Archive for the ‘Musing in La-La Land’ Category

My Travels Through Time

July 18, 2008

I’m reading ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger.  It has been years since a book has touched me as much as this does; not just due to the story, but the complexity of the writing, the attention to detail and the many layers woven of characterisations and plot.  My ambition has always been someday to complete my novel, however nothing I write ever reaches my own standards and therefore is relegated to the ‘ideas’ pile, ever increasing from year to year. 

 

My disappointment in writing is common, as ‘fantastic novels’ rarely impress as much as I am promised.  ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Seobold is my most hated piece of work.  The idea of romanticising a small child’s rape and brutal murder into a dreamy heaven-like tale makes me physically ill.  At first I kept my opinions on this to myself, as those around me raved about its content and daring and I initially wondered how I’d managed to misinterpret the story.  But slowly, once the hype died down, more and more people began to admit that they found it disturbing, dissatisfying and, to not mince words, a bit sick.  Having seen the review of Seobold’s follow-up, which re-visits her own experience of rape, I can now sympathise with the way the novelist appears to be using her stories as a form of therapy, however refuse ever to put myself through the trauma of reading her work again.  The same is true of ‘The Life of Pi’, a novel I found to be entirely self-indulgent pap.  It was invented and executed purely to impress, its randomness too calculated and is set to appeal to the pretentious nation that unfortunately grows daily.  Such a shame I thought, as the references to religion at the start of the novel were clever and interesting, but it soon bored me in its desperate quirkiness and I struggled to finish it.

 

In these writers’ defence, however, at least they both are best-selling novelists, which is much more than can be said for myself so far.

 

These days I rarely give myself time to write, finding so many other distractions in life; the Internet, television, friends, chores, work.  Every day there is the nagging feeling that I am doing myself an injustice and wasting time not being true to myself by taking the time to write.  But why is writing a novel such an important ambition to me?  Why do I feel the need, when so many others are quite content to find other amusements and use other talents?

 

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin…

 

It all started, as stories tend to, when I was a small child.  The parental-unit spent year after year relocating with dad’s various jobs; thus my contrary and restless nature was borne from him.  As a result of the constant upheaval I have no childhood friends before the age of 8.  My brother is 3 years older therefore I was far too young to be of any use or fun (plus failed to develop a sense of humour until I was 13) and so was left pretty much to my own devices. In many ways I believe this was a blessing, as it has meant I am perfectly comfortable in my own company and enjoy spending time alone. 

 

My favourite day of the week was Saturday because it was the day when we’d visit the library and I’d get to pick as many books as was allowed on my ticket.  Every week I would get 8 and take back the 8 I’d finished from the week before.  For convenience I went to the same school my mum taught at, which was miles away in another town, therefore my school friends did not live locally.  This meant every spare minute of my time was spent in my room either inventing games or lying on my stomach on my bed, reading.  I even took my meals in my room in this fashion, when I could get away with it! 

 

In some ways my reading obsession wasn’t healthy or nice.  By age 6 I’d finished all the ‘reading bands’ as they called them at school, i.e. I’d read all the books available.  In absence of anything else to give me, my teacher would make me sit in the corner and listen to the other children read, which I disliked as I found it dull.  There were also the days when mum would ban me from reading, confiscating my books just as they were getting interesting.  I never did find out how one particular Nancy Drew story finished, although I’m sure she didn’t die or someone would surely have told me. Wouldn’t they?  My worst habit was to use words I’d only read before and not heard spoken, pronouncing them incorrectly and sounding like a precocious brat to anyone who would listen.

 

Where did this get me?  There is only so long you can love an art and appreciate it before you try to emulate it.  Thus I began to write.  Not being one to start small, I aimed straight for newspapers.  The teasing still follows me to this day of my ‘Saddle Club’ newsletter, written age 11 for my friends, including such ground-breaking stuff as ‘Grooming tool of the month’.  Ah the humiliation.  I followed this up with Editor of my high school newspaper, although very rarely actually was permitted to do any actual – editing.  This privilege was reserved for the Head of English teacher, Mrs Russell.  Instead she encouraged me to write for myself; stories, reviews and articles, with the opinion that someday I would do her proud and embark on a career in journalism, particularly in the form of entertainment, film and music, my lifelong interests and passion.  My parents recount having to back away warily from this formidable woman at parents evening when they broke the news to her that I was to study Zoology at Edinburgh.

