Happy 21st to Me (featuring two adorable cats)

This is a completely random post but I just wanted to share these adorable pictures from a messenger call with my Mum earlier today, when I was in the midst of getting ready and ordering food, and getting happy birthday sung to me 😀

 

These are my two kitties and while at uni I miss them very much, there’s something wonderful to be said about spending time with pets. It just makes everything seem a little better. The more photogenic looking cat has — I believe — never featured on this blog but she’s the littermate of my writing buddy Star, pictured below completely ignoring the camera…

Looking forward to a visit home once I’ve finished my essay next week, and starting to come up with ideas for my next short-term project 😀

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Drabble Fic Five: Royal

Short starter written after seeing a French movie trailer about a seventeenth century man in opulent setting… As I don’t speak French, a little unsure of what the exact plot was, but here goes my piece! 

There is nothing more perfect than a rich man scorned. Angry, scandalised, incandescent with rage: they have such a beautiful aura. When anger is disguised it can be beautiful. Exposed, it is little more than an inconvenience.

I work in the shadows, amongst the hidden people. I break bread with the beggars and share a bed with the homeless, yet it is among the richest that I am most at home. I breathe in their emotions like a child inhales praise.

The poor are enough to sustain me, but I’ll never be whole with just their care alone. It’s not quite enough. So I search out the rich and the unsatisfied and I make myself whole, even if it leaves them a little more broken.

It is a strategy that has served me well for centuries. Time old strategies cannot last forever, as I learned when I met the Count…

Drabble Fic 4: History

Written after seeing the first fifty seconds of Porcelain Unicorn… I still haven’t seen the rest.

There are places where time folds in on itself, like a crepe right after you add the Nutella. The highway right outside of Lisbon was one of those places.

It was as if some kind of creator had shone a torch on a place and said: ‘There. When it all goes down, that’s where I want it to happen.’

If they had, then they weren’t far wrong. When everything went wrong-side up it didn’t happen right there, but about five miles out of town in the backyard of a small boy named Giovanno.

 

Drabble Fic Night 3: Not Me

Written after seeing a Japanese anime trailer

I promised I’d make this simple for you. If you flip a coin you don’t care about the outcome for the side of the coin that isn’t chosen. It’s heads or tails, simple as that. No worries. Success or failure, all made up by something you can’t even control.

Life is like that. A lack of control makes us all who we are. If I was in control right now then this wouldn’t even be a question of waiting. It’d be like flipping a coin. You’d either meet and fall in love or you’d never see each other again.

Apparently the universe likes balance, however much I think it is a mistake. Yes or no isn’t the balance you might think it is. There are an infinite number of possibilities, the world doesn’t operate in binary. There are more colours in the rainbow than you’ll ever smell, more foods than you could ever touch and more people than you could ever eat. Is that the right way round? I find it so hard to tell.

Words feel strange. I’m not used to communicating like this. Sometimes I have to give people a nudge. A little bit of alteration while you’re writing a computer message and things will usually find themselves on one track or another without too much harm.

It’s nothing that special. Any creature like me could do it.

I don’t want it to be like this, with all of the intrigue and delays. I’d much rather it was like flipping a coin. A simple yes or no.

It isn’t up to me though.

So when you’re pacing up and down questioning your feelings or wondering why everything is just so complicated then you know who to blame.

Not me.

Drabble Fic Night 2: Dinosaur on Trial

Written after watching a trailer for a Walt Disney Film called One of Your Dinosaurs is Missing. Incomplete as I spent far too long finishing off the first one!

Rawr-rawr-rawr-rawr
[Translating matrix calculating…]

There was nothing wrong with me. I was just out of place and out of time. A relic from times gone by. It didn’t mean they no longer loved me or that I was worthless. In fact, it made me rather special.

I wasn’t blind, you know. I could look over an intern’s shoulder and read the value they gave me on their websites. A multi-million dollar find! Little old me, and I was worth so much.

Well, slavery isn’t right. You couldn’t really call it anything else, could you? They didn’t ask before they dug me out of the ground and they didn’t ask before they put me up on display, prostituting me as if I was some kind of toy made for their amusement.

I’m not. I’m a dinosaur and I’m proud.

The looks you humans give me, as if I’m an evil creature just because I’m not the same as you. Come on, you’re not scared of elephants are you? Yes, I know what an elephant is, I’m not rawr rawr rawr [calculating…] completely obtuse.

I manage to communicate with you well enough, you just don’t understand what I’m saying. That’s your shortfall, not mine.

Drabble Fic Night 1: The Old Lady

Written after watching a Scandinavian film trailer

I.
A little old lady sits at a table, sweet and innocent despite her age. She’s not the hero though, she never would be. The hero is someone who has all of the attributes that you need to be heroic: brave and strong and courageous. There’s something else though, that the little old lady would be lacking.

