myalgic encephalopathy

Fiery Villains, Yearbook Dilemma, Anthologies

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I’m currently agonising over the last question for my yearbook profile. “What experience at uni will you always remember?” Well to be honest, most of my good experiences over the last three and a bit years have nothing to do directly with my uni. Most of the friends I’ve made during that time are through outside things–NaNoWriMo and church. The friends I made in Fresher’s Week I had a great time with then, but lost somewhere down the line. Because I’ve never done much social stuff at uni, I was out of mind.

Okay, I’m going to stop this here before it turns into a poor-little-me routine. That’s not the intention. I’m just expressing my dilemma. I will probably end up saying something about Fresher’s Week, but I wish I knew what to write.

Anyway, moving on, I spent an interesting Monday morning plotting one of my villains for Aquila. It’s the second time I’ve used my giant whiteboard, which is a great tool as long as I write it all down somewhere permanent and wipe it off fairly quickly. I took a photo this time, although I’ve had to black a few points out to avoid spoiling too badly. OK, half the points.

Here’s a little taster:

blackedoutversion

I’m getting there with the first draft. I reached the end of my plan with 2,000 words to go, but since plotting my villain(?s) out I’m making progress with filling the gaps. It still reads a bit stilted to me, but maybe I’m being a bit hard on myself. I need to print out the whole thing and scribble on it. That always helps. I might even post an extract.

One last thing. I’m considering submitting the Aquila original short story in a competition to be published in a YA anthology. Maybe one of my other stories as well (it accepts multiple submissions). Watch this space! Unfortunately one of my poems, Reasons to Sing, might not now be published due to the anthology not receiving adequate funding. This is the donation link.

 

New Title (Again), Apologies

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Hi everyone. I’m sorry if you think I’ve been messing this blog up recently. I tried following lots of people’s advice to improve it, eg:

  • tailor to target audience
  • ‘give’ the readers something
  • use multi media

I tried all that, and I seem to have lost readers along the way, not gained any. So I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been trying too hard and was doing okay before. So I intend to compromise by keeping my rambles, interspersed with other things but I’m not going to fret over posting lots of reviews or anything like that any more.

Right. New start, new blog title. I was never completely happy with ‘The Notebook’, it was just not interesting enough for me, and I tried using a quote from one of my poems and that didn’t work either. But then @AEMarling Tweeted my tagline:

and I got the bright idea of basing my blog title on it. I recently changed the blog theme as well: which do people prefer, this one or the notebook-style one?

So, onto my rambles. I could ramble about the fact that nobody turned up to my class yesterday and I still can’t work out how they all knew it was a reading week and I didn’t. (I checked every page of my notebook, nothing.) Or I could ramble about the fact that I was woken at 11:45 last night by a wrong number. Unfortunately I was too tired to really be much help–like, being able to tell him my phone number to see if he had dialled wrong or not. (I’m guessing he was given the wrong number, since he called four times.) I feel rather guilty because I unplugged the phone, and then later realised that might not be a good idea, replugged it and found it was too late–he’d left a message, probably thinking he’d got it right this time, and turned his phone off.

(I didn’t listen to the message. I don’t even know how to play them, I haven’t figured my landline out yet. My brother knows how to delete them, which is very helpful.) I left a message telling him he’d got me again and what my number was–nothing else I could really do by that point.

ChocolateAll this on top of a long day in London. After discovering my lesson wasn’t on, and that there was no meeting at church that night either, I found I was free to go somewhere I hadn’t been to since I left London. I go into London regularly, and when I do I try and allow time to visit some of my old haunts. (For Harrow, this means The Chocolate Room. For Camden, this means my favourite Japanese restaurant. I haven’t found a favourite place in Uxbridge yet because I only just started going there, but I like it. I don’t really have a favourite place in Hendon–I only hang around there prior to a lesson or tutorial, I find it too busy.) Once place I don’t have the opportunity to visit is Ealing, though I used to go there when I was still in London. It has the biggest Pret a Manger I’ve ever been to, with an upstairs that doesn’t get too busy except at lunchtimes, and I could easily spend hours there writing or reading. So when I suddenly had the day free, I went back. And as much as I enjoyed myself, it was a long day.

So today’s going to be one of those recovery, don’t get much done days. Which is okay by me, since I just got the second series of House of Anubis in the post. (Parts one AND two–since I have a multi-region DVD player, I was able to get the second volume from Amazon.com. No way I’m waiting months on a cliffhanger.)

My resolution this year–yes, just one–was to do something productive every day. Of course, the definition of productive is flexible–it has to be, considering my health. Productive could just mean sorting out a few emails to stop my inbox from re-cluttering up, or making a connection on Twitter. (I’ve just made my first one with someone I do not personally know, which is quite exciting! I’ve been re-tweeted before, but never actually engaged in conversation–mainly because I do not know what to say to a stranger.) Both will be beneficial in the long run. Heck, even fanfiction will be beneficial in the long run, since a readership there = at least some people reading my original work. I would read my favourite fanfiction authors’ books myself if it weren’t for the fact that one is in Hungarian, and the other I’m not even sure if it exists since I heard about it only by rumour.

