Contact me at because I'm always up for a natter about anything. Well, mostly.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Blogging NaNoWriMo 2011: So Unprepared

It was only when I was sat on the train earlier that I realised November begins tomorrow and that, consequently, so does NaNoWriMo. I know I have the idea but I've got very little besides. I like to have some sense of where I'm going before I set off, particularly when faced with the daunting prospect of 50,000 words in thirty days.

Doing some quick flow-charting in my notebook, I've established the plot arcs I see occurring. I've also got the first scene set out in my head, which should be enough to get me through the first day at least. I'll be kicking off this year as I have on my previous two attempts: at midnight on the dot I'll be ready to go. If I can get a thousand words down it'll be a good nudge to continue tomorrow night.

I'm kidding myself if I think I've got thirty days to complete this. A glance at my diary tells me that the three weekend ahead are pre-booked. That's the time I'd really knuckle down to writing because weekdays are predominantly PhD time, particularly as I flounder towards my upgrade in January. If it's a choice between failing that and failing NaNoWriMo... Well, there can't be a contest. However much I want to dither!

So... At midnight this evening Lauren Hobson will walk into a laundrette (I need a name for it...) to start the new job she thinks is humiliating to have to do. She'll meet her new boss, Shelley, and then be thrown into disarray by the arrival of a mouthy teenager who has been abandoned on the doorstep. If I get to that stage I'll be more than happy!

Good luck to everyone else participating this year. Find me on the NaNoWriMo site as CharmedLassie and become a buddy. I think I'm going to need them!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Book Review: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

I was fortunate enough to receive this book as a prize for participating in the LGBT Book Challenge 2011 over at the Book After Book blog and now I'm reviewing it for the same challenge. I'd love to see more people participating in this for the last few months of the year because apart from the opportunity to win books you get the chance to discover some gems you didn't know existed. Anyhow, plea over but I'd just like to reiterate my thanks to Book After Book for the challenge and the wonderful Hodder & Stoughton for supplying the book.

Sing You Home has a very contemporary plot. Zoe Baxter has suffered several miscarriages and disasters in her quest for a child. After her son is born prematurely and dies, the strain begins to tell on her marriage to Max. They separate and Zoe finds herself taking solace in her job as a music therapist. Then she meets Vanessa and falls in love quite quickly. They discuss children and the fact that Zoe still has frozen embryos. The stumbling block is that Zoe requires Max's permission and he's been taken into the heart of an evangelical church. I'll try not to give away any more of the plot though, to be fair, all that you would have learned from the dust jacket.

The novel is narrated by Zoe, Vanessa and Max in clearly defined sections. This was a concise way of showing the effects of proceedings on all three characters and it was, I feel, vital to include Max as a narrating character. Without this insight into his mind he could've become a basic villain using religion as a justification to dislike a lesbian couple. As it is, we know first-hand why Max came to seek solace in the Eternal Glory Church. We know about his alcoholism and his loaded relationship with his brother. All in all, this comes across as a very balanced portrayal with Picoult being remarkably even-handed during Max's chapters.

It was a difficult read for me, mainly because religious arguments against homosexuality make me furious. But, as I said before, it's a very contemporary novel detailing the conflicts in modern societies. Living in a more secular country than the USA, I found some of the evangelism alien and, in that way, it was educational. The most important thing, however, is whether a book is a good read and Sing You Home is. The characters are human - they lie and hold things back as any normal being does - and the plot had enough twists and turns to keep me interested. I liked the numerous flashback scenes for each of the characters because they were consistently related to the current events and proved useful in understanding them. A word of caution though: it can be harsh on your emotions. The tiny scene near the beginning of the novel when Zoe holds her dead son haunted me for days.

