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I’m disappearing November 25, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Breaking the fourth wall, Uncategorized.
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…until Sunday.  Impromptu road trip.  It’s going to be a really busy week after that too, so if you don’t hear from me for a while, I’m either in France or I’m feverishly chasing deadlines.

Have a good week.

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It’s official November 19, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Craftiness, Durham, Knitting, Sheer bloody-mindedness.
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I went into a shop on Wednesday and they were playing standard Christmas music.  I can’t pretend it’s not happening any more, and that can only mean one thing: Christmas knitting.  Oh yes.  There’s a lot of it: I have mittens planned, and a hat, and more socks than you can shake a stick at.  And possibly a scarf but it’s looking more and more like that one might be finished by Easter.  Either way, I will almost certainly still be knitting at 11pm on Christmas Eve.  (Like last year, in fact.)  There will definitely be some Morstan mittens, because they’re new and shiny and snuggly and I loff them and they’re so darned quick to knit.

It’s got to the stage of term where I really want to go home, now.  It’s been a bit of a week of it, all things considered: I’ve been up til half past two twice, both times unrelated to actual work, I’ve had my ritual mid-term meltdown where everything gets so overwhelming and I spend about thirty-six hours basically hiding.  Now I just miss my mum.  There’s a possibility of going home for a few hours next week on the way back from a brief trip to France (!) and I’m really looking forward to the idea.

In the meantime, though, it feels like it’s all uphill a bit at the moment.

Just a quick note, in the end, to let you know I’m still alive.  There will be more, and FO pictures (for yes, I have them!) as soon as I can coerce someone else into giving me a hand with a camera.

If you’re interested about how NaNoWriMo is going for me – I hit 30,000 words yesterday, so right on target.  Some of it’s a bit like pulling teeth, though.  I’ve never written 30,000 words before, it’s quite exciting.  Doesn’t feel that long, for sure.

On tuition fees and protests November 12, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Sheer bloody-mindedness, Uncategorized, University.
8 comments

I find, at the grand old age of twenty, that I am getting more and more conservative about the things I find important. My values can essentially be summed up in the two things my mother taught me: do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and that people can do whatever they like as long as it’s not hurting anyone and they don’t necessarily want me to join in.  Other than that, I seem to be developing a far less aggressively socialist approach to life than I used to have.

This is quite interesting.  I used to be very aggressively socialist.  I now feel bad, on an increasingly regular basis, for not being so.  The fact is, that sometimes I am embarassed to be a student, and sometimes I don’t like student protests.  I know Johann Hari Of The Independent Comment Column Fame says that protests are actually useful, even if we don’t think they are at the time, but personally I find Johann Hari self-righteous and irritating.  (This also appears to be a minority opinion.  Please don’t shoot me.)

There are two overarching clichés attached to students, and the first of these is a load of rowdy layabouts pissed out of their skulls and breaking things, and the second is a highly motivated but pathetically idealist group who will protest about the nearest thing and be fervently socialist until the moment they graduate, when they realise it was all an impossible dream, go away and work for big corporations.  Now I don’t like either of these stereotypes, but the fact is that they’re there, and the fact is that if you get 50,000 students together, they’re both going to come out of the woodwork and be the first thing used to demean everyone who takes part.

And then, when any one of those 50,000 steps a toe out of line, suddenly nobody between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five gets taken seriously any more.

I don’t like violence.  Quite frankly, if it’s used at all I’d rather it were used for something other than determining how many years you can afford to stay in the ivory tower for.  I am aware that is a very inflammatory way of putting it, and that it probably says a lot about me that I don’t like at all, but honestly, what with the state that everything is in at the moment, I think tuition fees are the least of our worries.

I also hate not being taken seriously.  Over the last year, I’ve been around while two protests have been going on: this, and the Union Society BNP Debacle of last year.  I think students protest too easily, and if they carry on like this, it’ll just be crying wolf.

The trouble for me is that when I talk about tuition fees, like when I talk about numerous other contentious topics, there is a little voice in my head at the end of every rationalising thing I say, and it goes, ‘but that doesn’t make it right!’ There is a lot that is wrong in this world, and as far as I’m concerned, not having lots of funding for education, research, and the arts, is one of them.  I would bloody love to live in a society with all those things, and I think it is the greatest shame that the budgets on them are being cut, and I feel on some level cheated because I didn’t ask for that, I didn’t want it and I didn’t vote for it.  Rather grudgingly right now, I value democracy more than all of those things, even though that doesn’t make it right!