I’m Back!

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Firstly, apologies for the gap in posting. I’ve been dealing with a lack of internet making life difficult, and then went on holiday. I’ve just come back from the Isle of Wight yesterday.

It was a good trip, though like every year I’ve had the C-word (coursework) hanging over me preventing me from truly being able to relax. Still I enjoyed seeing the countryside, doing some tourist-y stuff, and was even inspired for two stories–neither of which I am going to give a lot of detail on now, but I will say that one was inspired by the Garlic Farm and the other by Carisbrooke Castle*.

I didn’t manage to write any more poetry, but then when I do write poetry it seems to come in batches–I go through a phase of it coming easily to me, and then for ages without anything. That’s writing, I guess. I recently managed to make some headway on Crossfire, totalling my chapters written from one and a half to two and a half-ish (I know–sounds abundant!). I have a long to-do list for that novel (series) of things like names that I haven’t decided on yet. It’s a bit of a hinder, though I suppose the constant coursework doesn’t help either …

Still, I’m hoping to have my current essay (well the essay’s done, it’s the annotated bibliography that’s taking my energy now) done by August, and my second essay done by the time I see my friends from my old church at Westpoint, leaving me free to enjoy the summer … in September.

Now my internet’s sorted I think I’ll hunt down some more poetry competitions/anthologies to submit to, see if I can graduate with an impressive CV–after all, my illness has prevented me from partaking in extra-curricular stuff, so a list of publications can only help my job prospects! I’d love to enter fiction competitions as well, but am rarely inspired by prompts, and for open things I just don’t know what to submit. I just don’t have the energy to invest in writing something suitable; apart from Reasons to Sing, which was written specifically for the anthology, I just enter a poem I’ve already written.

I have a feeling I’ve entered Let Them Eat Cake into a competition somewhere, but I can’t remember if, when or where. Better not send that one anywhere till I know for certain!

Pin of the week:
the-only-12-1-2-writing-rules-you-ll-ever-need

*I say inspired by, it was more that the visit reminded me of one of my childhood daydreams and I realised it would make a good children’s book.

Review of “M.E.? What?” by Lois Bennett

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M.E.? What?M.E.? What? by Lois Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A glimpse into the life of someone with ME/CFS. A must-read for anyone who knows a sufferer.

The book is concise, quick and easy to read; more of a booklet than a book. It engages the reader by asking them to imagine various ways in which ME impacts someone’s life, describing the symptoms and attitudes encountered. It includes a section of shocking quotes from people who don’t understand, and a brief description of what the illness is. As a sufferer myself I recommend this book whole-heartedly. It makes its point successfully and without drowning it in unnecessary information.

Anyone who knows a sufferer of ME/CFS should read this book. Anyone who works in the teaching profession should read this book. Employers should read this book. Everyone should read this book. ME is a common illness, at some point in your life you will meet someone with the condition. ME sufferers themselves should get a copy so they can loan out to anyone who needs to understand what it is like.

I hope this book will prove a big step in raising ME awareness, and on behalf of ME sufferers everywhere I would like to thank Lois Bennett for writing it.

View all my reviews

Mosaic, Tech Bad, Brain Being Bonkers (What’s New?)

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In response to those who asked me in the workshop yesterday about my reasoning behind the line “Two chimes in my ear”–I remember now!

The chimes reflect running out of time. There’s two of them to reflect the choice being made in the song.

Yesterday was moving. The last class. Not my last class, considering I’ve still got next year, but my last class with my peers, so I felt a little tearful afterwards. It fuelled a new poem.

It’s been a weird week. Now my Genre coursework’s done I think the pressure’s eased a bit, which might explain the sudden splurge of fanfiction inspiration. The rest of my coursework either fits in the definitely will have in on time, or definitely won’t and am deferring, categories, so I feel a bit more relaxed. I’d probably feel a lot more relaxed if my laptop didn’t keep deleting parts of my Word documents.

(Anyone had that issue before, when you’ve opened a Word file and found it’s somehow reverted to a previous version? And for some reason my laptop doesn’t keep copies of previous saved versions so I can’t restore it.)

Still, at least all I lost is a couple of paragraphs; the second time it happened I had made a copy so all I lost was the author’s notes, thank goodness. It hasn’t happened since; still I’m copying into Dropbox every time now just in case. I just wish I could remember how I ended Chapter Two of One Over Many (or if I even did, I can’t actually remember).

Alienated Talking Bricks (in Bubbles …?)

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Had a good week. A very good week! My Genre coursework is AT LAST completed and submitted, now I can take a nice long break from unicorns and superheroes. Unfortunately I still have work to do–meh–but the big one’s done. Done! Hooray! I was beginning to think I’d never finish it.

And I’ve finished the second song to submit for Lyrics. Well, I think I have. I’m going to wait a while and have another look at the second verse, see if it does need another tweak, but I think it’s finished or at least virtually finished, which means I’m up to my quota on lyrics to submit for marking–just the critique to go, which while trickier than I anticipated is still looking to be much easier than the Genre critique was.

