Friday, 30 September 2011

Dissertation - stay gone!

I handed in my dissertation last Friday.

Wow, that's scary.  A whole week.

And what have I done since...?  Well nothing productive, it seems.

In my defence, it was my birthday on Tuesday, thus apparently giving me the excuse to be lazy for several days either side.  I attended a hen party and had a meal with friends last weekend... but other than that, I've not been up to much this past week.

I've been doing a little reading, finishing off a book I read for the dissertation and reading a few others I got for my birthday.  Nothing especially exciting in any of that.

I also wrote a plan for the rest of Hide and See.  I figured, up to the end of my dissertation, I'm a little under halfway through the novel.  I do (at the moment, anyway) want to finish it, and then edit it for several million years until it's decent enough to maybe publish one day.  I say 'at the moment' because I'm sure that as soon as I get my dissertation marks back I will once more hate it and never want to see it again.

Me?  A pessimist?  No.... I like to think of it as being a realist.

I can't help but feel frankly terrified by the prospect of getting back my marks for the dissertation.  Every single mark I've got back for the MA has been a disappointment.  I know I'm looking at it from a geek/over-achiever/perfectionist point-of-view but the fact remains that I've just not looked at a mark this year and been happy with it.  I really don't know where it all went so fantastically wrong and am thus dreading getting my results.

And so this is why I am resolving to get as much of Hide and See written as I can before the results are given.  After writing the plan for the second half of the novel I feel quite excited by the idea of writing it.  I had a vague idea before of where I wanted it to go but now that I've written out a more specific timeline I think it's got potential - at least in terms of plot.  I should imagine my darling characters will still be defying me at every turn.  *Sigh*

I'm starting to get that grumpiness from not having written in a while.  Methinks I'll have to get down some words this weekend - in between all the dreaded job hunting.  Ugh, I miss being a student already.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Technology: How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways...

It seems a little like taunting a wild beast - going *poke poke* with a pointy stick - to write a blog moaning about technology.  I expect at any moment the computer will shut down, preventing me from spreading my grievances across the interwebs.  I swear it has a consciousness - why else would it bollocks up so spectacularly on the one freakin' day I need it to work?!

So much for handing in my dissertation today.

I planned to print it off this morning to hand in this afternoon.  Not much of an extravagant hope, surely?  It was when it comes to me and technology.  The first printer never even got going and the second printer managed to print all but ONE BLOODY PAGE of the first copy of my dissertation.  Then I had to drive down to Argos to buy Printer No. Three which managed to finish off copy number one... it printed copy number two... then, with 119 pages to go of copy number three it ran out of ink.

As there was no printer ink available in the entirety of Rotten Totton, my father (computer fixer extraordinaire) drove us into Southampton to buy the cartridge.  It took us three different shops, but we found one.

Finally, at 3:30pm, the last sheet was printed off.  It's just a shame that the Faculty Office shuts at 3:30pm.  So now it'll be tomorrow morning to get it bound and submitted.  Unless of course my computer decides to randomly blow up during the night, destroying all my printed copies but sparing my life just so I can feel the agony of my loss in the morning.

Don't even get me started about the internet connection.  It took me two hours to get a telephone number.

Yeah, technology pisses me off.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Characters, why are you doing this to me?

This time next week, I hope to have handed in my dissertation.  Isn't that a scary thought?

It isn't due in until the 30th but, ever since I found out the date, I said I wanted to get it in before my birthday, the 27th.  Then various things got organised for the weekend before that - birthday meal with friends, a hen party etc - and I figured I wouldn't be getting any work done over those days.  So I concluded that I ought to get it done before that... which leads us to the dreaded date of the 22nd.

I've been working on the latest draft of the creative part today, going all the way through it three times in order to make various alterations.  I've sent it back to my supervisor but I really don't know whether I've managed to accomplish what I aimed for.

Characterisation has been a big problem for me during this project, though I never noticed while actually writing it.  It's only when I get feedback from my supervisor that I realise it's somewhat lacking.  Even when I tried to talk about it in my rationale I didn't get it right!

It makes me wonder whether I've always had a problem with it or whether it's just an issue with this novel in particular.  It's certainly never been mentioned to me before, so I'm leaning towards the latter.  I'm hoping that the editing I've done today has helped some but I'm not feeling too confident.  The fact that I didn't even spot the issues in the first place makes the problem harder to see, even when I'm looking for it.

I wrote a diary from the point of view of my main character.  It's not ever going to be included in the novel but I was trying to get into her head.  I found it fairly easy, in a way, her motivations and thought processes coming quite naturally.  It made me feel like I knew her, that she wasn't just an empty shell for me.  So why can't I show this in the novel itself?

Maybe I should have written Hide and See in the first person.  The third-person-limited perspective still makes it from Rhonda's perspective, but there are times when it feels too detached.

Bit late for that now, though - and there must have been a reason why I didn't do that in the first place, even if I can't remember why now!

On the reading front, I got through Alex Bell's The Ninth Circle at the beginning of the week.  It was a little bit of a struggle, not because the writing was bad - in fact, it was quite good, especially in drawing the reader into the emotion of the story - but because the subject turned out to be much heavier than I was expecting.  Angels, demons, God... it all got a little much.  I certainly didn't expect it from the blurb.  I think I might not have chosen it if I'd known how disturbing it was going to be.  Or maybe I'm just too over-sensitive when it comes to religious stuff?

Now I'm on to Ann Aguirre's Blue Diablo.  I'm only about a hundred pages in but it's going well so far.  I probably won't get to read much more until the weekend - I'm drowning myself in rationale-editing-gloom tomorrow - but I'm hoping it'll prove to be one of the better primary world fictions.  Fingers crossed, because it feels like I've read an awful lot of drivel.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Writerly meetings

I had a meeting with my dissertation supervisor today.  All in all, I think it went quite well.  I don't have an urge to sit in a corner and weep, so it's definitely an improvement on the last one.  (Okay, this might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point)

I came away with a bit of a sore throat, though.  This shows two things:

1) I did at least have some input, whether useful or otherwise, as opposed to sitting and nodding at random intervals as I think I have a habit of doing


2) I really am too much of a hermit if talking for less than two measly hours is enough to wear my throat out.

And said sore throat must be from the meeting, and the chat afterwards with Boz, because I engaged in surprising few obscenity-screaming sessions on the motorway on the way home.  It wasn't too bad today: a couple of people even flashed to let me in.  It's the small things that make me feel all warm and fuzzy about mankind.  How easily pleased I am.

Anyway, back to the point (yes, there is one floating around here somewhere) - the meeting with my supervisor helped make me feel slightly more confident about the academic worth of my piece.  I also now have a vague idea about how I'm going to approach the accompanying essay.  Note the vague part: let's not go crazy, after all.

I'm still carrying on with the writing of the story beyond where I reached for the dissertation, though my writing splurge has slowed to more of a trickle.  Oh well, at least the river hasn't dried up completely.  And now I'm going to stop with the metaphor.

Chapter 26 has been started and I ought to try and finish it tonight, which will probably end up being tomorrow.  I don't really have a valid reason for this prophesised laziness/incompetence, apart from the fact that my latest Lovefilm disc has been sat on my desk for too many days now and I should probably send it back fairly soon.

I've managed to finish Cassandra Clare's City of Bones.  It was quite good: not fantastic but certainly not awful.  I really got into the last sixty pages or so - in that must-read-it-don't-care-about-dinner kind of way - but I don't have any desire to go hunting out the sequels.

Right, time to stop waffling.  Wish me luck.