University already feels like a distant memory but it was less than two months ago that I handed in my final piece of coursework. Since then I feel like a thousand things have happened to me and compared to the three manic years of studying I don’t feel like I’ve achieved very much. And I think I’ve figured out why.
Following on from my recent post about reading for fun, I completed the first book on the list some time ago but am only now getting around to writing about it. So is life! It was Kim Edward’s The Memory Keeper’s Daughter that was first on the pile and it was not my usual cup of tea.
Uni has finished. I have moved house. I have started a new job. I am living with the Bearded One. I have lost two wonderful pets. All in about three week.
And it turns out that real life is much harder A.U. – after uni. Before uni (B.U.) it was get up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, sit in front of the tv, go to bed, repeat. But now I have dreams and goals and aims for my life and friends I want to spend time with and a new home to explore.
I honestly never thought life would be so hard to juggle. And this is not in any way a complaint. I have loved moving away from Bristol, despite leaving my friends and family behind me. I love the fact I can share this wonderful village and countryside with them when they come and visit me, and the fact that when we see each other we will have so much to catch up on. But I miss living with some of my best friends. Granted, I am living with one of them, but the rest are a long way away when you need a girlie catch up.
One thing that has been easier than anticipated is living with the Bearded One. He is a wonderful housemate. He cooks, he cleans, he makes me write when I need to and we can snuggle up together on the sofa in the evening. After two years of long distance where the best we had was Skype it’s something we are still grateful for every night.
But fitting everything in – that’s not going so well yet. We have had a mad weekend of socialising during the annual beer festival that takes place a few miles up the valley. It was great to get to know the Bearded One’s pals up here, and one thing I did miss about uni was having guy friends. I grew up with two big brothers so was always used to having lots of guys around. Everyone is so friendly and lovely up here and after a few ales we were getting along like a house on fire.
A note of sadness is the passing of two of my wonderful pets. First of all, the irrepressible Bean (the bunny) left us very suddenly just before I moved up country. His poor little heart was too full of love and he went during the night. I found him the next morning and the amount of affectionate comments I had from the many people who had met him genuinely touched me. He is greatly missed but I know he’s hopping around with some great company up there. He was joined not so long ago by my parents beautiful German Shepherd Belle, a sprightly puppy of 14 who was put to sleep. She was one of the most beautiful dogs I have ever know and I considered her one of mine even though I never lived with her. I know my parents were devastated by her passing but it was the worst kind of situation where it was the best thing for her. A couple of downs in my crazy valley of a month!
As for writing. The blog has been seriously neglected due to lack of an internet connection. That is somewhat fixed thanks to our lovely next door neighbours being more than generous but it does mean I have felt rather cut off from the blogosphere. The novel is still coming along though. My new goal is to have first draft finished in order to start a new project (or rather reincarnate an old one) for the July Camp Nanowrimo. I’m so close to finishing draft one that I almost want to skip the remaining chapters and go right to the end.
Overall though I’m incredibly happy and at peace right now. It’s the right kind of manic for me and I hope it doesn’t slow down – not really. I mean, life is pretty short, and you have to make the most of it while you have it. Right?
Every now and then a film/book/tv series is released and becomes THE thing to see. It takes over – all of your friends have seen it, it’s on all the social media sites and before you know it there are songs in the charts and merchandise everywhere.
I am one of those people that always misses them. Sometimes it’s because I tried it and I’m not keen (Game of Thrones springs to mind) and sometimes out of pure stubbornness. One of the stubborn moments occurred around the release of Disney’s Frozen. Very quickly it was everywhere, even at university, and I was told time and time again ‘You have to watch this movie’. The song was everywhere, there were quotes thrown around and people were giggling at the concept of Snowmen who wanted to see the summer.
Over the Easter break I disappeared to the North for some well-deserved relaxing time with the Bearded One. While I was there I did the obligatory uni work, but also took the chance to catch up on my reading for fun. One of the books that has been on my Nook for some time is sci-fi classic Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (what a name!). It was awesome! I had no idea what to expect from it and was completely lost from start to finish. On returning home, I thought I would check out the recent movie. Big mistake.
I have returned to the world of work. It is far from my dream job, but it puts some pennies in the purse and takes me a step closer to paying for my masters in September. Another plus side is I have a half hour commute each way. Now, I know some might see this as a disadvantage but to me it is totally free time that I can spend in my favourite way.
Reading for fun!
Now I have done very little reading for fun through the course of my degree. True, I have read one or two plays every week for three years, and any number of journal articles and academic books on top of that, but nothing purely for enjoyment. Now things are going to change. I have one shelf and several large piles of books waiting to be read. So these are the books I have chosen to be read first:
If you’re a follower of this blog (you lovely thing, you) you may notice there are a few changes to the blog. You like them?
