Spoons, Priorities, and Blogging

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When I did my undergraduate degree at Reading, I specifically picked accommodation that was not on campus, but not too far from it either. I couldn’t face being enclosed in a campus, and it had been my initial wish to join a city university (instead of trying to convince us that you pick the wedding dress you don’t expect to like, they should argue we pick the opposite of what we expect, campus v city unis). For various reasons, that didn’t work out, and I ended up falling in love with the greenery, open spaces (the lake!) and the layout of Reading’s campus anyway, so it became my pleasure to study there, not my pain.

In any case, I, by fortune rather than order, was never more than a half hour’s walk from my lectures every year. And that suited me perfectly, to have a brisk walk in the crisp mornings of the Michaelmas and Hilary terms.

Perhaps, I got too used to it.

Indeed, I have always loved London, so it is not much of a culture shock to be living and working/studying here. However, of all the tedium and issues one would have about London…I guess it never occurred to me how draining I’d find commuting in every day. I don’t live too far from the UCL campus and linguistics’ Chandler House, but the bus I take is still 30 minutes in good (London) traffic. I could take the tube – but, let’s be realistic, I can’t afford that luxury on a daily basis. I have savings, but I don’t have income. Soon, my savings will be gone.

I’m usually one to keep busy. I’ll try and fill my evenings with activities, because that has been how I relax. But lately, it only feels like effort. Trying to catch the bus at the right time to be able to arrive on time for events; working out when and how quickly I have to get home, so I have time to cook dinner before leaving again – if there would be time for dinner at all. I’m running around all the time, and I often wonder of the point of doing these extracurricular activities I have loved before when I have more stress by thinking of them.

Perhaps it is the night. We in GMT gained an hour last Sunday. Sounds good, but it means that some days I will not be home before it gets dark. This is one of the reasons Summer is my favourite season – the hours of glorious sunshine, Vitamin D are maximised. Even then, though, I’d get exhausted by 9pm.

I learned a few months ago about Spoon Theory, and I do find myself using it more in conversation nowadays. “Are you going to the event?” “Probably not, I feel out of spoons.” To me, I equate it with the feelings of social exhaustion I get from being around many people at once or for a prolonged period of times. That’s definitely a problem at the moment as our classes are all the same people, most doing General Ling. Like me. The same people over and over.

I sound like a terrible person, don’t I? Humans are social creatures; we are meant to hang out and share and understand each other.

But some of us can’t hack it. Don’t blame.

As such, however, sometimes I have to let things drop off the radar. Sometimes, that’s going to events with friends or peers, other times that’s forfeiting a piece of uni work because relaxing and completing it are incompatible – and sometimes it’s leaving my blogging schedule behind and not feeling pressured to come up with a topic or follow through with a post I’ve started writing.

It’s true – there are many I’ve left by the wayside, including reviews I started years ago for things I always wanted to review but never had the energy to continue. That’s okay. I might do it one day. Or maybe I won’t. I have no Fear of Missing Out.

Do I have certain priorities for what I need to do? To stop myself losing spoons?

I don’t know. Of course, blogging isn’t my priority and university work is, but the situation isn’t as black and white as that; it depends on the day, how much work I’ve done, when I woke up. There are so many factors.

So…wait and see is all I can say.

7 Quick Takes: Of Work and Play

It’s Friday, which means it’s that time again for 7 Quick Takes, hosted over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Seven Quick Takes

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This week has been a hectic one. I suppose it started as it meant to go on. Non-UK people probably didn’t hear, but I bet if you live in the south of England, you would’ve heard about the extensive South Midlands train line closures, resulting in there being only one direct route in and out of central London. I was meant to be on the way back from The Fiance’s in Leeds, aiming to be home by 10pm, with my train pulling in at 9.30.

As it was, I went via Sheffield and that train too was slow, and arrived into St Pancras at 11.45pm. Luckily, taking the tube (<3 London) meant I was definitely home at quarter past midnight.

But still later than I would have preferred.

~2~

Too, I’ve been out of the house most days. I’m almost midway through the Michaelmas term now and that means that I have been trying to keep up with my experimental participation credits. If I can get 5 this term, the pressure will be off me a little next term.

~3~

Then again, there’s the Phonetics. A graded test every week. I don’t object to it, but it a concentrated amount of revision that can/could be problematic. Revision is great for the memory, but our consolidation is somewhat hindered by being thrown new stuff on top of what we are still trying to fully encode in long-term memory. It is the level of study I expect, though. (I pity the first years that they have to do it.)

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English pulmonic word examples.

~4~

And then there’s syntax.

Which every week involves reading. I am forever thankful I have a day off, otherwise I do not know what I would do in terms of the work-leisure balance.

~5~

Nevertheless, I have God to thank for keeping me on top of things. Often, I wonder where I would be without Him (well: nowhere). There’s just enough of all the elements in my life to keep me pootling along in somewhat good health. Besides, I am constantly thankful that I am where I am now.