I'd thoroughly recommend this book. I can't find a negative thing to say about it.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Another First Draft Finished

It feels exquisite to say that I've completed another first draft of a novel. That makes three complete novels I'm rewriting and reworking. Getting to the end of an original draft gives me the ultimate shiver down my spine: it's all neatly packaged away to be looked at again in a few months. No characters hanging partway down cliffs as I dither about what to do with them. I know one thing for a fact: the things I have done to my beloved characters Lizzie and Eve in this first draft will be markedly different to the ones I'll put them through in the second draft. It's a positive thing that I already know what changes I want to make next time around. I don't have any illusions that this baby is ready to be handed over to friends and relatives just yet.

So why did I bother finishing it if I knew that was the case while I was writing the second half of the novel? Well, it's a lot easier to rewrite something if you have a whole to work from in the first place. And, besides, not all of what I've written is junk. It tells me a lot about my characters and their relationships with each other. I wouldn't sacrifice this imperfect first draft for a perfect half draft with no ending in sight. You have to finish to start over.

I can pinpoint exactly when this idea sprang into my head. It was during the Wakefield Drama Festival 2011 at the beginning of June. It all came from noticing the woman sat in front of me. The initial setting altered from a working theatre to a converted one currently serving as a crumbling cinema. I started the draft on 6th June and meandered along with it quite happily. The first third was a lot easier to write than the rest. I admit the last few weeks with it have been painful. I've been forcing words from my fingertips with the promise of chocolate and tea at the end of it. Well, at least the bribes worked!

First draft total word count: 55,033.
Feelings towards my protagonists: still adore them.
Feelings towards my plot: needs work but it's not too shabby.

All makes for a reasonably content Lucy!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Blogging NaNoWriMo 2011: The Idea

Here I am again. Despite the fact I'm still debating whether or not to participate in the challenge this year, I'm blogging about my plans! That rather says it for me, doesn't it? Last year, I crashed out at a very early stage and, looking back at my reasons, I think I'm mental for trying this again.

After all, I asked, "Why did I think that something which had slipped between forms, setting and characterisation for the past eight years would settle down so easily?" Do you know what I'm planning to do this year? Yes, that's right: take another setting for this very same novel and mush up the definite characters I've got in my head to create a very different story. Before I hear cries of "cheat", I do solemnly swear that I haven't written a word of this novel before. The alteration of setting means the few thousand words I managed last year are completely useless - I can't use them because a service station is a very different place to a laundrette. The interactions my characters will have are going to be completely different and relationships will build differently as a consequence. While the essence of the idea (the characters I've had in mind for many years) is the same, the story I'm going to tell isn't. It will still be a tale of love and redemption but the way that redemption comes about will be a completely different process to the one I planned last year. I still have to be cautious though. Last year I wrote, "I think it's a non-idea. Or maybe it's meant to be written, just not by me." That doesn't bode well and speaks volumes about my stubbornness.

Something else struck me as I looked at my failure from 2010. I said, "In order for me to still be fighting in December something had to give in November." That sounds familiar, doesn't it? I've blogged about the imminent failure I'm facing in all areas of my life at the moment: do I honestly believe I can throw NaNo into the mix and survive?

I'll leave the answer blowing in the wind until I see what happens. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Book Review: Westwood by Stella Gibbons

I first became attracted to this book by seeing the cover on the Guardian website. The new Vintage Classics edition is striking, as book covers should be, and enticed me towards an author I hadn't heard of before.

Gibbons is one of those authors seemingly lost in the mid-20th century. She has over a dozen novels to her name, though many of them have fallen out of print until now. Westwood was a delightfully amusing book that certainly inspired me to become better acquainted with this author.

The novel tells the story of Margaret Steggles, a school teacher, who finds a ration book on Hampstead Heath and returns it to the Niland residence. Alexander Niland is a well-known artist and his father-in-law, Gerald Challis, is a famous dramatist. Margaret itches to become well-acquainted with the Challis family (and Gerald in particular), despite the fact that they treat her as a glorified child-carer. In a twist of fate, her friend Hilda attracts Gerald one night when he walks her home in the blackout. He gives his name as 'Marcus' while he idealises and courts Hilda, who has no interest in anything he has to say and simply sees him as a kind old man.

