Successfully North

I am so pleased and excited. We finally made our way to the Work Away farm. We aren’t completely moved in (one more trip on Friday for a couple small things, and some painting and then that’s it!). Actually, it was a rather ridiculous adventure.

We started on Tuesday. A few days before we had decided that we would rent a van, be completely ready by the time we picked it up on Tuesday. We would get the van from the only rental place (an hour away), drive back, load up, make the three and a half hour drive North, Return the van the next day, clean the old house and be done. 

No. 

As it turned out, we weren’t read by Tuesday morning. And the van was designed for giants to drive in. I don’t mean tall people. I mean literal giants who want to do their weekly shop.

As a result, it was terrifient to drive (I hear. I didn’t drive it). Because it was so terrifying to drive, we went a little slower than the speed limit, and also hit every hit of contstejction in the entirety of Britain. We also didn’t get to leave until 7:15 at night (very different from the initial 1 in the afternoon we had aimed for). The navigation assured us the drive was only three and a half hours. 

Five hours later, at two in the morning, we arrived. We were knackered. As it was, to be ready in time to procure the van, we had gotten up at 4 in the morning. So by the time we were unloading our things oo the caravan in the dark, we had been up nearly 24 hours. Never mind that we had to drive back! 

And it was a bit of a slow moving race to get back. 

We left at three or so, and had to return the van at eight.  Driver was fading, and I was fading too. We needed to both stay awake (since my duty was to make sure we didn’t go over the white line on my side of the van) and make better time there than we did to the farm. 

We it there right at 7:30, but with a problem. We still had a freezer with a load of melted food in it that we couldn’t get into the caravan at the farm. After much backward and forward, and go my partners protests, the freezer went back into his car, and we gave it a mini tour of the area while we tried to find somewhere that would take it. 

It eventually found a nice home at the Harlech recycling center some hours later. 

Then there was the matter of cleaning and painting the house. This was small feat, and one that wasn’t accomplished with any vigor or full success (hence having to return tomorrow). By the time we did go, we were 39 hours without sleep, facing another supposed three and a half hour drive, and ladened with the two dogs. 

It was one before we finally got in, and another hour and a half before finally we got to go to bed. 

Moving is stressful. 

View from our living room

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Considering Poetry

As I’ve mentioned several times, I’m a podcast junkie. Especially since I drive so much for my goat cheese gig. One of the newer podcasts that I’ve come across is called Examining Ethics. I’ve only listened to about an episode and a half of it so far, and from my understanding is run by students at DePauw University in Indiana. The episode that I listened to in full was called “What Good is Poetry?” In it, they interview poet Tarfia Faizullah, who wrote a book of poetry called Seam. The poems are written about the women she interviewed in Bangladesh who were raped during their war with Pakistan in 1971.

After listening to this episode, I was completely blown away by poetry. It has never been my thing, never really been anything I’ve wanted to pursue (except when I was nine and wanted to be a singer and tried to write my own songs, but I don’t know how much that counts).  This woman told a story through her poems.

Of course, this is nothing new. I’ve taken plenty of literature classes that I’ve read old poems that were the telling of stories (“Epic of Gilgamesh”, “Beowulf”, etc). However, this was so different, so simple, so perfectly formed. I fell in love with it.

Seemingly separately, I posted on my author Facebook page that I wanted to write a page a day for August, since I failed so direly at my attempt at Camp NaNoWriMo (I think I only made it to 27k of my 50k word count goal). I sat down this morning, and decided I’d get going on that page-a-day goal. Except that I had no idea what to write. All I could think about was the half-written novels I’ve been working on, whether or not I should continue them for my page-a-day, or if I should start something new–and if something new, then what? I couldn’t really stomach working on my stories any more, not right now. I would get sucked into the editing of them rather than the continuation of them, and my most recent project is such a mess that I can’t bare to look at it.

But…

But…..

This poetry thing was kind of ringing in my ears.

I began thinking about the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2014, and my most recent project. There’s a shared theme to both of them…If I could only just tap into that….

Before I knew it there was a poem on the page.

