Posted in Books, TV

The Stand Remake

I love Stephen King. Whether you know me or not, you’ll quickly learn how much he’s impacted me as a writer and a reader. I love his tireless ability to just keep going and I can only hope to one day feel a little of what that would feel like. But then he’d tell me to stop saying feel and describe it instead, show, don’t tell.

When worlds collide

Early last year I downloaded The Stand on Audible, mostly because it was around 45 hours long and I figured it was a great use of my one monthly audible credit. I was also still doing my masters in Creative Writing and there was a different assessment coming up. I had to write an actual essay comparing writers or various works of a writer (you can tell the assignment itself had little impact on me) however, I knew The Stand would be a great book to dissect. I ranted and raved about the book to anyone who would listen, and even some who wouldn’t and I felt vindicated that someone else recognised just how easily civilisation could crumble, and how rampant a virus could spread. This was also confirmed with the film Contagion which I saw around the same time. Chilling, isn’t it? I can remember quite clearly conversations I had with others who insisted that none of it was possible, that no virus could have that effect and there’s no such thing as zombies, the T-Virus or Captain Tripps. So now all those naysayers are quiet a year later when we’re all living in it! I will concede though, that Mr King himself, did state that Covid-19 is nowhere near as bad as Captain Tripps in The Stand as that killed 99.999% of the population, whereas Covid-19 is ’eminently survivable’.

In spite of everything people are still idiots

The Remake

Back in 1994 there was a mini-series adaptation of The Stand, which has pretty good reviews online and I spoke to a few people who’ve watched it since. I’ve been tempted to buy it, but then we started living a very slow opening scene of it. Then, a couple of days ago I received a notification online that there was already a remake in the works prior to lockdown but it’ll still be going ahead once we’re all back up and running again. There’s an insanely A-list cast involved, Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abigail, Alexander Skarsgård as Randall Flagg plus rumours of Marilyn Manson as Trashcan Man (and he’s recorded a cover of ‘The End’ by The Doors, with Shooter Jennings of all people!).

Who else is excited for this?

e x

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Posted in Health, life, Writing

Just Keep Swimming

I’m still not better. Last night I slept for ten hours, got up and went for a blood test, struggled to eat a single bagel then two hours after getting up I fell back asleep for four and a half hours! Plus I was shivering – even under two heavy quilts and three blankets. Gah!

I’m worried that the days are melting together. I’m caught between the, ‘I need to rest’ and ‘I need to write my fucking dissertation‘ emotions. In case you haven’t heard, I’m writing 15000 words of a novel that I’ve been working on ahem well, started it when I was 15 and currently trying to write the best draft of it yet. But I’m doubting myself and had been all summer and now I’m ill and rapidly running out of time.

I am well aware that I’m not getting a distinction nor a merit for this degree, nothing I’ve submitted over the last two years came close to getting a thumbs up from my tutor. Even the stuff I worked ridiculously hard on still got worse marks than the stuff I ran out of time for. I get it, like any creative medium it’s subjective, the same happened when I took Photography and heck, even my HNC in Professional Writing. At least my work was always remembered for being weird. I’m good with that.

Anyway, the pain in my glands and ears and throat still feels like someone tried to shred my neck so I’ve been very quiet the last few days especially. Eating has been a chore and coffee hasn’t been very present (very odd for me). I’m trying. I know potentially I could get in touch with my tutor or student support and ask about extending the deadline due to extremely bad circumstances but honestly, I don’t want to postpone, defer, or delay this degree any longer – I just want it over with so I can go back to enjoying writing for myself again!

The novel is polyphonic where each chapter is in the 1st person POV of the main character of that scene. I have several main characters but two absolute main characters and all the chapters follow in a cycle. The chapter I’m working on just now is a journey with one of the absolute MCs and I’ve been writing it in a notebook gifted to me by a good friend for my birthday last year. I wanted to go back to handwriting things because as quick as writing on a computer can be, it’s often not as fulfilling as handwriting where you can see the strokes and scribbles of your own hand building something in front of your eyes. Plus, cute notebooks and pens. Alas, the chapter is getting quite long but will be split into several chapters to be spread between the happenings of the other characters. As much as I want to continue writing by hand, I’ve three weeks to the day to get it all done… plus I’ll be returning to work next week and won’t have nearly as much time to ponder. Though hopefully I will be on the road to recovery… eventually.

e x

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

Posted in life, Outings, wine, work

My 30th Birthday

It’s never a birthday around here without a dose of drama chucked into the mix.