THE ELIXIR OF LIFE
they call it, out there in the world. As if it is some kind of magical potion created by magicians or superheroes in order to trick people into living in a way they would otherwise not quite have been brave enough to do.

She was too old to have all that, born before the 2054 vaccinations and all of the trouble that had caused. Turns out superheroes are made not born, and she was far too old to be a superhero.

“What was it like, back then?” someone asked, as she sat there sipping tea from a thumbsize cup.

“It wasn’t like it is now, that’s for sure,” she replied begrudgingly, focused entirely on her tea ration. It was alright for these young whippersnappers, they didn’t have a care in the world. The

ELIXIR OF LIFE

had taken care of that. They were completely contented with whatever they could have and that was all they expected. The opportunity to enjoy something, anything they could. Be it stopping burglars from ripping holo screens from the wall or taking one of the hybrid animals out for walks to see if it was possible to rehabilitate escaped experiments like that poor cat-pig she’d seen wandering the streets a few days earlier.

“What does that mean?”

She narrowed her eyes and tapped her fingers against the small china cup, hoping they’d get the message. The tea was the thing, nothing else mattered.

“It means that you’ll never get it. Not really.”

“Why?”

The constant questioning was getting to her. All from the same kid as well. It was as if his superpower was to be a complete insufferable brat.

“Everything is different now. But that’s alright, you don’t know what it was like before.”

They hadn’t seen the sun and all of those things out on the Surface, way above their tunnel dwellings. They didn’t understand what it was like when all of the food was locked away and rationed out; when all of those alive then were told it was dangerous, that it would make their children sick for them to see the world.

She looked down again. There was a tiny sliver of liquid in the bottom of the cup. Barely enough for another mouthful. It wasn’t really fair. She was one of the old ones, she hadn’t been granted the chances these children had for a magical life and yet she was still only given a mouthful of tea. That didn’t really feel as if it was

OF LIFE

In fact, it felt quite the opposite. As if the life was being pumped out of her very bones as she sat there drinking the tea. She knew that wasn’t the case, she had taken tea from those in charge before, but there was something different about this day. There was something cruel and unusual about the idea of her sitting there having what could be her final sip of tea and the children would never know how wonderful it tasted.

They simply weren’t allowed. She squirmed in her seat, thinking about how different things were from when her precious Marcy was born. Now, that was a long time ago.

“Do they tell you about the sun?” she asked them, not really caring what the answer was. She needed to make sure that they gave her a chance to enjoy the tea before it entirely cooled and a not-quite-forbidden question was the perfect way to do that.

“What’s a Sun?” the same child asked before one of the others tapped him and made sure he stayed silent.

“Fine. I get it, you’re not allowed to know. Fine. I’ll just have to do something else then.”

She hesitated, staring down at the tiny droplet of tea that was left behind in the bottom of the cup. She looked at it, then at the children, then back again. Ah, screw it, they weren’t going to let someone like her continue to use up resources for much longer.

She threw the cup of tea against the hard floor, watching as the china splintered with tiny pieces filling the gap in the floor between her and the children. They stared at it, reaching out with their tiny grabbing hands.

But they couldn’t quite reach, not with the wires plugging them into the mainframe completely steadfast.

Even when they came to take the little old lady away, the little grabbing children were still completely stuck. In their underground world, in the

LIFE

that they had to call their own.

The Drabble Fic Night: Introduction

Tonight I’ll be posting five short fics, all inspired by one of the videos we’ve been watching at the Creative Writing Society meeting this evening. I’ll try and post them as I write them, rather than doing them after the fact. This first drabble was written after watching a Scandinavian film trailer, that only featured the old woman for a short time. She wasn’t an important character as far as I could tell, but here she is in my musings…

Over the time I’ve been at Creative Writing Society I haven’t often wrote along to the prompt, having been deep into some novel or the other I’ve been writing. At the moment it’s a little different as I’ve finished the second draft of Robot Dreams and am too enmeshed in my dissertation/uni work to start a completely new project, with the other one I’ve got on the go far too complicated and research heavy to be really focusing on writing at this point in time.

So here I am, here in the moment, posting some short fics to try and fuel the writing fires at a time when I haven’t actually got a lot of free time to write!

Reading Regularly: 2017 Book One [Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington]

I’ve decided to branch out a little bit on this here blog, I’ve realised that I spend so much time on here talking about my own writing and a lot of time in the rest of my life reading books for uni. I don’t get that much time to read anymore and, as I’m sure any uni student who loves to read will tell you, that kinda sucks. So I’ve decided to do something about it.

Some of the bloggers I like to follow do challenges where they try and read 100 bSaving Sophie: A gripping psychological thriller with a brilliant twist by [Carrington, Sam]ooks in a year or some such target. For me at the moment, with my uni workload, promising to read that much that is just for me to enjoy is too much right now. Instead, I thought I’d focus on making the most of the reading time I do have. So, from now on, I’ll do my best to read when I feel like it but also try and reflect more on what I do decide to read. For now at least, this won’t be full form book reviews but more like my ramblings about the topic. I’d love to know what everyone else thinks too!

