On the production of books.

Here are some things I am doing recently;

 

  1. I am finishing my last module towards my English Language and Literature degree. It is called ‘Creativity in Language’, and examines the different approaches in the analysis of creativity in language, and also in other modes of storytelling and performance. It raises interesting questions about the originality of creativity, and whether or not creativity is fundamentally political – whether that be intentional or unintentional.
  2. I am also writing a book about a girl who stops growing. I am trying to make it a masterpiece, but it is hard to make a masterpiece when your brain feels like an empty room. I am noticing that I waste a lot of time not gaining knowledge, and I mean to change this by consuming more books and exploring different parts of the world. I have acquired a cover designer for my book, someone who is also willing to do some small illustrations for me. This is spurring me on to finish by my deadline in October.
  3. I have signed up to a website called AgentHunter. This website is one where you can find a suitable agent in order to get your book published. I am aiming to submit my manuscript to several agents by October 15th. I will be writing a review about this website in the next few months – just in case anybody is interesting in hunting for a suitable agent online.

That is all, really.

What have you been up to, recently?

 

Why do you get up in the morning?

Or don’t you like getting up in the morning at all?

I get up in the morning every day at 5:40am because my husband has to get up that early for his commute to work. I sluggishly make breakfast on the go and lunches for both me and him for the day, while he rushes about grabbing last minute things and having a shower. When he leaves I clean up our mess and fold clothes away and put a wash on and pack my bags for the day before picking my brothers up and dropping them off to school.

After that I go to the gym for two hours, have a shower, and then lesson prep for my afternoon lessons. Once my lessons are over at 2:30 I pick my brothers up from school, drop them home, and then have one hour free in which to prepare for my afternoon lessons, which last from 4pm through till 7pm.

By 7pm, my husband is returning home from work, so I go back home and say hello. Sometimes he lets me kiss him and other times he is distracted and exhausted, his hazel eyes two alien orbs sunken into his pale face, the dark circles under his eyes stark against his colourless cheeks.

But wait, I am not done yet, because although I want to just sit next to my husband and watch his shows with him, switching off as he does, I cannot. I must prepare for the next day, and study, and write, because those books won’t get written by themselves, and my degree won’t obtain itself either.

When I finally get into bed, at around 12am, my husband is as still as a log, in the deep sleep only one who is exhausted can experience. I, too, will experience it.. just… as .. soon.. as my head .. hits… that … pillow.

I get up in the morning because I have a day to conquer, a living to make, and a career to create. I get up in the morning because it is the only time I will get to see my husband, albeit for a few minutes, and give him a hug in private. I get up in the morning because I am obligated to by duty, and no, I am not always happy about it. In fact I can be despicably moody about it and drive around town with a perpetual frown on my face drawn on by constant exhaustion.

I like getting up so early in the morning, though. You see? I like it. I might not always show that I like it, I might hit that snooze button and then be half an hour late for everything all day, but I like that I can have an entire day, nineteen hours, in which to do all I have to do and complete my goals.

I don’t always complete all my goals, of course, and some days I am so sluggish I can barely think, but the weekend always beckons me, with bright sunshine and promise.

It doesn’t always fulfil that promise, though, but it does let me have a lie in with my husband in the mornings. It’s sad, but I look forward to that the most all week. Just a few extra hours, to talk about what’s happened all week, or have a laugh about something, or plan for the days when we can be together properly, without family in the way, without other obligations, without being in a hurry or being too exhausted to speak.

I look forward to those days, and I guess, that is really why I like getting up in the morning.

Why do you get up in the morning?

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Oleg Riabchuck

 

Peanut Butter Burger

Well, my exam went well. As well as it could, under the circumstances. What circumstances?

Oh, you know, the ones where I didn’t study Wordsworth.

Out of all the poets, his were the ones I had to dissect in my exam.

Out of all the authors/poets I have studied on this course, and begrudged slightly, he was the only one who could not redeem himself after extensive study. Well, Wordsworth, I am glad our journey  together is over. I would wish you well, but you’re dead. So rest in peace, and no, I can’t forgive you for being the cause of my literary misery.

I also drove that girl home. You know, the one I met the other day. We didn’t talk about her relatives this time. We talked about our course, our exam, and our summer plans. It was actually really enjoyable. I even got her to laugh, by lapsing into my regular self by accident and doing a silly impression. Then we sat in the car outside her house chatting for fifteen minutes. The socially awkward human inside me kept willing her to get out and go home, so I sort of zoned out a little. ANYWAY. Anyway.

Went with the husband to see X-Men, Apocalypse. Even though I haven’t seen any X-Mens before. He really wanted to go. Even though he was dead tired.

