Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘fun’

Vague assignments…

Just finished teaching for the term – last lecture on Writing Industries to second year Creative and Professional Writing students yesterday. Can’t wait to read their assignments, they’re a good bunch and have lots of great ideas. Although some of them are still a bit taken aback by the topic of the first assignment: “Write a 2000-word essay on an aspect of the writing industries.” Too vague? I don’t think so, they’re creative writers, after all.

There is nothing wrong with fun!

There is nothing wrong with fun!

Up yours, HR

Also had an interesting discussion after class with one of the mature students. The topic of the lecture was ‘the business of being a writer’ – so I talked about how to make money from writing and writing-related pursuits, and finished by telling them to make sure they have fun, whatever they do. This mature student said that coming from an HR (human resources? human remains?) background, she felt it was inappropriate to tell them to ‘have fun’, because it’s not clear what that means. She’d prefer me to say ‘enjoy what you do’. Personally, I can’t see the difference. A consultation of my Facebook friends has not enlightened me. And the more I think about it, the more I think it exemplifies a lot of what’s wrong with the corporate/capitalist/humans-as-resources mentality. Why shouldn’t people have fun at work? If you assume (as I suspect this person did) that ‘having fun’ implies frivolity… what’s wrong with that? It’s essential at some point in most work contexts. If you assume that ‘having fun’ implies slacking off, then you’re just plain wrong. The two are not in the least bit equivalent. A lot of the time I’m slacking off, I’m most definitely not having fun – I’m bored, or feeling guilty, or fed up. Not ‘having fun’. So I stand by my instruction… whatever you do for a living, make sure you have fun while you’re doing it, at least some of the time. You are not a robot. You are not a resource. You are a person. If you’re having fun, you will be more productive and more creative and more motivated.

Why I’m tired

As part of yesterday’s lecture, I talked about the possibilities of freelance and/or portfolio careers. And being a self-centred git, I talked about myself for a while – being, I think, a good example of someone with a freelance portfolio career. So to prepare for this, I wrote down a list of everything I’ve done since graduating last summer. By the time I got to the end of the list I had to sit down in a darkened room.

  1. Worked at Five Leaves 3 days a week
  2. Taught on the Creative & Prof Writing and Humanities courses at Nottingham University
  3. Typeset several anthologies
  4. Shadowed writing projects in secondary school and prison
  5. Run workshops at art galleries, prisons, schools, poetry societies, festivals
  6. Worked with schoolchildren (all ages), prisoners, college and university students, adults from many parts of the community
  7. Learned about ebooks (freelance and through Five Leaves)
  8. Produced ebooks for several writers and producers
  9. Given presentations and workshops on ebooks at festivals
  10. Run bespoke and general training courses on ebooks
  11. Published articles/essays in journals and books
  12. Published several poems in magazines
  13. Coached writers in IT skills
  14. Designed and developed a website for a bookshop
  15. Designed and typeset festival programmes, posters, and other publicity material
  16. Volunteered at Southwell Poetry Festival
  17. Helped set up Beeston Poets – a series of readings by well-known poets at Beeston Library
  18. Gained an industry-recognised qualification in proofreading
  19. Proofread several PhD theses
  20. Copy-edited and proofread a non-fiction book (about to be published)
  21. Obtained EU funding for and am managing a creative writing project with partners in Nottingham, Karlsruhe and Budapest
  22. Elected board member of Nottingham Writers’ Studio
  23. Elected committee member of Nottingham Poetry Society
  24. Active member of steering committee for Nottingham Festival of Words
  25. Joined Society for Editors and Proofreaders
  26. Joined National Association for Writers in Education

I think it’s reasonable for me to take a bit of a break…

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I love being ignorant. It means there’s something I don’t know which I can learn.

Five Leaves' new camcorder

Scary? I don’t think so!

This is a surprisingly recent realisation. Someone expressed astonishment that I’m not scared of electronic gadgets (in this case, Five Leaves’ new camcorder) and asked, “Do you actually enjoy working out how to use them?”

There were so many exclamation marks in her voice that the proofreader in me had a red pen out of my rucksack before she’d got to the question mark. My immediate response was, “No, I just get on with it, and I find it relatively easy, so there’s no problem.” Later, on the way home, I thought about it some more.

C++ Pocket Reference

THIS is scary… (all will become clear)

I’d spent a little while playing with the camcorder at home, getting to know its basic controls. I captured this clip of #1 hairy brat… as you can see, he was impressed with my movie-making prowess. (Why isn’t there a way to embed the video into my blog post? Another area of ignorance on my part… excellent!) [edited: see below 🙂]

I thought that was enough to prepare me for recording the speakers at a Five Leaves event. After all, I was just going to put the camcorder on a tripod, point it in the right direction and press ‘record’. Um. No. Not that easy at all. It did lots of automatic adjustment stuff depending on where the speakers were, which resulted in an annoying variation in brightness. I didn’t zoom to the right shot for some of the bits. And, horror of horrors, I couldn’t ask the speakers to start again from the beginning so I could get it right. LOTS to learn. Goody goody…

From Revolution To Repression launch event flyerJust in case you’re interested in the event I was filming, this is the flyer (click on the image to see an enlarged version).

You can see two of the videos by following these links:

Gennady Estraikh answering the question ‘Why did Stalin murder Yiddish writers?’

Ross the Boss reading part of a story by Peretz Markish

[edited: Or you could scroll down to the bottom of this post where you’ll find all three videos embedded! I found out how to do it and am happy! It’s actually quite easy – you don’t use the embedding HTML generated by youtube, you just paste the URL into the post as plain text, and WordPress magic does the rest.]

