All Over But Nowhere

A couple of years ago, I changed the name of this blog to ‘Scribing English All Over the Place’ because of a philosophy teacher I had. He said that people would tell him his lectures were all over the place, and that the key part of the comment was ‘the place’. It’s still centered, despite being everywhere.

That’s the way I’ve been feeling while on break. I have opened WordPress and closed the tab so many times, initially with the idea of reading the blogs I follow and writing a bit while I’m at it. But then I thought that I should be making flashcards to study for exams next month (NEXT MONTH!!!!!!), or I should be working on editing my novel–or that oh wait, I have another novel I want to get done that I think I can pump out really fast if only I have a detailed enough outline, but then really I should be acquiring more editing work. Of course, all the while I should be sowing the seeds for our vegetable garden so we can eat next winter, but oh dear, the weather has been conveniently crap–and now the eggs are hatching and really I shouldn’t leave the chicks when they’re this young on their own…..

And so on and so forth.

All over the damn place. But, I’m still in the place. I’m still productive. While I’m working on a hundred things at a time, I’m still focussed on an overarching goal, still being productive, and still keeping things interesting.

So no, I haven’t actually written in my blogs for a while, nor have I been a good reader for the blogs that I follow. But I’ll get back in the swing of things. Recently I’ve just been enjoying the freedom to tool around over here, then over there, and then back over to the north side of the whatever, without demand of a schedule.

I will study.

I will edit my novel.

I will sow my garden (at least I freaking hope I will).

But for now, I’m happy doing a little bit here and there and just getting things nudging along slowly.


Please feel free to visit my website at www.authornjthompson.com and subscribe to my newsletter. I’m also accepting manuscript for proofreading and development editing.

Strike Action: It happened

So far my tutors and lecturers have been really great about letting their students know if they’ll be on strike or not.

Well, that’s what I would have optimistically said this morning as I left the caravan into the bitter northern snow flurries in my car clinging to it’s eighth of a tank of gas, and even what I hummed to myself as the flurries increased along the A1(M) toward Durham.

A moment of pause as I went to pay the parking metre–what if they were on strike? Nah, they wouldn’t do that. After all, I’ve been in regular contact with my tutor about other projects. We have a good rapport; he knows my living situation in Yorkshire, 30 miles away, and that I work to sustain myself and that university life leaves minimum hours for me to earn money to pay for petrol and food. He knows that I can’t be driving all willy-nilly that distance for no reason.

The locked classroom door and students waiting outside of it until ten past the hour told me otherwise.

No tutorial.

That’s fine, there’s a lecture I have later in the afternoon. Just because our lecturer hasn’t emailed us the class hound out like they normally do before a lecture doesn’t mean it won’t happen, right?

…right?

A General Update: What is Going On with Writing

Of course, as to be expected, university and general life has kept me pretty busy.  But I do have some writing news that I thought I would share.

New News

First of all, I am now an editor of Durham University’s online magazine, The Bubble, specifically an editor of the environment section. I am one of three, and since our writers are pretty few and far between, I am essentially one of the writers for it as well.

Wonderbox Anthology

I haven’t heard any more regarding my publication with Wonderbox, so I think they’re running a bit behind. Initially they had said they hoped the digital copy would be released by the end of February, though it’s pretty close to it and I haven’t heard anything about it, nor seen any advertisement on their social media.

Carpe Nocturne

Carpe Nocturne has also had a few setbacks, and the winter issue that was meant to come out in the middle of January should be hopefully released at the end of this month as well, though the communication has been pretty scant.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Blogs

However, despite the addition of projects and setbacks of other publications, I have had time to get a little bit of blogging in on my other two blogs:

Hodgepodge and Food Gathering, my frugal-living blog: 10 Things I’ve Learned About Incubating Chicken Eggs
As someone who hasn’t really done the incubating thing other than when I was maybe 7 and in elementary school (I recall a whole farm unit. I think I had a teacher obsessed with cows), I don’t really know too much about incubating eggs. So I thought I’d share what I learned.

Hopscotch and Woolgathering, my travel blog: Brancepth, County Durham
We happened upon a very quaint little village, and thought I would share our experience.

Other

I have a new project that I’m working on through the university, though until it gets at least slightly off the ground, or starts rolling in one way or another, I don’t know that I’m ready to talk about it. So that’s about all you get from that!

 

University Grading System in England vs. America

Among the many other adjustments I’ve been making with being at Durham, the grading system is one that I think has been the most difficult. As I’ve mentioned before, there are no assignments aside from the essays. In most (of my six) modules, we have one formative essay (which doesn’t count toward the overall grade), one summative essay (which does count toward the overall grade) and then exams at the end of the year, and that’s it. I do however have on sneaky module that slipped in a second formative essay that I just learned about that’s due the day we’re back from winter break–so watch out for those!

This leaves room for a bit of eagerness to see how you’re actually doing when it’s time for feedback regarding your first lot of essays. I won’t lie–if you are participating in the Humanities at all, be prepared to be terrified by what you receive.