Normally, I never really plan anything for my birthday other than going out for dinner, but this year, since it was a special level-up, I wanted to do something FUN – so I made my parents go bowling with me.

Step back, rewind. 

A few weeks before my birthday, I’d been getting terrible pain in my right shoulder. It was getting worse as the days wore on, not helped by how physically intensive my job was. The pain was running across my neck and down into my fingers which were going numb and aching… a trip to the doctor afforded me with a ton of Ibuprofen and Co-codamol and a sick-line. First time for everything, I guess. 

Time off helped greatly, a weight lifted from my shoulders (huh!) and it quickly dawned on me that things needed to change. Walking 3-miles home in the dark after 11pm at night stopped being fun after the first few goes. Taxis are too expensive and too hard to come by during the festive season and my soul was in pain.

I start my new job this weekend, had my induction last week, and it’ll keep me going for the next few months while I make some serious decisions. Although, given today’s Brexit revelations we might all be dead in a few months anyway.

Back to the birthday, we had the first celebration and bowling the day before my birthday and it was great! Even though I was desperately sleep deprived and my right shoulder still aching, my left worked enough to allow me to win both games – mum even came second, beating dad!

I had a quick nap before getting up to get ready for the evening meal with the fam and my old roommate. Finally I had someone to share a bottle of prosecco with! I received a ton of lovely, thoughtful (and useful) gifts to motivate me in my new chapter.

Martini Espresso to end the night

It was a great birthday overall and I’m quite happy  that I’m now ‘in my thirties’ even though I still have no idea what I’m doing… and that I had to stay up until 4am the morning after my birthday finishing my Master’s assignment!

e x

P.S. that’s my cake in the Featured Image… Gluten, Wheat, and Dairy free cake (the donuts were from Gregg’s ^_^

Posted in Education, Fitness, Memories, Musings, University, Writing

Back to the drawing board

My course started on Saturday and I’ve managed to spend at least a couple of hours each day since to contribute to the forums and work on assignments. I’ve received really good feedback from a couple of other students on my first submission. I’m not good with criticism whether good or bad, and I struggle with accepting constructive criticism which I put down to too many essays being returned with ‘try harder’, ‘more detail’, ‘less flowery language – get to the point’, ‘don’t be so forceful’ – feedback in general can be contradictory as everyone will have different opinions.

This first year is broken down into four blocks and two specialisations, which for me are: Fiction and Script-writing. I’ll be working on Fiction in blocks 1 and 3, Script-writing in block 2, and block 4 is independent study. There are assessments at the end of each block and a final end of module assessment in June. I’m not too worried about the assessments yet, I had a read of the requirements and so long as I follow the course work and readings, I should manage to do quite well overall.

One of the stories I’ve been using for coursework is from what I want to be a novel series but it actually started aeons ago when I was around 6 or 7 as a make-believe scenario which touted many filled afternoons and a special birthday performance of a play of the story which I’d worked on for days. I was industrious to say the least. Now it’s a grown up story, but I’m still lacking a decent title. I know what I want the individual books to be titled but I don’t know what to name the series! I read an entire chapter on the purpose and point of decent titles, but nothing quite helped with this conundrum. I’ll get there in the end I suppose… consistency is the best cure for being stuck!

Managed to get back to the gym yesterday after several weekends of being too busy. Not lost too much in terms of endurance and I managed to get onto the lat pulldown machine… merely a couple of kgs off my personal bests! Going back tomorrow to smash them. Down several pounds in weight as well which is nice, but I’m trying to focus on listening to my body, if I really feel hungry or I’m just bored. I don’t want to go back to counting calories as I become far too obsessive with it, portion control and paying more attention to my eating habits and cravings will get me through for now.