Not a good one. Well, it might be a good one. I don’t know. I’m terrible with reading, writing and analyzing poetry. It’s never been my thing. However, I’m quite inspired by Tarfia Faizullah to try my hand at it. So my goal is to take my stories that I’m struggling with, and see if I can summarize each chapter into a poem. That’s my goal for the month.

And no, you can’t see the poems.

Being Still

Sitting on my ten minute break at the coffee warehouse, I’m indulging in the excitement that my first cup of coffee in three days is bringing me. In theory, today is my last day here (though I volunteered to work on Monday, due to scheduling conflicts, if they need me), and my manager asked me what it is I plan to do during the summer now that I’ll actually have days off.

I’ll still be working my farmers market gig, and putting in a very few hours in the Writing Center, but over all, my plan is to learn how to be still again.

A few weeks ago, I was attacked by anxiety. I couldn’t sleep, I was in pain from my warehouse job, and I knew I had to go in the next morning at 5 a.m.. I ended up taking the day off, though I was still riddled with anxiety of not being productive. I was hurting, couldn’t walk very well, and yet I scolded myself vigorously for not utilizing my time off in a productive manner. It prompted further anxiety until I was in a full blown panic, from which my boyfriend had to calm me down (and did a remarkable job, I might add). After talking for a long time, we came to the conclusion that I have been so stressed for so long that I don’t know how to be still any more.

So this is my goal for the summer: stillness, though still meeting my productivity standards. 

I want to do yoga in the morning, to strengthen my core, help my hip and back whose pain has been brought on (again) by the repetitive motions of my warehouse job, read two fiction books (at least), finish writing my novel and editing it. Also, go dancing least once every other week. 

It’s shocking to me that I can’t get through fiction any more. The only time I’ve completed a book has been if it was assigned to me. The last fiction book I read on my own was The Exorcist, two summers ago. I’m currently reading Watership Down with my boyfriend, but I’ve already read it. I think that allowing myself to read fiction has gone against my definition of productive, and thus hasn’t been done. If it’s homework, the  I have to read it. Butts it’s lesurely, then I could be doing something that needs to be done.

As a writer, I need to remember that reading fiction needs to be done! It is productive! And it’s also important for me to allow myself that enjoyment as well. 

Traveling Kitty

Now that the plane tickets are out of the way, the next complicated thing to figure out is just how to get my cat over the pond.

I’m sure some of you are thinking that it’s silly for me to invest so much in bringing my cat over, but know this: that kitty’s my homie. I’ve had him for six years, and next month we will have lived together for seven years (he was originally my roommate’s cat). He’s been with me when jerk boys broke my heart, when chocolate wasn’t doing the trick, and those times when over-consumption got the better of me. Boot is my homie, and it’s not cool to leave a homie behind.

That said, I’ve been looking into what’s required. Now that I’m not flying from Vancouver, it actually gets a lot less tricky. They require quarantine while the UK doesn’t (with a few exceptions). From my understanding, I need to make sure he’s got a microchip ID, he’s up to date with all his shots, he has a follow-up appointment 30 days after his shots, and gets a note from the vet saying that he has a clean bill of health within 10 days of him traveling. Super easy. I don’t know what the cost will be like, but it’s part of my research.

Boot is also not going to be traveling with me. Even if I weren’t going to fly from LA, and was flying from Seattle or Vancouver, it would mean a 2 hour drive to the airport, three hours at the airport, whatever lay-over time there is wherever, then the two-and-a-half hour drive from the airport to Durham. I’ve traveled 24 hours, door to door, trying to get from one country to another. I’m not going to do that to my cat.

So I’m currently looking into just what it is I need to do for my kitty to be shipped to me, where he will meet me after I’ve made the house nice and organized and Boot-friendly.

My First Rejection as a Writer

A few weeks ago I sent in a story for potential publication. I’ve never done this before, and it’s somewhat terrifying. It’s not something big, mind you, this publication. It’s a local anthology that’s looking for writers. I was recommended by a friend.

I chose a story that I thought would be relevant, though it is something that I wrote in high school. I of course made copious revision efforts before sending it in.

