Posted in Education, Food, studying, University, Writing

Another Day in the Library

First things first, my last post was officially my 100th post! Woo hoo! I think I’m happy with it, or maybe I believed I’d posted more. Anyway, here’s to another hundred.

Monday was the recommencement of the Monday study sessions in town. My Italian class starts back next week, so I used this time to haul my laptop and notebooks with me to work on my Creative Writing assessment. It was a fairly early start (for me) and I was in the library for 12pm and a giant coffee to get things started. Unfortunately, for the first few hours we had to make do with a drafty round table, but later we got using a booth (not the usual one, but good enough). I’m a bit like Rory needing her study tree, I’m a creature of habit!

The second-best booth

I’m terrible for procrastinating, even when something is right in front of me to be done. I also put it down to being more of an evening, nighttime worker but needs must and since being ill my sleeping pattern has improved somewhat. But I had my checklists and tried not to overdo the pressure with the tasks I wanted to complete yesterday. In the end wrote 1700 words for my assessment which is sufficient as the bones of a first draft, it’s not due until the end of January but I can’t leave it because who knows what is around the corner.

Checklists, planners and laptop

The great thing about this library is that it is much warmer than the one in Aberdeen. Granted I felt chilly at points throughout the day, but most of that was to do with the draft from the door way and my brain wanting to curl up and go back to bed.

My plan now is to rework the draft into something I can share to the forums for feedback (I missed the workshop deadline – didn’t have anything to submit), then I have to start worrying about the commentary. It’s a horrible exercise of only 500 words which I apparently still don’t have the hang of. I ought to message my tutor for help, but what can she tell me that hasn’t already been shared in our groups online?

I need to remember more study snacks for the next library session, I had some food, but there’s nothing dairy-free or vegan as options at the coffee shop or canteen as a snack and the vending machines were empty too. You might recognise me on the next trip though, I’ll be the bag-lady laden down with laptop and books and a tote-bag full of food.

e x

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Posted in Education, life, University

First Study Day of 2019

Yesterday was the first day I finally felt better, and to crack on with my every growing pile of work. So, naturally a study-date was called for. Unfortunately, the uni is still in Christmas holiday mode, I arrived on campus and found the library open but no coffee outlets, no food, and empty vending machines. Like the apocalypse.

I met my study buddy at her flat and after going foraging for food at Sainsbury’s we came back, ate and attempted to work. Yes, it took a while to get back into the swing of things, but as I had tried to be kinder to myself with my to-do list I did all right.

My next assessment is at the end of January, I do essentially know what I’m doing now, it’s just doing it that’s the problem and the most time-consuming part. As I remembered from the last assessment, the bibliography is the most awkward bit, because of formatting and remembering everything I read and skimmed over the last few months. I’m glad I started it and have at least the bones and formatting down, just minor information points and a few other sources to reference, otherwise it’s taking care of itself. Still hate writing the commentary though, it’s only 500 words and I’m wordy dammit!

I missed the deadline for the workshop for the second block, unfortunately they’ve been appearing earlier this year and I had nothing to submit, not even a semi-formed idea… in part due to the beating I took from the last assessment. I’ve tried not to take the criticism too personally, perhaps the genre of my work isn’t to my tutor’s liking or… I don’t know. Alas, I’m attempting this assignment from a different angle; I made a list of all the technical points we covered in this block and constructed a chapter where I was actively trying to include many of these points in it. I understand that the assessments are to see how we’re managing with the new topics learnt and if we are able to weave them into our own work… Which is fine, but I think others in my class are as frustrated at not being able to crack on with longer pieces to see how we are developing as writers and not trying to hit bullet points in a marking scheme.

Just my thoughts. Next study date is tomorrow, but I’ve a ton to get on with later tonight. Italian class starts back next week! I’m planning to start a new series of blog posts related to Italian grammar, at the very least to keep it fresh in my head!

e x

Drinking: Black Coffee

Listening to: You look so fine – Garbage

Posted in Education, Uncategorized, University, Writing

Don’t test me!

I’m not great at exams or tests, unless it’s something I absolutely know – but even then there’s a good chance my mind will space out and I’ll get simple things wrong.

