-Martínez

Being a fan is hard. As Caitlin Moran puts it in her book, How To Be Famous, there’s something incredibly intimate about consuming someone else’s art. And the connection is even stronger when you’re a teenager exposed to any kind of stimuli.

It’s especially hard if you’re a girl.

Inevitably, being a teenager means feeling confused and being constantly bombarded with a raging burst of incontrollable hormones that drain you.

Like for most teenage girls, music was my companion.

“I think music is really important when you’re growing up,” said Katrin Ehrhardt, 34, one of the many people I’ve met through concerts. 

“It can comfort you when you feel like no one else understands you.”

Simple Plan were one of the many bands that walked beside me during my teenage years. They also strolled along many others, and we all met in this little world called the Internet. We shared our experiences and thoughts online, discussing lyrics like we were professional music critics.

Some of us met in Barcelona in 2008 for a show organised by a local radio. We headed to the airport prior to the show. After over an hour of frantically walking up and down the terminal, we welcomed the band and swooned, finally able to talk to them.

“I met a lot people through their music and I made some friends that I still have,” said Chiara Boccia, 30, one of my Simple Plan friends. “It was because of them that I started learning a different language and that’s why I live in England now.”

After Simple Plan came a lot of different bands that opened the gates and held their hands out. Most of them played in the now extinct Vans Warped Tour and made us dream about crossing the pond with our band T-shirts and Converse shoes.

We also had our own festivals in this part of the Atlantic. One of them was the I-Days Festival in Bologna: Simple Plan, Blink-182Sum 41 and All Time Low played in a green valley in 2010. Chiara and her friends were sweating on the first row while the rest of my friends and I chilled at the back, lying on the grass on one of the hottest days in the middle of Italy.

Deva Fernández, 30, was there too. We shared our love for eyeliner, Vans, and music. That same year, we travelled to different countries together, following another band called Boys Like Girls.They went on a hiatus in 2012 and broke all our hearts.

We felt the love Moran was talking about – the same that is supposed to be terribly wrong if you’re a teenage girl. Deva’s seen her favourite band, All Time Low, 41 times all over the world before she moved to Mexico a few years ago chasing her other love: film.

She said: “I listened to their music on repeat. I didn’t care about its members until one day I saw a video and I thought they were funny, so I wanted to know more. My dream was to become friends with them.”

We chanted their songs, we laughed at their jokes, we felt like they would understand our angst and pangs and moments of joy, too.

Posters with their faces hanged on our walls, their voices sounded in our ears while walking down the street, their birthdays were marked on our calendars… They helped us become who we are now.

“Back [when I started listening to Boys Like Girls] I was a really shy girl and never wanted to stand out,” said Katrin, from Germany, who now braves to go to concerts on her own. “I felt such comfort in their songs.”

Katrin and Martin Johnson, singer of Boys Like Girls. Photo courtesy of Katrin Ehrhardt.

But the good often came hand-in-hand with the ugly. That susceptibility can break you as easily as it shapes you.

Laura Rogg was a regular at Boys Like Girls’ concerts in the UK. She saved money and travelled in between cities to see the band. I remember seeing her bright red hair when we were queuing up in the cold London streets.

But she loved another band even more. She went to more than 100 The Summer Set shows over a three-year period, following them across the globe.

Laura and friends. Photo courtesy of Laura Rogg.

Laura said: “I reached a turning point in my life and chasing bands became no longer financially or emotionally viable to me. In many ways it completely took over my life… and after years of being so emotionally invested in [them], I had to take a break.”

At the end of the day, we were just a bunch of girls going to a bunch of concerts to see a bunch of men play. Our parents were probably unhappy, other men pushed us around in concerts and we were even judged because “we were probably there because Billie Joe is cute”, like a random guy told me at a Green Day show.

Could anyone really understand?

But Hayley WilliamsParamore’s singer, was a girl too – a teenage girl.

“The thing that made Paramore stand out is that their lead vocalist was a girl and that was not that common back then. I think that created this fondness inside me,” said Jessica Ferrerons, 32, who ran a Paramore fansite for years.