It’s all so conflicting.  There are too many students.  There are not enough places.  There are not enough graduates.  There is not enough funding.  There are degree courses in Celebrity Media Studies, Criminology and Dance, and that course on Lady Gaga.  There are too many new applicants per job.  Poor students are missing out, rich students are having to work harder to prove they can actually work rather than get a degree off Daddy’s back, and we’re so out of line with Europe it’s not even funny.  I just want to scream, what do you want?! People are just pulling and pulling in every direction and the upshot of it all is that yes, if I’m honest with you, I would pay £9000 a year for the degree I’m getting.  And yes, I’d consider a Masters course on top of that.  And I would do it, and enjoy it, and I wouldn’t mind much more than I mind at the moment having to pay it back for the next few decades.

I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person.

Morstan Mittens November 10, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Breaking the fourth wall, Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, Lovely people, Patterns, Really good day.
2 comments

Named after Mary Morstan, the most well-gloved of Victorian ladies, and, if you like, the sidekick’s sidekick.  She was Dr Watson’s wife in the Sherlock Holmes stories.  Importantly, she was the inspiration for these:

They were published today in Winter Knitcircus – alongside quite a lot of very beautiful things that I am absolutely in awe of being associated with.  I highly recommend having a flick through.

They also come fingerless:

I’m so unbelievably chuffed with them – ever since the samples came back I’ve been wearing them non-stop.  I adore Manos Silk Blend (the green yarn in the fingerless mitts) and I’d love to design with it again.  The Ethical Twist from the mittens might be familiar to you as well – I used it in my Garden Cardigan over the summer, and the mittens are just as warm and snuggly as the cardigan is.  I’m wearing the cardigan a lot these days, too.

You can buy the pattern from Knitcircus magazine directly – either singly or with the whole Winter pattern collection.  So many pretty things.  Squee.

Morstan mittens on Ravelry:

All photos courtesy of Knitcircus.

Thoughts two days in November 2, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Breaking the fourth wall, Bwargh, Literature, NaNoWriMo, Sheer bloody-mindedness.
2 comments

1,667 words a day is difficult.

At first, everyone is telling you how the only way to do it is to ignore all the distractions, sit down and just write.  There is no secret, or rather, there is, and that’s it.  Then you all talk for a bit about how you’re all so KER-RAZY and insane to be trying to write 50,000 words in a month.  Then you tell each other how excited you are about your plot, and you identify in advance as a planner or a pantser.

I am a planner, incidentally.  A 34-point, 2000 word planner.  I have discovered that I use neither the Snowflake nor the Phase Method, and it seems to work for me.

And then it starts, and you start writing, and you look at what you’ve written in horror and then you look at all the people who’ve written ten thousand words in a day, and you envy them, and you tell everyone about how you really want to just delete everything you wrote and start again.

I don’t want to delete everything I wrote.  It’s the worst pile of crap I’ve written in a very long time, but I don’t want to get rid of it, because it’s not really that bad.  It’s in no way fit for public consumption, and I’d like to think it will be one day but that’s a long way into the future.

The worst thing about it so far is that I’ve known for a very long time that, objectively speaking, I’m not a particularly good writer.  I’m not going to get the Booker Prize, shall we say.  But I’ve never been bad by my own standards: I don’t care if nobody else wants to read what I write, there are hundreds of thousands of words of stories that I’ve written that nobody is ever going to read, but I look back at them every so often and they make me happy.  By my own standards and for my own benefit, I’m a pretty good writer.  So the worst thing about NaNoWriMo so far, two days in, is that I’ve never been scared of scrolling up before.  I’ve never been embarassed to reread anything I’ve written before.

I know the point is that you just write, just start at the beginning and plough on until the end, and don’t look at what’s gone before until the end, but honestly, the thing that’s making me recoil is not the actual writing – that’s really good fun, actually, and so therapeutic, just getting my internal story out and haphazardly written down – it’s that I don’t think I want to edit this.  I don’t think I ever want to see it again.

I’ve never felt like this about my writing before, and that’s really scary.  I don’t have a target audience at all, any more, because not even I would read what I’m writing this month.  It feels like I’ve lost my anchor, somehow.  Does that make sense?

Anyway, if I’d written this last 500 words of novel rather than of blog, I’d be past my target for today.  So that’s a bit depressing.

All encouragement gratefully received, but don’t be surprised if I go into ‘You weren’t there, man!’ mode for the next few days.

Unrelatedly, Woolly Wormhead mystery KAL this month!  The cast-on is so fiddly I haven’t got very far, but I’m looking forward to it because it looks like it’s going to be beautiful.  And it has lace and cables and twisted stitches and yay.  So something at least is going well this month.