Archive for the ‘free time’ Category


For now, I’m living alone in Edinburgh. There are a lot of observations to make about this style of living, the first of which is this:

I can’t seem to settle into one single task or pastime. When I’m watching a film, I wonder whether I should be reading a book instead. When I’m reading  a book, I realise I should maybe check my emails. When I’m checking my emails, watching a film seems like a good idea. It’s taken me all week to get two hours into Gone with the Wind. Seriously – I’m watching it in 20-minute chunks,and not on purpose.

This type of flightiness has always been part of me, but when I’m alone it’s magnified. I suppose this is because there’s no one else around to encourage me or motivate me to stick with just one thing. I’m sure I’ll calm down as time passes, and begin to just enjoy what I’m doing at the time.

Soon, I need to do some writing. And that’s one of the only things which can actually absorb me totally for hours.

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What was three months away is suddenly nearly two months away, and with it comes the phrase ‘only’. I’m moving to Edinburgh, I’ve handed in my resignation at work… it’s all coming closer, and yet it doesn’t feel real yet.

I’m so excited: I know this is an amazing opportunity and I’m already disappointed that it’s only one year long! And yet… I can’t quite imagine myself there – in Edinburgh, studying –  yet. And that makes it feel quite unreal, as if something might happen between now and then to stop me going. Perhaps that feeling always lurks when it’s a life change you really, really want: you can’t let yourself accept it until it’s actually happening.

Now A215 is finished, I find myself with more free time: time to read, time to think about writing, time to submit stories to competitions and other exciting locations. But I still can’t help but wonder how I could be using this time more effectively.

How can I prepare for this Masters course? What should I read? I have two months left before it starts, and when it does I want to be prepared to make the most of it… any advice?

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My plan for June, July and August, aside from reading as many books as I can cram into my free time and writing lots, is to send some stories out into the world for the first time.

Stemming from A215, I will have three stories which are almost submittable, in my opinion, and this is reflected in the marks given to me by my tutor. So I plan to submit them to one place at a time, and keep a record of where I’ve submitted and when I expect to get a response.

Thinking out loud (as I haven’t researched this with specific stories in mind yet, aside from my TMA05 story), I would prefer to send off to print publications, as seeing my writing in physical print strikes me as more satisfying and exciting than online.

Similarly, I might look at some competitions, but I’d probably prefer conventional publication if it’s achievable. I might like to aim some new stories at specific competitions in the meantime, writing specially for them.

As well as this, I will be reading a book about writing film scripts, not because I want to write them, but because I suspect the advice is applicable to novel structure, and I would like to finish my chapter plan for a novel idea I had a few weeks ago. At the time, I felt that I didn’t have enough knowledge of novel structural conventions to complete the plan and begin writing, as the second draft would need significant structural reworking if I started too early.

I’m looking forward to my three months of commitment-less (except job-work, of course) writing before the MA starts, and I intend to take advantage of it as much as possible.

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Downhill from here

Today, instead of beginning work on Chapter Whatever-it-is in the BRB, I went for lunch with my mum, who was visiting Birmingham for the day. We battled through the Birmingham shoppers, along with the 27,000 disappointed teenagers. Birmingham was awful.

Despite my predilection to walk into a shop, look around, see too many people in my way and promptly turn on my heel and exit the store empty-handed (and grumpy-faced), I managed to buy quite a lot of new clothes.

Normal women moan into their mocha-latte-cappuchino-frappe-chai-thingies “why oh why have I bought more clothes? This is terrible!”. Not me. Buying new clothes is a veritable achievement for me. Honest!

I HATE clothes shopping with a passion, to the extent that I buy things on the internet and often have to return them, but I don’t mind the non-refundable postage and packaging costs, as that is the tax I pay for the priviledge of not having to forcibly push my way past busty women in the car boot sale they call TK Maxx.

But I do like having nice clothes. Every few months I realise that everything I used to love has become frayed, bobbly or faded and the mounting doom tells me that I might need to go and mingle with the consumers. Yeuck.

The only snag is, now I need some new boots to go with my new skirt. Siiiigggghh…

Oh yeah, TMA result came back at 1030pm Friday night.  At first I was very very pleased, but then I realised… things can only go downhill from here.

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This is an A215 blog, right?

And A215 has now started.

So where are the posts? Where are your A215 ramblings?

I wish I knew! I must apologise for my absence over the past couple of weeks. I could say “I have no excuse”, and I will: I have no excuse.

Now I am going to inundate you with excuses.

Last weekend was the Birmingham Half Marathon, which greatly hindered my A215 work for a surprisingly large amount of time. With that over, work stepped deftly into my path, with two nights away for a huge meeting. I also strongly suspect that a little bit of my social life may have got in the way. Oops. Then this weekend I had the Day School (more on that later), and had to immediately hop onto a train up north for my sister’s birthday weekend.

I’m finally back home with all the best intentions of catching up with A215 work and getting my head around things properly. I’m behind with it already, but I fully intend on catching up properly, so I know it’ll be OK.

Here’s my list of things to do for the course:

  • Finish Week Two’s Activities
  • Read through Week Three and begin activities
  • Participate in Online Tutorial within my Tutor Group Forum
  • Start eTMA01 so I can set it aside for enough time before redrafting.
  • Continue Morning Pages and the occasional half-hearted haiku.

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A215 has officially started now.

I’ve read Chapter One of the BRB today and this week I will practice clusters  and freewriting for 20 minutes every day. I have the best intentions.