‘Why,’ he said, ‘don’t we celebrate your first day of freedom, eh?’

‘Why,’ he said, ‘are you so uptight and old?’

‘Because,’ I replied, ‘I am worried about you getting up early after this long night and having to drive two hours to work.’

We did it anyway. Then we went and had special burgers. Mine had crunchy peanut butter on a home-made beef patty with fried bananas on top. It was very tasty. The vegetarian in me died, of course. She did not last more than a week.

That was delicious. 10/10. Now I am worried my husband has to drive really early to work tomorrow after this long ass day.

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Kyle Fewell

 

 

There Ain’t No Klu Klux, on a 133rd.

My last exam of the year today.

Did I study enough? Does anyone ever?

Eh. Who am I kidding. I didn’t study enough. I know what good studying is. At this point, there is nothing more I can study.

I will write down this poem by Langston Hughes that I memorised, though. For practise, and because it is absolutely heartrending, and it is also one of my favourite poems.

I might make some mistakes.

‘Not a Movie’ – Langston Hughes

Well, they rocked him with road apples

because he tried to vote

and whipped his head with clubs

and he crawled on his knees to his house

and he caught the midnight train

and he crossed that Dixie line

Now he’s livin’

on a 133rd.

 

He didn’t stop in Washington

and he didn’t stop in Baltimore

neither in Newark on the way.

Six knots was on his head,

But thank God, he wasn’t dead!

And there ain’t no Klu Klux,

on a 133rd. 

I probably made some mistakes. But oh how sad this all is. Hopeful, of course, but so sad that it had to happen.

‘and there ain’t no Klu Klux on a 133rd’.

I could cry.

Out of nerves, out of sadness, who knows.

Love Letters #9

She didn’t know Enigma Boy.

He was tall and had long legs which he would stretch out over the aisle, and she would have to carefully step over them when she came late to her lectures. Sometimes he would notice and pull them back quickly, looking up at her with these deep green eyes, murmuring a ‘sorry’ in an accent she could not place.

At first, she would see him around the library sometimes, or sitting in the cafeteria with that other boy he was always with. With the snub nose and the toned arms. But it was only him she had the eyes for.

His complexion, she remembered thinking, was healthy. Cheeks that were a beautiful combination of reddened brown, the result of a lot of healthy sunshine and clean air. Thick dark hair that fell over his face just a little, just so, and he was always perfectly dressed.

She wasn’t. Perfectly dressed. Ever. She wore black jeans every day and alternated between three grey tops, over which she would shrug on her black hoodie and if it was cold, her dark green trench coat. Same black lace up boots, like out of a victorian photograph, and her curly black hair up in a messy bun, always, because she mostly forgot to brush it.

He probably just thought she was a messy person. Maybe he didn’t even notice her. But he talked to her friends, oh he talked to her friends. Maybe because she was too awed by him, that she was frightened to talk to him. She knew she gave off indifferent, moody vibes when she was shy. And she was tremendously shy around him.

Her heart thundered in her ears when he passed her in the corridors, and the notes of his foreign, exotic language were a soft melody in her ears. She could pick his voice out in a crowd.

And anyway, why was she thinking of him like that when she had herself the finest man a girl could wish for. At least, that is what she told herself.

He IS  a fine man.

He wasn’t as handsome as Enigma Boy, that was for sure. And he didn’t have good haircuts, was a little too skinny and smoked legal highs. She spent a fortune on his legal highs, mostly to avoid one of his horrendous tantrums. His ‘ludicrous’ moods. Well, that is what love is, she would sigh to herself, sitting in her lecture, while he was probably out somewhere smoking weed. Love is sacrifice. Love is patience.

And yet, despite all the sacrificing, patient love, this Enigma Boy occupied all her thoughts.

Once she was outside the lecture hall having a naughty smoke. She puffed in and out and closed her eyes and enjoyed the acridity of it, because it made her brain float a little and she needed that. Then she froze, because there he was standing right in front of her, also having a naughty smoke, only he was not puffing, just sucking it into his mouth and blowing it out.

How cute.

She saw him talking to a glamorous girl with red lipstick and thick, straight, glossy hair, both of them smoking, telling the girl that he did not smoke, he just puffed socially. Then he looked up, directly at her, her, and she looked away quickly.

Once he sat right in front of her in the lecture hall. His hair was so neat from the back. And when he shifted in his seat, she smelled him. Tobacco, mint, leather, spice. She closed her eyes and breathed in deep until someone poked her and asked if she was okay.

I’m okay. Oh. I am okay.

