Brace yourself: sparks reigniting

July 11, 2008

Today will be a day of sad for the three people who accidentally read this blog – next week I will be on holiday. This means radio silence until at least the 21st. I am going on a peaceful holiday and look forward to walking in the woods, on the beach and to the pub for dinner.

In other news I have been geeking out. Having observed a resurgenceof interest in Magic:The Gathering among the housefolk I dug out my old cards and went through them with my partner. As a teenager I had enjoyed the collecting aspect more than playing as I had few opponents and found self-teaching a little awkward as there was no one around to correct my misinterpretations. Since then many intimidating new rules have been made but I may make an effort to learn them on a rainy day next week – after all it is far more stimulating to play a game than watch TV.

So: ten years ago I was an avid collector, and probably had about two thirds of that particular set. My interest waned when too many different sets started coming out too often and I found my pocket money was better spent in the pub. Going through the old cards with my partner last night was a joy. He was pleased to find a couple of cards ‘from his list’ that he was planning to track down on eBay. He found numerous other cards that he wanted to steal for their general awesomeness. He told me that one of my cards could be worth up to a hundred pounds. For the first time I felt some pride in my collection, and a sudden reluctance to share them as much as I had been offering to. Knowing that I have good cards may reignite my interest in the game.

I am reminded of at university when a group of friends bundled into my room when I was with my partner and the heavily ironic Southern Belle exclaiming: “You’re playing magic? That is so much worse than being caught having sex. I’m embarrassed for you.” She’s a fantastic woman.

It has occurred to me that I can use this blog to track the lengths of my hobbies, interests and projects. In my estimation I arbitrarily decided some time ago that my interest could not possibly be held for longer than three weeks. The only thing I can think of that I have actively pursued for longer than this is cross stitch. I suppose my card collecting phase should count too, which probably lasted about a year before subsiding into occasional three week revivals. This week I have been mentally preparing for a fit of writing. Preparing for my holiday has left me little time to put pen to paper apart from one sketch of foreshadowing with which I was delighted. I am a little concerned at present by my current reading material (a novel inhabiting the mind of Henry James) which has made my writing style incredibly verbose. I am sure it will be fine under stricter conditions but I can see it here quite clearly. It also seems to have swallowed my point. Not helpful at all – although reading about the trials and tribulations of an author does tempt me to have a go.


I have book lust

July 10, 2008

While procrastinating between revisions today I happened on the obituary of Thomas M Disch:

I hadn’t heard of him before but the descriptions of his writing (doom-laden speculation + the brave little toaster) caught my interest and I read the plot summaries of his books on Wikipedia. The one I would most like to read 334 as it sounds deliciously distopic. I want to go to Waterstones after work and see if they have it, which could be amusing given what happened when I went to look for Zelda Fitzgerald. (well I thought it was funny. The assistant jumped in to assist but all he could tell me was that they didn’t stock it – Femme and I then wandered out complaining loudly about how much Thomas Hardy sucks and yet they carry his entire output. The part I liked was articulate, knowledgeable us acting like children.)

I was also distraught to discover that I in no way was original in the idea of a corpse brothel as Disch wrote about one in the seventies. Is there nothing left for me to create? I suppose it just means reading more and trying harder.

Looking up these books reminded me of other books I long to read. It’s a long list of longings and I’m afraid to formalise it until I’ve conquered a little more of my current backlog. I estimate that I’ve read about 30 books in the last year but have gained around 10, leaving my ‘to read’ pile still perilously high (maybe 100? After I filled the available stacking space I stopped digging them out). Some of the pile books I bought years ago and it has been joyful to finally get to them and eat their lovely brains.

I am slightly afraid to go to Waterstones as I could easily fill a wheelbarrow with things I want to read. Despite this virtually the only time I spend reading is while commuting and on my lunch break. I usually find my house is too bustly and noisy and that cross stitch is much more compatible with the social environment. Of course I wouldn’t want to sacrifice cross stitch either. I have started planning my next design in my head, again for a friend who I hope will like it.

I’ve started to read the story I was writing as a teenager. On one hand I am impressed how much I tried to cover, how varied the character perspectives were supposed to be, but at the same time I can see how limited my knowledge and skills were at that time. I can see the old adage ‘show don’t tell’ flashing out of every page and on one page I used the word ‘such’ about 20 times – surprising as the first half I remember was extensively revised. I haven’t finished reading it yet, it’s quite long. I feel it could have potential, depending on what direction it was going in (I can’t remember what happened in the last 10 pages at all). I had no sense of pace then but the manuscript is mostly dialogue and the characters had a certain degree of individuality. The names are terrible and my naive conceptions of how idyllic such a post-apocolytic society would be are adorable but would have to go. What I do see in this is a lump of clay that I can now sculpt. What I will sculpt it into has yet to be decided.

Like jumping off a cliff into some rapids

June 10, 2008

I have a small amount of dread that I am trying to contain for the sake of beloved who is straining at the seams and could probably use support more than a heap more worry. Soon we will have to move house.

