Update: Snow and Writing

My last post was a bit of a winge. I will give you that. So I thought I would update and iterate that it wasn’t as bad as it felt at the timeand update in general.

Snow

The snow is finally easing off. Most of yesterday was above freezing, and I could even see some green patches of grass around the caravan where it was just finally pissing off, as requested. We still don’t have any water, since our pipes are still frozen. But I’m off to work in an hour and I suspect that the frozen pipe issue will have remedied by the time I get home. As I am writing this I can hear the water trying so hard to come back on! There are drips!! This is very exciting as we’ve been without for four (this is our fifth) days!

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to do dishes in my life.

Honestly, while I was frustrated, it wasn’t as bad as I made it seem. We had electric the whole time, which was fine. Our gas worked the majority of the time, which meant we could cook. We were able to go to one of the farm houses and use their water for a shower and to fill up water bottles to bring here so we could drink (coffee), wash the minimum amount of dishes, keep the dogs hydrated and cook.

None of the dogs died from being too cold. Our chicken didn’t die (Did I mention we have a chicken and hatching eggs???) and the birds outside this morning are sounding pretty pleased with themselves.

Also, the week from school (yeah, week from school because between strikes and snow days, I haven’t been to one lecture or tutorial in a week)

Writing

My Project

As I wrote about a few days ago – and have had some pretty positive response to – I am trying to get a publishing project off the ground at the university. I’ll tell you, it’s slow going. While I know the project has been dispersed via a few news letters, I’ve so far only had one student response, who seems quite keen. I won’t lie, I don’t know what to do now. I’ve asked for some background information, and he sounds like a good option, but I don’t know if I should just say ‘great, you’re in!’ without actually meeting him first. However, because I’m impatient, I’m thinking I’m going to just tell him ‘welcome aboard’ and go from there.

But I don’t actually know where to go from there. I mean, it seems logical to meet up with him any way, and we can start discussing the details of everything – how to set up the web page, what our first theme will be and so on. But I’m thinking that I should give it a little bit more time to try and acquire a fuller team before I start moving ahead. After all, I think it’s only been a week or so that the word went out.

The problem I’m facing regarding this is that I’m hoping to get the website and call for submissions out by the end of May with a deadline of August and a selection by September. This would allow the first issue to be out by November. Which sounds like a good plan, except we have to consider that I’m planning on working with just students. In two weeks, March 16th, we all go on break until April 15th (or thereabouts), so a lot of students will be going home. After that, it’s only two weeks until exams, which will be going all month long. My first exam, I think, is on May 4th (maybe 9th?), and the last one is on the 26h. After that I’m done with uni for the summer.

Because of this schedule, I don’t know how many people are going to be able to devote any time at all toward this project and getting it set up. I don’t know how many will have time to respond now. THe only thing I can think to do is get the guy who’s responded, work with him to try and get things done as much as we can between us, and hopefully people will respond to the submission call, and we can try and recruit more people over the summer for aspects like graphic design.

So while I’m impatient, I”m impatient for a seemingly legit reason.

Non-Uni Projects

I’m working on a short story at the moment for a competition. Among all the other things I’m doing, I’m trying to turn out short stories on the regular to submit to paying competitions in an effort to get some more cash flow. This week off has been pretty helpful with both essays and creative writing, but it’s also been pretty influential on my laziness,

Carpe Nocturne

While I had mentioned that there was a bit of a delay with the last Carpe Nocturne issue coming out, there is still that issue. I’ve been in contact with one of the section editors who has been in contact with the producer of the magazine, though he hasn’t heard anything new yet. While I had hoped that this issue would be out by the end of February, it’s still not out.

Wonderbox Publishing

The Anthology still isn’t out. I haven’t heard anything more about it either. The last I had heard, the digital copy was going to be released and there was going to be a Kickstarter (or some equivalent) to get a print version on the go. I thought that in order to make that happen, it would have started ages ago. However, again, I haven’t heard anything.

Ugh. Writers.

Blogs

And, just as a general self-promotion, I thought I would share my recent blog posts from other blogs. Actually, I”ve only written in one blog other than this one, so I’ll essentially just list and link the blog entries (nice and simple, yes?)