“Boys love clever things cleverly, girls love foolish things foolishly,” says Moran in her novel.

“How awful it would be to love bands like teenage girls do? How awful it would be to be the wrong kind of fan? A girl. How awful it would be to be a dumb, hysterical, screaming teenage girl? How amazing it is to be a dumb, hysterical, screaming teenage girl?”

I’ll always be proud I was a fangirl.

Link to published story: https://verve-lmsu.com/an-ode-to-fangirls/

Top 17 bands from the 2010s that changed our lives

By Sara Valle-Martínez

Green Day

Greeen Day’s Dookie marked a shift in many teenagers’ lives years after it was released. But it was the band’s American Idiot that made them accessible to teens with smeared eyeliner and Converse shoes.

It doesn’t matter if you were alive or not when Basket Case was released, it has proven to be a timeless anthem for those who followed Billie Joe Armstrong’s band.

Like Armstrong, some teenagers moved from the baggy trousers, striped or band T-shirts and worn out sneakers aesthetic to skinny jeans, creeper shoes and ties. But some others still kept their love for Vans, Dickies and brands like Volcom and Atticus.

blink-182

The pop-punk California trio was still pretty much a thing until the very last day they spent together as a band before their big break-up in 2005. Their appearance in 2000s hit movies like American Pie brought them mainstream fame.

Some of the people listening to them didn’t have a clue what feeling like «nobody likes you when you’re 23» was like, but they for sure brought them closer together with a generation that did. Silly and carefree lyrics unite!

Sum 41

Very much like blink-182, Sum 41 are first-generation pop-punk-rockers – big tongue twister, I know! The Canadian band was proof that this whatever-it-was genre was here to stay – or at least to make a difference in the music scene that’s still incredibly influential nowadays.

Try going to a music festival without listening to one of their songs, especially if you go to Slam Dunk festival in the UK. It doesn’t matter if they’re actually playing or not.

Simple Plan

When Simple Plan released their first album, No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls, it was obvious they already had a reserved spot in the scene. Mark Hoppus, singer of blink-182, was featured in their second single I’d Do Anything.

It helped that the song I’m Just a Kid was part of the soundtrack of the movie The New Guy.

For a lot of people, Simple Plan created a bridge between the old school pop-punk/pop-rock scene to the newest one. They were pals with other bands like Good Charlotte, but they also were quite close to up-and-coming musicians.

Good Charlotte

The Madden twins had people’s hearts by being complete opposites. Take Joel, the reject-made-cool-kid with baggy clothes and Benji, the goth kid — with a cheetah print dye job — that ended up marrying Cameron Diaz.

Tattooed angry guys who wanted to rebel against conventional society. Aspiration much?

Boys Like Girls

A shocker, but they co-headlined The Soundtrack of Your Summer tour with Good Charlotte and some of those angry kids decided they also liked sappy songs. All in all, the feeling of wanted to stay young and carefree dominated the scene.

The band has been on an indefinite hiatus for almost ten years, but we still want to «throw it away and forget yesterday» so we can go back to not having to pay bills.

All Time Low

If you were a fan of Boys Like Girls you probably knew about the band from Maryland. Both of them pretty much gained their fame from MySpace and playing at the Warped Tour.

For some, All Time Low was like a regression to the early 2000s when Sugar Ray, blink-182 and Sum 41 were all that played on the radio. That may be the reason why front man Alex Gaskarth teamed up with blink-182’s singer for a new band, Simple Creatures, a few years ago.

Jimmy Eat World

You can’t really talk about 2000s and 2010s music without mentioning Jimmy Eat World. Their song The Middle has become an anthem even for those who never listened to them.

Now, if you’ve never listened to this song you’ve definitely never been to a pop-rock music festival. It’s ironic that so many people jam to lyrics that were written about a lonely teenager that mailed front man Jim Adkins even before most of them were born.

My Chemical Romance

Okay, now you definitely cannot talk about 2010s music without joining the black parade. Who would’ve thought that these four chaps that decided to talk about death in some of their first singles would make it?