I coasted my way through standard grades and even my highers… in all my years, just off what I happened to remember from the classes. I didn’t know how to engage with the information, never mind study or formulate the answers lecturers wanted from me.

When I got to uni, it was mostly all about those essays. My first essay at uni I scored 18/20 in Classics, and the teacher said I saved her soul because my enthusiasm for Classics oozed out of the pages. But then, it set me up with a false hope – when other teachers didn’t appreciate my poetic style and my ability to inform rather than factually analyse the grades dropped and my attempts at essay writing faded year on year.

Then came the exams where you’re expected to remember and regurgitate the coursework verbatim and don’t start me on open-book exams! The crux of all of these is when the tutors don’t explain how to tackle the questions, what to actually do in the exams or they make something up which is the exact opposite of what’s required.

I had classes as well where the essay questions were pre-selected for you, but I could never make heads nor tales of them and in desperate attempt to figure it out, I’d have a whole plan and run full steam ahead. (Even consulting with the course lecturer, hoping I was on the right track but they seemed impervious to my pleas of help) Then the damn things would be returned a few weeks later with a shitty grade (at least comparatively to others – and sometimes just downright shitty) and there’d be no chance of support to improve or understand what the hell they wanted in the first place!!!

The most disgusting and heart-breaking example was my dissertation. The idea struck me in a moment of inspiration in the library while lamenting that I wasn’t studying Italian, nor the Romans and wondering if the Romans ever had any ties to Spain. Ha! Maybe it’s common-ish knowledge nowadays but it was the first time I’d come across the Conquest for Hispania and that it took over 200 years to be conquered. I knew about Carthage, the Punic Wars, and Carthago Novo (now Cartagena in Murcia), but suddenly everything tied together.

My preparation work and presentation scored me a massively high A3 mark, so naturally my expectation was that this would translate into a similar grade.

Eleven months and over ten-thousand words later, despite going to every supervisor meeting possible and repeatedly being told that I had it and was doing fine… I got that plastic bound tome returned to me with not an A grade. The first paragraph of feedback was calling my work stellar, the narrative well-crafted, and that I’d handled the mixture of sources flawlessly, especially for an undergraduate thesis. Alas, what could I do? The supervisor I had was not skilled in European History, never mind Classical Western History and the classics department at uni had been made defunct, not that I could get another lecturer to mark it anyway. I was deeply angry about it for a long time, given how much effort I did put it – so many studyspo posts say that the effort won’t betray the grade, but in real life, it often can do – especially if you’re just not working in the teacher’s realm.

I’m still proud of my dissertation, and plan to rewrite and expand it in the future for MYSELF, because I find the subject endlessly fascinating. Isn’t that what education is? Or should be? About diving head-first into a thrilling new adventure and learning and absorbing all that you can about it… Not about how well you can construct a 2000 word essay or answer eight essay questions in an exam in under 2 hours.

I’m enthusiastic about plenty of stuff, I’m nerdy, brainy and have plenty of smarts, but maybe it doesn’t all translate to a specific grade. It’s a quality of knowledge that maybe can’t be measured but experienced.

Anyone else?

e x

Image Copyright https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:HansenBCN

Posted in Blogging Challenge, Education, Musings, University

30 Day Blogging Challenge – Day 25

Your Biggest Regret

While it’s not good to have regrets about things we can’t change… what I do regret is all the times in my life where I took the passive route instead of being more actively involved in my own life.

Times where I left early to go home and nap (I do love to nap btw), or missed out on opportunities because I couldn’t be bothered or didn’t feel like it. How often do we have to do things we don’t feel like doing because we must? Therefore when there’s the chance to do something fun but we’re not quite feeling up to it, then surely the right answer is just to do it anyway.

A lot of my regrets are linked to choices I made or didn’t make related to school, college, and uni. I wish at school I could have been more involved and invested in what school represented instead of being distracted by stupid arguments and dramas I can’t even remember anymore. If only I hadn’t taken the easy route, I could have gained a load of highers in fifth year instead of running out on the classes I did well on simply because I couldn’t face another year with said teachers. This is how I ended up being a fifth year with a free period (because I dropped music class), left Int 2 Maths instead of trying to work at it, and taking Int 2 ART in sixth year. What the hell! I wish I hadn’t drifted so much, school wasn’t a means to an end, it was just clocking time until my real life began. (It hasn’t really, yet.)