My friend emailed me the other day, saying that he had read it. “I’d rather talk to you about it face to face.” Knowing that I wouldn’t see him until Thursday (today), this was something painful. It’s like your teacher writing on your paper that you get back at the end of class on Friday to see them on Monday to discuss your grade. You have all those days to obsess and worry about it, create horrible scenarios of what’s going to be said. I wrote back and told him how mean he was for letting me know that so long before I’d see him–nicely, of course.

I have seen him at work, I haven’t talked to him about it. In fact, he’s sitting at the table next to me as I write this, and I still don’t have it in me to ask him about it (he seems very busy).

I also got the response from his friend, stating that my story isn’t ready to publish, that there are some suggestions, and that I should join a critique group for writers.

All my fears gathered up and dished out at me. I’ve spent the last few days since my friend talked to me considering how I’m going to handle this. I went through alterations of telling myself to toughen up, of course this is going to happen because I haven’t given myself the chance to shape my fiction. I’ve been too afraid–of exactly this–to show anyone my work. My essays I have absolute confidence in because I’ve had reviews. Not my fiction, which is where my passion truly is. The other intense feeling is the overwhelming feeling of doubt: that I should give up being a writer, and that all my personal projects that I’m trying to get going is just a silly fancy; that I should just give the Freaking Ugly Cat Kickers up–with writing, school and everything. I’m just fooling myself.

I haven’t read the suggestions for my story yet. I’ve been trying to muster the bravery, trying to remember the last line of the email:

“You’re a good writer, and I don’t want to discourage you from writing or from submitting. I recommend joining a critique group to help you develop your kills.”

So I sit here, trying to get up the courage to read the damn suggestions, revise my story, and resubmit within five days. Yep. Still battling the above.

Noisy Water Review

Yesterday, while I was having coffee with my boyfriend and his mother, I happened to spy the teacher I had last winter quarter for my very first Honors class. With suppressed disdain for her rummaging through papers and sipping of coffee, I watched her from the corner of my eye. She caught it, mumbled a displeased “Hello,” to which I responded in  kind.

As we left the coffee shop, I vented my frustration at the woman to my companions, enough to simply relive the anger I felt the day I received the email regarding my 14 page paper which read, “I haven’t read your essay yet, but you need to rewrite it.” My very first B followed soon after.

However, this morning, as I was willing myself to be pulled out from the warmth of bed, and scrolling through my Facebook page, I spied a post that my cousin tagged me in. It was an expression of excitement of the release of The Noisy Water Review, that is, the publication in which one will find my essay, “The Self Examined: Exploring Bergson’s Idea of Absolute Knowledge via Ben Jelloun’s novel The Sandchild.”

After bumping into my teacher yesterday, I felt a sense of poetic justice, though perhaps not int eh truest sense of the term, but rather in that there was as satisfaction that she can be as up herself as she wants to be. But at the end of the day, the essay she rejected is the one that got published.

Trying to Use Wattpad as a Tool

I realized that I’m not writing like I should be. It’s ironic really, doing all this work so that I can get into a good school to be able to get my foot through the door of a publishing agency–and I’m for the most part neglecting my writing.

Last quarter I only wrote one essay–well, two if you count the re-write I had to do due to my Humanities teacher. This quarter I haven’t had to write anything aside from reflection on movies for my Gender, Science, and Literature class. Though, I suppose, that being said, I did create a video, though it was a collaboration of writing between a coworker and I–well, she wrote most of it.

The fact remains, that I’ve been neglecting the side I most strongly associate with being me.

So to push myself, I’m putting what I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2014 up on Wattpad. It’s for the most part unedited, so if you read it, critique easily. There’s a good chance I know the problems, I just haven’t gotten to fix them.

I’m doing this to essentially light a fire under my ass to write more, edit more, and pay attention to what I love doing. I’m hoping that being more involved with the writing community will help me to accomplish this.

With that being said, feel free to follow this link to The Usual, my 2014 attempt at National Novel Writing Month.

P.S. In reference to my blogging gripe the other day, WordPress seems to have fixed the problem. Hurrah! I can now write in a box larger that four lines (I know you all were just itching to know!)