Gibbons is an expert at character sketches. There are many people who pass through the pages of the novel but they all have a distinct voice. I particularly found it remarkable that the half dozen or so children are recognisable by their differences. This applies to Alexander Niland's three children and the others encountered throughout the pages, including Linda, a girl with learning difficulties. I especially enjoyed being able to guess which child was talking when dialogue tags were sparse in a section towards the end of the book. If your characters are that distinctive then you don't need to highlight who's speaking on every other line.

As may have been gleaned, the novel is set during WWII. The war seems to be an inconvenience to the lives of the Nilands and Challises. Alexander is concerned about his paintings being destroyed and Gerald notes a significant alteration in the reception of his plays. The backdrop of the war isn't thrust forward on many occasions but that's something I appreciated: life went on in many ways and it was pleasant to read a war story that wasn't actually about the war. Gibbons describes England in very vivid terms throughout, notably when Hilda and Gerald meet in the blackout and when Margaret takes a rowdy bunch of children for a walk. However, I still think the opening description is one of the most evocative:

"London was beautiful that summer. In the poor streets the people made an open-air life for themselves under the blue sky as if they were living in a warmer climate. Old men sat on the fallen masonry and smoked their pipes and talked about the War, while the women stood patiently in the shops or round the stalls selling large fresh vegetables, carelessly talking." (p1)

The narrative swiftly moves on to Margaret's emotions on Hampstead Heath. The first few pages are all description but it doesn't drag: it helps frame the story that is to come against the backdrop of fighting abroad and struggling at home. It's a luxurious read which explores the desires of humanity and their worshipping, infidelity and difficult friendships. It's a novel about life - lightly and comically told - which ends rather ambivalently. Don't read this in search of a traditional happy ending; read it to smile and recognise different types of people who are as familiar now as they were in 1946 when Westwood was first published.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Nobody Calls Me Nobody

I'm a funny one. The only way I can boost my mood to the point of productivity sometimes is to submerge myself in my favourite upbeat (and usually musical) songs. It's almost guaranteed to fire me up. I have a playlist on my iTunes called 'Musical Favs Etc' which currently runs to over 700 songs. If I'm in a mediocre mood I let the playlist run and see what effect it has. If I'm in a terrible mood I'm forced to select the songs which will most improve my mood. These are some of my current favourites:

  • 'Birdhouse In Your Soul' - Kristin Chenoweth & Ellen Greene from the soundtrack to Pushing Daisies.
  • 'We're Gonna Be Alright' - Julienne Marie & Stuart Damon from Do I Hear A Waltz?
  • 'A Parade In Town' - Angela Lansbury from Anyone Can Whistle.
  • 'Thank You Very Much' - James Head from Scrooge.
  • 'It's A Lovely Day Today' - Donald O'Connor from Call Me Madam.
  • 'On How To Be Lovely' - Kay Thompson & Audrey Hepburn from Funny Face.
  • 'The Life I Never Led' - Katie Rowley Jones from Sister Act: The Musical.
  • 'I've Gotta Be Me' - Glee cast version.
  • 'Walkin' My Baby Back Home' - Bing Crosby & Judy Garland.
  • 'A Little Priest' - Angela Lansbury & Len Cariou from Sweeney Todd.
  • 'Old Friends' - Ann Morrison, Jim Walton & Lonny Price from Merrily We Roll Along.
  • 'One Brick At A Time' - Glenn Close from Barnum.
  • 'Down The Lane' - Toni Palmer from Blitz!
  • 'Out There' - Jim Dale from Barnum.
  • 'Just Around The Corner' - Bebe Neuwirth from The Addams Family.
  • 'Another Little Victory' - Sarah Lancashire & Reece Shearsmith from Betty Blue Eyes.
As you can tell from that list, Stephen Sondheim inspires me quite a bit with four songs from his pen. There are many many more songs in my playlist that fire me up. 'A Little Priest' may seem a bit of an odd choice but it's full of energy and venom - sometimes all you need to be inspired. I go through phases with them, relying on various songs to drag me out of different types of doldrums. 

