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Alice Munro

I got hold of a book just for this essay by Alice Munro and it turned out that roughly 50% of it was underlined in blue biro. Not a pleasant reading experience, so I decided to make my own copy. Sharing in case it's of interest/use to people.

The book is "Making It New: Contemporary Canadian Stories" edited by John Metcalf and featuring (in addition to Munro) stories and essays by Clark Blaise, Mavis Gallant, Hugh Hood, Norman Levine, John Metcalf and Leon Rooke.

What Is Real?Collapse )

Ticking Over

Summer is finally starting to feel like it's finished. Hottest on record worldwide since records began 137 years ago. Too much for me.

I'm still on holiday because I had three weeks of annual leave to take. My first day back at the library is the 28th. (That's 2 days before my 46th birthday). While I've been away, I've seen half a dozen emails about people moving on to other jobs. I love my job as a shelver but it feels like the end of an era. Ho hum. The only constant is change etc. I feel sad because I'm getting a new manager and the library is becoming increasingly more UCL and corporate.

I'm working extra shifts in October because the shelving team is currently understaffed. A six hour shift is tiring, and I'll have three and sometimes 4 a week. Wondering how I'll cope and if I need to get some shoes with squishier soles. I only wear vivobarefoot shoes these days - one option is to fit two pairs of insoles in my most supportive pair.

Huw's working long hours at the moment on a project he isn't enjoying. I've got everything crossed that the client will run out of money so he can stop doing it. His mum and brother are both still waiting to hear when their surgeries are going ahead. His mum is in France, I think hers is likely to be quicker. Owen's could be another few months on the waiting list.

We're still working on getting the house spruced up so we can move out. We go back and forth but our current feeling is that we want to sell. I'll be happy if I don't have to spend another summer in the city. I want to feel grass under my feet that isn't in a park and trodden by hundreds of people a day. We're getting articficial grass put in our garden, and a new deck, it's exciting. I've been selling old furniture on ebay as part of the decluttering process. I enjoy it a surprising amount. Our house is not small (it's the size of a decent 2 bed apartment, about 1000 sq foot), but the proportions are a little mean and there are a lot of stairs, so it's quite a job to move furniture around. Moving furniture around is one of my favourite things to do when I'm feeling restless (I get it from my mum). No wonder I've felt so restricted living here. Yesterday, I carried loads of drawers and shelves up several flights of stairs (Huw helped me with the heavy stuff). It was quite satisfying, and there's a lot more to be done. Cheerleading appreciated.

On Saturday night, I watched something that turned out to be more graphically violent than I was expecting. Then last night I watched a film in which the denoument was a dog getting squashed flat by a lorry. I did it to myself. I'll be ok, but I need to remember that I'm better off watching intensely emotional and/or violent stuff at the cinema, where I feel more detached. I should get into documentaries. Recs welcome.

My head is all over the place today. I'm trying to decide if I want to go to my work supervision group tonight. It will be good for me to see everyone - they always lift me up - but the group doesn't finish until 9.30 and the journey is quite tiring. Plus all the social interaction and soul searching. There's no right answer, but I'm leaning towards taking care of myself and staying home.

Htere's a link to an incredible house under the White Cliffs of Dover. It's beautiful, but seriously who would be mad enough to live here? Come to that, who would be mad enough to insure it?

Allow me...

"I would have liked if this had been centred more in Hogwarts. If it had just been about Albus and Scorpius trying to make their way in school, having problems with other students, learning a bit of magic, maybe finding something weird and dark and threatening that wasn’t actually to do with Voldemort in the school. That’s the kind of sequel I would have liked, something that was structurally a lot more similar to a Harry Potter book. Something that maybe followed these characters in detail with their peers."  (SRSLY, The New Statesman pop culture podcast)

Me! Me! I wrote this exact play! *jumps up and down waving hand in air like Hermione*

If I can't shamelessly self-promote on my LJ, then where can I?

LOL. No one will ever read this play, and it's probably a good thing for my future career, should I have one.

Srsly though, the radio play script I wrote back in 2007-8 may not be the most ambitious story in the world, but at least it has a plot that doesn't stomp all over the actual books.

