I have to say that I’ve taken a real dive in mood recently. The only thing that has given me any real positivity of late has been my A112 module results for uni.
I have entered my first piece of creative writing prose into a competition but despite what the rules/guideline for entry states, I’ve had no acknowledgement of my entry so I am just slightly concerned that my email has gone into their spam folder and will never be seen. Yay!
I have another piece I’ve been working on for entry into a short story comp the writer’s magazine I’m subscribed to runs. I still need to iron it out. The deadline for that is on the 15th.
Yesterday I started on another one to enter into the Oxford Flash Fiction prize, but I am worried that what I have written for it is waaaaaaay too dark. I don’t want to say any more about it or give any detail on the story as it has to be unpublished work that is entered.
So, yes, despite my low mood I have tried to keep myself focused on my writing and getting some stories developed, etc. It’s hard not to write darkly when you’re down.
I guess the Simple Minds tour news hasn’t helped the situation but I am not admitting that to anyone else but myself (and whoever reads this – definitely not my OH or certain close friends read any of my blog stuff…and that’s okay. It lends a certain freedom to what I feel I can say here, if I need to air things) and I am trying not to dwell on it because there is no changing the situation.
I was meant to go to a gig on Tuesday night but I felt so low and so dark I just couldn’t motivate myself to go out. Actually, I was in a state of panic thinking about going so I decided it was best not to as I was just trying to fight a nervousness that wouldn’t calm down – until I made the decision not to go. I then spent the rest of the night really down on myself for not having the strength to pull myself out of such an awful state of panic.
So I am just trying to keep creative. I try to write every day, even if it isn’t much, or it’s for the blog (the other blog) or some other non-fiction writing rather than fictional prose or short story writing for competitions. Anything that means I am typing away and getting words down on a page, or on the screen.
I’ve just gone over the halfway point of my uni break. I don’t feel like I’ve been as productive as I would have liked but I am at least writing and…I’ve entered a comp! Even if I’m worried that my entry has gone nowhere and I’ve had no confirmation that it was received.
I’ll try my best to keep the old stiff upper lip – pull the old socks up and just…get on with things.
I can’t go into too much detail, just … in accordance with Open University study rules, I need to be careful not to divulge too much. I can’t reveal exact results but what I will say is I have been marked higher than I had hoped for or expected and I am very, VERY happy with my results.
It has reassured me that I am on the right path and that Creative Writing is definitely the subject I want to progress through.
After a crappy and disappointing past 48 hours, I feel upbeat and grateful.
By way of celebrating, I’m going to place a photo of this beautiful adonis here to gawk over to my heart’s content.
Myself and my Other Half were in Newcastle over the weekend. The primary purpose for me was to see my second favourite band in the whole world – Warm Digits – play the Old Coal Yard near the Byker and Ouseburn areas of the city. You can read more about that on my review on the Priptona Weird blog.
To try and save on funds and to make the logistics of getting to and from the venue easier, I decided to book a room for us at a hotel called the Dorset Arms at Wallsend. It seemed like it was a short-ish walk from the Metro station to get to the hotel but actually it was longer than I had anticipated and interpreted on the map. Straightforward though. Just taking a straight walk down to the hotel for around 1 mile.
The hotelier, Stan, was a really friendly and helpful guy and offered me a lift to Wallsend metro station closer to the time of the gig. In the end he dropped me off right near the venue which I was very thankful for as the heavens were open by that time and it would have been a bit of a walk from Byker metro to the venue.
The gig was great and I had quite a late night, but we needed to be out of the hotel by 10am the next day. I was out of bed and in the shower by 7.45am having had around 4 hours sleep by the time I eventually drifted off.
The weather was much better on Sunday and the air was already warm early in the morning. A change from our last visit to Newcastle which although sunny was VERY windy and still quite cold. This time it was ‘taps aff’ by comparison.
After a fantastic buffet and cooked breakfast at the hotel (we just had scrambled eggs on toast for the ‘cooked’ side of our breakfast), Stan was kind enough to give us a lift to Wallsend metro. We got to Monument station at around 10.30am and decided to head to the Quayside with a view of checking out the Baltic art gallery. There’s a street market down along the Quayside Road running along the banks of the Tyne between the Tyne and Millennium Bridges with all kinds of wonderful foodstuffs and crafts on offer. It was absolutely hoachin’ down at the Quayside.