I loved freewriting, but I find clusters difficult, as I have a voice in the back of my mind saying ‘this is pointless and is doing no good’. I do think they will be useful if you hit a wall in the middle of a story, though, or for expanding themes when redrafting.

Other writing-related things I’m planning are:

  • Finish Stephen King’s On Writing. I started reading it yesterday and it’s very useful.
  • Make a second draft of the story I’m working on. I will do this once I’ve finished reading King’s book, as it seems to offer advice which will be helpful for my redraft.
  • Begin to think about eTMA01, which is due three weeks on Friday. Perhaps start working on something, as it’s not the end of the world if I end up with a couple of potential eTMAs to choose from.
  • Read some anonymous manuscripts and make constructive comments for Writers’ Group on Wednesday. (Don’t panic, OU people, this has nothing to do with A215).

Non writing-related plans include:

  • Closely monitoring knee in advance of the Birmingham Half Marathon on Sunday. Last Sunday I ran ten miles and aggravated an old injury, so I’m halting training to allow the knee to fix itself as much as possible before October 11th. Cripes… I’m worried that taking two weeks off training immediately before the half is a bad idea, but surely my fitness levels can’t plummet significantly, right? I will finish this race.
  • Cooking vegan-friendly meal for vegan friend on Tuesday. I’m thinking red lentil dahl.
  • Buy a ‘Congratulations on your engagement’ card for a friend. She’s 22 years old. Try not to write ‘Please don’t do this’ on the card.

Other things I am thinking about:

  • I have bought a book: Rediscover Grammar by David Crystal. They seem to have tried to make grammar seem fun by including ‘amusing’ cartoons throughout. If I ever open it, I’ll let you know whether it’s any good.
  • My computer is stubborn and refuses to load FirstClass. It’s definitely a problem with the computer itself, as FC operates properly on my work computer. I think my computer is missing some files, and refuses to download any Windows Updates. I’m currently weighing up two options: paying £35 for a complete service of a very old computer or buying a new one.
  • I’m thinking about trying to stop watching TV (except Coronation Street, which doesn’t count as ‘TV’, as it’s a Way of Life). It would mean I could do more reading and writing. I’m reluctant, though, because I do like to switch off my brain sometimes and TV is a good way of doing that.

Martini time.. 🙂

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while i’m free

I work full-time, 9-5. In theory. In actuality, I sit behind a desk 9-5, but you can frequently find me scouring the internet for interesting and amusing websites, procrastinating.

I like to maintain as many interests outside of my job as possible, because, like many people, my job doesn’t particularly interest me.

At the moment I am training for the Birmingham Half Marathon. I’m not a fitness fanatic in any way. In fact, I’m not particularly physically fit. But I realised recently that I’m 23 years old and in perfect health: why would I waste such a glorious, fabulous potential by being unfit and not making the most of my youth while I can? The Half Marathon is on October 11th 2009, so not too far away now. I’m running 4-5 times a week, about 4 miles each time with a long run on a Sunday. I don’t like to sacrifice my Sundays, but sometimes it’s got to be done. Don’t get me wrong, I hate running most of the time. I am looking forward to the Half Marathon being over, so I can begin to take part in sport or excercise which is fun and enjoyable. I hope to continue undertaking physical activity at least weekly, even after the Half Marathon is over. Also, exercising means that you can eat whatever you like, within reason. Excellent!

I volunteer for Birmingham Conservation Trust, which is a lovely little charity taking an interest in the conservation of historic buildings in the Birmingham area. I haven’t yet had a particularly active role in the trust, but I hope to become more involved in the future. Unfortunately, one of their projects, the Newman Brothers Coffin Works, in which I was partially involved, has been denied funding by its owner, Advantage West Midlands. This is a shame because it means funding can’t be found from other sources (because AWM own it), and the longer it takes, the further into disrepair the building falls. If you’re interested in supporting the trust, particularly their effort to obtain funding for the Coffin Works, here is some information on how you can help.

old booksI’m an avid reader, particularly fiction, and am rarely to be found without a book in my hand. For the past few months I have been concentrating on reading classics and cult literature, mainly so I can talk to other people about books. I occasionally write book reviews on my other blog, and maybe I will begin posting some here, too. I’ve started reading more short stories of late, as I’ve been advised a number of times that they are valuable for developing your own writing. I’m particulaly enamoured of Richard Yates, and would greatly recommend his short story collections: Liars in Love, and Eleven Kinds of Loneliness.

Another of my interests, which I have yet to follow up in Birmingham, is the theatre, and I am thinking of getting involved in local amateur dramatics once I have established how much time will be needed for the A215. I’m a little experienced with backstage functions, particularly lighting and a little sound operation, but I’m also interested in auditioning for some roles, so we’ll see what happens there!

And, rather obviously, I enjoy to write, when I can apply myself. I’m a member of a Writers’ Group in Birmingham, and find that interacting with other writers is immensley helpful. We meet twice a month, which motivates me to get something down on paper occasionally, and I have met some very nice, likeminded people, which is always a good thing.

Other interests of mine include cycling, music, travelling and photography. Unfortunately, it definitely feels like I have avoided working for long enough, so I will end this post here. x

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I love Sundays. I am so happy on a Sunday: coffee, newspapers and a lie-in. I like the sacred feeling of a Sunday afternoon with a film and a duvet on the sofa.

I don’t want to give that up, so I intend to work hard during the week (in the evenings after work) and on Saturdays if necessary, intending to leave Sundays sacred and free. They are My Time. I hope I can keep it that way.

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