All entries for November 2010
November 22, 2010
So, this morning, the alarm doesn't go off and I'm woken up by 'wake up, the alarm didn't go off!' Jolted from sleep, I look around and see 7.12am on the face of the clock radio. Past the time I should be leaving the house. I drag myself out of bed and feel shattered, suffering the consequences of finishing the last thirty or so pages of Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things before going to sleep.
I rush to get ready and am ready to leave the house by 8pm but end up still there at 8.12 because my son's not ready and somehow I get roped into taking him to school. It's on the way to the railway station. I'm in panic mode by the time I leave and the traffic is SLOWer than a snail and of course, all the traffic lights are red. My heart is thumping inside my chest and I cuss every slow driver who won't get a move on because I need to get through the lights before they change to red again. I don't make it through. Sunday drivers on a Monday morning. Not good news.
As I go to the ticket machine, a young woman approaches me asking if I've got change for a fiver. I know the feeling of turning up somewhere and realising that I don't have the right change or coin denominations, so I don't want to walk away and disappoint her. I'm not sure, I tell her, but if I have, she can have it. She looks on with anticipation as the coins drop into the machine. With it happily fed and about to burp out the ticket, I discover I do have change after all and drop it into the woman's hand. She smiles and thanks me. I've saved her from hanging around waiting for someone else to turn up who might have some change to share.
The watch is not my friend. It's far later than I want it to be, and I race uphill to the station. There's work going on the tracks so coaches have been organised for some of the journeys. You'd think drivers didn't ever have to use a diversion before the way some lunatics are driving - or not, as the case might be. Thankfully, they're out of my way. I race through the entrance and then use all my remaining energy to get up one flight of stairs, across a bridge and then down another flight of stairs. It uses up all my energy and I think my heart is thumping its way out of my chest Alien style. Perhaps the God of Plenty will see my good deed this morning and delay the train for a bit, I think to myself. I make it onto the train with about thirty seconds to spare before it sets off. Maybe my good deed paid off.
As the train sets off I feel sick, my heart is pounding so much and I can't breathe through my nose. I take huge gulps of air but suffer for it because as cold air hits my throat it chills my larynx and triggers a cough. I drink water and it takes me about five minutes for the heart to calm down, but the cough splutters on, shunning my efforts to make it stop. The cold water doesn't help, nor does the lozenge I suck on. The menthol in it makes my cough worse. The girl in the next seat has shuffled away from me as far as she can go. I want to turn around and tell her I haven't got a cough or a cold, it's allergies and a sensitive throat, but she doesn't look like she wants to be anywhere near me, never mind talk to me.
A bag search discovers a different kind of lozenge. No menthol. It does the trick after a few minutes. I settle down to read the last piece of writing to be workshopped later in the morning. I finish just as I reach Coventry.
Then it's a race for the number 12 bus to uni.
November 21, 2010
Writing about web page http://escapetoinfinity.tumblr.com/
I can't remember where I read these words, but today, I came across 'polished mirror'. The first thing that popped into my head was:
My writing is like a polished mirror. If there's no foundation, there is nothing to polish. There has to be a rough sketch, a starting point. If I don't sit down to write, then I will not have anything to polish later through editing and redrafting.
I've known that you have to write something, no matter how bad it seems. If there's nothing there, there's nothing to improve. The 'blank screen', the writer's nightmare. In the hardest of times, a few lines written are better than no lines at all. Those few lines can act as prompts at the next writing session, and so the cycle will progress until you're able to write with greater fluidity.
I just never thought of it as a polished mirror before. I like that image. I want to remember it so that the next time I hit a block, I hope the phrase will help me, spur me on, deliver me from the dark, fuzzy mirk of writer's block. I want the clarity of that polished mirror.
Is your writing like a polished mirror? How do you deal with the fuzzy mirror?
November 16, 2010
Well, our assignments for the Research Methods module are due about now. I say 'about now' because no-one seems to know exactly when they're due! My understanding is that they're both due this Friday. Other people have all sorts of combinations, including Wendnesday next week, which is a bit dangerous because if it's due Friday but hand in the Wednesday after, then you've missed the deadline. Not a good start to the course if you manage to miss the first submission deadline.
The experience confirms that to know exactly what we need to do and when, it's best to check with our Postgrad secretary.
It's scary to think how easy it would be to miss a due date. I'd hate to jeopardies my course because of something like this. Vigilance is the key...
November 15, 2010
November 08, 2010
Better day today, except that I felt unwell and couldn't breathe through my nose. Time of the year has something to do with it, being the soggiest day in a while. Lots of drenched students around, with a myriad colours of brollies. In my imagination more than in reality. Most people had black, some pink or red, some blue. Many with spikes out on show and compromised function as a result.
The Portfolio we need to submit seems a long way off, but February will soom be here and I want to be organised. I need to work on the basis that someone usually goes pear-shaped near submission, so why tempt fate?
I want to start asap, so I asked about what the submission entails. I don't want to know things like word count etc - I already know stuff like that from the MA in Writing Handbook. What I need to know are things like:
- can we submit writing that has been workshopped, or must it be new writing?
- what does the critical analysis/commentary entail? I know I've got to show problems and solutions, but I didn't know if this was to be in a formal, academic, essay style, or whether it should be in a more relaxed, personal reflection in the first person which read more like a writing log.
I feel happier now that it's been clarified and want to make a start on it as soon as I can. First, I need to start writing the next chapter of my creative piece for my next workshop. I realised today that I've got to take it in next Monday ready to workshop the following week! So soon? It'll be the last workshop for me this semester, so I'd like to use it for an experiment.
Better get stuck into it, I guess. I need to sort out what's what in the novel synopsis and novel chapters - or maybe look at character conflicts. Linking the main threads for my two main characters needs attention. Maybe I should use the workshop to look at that.
Hmm... time to don the thinking cap. Before that, I need to get my Research Methods work done. Better get on with then.
November 03, 2010
Well, already it's week 5 of term. Half way through the first term of three and I've barely been able to do any writing. With any luck the hardest bits of home life are over now and I can get on with finding some creativity again.
It was the last lecture for Research Methods today. I went in early as usual, keen to try and make headway with the assignments for the module, and to meet with Ted, my fellow student, to discuss elements of the novel I'm working on. It's been a productive day: I managed to complete the research databases elements of my assignment and have decided that I'll review Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie for the Book Review assignment which is designed to test our ability to work with the MHRA referencing system.
Okay, enough of the assignments! It's great getting to know some of the other students in my group. We often don't get much time together outside of lectures, and not living on campus makes it more difficult for me to get to know the others. When I have a uni day I try to get there early and allow time to have a drink after workshops instead of rushing off for the train home. We're all becoming a little easier in each other's company and it's making a lot of difference to me.
We've all started to work on or discuss our assignments for Research Methods, which is due in Week 7, which is not far away now. Also, we've started to chat about our final module submissions for Week 10 for Warwick Fiction Workshop 1. The only trouble is, we end up with more questions than we started with! There are lots of things to be discussed with the lecturers, I guess.
And I'm dreading using the MHRA system again for the critical analysis and review parts of the assignments. I wish the system would get modified and made easier. Why does pulling teeth spring to mind?