After a slow wander through the market stalls we crossed the Millennium Bridge to get to the Baltic. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Baltic – whether there would be a fee to pay to get in as most galleries in England these days charge an admission fee, if not for the main gallery space itself, then definitely for access to exhibitions that are on. To my joy and wonderment, the Baltic was free. We went up to the fifth floor which has a ‘viewing box’ – an area to stand and take in the views of the city overlooking the Tyne. From there we made our way back downwards, exploring what each level of the gallery had to offer. On levels 3 and 2 was an exhibition by artist Larry Achiampong. The exhibition is called Wayfinder and comprises several different visual displays and art installations. Flag designs, traveller-explorer-cum-spacesuit outfits that are worn and featured in his video documentary pieces called Relic. There were also chalk boards with repetitive words to be read out as instructions or slogans.
We sat and watched several of his video docs. All three of the Relic pieces, as well as Wayfinder itself. All the information on the layout of the whole exhibition can be viewed on the Baltic website HERE
I found the whole exhibition really moving, especially the video pieces. They were beautifully filmed, evocative, wonderfully scripted and very poignant. Larry gives a very powerful voice to British African people through his art. I don’t say this with any measure of flippancy or glibness at all when I say it is one of the most moving and beautiful exhibitions of contemporary art that I have ever encountered. So much so, I had to let Larry know how much his exhibition spoke to me and contacted him via Instagram to let him know how profound I found his work. He replied with a voice message to me on Instagram thanking me for my words and was pleased to hear that his work had moved me so much.
The exhibition runs until 29 October. If you are in Newcastle at any point up til this date (or you are a local Geordie), I implore you to check out Larry Achiampong’s exhibition. It is stunning.
On level 1 was an exhibition by the photographer Chris Killip. Absolutely stunning photos, particularly the portraiture. Most of the photos were depicting life in the North-East in the mid 1970s until the early 1980s. All the photos are black and white. Most were quite large images too – A3 and A2 sized prints. Again, visually evocative and poignant. I’d also highly recommend seeing Chris Killip’s exhibition as well. The exhibition is on until 3 September.
With just a couple of hours left until the coach back to Glasgow was due to depart, we made our way back to the city centre. The plan was to get something to eat to see us through the rest of the day as we weren’t due to get back to Glasgow until just after 8pm. On our way up Pilgrim Street we stumbled across the Town Fry. It doesn’t get the best rating via Google Maps but to be honest, I hadn’t looked at the ratings until after we’d eaten there. It was there, it was handy and the cod bites and chips were affordable at £7 each. It was quiet and there were seats for us to sit and eat inside. It was cooked fresh while we waited. The chips were delicious! As was the generous sized piece of cod. It filled our bellies more than amply for the journey back home.
We popped into Greggs as well for a hot beverage and a yum yum. I gotta say, Greggs are bloody good value compared to the likes of Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero. A tea is £1.15, a latte is £1.95 and a box of two yum yums was £1.35. If you were to get something similar in one of the coffee chains it would set you back at least DOUBLE that price, if not more.
We got to the coach station a little early – around 3.45pm for the coach at 4.10pm. Well, that’s when it was due but a driver that had come in on a coach from Manchester had informed one of the other passengers waiting for the Glasgow coach that it was running an hour late – caught up in floodwater back in London when it started out its journey north. So, 4.10pm actually did become 5.10pm.
I don’t know what it is about the coach to Newcastle but it feels like it takes so much longer than the four hours it only does take. I think it must be down to the stops it makes along the way. I don’t know. But the four hours seem to pass sssooo slowly on the coach.
We eventually arrived at Buchanan Bus Station at 9.20pm. It being a Sunday night there are no trains to Ashfield after 6.30pm on Sundays so it was taxi or the 75 to Milton. A 75 was due at 9.35pm so we legged it out of the bus station to get ourselves to Hope Street in time for the 75 – only for the bugger to be 10 minutes late! Although after a few minutes it was indicating on the electronic board that the due bus wasn’t even running late, it was just not going to arrive at all! Thankfully, it did arrive, albeit 10 mins late.