 

Years later and I have managed to combine my loves, having now published a number of newsletter and scientific journal articles relating to animals and their welfare.  But what of my aspirations to become a novelist?

 

To read is to feel, to love, to empathise and to travel with the story.  All these are found within the pages of the Time Traveller’s Wife.  This novel has made me laugh, wince with pain, puzzle over timing complexities and eventually give way to feelings of such desperate sadness that I had to put the book aside for a short time, in order to return to the present.  Novels such as these remind me of why we exist; Niffenegger weaves music, science and literature into the story, using these to plant the characters in scenes to set a context of time, such as discussions of the onset of punk and the hurdle that ‘DNA won’t be sequenced until 2000-2001’. 

 

I believe that to begin a piece of writing with the ambition of masterpiece already dooms the writer to fail.  Instead writing must remain as it was originally intended; for pleasure, for expression, from experience and with heart.  I can only hope that along the way I come across more novels that spur me on to succeed as this one has as, to produce something that captivates the attention of the reader even a fraction as much as this book has done, will ensure this writer will finally be able to watch TV in peace.

 

La-La’s Land

April 1, 2008

too tired for many words. Pictures will do. I went nightwalking, in London. It’s fun.

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I like this. It kind of feels like me!dsc00862.jpg

🙂  That’s all x

Monster Evolution

March 26, 2008

When you’re a kid, it’s the monsters under the bed that threaten your every move.  Kids lie in bed and scream for mum, sure that to put a foot down on the floor is tantamount to slow and painful death.  Trapped in bed, the panic rises when help doesn’t instantly respond, so the screams get louder and louder until a floorboard creaks next door, signalling the approach of safety.

When you’re a kid, being trapped means not being able to go out to play until homework is finished, having to wait until everyone’s finished eating before you can leave the table, or being forced to help paint the living room skirting boards when it’s sunny outside during the school holidays.  It’s that feeling of double maths when you don’t really care what x equals, or whether Chaucer was actually a genius or just a little bit weird.  I remember sitting in A-level English lessons, bored out of my skull as I’d read the book already and everyone else was just too slow.  I’d stare out of the window in frustration, dying to be anywhere but there, writing crap lines of poetry on my book about ‘love’ and ‘life’ and, um, ‘clouds’.  I always thought to be an adult meant freedom; that I would finally get to live my own way, do what I wanted to do and go anywhere I wanted to go.

10 years on, I’ve been more places, I’ve got more scars and (hopefully) I have better dress sense.    I have a ‘good job’, ‘excellent qualifications’ and no plastic surgery (yet!).  All these are ticks next to the to-do-list of life’s achievements.

But in my mind I’m still sitting by the window, wondering what it will be like when i’m an adult, when I’ll get to go where I want to go and do what I want to do.   The feeling of anticipation never leaves of what excitement adult life will bring when it arrives.   My monsters have evolved to take the shape of debt-repayment, working for a living and moving to where the work is.  I do wonder how much of my childhood will be spent staring out of windows. 

I just hope my poetry improves!

I Challenge Thee

March 3, 2008

I set thee forth a challenge.  The following image exists on a building near me in Balham.  I think the building said that it was a headquarters for some kind of association or something. 

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The first person to find the meaning will receive a prize…….time starts…..NOW!

A Trip to the Doctor

February 28, 2008

All is not well in La-La Land.  A fantastic weekend saw a welcome return visit to the homeland, involving drinks, friends, the Liquid Room, dancing, falling over, sleep, no sleep, fun chat, feeling too sick to eat, socks, trains, curry, movies and a plane.   