But skinny jeans and eyeliner connected with a side-swept fringe and emo was born. It’d be a sin to discuss emo culture without mentioning Gerard Way. Teenage angst all over again — but with a dark twist.

The Used

They came before My Chemical Romance, toured with them and became friends. Then the bromance between Way and The Used’s front man Bert McCracken broke and our hearts did too, all in the same beat.

If My Chemical Romance were angry, The Used were furious. Or at least so they seemed when screaming their lyrics.

Paramore

Female representation, p-l-e-a-s-e. All 2010s females need to thank Hayley Williams for making them feel like there was a place for them, too. And Arctic Fox should send her a PR bill for making us all want to have red hair.

If you don’t remember opening MySpace and listening to this song, you were most probably not born yet.

New Found Glory

My Friends Over You — need I say more? The feeling of unity, the prevalence of friendship against all odds and finding your path all summed up in a playlist. 2010s teenagers set their record straight.

The All-American Rejects

If a band has the world «reject» in their name, then they’re probably trying to serenade teenagers all over the world and also comfort them. You are not alone.

Dare be quirky, all of us have dirty little secrets.

Bowling for Soup

They’re still present and trying to make concert-goers laugh. If you go to any music festival in the UK, just wait for them to be on the line-up. If they’re not, they’ll be. High school never ended for them.

Now, why did the When We Were Young festival not count them in when they’ve made us all want to be or have the girl all the bad guys want?

Cute Is What We Aim For

Shaant, the singer, had the fringe all the emo kids wanted. It doesn’t matter if they disappeared, they still hold a very dear place in our hearts.

Something Corporate / Jack’s Mannequin

Andrew McMahon, the front man of Something Corporate, knows what it is to jump from generation to generation with his piano. When he started the band Jack’s Mannequin after winning his battle with cancer, he decided he was here to stay.

Listening to this song is like watching the TV series One Tree Hill all over again.

The 1975

They may feel like intruders here, but they started back in 2013 and have swiftly moved between different genres to remain relevant. They’re bigger now than they were when they were shadowed by all these bands.

If you don’t know any of the previous bands, you most probably know this one.

Tumblr girl aesthetic – emo reborn?

By Sara Valle-Martínez (top image courtesy of Deva Fernández)

Back in the beginning of 2010, people moved from MySpace to Tumblr, a social media platform in the form of a blog that allowed users to post and reblog photos and texts of all kinds. With the death of MySpace, emo kids were left with nowhere to showcase their music preferences and their dark and gloomy style.

Even though Tumblr opened in 2007, it didn’t gain popularity until 2011. This entailed the creation of the 2014 Tumblr girl – that is, the emo girl reborn. And it’s happening again. 

The classic emo fringe may not be back, but the platform combat boots, band T-Shirts, skinny jeans, pleaded skirts, Converse and coloured hair are.

“I absolutely love it. I was a big fan, especially when I was younger. I grew up with it,” said Maria Majtyka, 21, a full-time student. “I think the [staples] vary, but it’s like a grunge vibe: denim jackets, fishnets, even bandanas at some point.”

The term “emo” comes from the word “emotional”. The urban tribe symbolised a shift in the way teenagers saw themselves, with a more self-aware and meaningful connection to music. Emo teens were all for validating their feelings and expressing their emotions.

“For me music was a big influence,” agreed Deva Fernandez, 30, a transportation coordinator who has a vast repertoire of rock and alternative concert experiences under her belt. “I still wear Vans and skinny jeans. For me, it’s still about the music because it’s what I like and the people I look up to.”

Music festivals like Vans Warped Tour in the USA or Reading and Leeds festivals in the UK were the perfect locations to spot Emos in the wilderness. Now, Ticketmaster is organising the When We Were Young Festival in Las Vegas. It’s a good reminder for people that “emo is not dead”.

Deva Fernández and her friends with All Time Low’s member Rian Dawson. Photo courtesy of Deva Fernández.

Planned performances include those from ParamoreMy Chemical RomanceThe UsedJimmy Eat World and Avril Lavigne amongst others. And thus, those who were teenagers back then, are dusting off their hair straighteners and ironing their skinny jeans. Hold the side-swept fringe.