Arrived home exhausted but happy from a lovely little whirlwind trip away to Geordieland. Newcastle is starting to become the new ‘home away from home’, and the great news is that the OH likes the place just as much as I do – so I think we may just get to have a couple of trips a year away down there in future. She won’t need too much persuading, which is grand!
Now, back to getting some creative writing done! (P.S. Less than a week to go until I find out my uni results.)
Hello! It’s been a wee while. I was hoping that I would be posting here a little more than I have during the summer break away from uni.
I guess June was kinda crazy. Busy here and there. A few gigs and one that I couldn’t make due to Glasgow receiving a downpour of biblical proportions. I set out to go and made it as far as Buchanan Street then spent 45 minutes sheltered under a shop frontage before trying to continue on to the venue before finally and swiftly admitting defeat and heading home.
Towards the end of June I started getting my teeth into writing. I’ve taken out a subscription to a writing magazine and an online membership to their website. I’ve compiled a list of writing competitions that I am interested in entering over the next few months and have already been busying myself with researching and writing down ideas and actual fictional content and short stories.
I’m also reading as well. I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and am currently around a quarter of the way through reading Thackery’s Vanity Fair.
I am also still a consumer of podcasts and have recently been enjoying series two of Uncanny, as well as a few documentary style podcasts – one called Shiny Bob about the Edinburgh judicial system. Another titled A Very British Cult, about a life coaching ‘company’ called Lighthouse – which I’m quite bloody scared to mention here to be honest, given how they were portrayed.
Currently I am nearing the end of a podcast on the K-pop sex scandal. It’s called Burning Sun and is a series aired as part of the Intrigue podcast series on BBC Sounds. It’s really a very disturbing listen. The systemic sexual abuse of women in South Korea is absolutely abhorrent. And the fact that these outwardly looking ‘shiny, clean’ male K-pop stars behaved this criminally and disgustingly behind closed doors is beyond alarming. It’s truly frightening what lurks behind some country’s cultures – how we believe we see them and how they outwardly project themselves to be compared to how they truly are. How these kinds of behaviours can somehow be regarded as mere “cultural differences” is shocking.
If you can deal with the darkness of this podcast – for there are very stressing details on sexual assults and incidences of suicide discussed – then I recommend you listen to Burning Sun. You can find it on BBC Sounds – Link to the podcast HERE
I have another couple of weeks to wait before I get the result for my previous module and find out how well (or otherwise!) I did on my final assignment. Of course, I will let you know here (as much as I can) about it – bearing in mind that I will need to be careful just how much I can share about my mark and pass.
I’m also hoping to write here a little bit more often, in between writing work for the writing comps I’d like to enter.
I’ve been meaning to catch up with you, but by gawd, I’ve been busy! Jeez-o. I feel like I’ve hardly stopped since uni officially ended on 18 May.
I went to Pollok Park and the Burrell Collection with my partner the following day (Friday, 19 May). Knackered myself by walking nearly 20,000 steps and just over 13.5km that day. I spent the weekend recovering from that. Then on Monday 22 May, I did a massive spring clean of my bedroom, which took me most of the day – stripping my bed, vacuuming the floor and walls, making the bed back up with fresh bed linen, etc, etc. Knackered myself again.
On Tuesday (Tuesday week) in the evening I went to the Mitchell Library to attend a creative writing workshop that was being run in partnership with the University of Strathclyde and conducted by one of their CW lecturers. It was titled ‘What You Need to Know about Point of View’. I thought it would be beneficial to me in the hope it would provide me with clear definitions of how point-of-view within a narrative works. It was really good and I am SO glad I went. Even more so for the fact that I didn’t pre-book as I was unsure whether to go or not or whether I should go to one of the other CW workshops that was happening later in the week. I read in the Aye Write brochure that you could buy a ticket from the Mitchell Library on the day, so I decided to just turn up and buy a ticket then. What will be, will be kind of thing. Long story short, they couldn’t work out how to issue me with a ticket without a lot of faffing about, so they decided that because they hadn’t made the process very straight forward at all, to let me attend the workshop for free. Yes! Part of my ‘should I, shouldn’t I?’ dithering was about whether I could afford to go or not, so I was quite pleased to end up being allowed to attend for free. And it was really very good and cleared up some things about point-of-view that just weren’t sticking in my brain.