In more important news:

Read more...Collapse )

Hope everyone is doing well.

Friday, 24th June 2016

This is the best thing I've found today that sums up how I feel about the EU campaign and result, so archiving it here for future reference. From an Australian journalist, because everything I read in the British press is infused with too much emotion for my stomach, especially today:  Whipping Up Fear To Sway the Brexit Vote

As for me, I managed to throw myself down the stairs yesterday morning and now have a sprained ankle and an array of bruises to show for it. It could have been much worse: I only fell three or four before hitting the ground. I'd just woken up and was carrying my laptop down to the basement where my charger lives. The mistake I made was not noticing I was still half-asleep. I normally bounce into full wakefulness because I sleep lightly, but early signs are that my new strategy is working, and my sleep has improved greatly over the past week.

I'm choosing to look at this injury as a step on the road to recovery. Hear me out - I injured both ankles badly when I was sixteen and for the next few years, they were weak and unstable and I reinjured them frequently - usually on nights out involving drinking alcohol. My overall health got worse over time, my ankles remained weak but were paradoxically more stable because they were so stiff. During that period, I tried to exercise doing step aerobics and other equally unsuitable activiites for someone with my health condition, coupled with poor alignment. Inflamed joints and very weak muscles meant that I succeeded only in injuring my knees, hips and spine as well.

Fast forward a number of years and things were so bad I had to leave my job on medical grounds. So I started my ten-year research project into figuring out what was going on. Over time, with the correct thyroid treatment and dietary changes, my health improved. A couple of years ago, I discovered Katy Bowman, and applied her approach of Nutritious Movement to stretching and building a strong foundation. I'm not as diligent about it as I'd like to be, but it's made a huge difference. Yesterday gave me quite a jolt: I screamed very loudly (poor Huw, he came running) and felt like I was going to throw up from the adrenaline. Once I recovered from the shock, however, the pain and swelling has been manageable. I'm resting appropriately and feeling hopeful I'm going to heal well.

In other news, we're having a rare old time at the moment bingeing on "Kirsty and Phil's Love It Or List It" because we're planning to take the plunge and move out of London, sometime in the next year if we can. In April 2017 we'll have been in this house 10 years and we're ready to move on. I want to keep my job at the library (now I'm well enough to work a regular job again, albeit part-time, I'm not giving it up if I can help it), so we need to live somewhere with good rail links. We're thinking South Coast, possibly Folkestone. It's an expensive commute but unless Huw decides to stop freelancing and accepts a full-time job, we can minimise the number of journeys we make.

So that's where I am. My writing course finishes in two weeks. It's been an interesting experience to write with people with a decidedly commercial mindset. I don't think it's where I am, so I've decided to do The Artists' Way next. My vague, half-formed plan is to shift the focus of my PhD to a practice-based thesis in Creative Writing. I'm hoping doing The Artists' Way will help me gain some clarity about how/if I want to take that forward.

Hope all is well with everyone. Clear skies here in London after some very thundery and heavy showers over the past few days. Sitting with my feet up enjoying a view of brilliant blue and little fluffy clouds.

mini update

I haven't updated lately because life has been crazy but I had a bit of good news this week.

I won a free place on a 9 week online writing course [x]. I had to submit a first line of a story I wanted to write. The rules allowed multiple entries, so I put in 4. Here they are (feeling very happy right now to have this group of awesome writers/lovely kind people to share this with):

1. Despite being—in the words of one former employer—really qualified, the mermaid struggled to find a position that suited her.

2. The January rain seeped into the bones of her aching feet and the bus smelled of the common cold.

3. Kneeling to put a match to the kindling, she found that the old bastard had spit in the fire again.

4. In the town clinging to the hill above the flood plain, the rats were legendary.

"Had spit" is a slightly unusual construction, I'm aware. It's on purpose but clearly I don't feel confident about it, or I wouldn't be mentioning it :D. But hey, I WON. ME! ME! ME! ME!

This a Big Deal for me after the setbacks of the last few years. I'm enjoying my job at the library and finally in a place where I feel ready to take the leap of faith into writing some original fiction again.

P.S. Also the last one is cheesy as anything, but RAH, I DON'T CARE!