 

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Beast from the East Can Piss Off Already

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The little dragon there is perched on my deck. It’s snowed another four or five inches since. At this point it was about five inches already. THIS IS ENGLAND! IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO SNOW THIS MUCH!

I know, I know, everyone is talking about the snow in the UK, and rightfully snow because this is some Midwest snow right here. There’s a reason I never traveled east when I lived in the states during the winter.

Life In the Caravan

img_4597-1The photos I’m sharing right now are pretty and nice and rather pleasant. But these were from two days ago, when the snow was pretty and nice and rather pleasant. Now it’s swirling around in a bitter wind, finding ways into the caravan so it is actually snowing in our kitchen, and freezing our pipes.

Yeah, we have had no water for two days because our pipes are frozen. That means no brushing teeth, no showers, no doing dishes, boiling water (you know, no coffee), and no flushing the toilet. Though, in remedy of the latter, I had the brilliant idea last night to put some of the snow in the toilet system so that it would melt.

It is so cold in this caravan that it did not melt. We have a heater in our bedroom and so that is where we stay.

My partner went out to go do farm stuff (feeding animals and the like), and his boots which came inside with him yesterday still had snow on them, and had frozen to the carpet. He went outside, came back in and said that the snow was up to his knees.

And it is still bloody snowing

One of the dogs just vanished in the snow, only his little nose poking up. Scruff, who’s a long-haired lurcher is light enough she doesn’t sink as bad. But when she came in I heard her little teeth chattering.

Our oven is all gass. I tried to melt some snow to turn to water for the dogs. Because the gas is condensed due to the low temperatures, it too fifteen minutes to melt snow in a pan over fire. I was hoping I could melt more snow to put in the back of the toilet so we could at least flush it. No such luck. Or rather, no such patience.

And, insult to injury, as I was dishing up the last of our chili last night, I leaned over, reaching for something, and my hair, a good two inches of it, went right into my chili. There is no water for me to wash my tomato-soaked locks.

Driving

And to top it all off, I don’t think I can drive my car out in this. Which means that I can’t go to the grocery store. I have to get to work tonight, somehow (My bosses are just on the other side of the field and have a 4×4, so I think I can blag them into picking me up).

My partner was able to get it up the lane from ours, which left some lovely pretty patterns in the snow, but even where it’s parked now at the ‘top of the farm’, I don’t think I could get my car driving. I’ve been keenly watching traffic reports and it seems like only the A roads are getting seen to and city roads. Which means not our road with it’s 3 mile drive to any sort of ‘proper’ road. I hear one of the land rovers’ wheels were spinning trying to get down the drive yesterday. Today is worse.

Though I suppose my transportation situation isn’t all bad. I have a couple essays I should be writing (if anyone wants to help me out with rhyming theory in poetry, that would be swell), a project I’m getting going (I’ve had a student respond and express interest, so yay! That’s one person!), and a couple short stories I’m writing for some contests so I can maybe get some extra cash.

Durham University

Whatsmore, most of the University seems to be mostly closed in Durham as well. I’ve already had my entire schedule today cancelled due to the snow.

I’m pretty concerned regarding uni though. Last week’s strike days were Thursday and Friday, this week’s were Monday-Wednesday. Today and tomorrow aren’t meant to be striked days, but I already missed out on classes last week because of it. Now I’m missing out on lectures because of the snow.

The best I can do is just use this time to stop blogging (ha!) and focus on studying for exams in May.

Though it is looking like this won’t be the last of the snow.

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P.S.

Please don’t think I’m unhappy. I’m annoyed, of course, as anyone would be. But I actually love my living situation, and while this experience is obnoxious, it’s a good experience that I can call on at a later time for writing, to laugh about, or whatever. I’m actually extremely grateful for my living situation and everything that’s going on.

I just don’t do snow.

My Project

Ok, I think I’m ready to talk about this.

I’m starting a project at Durham, and while I have a pretty clear focus in mind of what I’m wanting to make happen, the steps to between the goal posts are pretty hazy. It might not work, but I’m seeing how this goes.

