Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Madness of Masters

Since starting back on my MA last October I've found myself spending a lot of time feeling guilty about not blogging, but not having enough inspiration or drive to get a post done. The fact is, since I began this blog it's been an outlet for my writing, but I guess since I've been studying again I've been spending my brain power on that instead. Also it doesn't help that because of the time difference, my online class takes place from 3am-6am once a week. I'm not really a night owl at the best of times and this absolute invasion of my usual regular sleeping pattern is offensive and brutal, and definitely f*cks me up for the next couple of days. 

Last semester I had to frantically try to plough my way through books that I had little interest in, purely for the sake of being able to put them in my bibliography and then pretend that they inspired my work. You can see how much I 'enjoyed' reading those books on my review blog here. I really and truly hate reading fiction simply because I have to. Come to that, I hate reading a story simply because someone else says I should, or because it's deemed a 'classic.'

My Research Methods module is currently in full swing, and will later lead into the dissertation. I'm so excited to be working on the story I've been creating for a while now: my fantasy story for children, which all started from a map. 

I'm devoting my time to developing characters, creating communities and coming up with a weird and fun plot, and it all counts towards my masters! This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I chose a creative writing MA rather than a sensible one such as teaching. 
And as if the fun of what I'm working on isn't enough, the research makes it even better. My research has consisted so far of taking notes on handbooks about writing for children, devouring numerous children's books and watching films. 
Then last week my tutor recommended a way in which to research the development of fantasy worlds: she said I should look at computer games. As a result I'm currently waiting for World of Warcraft to download on my computer. I don't mind telling you I'm a bit nervous. Nervous to suck at it and be outcast from taking part in quests, as veterans (or gaming nerds-call them what you will) worldwide see me for the fraud I am. Nervous to get killed in the first five minutes, and most worryingly of all, nervous to get addicted. 

So that's it. If you never see another blog post here you'll know why.     

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Jeju Island Love

A couple of weeks ago we were kindly invited by a friend to stay with her in Jeju Island.
The centrepiece of the island is Korea's largest mountain: a snow capped inactive volcano that erupted a very, very long time ago (yes, that's as accurate as my geography-history is going to get today), creating the rock formations that make up the lay of the land today. 

But before we could begin all the cultured sightseeing, we had to get one job out of the way: an entirely necessary trip to Jeju's famous Love Museum!


Needless to say it was an entertaining experience. I particularly liked the small and notably loveless 'Kids Land' outside the entrance to the museum- a depressing indoor play area for people to deposit their kids before going off to enjoy themselves. 

And now- allowing the photos to speak for themselves- back to an entirely different type of au naturel...   

Rock walk around the cliff
Hole in the wall
The view from the posh live-jazz-in-the-middle-of-the-day hotel we nosed around
Indulging  my Alice in Wonderland side at a maze
The 1km long lava cave. It was so tranquil in here, the only sound the atmospheric drip dipping of water from the ceiling
About to climb the crater
A view from the top through a telescope
The crater
And back down again
I'd definitely visit again, knowing now how much more there is to see. The beaches for one are just lovely, although next time I want to visit during a slightly less blustery season!


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Illusion of Wasted Time

I'm currently in the middle of a wonderful week off from work, in which I've set myself lots of goals in the areas of studying, reading, writing, drawing, correspondence, cleaning and more. In typical me style, each day I've given myself way too many things to realistically do and then spent most of the day wallowing in a mixture of indifference, apathy, self-loathing and pure joy as I procrastinate to high heaven.

I'm starting to wonder if, by making a task something I should or need to do, I psychologically then don't want to do it. By that logic then if I put 'watch seven episodes of Frasier in a row and eat chocolate' on my list then maybe I will instead practice cartwheels and eat a bowlful of apples.
I'm noticing a trend. One day I might put 'do the washing' on my list, and end up drawing a picture. Then the next day if I put 'draw a picture' on the list, I might find myself cleaning my clothes. The activity in question is irrelevant- its mere presence on the list renders it undesirable.
So by the list logic I will eventually do everything, but I'll do it in an order that makes me feel perpetually guilty for not having got things done 'that day.'

As a (tortured) writer I definitely suffer with guilt. There is no escape from the feeling that anything else I'm doing is a waste, a dreaded procrastination. 
I sometimes lament the fact that my blog isn't bigger, that more people don't read it. Occasionally I join a link up or something to try and get more traffic. Then I stop and ask myself- do I even really want this? Needless to say popularity would be fun and it would be nice to have more of a blogging community. On the other hand, there are the following drawbacks:
  • Do I want to do sponsored posts for money? You get sent cool stuff for free, but you're not free to blog about what you want to). 
  • Do I want to feel pressure to reply to comments left on a blog post? Some bloggers get a hundred comments every time they post something. At my average 0.0047 comments per blog post, I have no problem staying on top. 
  • The most popular bloggers blog upwards of five times a week. How on earth would I find five things to write about each week?

No, I think all in all I'm better off being free to ramble at my own pace, allowing it to be a fun pastime rather than edging into the dangerous territory of chore. 

I sometimes dream about being a concert pianist and wish I was (infinitely) better at playing. But then if it was my day job I'd probably hate it. Not to say I hate my day job now or anything, I just mean that sometimes we think if we could have our favourite hobby as a career then life would be perfect. In actual fact for many people, being paid to do something (with the resulting deadlines and boundaries and pressure) can turn the thing they once loved into a pain in the ass. 

In short, sometimes hobbies are best left as hobbies.
I read a great quote the other day in Writing Children's Fiction. On the subject of 'Writers Magic' Linda Newbery says, 
"imagination only comes when you privilege the subconscious, 
when you make delay and procrastination work for you.’’ (pg79)

So maybe as a writer I'm lucky. I can do an activity totally unrelated and still call the time spent a success in terms of the daydreaming I did.
But even if I'm not doing what I'm 'supposed' to being doing, or even thinking about it in any way, shape or form, should I feel guilty? Should I care? I've decided the answer is a big fat no. I'm the only one putting this pressure on myself and creating a false sense of what's important and what's not. 

In the end it doesn't matter what we do with our time. All that really matters is that we're enjoying doing it. Is that not what life is about, after all?