A Far Off Places Update

American Adventures

Oh dear, another month gone and I’ve not made any posts!

Life’s been very busy here. Job applications, interviews, working part time, and my current project of Far Off Places. I’m doing layout for the magazine, which is really exciting. It is very time-intensive, but coming along nicely.

We’ll be officially launching the magazine on 9 March at the STAnza poetry festival in St Andrews. Which means that I’m finishing up the magazine, and some individual pamphlets. It’s a lot to be doing, but a lot of fun.

Also really good for refreshing me! Placing things in InDesign is actually really calming.

I’ll have a link here when the magazine does go live.

Also! We’re now accepting submissions for Issue II! Theme is ‘the back of beyond.’ We’re accepting subs through 31 March (of the written variety, but I’ll also accept sandwiches and yellow submarines).

A NaNoWriMo Confession

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

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.

Revisiting Old Stories

General Geekiness

I was poking about on my hard drive today when I discovered some stories written through the years. Some of them I wrote over four years ago; its enjoyable to look back and see what I was thinking about then. I reread one of my favorites from that era, a story about super heroes and villains who, apart from being superpowered, are normal folks. I still like my plot and the idea, but I could do a lot with the writing. It has been four years, and I have improved.

The other story is the one that was giving me so much trouble last year. All I could remember from it was that a) I hated the protagonist, b) it is set somewhere in Italy and c) it’s a bit obvious that I adore The Prisoner.  And while I still hate the protagonist (funny, because in rereading I see myself in him. Not a great deal, but enough), I still think the story has potential. I am quite enamoured with the setting and with the basic premise. I had some good descriptions.

I need to revisit the first story, rewrite it so its cleaner, more epic and awesome in scope. I had a pretty decent world built up, I’d like to explore it more.

For the second story, I need to work on defining the main character, the primary antagonist, and the plot. Once I have these elements figured out, I should be able to press forward.

Looks like I’ll have some creative writing projects this summer. Hurrah!

Thirty-six! (Or, the List of Four)

General Geekiness

So, I failed to read the small print and have gotten myself into the epic List of Four meme . So I shall gladly part take.

I’ll answer as honestly as possible, for I am nothing if not honest.

1. Four shows that you watch:

  • The Prisoner. This should come as no surprise to long time readers of the blog. This is, hands down, my favorite show, and the subject of my Epic Thesis. It has everything I want in a TV show. It’s short (17 episodes), the stories are thought provoking, the premise is compelling, and it completely messes up your perception of nursery rhymes. I dare you to think of “Pop Goes the Weasel” as innocent after watching this show (and, come to think of it, reading my thesis).
  • Sherlock. I so enjoyed this BBC miniseries and am very excited that there will be more episodes next year. With my luck, though, I’ll miss the season as it airs in the UK, then will be in the UK as it airs in the US. C’est la vie.
  • Danger Man. I so enjoy this show. More Patrick McGoohan kicking ass. It is really well done entertainment–more straightforward spy fare than The Prisoner and incredibly entertaining.
  • Doctor Who. I can’t help it. This show makes me smile so much. Ridiculous, yes, but thoroughly enjoyable. I do like Matt Smith as the Doctor. He’s got a manic energy to him that works.

2. Four things you are passionate about:

  • Art. I create art. I seek out art in museums, online, in books, on the street. I sketch. I try to paint. I miss Florentine museums each and every day. I even have another blog dedicated entirely to visual art.
  • Research/learning. I love seeking out facts, books, details, anything to make minor revelations for my stories, art pieces, etc. And just amassing a large amount of trivia so that eventually, The Village Idiots will win at trivia night.
  • Story-telling. Be it through books, movies, plays, poems, television, albums, musicals, silly stories told to friends, scary stories around the campfire, history, I love it. I am constantly seeking out stories and composing my own. I adore movies (good, bad or cheesy) and love reading good books.
  • Adventure. I love to travel. I love to explore. I love to immerse myself in a culture. Give me my passport and a plane ticket and I’m golden.

3. Four phrases words you say a lot:

  • “Fudge monkeys!” My preferred silly curse. Sometimes it works better than the standards.
  • “Cuppa?” I am a tea fiend. I drink tea constantly when I’m at home–and at school for that matter. I average about 6 cups a day when at home.
  • “I AM NOT A NUMBER! I AM A FREE MAN!” Heh. Usually said when goaded on by my fellow Prisoner fan. Or when I’m going a little mental when working on the thesis.
  • “Mi piace!” One of the few Italian phrases that stuck with me. I say it pretty frequently, but usually only when I really like something.

