A much needed catch up

Let me tell you, 2022 did not get off to a great start. We were like awkward and passive-aggressive flatmates in a flat share. But as the months have warmed, we’ve come to understand one another.

I’ve not written a blog in so long. In part, because I was afraid, having a teeny tiny crisis of self-confidence, and because, well, there wasn’t much to report. While I put together the skeleton for this blog, I realised the year wasn’t going as slow as I had thought. I’ve done a lot with my time. Here’s what I’ve been up to over the course of 2022 so far.

Making a short film

In February, I finished shooting a short film. And it wasn’t just any short film. It’s perhaps my most personal screenplay yet. Taste has been years in the making. She was in development for almost five years before she got to put actors to her characters and a location for her scenes, but we did it. Somehow we made this really ambitious film.

At the moment, we are slowly going through post-production. It’s been a blessing to take my time with this one (even if I am impatient by nature).

Awards season

Another amazing thing happened in February. The team behind one of my most beloved short films, She Lives Alone, won a regional Royal Television Society Award for Best Drama Under £100K. What a tremendous honour it was to spend the evening with such talented people and to pick up an award on behalf of our hugely talented cast and crew (who all worked really hard to make that film a reality).

Publications

  • I feel so lucky to have had some amazing publications this year, too. A flash fiction I wrote a really long time ago (that I refused to give up on) was published at an online arts zine called Mathair in March. You can read She, The Monster here.
  • Another flash fiction I wrote (a fair while back) was picked up by the wonderful Nymphs Literary Magazine in May. If you love gothic spooks and a pinch of heartbreak, you can read Anon, Bluebeard’s Final Wife here.
  • I feel like I’ve written nought but personal essays as of late! An incredible organisation (Ghouls on Film) in Belfast put together a scrappy, feminist horror zine. My personal essay about dealing with blatant gaslighting and misogyny within horror filmmaking (at networking events) is available to read in their inaugural issue.
  • I had a major publication in June. My personal essay, titled How I Reclaimed the Final Girl as an Asexual, was published in none other than Dread Central. This was a dream publication for me. If you want to give it a read, you can find it here.
  • I’m also thrilled to report that I will be a columnist for the one and only Mslexia spanning four quarterly issues. If you’re interested in writing short films and want to know where to start, my columns will explore how to approach your first short films and where they will take you. My first column will appear in issue 95.

Prestigious schemes

  • This summer brought with it some incredible opportunities for me. I was selected for the Curtis Brown Creative Breakthrough mentorship, which had received a really high quantity of applications in this pool (so many they had to extend the decision-making process an extra week). I feel unbelievably humbled to have been chosen from what I know will have been an extremely talented group of applications. Starting in July, I’ll be embarking on a nine-month mentorship with a really impressive author, which will culminate in a tutorial with a literary agent.
  • I’m also really proud to say I’ve been selected for Edinburgh International Film Festival Talent Lab as part of their 2022 cohort. I can’t wait for August, and I look forward to embracing the chaos of film festival life once again. This will be a really positive experience for the learning, for the new friends and creative minds, and for the advice that will help me push forward my first feature film.

Reading and Watching

My favourite read so far this year is Conversations on Love. I loved the little pockets of intimacy that came through, and it made me positive and hopefully (at a time I wasn’t feeling very positive or hopeful).

In terms of cinema, there are so many films I’ve adored so far this year. My favourite, however, was Everything Everywhere all at Once (followed by The Worst Person in the World). I cried a lot at both and think they both represent two different sides of cinema, and why it’s important to enjoy a range of different films. We can be enriched by all sorts of storytelling, and it would be a grave mistake to limit yourself to one sort of film.

I’m really looking forward to watching BLONDE, which I hope is entirely unhinged.

Lessons

This year, I put down a project I loved. No, not just loved, adored. This was a manuscript I’d been writing for years. Having queried it twice (the first time as it was, and then after an extra 24 months’ worth of development), I received encouraging feedback from agent fulls, but in the end, it wasn’t meant to be.

I was reluctant to put the project down and draw a line beneath it, but this year, I took some time to grieve and started fresh. I’m now working on a really exciting literary project, which I love in equal measure. Endings don’t always mean it’s over for good. Beautiful things are born out of endings. I learned not to let the fear of the unknown stop me in my tracks.

Outside of my work, I’ve pushed myself to try lots of new things. I’ve explored unknown places and really taken the time to connect with nature. I try to get out to the cliffs as much as I can and enjoy the view of the horizon and the ocean. I’ve used these quiet, intimate moments to fuel my creativity and to fall in love again with the hard parts of being a writer.

I got made redundant from my copywriting positions. I can sense there are a lot of lessons I’m still learning about this (and about myself), but I think if there is one thing I can take away, you can fail at pursuing something that isn’t your passion (and yes, the failure still hurts). So, you may as well be hurt by the thing you love doing and fail there instead.

After a few months of stumbling over my (sometimes pitiful) self-confidence, I retreated. While the retreat was very much needed for my mental health, it took a lot of courage to come back fighting. This year, I’ve learned to say yes to as many things as I can, even if that absolutely terrifies me. True growth doesn’t come without growing pains.

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