Somewhere on these travels a weird virusy-type-thing took over, resulting in 3 days off work sick, followed by an attempt to return to work, only to be met with “you look like shit, go home”.  General common sense decided a doctor should be consulted.  Being new to London, search for said ‘doctor’ commenced.  Attempts to ask the general public on a street corner were unsuccessful, resulting in them trying to avoid me 😦   especially this dude:

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Resorting to 118 247, the helpful telephone number, I located not one, but THREE doctors in the immediate vicinity.  Choosing one at random I couldn’t understand a word the woman said, but got the gist that they’d see me if I came now.  On arrival at said doctors clinic I was greeted by all three staff; doctor, nurse and receptionist.  The arrival of a new patient was obviously a novelty.

Evidence implied pee sticks are tested by the nurse and discarded into a wastepaper basket under the desk.  Looking about I could see a number where she’d missed her target.  Considering this was 11am either there were many patients that morning, or cleaning is not their strong point.  She then proceeded to spend the next 3/4 hour typing my information into computer followed by saying she needed the number for my old GP.  Having provided this she began to use the phone.  “Erm…could I see the doctor now?” I tentatively asked. 

  The consultation with the doctor included the following:

  • An enquiry into what I do for a living.

Answering this innocent small talk question resulted in him asking if he could please pass my phone number to his brother who is a livestock manager to then ask for advice about cattle welfare!  Oh and he’s now going into goats so could I add a bit about that?

Then could I come do a talk about animal welfare for a group he runs please.  He’ll be in touch with me using my mobile number (faithfully supplied, along with details of my latest blood tests and family medical history).

A prescription later, I arrived at the pharmacy to discover I’d been prescribed the following:

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so if you didn’t catch that: Ibuprofen (he prescribed 3 packets – that’s enough to commit suicide!), cough medicine, antibiotics and pain ointment.  Whole prescription cost came to £18.00.

I’m changing doctors!

My Attempt

February 19, 2008

Well, everyone else was doing it!

 Mine’s a daytime shot. 

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Yes, I agree, not so awe-inspiring as pink and purple skies, but I like it because it looks hopeful.  Look at how determined the Sun looks! 

Plus I reckon it’s about time daytime got a look in – sunrise and sunset get far too much press.

Relocation, Relocation

January 30, 2008

Well kids, this blogger’s upping and heading down sowwwwwwwfff.  I apologise in advance if I begin to adopt the Southern accent and write vehry prawwwpehrly in the Queen’s English.  I reckon I’ll rebel and get more Glasgae just to scare all them cockneys. 

 I’ll take some blogtastic photos on the way down for you all – you lucky lucky people.

 Car’s calling me. I must not neglect him.  He could spit me out halfway and desert me somewhere around Birmingham.  Scary.

Why Blogging is really really hard!

January 15, 2008

I always said I wouldn’t use my blog as a personal diary.  But in that case what the heck do you use it for?  There are number of pitfalls. 

Who’s going to read it? 

If you write your opinion on world events, or religion or politics, what is the chance that someone will come across it and give you a hard time, despite it being your opinion and your blog?  Hell, you could even start a war by accident! (may I just point out that this is in extreme situations)

Can you mention people you know? Will they mind?  Will your pal ever speak to you again if you reveal their secret love of Jennifer Lopez movies?

Do you write about what you like, what you dislike? Does that not then give random strangers too much of a window into your life? Do you care?

There’s always the option of comedy – this is the option chosen by a number of bloggers I know and it definitely works, however I’d buckle under the pressure of keeping the standard high!

Writing about something close to your heart can give too much away; it leaves the writer open to criticism and, if so, can feel it is themselves that is criticised, rather than the topic itself.

Or there’s the danger of writing what feels at the time like a mild piece on life, only to discover, when seen from your reader’s eyes, that it can actually come across in a completely different light and sound insulting to people you meant to praise. 

I don’t want to insult anyone, I’m not that funny, I don’t want the world to know my life and I don’t give a shit about politics!

So what the fuck do I blog!!!?!!!


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