My latest love is 'Nobody' from Betty Blue Eyes, a musical I didn't get to see but I fell in love with the soundtrack at first listen. 'Nobody' is sung by Sarah Lancashire's character, Joyce, and pretty much embodies the lift I need to give myself at times. Take a look at this live performance:

She's right - nobody gets the privilege of calling me nobody because they don't know the first thing about me. Any wonder this song is currently my favourite?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Juliet Barker

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend a talk with Juliet Barker, historian and author of what's really the definitive book on the Bronte family from someone so immersed in the family and era that she's practically a walking encyclopaedia on them. The famous 1994 book was fully updated and revised last year and runs to almost 1000 pages. The talk was part of the Morley Literature Festival and was held at the Gildersome Conservative Club. It was packed out and the ticket came complete with pie and peas - how can you go wrong with that?

Barker certainly knows her subject. My father (I bribed him with the pie and peas to be my driver and companion) described the talk as an assassination of Mrs Gaskell's portrait of the Brontes which has endured since publication in 1857, particularly the representations of Patrick and Branwell Bronte. It's as interesting to note why Mrs Gaskell made her conclusions as discovering which elements of life she distorted. But as well as the critique of Mrs Gaskell, there were also little titbits that demonstrated the life in both the Parsonage and Haworth itself.

There were a few questions from the audience, one quite specifically asking about the school where Patrick and Maria Bronte met. I was impressed by Barker's ability to not only reel off an answer but to respond at length with barely any thought behind it. Such a knowledge can only be gained by thorough involvement in - and love for - your subject and her warmth towards it was more than evident in her voice.

I came away with a signed and dedicated copy of the new edition, although I was too timid to go up and talk to her so I got my father to do it (and he paid!). Alas, the book will have to wait its turn to be read but I can't help relishing the enjoyment that's ahead of me.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Book Review: Uncle Silas by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

I blogged last week about the impact the first quarter of this book had on me. I have to say, the narrative didn't weaken. I was kept on the edge of my seat for the duration and it encouraged me to be both more scared and suspicious in everyday life! Essentially, the plot revolves around an orphaned young woman who is sent by her father's will to live with her uncle, Silas Ruthyn. This man has lived in strict seclusion since a stain attached itself to his character many years ago. Lady Monica Knollys, another relation, is extremely worried about protagonist Maud being sent to live with an uncle who will gain her money should she die before the age of twenty-one. It seems she has reason to be.

The plot itself is foreshadowed to the extent that knowing what Silas will eventually attempt is part of the delicious fear that pervades each page. But Le Fanu doesn't rely solely on a sensational plot. He also creates some memorable and vivid characters. My post last week talked about Madame de la Rougierre, Maud's governess, but Silas himself is a worthy creation. This is the first view we get of him:

A face like marble, with a fearful monumental look, and, for an old man, singularly vivid strange eyes, the singularity of which rather grew upon me as I looked; for his eyebrows were still black, though his hair descended from his temples in long locks of the purest silver and fine as silk, nearly to his shoulders. (p187)

A few lines later, Maud adds to herself:

I know I can't convey in words an idea of this apparition, drawn as it seemed in black and white, venerable, bloodless, fiery-eyed, with its singular look of power, and an expression so bewildering - was it derision, or anguish, or cruelty, or patience? (p188)

That's quite a question. More than that, it's quite a face. Le Fanu is adept at portraying figures so entirely memorable that they will stay with me for some time. Silas's children, Milly and Dudley, are identified by their 'country bumpkin' ways but are markedly different. Neighbour and worker, Meg Hawkes, is another outstanding character who assists the plot in unexpected ways. Lady Knollys always seems a lot younger than she is - which is Le Fanu's intention - and makes a welcome change from the darkness on occasion. Maud, however, seems to me the weakest character. Her rebellions against the fate her uncle has in mind are fairly weak and she fulfils the stereotype of the innocent young woman as victim. That's a typical sensation fiction plot device and shouldn't necessarily be seen to Le Fanu's detriment. Some of his other female characters - Madame de la Rougierre, Lady Knollys and Meg Hawkes - prove that he doesn't always place woman into this 'helpless' category. Maud had to be relatively helpless to facilitate the plot but she does have an underlying motivation in accepting her move to her uncle's property: she is staying true to her deceased father's wishes for her.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a spine-tingling read that doesn't entertain pretensions to grandeur. Since Amazon currently have a copy at less than three pounds I'd recommend anyone interested in creepy Victorian fiction to give it a go. And, even if you not, at that price it might be worth a shot!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Another London Trip