Whilst some youngsters may sneer at these performers in confusion, some others consider these “oldies” relevant again. But is it really still about the music?

“I don’t think it’s about the music anymore. Most of the people who wear band T-shirts like Guns n’ Roses, Metallica and things like this, have never listened to their music,” added Fernandez. “It’s just fashion now.”

The celebrities that are bringing the style to the spotlight now are Megan Fox and even one of the Kardashians. Their connection to rock and alternative music because of their beaus, has pushed them to revamp their wardrobes. And so, the style is back in!

But the origin of the aesthetic does not date back to the 2010s. In fact, some argue that the 80s were a massive influence. Some emo girls and boys even backcombed their hair – hairspray was always at the top of the shopping list.

“It’s definitely regurgitated. I’m not into it, so I don’t really think it’s original. Why would you choose such a boring style? There’s so many other things much more interesting,” said Yong, store manager at Blue 77 vintage clothing.

“Usually trends repeat themselves. There’s a thing that’s like a twenty-year cycle but, as we are using social media more, everything is just much faster. So, all of that kind of gets thrown out of the window and we’re repeating things that happened less ten years ago,” said Ludo Monse, 19, a full-time student.

Ludo Monse’s style is based on Tumblr girl fashion. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

Machine Gun KellyYungbludWillow Smith and Beabadoobee are some of the musical artists who also dress the part. Other performers like Charli XCX and Olivia Rodrigo have incorporated a more upbeat attitude to the aesthetic. So, with the reawakening of Tumblr girl fashion, is emo also coming back?

“That’s definitely going to come back,” said Monse. “You can’t have Tumblr without some melancholic thoughts.”

Link to published story: https://hollowayexpress.org.uk/tumblr-girl-aesthetic/

Good Fortune after the pandemic for tattoo studio in London

By Sara Valle-Martínez

A couple of self-employed artists who were facing financial ruin because of the pandemic are planning to expand.

Lianne and Jean Le Roux, owners of Good Fortune Studio in 123 King’s Cross Road, are hoping to move to Blackfriars by 2022. They opened their business after working in the permanent make-up and tattoo industry for years.

The couple said they faced a loss of over £90,000 during the pandemic. The government’s Local Restrictions Support Grant and Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment only allowed them to cover rent expenses.

Lianne Le Roux, 28, permanent makeup artist, said: “Even though it was very bad, I was grateful to have those grants from the government because if we didn’t have them, it would have just wiped out all of Jean’s savings and then we would have probably lost the shop.”

Photo by Letu00edcia Lua on Pexels.com (Not Jean Le Roux’s work.)

They had side businesses using the studio’s website for their merchandise: he sold prints of his paintings; she had a separate shop selling coasters and planters.

Jean Le Roux, 35, tattooist, said: “It was the longest amount of time where I wasn’t tattooing every day, so I got to paint and draw a lot… It was good to have creative freedom.”

The pair talked about this as the most stressful time since they opened their studio in 2018. A study by the medical journal The Lancet revealed the cases of depressive and anxiety disorders went up due to the pandemic.

John Foster, 63, tattooist and spokesman of the British Tattoo Artists Federation agreed. He said the BTAF had a forum to keep in touch and support other tattoo artists. “There [was] lots of mental health talk. It surprised me how many tattoo artists still have problems with mental health because of [Covid-19].”

Mrs. Le Roux added: “You’re sitting at home stressed, trying to figure out how you’re going to make any money and then also being worried that you’ll come back and people won’t want your services anymore or that you’re not relevant anymore.”

ABC’s foreign correspondent talks to students about the lack of diversity in journalism

By Sara Valle-Martínez

A senior foreign correspondent for ABC News highlights the lack of diversity in British journalism.

Ian Pannell, who prior to joining ABC worked for BBC for over twenty years, said: “There’s been a lot about diversity in the media, which is a huge issue about race, and about sex and sexuality, who’s actually represented and what stories they’re telling.”

A 2016 survey of 700 news professionals conducted by City University London revealed that 94% of British journalists are white and 86% are university educated. The same research showed the lack of diversity with just 0.4% of Muslim journalists and 0.2% black.