My project is to create a biannual anthology of student writing. There is a general theme and then a more specific set of themes I have in mind, which I’ll keep to myself until things really start going. But overall, essentially I’m looking at starting a publishing gig.

How I’m Approaching This

  1. Talk to staff
    My first thought was that I would need someone probably involved in one of the departments relating to the content of the anthologies. THe English department is obvious, however the content could fall under interdisciplinary, so there are a few people I could contact. Since my interaction with my lecturers is extremely limited, I went for someone I have a little bit of rapport with such as one of my tutors. While he’s got a pretty full plate, he’s forwarded my propositional email to (I think) a lecturer who published a book recently with similar themes. I have yet to hear from them.
  2. Create an Outline
    Of course this is obvious, but in order to show that I’ve given this some thought, I’ve had to create a full outline with as many details as I can work out. There are somethings I’m not really sure how to go about, which I’ll address later. But at least, if I do get any professors or faculty involved, they’ll see that I’m mostly organized.
  3. Made a List of Demands
    Not so much demands, but rather a list of people I’ll need to help with this. I know that I’ll need editors and graphic design people, but I’ll also possibly need help with a web page (though, push come to shove, I can do it myself) and ‘marketing’, or at least, distribution.
  4. Contacted Clubs and Societies
    Because I’m 31 and in the first year of my program, and because I live 30 miles south of Durham, I don’t really know anyone. So I’ve needed to figure out a way of meeting people and getting the word out. So far I have reached out to two related departments who have both agreed to send out my project information in the newsletter – you know, the one that goes to everyone in that program (which is a little terrifying), as well as seven clubs/societies.
  5. Research
    While I’ve heard back from four lots of organizations (for lack of better terminology), I still haven’t heard back from a few, and newsletters also haven’t gone out yet. While I read this really fantastic blog post the other day about how to wait to hear back from publishers and agents, I’m opting for my own method of anxiety-quelling by obsessively researching what I could potentially need.

Some Problems I’m having

  1. I don’t know what I’m allowed to do
    Because I’m essentially doing this under the brand of Durham in the sense that my project involves Durham students and I am, myself, a Durham University student, I don’t know that I’m allowed to create this. I don’t know if I need a higher-up to moderate me or act as a mentor.
  2. The Specifics
    1. With a little luck, I’ll get a flood of interested students ready to put their best foot forward toward this project. They’ll be dedicated, willing to work on this over breaks, and be reliant. However, how on earth do I choose my team? How do I decide that Alice was totally in but Beauregard seems flaky based on his email? Or should I gather them all together and interview them? How do I decide????
    2. While I know the basics of the team that I need, I don’t know how many people for each team role I need. I know that this is something that I’m going to be learning as I go along, but I do need a foundation team. Do I need more than one graphic design artist? Should I have one person just for the web page or should we all work together on it? Do I need just one other person to serve as editor, or should I have four of us? Most importantly – what role am I forgetting??
  3. Publishing
    It’s one thing to say you want to publish a collection of short stories, but what about when you actually want to have physical printed nice beautiful and professional collections of anthologies? Where do I print? I could go the CreateSpace route and self-publish via Amazon, though then that might alienate potential independent bookstores that would be happy to support budding writers. Or I could go for something that might not be as cheap. Then, should I be looking at just buying a set lot of books available when the volume is released and then after that they’re gone, or should I make older editions available for purchase?
  4. Money
    1. I was hoping that being that it’s something Durham-related, there might be some kind of start-up organization fund to help get clubs going. Because I’m still struggling to find answers, I don’t know if this exists or not.
    2. I will need start-up costs to advertise for writers (I got my editor-gig at The Bubble because I found a flyer in the Student Union. I personally am looking at every piece of paper and poster that I come across to see what is going on, so I know they work), and I’ll need to get a webpage going, which means buying a domain name as well as some web space.
    3. This is less of an immediate problem, but I’ll need initial start-up publishing costs for the first round of anthologies. Though that’s down the line.

Attempting Solutions

There are a few things I’m doing in an effort to find solutions and answers to my questions, though they’re not as clear, nor fruitful as I’d hoped.

