A Bit of Everything: Blogging Break

My brain is full.  I have been working kinda sorta nearly all day on the Horrible Essays and have reached the stage where you get a headache and eyeache from the computer screen and it all seems just too hard.  I have just had a chocolate break, am now having a blogging break (yes, I know that won’t help with the computer screen issue, but shh) and am preparing to plunge back in.  I have not entirely kept up with my wonderful plan and still most definitely have The Fear, but I’m on a bit of a mission to get back to up to word count targets now on at least one of the two.  So … go team!

Amongst all this essay stress I’ve still (through sheer determination) managed to keep up with one of my sort-of resolutions, and have been reading every night before bed – and it’s even been something none essay-related.  I’m quite proud of myself, I have to admit.  Yes, yes, I know it’s only the 9th of January, but please just let me have my moment 🙂

As a side note, as well as the reading I’m also finding time to watch Africa on BBC1 – second episode tonight and I am excited!  Anyone else obsessed?  I absolutely adore David Attenborough, and if you aren’t watching then you should be – it’s brilliant!

Back to the books … I finished The Slap a few days ago, and think I’ve finally made up my mind.  The bits I always thought I didn’t like (too much gratuitous sex detail, too much swearing, characters all too horrible/messed up) most definitely still stand.  While I’m not averse to a bit of gritty reality, I refuse to accept (as a couple of Goodreads reviewers have tried to assert) that this means everyone is horrible and ungrateful and entirely closed to compromise.  In fact, I feel quite sorry for people who think that these characters represent the “real world” (as though the one we inhabit is just pretend), because it gives us quite a sad window into their own minds.

Even so, if you were to remove these bits, I quite liked this book.  I’m a big fan of authors who get you to see things from multiple characters’ points of view, one reason for my adoration of The Casual Vacancy, and I did think that the author raised some interesting issues.  I just wish we could have seen at least one or two characters taking some kind of middle ground – that would have linked the story more to reality for me.  I think I probably disliked quite a lot of the characteristics that made the book such a big deal, and I disliked them enough that I wouldn’t recommend it.  Still, I’m sure Christos Tsiolkas has plenty of other recommendations coming from better qualified and more widely distributed sources than this one!

At the moment I’m just finishing Celia Imrie’s autobiography, The Happy Hoofer.  I absolutely love Victoria Wood and Dinnerladies, and have seen Celia Imrie in loads of bits and bobs, like Nanny McPhee and Calendar Girls.  I heard her on Desert Island Discs (yes, I really am 21, honest!) and found her really interesting – she came from a very upper-class family of the kind I always believed to be extinct, and had a horrendous experience of being locked up in a shocking mental hospital because of her anorexia – so I picked up a copy of her book from my Mum.

I’m finding it pretty readable, as expected, but I’m not loving it as I hoped I would.  It is quite personal in some ways, but there’s also a fair bit of name dropping, and I tend to get a bit bored in those parts.  This may well just be down to the fact that I am rubbish when it comes to celebrities, pretty much not interested in the slightest (the Mail Online sidebar is my idea of hell), so I suppose I should blame myself for picking up a celeb autobiography!  I’m not sure quite what it is that I’m not liking, because I do like a good human story, and I adored Stephen Fry’s autobiography, I think there’s just a few too many celeb-spotting moments in it for me.  Think I’m going to head back into good old fiction for a while next – fingers crossed for something I love!

The Fear

FearI have The Fear.  Any student reading will know exactly what I’m talking about.  That’s right, it’s essay deadline time again!

This time next week I have to produce two 4000 word essays, and The Fear has only just hit.  The Fear is that awful sinking feeling that you get, generally a few days before deadline, when you start cursing yourself for your utter lack of previous productivity while believing that you have no hope of ever producing a decent piece of work now you’ve left it to the last minute.

Happily I have actually done a fair amount of research for both these essays (a better position than I have been in previously) and have some idea of what I’m writing. So all I need now is a plan to get there without too much of a crazy last minute panic.  In the hope of actually committing myself to this, here, written down in all the publicity of the internet, is my plan:

Starting point
Essay 1: 839 words
Essay 2: 226 words

Monday: Both essays to over 1000 words each

Tuesday: Essay 1 to at least 2000 words

Wednesday: Essay 2 to at least 2000 words

Thursday: Essay 1 to at least 3000 words

Friday: Essay 2 to at least 3000 words

Saturday: Essay 1 to 4000 words

Sunday: Essay 2 to 4000 words

Monday: Mad last minute catchup and checking

 

A simple plan, I know, but hopefully effective!  At the moment I don’t feel in any kind of position to give advice to anyone, but if this actually works out I’ll aim to do a follow up “top tips” kind of blog post.  If nothing else, it might help me next semester to follow my own advice!

Until then, if anyone wants any info on the Italian Anti-Mafia or Transitions to Democracy in Slovakia and Nicaragua, I’m your girl!