Last week I toddled off down to London again. I'd had everything booked for months but I wasn't expecting to be in such a precarious state when the time arrived. However, when I managed to switch my brain off from PhD worrying, I found it was quite a tonic.

The point (and highlight) of the trip was to see the fabulous Idina Menzel at the Royal Albert Hall. If the pedigree of that Broadway star wasn't enough (Wicked, Rent and Glee) then the identity of her conductor would have sealed the deal - Broadway composer Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line, They're Playing Our Song and innumerable film scores). There was such warmth between Idina and Marvin that it really impacted on the enjoyment of the evening. And, I have to say, the My Fair Lady suite that Marvin conducted during his warm-up was amazing. I can't think of a set of melodies I'd rather hear in the Royal Albert Hall.

Idina was absolutely excellent. Not a dud note as far as I'm concerned. There were so many outstanding songs that I can't list them all but my favourites were probably 'I'm Not That Girl', 'Look To The Rainbow', 'No Day But Today' and 'For Good'. The latter, from Wicked, was sung without a microphone and I can attest that she was perfectly audible from the furthest corners of the building. I'm not sure how many singers have got the vocal power for that these days. As beautiful as her singing was during that number, I was equally entranced by the stillness of the audience. Throughout the rest of the evening everyone was somewhat raucous but during that song everybody was straining to hear each note. I've never known so many people be so well-behaved at any given time. Overall, the evening was fantastic, although I was so tired that I was commenting on the corridor walls moving around as we went for the tube.

Right, what else did I get up to? Well, a little shopping, of course. I couldn't bypass the opportunity to go to the Dress Circle, my favourite London shop bar none. I did set myself a mental limit of £50 but remembered at the last minute that I hadn't got the album I went in there for - the Betty Blue Eyes cast recording. Along with that, I also bought cast albums of Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be, Matilda and Merrily We Roll Along as well as the DVD of Liza With A "Z" (hugely and thankfully reduced). My favourite find of the day has to be a three disc set of songs by the marvellous Kay Thompson. For anyone who hasn't heard of her, watch Funny Face then do what I did and get absolutely obsessed with an extraordinary woman.

I went a little mad in Paperchase (two notebooks, a card, two bookmarks, a Renoir postcard and some stickers) and also made the mistake of going into Foyles. However, that was for my father's belated birthday present. The fact I walked out of there with Jackie Kay's Red Dust Road and Up and Down Stairs by Jeremy Musson is beside the point. Anyway, I think just the two books in a shop that size shows enormous self-restraint. Well, that and I got lost in there.

I also got to see the Atkinson Grimshaw exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery. For anyone unfamiliar with this Victorian artist, I can't recommend a better piece than this by @Amateur_Casual which gave me my introduction to an artist whose work I'd admired on the front cover of my copy of The Woman in White without knowing who he was. I have to thank my good friend Claire profusely for not only allowing me to drag her round there but for also not looking too bored while I did so. I talked myself into buying the catalogue of the exhibition and I can't wait for an opportunity to put my feet up and peruse it. However, knowing my luck, that chance will be some time coming!

So...that was London in October. Back in Wakefield I find the damp returning to my bedroom wall and the dog ecstatic to see me. At least I have good music, good books and good memories to keep me going!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Doggy Terror

I've mentioned in the past that our terrier, Rosie, is having some stress problems. We put the last bout down to the death of the last cat but her symptoms have returned with a vengeance.