Moving house in the logistical sense is not too bad as we won’t be going far and I have already enlisted the help of a man with a van. Ditching our deadweight housefolks will be emotionally straining (Housefolk Femme has already announced she is leaving). Moving in together as a couple will be nerve-wracking although after two years together sharing a room in the group house I think it will be ok. My partner believes it will leave him friendless but I think the opposite – it will encourage him to see more people more often than just relying on the people he lives with for entertainment and to go places with. I know that he knows people in the area, admittedly not as many as before, but he doesn’t get in contact with them. He’s as bad as I am! I hope it gives me a kick in the arse to do more things for myself too, both in meeting people to hang out with and in working on my personal projects. *sidenote: I am working on the design of my third cross stitch*

Choosing a house to live in will be difficult. It’s not something either of us have done for several years. It will also be the first time we’ve had a real grown up rental and not a student rental, which isn’t that weird because there are people with mortgages at our age but does mean we’ll have to get references, proof of employment and possibly credit checks. We will also have to find a house accepting of moggits. I have been looking on house ads and many of them say ‘no pets’. Some of them say ‘furniture optional’ which I think will be best: if it’s not their furniture they shouldn’t mind if the cat stratches it. We shall see how easy this is when we try to estate agents.

This is all of course in addition to the housing crisis that is currently afflicting the property market. Now I can have my very own little housing crisis.

#sad# stress and effort. I wish I could afford to buy but I have very little savings and a small pay packet (for low stress, good experience work which I like). Significant other doesn’t have a job at all which makes it worse, for I may have to do the whole thing in my name.

On the plus side, with the £4 we will have left over at the end of this we will be able to buy our very own furniture! #oh gods#

A certain amount of stress…

May 8, 2008

… is supposed to be good for you. But how much? The point at which it becomes uncomfortable, when it keeps you up at night, affects your health, leaves you sobbing into your fourth glass of wine? Who can say – not me, I’m not a doctor of these things. My personal rating is: if you can’t make it through your working week without being consistently irritable, tired, or crying yourself to sleep then it’s too much.

Personally, though the pressure is on at work, I am not longing for death so I’m thinking it’s probably ok. Longing for the weekend is another story though, and I have a desperate craving for noodles.

Also hurrays for me as I am going to have a review published on a fairly well-read website. And I finished my first cross stitch. Could my life be any more fulfilling?

When am I?

April 29, 2008

Due to some kind of crazy internet timing system that somehow escapes my understanding my previous entry, made yesterday afternoon, has been marked with today’s date. I’m not going to stress over it as it’s close enough, and as long as the posts stay chronological it’s really no big deal.

To open up the question in a more philosophical vein: what does now really mean in context? I’m currently reading a collection of women’s letters that spans the last 800 years and it mentioned the tradition of women writing about women’s novels from previous eras. It occured to me that I have never really considered that although I have full access to all that has gone before I assume that history happened in isolated nuggets. Which is wrong. Ok I’m not a total dumbass: it actually occured to me just before christmas when I was wikipeding some of my favourite authors and influencers, only to discover that they in turn had been influenced by what had come before them. I started to wonder how far you would have to trace this back to discover the origins of certain ideas.

Letters, that strange and seemingly obsolete communication medium, have been making a prominent appearance in my mind of late. Before the above mentioned collection I was reading a book called Virginia Woolf’s Women which featured a large number of extracts from letters both to, from and about dear Ginia. Letters used to be much admired (probably before VW’s time) and passed around to show the skill of the writer. This has been lost now but our culture still has a keen thirst for gossip and voyeurism as quenched by our disturbing media who frequently seem to miss the point. I was even more upset than usual by the Daily Mail website today when they ‘paid tribute’ to actor Kris Marshall after he was injured in a car accident by publishing a picture of him being scraped off the road by paramedics. Sad and grim. I guess this type of thing has taken the place of the public execution.

But anyway, back to things about me. As I have no assignment at work this week (going to work for no reason being the bane of my existence) I have been trawling teh interwebs and my find of the week is the craft shop website. My new hobby of cross stitch (don’t laugh) that I started about a month ago is working out rather well, but as I am almost finished with my first project it struck me that after a while I’m going to have a massive pile of things I’ve made and only so much space left on the ceiling. So perhaps I might sell things. I’d have to make a good few more before I could make a shop, and I’m sure BFF will stiff me for one before I’m allowed any kind of profit. But yes, although profit may seem to be the enemy of creativity it does give me something to work towards and perhaps even a few pennies to go in the ‘one day I will own property’ fund.

The point at which my random ramblings intersects is this: what if I wrote a short story in the form of some letters and sold it as a work of art on etsy? I have always had a strong feeling that words and art were intertwined, hence my passion for William Blake and cross stitching phrases, and decorating words and writing on pictures seems to be the only way in my mind to show all the things I want to show. Seeing some of the things on etsy, particularly illustrated poems made up as booklets, and seeing that they sell well gives me a little hope that I could do something like that too. I probably wouldn’t be as successful as I am out of practice and outside the USA so my shipping costs would be higher but there is hope nontheless.