June 10, 2010

The real world

I am not 100% sure I will still be able to log in here after I graduate. This is in about 20 days. 

Therefore, I am going to bid Warwick blogs a sad farewell.

I am going out into the big pond to try and eat all the bigger fish. Or make friends with them. Whichever is easier.

I want to make books happen. I am going to try and be a writer. Scratch that. I am going to be a writer. 

They say the first twelve years are the hardest. I hope in twelve years I can look back and not loudly mock myself. 

April 17, 2010

I want to live in a world without planes…

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8626000/8626927.stm

Alain de Botton’s piece is evocative and subtle.

As with Ursula le Guin’s website and the way it forces you to contemplate the image of a barn owl before you dive into what you were looking for, anything that forces us to slow down for a minute – or consider what the benefits of slowing down could be – is something I welcome.

There is no real need for everyone to fly all over the world in the next week or during the past two days; life will go on. People think that when they have ‘important’ jobs, like managing money, leading a country or similar, no moment should be wasted. But ‘time wasters’ make better managers and leaders.

I like what Lin Yutang has to say on the matter:

“the true enjoyment of an idle life doesn’t cost money. The capacity for true enjoyment of idleness is lost in the moneyed class and can be found only among people who have a supreme contempt for wealth.”

and that,

“There is always plenty of life to enjoy for a man who is determined to enjoy it. If men fail to enjoy this earthly existence we have, it is because they do not love life sufficiently and allow it to be turned into a humdrum routine existence.”

Now the sun is finally out, the trees bedecked and unfurling, it is plain idiocy not to enjoy a little idleness – even in the form of a long cup of tea.

April 16, 2010

As ever, Ursula Le Guin gets it right…

Writing about web page http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Index-Lavinia.html

As ever, Ursula Le Guin is two steps ahead: look what she's done on her website's 'Lavinia' page. That's right - it's a subtly underlit owl against a midnight background that you have to scroll past to get to the info. 

It's a moment of internet beauty. 

February 25, 2010

I cheer myself up by reading about authors who went insane…

Writing about web page http://flavorwire.com/72402/the-mantra-of-writing-fiction

This is a very amusing (and possibly useful) collection of author's tips. My favourites are Colm Toibin's "If you have to read, cheer yourself up by reading the biographies of authors who went insane"  and Margaret Atwood's suggestion to take two pencils onto a plane (because pens break and you can't take sharpeners on the plane) and, if needed, use your arms or a pieces of wood.

I am extremely jealous of writers who can make an actual living as writers. I too would gladly endure a fair amount of poverty in order to be a 'professional' writer. Perhaps this is because, as a student, I am used to poverty and upon ejection into the real world, I will become soft and inured to the higher things in life, such as...blackberries, and new clothes, and also one day maybe being able to shop at Marks and Spencer for food. One can only dream.

Although this is a reccuring dream, similar to my dream about the amazing and amazingly expensive goat's cheese sold at Aubrey Allen (a high class butchers/deli in Leam), a goat's cheese which melts alluringly into your mouth in a explosion of fresh, ripe goodness. But also costs about 50p a mouthful. Some people may think my love of cheese is weird, but I consider it one of the four major food groups, along with coffee, salami and cake.

December 22, 2009

Gap off

Why gap years can be a complete waste of time

As a cynical final year student, I can’t be the only one sick of those unutterably dull types writing odes to ‘what my self-serving gap year taught me’. It makes me wonder: what is wrong with my generation?

Does the paralysing fear of university debt and the frenzied competition for decent places breed some specially boring type of potential student? I have a particular distaste for those pretentious people who, safely holding their place for PPE at Oxford or Durham, vomit paragraphs on how spending a year in Brussels, or in Peru helping starving children, really made them understand that they want to be a politician or work for Save the Children. This is all, of course, a complete fantasy. They knew what they were going to do beforehand, because Mummy and Daddy taught them that going into politics or the foreign office is the ‘right sort of thing’.

I spent half of my gap year in my hometown in the south of England and half in Mongolia, the first half paying for the second. I left my job in a PR firm (got through work experience, not family contacts) in April and frantically rushed around, trying to buy warm clothes, a suitcase and other necessities that had belatedly occurred to me.

About two weeks later, I pitched up on the first flight of my life and spent 22 hours travelling from Heathrow to Ulaanbataar, capital of Mongolia. I was officially working on the UB Post newspaper, but throwing them a couple of articles and a fair amount of sub-editing each week, I devoted the rest of my time to drinking, having fun and enjoying the idiosyncratic city that is Ulaanbataar.