4. Four things you’ve learned from the past:

  • Nothing’s permanent. Even if you’re in an unpleasant situation, things can change.
  • Try not to take things too seriously. Poking fun at yourself is a good thing. Especially when you fall down.
  • Life’s an adventure. Sometimes you need to throw yourself into new situations through travel or going to a different bar.
  • If things don’t work out the way you planned, oh well. Something else will arise, but you’ll have to go and look for it.

5. Four places you would like to go:

  • Graduate School at the University of Edinburgh. I’m applying soon. Wish me luck.
  • Russia. Moscow, St. Petersburg, even Siberia. I just want to go to Russia. I’ve been fascinated by Russian history for years. Lately, I’ve been looking at plane tickets and all of my adverts have been “Buy tickets to Moscow! Things to do in Moscow!”
  • Portmeirion. See The Prisoner. I really like visiting places used in my favorite movies, or spots in books, etc. I feel like its my solemn duty to make it to Portmeirion at some point in my life.
  • Dublin. My dear Holmes has informed me that I must go. I’ve decided that I must go (and will hopefully see The Frames in concert when I’m there).

6. Four things you did yesterday:

  • Bought a pair of jeans. Hurrah, I finally have jeans I can wear with my brogues.
  • Read a bit of Les Miserables. Am now nearing the end…I have 1.5 volumes left. Am a bit distraught and unsure of what to read when this epic tome is done.
  • Wrote part of my novel-y thingy. I’m trying to find some of the characters and their personalities. Two of them are pretty set (but I’m finding out some interesting things about one of them), and I’m hoping to flesh out some of the supporting characters.
  • Drank tea and ate chocolate cake. It was lovely. I’m appreciating the small things in life. And a world without tea or chocolate cake would be substantially sadder.

7. Four things you are looking forward to:

  • Returning to Florence in March. I’m going back for a week to visit my sister. I can’t wait to return to my favorite haunts.
  • Finishing Les Miserables. One epic novel down, I guess War and Peace is on the 2011 reading list…anyone know of a good translation?
  • Completing my Bachelor’s degree. I’m freaked out, but really excited as well. I’m looking forward to the next big adventure (hopefully this will be post-graduate work at the U of Edinburgh; if not, finding employment).
  • Presenting my epic Prisoner thesis on April 28.  I will be so proud of myself to have this project completed. I opted to write two theses this year–one which was completed last semester titled “The Carnivalesque World of Norman Bates”, and this one, which isn’t titled yet.

8. Four things you love about winter:

  • Snow. I’m a New Englander. I love the cold weather, the white stuff falling from the sky, and the icy wind that blows my closet door open. And going sledding in the stuff is pretty great too.
  • Christmas. It’s that get together with the family, decorate the tree, goodwill to all feel that I love. That, and watching some of my favorite movies, White Christmas and The Muppets Christmas Carol.
  • The cold weather. I like watching the snow fall, wrapped up in a blanket while reading. Can’t beat it.
  • All the tea I want. And I don’t feel guilty about drinking a hot beverage because its cold out.

9. Four bloggers who should share their list of fours:

If you want to, go ahead and answer.

Looking to 2011…and back on 2010

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

As I sit on the brink of 2011, staring forward into the new year and back into the new, I can’t help but think that 2010 was a successful year. I failed at many of my goals for 2010 (write 1+short story a month–was successful until October; submit work/enter contests–nope, unless you count the art contest I entered in Florence; read more–success; write another novel–fail, but planned one and am starting a separate one).

Others I was more successful with. I don’t know if I’ve posted more this year than last, but I feel that the quality increased. I didn’t include more pictures (I just forget), but I did start the What’s On the Bookshelf? page, which is continuing into 2011, along with What’s Beth Watching?

But 2010 was a good year. I had a grand adventure in Florence and set my sights on another (grad school in the UK). I came up with an idea for a novel. I met one of my idols (and was not disenchanted by the meeting). And I started work on my epic thesis, which will be done in April (and there will be much rejoicing throughout the land).

So, for 2011, some goals:

1. Write more.

I write every night. I want to write more. Hopefully finish a novel, or work in earnest on the one that I’m co-writing.

2. Continue writing this blog (and Sheer Art Attack)

I like writing this blog. It’s fun. For Sheer Art Attack, I need to create more art pieces. I’m working on some of Michelangelo’s David for my mom.

3. Take time to notice the small things in life.

I’m taking this as my artist’s statement. To celebrate and appreciate the simple things. The Christmas tree lights. The hugs. Family. Nature.

4. Read for me.

Whatever takes my fancy, I’ll read. I’m itching to read Smiley’s People, adoring Les Miserables and anxiously awaiting more 44 Scotland Street books.