College the first year was great, I picked a bunch of subjects I was really excited about but then even though I had more free time than I did at school (but with an hour’s travel each way) I still looked to skin more time for myself, which meant leaving at lunchtime instead of spending time with friends – this could have solidified relationships more, gave me more time to study, made me feel less guilty about not studying at home. By the second year, I chose to resit classes I did in high school simply because it meant I’d already completed the course assessments and effectively would have more time to study for the final exam. That’s how I failed higher geography twice, upgraded my higher French and Biology from Cs to Bs… not that anyone bothered telling me they wouldn’t count. Not that anyone ever bothered informing me that four years of highers did nothing for me but kill time and make me realise I never wanted to study Psychology again. Le sigh.

In terms of Uni, I’m still in a love/hate relationship with Spanish. I really wanted to study Italian and preferably in Glasgow… yet every uni in Scotland that offered Italian to degree level all flipped me off and that’s how I ended up doing Spanish at Aberdeen. My consolation to myself was that at least Spanish was a language, it was related to Italian and it was better than doing a degree in something I had little interest in. And again, we come back to the same problems I did at college and school. I buried my head when things got tough and I coasted instead of facing and owning up to the challenges I experienced. I was taking 25 hours of classes a week, working 25 hours a week, travelling to-and-from work for around 12 hours a week and living in student accommodation where I was only allowed to sleep for about 4 or fewer hours a night. Thanks to all this effort just to make ends meet and maintain my place at uni, there wasn’t a lot of time to study… not that I usually had the energy left to study… it was difficult to keep up my great grades and I passed well enough, but it only made subsequent years harder as Spanish got harder and the dreaded year abroad loomed closer.

When I started second year, I had my adviser meeting on the first day of freshers where my tutor (who was also my Spanish teacher) asked me if I was still happy doing Spanish. I said yes without hesitating, and honestly that moment has haunted me ever since…

Posted in Books, Education, Writing

Currently Reading – August 2018

I’m slowly trying to work my way through the reading list for my MA course. I’ve never been a fast reader – unless I’m completely absorbed by what I’m reading (see Harry Potter) so when it comes to reading technical books or deep literature then it’s going to be a bit of a slog.

Pictured above is two of my newest additions to my rampant collection. The Self-Editing for Fiction Writers book, by Brown and King, I already know will be an invaluable resource so I’m trying to take notes and read it carefully enough to get as much out of it as possible (and so I don’t struggle to reread it before assessments). It was highly recommended by someone on our course and I promptly picked up a copy on amazon, reasonably cheaply.

The second book Searches and Seizures by Stanley Elkin was a bit of a challenge to locate a copy of! I managed to find an old second-hand copy on amazon again but it was sent from Better World Books in Mishawaka, Indiana! The book has travelled further than me. Also, I’m certain I ordered another book off them before. Alas, this book was recommended through another book on my reading list: Reading like a writer by Francine Prose. The Elkin book is three novellas, but the Making of Ashenden is the one Prose suggested to read… about a man who falls in love with a bear. Odd, but interesting. I’ve only glanced at the first page but Elkin has a unique style of writing and description.

I finished reading Brief Cases by Jim Butcher, the newest collection of short stories from the Dresden Files world. It’s helped a little to ease the pain from waiting so long for Peace Talks to come out, but I understand the author has had major personal happenings in the last few years, so I won’t add to the complaints. I’m likely to do a more in depth review of Brief Cases, as I want to start doing for more books I read – simply because I have a terrible memory after I’ve read something, reviews would be a good way to keep track. The short version is Brief Cases was amazing – especially the original novella Zoo Day – brought Maggie into much sharper focus, not just as a character (finally) but what may come of her in the future.

I’m still reading On Writing by A.L. Kennedy from the reading list last year. It’s a very interesting insight into one of Scotland’s cult (?) writers. I like how she describes her own process as lasting years but a constant slog, even while travelling and ill. Most of the book is blog posts lifted straight from her site, so I enjoy just reading a post or two at a time, hence why it’s taking me so long to get through it.