On Wednesday, a voluntary work colleague of my partner’s gave us tickets to see him perform as an extra in the Theatre Royal production of An Inspector Calls. It was a great show and we really enjoyed ourselves.
Thursday I did some writing and caught up with laundry. Friday it was the Sparks gig at the Armadillo. Sunday I caught up with a friend that was on holiday in Scotland from the U.S. We met up at the Barras market and wandered around there for a while. Visited the Blitzkrieg Shop, Glickman’s and then had lunch at Mono before perusing Missing Records. It was a full day and I had walked another 10km.
Monday, I went to see The Lemon Twigs at SWG3. Then yesterday I went and got my haircut. So, today feels like PROPERLY the first day I’ve had to just take a chill pill and rest up a bit – and do a post here.
Even just going over what I’ve been doing for the past (almost) two weeks is exhausting me! Lol. Lots of sight-seeing, writing, theatre, gigs – LOADS of walking and some dancing too. It has felt absolutely non-stop. I’m giving myself a quiet one today though.
The weather has been AMAZING! So warm and dry. Yesterday it was 25 degrees in Glasgow! It’s not quite as warm and sunny today but it’s still into the 20s and ahm still roastin’!
I’ll probably get out and go for a wander tomorrow, just so the old bones and legs don’t clam up on me completely. I don’t have anything pre-planned until Hamish Hawk on 9 June (then Ian Moss the next night) but I want to keep active and make sure I do some things and make good use of the fabulous weather. But today I definitely need to allow myself to just chill and relax.
This has been the main reason for the radio silence since the break-up of uni is just…I’ve been as busy since the end of uni as I am during it! I mean, it’s great. I’m glad I have so much to do. I’m looking into being able to do some other things while on summer break. I’ve been looking into taking a trip on the Waverley ‘doon the watter’ sometime in the summer. One trip takes you all the way out for a circuit around Ailsa Craig which would be AMAZING! I’d love to do that! I’ve spoken to my partner about it, but the decision is hers. We’ll see. It won’t be until August but we’ll need to book early to secure a place.
We’ll have another night away in Newcastle in around five weeks time so that’ll be fun. Other than the odd gig here and there, my calendar is now pretty free. I’ll still keep creating and writing during the summer, that’s for sure.
Anything of worth that I write, I’ll share here. I just wanted to check-in for now and show off my new locks. I tried a new salon yesterday. They’re just five minutes away around the corner but I had been scared to try them until now. The lady who cut my hair did a grand job and I’ve already booked to have a trim in the second week of July.
One thing I’d like to do within the next week is go to the Kelvingrove and see the Mary Quant exhibition. Possibly over the weekend. If not then early next week. We’ll see…
P.S. You can read gig reviews at the Priptona Weird blog.
My second module of study for my Diploma of Higher Education in English is complete. I handed in my final assignment for this academic year this morning and I am now on a break from study until October.
What I do from now, I have no concrete ideas on but I do know that I will continue to write and make plenty of time for myself to remain focused and creative during these months away from study.
This blog is the perfect place for me to share some of my writing endeavours, so expect the content to pick up here over the next few months while I have the downtime to pursue my own writing efforts. I look forward to sharing some of my writing efforts with you.
But for the next week or so, I will be socialising, gigging and enjoying a bit of downtime.
I had a night away in Hartlepool to see my other favourite band in the entire universe, Warm Digits. They were playing at an event called Lost In The Woods and they were the headline act. You can read all about it on the Minds blog at Priptona Weird. The following day I had a few hours available to explore Hartlepool before getting a train back to Newcastle for my onward journey back to Glasgow.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my time. I was worried that I’d be suffering too much from all the standing about and dancing about at the gig the night before. It was dependent upon a) How well I pulled up from said gig, and b) Location and price of any attractions I might have been interested in exploring. The weather was also another aspect to consider. On the days leading up, it wasn’t promising of being that good and it seemed as if quite a bit of rain would be about.
I didn’t feel that great on my feet the morning after the gig, but a shower helped to limber me up a bit and the forecast for the weather had taken a turn for the better and it looked as if it would be remaining dry for the remainder of my stay in Hartlepool. I thought I might as well make the most of it and headed to the marina.