The book, From Revolution to Repression: Soviet Yiddish Writing 1917-1952, edited by Joseph Sherman, is full of fascinating fiction and poetry, and has a couple of essays about the history of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the decades after the Russian Revolution.

Ignorance = happiness

“So, Pip,” I hear you ask… “why is your life so much better now than it was when you were earning a fortune working in the computing industry?”*

My answer is: because I’m almost always working on something I don’t know very much about. And I love it. I’m always being challenged, but in a good way. I’m not expected to do everything brilliantly (even by myself these days, thanks to 12 months of CBT and a repeat prescription for antidepressants!), which removes a lot of the pressure, and means when I succeed it feels like a real triumph.

Dovetail

A teaser for the next blog… do you like this logo? what does it mean to you?

When I started working with computers I loved it. All those amazing things you could make them do, all the ins and outs of arcane programming languages and development frameworks. Designing software that would do exactly what the clients wanted it to do. It was an intellectual challenge, and it was fun. But after a while, I realised I was just doing essentially the same thing over and over again. I knew how to do it all. Yes, there were new languages and new frameworks, but the learning process was the same as the last time. And gods, it was BORING.

Variety isn’t quite enough. There has to be novelty too. And the best way to achieve that is through the deliberate pursuit of ignorance, then the resolution of that ignorance. My ex-husband says, “Stupidity is worse than ignorance. At least ignorance can be cured.” And for once, I agree with him.

* I have no idea why you would be asking that question either… but go with the flow…

Read Full Post »

How on earth did that happen?

111O/3

111O/3, with letterpress poem/print insert

I might have mentioned earlier this week that I have had four poems accepted for Obsessed with Pipework. These are not my first published poems – I’ve had some included in the Nottingham University student anthologies, a couple in the Nottingham Poetry Society‘s 70th anniversary anthology, and my poem Horseflies was published (at the editor’s request – thanks Eireann Lorsung!) in 111O/3. But this was my first actual letter that says, ‘Yes, we like your poems and we’d love to publish them.’ So exciting! And it does make me feel like a real poet.

Horseflies

My first non-anthology published poem.

I spent most of yesterday at Southwell Library Poetry Festival. As always, Sheelagh Gallagher and everyone at the library have done an amazing job, bringing some wonderful poets to this neck of the woods. Sadly I had too much work to be getting on with to go to the events during the day, but the evening was magic. More of that later.

At lunchtime I put on my (metaphorical) chauffeur’s cap to take Sheelagh to the Maggie’s Centre at Nottingham City Hospital – I should possibly have taken an amphibious vehicle, there was so much water on the road. I sat and worked while she gave a creative writing workshop, until the end of the workshop when she called me in to talk to the group about ‘being a poet’ and read a couple of my poems. It felt quite strange, a bit like I was an impostor*… but it was fun and they were lovely people who had written some interesting poems themselves.

[* NO! I am a real poet!]

We made it back to Southwell – just. Didn’t stop to look at Lowdham, which was completely closed off and flooded. I then spent a happy couple of hours with Cathy Grindrod and Frances Thimann eating cake (thanks, Frances!). Oh, and discussing the event proposals for the Nottingham Festival of Words. Some interesting ideas, lots and lots of talent… over fifty proposals submitted so far and a few late submissions still trickling in… it’s going to be a brilliant festival. The website is under construction, but you can subscribe to the mailing list on the front page – I recommend you do that if you want to be kept up to date with the news.

Lovely hour or so preparing for my reading chatting to some friends I haven’t seen for a while and incidentally identifying some more opportunities (some people call it networking, I call it fun). Then read four of my poems (along with Carol Rowntree Jones and Simon Kew), which was awesome. I love reading my poems aloud**. It’s even better with an audience! Not so sure about the radio mike though – not used to that sort of thing at all.

[** See! I really am a real poet!]

Valerie Laws

Valerie Laws with her horse skull…

The day was finished off perfectly by a couple of hours listening to Ophelia’s Sistas – billed as:

Prize-winning poets Char March and Valerie Laws are both fabulous and experienced performers and – as Ophelia’s Sistas – they make a formidable team. They take their audiences on an exploration of pathology, wild sex, dementia, lost pigeons, flirting at funerals, dogs in space, insanity, all in poetry which is deeply moving and very funny. […] a high-energy evening of performance fireworks, belly laughs, dirty laughs, and pathos – forging through darkness with wit, determination, and panache.

Char March

Char March (she didn’t wear the Viking headgear for the whole show)

And they didn’t disappoint. Funny, touching, profound, silly, raunchy… sometimes all at the same time. I recommend you catch either or both of them if you get a chance. Clever, interesting, generous women, and bloody good poets too.

As I walked back to my car (my heroic car which took me carfully(? boatfully?) through rain and rain and rain all day) I was accosted by a very strange woman who wanted to know whether the 100 bus stop which said the bus went to Lowdham was also the bus stop for Nottingham. I assured her it was, and as a reward was treated to her life story. It seemed to involve theatre (in a cellar?), a door somewhere in Southwell which just opened for her (which I think was a literal door), travel around the UK (possibly involving London), a son who studied philosophy, and lots and lots of incomplete sentences which ran on and on, punctuated by, ‘I do ramble, don’t I?’ and, ‘I don’t mean to keep you.’ Turned out she’d been to Ophelia’s Sistas – didn’t think much of it as the poetry didn’t rhyme, but appreciated the mentions of allotments and still-birth in the poems. She had very strong views about Char March’s frequent mentions of the fact that she’s a lesbian, but I’ve no idea what those views were! Bless her – I could have listened to her all night!

The sun was losing its grip on the sky as I drove home, without my usual audio-book. For once, I enjoyed the silence and time to reflect on what was a truly wonderful day.

(then I got home and did a couple of hours work…)

Read Full Post »