I fancied a change, something that said ‘I am a graduate now, and a serious writer and blogger’. So I thought I would revamp the blog a little to reflect this. As you can see it’s very fancy and professional now. Isn’t it? Do you think it’s fancy and professional?
Anyway, just thought I would mention this. It’s the same wonderful prose (if I may say so myself) just in a shiny new packaging. Have a look around and see what you think.
All writers have a style they prefer to write in. In particular I am talking about voice and point of view. Many times it is unconscious. For me it has been for a very long time. I almost always write in third person from the point of a view of a heterosexual female around 18-25 years old. That’s not me being homophobic or ageist (is that a word?) but it is simply the point of view I have seen the world from my whole life.
However, sometimes that isn’t the right voice for your narrator. Sometimes you need to be in their heads, see through their eyes and feel everything as they feel it. It can be difficult because you’re not used to but, but at the same time it can be a whole lot easier.
I only recently discovered this. I am a huge fan of the Ideas Tap website (if you’re a creative and you’re not on there then I suggest you go and sign up now). It is a fantastic site with resources, competitions and job listings for all the creative industries. In particular every three months they have the Editor’s Brief competition. You get one word to work from and can produce anything – photography, fiction, poetry, audio/video. The only rule is it must relate to the theme.
This time it was one of those wonderful moments where the idea came to me in a flash, fully formed and ready to go. So I went. Short story, third person, two females characters. Didn’t work. Fine, switch to stage play – two female characters, one room, simple set. Still didn’t work. But I loved my idea and I knew it would work.
Then last night I thought ‘if the idea is good and the characters are good, there must be something wrong with the form’. So I changed everything around. I wrote from the first person point of view for the first time in a very long time. And, lo and behold, it worked. It worked perfectly. I had her voice in my head. It was like my protagonist was telling me the story, like she was sat in the room with me and I was merely putting her words to paper. Which is how it’s supposed to be.
It just hadn’t occurred to me that sometimes the story demands something you wouldn’t normally do. I’m glad I had so much time to work on this piece otherwise I think it would have ended up at the bottom of my rubbish bin. I have learnt, in a long winded and pretty hard way, that your characters know what they want. You just have to listen to them.
I’m not quite sure how it has come about, but in a little over 7 days I will have completed all my classes, submitted all of my coursework and will essentially be finished with my undergraduate university career. Wowzer.
It’s been a lot of hard work. Some moments have been downright awful, some have been fantastic and every one has been new to me. Right now I am looking forward to a few days with nothing to worry about. In the last three weeks I have handed in 8,000 words and have another 12,000 due before the week is out. These last few deadlines have been the hardest of them all, not necessarily because they have been more complex (though they have), but mainly because I am so tired.
Recently it has felt relentless. No sooner has one submission gone in that another has been imminently due. I consider myself luckier than most as I don’t have any exams to worry about, but the downside of that has been 20,000 words in a month.
I’m looking forward to the end for a number of reasons, some of which I’ll list below.
1) I’m tired. I can’t wait for a few days of sleeping, lounging around in my pjs and catching up on some movies that have been on my ‘to watch’ list for a very long time. Lazy and perhaps a little selfish, but a reason nonetheless.
2) I’m ready to be a grown up again. I’m glad I waited a few years before I came to uni. Being a ‘mature’ student has meant that I know what my focus is and I haven’t been concerned with being at every party, socialising at every opportunity. Sadly it has meant that I have missed the freedom and pleasure a regular wage can bring. Again shallow and this time materialistic but true.
3) I miss the Bearded One. Almost two years of long distance it’s really starting to wear thin. Plus he’s moved into our new house in the beautiful lake district and I want to be there!
4) I want to do something with everything I’ve learned. I have improved my skills in so many ways, learnt so much about myself and what I can do and I want to get out there and put everything into action. I think I can be really good at whatever it is I want to do and I want to get out there!
As mentioned already, only a week and all of this will become all too real and I will no doubt be wishing for my student life again. But that’s a whole week away. Feels like a lifetime right now…
Many apologies for any typos, nonsense or rubbish in the body of this post. As stated in point one, I am tired. Be gentle with me.
Though by no means a new book, Malorie Blackman’s Nought and Crosses is a great read and one which, having reread, I felt a desire to write about. So I shall.
Noughts and Crosses is a young adult book set in a world very similar yet vastly different to our own. The story follows Sephy, a young Cross girl of the ruling class, and Callum, a ‘colourless’ member of the Nought underclass. It is our world twisted and turned on its head, where black people rule the world and the whites are their recently freed slaves.