Then Enigma Boy turned. Their eyes met. She didn’t know why, perhaps it was out of habit, but she forgot to be shy, and she smiled at him. Not a regular smile that you give to somebody you see daily in your lecture hall. Not a ‘hello, there’ kind of smile, or even a smile of acknowledgement.

It was fully fledged smile, of warmth and comradery and her teeth even showed a little bit, so maybe it was a grin.

Oh, how embarrassing. 

She smiled before she realised what she was doing and by then it was too late. Her heart dropped, thudding pitifully somewhere at the bottom of her ribcage.

Ouch.

To her surprise, he smiled back. A wide, friendly smile. Not a stranger smiling out of courtesy, but a smile as though perhaps they had known each other all their lives.

Warmth bubbled up gently in her chest, and she averted her eyes back to the projector screen in front of them, pretending like she was listening aptly, when really she was graining that smile to her memory, burning it into her retina. Those green, green eyes. That wonderfully tanned face, with features so perfect in their slight imperfection. The way he’d turned, looking at her.

She barely heard the discussion between her friends after the lecture. All she thought about was that smile.

On the last week at university her friends went to have lunch together. He was going, too. Ar first she wanted to say no-no-no-no. But her friends dragged her along, insistent. She ordered a tall glass of vimto, and then he was there sitting next to her asking how her exam went. At first she was fumbly and shaky, her heart an oscillating drill, thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump, but then her thoughts gathered themselves and soon she was prattling on, sipping her vimto, while he listened and laughed sometimes and then it was his turn to talk.

Into the evening, they talked and laughed and then she was not feeling nervous but happy. Funny. Liked. Listened to. Appraised for the words she spoke, and the thoughts she shared. Not like she had felt in a long, long time. All through the evening and then the fairy lights came on and it was twinkly and summery and four of them wandered back to the bus stop together, Danielle talking about how her engagement went down, glittering her large ring at them. Laughter and happiness floating up into the summer twilight.

That was her last day at university. Last day ever. They didn’t even swap numbers.

Years later, after she had miraculously escaped the malicious grip of her ‘man’, after she had left university and met another gentleman, so kind and sweet and handsome, and married him, she was to remember that green eyed smile. Not for the butterflies it gave her, for that memory could not resuscitate any giddy feelings within her that her husband had not made her feel beforehand, but for the happiness she had felt during and after.

She remembered that smile and thought sadly that perhaps it was not a romantic smile, perhaps it was the smile that might have made for a wonderful friendship.

One can never know.

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Nine Days

Cats have nine lives. Maybe I could be a cat, and each day could represent a life. A life is a very long time, folks. It is certainly long enough to revise for a final exam comprising of several literary books from several different eras.

The rest of the lives I could use for much needed revision.

Nine days is not enough, how do cats do it.

Speaking of cats. Oh sigh. Such a big big sigh. I am miserable.

My inlaws got a cat on Thursday. She is a beautiful little thing, around five years old, and we’d got her from a lady who is travelling for two years. They say you shouldn’t let cats out for the first two weeks because they need to settle, and they would only just try to find their way to the home they know if they are let out.

So we were terribly vigilant about keeping doors and windows shut.

The darling little creature stuck only to the front room, where she hid under the sofa at first, but then gradually began to come out and lounge on the window sill and meander around the room, letting us tickle behind her ears and stroke her soft, warm fur.

We tried to make her go into other rooms but she would always race back to the front room. She still needed to get used to the place.

This morning at 6am I opened the kitchen window, closing both kitchen doors so she wouldn’t come in. I knew she wouldn’t anyway, she never left the living room! But, you know, just in case.

I accidentally left the window open when I left. It was only a sliver. But I am sure enough for any kitty to get through.

I got a text from my sister in law when I was in another city at around 8am asking if I had seen the cat.

She is missing.

I feel so so awful and terrible and weighed down because I think it is all my fault. My husband thinks it might not be me, because his dad went out late at night and left the front door open. But it might be me. And everybody thinks it is me. And the cat is missing, and her old home is more than 20 minutes away in the car.

I am so worried that I can’t focus on my revision for my exam in nine days, and I know everybody will blame me and the kids will hold a grudge against me (because they are the kind of kids to do that, at least one of them is) and the poor cat wandering about all lost and scared in new surroundings and it’s all just awful awful awful.

Poor kitty.

 

Burnout

I am growing up.

Things are changing. My face is taking on an adult quality that it has lacked since I entered adolescence. People no longer mistake me for a sixteen year old.

I felt this acutely on Friday when a man with a badge stopped me in town. I said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not twenty five,’ really quickly because I knew what was coming and they usually need you to be 25.