I also finished another song–not one I’m submitting, as it’s based on Shadow Charge and harder to appreciate without knowledge of the story. I had planned for it to be my second song for coursework, but wasn’t sure when it was finished and showed it to a third party with no knowledge of my novel, who agreed it didn’t really stand alone. But in the context of the story, I’m happy with it, so it wasn’t a waste.

Extract from ‘Leave Me Alone’:

Leave me alone! Let me go!
I can’t take the past’s torment
If bricks couldn’t talk I would be all right
But they can and they whisper through the night
Haunted by what I never wanted
I was only trying to make things right

Posting more would spoil the novel plot, so that’s all you get!

A while ago, one afternoon over coffee dregs, I drafted a couple of Trock songs, something I’d wanted to do for ages but didn’t actually plan on trying before I’d finished all my coursework. But my brain had given up on everything else and I thought, why not? Probably because my brain had given up on everything else, only one chorus is actually more than note form. I quite like it though I wish I had more than that. Still, one day …

On the subject of geeky writing, I surprised myself by making progress on two fan fictions in the last couple of afternoons that hadn’t changed a jot in months. Both Doctor Who, well, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Still neither are at a point in which I’d feel comfortable making them public, alas, but still, progress is progress.

I know what you’re thinking, but fan fiction falls into the same category as fan songs, or anything fan-based really: only when my brain has exhausted everything else. Which is sadly why most afternoons you will find me watching the telly, too knackered to finish all the one-chapter wonders I started posting online prematurely over the last seven years (wow, has it been that long?). Which is why I’m being a lot more careful with the newer ideas, i.e. the Doctor Who ones.

I’ll stop talking geek now, not that I’m apologising for being one (never!), but just not to alienate (pun not intended) too much anyone just stumbled on this blog. I promise I don’t only write about geeky things.

I also write about … stars! I like stars. I’m still learning the constellations, I’m quite a newbie to astronomy, but loving it. And I write about other things too, can’t think of specifics off the top of my head but I do.

I’m coming close to leaving home. As in, for good as opposed to during term time. It’s a scary thought. Not in one go, I’m moving into a flat in a town near my parents, so the idea is over time I’ll gradually clear out my old bedroom so one of my brothers can have it. Might take a while, living in two places basically means having two of everything–or it does for me anyway. I’ve been lacking the energy for a real clear-out for years, but being closer to home is looking to be the time to do it.

I’m going to miss London, but I’ll still be going to Neo Writers and astronomy meets (not all of them every month). In the probably naive hope that one day I’ll be able to afford to move back there on a permanent basis. (Don’t burst my bubble, people.) And my friends had better visit or else …

Stage Fright and Tongue Tornados

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I am so close with my Genre project now. The bulk of my critique is written, I just need to do the boring stuff like reference and write a conclusion. Oh, and cut it down by a couple of hundred words. And draw one of my book covers.

My aim was to have it done by this weekend. I’m not positive that I’ll make it, but it shouldn’t be too many days afterwards. I won’t be able to do any coursework this weekend at all, what with my friend getting married on Saturday and my parents coming up Sunday to take me home for the hols. And do some cleaning. That reminds me, still need to pack. But before I do that I need to unpack the bits and bobs I shoved out of sight in bags and boxes when my agent was showing a potential tenant round my flat. That could take a while. Maybe I’ll do that Friday morning to take my mind off the Plath presentation. I don’t do public speaking, really I don’t. Just thinking about it gives me butterflies. I can’t believe I once fantasised about being a pop star. Ah well, we were all thirteen once …

I saw Oz: The Great And Powerful yesterday afternoon after my brain had lapsed. The cinema was practically empty, there was only two of us there, me and this older lady who chatted to me on the way out. Vue couldn’t have liked us much, she’d paid with a gift voucher and me by my Nectar points, so they didn’t actually make anything on that particular showing.

Oz-The-Great-and-PowerfulThe film was good. I only really cringed once, and it was one of those scenes where the audience is supposed to cringe, and thankfully it didn’t last too long. It was visually impressive, even if it hadn’t been in 3D, and the plot twisted just enough to keep me interested without confusing me. I’ve seen the original two Oz films and read the first book but I wouldn’t say I’m overly familiar with Baum’s work (nice in-joke there at the beginning though, I noticed), so I spent a while trying to work out which witch was which (yep, that was deliberate). The black-and-white opening was a nice homage to the original Oz film, though I thought it could have been cut a bit, used less build-up to the tornado. The character of Oz struck a nice balance between my wanting to help him and wanting to slap him–not the character I was expecting. I’d give the film four and a half stars, though that could change after I have read the original story for myself.

I have to ask, the WordPress pros out there, I am still a newbie blogger and have yet to understand the difference between a tag and a category. As far as I can tell, they do the same thing? How does having both benefit an author/reader?

(PS: I don’t own the image, merely borrowing it for illustrative purposes.)