Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What my brain looks like.


I had so little to do at work the other day that I did this. Please don't make fun of my handwriting/spelling mistakes/other random notes. This is a sneak peak into my journal, the little brown leather one my dad bought me (ps. dad, I've almost filled it up. The black one you got me is nice, but not the same).

Since you probably can't even read the story, here it is:

"I'm only happy when I'm with you."
"I don't mean I'm unhappy when you're not around. I'm just fine, neutral."
"I'm not being weird. Lots of people feel that way."
"How do you know?"
"Well, just think about it. What is happy anyway? When you are completely alone, doing nothing, nothing influencing your mood, you feel neutral."
"I don't."
"I just feel however I feel. Whatever mood I'm in."
"But people effect mood. You're alone, remember."
"I know. But I don't think that's true. Maybe for you."
"Definitely for me."
"What about when you read?"
"Like what?"
"Like a book."
"What book?"
"Any book. Good or bad. I never feel neutral reading a book."
"That's different."
"Books count as people."
"They have everything a person has, but probably more. They are themselves and their authors. You are never alone in a library."
"That's cool."
"What you just said."
"It's just true."
"To you."
"I suppose. Now I know it might just be me."
"What more do they have?"
"I don't have to tell you that. You've read a book."
"I guess not."
"Never guess."
"Ok. So you're only happy when you're with me?"
"That's what I said. Because you are the only one listening."
"Listening to what?"
"That. And you do that. You always ask questions instead of just walking away."
"People walk away from you."
"That wasn't a question."
"I know."
"I wonder why."
"No you don't."
"Yeah. Come here."
"I am here."
"Closer. You are always too far away."
"I'm sorry."
"Don't be, just come here."
You're shaking."
"I'm wondering how long it will last."
"As long as you want it to."
"Promise. Because I'm only happy when I'm with you too." 


I call it 'Two People With Issues.' Well, I don't really. I don't call it anything. Just journal doodling. It's small because I still can't decide if it's super lame or not. Probably is.


Friday, March 2, 2012

So are millions of us.

Happy World Book Day (it was really yesterday)!

This is going to be a random blog with no unifying point, beware.

First of all, I am not doing my self-proposed 7 Days of Stories challenge after all. And it's not because I don't think I can do it, or that I don't have time, or that I just don't feel like it. It's mainly because I have heard too many horror stories lately about writers/artists having their work stolen over the Internet and not seeing a dime for it's success. I don't really expect that anyone would want to steal my stories from my blog and publish them under their own name, but you can never be to careful. I'm usually an extremely trusting person, but every day living in the world wears me down, stolen laptop by burgled house, unreliable landlord by rude old woman (not all old women, just many who shop where I work.)

I have written one of the stories I was planning on writing for that project, a children's story about a little boy with an unusual name and a passion for the knights of myths. Rose illustrated it for me, so if you are interested (and if I actually know you (sorry strangers (unless you want to publish me, then just say the word )), let me know and I'll send it to you a copy.

I recently discovered these Lunchtime Lectures that happen in the Convocation House at the Bodleian Library, where I work in the gift shop. They are on various topics, for a half hour each, plus question/answer time, and are given by experts in all sorts of fields. So far I've been to three, two were fantastic and one was a dud (on different types of genealogies. Seeing the slides was cool, but the lecture lacked a point (much like this blog)). I promise to stop the double parentheticals now.

A few weeks ago I went to one that related to the current exhibition in the library, Romance in the Middle Ages. It was fantastic, brilliantly presented, inspirational, and all sorts of other positive words. The most fascinating thing about it, in lieu of typing up everything she said (which I could do, I took extensive notes), was about how the creation of medieval Romance stories, and the Love Plot, was essentially the creation of the fiction genre. Before the Romances, all 'stories' that existed were only documentation of actual events, or supposed action events, such as myths and legends. All of these tales were regarded as fact, as history, recorded for preservation. They were stories about wars and about the great deeds of heros, but always for the good of the nation, or people as a whole. These heros achieve fortune and glory by their actions in aid of the whole, not for their own personal satisfaction. Some examples would be Beowulf and King Arthur. 

Then came the Romances, stories that happen in times of peace, when nothing really happens. In peace time I mean, not in the Romances. A great deal happens in Romance stories, but with vastly different motivations than in the legends that came before. In the Romance stories, our hero go out looking for fortune and glory in order to be worthy of the object of their greatest desire; women. The Love Plot changes everything. Now we have completely fictional stories about knights going on quests for Love with little (or less) regard for the kingdom, or anyone else but their fair maiden. This is why the classic story of King Arthur is not considered a Romance, since Arthur is never motivated by love, only with saving his kingdom, but the sub plot of Lancelot is, since he is motivated by the Love of Gwen.

However, even the story of Lancelot is a sort of Romance paradox; Gwen is bound to Arthur as her king and husband. However, in keeping with Romance tradition, she is supposed to love the greatest knight in the land, because being the best knight is what makes you worthy of love. In this case, Lancelot is the best knight in the land, better than Arthur. They don't even compare. Therefore, her adultery with Lance is written into the very fabric of Romance literature, and thus destroys the Authoritarian world.