We've got her on some mild tranquillisers because she's been very nervous for the last few weeks. We've been very patient with her, rewarding her for good behaviour and just generally being affectionate towards her. However, yesterday things took a downward turn. My father leaves for work at 7:15. Twenty minutes after he left she started charging at the dining room door in fear. I called down to her which usually works but not this time - the insomniac was forced out of her bed and spent Tuesday in something of a daze.

Last night I spent half an hour downstairs with her after my father went to bed. When I came upstairs she started banging at the door almost immediately. I left it for a few minutes to see if she calmed of her own accord, but she didn't and - worse than that - she woke my father up. Now that is a cardinal sin in this house. I rushed downstairs, he came out of his room swearing and threatening. I politely told him to buzz off and settled downstairs for a little longer despite my fatigue. I've had to do this once before, on an occasion where I had work the next morning and didn't settle down till after three.

I sat and watched a film I'd recorded weeks ago - To Be Or Not To Be, an 1942 comedy/drama starring Carole Lombard and Jack Benny. It was probably a better film than I gave it credit for in the early hours of the morning but at the time I was going through the motions of sitting there and offering comfort to the dog. After almost two hours of sitting with her, I got up and switched the television off. Without a word, I left the dining room with just one slight alteration to the way I'd left it before - I decided to leave the light on for her. Now, I don't know if it made her feel safer or if she spent the entire night expecting me to appear at any moment. Still, she didn't kick off again.

I fell into bed close to two o'clock. However, I was completely on edge. I was listening out for the slightest noise because I knew I'd have to get there before my father if she started charging again. I estimate I fell to sleep between half-past three and four o'clock. Then I woke up when my father got up at half-past six. I couldn't get back to sleep while he was pottering about but hoped I would be able to once he had left for work. No such luck! He'd barely been gone five minutes before she went mental again.

I'm ashamed to admit I screamed at her. I was running on two hours sleep and, while I can cope with delaying rest, I can't usually cope with being woken from it or it being interrupted. I went downstairs in a zombie state, turned the television (Radio 4) and light on for her and left the room again. Must've worked. Not a sound till my alarm went off at half-past ten. Now, I don't know how much sleep I actually got in that time. It was probably only another hour to add to my two and a bit. I still feel like someone hit me with a golf club.

My big worry stems from the fact that tomorrow I'm heading off to London. That means I need a decent night's sleep because the travel is going to be stressful enough for me as it is. So I'm spending Thursday night in London. That leaves my petrified dog with my angry father and that's something I'm not happy about. When I get back from London I'm literally here for an hour before I flit off to Derby for the weekend. That leaves a total of four nights for the dog without me to sit up with her and try to calm her down. Not sure what I'll come back to. I know it's not her fault and, to be fair, so does my father. But his fuse is so damn short, especially when he's tired, that I'm anticipating a difficult couple of days.

As if I hadn't enough to worry about!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Imminent Failure

Nobody likes to fail. I rarely set out to do something if I feel like I might hit a wall. That may make me a coward but it prevents situations that are intolerable to my own delicate constitution. So the news last week that I'm not ready to upgrade from MPhil to PhD level was not just a slap in the face - it came at me like a body blow. In terms of sensation fiction, I can explain it in this way: I was Walter Hartright happily trundling along an open road. Then Anne Catherick appeared and everything went a little mad.

My major problem in my day-to-day life is the same one I face when I visit a Toby Carvery. The inclination to pile my plate high just because I can is overwhelming. The difference with the meal, I suppose, is that I can stop eating when I want. When I take on lots of projects I'm compelled to continue with them, either through obligation or my own stubbornness. I thought it might be useful to list the tasks I'm undertaking at the moment to see where - if anywhere - I can cut before I collapse and fail at absolutely everything.