‘Could have fooled me!’ he said, his eyes already scanning the crowds for another easy target.

Could have fooled me.

Really? Oh no.

There are bags under my eyes and they usually go within a day or two but these have been here for two months. My face is ashy and grey. My lips are purple. I don’t know why. I look fine after makeup but without it I look like a pile of lumpy ash.

Other things are changing too. I am not happy anymore. I find it incredibly hard to smile, and I am pludgering on through my days with a grimace; a combination of four hours’ sleep, and a day filled with minute planning else none of my goals will be achieved.

I complain a lot.

My tummy is bloated. (It is. All the time. Another medical mystery to solve.)

I don’t like living here.

Everything is a mess.

Stop being a child, Damian.

My tummy hurts.

I’m tired.

And I am. All the time. Every day I dream of falling back on to my bed for a nap, but it cannot happen, and when bedtime comes my brain is full of information and is busy creating a list of things to do for the next day that it usually takes me a good hour or two to wind down and be ready to sleep.

I have four thousand words to submit on the 17th of May, and two thousand five hundred for the 15th. I have a large exam for the first of June, and I haven’t read six of the eight set books required for the exam. How will I read six books in two weeks? As well as teach a bunch of kids for three hours a day and go into work for two hours a day, and chauffeur my brothers for 1.5 hours?

I can do it, of course. I already have a schedule.

But when moody madam is tired, schedules are generally hard to keep up with and I am always one to two hours behind because sometimes I can be slow.

So, I think I am growing up. I am learning to live, slowly and painfully. I don’t have my own life plan because I am living with my in laws, and usually have to follow their schedules and take my belongings wherever I go. So my wash bag and a towel along with a change of clothes comes in the car with me, along with a change of shoes and all my study books and teaching materials.

Most my showers are taken at the gym, and I usually groom myself there because the bathrooms are not always free at home and sometimes I can’t use them. It’s weird. I take such quick showers, I don’t see why its a problem. But eh, I guess I have a system now.

The epilating is hard, though. I don’t have time for that, so I try to make time. Last week I got to epilate and moisturise my legs and arms properly for the first time since December. I only had fifteen minutes before I was being called out of my room, so I hurried. But my legs still feel amazing.

D reckons I need to make more of an effort with my appearance. I do, of course. I look horrible. Just awful. I don’t feel confident to wear nice clothes because I have a stress pooch. My tummy pooches out when I am stressed and also it is always bloated so I don’t feel great making an effort with my apparel. Must get that sorted. I cut out dairy and grains, so maybe I should try just eating fruit and veg for a bit.

D says in August we can start looking for our own place. Financial reasons, of course. August can’t come soon enough.

Anyway. I am becoming better at hiding my sadness. I smile and chat away, but sometimes I show my mum my moody feelings because I can be fully myself with her. Still, it isn’t nice for her to always see me unhappy. I should make a better effort.

I don’t want to, you know? I don’t want to. And all my creativity is running dry.

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Procrastination.

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I drew. Damian tidied up my rough edges and colour spillage. I’m the messy one, he is neat and meticulous. It was 3am. We were drunk on fatigue. Saturday night, laptop screens illuminating the room with poorly constructed sentences about topics neither of us cared about. We spent forty minutes drawing procrastinating.

There is something so divine and therapeutic about lazing about and drawing, taking turns together, knowing full well there are assignments to be submitted by 7pm tomorrow.

The house is dark and still. There is complete silence, save for the tap tapping of the pencil on the screen.

Thoughts

I woke up at six am today, as usual. Did all the morning things people usually do. I also had a coffee even though I am trying to cut back. Saw my husband out the door. Did research on the appointment I had today. I had hoped to have some time to myself today to do my university work.

Didn’t happen. I went to the appointment. I took my MIL shopping. Then I took my M (mother, lol.) shopping. Then I came straight back and started teaching.

I might have some time tonight to do it but it seems unlikely.

This is the thing, though; I am actually doing a full time course from home. Nobody seems to understand that. In a full time course, lectures and seminars usually span the hours of 8am-6pm. There are at least 20 hours of accompanied study a week, then three hours of self-study.

All my study has to be self study.

I need my time to study.

I am not focusing on my university work at ALL.

The only time I get to open my books is when I have to research for an assignment. I have two of those every month.

I need time to study individually.

I don’t think my families understand this.

They think I can willy nilly go here and there because I ‘study from home’.

No. I can’t. I need to dedicate un-interrupted time for study.

This is ridiculous.

I think this is the real reason behind my gradual mental declination.

Over and out.