Posts Tagged ‘news’

So, Pip, why is it important?

I’m glad you asked me that. It’s my mother’s birthday. She’ll be partying with my brother and the sheep, I’ve no doubt. Hacking brambles in the field, or hedge-laying, or worming lambs, or some such fun and games…

Happy Birthday Mum!

You’re missing something, aren’t you?

…and then there’s the election thing. I’m a bit fed up with that. I live in a marginal constituency (Broxtowe) so the only way I can vote is Labour – Nick Palmer is a reasonably good MP and had a slim majority last time round. I’d like to vote Green, but can’t afford to let the awful tory woman get in. I posted my vote last Thursday, so the last seven days have been even more irrelevant to me. It was nice to realise this morning that the BBC avoids politics until the polls close on election day. The Today Programme was so much better for it…

I am looking forward to watching the Channel 4 election night coverage though, David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker and Jimmy Carr… should be great fun. Hopefully #1 son will stay up with me.

So, how’s life in the writing world, Pip?

The anthology is nearly done. The printed anthology, I should say. I’ll be battling red tape this afternoon to get all the bits and bobs finalised, then delivering the PDFs to the printer tomorrow lunchtime. I’m ridiculously nervous about the whole thing. I stayed up till 2am last night proof-reading, and only discovered one mistake (a misaligned page number) so I twiddled with the layout on a few pages just to make myself feel better.

I’m sitting in the library (oops, sorry, the Djanogly Learning Resource Centre) today, which is the Most Bizarre building – it’s an ascending spiral which expands as you go up – you can see a bit of it in this rather nice photo of a heron.
Heron by the DLRC
I thought it would be a good place to work but it’s full of whispering students, and there’s a woman below who’s feeding the ducks, which is fascinating. Three baby moorhens had a fight over a crust with an ENORMOUS fish. They won. Yay birds!

I’m actually trying to sort out a poetry collection for the Templar competition, but there are too many distractions. Damn you, ubiquitous internet and wonders of nature.

So, what else is new?

I heard yesterday I’ve been accepted onto a “Students in Classrooms” scheme. I will bravely venture into a local secondary school for three weeks in June/July, and attempt to help teach the little darlings English.

Can’t decide whether to feel sick or excited!


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Only in Dreams

The strangest things happen to me in the bath…

I read Raymond Carver’ short story, ‘The Student’s Wife’, last night while in the bath. Although I wasn’t as struck with it as I have been with some of his other stories, one aspect of it hit me between the eyes and nearly knocked me out. Which could have been unfortunate, given where I was.

Anyway… what grabbed me was the passage where one of the characters tells the other about a dream she had. It was nothing unusual (apart from being superbly written, of course), pretty much the same as anyone telling someone else the weird and wonderful sequence of events that played across their mental screen while they slept. The difference was, it was written down and I was reading it. Which, as it turned out, was huge.

There was a reason I noticed this. At one point, Carver writes about dreams being in colour. I’ve never been sure whether I dream in colour or black and white. I put the book down and lay there semi-submerged, trying to visualise one of my recent dreams. And guess what, I couldn’t. Not even to the extent of being able to recall images or feelings or sounds, let alone whether colour made an appearance. I thought back to a few dreams (mostly nightmares) that have stuck with me over the years, and although a few fleeting sensory snippets were lurking in my memory, they’re nothing like enough to explain the rich story landscape I inhabit at night and that I can often recall in quite a large amount of detail.

Then I thought about it some more, and realised that I remember my dreams as though they’re a (somewhat weird) short story I’ve read on the inside of my eyelids during REM sleep. There may be the occasional photograph to illustrate the stories, but otherwise they’re words. Just words. This has raised so many questions in my mind, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since.

Questions, questions…

Many factors have contributed to my voracious reading habits. Until I was 14, we didn’t have a TV. My parents taught me to read before I went to school. And I’m not very good at being with people. So the solitary pursuit of curling up with a book has been part of my life as long as I can remember. Now, if I’d grown up with a more predominantly visual entertainment medium, would my dreams be more pictorial? How can I ever know?

I believe dreams are simply the brain interpreting random electrical signals to make some kind of sense of them – our grey matter doing its job, in other words. Does everyone interpret those signals in the same fashion? I use mostly words. I’m guessing there are people who use mostly pictures, or sounds, or maybe even smells. Does Gordon Ramsay dream in odours and tastes?

If dreams are the attempt of the brain to connect discrete scenes into something consistent, which I think is quite likely, would it follow that the few photographs I get to illustrate my dream stories are the triggers for the words my brain comes up with to connect them? Which came first, the pictures or the words? Or did they both come at once?

When I read, I don’t tend to create a mental visual image of the scenes I’m reading about. I had no idea what Harry Potter looked like until I saw the film. Long descriptive passages whizz straight out of my ears without touching my brain. I’ve found I even read graphic novels without retaining much impression of the art (which is a real shame). Despite this, I do feel as though I’m actually physically present in the story as I read. Is this related to the way I dream?

Come to that, do I dream using my senses and then convert those images etc to words to record them in my memory? Is it my memory itself that’s working strangely? Is it strange, or is it normal?

I have a very poor memory for faces. Is this related to all the above?

I think this one is going to stay with me for a long long time…

Oh, and I do dream in colour, sort of. One of the images from last night’s dream was a road map, and some of the roads were definitely printed in red.

In other news…

Thoughts on the GUT are rattling around inside my skull desperately looking for a way to communicate with the outside world. As soon as I’ve whipped them into some sort of order I shall let them loose.

The experiment is over. Well, severely compromised anyway. I started reading A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin last night – not an epic fantasy series, but a standalone fantasy novel. What can I say, I just needed some sleep, and I’d worked so hard on my radio script all day I thought I deserved a reward… and so far I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

It was my Writing for Radio class last night – I’d been really struggling with my radio play and had ended up having to write the whole thing over the weekend (rather than just the opening and climax scenes, as required for the portfolio). Both of my initial scenes had changed dramatically since being commented on by the teacher and the class. Next week we have professional actors coming in to read a scene for each of us, which will be recorded and we’ll all get copies, which will be excellent. Yesterday we split into groups and took turns being ‘actors’ for each other, and giving feedback and comments to help polish the scripts. I was terrified, as I’d completely lost confidence in my ability to come up with a decent script. However, it was fantastic hearing my words spoken/acted by other people, and although the scene isn’t perfect yet it will be much better after the next rewrite. I can’t wait till next week…

I got my mark for one of last term’s courses in the post this morning – Reading for Writing – not too bad at all. I’m quite pleased with that as it took a while to really get the hang of the point of the course, but it obviously sank in eventually.

And finally, best of all, I also had a letter confirming I’ve got a place on the intensive poetry workshop at the university! I’m so chuffed about that, you can’t imagine… it’s going to be brilliant, spending two weeks immersed in poetry… I had to submit six poems and a statement of interest, and they still accepted me… w00t!

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