  1. PhD - As I mentioned, this is going very badly. The advice was pretty much brutal in all respects: I need to sort out my structure, argument, themes and title amongst other things, and this is only for the upgrade chapter! In order to pass my upgrade I need to have an abstract ready for the rest of the thesis. Although I can flannel this to an extent, I have an innate fear of flannelling - boasting about a book I hadn't read nearly put paid to this PhD before I'd started it. Anyway, on any given day my PhD consists of: primary reading (usually via a computer screen as most of the novels I'm looking at have been out of print for a century), secondary reading (both library books and contemporary sources available online), novel analysis and actual writing. I'll be honest here - the reading overwhelms me. I simply can't go as quickly as I need to. Given the fact that I'm a fairly fast reader, as well, I honestly pity people doing this sort of research who don't have zippy eyes. As part of my PhD I'm also required to take part in the Doctorate Development Programme. So far...well, I haven't. It's teaching me how to do the things I already need to and not helping me with the things I do need help with. As you can probably tell, PhD stuff quickly piles up.
  2. Original Writing - This is the major sap of my free time, I think. I try and keep to my boundaries - I only usually write on evenings and at weekends. However, that still means that my 'after proper work hours' are full to the brim. At last count I had: two novels of around 60,000 words which have been redrafted several times, three novels in progress (one of 44,000, one of just under 10,000 and one of around 4,000), two scripts in progress, twelve short stories I'm revising and trying to place and numerous ideas I'm desperately trying to keep track of. The fact is, I will not give up writing. Not only do I like doing it, I need to do it. I'm serious about being a writer and I don't see how giving up my dream now will help me in the long run. As the song goes, 'You've got to have a dream, if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?'. Quite! I'm aiming to build on the success of having my short play performed. And I will build on it.
  3. Freelancing for Lesbilicious - The articles I write for the website are my only source of income but that's not really the reason I want to continue with them. I enjoy coming across things related to LGBT experiences that I wasn't aware of and I feel compelled to highlight injustices across the world. It's a fight we all need to recognise, whether we're gay, straight or anything else. As you can tell, it's a subject I feel passionately about. Therefore no giving up.
  4. Work for 2020UK - Now, I'm very proud to be in on the ground floor of this group. We're aiming to promote discussion on how the UK should be governed. It's one hell of a wide topic but I don't tire of it. My obligations consist of a weekly blog (I do the Wednesday one) and articles as and when something crops up that I feel needs highlighting. I also visit the website to engage in discussion. This is another subject I feel passionately about. I don't think you can moan about the state of society if you're not engaged trying to find another path. So, again, no negotiation on this one - it's staying and I'm proud of that fact.
  5. Family Commitments Etc - This incorporates my weekly meals with my grandmother, my visits to the other half every few weeks and my time spent with my three nieces and nephew. I have to say, I would give up everything else on this list before I relinquish my time with the little people. Nor am I willing to deprive my grandmother of the one person who always gives her a hug. So, once more, non-negotiable.
  6. Fan Fiction - On the face of it this is one thing I should drop like a stone. However, I'm a little loathe to do that. I currently have two long pieces in progress. I restarted one a few months ago after a few years of stagnation and the response was overwhelming. I'm not prepared to mess around those readers again. This category also incorporates the Otalia Virtual Season that I'm a part of. As much as I want to be a part of it, I remember the pressure last year. Not sure if I can handle that again on top of everything else.
  7. Blogging - Well, it had to be included! The blog stays. End of.
  8. Piano Practice - I try to give myself half an hour each day to chill out and mess around on the piano I was given from my grandmother a few months ago. I'm steadily getting better and, as it serves as one of my only sources of relaxation, I think that luxury can stay.
  9. Television Viewing - I don't watch much. My father records stuff for me and I watch it when I can. It usually consists of some BBC4 programmes, some crime shows and my guilty pleasures of Coronation Street and Downton Abbey. Since it doesn't sap too much time and is my second source of relaxation, I think it can stay.
  10. Reading - As a writer, I think I have to read. It's in the large-print of the manual. More than that, I read last thing at night to distance myself from the work I've done during the day. Some of the stories may give me frightening dreams but at least I'm not planning the next chapter of my novel or asking myself questions about Edmund Yates or James Payn. Besides, I review books for this blog. It also fills in a lot of time when I'm travelling, both to university and elsewhere. I rarely sit doing nothing, as you can tell.
There it all is. What do you reckon?