Ian Pannell said: “For me a huge issue was class. Where are the journalists coming from? If the journalists only come from the other middle classes and have gone to private school, have gone to certain types of universities, then they’re really only going to be telling certain types of stories.”

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Mr. Pannell said the democratisation of media is taking place. But a 2021 study by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism conducted in the UK, Germany, Brazil and South Africa showed 15% of the 80 top editors across the 100 brands covered are non-white whilst 42% of the countries’ populations are non-white.

The senior television and radio correspondent said: “What we’re missing and what we have been missing, I think for a long time, is hearing stories from the ground up. Journalism is a bit like history. It’s been dominated by the stories of the people of the elite.”

According to ABC News’ website, Ian Pannell travelled all over the world, reporting from North America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He added that effort, judgement, and hearing from different perspectives are a priority. He said: “[It] is about adding those extra layers to what it is that you see.”

Let’s name a day to celebrate things

By Sara Valle-Martínez & main illustration by Miguel Arévalo

I was scrolling through a mattress company’s website this week and it made me feel quite lonely. You may ask yourself why. Well, truth is that I’m single and this company was clearly targeting couples.

“The roll-over effect doesn’t happen with our range of organic mattresses. You won’t be rolling towards your partner. The perfect mattress to ensure you and your loved one can have a perfect night’s sleep.”

How depressing is that? Is someone not entitled to purchase one of their mattresses if they’re alone at night, going to bed with their laptop to watch their favourite boxset or with a book?

Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

The thing is that Valentine’s Day has existed for centuries. It’s said its origins come from the Roman festival of Lupercalia in the 6th century B.C.

But Lupercalia was actually celebrated on the 15th of February and it was a rather bloody, violent, and sexually charged celebration. Sky’s History says that there was also some animal sacrifice, random matchmaking and coupling in the hopes of warding off evil spirits and infertility.

So then, where did all this come from? And who decided that single people shouldn’t celebrate if it used to be a festivity for matchmaking? Let’s not count the animal sacrifices, but doesn’t that call for single people?

I decided to meet up with an old friend who was getting married on Valentine’s Day. It was all a coincidence because the register office only had Mondays available. She laughed it off when she was telling me over a big yummy pizza.

Angélique Renaud, 29, said: “I never really got to celebrate it when I was younger. Then, when I started dating my soon to be husband, he never really wanted to celebrate it either… It’s just a commercial celebration. I mean, it’s nice if you want to celebrate it, but I don’t give it much more thought.”

Angélique Renaud and Clara Queval. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

Next to her was sitting her die-hard friend Clara Queval. They met each other when they were in high school and, after travelling around the world, they decided to move all the way from France to London.

“I think it’s important for romance and for your relationship with your partner to actually do something,” said Ms. Queval. “I think it’s good that people are encouraging that by creating Valentine’s Day.”

But there it is. It’s all a creation, isn’t it? An excuse to sell chocolates, stuffed animals and whatever is fluffy and pink or silky, shiny, sparkly, red, or heart-shaped – and apparently mattresses, too.

Same goes for Galentine’s Day. It was created by the character Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) from the TV series Parks and Recreation back in 2010.

Galentine’s Day celebrated on the 13th of February and it was supposed to be a breather for coupled and married women. Ladies celebrating ladies, “hos before bros”, “uteruses before duderuses”, “ovaries before brovaries”, and all that jazz, as Knope would say.

But of course, companies have pounced on the phenomenon and once again it’s turned into a marketing gimmick. Oh, what we do for the mint.

Ivy Soho Brasserie in London decided to do a Sex and the City brunch, where you’re supposed to “channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw”. That is, be a female columnist who writes about sex and relationships and has brunch with her fancy and fierce friends in fabulous New York City.

Vicki Moreno, 26, who works there as a waitress said: “I think the event is aimed at women because it’s supposed to empower them instead of feeling bad for being single. It’s to celebrate friendship.”

But friendship day is on the 30th of July or so does the internet say. So, then again, what’s the real purpose of celebrating Galentine’s Day and why is it targeting women? Is it another chance to make us feel bad for being “spinsters” while men go to the pub for drinks or is it an excuse not to be lonely?