Mongolia has really taught me more about what I don’t want to do with my life. When you’re staying in a nomadic ger in the Gobi desert and all around you is flat red earth for about 200km, you start to wonder things like: hey, where’s the toilet? It’s then that you realise your real limits.

It seems that, more and more, you have to have spent your time doing something a university admissions officer or potential employer can comfortably deem as worthwhile, rather than something fun. It is not a crime to be eighteen and sit on a beach all year. In fact, it shows you are more well balanced than Mr. I-worked-for-Deloitte-for-six-months-and-it-changed-my-life. I’ve heard that Bristol University even allots points according to how meaningful and sensible your gap year choice was. The problem is that this means nothing. Someone can stay at home for an entire year and become a changed person, or they can travel to 30 countries to help in orphanages and still remain small-minded and uninterested in the world around them. The only way you can find this out is by having a good bullshit detector.

All those mind-crushingly boring types might have spent a year doing something that will give them a big gold star on their CV, but they’re missing out on an opportunity to get out, see the world and relax, something they probably need more than those who do end up spending all their time on a beach. So please, spare us the bullshit: if you can’t have fun yourself, write about what it really meant to you, how it’s going to get you a job at Daddy’s law firm, not a bunch of spiel you borrowed out of last week’s Sunday review.

December 21, 2009

I'm strangely excited by the ability to use social media

Writing about web page http://twitter.com/MaddyBeresford

I'm strangely excited about the ability to add my Twitter feed to ANYTHING. I've added it to this blog, to my other blog, and I've even linked it to my linked-in account (get it?).

October 27, 2009

I forgot I was a journalist in a past life

I remembered today that I can actually google my name and find things I wrote. OK, so they are quite far down, and often well-hidden and require alternate spellings of "maddie", "maddy" or "madi", but that is definitely not relevant to the self-serving point. I feel more validated in my literary ambitions since I stumbled across my fine article on a man who sailed around the world to raise money for charity http://archive.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/2007/4/12/312408.html

Or how about me as a gap year student on gap year students?


But I am deeply saddened to discover I can no longer find my article on the importance of dentistry for children in Mongolia, which I felt was genuinely interesting and required independent research. Jokes aside, people do not realise how important dentistry is to the health of impoverished children.

Of course, I am sort of a real journalist for the Sanctuary, if you count writing articles imagining you are a robot!http://www.sanctuarynewspaper.co.uk/warwick/opinion

October 28, 2008

Vonnegut on Writing Courses

Writing about web page http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/052499vonnegut-writing.html

I quite liked what Vonnegut had to say here about writing courses and how they help.

Sci–fi C19th gothic novel

Writing about web page http://www.gutenberg.org/files/601/601-h/601-h.htm

Ok, so our task this week was to take a writing style and a genre that doesn't go with it (e.g. sci-fi magic realism or purple prose detective fiction) and write up some of the things we had produced from exercises in class.

In my case, I was reading Lewis' The Monk and so decided that it would be a great idea to do a gothic sci-fi. Only not modern gothic, more 19th century gothic. This was not such a great idea as it seemed, but I like part of what came out of this. So here it is:

“What beauty in those angles!” He continued after a silence of a few minutes. “What sweetness, what stark majesty.” The explorer was waiting on the edge of a dairy-milk ravine while slougs – great, flaccid winged slugs - hovered above. He gazed upon a dead square lying in the undergrowth; crippled into 35º angles, it was a white triangle against the black woods and leaves.

With difficulty he stirred from his delirium. He was sat beneath a great tree. His rich habit and magnificent equipment declared him to be of distinguished rank, but even he could not tell that catastrophe was written in a foreign language on every inch of the great tree’s bark. The tiltbend world had overwhelmed his senses. Its colours and noises: the shed skins of slougs on the ground around him in crackling, crisp oranges.

A sort of mystery had always enveloped the explorer from his early youth because of his habit of sitting alone. Now he sought for others in the same lonely way. This gave to his person an aspect of sadness and suppressed feeling; yet an accident of birth had given him features notable and clear. As he sat, lynchets of the past shuddered in trans-time as the slougs collided in the air. The slougs were guardians of more than time. He was beside their watchtower. It consisted of three rough poles of unequal height and bent in seemingly random shapes. Yet to the knowledgeable it gave the secrets of space-time.

The explorer, however, continued his rapt admiration of one of the squares, a menial creature, that had met its death near the poles. “You have known great suffering,” he spoke. He heaved his breast and thought of his home world. The air above grew dark and thickened with squares. They were black, tarnished and determinedly quadrilateral. They nestled in branches like pinching fists.

October 22, 2008

Exercise Week 2

This turned into a bit of a pastiche, partly because I was greatly amused by the thought of this character walking into Varsity on campus.