The first book I read this year was Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington. It was an interesting read and one that I’m not quite sure how I feel about. There were good points and then there were things about the book I didn’t enjoy, so it’s tricky to work out how exactly those balance.

At the start of the book I was a little unsure about how it was going in terms of the characters. I didn’t really feel connected to Sophie, her mother or her father at all.

That changed quite quickly thankfully and I was able to read the book in what was probably a medium length of time for me, a couple of days all told. I’ve been leaving a lot more books half-read recently — which won’t be counting on this blog as I don’t think it’s fair to talk badly about something you haven’t finished! — so getting through the book shows I found parts of the book intriguing.

However, there were a few aspects of the book that made it less enjoyable for me. Sophie felt quite unlikeable and her friends were even worse. The character I liked the sound of the most was one I don’t think we actually ever met, her friend who was murdered. This was really problematic for me as my lack of interest in Sophie didn’t really fit with the focus of the book on Saving Sophie. 

I really liked the treatment of Karen’s anxiety and how that had come about but felt that her character needed a little bit more depth to show us who she really was, separately from the issues that she faced.

When the climatic section of the book came around I found myself tearing through the pages to find out exactly what was going to happen, so that was a bonus. And the ending: wow!

Overall, I’d have to give this book around a 3/5. It was a book I did enjoy and I did finish quite quickly. There were elements of it though that didn’t quite work for me and it is something, like many crime thrillers, that I would just read the once.

Random Half-Finished Creative Writing Society Drabble

Written in today’s session (alongside a chunk of my dissertation #lastminute)

It wasn’t every day that a monk wanders down the hill screaming about escaped reindeer. The monks were meant to be hidden away, safe in their isolation, but apparently losing Rudolph was enough to change all that.

“He’s not just a reindeer, he’s our mascot,” the monk explained, panting heavily as he leaned forward and tried to catch his breath.

“Get a new mascot? It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of reindeer in the forests around here. Might even be a few mongoose if you look around.”

“It’s not a reindeer we need, it’s that reindeer.”

“Has it got a red nose?”

“This isn’t a Christmas carol, it’s bloody serious,” the monk said, straightening up and staring at the man in front of him. A short, stout man who looked like he’d had far too much to drink and couldn’t possibly understand the significance of the reindeer.

“You don’t sound like a monk,” the man replied, jabbing a finger in the monk’s direction.

From New Year to Valentine’s Day: Durham and the Arts

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Living in a market city, it’s easy to forget sometimes that beauty is all around us. Absorbed in studying and textbooks, it’s easy to ignore what’s right in front of me. The bells chiming in the distance are from a Norman cathedral that is one of the oldest in England and boasts not only impressive architecture but an exhibition on the treasures of the city. If you wander up past the colleges perched on the hill outside the city centre there is a beautiful oriental garden just waiting to be explored.

I’ve made it one of my New Year’s Resolutions to make the most of the artistic opportunities available here in Durham. If you’re looking for things to do or places to explore, then look no further!

One of the most exciting events coming up before Valentines Day is the Durham Drama Festival (10th-13th February), featuring performances written and produced by students. Last year I attended an evening performance as part of the Drama Festival and had an amazing time there seeing three hour long shows and walking through the city with the rest of the audience. It was a great experience seeing some really innovative shows and one I’m eager to repeat.

If you are a student here in Durham then I’d suggest attending the Refreshers Fair at the start of term (18th January) to find out about more about the societies available to join. The arts are very well represented here, from the Creative Writing Society and the Photography Society to choirs and orchestras.
During my time at Durham some of my most enjoyable evenings have been spent with the Creative Writing Society in lecture rooms and the student union writing and getting to know each other. If you haven’t already found a writing group, or a similar group for your own interest, I’d definitely recommend coming along to one of the societies and seeing what you think.

There are, of course, plenty of things to do and see over the next few weeks regardless of whether you are a student here. If you’re in the mood for musical entertainment you might want to attend a performance by Orchestra North East (29th January, Gala Durham) or attend a more unusual concert by a capella extraordinaires The Northern Lights (31st January, Gala Durham). For a more active experience, you could visit the Oriental Museum and take part in a workshop to make your own cup and saucer by hand (28th January, Oriental Museum).

For many of us 2016 couldn’t end too soon and I’m hopeful that this year will be both a more creative and more cheerful experience. As well as some more specific novel writing resolutions, one of my aims for the New Year is to make the most of everything there is to see and do here in Durham. In less than six months I’ll be leaving the city after three years here and I plan to make the most of every minute. Stay tuned for more posts, coming soon, about my experience of the arts here in Durham!

[Originally written for publication on Arts Award Voice at ArtsAwardVoice.Com]