Hello internet, my old friend

Edinburgh Expeditions, The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

My my my. I guess I have left She Thinks Too Much pretty silent. Nothing written since mid-2013! It doesn’t, however, mean that my life has been anything other than interesting.

The boyfriend I mentioned in my last post? Now my husband. The Englishman is happily settling in to life in the Northeast. Given that he’s lived through a couple of blizzards already, we can happily term him an almost-New Englander.

Far Off Places, the wonderful little magazine that I co-founded with a group of friends while still living in Scotland, continues to flourish. I actually made a trip to Edinburgh to speak at the Scottish Poetry Library. Annie (our fearless editor-in-chief) and I discussed how we started the magazine, how the hell we manage to keep it all afloat when none of us live full time in the same country, let alone continent or timezone, and what we look for in submissions. The evening included some great poetry readings by Niall Foley and Finola Scott.

Also on the Far Off Places front, we co-founders were interviewed for the University of Edinburgh alumni newsletter, Enlightened, in the early fall. It was my first time being interviewed about a project, which was very exciting. If you so desire, you can read the interview “Going places.” Tying in with this was our fantastic and shiny new website and look, designed by myself and our Q, Trevor Fountain. In addition, we’re also accepting submissions for our sixth issue, The Epistolary Edition.

On top of all this, I’ve worked for a Boston-area university, since July 2013. I’m still amazed that I’ve been there that long, it feels as though I’ve just started working.

Here’s to more adventures, and my remembering to blog about them!

Expressing the inexpressable

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Music. It calls to me. There’s something visceral about it. It grabs me and twists my gut, weaving its way into my subconscious. Songs stick in my mind, they refuse to leave, perfect ear worms. The above song, “Speedway” by Morrissey is one of these songs (I can’t help it. I move to the UK and I develop a love of the Smiths and Morrissey’s solo stuff). I listen to his stuff while working; I find it to be just the sort of thing I need to get focused.

But enough on Morrissey (for this post).

Music in itself. I find myself drawn to it, perhaps more than any other art form (strange, for a writer/painter/graphic designer). I’m stopped by its sheer incredibility. The range of emotions, the sense of calm, fear, love evoked by notes expresses the human condition more than words or paintings ever could.

To quote Aldous Huxley, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

The past few months have been difficult ones for me. The coursework has been particularly strenuous in a different way from last term. My health hasn’t been the best (nothing serious, just atrocious colds and uncomfortable back injuries). Things haven’t been going as I had hoped–not poorly, but not as well as my internal narrative wanted.

The other day, I went into St Giles Cathedral to look around. A string quartet practiced for the evening performance. As the violin sang out, the cello setting a steady pace, my heart soared, leaped, fell, felt, repeated. The starting and stopping as the musicians ran through their piece struck me. It was, in its imperfection, exactly as I felt. There was joy, frustration, repetition.

Words failed me. Visual arts failed me. Yet music fit where no other expression would. It was fleeting, yet permanent, the memory to be one of the strongest I have.

My strongest memories are tied around music. The two best concerts I’ve been to have had moments of transcendence–from the Who, when Roger Daltrey sang portions of Tommy, a medley that meant so much to me, given that I had listened to that album ad nauseum the summer before. The second was the Swell Season, when Glen Hansard got the audience to join in on the chorus of ‘Back Broke.’ The effect was haunting, uniting, beautiful. For moments at both of these gigs, the music transcended. That’s all that mattered.

A Girl Who Reads…

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

A poem by Mark Grist.

I had to share this. Because girls who read are brilliant (if I do say so myself).

I do feel like a bit of a fraud. I’ve only finished one book since January, Barry Miles’s London Calling: A Countercultural History of London Since 1945. In my defense, it was several hundred pages long (and I’m working hard on my degree).

But I am a girl who reads. A reader of fiction both literary and pulp (and where the two crossover), of histories (mostly pop), of biographies, of critical theory, of academic articles. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. As much as I love television, movies, even the internet, I wouldn’t trade reading for it.

Not reading for myself hurts. It aches as my brain grows weak, my attention span dwindling, when all I want is to read and find I can’t.

I still wander through libraries and bookstores, my eyes lusting over the beautiful book covers, the words on the pages…I long for the day where I can read for myself again (I may end up cheating a bit and reading before going to bed. All PHP and no books makes Beth a dull girl). Just today, I found myself at both Blackwell’s and the Edinburgh Central Library, perusing the shelves, holding books in my hands.

And yes, I gave in to temptation. I couldn’t resist. I never can. The printed word entices me, it draws me in, it is irresistible. I picked up a couple at the library, and am considering buying one for myself from Blackwell’s (Catriona Child’s Trackman). Perhaps as a reward for surviving this first round of submissions.

And, as a girl who reads, I have to say there’s nothing sexier than a guy who reads.

Maybe I’ll write a follow up poem.

A NaNoWriMo Confession

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I’m not participating in NaNo this year. Well, not writing a story for NaNo. I like looking through the forums and putting in my two-cents. But I’m not writing a novel.

My muse is on vacation, and I am soaking in all that Edinburgh has to offer. Coursework, swing dancing, hwal moo hapkido, just sightseeing in general. I’m enjoying my experiences, tucking them away, to be explored at a later date.

I’m being absorbed by my world. With hope, the City of Literature will rub off on me. But I don’t foresee it rubbing off in time for NaNo. And where writing fiction and I are spending some time apart, I don’t think it would be wise to attempt NaNo. It just wouldn’t be fun. There is no point in forcing something creative–it just will not work.

When a writer isn’t writing, what is she?

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

I’ve been in Scotland for just over a month now. I’m writing every day, but not fiction. It’s a strange thing, to not be grappling over characters, writing to record what is going on in my life, more out of habit than anything else. There’s little delight in twisting words across the page, coming up with delicate phrasing and subtle descriptions.

But I’m not writing fiction. I feel as though something is missing. I return from my day, and I can’t do anything more than work and sleep. It isn’t writer’s block, as I don’t believe in it, but…I’m not sure how to respond. Something’s missing, and yet, I’m whole.

Weekend’s Reading

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Well, I have a bit on my plate this weekend, reading wise. My current goal is to finish reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom before August 16. Why August 16? It would make sense if that were the book’s due date back at the library (it isn’t, I think its actually due on the 15th, but I have one more renewal). It’s Lawrence’s birthday. And given how close the day is, and how much I have left of the book, I’ll probably finish it either just before or on the day. I’m thoroughly enjoying the book, though I do find parts a bit dry and somehow managed to miss the entirety of the capturing of Akaba. I know I read the words, I think it just failed to process. Rather like how I managed to miss Helm’s Deep every time I read The Two Towers.

That, or I just was preoccupied by how a traditional Beduin feast is prepared. A sheep pyramid on a bed of rice drenched in hot gravy. Fascinating stuff.
Also up for reading:
The Complaints by Ian Rankin. Never read any of his books, figured I probably should, as I’ve wanted to for a couple of years now. And if I should randomly run into him on the street, I might have something intelligent to say.
And a biography of Gertrude Bell, because I’m not ready to leave the Arabia state of mind. And what little I’ve read about Bell is absolutely fascinating, so I want to read more about her.
Also on the entertainment list: the original Planet of the Apes and Bridge on the River Kwai must be watched. Interestingly, both based on books by Pierre Boulle…
And writing, naturally.