In The States

The grading system, I feel at least, is fairly straight forward in the US. Each teacher might have a slight variation of this, but for the most part, you can expect that if you get a percentage in the 90’s, you’ve received some form of A, if you’re in the 80’s, a B–and so on down to the 50’s being a fail.

This is pretty straight forward. You can judge how well you’re doing based on the percentage you get. The end. Done deal.

In England

While you’re graded on a score out of 100, it really does not do you any favors to think of your score as a percentage. You will cry.

I was told that it is unlikely to get in the 70’s on your first essay, so getting something in the 60’s is pretty good. I asked one of my tutors what that might equate to in American grades, and he said a solid B, just to give you an idea of how this works.

The also don’t have your standard letter grading as well. You can receive anything along the line of First-Third-Fail. These all are accompanied with a division by adjectives and numbers–as follows:

  1. First (70-100)
    1. 86-100
      1. Brilliant
    2. 76-85
      1. Outstanding
    3. 70-75
      1. Excellent
  2. 2.i (60-69)
    1. 65-69
      1. Very Good
    2. 60-64
      1. Good
  3. 2.ii (50-59)
    1. 55-59
      1. Sound
    2. 50-54
      1. Fair
  4. Third (40-49)
    1. 45-49
      1. Weak
    2. 40-44
      1. Very Weak
  5. Fail (0-39)
    1. 35-59
      1. Poor
    2. 30-35
      1. Very Poor
    3. 20-29
      1. Extremely Poor
    4. 10-19
      1. Inept
    5. 0-9
      1. Abysmal

My personal favorite adjectives are for scores 0-19. They seem pretty harsh.

So this grading system, while it freaks me out, is something that must be kept in mind when I first get the shock of seeing my essay scores. When I have them all collected, I’ll share my outcome.

However, some positive things to keep in mind:

  • A tutor told me this round of essays, the highest he marked was a 74 out of all 90 of his students
  • The same tutor told me that through his entire time as a student, the highest he ever got was an 81 and that was once.
  • The first essays don’t count toward the overall grade. They are just practice so you know where to work from.
  • When they give you the rubric, it very explicitly states what is required for each adjective, which means you can then use it as a check list.
  • After doing some research, I found that a 2.i, as terrifying as it looks, isn’t that bad at all, and that the majority of Masters programs will accept that as a good score.

For me, I still have two more essays to hear back from. An update shortly, and maybe after a few tears as well.

Calling in Sick to Uni

It’s a bit of a different experience calling in sick when you’re in university – at least, mine has been a bit different.

Over the weekend I caught that severe head-cold/borderline flu that’s been making its way through the campus and I’m sure everywhere else. I’d been fighting it off for a while, but Sunday night I realized I was hit and going down.

Monday I was partially voiceless and unable to put a sentence together. It was time to call in sick.

During my time at the community college, when I knew I was going to miss a class, because I don’t like absences on my record, I would always email my instructor and let them know. They seemed to appreciate the effort, and it wouldn’t be reflected on my grade at the end of the quarter. There seems to be no reason I shouldn’t carry on the tradition.

Except it’s a bit different here at Durham University (and other university students elsewhere might find the same).

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I take six classes which are referred to as modules. Each module has a lecture once a week. Then each module has a tutorial where we meet in smaller groups of 8-10 people, every two or three weeks, depending on the class. In the lectures, they don’t take attendance. How could they? There’s 200+ of us, and as it is, it takes ten minutes for one class to leave and the next one to file in and shut the hell up. They’re not seen as mandatory, or compulsory (a term that just makes me cringe to use). However, the tutorials are.

I missed Monday and Tuesday, which, this week only meant that I missed one tutorial (thankfully). I tracked down my tutor’s email address, let him know, and got a response from him which read that I needed to let my college know as well as the department of the tutorial know.

So keep in mind, the only internet at my house right now is my phone. I don’t have the luxury of using a computer to do any of this.

In my bleary-eyed, struggling to remember what task I’m working on, brain, I’ve now got to figure out whether I’m to email or call these people, and what phone number or email addresses I need to use.

I couldn’t find anything. I ended up accidentally emailing the head of the philosophy department to ask to be excused instead of the generic secretary, and I called my college, got some kid who didn’t seem like he actually worked there, who took a note and told me to call back in the morning.

The head of the philosophy department was very kind, and directed me to the right email address to inform–another email to write. And the next morning I called the college again to find out if they marked me down or not. They then told me that I actually needed to get ahold of a “self-cert” document, that I could find online.

I could not find it online. And also, I was still sick, to the point where my voice was completely gone.

So then I emailed – I don’t know, I’ve lost track at this point, and I was able to get ahold of an electronic copy.

Oh wait, but it gets more complicated.

My tutor let me know that I could attend another tutorial scheduled later in the week (which I’m doing on Friday) to stay caught up. But I have no idea if that cancels out my absence or if it’s just at this point to make sure that I’m in the game.

Either way, moral of the story, is don’t get sick. Also, read every handbook they send you. It has all the how-tos of everything scribbled down in there.