Ms. Moreno added: “I think men feel uncomfortable celebrating friendship in a romantic way.”

It looks like there’s an excuse to celebrate almost everything. And, don’t get me wrong, that is fantastic. But is it really necessary to have pancake day? Garlic day? And back to work day? Especially the last one.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Even online shops like Etsy are selling merchandise against Valentine’s Day with the words “Happy consumer-driven and trivial interpretation of love day” under the keywords “anti-valentines”. Whatever increases the sales.

But there’s no need to be bitter. At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you.

“It’s nice if you want to celebrate with your friends. Go ahead, it’s nice. But I don’t understand why they have to give it a name. You could do that any other day,” said Ms. Renaud.

“I think it’s important to celebrate friendships. Friendship is as important as love,” added Ms. Queval. “It’s kind of the same as Valentine’s Day.”

And that is it. It’s all the same. Just celebrate your friends and family and the rest of your loved ones, whichever day it is. And treat yourself, too.

Empezar una historia / Starting a story

🇪🇸 Nunca me ha gustado seguir las normas y no digo esto como si fuese una rebelde. De hecho, cuando era una niña, e incluso una adolescente, era bastante comedida. Hacía trastadas, obviamente, pero mi madre podía irse a dormir tranquila sabiendo que, aunque llegase tarde, no me iba a meter en problemas. O eso creo.

De todas formas, lo que quiero decir con que no me gusta seguir las normas es que soy una escritora un poco desordenada. Con esto no quiero decir que no siga un orden lógico cuando escribo mis historias, sino más bien que no sigo los patrones o los conceptos más básicos que se enseñan en los talleres de escritura.

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Mi incursión en el mundo más técnico de la escritura fue breve. Cuando vivía en Castellón, asistí un par de veces a un taller de escritura creativa en la Universitat Jaume I. Allí conocí a algún escritor que otro y aprendí el concepto del ‘esqueleto’ de la novela. Y ya está. Lo aprendí, pero nunca lo usé.

Cuando escribo, normalmente empiezo con una idea muy básica. A veces estoy leyendo un libro y se me viene una idea, o estoy paseando por la calle y veo claramente una escena. Mi cerebro hace, de forma inconsciente, el resto del trabajo. Y digo que es de forma inconsciente porque, antes siquiera de que pueda pararme a anotar la escena, ya hay una verborrea de palabras, tramas y subtramas que me posee para darle vida a la historia.

Normalmente me gusta escribir mis ideas en una libreta (mis «libretas de inspiración», como yo las llamo) pero muchas otras veces las apunto en las notas del móvil, me mando un correo electrónico a mí misma o incluso creo un archivo de Word para resumir en unas pocas palabras el concepto. De esa idea original, ramifican un montón más. Como ya he dicho, algunas vienen en el preciso momento que se concibe la raíz de todas ellas, la trama. Muchas otras vienen después.

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

Mi mayor miedo cuando escribo es que algo no tenga lógica. Y digo esto porque, a riesgo de sonar como una escritora bohemia sin razón ni motivo, mis personajes deciden, la mayor parte del tiempo, lo que les va a pasar. Es como si, en realidad, mi subconsciente supiese lo que es ese ‘esqueleto’ y lo siguiese muy a mi pesar. En mis libretas tengo puntos clave y, lo que pasa entre medias, el camino para llegar hasta ahí, es decisión de mis personajes. Un poco así como los seres humanos, que nos planteamos metas y actuamos con aparente libre albedrío hasta llegar a ellas, sin saber muy bien lo que nos pasará en el recorrido.

En muchas ocasiones he sabido cuál sería el final incluso antes de escribir la primera palabra, pero mentiría si dijese que no he cambiado de opinión otras tantas. Y es precisamente por eso, por los personajes, que escribir un epílogo me inspira la misma anticipación que leerlo. ¿Qué decidirá mi personaje principal, marcharse o quedarse una página más?