Although I am by nature a god-doubtin’ sort of a person findin’ that church is more a show of kind than any sort o’ truth I am sometime struck by that about life that ain’t so easy. The world’s more than squares, you see? Those squares they make in church or in the government hall can’t fit all o’ life in them or indeed all o’ people who are mighty surprisin’ for instance once I knew a man who had six fingers on one hand but that wasn’t the most surprisin’ thing about him cos he could play piano real good even tho’ he’d one extra finger. An’ he’d use that sixth finger to play with even tho’ he didn’t use the finger aside it the normal fifth finger on his hand. The point I’m makin’ is that how can you find boxes and rules or commandments in this place when really its all movin’ lines and rivers? For inside a man is more’n just a stay in place thing that doesn’t move or walk anywere or even make waves like the ocean on a day where there’s much wind. Inside o’ him is a movin’ thing a river that makes him talk to other people and find his own way o’ thinkin’.

Well, not long ago I was needin’ some escape from these type o’ person that thinks in squares an’ I was also freely this I will admit o’ needin’ somethin’ to drink. Not that I am by nature a drinker I never was afore I saw that if the way of God was all a bunch of men in black n’ white who know not much of life indeed less than any normal folk might think on. And so I thought on it and came to seeing that if the other rules they have in church not really rules as such then why should I be keepin’ away from the drink? For I saw then and soon after saw more clearly than there isn’t this thing they call the devil in fact I suspect the real devils are up there in the black garments watchin’ us from the front o’ the congregation but that’s just my way o’ thinkin’ for once I knew a man who was a priest an’ also a terrible person for he did always sin with the women o’ the town and onetime a young girl who did have his baby and afterward die with the having o’ it he was tellin’ o’ the wrath o’ God when his baby was left with no person to look for ‘it. Tho after it did go to a relative of this girl in some other town.

But I was sayin’ o’ how I was needin’ some kind of drink havin’ decided that these things the church are tellin’ us are wrong. Didn’t I know Mr. Whitman who is one for tellin’ us that there is truth in all things well why not in drink also? I liked this place, you see had wide, open doors that feel like you’re walkin’ into some kind of open-thinkin’ place. And I’m comin’ in to this place, tho’ straight way I know it’s more than just a place there’s plenty o’ thinkin’ types here for they’re lookin’ at me as I’m enterin’ one young couple aren’t seein’ me for they’re in some kind o’ discussion that I start to listen to the young man he starts up all sayin’ of the world that its all on a loop ‘deed I think that’s what he sayin’ that when it ends it all starts again and there’s no avoidin’ this. But the young lady she is not agreeable to this idea mighty pretty she is with dark hair an’ eyes an’ you can tell she is one of those who has a river o’ sorts inside her tho’ likely he does too tho’ he looks stern she is talkin’ about how she can’t see herself believin’ this thing he has about the world being on a sort of circle in time for why she is askin? Tho he is not thinkin’ on what she is sayin’ being more inclined to believe what he has said.

This is to be less interestin’ tho’ for I am now feelin’ the need for a long draught of beer inside me sending it’s old heat against me an’ I can see hows these two are stuck in somethin’ that won’t be finished sometime soon or maybe not in all o’ their lives.

I callin’ to the barman altho’ in a matter of speakin’ he is younger than me and as such cannot be called a man for my father was always in a matter of speakin’ tellin’ me that you cannot be a man until you have done such a thing to prove yourself for instance once he rode out into the desert an’ came back with seven wild horses which later turned out looked a lot like those horses that old man Barton owned over in Mellisville tho’ we won’t be askin’ questions ‘bout that for my pap’s word was as good as gold most o’ the time anyhow sometime to be a man you got to do somethin’ that’s good enough for a man I doubt this boy has much a chance.

"Hey boy, one beer please and make it quick."

“Just a minute, I’m pouring it now. That’ll be £3.60”

‘Course t’aint his problem boy like that young he is and not so sharp but what do we do with them who cain’t think right. Strange lookin’ lad, all fair hair fluffin’ round his head. But where was I, I’m losin’ myself? I was just thinking how this philosophising isn’t so hard if you’ve got it in your bones like I find in myself. Stagger me how little folks is thinking on it all. When this world’s full of what I’m callin’ the manifold shapes, y’know and more than one thing isn’t all together? Like them two in the corner findin’ that each one o’ their truths don’t quite match up yet still bein’ close together and talkin’ all the time you can see there is a river between them tho’ might be best to call it an ocean yes I remember that boy an’ girl well wonder what they are doin’ now?

“Well, thank you kindly. Have you ever thought on goin’ horse-findin’?”

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