On the way down, I was approaching The National Royal Navy Museum and decided to go in and have a look, see how much it would cost to go in and explore. An adult ticket is £10 and it lasts for 12 months. That is exceptional value for money. With enough spare money on me to do it, I decided to head on into the museum and explore.
There is quite a bit to see in there. There’s a huge naval vessel called the Trincomalee, and there are displays around the marina – old style shop fronts with full sized figures inside portraying workers, business owners and householders. There were various kids play areas, both indoors and outdoors and there was also a tearoom/cafe there as well. I wiled away some time exploring the shops and having a coffee and a piece of cake in the tearoom. Considering it was the day of the coronation, I decided on a slice of Victoria sponge. You could serve your own slice and the plates provided had little Union Flag napkins on them. The slice had a little toothpick in it with a little Union Flag on it. I brought it home as a souvenir. Lol
I also spent time exploring the Trincomalee. The ship is HUGE. There must be about 24 canons on the ship. I explored the upper deck and three lower decks. All I kept thinking was geez – you neither wanted to be tall or suffer from claustrophobia being a naval officer! Not to mention REALLY needing good sea legs. Talk about cramped. One can only imagine it teeming with hundreds of officers throughout the ship, sloshing about in the ocean out in the middle of nowhere. That kind of life was for the hardy!
Hartlepool museum is extended through the side area of where the entrance is and there were some good displays there as well. I particularly enjoyed learning about the “monkey-hangers” – something that Andy from Warm Digits had mentioned while we were walking about the town centre the afternoon previous. During the Napoleonic Wars, a French ship was sunk off the coast of Hartlepool. One survivor was found washed ashore – a “little hairy man” (aka a monkey) that the locals were convinced was a French spy, so the locals had the poor wee monkey hanged. There was a song about it that you could listen to by pressing a button on the wall. I recorded most of it. You can hear it below.
I really enjoyed my exploration around the National Royal Navy Museum at Hartlepool. If you ever find yourself in Hartlepool, I do recommend that you take the time to visit the museum, especially if you have kids.
Plenty of photos to view and look at below. Click on the images for better viewing options.
Before heading back to Hartlepool train station, I stopped and had McDonalds for lunch. That’s another handy point for visiting the museum – the McDonalds is just across the road from the museum’s entrance. And yes, I have not partaken in a McDonalds for many a year but upon a recent trip to Milngavie, I tried their McPlant burger and I have to say it is REALLY good! I had the McPlant Double on Saturday and that’s a 10/10 for me! I know! Who’d have thought I’d be recommending McDonalds! But honestly, the McPlant is a great burger!
I’d be happy to return to Hartlepool in the near future. I had a really lovely time there. Thanks for the fun, Hartlepool! Hope to see you again one day.
How’s it all going? Well, I had an attack of the doubts over the past few days. Before that I had been procrastinating. I had been a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing and was staying away from writing for uni. I submitted TMA05 on April 4th and got my mark on April 7th. I have to be very careful about what I discuss, having gone over the OU’s rules on discussing things about assignments online.
Suffice it to say it was a pass and I was happy with the result.
I took an early Easter break and had planned to get back to study from Tuesday, 11 April but…that didn’t really happen. I went through a period of demotivation and took all of that week (which was officially Spring Break anyway) off. I was doubting my ability to be “commander of my own ship” in terms of independent study. I feel a little out on a limb when it comes to that. I feel I have a good sense of what my strengths are with my writing but I’m finding it hard to know what to do about my weaknesses. I grapple with really understanding the concepts and techniques around narrative voice and point of view. I know that I also need to get better at creating settings. Creating dialogue for me is VERY strong. I can have characters waffle on all day long – but then to explain where they are and what surrounds them? That’s the hard part. And the other hard part for me is the voice itself. Are they giving a monologue? Is it internal? Is it a soliloquy? Is it solely from their perspective or is it coming from them being observed by someone else? And is that narrator part of the story or not?
I know all this will come with time and through experience but I want it now! Lol.