I’m not a runner, it’s never been my thing, and I’ve actually caused myself more damage in the past when I’ve tried to run. Remember Phoebe trying to run in the park with Rachel? And Rachel was humiliated? Yep, mum just let me know today that that one time in school when I was picked to do the relay, I ran just like Phoebe did, maybe even worse! Thanks mum. I was never the sporty type. I had/have little to no upper body strength. I’d try to go on the monkey bars, grab on and swing forward – and keep swinging as my arms betrayed me and I kept swinging forward until gravity smacked me into the playground foam. I still can’t swim: I don’t float. Even when I was several stone lighter, it just never happened for me. My swimming proficiency at the end of Primary School, I got the shortest pity badge of 15 meters, but honestly that was me bobbing and trying to remember how to doggy-paddle like on Topsy and Tim. Then someone splashed water into my face and I choked and threw up by the side of the pool… thus my attempt was over.

So yeah, I was never going to be Sporty Spice, but that’s really why I prefer individual exercises that involve a steady machine or weights that I’m comfortable using without dislocating something. Don’t even get me started on gymnastics… the day I realised I had no balance or poise killed me. I’d never get to be the Pink Power Ranger. But when asked to do jumping splits over another person, I could take at least four others down with me!

Leave me to walk, row, and lift heavy stuff. I’m good.

e x

Posted in Education, elearning, Musings, University, work, Writing

Balance

If there’s one thing I’ve never been great at it’s balance. Not just in the literal sense of standing on one foot but in terms of what I’m doing in my life, e.g. work or uni, and what I’m juggling with secondary interests and socialising/relaxing.

Especially within the last few weeks this has become my aim to work on achieving a better balance despite working full-time and travelling around ten hours a week to-and-fro. One of my most important challenges has been to prepare enough new and original content for this blog, and as an exercise in discipline to flex my writing muscles even when I’ve little time or inspiration.

Very soon I’ll be starting my new Masters degree, which I’m really excited about but also slightly anxious about being prepared and inspired even if I’m drained from work. I know what I’m getting back into having just finished full-time uni; deadlines, stressing over grades, never feeling I’ve done enough, etc, but I’m planning to plan better and work on my biggest hurdle: TIME MANAGEMENT! This has never been my friend, ever, but I know now more than ever that I need to work on it so I have time to review, revise, and edit drafts efficiently, prior to submitting, so that I can be certain I’ve handed in my best work.

I’m pretty certain I’ll naturally be more inspired to submit creative writing pieces rather than essays. No matter how much I love to write, I’ve never quite gotten the essay writing process down! All lecturers wanted a different style, format, or I really struggled to grasp what they actually wanted me to submit. I did always try to find a hook or an angle to trick myself into being interested in essay topics (apart from classics courses, no tricks were ever needed), but my resounding feeling during honours years was that nothing I wrote was ever good enough.

This course will be different. I’ve been writing since I was 2. Yes, two! Since I could hold a pen I would scribble on paper or forms, (the wall occasionally) and feel exactly the same as Scout Finch, that writing is as natural as breathing. It’s no more spectacular than the respiratory system but is as absolutely critical to life as air.

In the evenings I don’t really have much chill time but I’m starting to get used to my routine and have been able to better utilise what time I do have. I’ve signed up to a few MOOC’s on Coursera, Edx, and OpenLearn which are all free to study and follow but with the option to pay a small fee for an official certificate/qualification. I’ll post soon about the courses I’m doing with some early thoughts and feedback.

There’s also my massive TBR pile, which I’ll get to at some point and review my recent reads.

As a final thought for tonight, I know it is important to take one day at a time, but it is also just as important to make plans and time for the things you really want to do during your free time, so you don’t end up sitting dejected on a Sunday night remembering all the things you wanted to do! (Too many times!)

My schedule changes by an hour next week for a few weeks but I’m going to create a full rotating schedule of activities to slot in around work…

… just keep swimming!

e x

P.S. I’ve added a new Photography page, which I’m planning on adding much more to soon, have a looksie!