A veces me siento bien por ser tan ‘desordenada’, aunque sepa que va contra todo lo que he aprendido en cuanto al proceso creativo. No tengo una hora fija en la que ponerme a escribir, ni un espacio, ni siquiera un número de palabras. Simplemente escribo cuando me apetece y no siempre es fructífero. Muchas otras veces, tengo la necesidad de escribir pero mis personajes se niegan a hablarme. Soy consciente de que suena a cliché, a fantasía, pero estaría mintiendo si dijese que lo hago de otra forma.

¿Y tú, cómo escribes?

🇬🇧 I have never been one to follow the rules and I’m not saying this because I’m a rebel. Actually, when I was a kid, and even a teenager, I was quite cautious. I was naughty, of course, but my mum could sleep peacefully knowing that, even if I was home late, I wasn’t going to get into trouble. At least that’s what I think.

Anyway, what I want to say when I say I don’t like following the rules is that I am quite a disorganised writer. I don’t mean I don’t follow a logical order when I write my stories, but that I don’t follow the patterns and more basic concepts that are taught in writing workshops.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My incursion into the more technical part of writing was brief. When I used to live in Castellon, I went to a creative writing workshop in Universitat Jaume I a couple times. There I met a few writers and I learnt the concept of the novel ‘skeleton’. And that’s about it. I learnt it, but I never used it.

When I write, I typically start with a very basic idea. Sometimes I am reading a book and it overcomes me, or I am walking down the street and I clearly see a scene. My brain does, in an unconscious way, the rest of the work. And I am saying it is unconscious because, even before I can stop and jot down the scene, the verbosity of words, plots and subplots has already possessed me to bring the story to life.

I normally like to write my ideas in a notebook (my «inspiration notebooks», like I like to call them) but some other times I write them down in my notes app, I send an e-mail to myself or I create a Word document to summarise the concept in a few words. A lot of other ideas stem from the original one. Like I said, some of them come in the precise moment the root of them, the plot, is conceived. Some others come later.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

My biggest fear is that something doesn’t make sense when I write. And I say this because, at the risk of sounding like a bohemian writer without reason or logic, my characters decide, most of the time, what’s going to happen to them. It’s like my subconscious knows what the ‘skeleton’ is and it follows it without my consent. In my notebooks there’s key points and what’s going to happen in the middle — the path to get there, is my characters’ choice. Much like with human beings, we set our own goals and we act with apparent free will, not knowing what will happen to us during the journey.

In many occasions, I knew the ending even before writing the first word, but I would be lying if I said I haven’t changed my mind in many others. And that’s precisely why — because of the characters — writing an epilogue fosters in me the same amount of suspense than reading it. What will the main character decide to do, leave or stay for one more page?

Sometimes, being this ‘untidy’ feels good, although I know it goes against everything I have learnt about the creative process. I don’t have a set time to start writing, nor a space, not even a word count. I simply write when I feel like it and it’s not always fruitful. Some other times I feel the need to write and my characters refuse to talk to me. I am aware of how cliché all of this sounds, how fantasy-like, but I’d be lying if I say I do it any other way.

And you, how do you write?

Primera entrada / First post

🇪🇸 Esta es mi primera entrada. Quería escribir algo para impresionar, pero supongo que entonces será presuntuoso, como si cuando conocieses a alguien por primera vez se hubiese pasado media hora delante del espejo pensando en lo que te dirá. No sé, siempre he pensado que es mejor improvisar. Cuando estudié Filología Inglesa y Literatura nos enseñaron el concepto de stream of consciousness y considero que mi estilo es mucho de eso, bastante visceral y poco pragmático. Quizás yo sea un poco así también. Si quieres, puedes quedarte a descubrirlo.

🇬🇧 This is my first post. I wanted to write something impressive, but I guess then it would also be presumptuous, like if when you were to meet someone for the first time they would have spent half an hour in front of the mirror thinking about what to tell you. I don’t know, I’ve always thought it is better to improvise. When I studied English Philology and Literature they taught us about the concept of ‘stream of consciousness’ and I reckon my style is pretty much that, quite visceral and not pragmatic at all. Perhaps I’m a little bit like that, too. If you want, you can stay and see for yourself.