In my dilemma, I completely wrote off the story I had been working on (and a lot “off”) for the past 4 weeks. I started to believe it was just too big! There was too much going on with it and there was no way I was going to contain it within 2000 words! So, yesterday I started something else. I began a completely fresh story based on this little niggling idea I had about a story that I wanted to explore stemming from the lyrics of a Simple Minds song – Special View. It flowed and I have around 1500 words of a story in no time at all. I spent a small amount of time researching – but it was nothing compared to the research I’ve done so far for the first story. So, it flowed and all that’s left is to end it. I don’t know what that ending will be, yet. If indeed I keep it as a back up and extend it to 2000 words.
At the moment I think the story based on Special View might be something I work on in conjunction with the assignment story just as a kind of distraction for when/if I get stuck. Assignment story now feels fully back on track. I did a lot of work with it today. I didn’t add that much writing to it. Maybe only about 500 words today. I guess it just didn’t feel like much because it all flowed so much better today. But considering it was sitting at around 900 words when I came back to the story on Monday, then…that’s pretty bloody good! Assignment story now sits at 1500 words also. I just need to write the end for it. But I have the ending formulated, I just need to write it out.
It’s coming along nicely. There are exactly 4 weeks left until submission date (18 May) and after a few days of feeling not so good about it, today I feel much better.
Do I want to be a writer? Do I really feel as though I can BE a writer? Will I ever feel comfortable with the idea of calling myself a writer?
I feel so much uncertainty with where I should go with my studies. Today I have been looking at the next module. We’ll move on to Stage 2 with the next module and that’s when the more focused point of study begins. I love writing! I enjoy it so much. I find it so rewarding. Before starting this module I had done very little fictional writing. I strongly felt it was not something that I would be very good at. I accepted my weaknesses and felt my strength lay in life-writing – that is, autobiographical and biographical writing. These past several weeks have opened up a new world to me. One that I felt was out-of-bounds for me. I convinced myself I would never be good enough to become proficient at fictional writing (I avoided using the term “to master” because I doubt I will ever “master” it). I’m still not sure I will ever do so.
I keep trying to silence the inner voices. At the very least I am trying to talk back to them and tell them they’re wrong. Those inner voices that keep saying to me, “you can’t.”
The biggest stumbling block I had was never knowing how to start writing a piece of fiction. I was daunted by the blank page. Since learning how to break the blank page curse, I find that lots of ideas come to my mind. I have even found myself dreaming of stories. I know they are dreams of stories because I’m not even in the dream. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced dreams that I have never actually been a part of. If I have then I never really thought about it in this way and never thought of it in terms that I am dreaming a story and I should do something about it or with it.
A few nights ago I dreamed about a female protagonist called Jessie Orange. Yes… she had a name! Completely from nowhere because I don’t know ANYONE called Jessie Orange. Jessie is Northern Irish and she dislikes her surname because of the connotations it has. She’s an activist and a protestor – but she protests for peace and a united Ireland – but she’s not Catholic, she’s Protestant.
I woke up with such vivid visions and ideas for Jessie and I immediately wanted to go to work and do something with her story. But…I haven’t. Other than now giving the synopsis of Jessie’s story, I’ve not written a single thing about her or her story. I think Jessie was an amalgam of watching the play Cyprus Avenue at the Tron Theatre a couple of weeks back and then seeing Elaine Malcolmson at McChuills on Sunday afternoon. Exposure to Northern Irish people and themes fuelled my imagination.
I’m still very ratty when it comes to capturing those kinds of ideas and doing something proactive with them. My enthusiasm is building into having several writing projects on the go at one time. This idea scares the bejaysus out of me at the same time.
I am loving the research that I am doing writing the prose for my EMA (End of Module Assessment). I’m worried that I am enjoying the research itself more than developing the story from what I’m learning through my research. I don’t really want to discuss what I am researching in case discussing it would be deemed too revealing about my piece of prose. The piece is history-based but entirely fictional. For the assessment we HAVE to write a fictional work. I am conscious of it needing to have verisimilitude – an authenticity to it. It needs to be believable and tangible. The other aspect I am worried about is that my piece will run away with me. The prose can be no longer than 2000 words and I’m worried that I have set myself a story that will be very hard to contain or work effectively within the constraints of 2000 words. There’s a part of me that wants to be selfish and start something fresh so this piece can be given the wings to soar and allow me to expand it and have the potential to make it something of a more considerable length.