~6~

You can imagine, too, that there has been little to no recent editing. Cathy’s finally on her way to the continent (not to be confused with The Continent).

~7~

Head down and slanted to the right, Jonathon’s blue eyes focused, mouth raw but shapely… His voice drowned in a whisper that Cathy had not the time, nor the expertise, to lip-read. A slice of steel spun from his fingers and latched itself onto the dockhand’s shirt-sleeve. It balanced there for a moment before the three of them realised that it had no made an incision.

Yet.

“You, sir, are mistaken,” murmured Jonathon.

“I really do think—”

“No, you will listen to me.” He was deathly quiet. “You have no idea what you are dealing with.

That’s all for now! Have a good weekend.

Photo of the Week: Past

Isn’t it funny when one stumbles across pieces from one’s past, trinkets and tokens one thought one wouldn’t see again? I suppose primary (elementary) school work is not in the same league as those sorts of things, per se. Nevertheless, it is fascinating for me to see the differences and similarities between me then and me now.

Cute, too.🙂

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Currently, on a Wednesday

The currently posts are meant to be on Tuesdays (or at least author Katy Upperman does it on Tuesdays, from whom I got the idea), and I fully tried to post it yesterday, but I’ve had so much catching up to do now I can’t do it until after 8pm that my work on it during the day turned into only half a post. And I didn’t even think of WordPress. #mylife #howdotheydoit?

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Loving…

Interacting with young ones in my new job. Their vitality and enthusiasm is so rewarding.

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Reading…

HOUR OF MISCHIEF by Aimee Hyndman. It’s a YA Fantasy/Steampunk with rich setting and relatable characters.

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Writing…

I was working on edits for Horology, but I’ve neurotically changed gears again, and have returned to WTCB with new ideas.

Watching…

Old Miss Marple episodes. I do missing having a daily or even weekly murder mystery hit to watch as I write and relax in the evenings.

Listening to…

Steam Powered Giraffe’s third studio album MK3. With the hour+ travel to work and back, I’ve been using my phone as my MP3 player again – complete with the music I listened to three+ years ago. As a consequence, I’ve not listened to my favourite band for a while, and, having been through their fourth album, space opera Vice Quadrant, multiple times, I’ve rather forgotten the joy of many of the songs in pop 50s-focused album MK3.

I’m just going to be mean and insert the teaser for Vice Quadrant, which will have you humming that fragment of Progress and Technology for hours until you go out and buy the song.😉

Anticipating…

Moving out of the house I’ve lived in the last year for my third year of uni, which I’ll be doing in two weeks. I’m the last housemate around (And currently typing this in the space of my kitchen.), which means I’ve got a tonne of housework to be doing at some point in between working and doing much-needed (to keep my mental health stable) rewriting. I plan to work on the big bathroom this afternoon.

Wishing…

To get back into my writing mode. I have been wanting to keep pressing on with my editing for a while, and it just hasn’t happened.

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What have you been up to? Did you post a Currently… post this Tuesday?

It’s a Month Until I Finish my BA

Actually, that title is a lie. I didn’t have time to write this last week and then I forgot about it. But, yes, after three years, I am on the last legs of my degree. It’s bizarre! A weird feeling to think that in less than a month (it’s under three weeks now), I will have finished my final final (or final exam, or whatever term one ought to use for mass communication) and officially no longer be a BA student.

I guess I still fall under that term until I graduate in July, but once my exams are done, I exist in that limbo of doing nothing.

And, to be honest, I don’t know what I will do. Not in a bad way, just in an I’m-undecided-and-I-have-a-ton-of-things way. Life is rife with opportunity and it’s not always a good thing in that one cannot do everything or achieve all of the plans. Quelle domage.

I had always planned to do several posts about university (particularly for those of you who don’t know what it’s like a British university, which can be something different of an experience from other countries), for instance about what I’ve learnt away from the academia, and I can’t say if I’ll get them done over the coming weeks—unlikely, as I’m normally shattered once I’ve finished revision for the day—or instead once I am done for…well, for all.

That’s weird.

Anyway, I hope to get a few of my ideas onto paper and write them up into blog posts; and I am happy to take requests for specific topics, though, as I say, I have a few in mind already. My blog could also do with a redesign and my creativity has been dipping into the visuals recently, so I feel capable that I could somehow choose a nice theme to outline this blog. And I am in the midst of thinking about my new About page. It’s where I go when I find a new blog, and I’m finding that mine no longer fits my requirements of a writer’s blog. Not to mention that the style is about two years out of date.

Other than that, I plan to spend most of the summer working, as I feel like it is time I stepped up to the plate and did something responsible.

I haven’t forgotten about writing, and I haven’t stopped altogether. I’m just not mentally healthy enough to try and deal with massive rewrites and concentrated draft edits that need time and peace and quiet set aside. I don’t have the energy or the motivation, and I can’t tell when I actually will. Probably in those last weeks of May after my exams, when my mind has been given some time to settle, but not enough that it starts to screech crazy.

Uh, yeah. That’s why I’ll have things to do when I’m not working.