  1. The Higher-Ups
    The other day I went to what is called a Mentor’s Formal, where our college mentor tells us about a formal and we have dinner with them. During this, I happened to be seated next to the vice president of the college (not university, mind). I told my mentor about my project idea, and asked if I needed anyone who was faculty to be involved, and he told me I should talk to the vp. So I pitched my idea to her, and she only told me to write a piece to go into the annual college magazine that’s released in June so that I could find more people to get involved.
    While this is helpful in team building or finding submissions (which really is my goal by the time the college magazine comes out), it doesn’t really answer my question. However, due to her lack of addressing my question, I’m assuming that no, I don’t need anyone, and that I can just start it.
    Fingers crossed.
  2. Specifics
    This is where my obsessive research comes into play. While I don’t really have the clearest idea of who I need or how many of what role, I do know the bare minimum I need/would like.
    As far as the selection process goes, I’m going to have to find out how many students reply to me, and then make my decision from there. Though I’m hoping to just gather everyone together, tell them the detail, tell them how much of their time I’ll need from them, and say whoever doesn’t think they can do that should go, and then I’ll just wing it from there.
    Like a pro.
  3. Publishing
    I’m still trying to find the solution to this. So far I’ve been participating in writing groups and asking for opinions on the best self-publishing services based on experience. I’ve emailed the Student Union who says they do all the university’s publishing, and, unfortunately, they only do spiral-bound binding–not the quality I’m looking for.
    Once I have my team together I’ll be able to have more of a think-tank to iron out these details. But so far my favorite option is Lulu, simply because I have experience with them, I know they’re print-to-order, and I can keep a backlisting of anthologies available for anyone who’s interested in them.
  4. Money
    1. I’ll admit I’m slacking on this aspect, but I can email the Student Union about this, as they’re likely to know the most regarding clubs and societies. I did email them already, asking if they knew if I needed anyone higher-up to start a society, though I have yet to hear from them. If I don’t hear from them by the end of the week, then I’ll pester them in person.
    2. The money situation is difficult. I’m thinking that as far as flyers go, that might just have to come out of my own pocket. I’m alright with that, as the Student Union has pretty decent prices.
    3. When it comes time for printing costs, I have every intention to use crowd-funding. I think there are enough people out there that would be willing to participate in the start-up costs of a publication that’s student-run.
      Fingers crossed again.

So there you have it, my newest project. Should you have any advice or wisdom, please feel free to share it, because I’m running low!

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?

The Bubble Article #1

As mentioned in my last post about all my writing projects, I am one of the editors of the environment section for Durham University’s online magazine, The Bubble. As it’s a pretty busy time for students, the editors are taking turn filling in submissions until we have enough writers, and this week it was my turn.

I just wanted to share my article, directed at Durham University students (or any budding adult, really) about the importance of water and how we are already seeing the results of inefficient water usage (as well as a great many other factors) with the Cape Town Day Zero Crisis.

Give it a read! The magazine as a whole is pretty good, so have a wander around the site while you’re at it!

Why We Should Care about Water Shortage in Britain

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.

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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 Strike

Across Britain, there’s a university strike going on, and Durham is one of 60 universities participating in this strike. It has to do with new regulations or founding rules which would eliminate something ridiculous like a third of pension entitlement for university staff.

Rightfully so, many teachers and lecturers are striking.

I support their right and decision to strike. That’s totally fine. Fight for what you believe in!

However, it does make things difficult for me, as a student who does not actually live in Durham. As someone who has to drive 45 minutes to get to lectures and as there is no policy which requires teachers or lecturers to give notice that they’re striking, I’m having a hard time figuring out if it’s worth the price in petrol (which due to a new car to replace my un-MOT-passable car, is nearing £10 a trip to Durham and back) to get there and find out the lecture is cancelled.

My tutors have been fantastically communicative, and let us know in advance whether or not the sessions are on. Only one of them so far has cancelled, which is fine as they are the more valuable aspects of my education. Some of my lecturers have let us know, but others haven’t.

I see the pros and cons for their decisions, and I understand why they might not be as communicative as I’d like for them to be. But it’s pretty rough from my perspective.