Monday, 24 September 2012

Trip to Uni

Last week, I handed in my MA dissertations at uni.  Going back there felt almost like coming home.  I have, after all, spend four years of my life studying there (even if it wasn't a continuous period) so I'd have to have some sort of serious memory issues if I didn't feel some strong sense of familiarity.

And yet despite this I still had to ask for directions from the kindly student helpers there, stationed around the campus to help freshers students.  They asked what I'd be studying there (cue sobbing and cries of "Nothing! It's all over!")  Yes, I was mistaken for a fresher proving that a) it's my own fault for asking for help in the first place, b) I do look eighteen, like that checkout lady in Asda thought that time and c) I must have looked sufficiently lost and clueless to pass as someone who had never been there before.

In my defence, there's still a lot of building work going on there and I didn't know where they'd put the Faculty of Arts office.  It turns out it's in the same place as it was when I handed in my dissertations the first time round (in some temporary cabins in the ditch), although the route I was taken to get there was one I'd never been before in all my years of attending.  Given that the first hand-in was a year ago, I think I can probably be forgiven for not assuming they'd still be housed in temporary accommodation.

As I entered the Faculty Office, it felt like a genuinely emotion experience, strange for me in that I don't often get upset at things which I think I ought to.  This was it, The Last One, the final time of coming here to submit my work.  After this, there was only the graduation ceremony in November.  The drama of the whole thing was squashed fairly quickly, however, in the almost comical effort of the staff member and myself testing out half-a-dozen pens, scratching and scrawling all over the place, trying and ultimately failing to find one that worked, in the end resorting to me digging one out of my Mary Poppins bag and the university lady seeming a little embarrassed that the uni couldn't provide writing implements.  Lucky, really, that I was a writing student and thus never go anywhere without a pen.

The dissertations contained an earlier draft of Hide and See, which I made a particular point of not looking at for fear of wanting to burn the things.  It's all about the book two now.  I've managed to do a little work on Hide and See's sequel this week (I NEED TO THINK OF A DAMN TITLE!!!!), though it's perhaps not as extensive as my bravely optimistic self pledged last week.  I've also added a fair bit to the notes of the piece I'm not supposed to be working on, which I'm finding increasingly interesting with each new thread I weave in.

In other news, it's my birthday on Thursday (alas, spent at work as usual) but I'll hopefully be getting some books because, let's face it, I don't have enough (though my overladen bookshelves might disagree).  Also, there might be chocolate waffles in the afternoon if the tea room still does them.  Books and chocolate waffles: what more could a girl ask for?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Pledging to do better

I'm breaking my self-imposed rule and posting a day late this week.  Earlier this year I usually just updated whenever I managed to force myself to do so, so lately I've been trying to make it more of a regular thing, i.e. Monday evenings.  But yesterday evening, The Avengers happened.  (Or 'The Avengers Assemble' if we're giving it the silly UK title)  The DVD arrived in the post and, really, how could I resist?

But now that I've stopped watching it long enough to update my blog, I - alas - have precious little to report.  My writing progress this week has been so minimal as to be practically nothing.  My rubbish, let's-face-it-not-good-enough excuse is simply that I've not yet adjusted back to the whole being at work thing, and so arrive home too frustrated to do anything except read/watch other people's stories rather than produce my own.

But I hereby pledge to do better this week!  Because I'm starting to become the grumpy sod that I gradually morph into when I've not done any proper writing for a while.  And because I've come to that point (yet again) of really missing the joy I get when I write something good; the thrill of the words doing just what I wanted them to do.  I crave the satisfaction of producing something, of making a thing, which baking cakes and stitching rag-monsters can only partially satisfy. Plus, my poor little brain is sorely begging for a work-out.

I have been reading a couple of interesting things this week, though, and there's that old rule (which I so desperately cling to) that writers must read etc.  It's in the same genre as Hide and See, so double points to me!