 So as you can see, from the very creation of the Love plot, Love always ended in disaster. Way to set up the entire history of fiction with a mega downer.


The other day, I went to The Failed Novelist Society's anthology launch. My friend Mariah invited me, because she had a story published in said anthology, and because she knows I'm a nerd like her and I'd have fun. And fun I had, lots of fun.

Mariah is doing the Oxford University Creative Writing MA course, so I am basically jealous of her every single day. I got to meet two of her friends on her course, and pretend, when our group mingled with other groups, that I was on their course as well. Three noteworthy things happened at this event. 

The first was this little creative writing contest we participated in as a part of the festivities. We were all challenge to use the words slug, miraculous and fail in a story that could be no more than three sentences long. No, I did not win, and here's why. This is what I wrote:

Dear Slug,

If failure is what you expect to achieve, do so miraculously.

Yours, always,

 The Failed Novelist 

There are a number of reasons I did not win, most of which are probably quite apparent. I didn't use the correct form of any of the words, sans Slug. It's not three sentences. It's not a story. I basically broke every rule. However, one person who did follow all the rules was Mariah. Which leads to my second noteworthy thing. 

Mariah is really good at writing. She won. Her three sentences were amazing, beautiful, witty to the point of getting multiple laughs from the audience, and fluent. And she wrote them in five minutes. After at least two vodka diet cokes. I mean, I always assumed she was good, seeing as she got into Oxford University and all that jazz, but now I know for sure. She is a force to be reckoned with. 

The piece she has in the anthology is fantastic as well. She managed to do everything I am always trying to do. I'll stop writing about a person none of you, my loyal readers, are acquainted with, however I just found out that she reads my blog from time to time, so I thought I'd give her a shout out. (HI!) Mentioning Mariah also leads to my next noteworthy thing. 

Mariah likes my poems. The silly ones I put on my blog. She likes them! An Oxford University student who focuses in poetry liked my poems! Major win. There was another vodka diet coke before that comment was made, probably leading to all the love, but still. I'll take it. Thanks Mariah! 


I was reading a massive book catalogue at work the other day, the kind they send to shops to try and get you to stock their titles. It was fairly interesting, and I was, I admit, only reading the synopses of the books that had a picture of their cover next to them. I'm that girl. 

When I got to the Young Adult section, I noticed some distinct patterns. Love. Being un-cool. Fighting for your life in some sort of unrealistic/fantasy/time traveling situation. But mostly Love. I feel like when something comes up in so many different ways in so many different places, it's worthy of being capitalized. Love basically rules the world. 

Anyway, all these books were about girls getting boyfriends, or boys falling in love. And I felt as I read, that I should have something profound to say about this. That I should look at all these synopses and make some grand conclusion about youth today based on what their reading. Or maybe I should at least have some opinion about how Love is the subject of everything kid are reading. 

But I don't. I have nothing to say about this. It's true. Kids fall in love, and when they fall, it's harder because it's new. And that's what they want to read about. So no conclusion reached. I shall proceed with my fantasy story, lacking of any discernible Love story, and try to make up this fact by injecting my own love of the story into it. Love love love love. 


The other day was Leap Day. And I got really excited. February 29th only comes once every four years, what's not to get excited about? It's an extra day, it's magical, next year it will disappear into calender oblivion and no one will care about it again for four years. It's everything I love.  I even wrote a story about Leap Day, which will one day be a small part of one of my many huge book ideas. I love Leap Day. So I wanted to do something really cool. 

But I didn't do anything. I went to work, hated it, went home. Rose and I did go get drinks with some of her awesome co-workers, but that's nothing we don't usually do. I had this great plan to go out and do something I had never done before, to really make the most of this extra day. But I didn't do anything. I guess I'll make up for it by starting to think now about what I'll do next Leap Day. 


This week I finished reading a book about feminism by Caitlin Moran called How To Be A Woman. I took extensive notes. It was very funny, insightful, and intelligent. And, Caitlin Moran, in her chapter called Why To Have Kids, has given me the only account in writing that has ever made me think for a fraction of a second that I might want to have kids.

"The honest truth is that the world holds no greater gratification than lying in bed with your children, putting your leg on top of them, in a semi-crushing manner, whilst saying, sternly, 'you are a poo.'"

I've read lots of things by mothers describing the joys of having children, how it changes your life, how it's fulfilling and worthwhile and blah blah blah. But this is the only time I've read something in a book that has almost convinced me.

And that's because, to me, there was nothing better as a child, than being in bed with my parents and brother, my dad semi-crushing us in general, just for the fun of it, and repeating the word 'duty.'*


 I also recently read a book called Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It was 1006 pages of pure, magical, joy. My friend Owen told me that if I read any book while living in England, that should be it. He was so right. Go read it.


I saw The Artist today, which one Best Picture at the Oscars. It was so good. It makes me really happy that a silent film can win the Best Picture Oscar in 2012. Go see it. 

*Personal note: I still don't want kids. Don't get all excited. I'm far too selfish, and being a good mother involves being selfless. I don't want kids. Not right now anyway.


In lieu of having anything worth saying, here are some chicks. I came home from a weekend away to find them all over my room, courtesy of Rose and Joe. My friends are cool.

And a demon baby for good measure.