In other news, it’s raining again as I type this. Oh April.

Why a Writing Hiatus Is So Painful

I’m taking a writing hiatus. This would be due to the importance of my studies for my final year of my undergraduate anyway – but it’s also due to another reason. I’ve hit a massive writing slump.

I should have expected it, what with my dissertation taking up most of my non-contact time; but where I’d planned to query in January February, I know WTCB has instead to go through a massive upheaval, and I don’t know where to start.

I’m afraid. Afraid of tearing it to pieces and gluing those pieces onto a new board. Afraid of the emotional and mental work I’ll have to do to recover it. Afraid of the time I’ll lose, and afraid of being back at square one.

Yet, I am back at square one with most of my novels. Let me count them – five. I think. Five I like in need of editing beyond a first or second draft. It took me so long to get to a queryable stage with one novel (and that turned out to be false hope), how long will it take with a second novel?

So, for now, before I drive myself crazy, I’m taking a writing break.

The thing is, I don’t want to have to stop writing. I find it incredibly therapeutic, even when characters and scenes frustrate me. However, I want to be able to look back on my work and feel proud, the way I would having finished a first draft.

But I’m not. Each book I read and the more research I do, the less confident I feel in my own work and my own style. I’ll never be as good as these, says one voice in my mind. Another chimes in, You call this tension? Your characters resolve debates as readily as infants change moods. The chances of me ever being successful are so slim, and part of me would give up were it not for the fact that I don’t want to throw away all the effort and characters and ideas I’ve had for so long. What a waste that would be.

I love Phillip and Aidelle’s world, and I definitely want to at least self-publish the almanac that I have detailing the timeframe of the three epochs featured in the Time, Stopped Trilogy, but I can’t deal with having poor writing at the moment. I think, were it not for my endlessly encouraging CP, Lillian M Woodall, I would’ve trunked the novel by now. Even the Steampunk world of Alexander and Cathy inspires me, but it’s not viable for me to meet them every night. By the time I’ve finished revising for the day, rested my mind, had dinner and settled in for the evening, I’ve been far too tired to concentrate on my editing.

Yes, it hurts. A writer should never have to abandon their families and their stories pressing through their mind – but then, I wonder if the resulting craft will even be worth it. I give so much to my writing, and sometimes I wonder if that’s too much…even though it’s not been enough.

That’s why a writing hiatus is so painful. It is is full of possibilities whilst drowning them with the silence. It’s putting the writer first at the expense of the characters. It’s breaking from the daily visits into the centre of one’s mind.

And, yet, I always wonder if it’s worth it.

7 Quick Takes – 6 Types of Assessment

Since it’s been a hectic couple of weeks for me in my third year of uni (at the fabulous University of Reading in the UK), what with this being my dissertation* term and having deadlines Friday, Monday, and Thursday, I thought I’d take the opportunity of the Quick Takes list to describe a bit about the types of assessments I’ve had to do, particularly over this year**.

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7 Quick Takes is hosted at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

~1~

The straight-up essay

This is the assessment I get the most – it covers both Psychology and Philosophy modules, and I suppose, is a good way to tell if someone has done the required reading. There is a difference between Psychology and Philosophy essays – namely, the amount of research reading one does for the essay. Because Psychology encourages the scientific use of background studies, we are required to at least provide one original source.

~2~

The presentation

Leading a seminar and teaching one topic of the module is a type of assessment. Some may think that this is one of the hardest types of assessment to do, but, actually, I’m a big fan of presentations – I seem to have a knack for them, at least. They’re less stressful than essays, and take less time, though still involve the same level of research and interpretation of facts. I enjoy educating others, so this style of assessment helps me do just that.

~3~

The alternative assignment

This is a tricky one to describe, as it depends on the seminar leader or lecturer themselves as to what we end up doing. Most are of working on developing independent research ideas. For instance, the most recent alternative assignment I did required me to raise a project proposal/report – just like that of my dissertation, though with less stress! – on one of the many topics we went through during the term.

~4~

The lab practicals

Psychology all the way! Practicals can range from white-lab-coat conical flask awesomeness (!) to puzzling over statistics for hours on computerised systems. (This has happened to me.) University is a prime for the ‘real world’ – apparently, in some eyes – and practicals help students to expand from the theoretical side of what they’re learning to the working side side.

~5~

The Online Quizzes

These are marked, too, often as a first- and second-year assessment level to encourage background reading for modules that cannot be fully explained in lectures. They consolidate knowledge and prime for exams.

~6~

The non-marked

Often, these are essay plans or little one-page to test for writing skills. Practise, so to speak. So, technically, I’m cheating with this being a type of assessment, but these types of work, called by some ‘formative’, are as crucial to build skills and knowledge towards other assessments. Not as often given out, but as necessary as any other assessment.

~7~

I pray for those with work to or who feel overwhelmed, particularly students. May God’s light guide them to knowledge.

*Of which there is only four weeks left.

**This also counts as a type of assessment, but is ongoing and far more complicated and layered than a simple paragraph will do justice.