Tomorrow I'll be picking up my dissertations from the binders (hopefully) and taking them up to Winchester to hand in.  And then I think I'll sit in the middle of the campus and refuse to leave until they let me be a student again.  Sounds like a flawless plan to me.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Graduation Preparation

I printed off two copies of my MA dissertation this evening.  It's been almost a year since I handed it in for marking but I'm only now getting around to having them hard-bound to give to the university in preparation for my graduation.  It's not forgetfulness or simple laziness that has prevented me from getting it done before.  It's the sixty quid I'll never see again once it's done.  Of course this shouldn't seem such a monumental sum after paying four grand for the actual MA but considering I will usually agonise for weeks about spending a couple of quid on a book (not even an exaggeration, unfortunately) spending that amount of money has been a tough idea to deal with.

But the three-hundred-plus pages are all printed out and ready for the trip to Romsey.  We managed it with just one printer and ink cartridge this time, which feels like one heck of an achievement after the last time.  In order to hand them in the first time round I think it required three printers and various locations hunting down printer cartridges.  I'm sure I must have ranted about it on the blog at the time.  Sounds like something I'd do.

The graduation is in November and I'll have to make sure I wrap up warmly this time.  One of my main memories of my BA graduation was of being cold (not exactly a massive surprise considering I am, in the words of my father, a corpse).  I also remember not being able to hear a great deal but there's not really anything I can do about that one, other than getting some sort of ear-trumpet.  Fetching.

In other news, I've managed to finish the chapter-plan for the rest of Hide and See's book two (I really need to think of a title!)  It's all written out long-hand at the moment though, but shouldn't take too long to type up so long as I don't change my mind too much as I'm going through it.  I think I'm quite happy with it.  In my first rough planning of the book there were certain scenes which didn't fall where I wanted them to.  Now with it better structured, the dramatic events are spread evenly throughout the narrative, rather than all being lumped towards the end.

I'm going to try to write the rest of book two in a more linear way.  While I did restrict myself to the first ten chapters to start with, the parts I wrote were out of sequence for a while, leaving me to eventually patch it all together.  When I eventually read it all through again I'm sure I'll be wanting to pull my hair out.  So I'm resolving to do it much more sensibly for the rest of it.  Right.  Let's see how that one goes.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Farewell to the holidays

Tomorrow I start back at work.  Well, sort of.  We only need to go in for the afternoon and it's for training, but the point is, the summer holidays are over.  Please wait while I weep uncontrollably in the corner.

Okay, so that's a touch melodramatic.  I think perhaps it's getting me down because I haven't achieved as much as I wanted to this summer, and of course have no-one but myself to blame for this.  The writing-to-agents thing stalled quite fantastically last month.  I basically terrified myself out of doing it and convinced myself that it's never going to happen anyway because I'm so rubbish and no-one will want to read my work so what was the point anyway and I might as well not even bother - and so on and so forth.  Which is of course a stupid attitude to take - if I don't try there is no chance I will succeed as opposed to there being a slight chance if I do try - but I never said my brain was logical.  I have a rather hefty dose of crazy to contend with here, people.

And because of said crazy I felt less happy with the writing itself this past couple of weeks too.  I've managed to get to my ten-chapter-mark, which was my aim.  Kind of.  I originally aimed for the first third which, somewhere along the way, got turned into 'the first ten chapters' in my head, despite the fact that the first third would actually be more like seventeen chapters.  This is why I did a degree in English and not in maths.  So even though I'm not a third of the way in, at least I'm over 20k in, which is better than nothing I suppose.

Ideas for the new story which I'm not supposed to be thinking about are flowing thick and fast.  I've got plenty of little stories just coming into existence and several are already starting to link up, which is quite exciting in a way that my more established stories sometimes lack.  I don't know whether this new story will actually turn into a thing - it will be a monster if it does - but it's nice just to have ideas I'm excited about.

On a tangent, the checkout lady in Asda today asked me if I was 'buying all my stuff to go off to uni'.  Putting aside the fact that I apparently look eighteen-years-old, I suddenly wished that I could say 'yes'.  If only learning was a job.  And I don't mean in the 'learning how to engage and empathise with the customer' way.  I mean in the 'actually putting new things in my brain way'.  Mind you, if I do look eighteen, maybe I could just wander into random uni lectures and get taught that way.  After all, how many times did anyone ever check my ID at uni?  I do believe it rhymes with 'hero'.