My days alternate between feeling brimmed with enthusiasm and creativity to feeling as if I am going down the wrong path entirely and that it really is just academia in general that gives me a kick. It’s learning more broadly that inspires me and perhaps I shouldn’t tie myself down to a specialist subject?
How “well read” writers need to be makes me apprehensive too. I enjoy reading. Of course I do! But I’m not a book worm. I’m not as avid a reader as I should be. I do wonder whether I should stick to English Literature to begin with and then move on to CW? I also love etymology and linguistics – the concept of words, how they came to be, how we use them, their lineage, etc. I can study this as well. But then I look at the Creative Writing module at Stage 2 and there are things I am keen to learn about (like life-writing) but I can see we’ll also be looking at poetry in greater detail and that puts the fear of god in me. Writing poetry I like, reading poetry is what I find scary. I know! I love song lyrics. It’s ridiculous of me to say that I’m scared of reading poetry. It’s the complex stuff that scares me. Clever syntax and blank verse, etc. Pam Ayers? Great! William Blake? HELP!
I’m just in a very pondering mood today and wanted to jot some things down.
I love the story I am working on for my EMA. I’m a little concerned I don’t have an exact end for it, yet. It’s very early days and the EMA isn’t due until 18 May. Before that there is another TMA to hand in which is due on 6 April – just over a week away. It’s worth the lowest overall percentage of the module mark and is just 800 words. It’s a reflective task and study plan mapping out how we are working on our EMA. I’m trying not to get too hung up on that. I’ve made a tentative start and will start pulling it into focus over the weekend and into early next week.
Lastly, my grammar worries me greatly. I am very conscious of my weak points and I am being particularly mindful of my sentences at the moment. I think about every single word I write and worry whether I am using all my words in the right context. I am 52 years old and I still feel like a 14 year old girl. I still get a basic sentence wrong all the time. I keep trying to understand and work out where I am going wrong and rectify it but a lot of the time it feels like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. That’s the final voice in my head. The one that keeps refuting all the examples of “you’re never too old.” That voice keeps saying “Yes you are! You’re far too old already. Why are you even bothering?” Trying to suppress that voice is REALLY hard!
I keep working on writing. I’m at pains to even begin to describe myself as “a writer”…
Harry sits on the park bench. He’s early. Biding time, he enjoys looking at the symmetry of the line of trees that spread out either side of the park’s main pathway. A light breeze lifts the dying leaves off the branches of the trees. They add to the growing carpet of autumn colours laid out across the path. It’s midday and deeply grey. The sky is almost as dark as the asphalt of the pathway.
Harry grows frustrated as his attention diverts to the expressions upon the faces of the people walking through the park. It’s a gripe of his autism that he finds particularly infuriating. Reading peoples’ faces doesn’t come easy to him. In fact, he’s not sure it ever comes to him at all. He can tell the difference between a smile and a frown well enough. He has some talent in distinguishing between happy and sad but it’s hard to put those two opposing expressions into greater context. People crying tears of joy, for example. The idea that anyone cries when they are happy perplexes Harry. He cries when he’s angry or hurt, not when he’s happy!
Furrow-browed, he looks at his watch, then looks again at the pathway in front of him and sees Gary approaching. Gary smiles when he sees Harry waiting on the bench and waves enthusiastically. Taking a seat beside him he enquires, “What’s got into you today? You look like you’ve swallowed a wasp. What’s up?”
“I was watching people walk by and got pissed off that I can’t work out what anyone’s thinking. You know, the usual autistic crap I have to deal with. How do you do it, Gary? How do you know how people are feeling and what they’re really thinking”?
“I don’t, mate. I’ve got no idea. I’m just guessing. Here! See him, over there,” pointing to a young man just to their left on the park’s lawn, “He’s thinking about bunking off work ‘cause he can’t be bothered to go in today. He can’t be arsed.”
“I guess that’s it, yeah. See, I wouldn’t think of that.”
“It’s okay, Harry. I’m just guessing, mate. It can be anything on that bloke’s mind. He could be really buzzing inside. I don’t know. And you don’t need to worry about what others are thinking and feeling, either. You just need to worry about yourself, alright? Anyway, ya ready?”
“Come on then.”
Both men stand up and begin walking towards the pathway.