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White must be top-of-the-list for all writing students whether English Lit, Composition, or Creative Writing, like me. But it really ought to be top-of-the-list for everyone who ever uses English. Ever. It’s a short volume, but concise and definitely something I’ll refer back to time and again.

Other than these, I’ve been working through my new Italian books for my course starting mid-September. They are A1 beginners books and while I do already know all of this stuff, it doesn’t hurt to revise the basics. Language learning is more of a wander than rushing straight to the final destination. Plus, it’s been 3 years since I did my C1 classes in Spain -_-

e x

Posted in Education, Musings, rant, work, Writing

Blogoversary!

So it’s around a year since evallone.com happened and I’m thrilled with how my little site has developed in that time. Initially pre-domain name it did start as a blog of a recent graduate trying to find decent work in this pre-apocalyptic world, then evolved, backtracked and evolved some more!

Tomorrow marks a year since I got that fresh out of uni job which lasted all of 10 weeks. I am not ashamed to admit it as I’m much happier in my current job of seven and a half months! I never spoke in great detail on here about what happened in the last job, but since I’ve hardly heard from anyone since I left, there’s little problem if I were to speak about it, but that’s for another time.

The current purpose of my blog is to give me a platform to display all my creative tendencies and to rant. I’ve much in the pipeline, but have been fighting with time to get on with actually writing blog posts. I did go on holiday to York a few weeks ago but I’ve had a hell of a time trying to edit and upload the pictures (I shot them all in RAW and it’s been a while…) Alas, they’re coming soon along with the written-at-the-time blog posts. Check out my photography page as I’ll be posting plenty of additional pictures there.

I spent much of yesterday desperately clinging onto reality after a rare night out on Saturday. I’ve questioned my mortality, my age, the unstoppable passing of time, why I peaked at age 3, and my appearance. So today I got up, my food tasted better than in months, I slept better than I have in quite some time (with lots of wild dreams) and have a plan for today and the next wee while. My course starts back in October so that gives me several weeks to work my way through the reading list (as best as I can, cannot afford many of the books) and trying to really embrace the opportunity this course and year will give me. I know all too well from this past year just how fast time goes, so I need to try and enjoy every single minute of it.

I’m rambling now, I know, but I’m abuzz with ideas and the need to just read for a solid amount of time. I just needed this to break the ice a bit, and I promise I should be back to regular updates from now on.

Thanks for this last year of support!

e x

Posted in University, work, Writing

Tumbleweed

I know things have been quite here for a few weeks, but everything all hit at once; the final assessment for uni, getting ill, birthdays, and working.

Everything has been going well though, I spent little pockets of free time in May to work on my assessment so I didn’t have to rush much at the last minute ( just the commentary, which is horrendous) and I managed to get some last minute feedback on my chapters which was stellar and just a few typos. I’m feeling good about it! Just have to wait until the 17th of July to get my overall results for this first year, so I’m waiting until then to apply for second year. Also still waiting on SAAS because this year they decided to confuse themselves and not properly read my application before halting it… and an eleven minute conversation (six minutes on hold) only got me as far as sending a query to SAAS which they promised to get back to me about within 28 days -_-

I caught another stomach bug (4th in a year!) and was laid up for a few days while still trying to pull off mum’s birthday – I managed it and I’ve survived but honestly the whole weekend is something of a blur. But mum loved all the presents I gave her and how I decorated the living room with balloons and banners and made such a fuss over her. Great treat for a 60th… even if no one else believes her age!

In other news, now that uni has finished until October I’m using the summer to catch up for second year. We’ve been given the reading list that will be used so I have time to work my way through it (some books I’ve already read) and the tutor also gave us an assessment break-down for the year. There will be six assessments and the End of Module assessment of 15,000 words. I used and developed a novel throughout this year which will be book 1 of my novel series. However, as I jumped around a lot with chapters and sections for the assessments, my plan is to use the summer to finish book 1 and to start book 2 for my assessments for year 2. PLAN! So far, I’ve not had a lot of time to work on book 1 so my collated word count at the moment is just shy of 10k words, need to times that by 8 to get my expected word count. Then, I’ll be self-publishing though KDP and onward and upward!

Better get back to writing now, tight schedule!

e x