I Decided to Write a Book

Now obviously, this wasn’t some high impulse spur of the moment type decision. I’ve been writing since I was 13, and I would like to think that, what started off as super cringy incoherent fan fiction has blossomed over the years into a semi-passable skill. My focus is mostly on poetry and screenplays nowadays (A film degree combined with art school will do that to you) but as you’ve probably seen by the backlog of short stories and shitty poems I’ve posted on here this will not be the first time I’ve tangled with regular ole’ written prose.

so what made me decide to do this? the answer is very simple NaNoWriMo (the National Novel Writing Month for all you casuals out there) made me decide to do this. For those of you who may be unaware NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge held every year in November, where writers attempt to complete 50,000 words in 30 days. which in my opinion is a completely insane undertaking but, one that is wholly commendable, if you actually manage to do it. I’d seen it floating around in my teen years on various writing sites and was curious, but ultimately too much of an uncommitted pussy to actually give it a go myself. Cue, one youtube video of someone else doing it (and finishing) and one super awesome story idea made from two previously incomplete works of mine that I managed to Frankenstein together in a dream. and you got yourself a gal that is finally ready to take a crack at it.

But, and this is a big butt, November is several months away still and I am way too impatient to wait that long. so I came up with the idea of doing my own unofficial version starting from today (17th June – 17th July). Same rules and the same concept, just… not in November and without all the official (and really cool) NaNoWriMo shizz.

I’m going to be treating it as kind of like a dry run for the real thing, which I will also be doing this year. Partly, because I’m super pumped about this idea and, partly because I would appreciate the ego boost if I actually pulled it off.

I will be sure to post updates of Word counts everyday. but probably not full blown written updates. I’ll probably do those like every week-ish.

Wish me luck!

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The Ballad of Meera

On the Lavender shore of a faraway land

a beautiful maiden was carved from the sand.

she had seashell eyes and driftwood hands,

seaweed for hair and a sunbleached tan.

with a voice like fine whiskey

so lovely was she

The beautiful Meera birthed by the sea.

she would sing all day

and weep all night

for her life in the sea just didn’t feel right

Meera longed to be human

to be of flesh and of bone

to step foot on land

and abandon her home

so she swam to the shore, steadied her breath

climbed onto the pier to take her first steps

almost right away she struggled and stumbled

her driftwood hands cracked

and sandy legs crumbled

the rest of her body was beginning to crack

and with all the strength she could manage

she pulled herself back

back to the ocean, back to her home

as she came to realise she couldn’t do it alone

no, she’d need a new body

one of flesh and of bone

for every night onwards as she passed sailing ships

she’d catch sailor’s eyes with a song on her lips

one by one they would fall to their graves

minds scrambled beyond reason, their bodies her slaves

with every new victim, she’d remove their sin.

she finally had a body

to walk around in.

 

Fifty Shades of Why: A Student’s Absurd Journey Into the World of Fifty Shades of Grey (Part 3)

I did it! I watched the film. Well, to be more accurate I watched 23 minutes of the film and then had to stop because I just couldn’t handle it. On the bright side officially what I have seen of the film now surpasses what I have read of the book, don’t know if that’s a good thing.

Anyhoo, after making it not even a half hour in, I moved to unplug my TV and ignore Fifty Shades’ existence for the preceding three days. I took me really mulling over what I’d seen before I could bring myself to watch it in its entirety.

I mean it’s still not a great story, but to the film’s credit, it is a lot better than the books. For one thing, the colour grading is phenomenal, and it is shot really well. Like the super high angle shot of Christian’s office building with little Anastasia barely taking up the bottom corner of the frame was absolutely breathtaking. Also Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan while initially lacking a little in chemistry both turn out surprisingly good performances and work quite nicely together. Johnson’s performance was especially worthy of praise, seeing as Anastasia is as dull as fucking ditch water. Yeah. Not a lot to work with for her.

Don’t get me wrong the story is still questionable and the dialogue is a bit cringe in places, as is the acting, ahem, the scene with the toast. But I was thoroughly surprised by the film version and how…not shit it was as a film and as an adaptation, so far, because I’m still on chapter four! it seems pretty solid.

Now that I have straddled this initial hurdle, the real fun begins as I play the electronic archaeologist, sifting through the decades-deep backlog of journal articles and books. I truly am about to step into the breach

Fifty Shades of Why – A Student’s Absurd Journey Into the World of Fifty Shades of Grey (Part 2)

So…on this day at the butt crack of dawn (10am), after another restless night of sleep that may or may not have something to do with my burgeoning Splatoon addiction, The DVD finally arrived.

And in perhaps the most beautiful moment of poetic irony, it came soaring through my letterbox while I was on the crapper, a reflection of thoughts to come perhaps?

I haven’t carved out the necessary time to watch said DVD just yet, mostly due to the aforementioned Splatoon addiction, but I admit I do feel a sense of foreboding. I did however, manage to eke out a couple minutes from my obviously packed schedule to give some of the next chapter a listen. I made it to the introduction of Ana’s other dearest friend Jose who until this moment, where the plot called for a needless one-sided romantic entanglement, received no mention.

But it’s cool, not like he has a crush on her or anything that would be too clichéd, although the reader’s attempt at a Spanish-esque accent left a lot to be desired. Mostly, the desire to not be made wildly uncomfortable, because this character portrayal felt more than a little stereotypical and all too convenient as Jose and Ana’s fathers just so happened to serve in the same military unit. How fucking convenient. I can live with the idea of a friend having a crush, it happens, a lot. But the recently discovered family connection (they only found out after becoming friends at college) is just plain lazy.

Not to mention I sense a certain enigmatic businessman with grey eyes just might be at Ana’s friend’s super high-profile photography exhibition. Which I won’t mind so much, it’s romance…ish. Plot convenience is pretty much par for the course and something I can overlook, suspension of disbelief and all that.

Now, here is something that is going to surprise you. For all my bitching about how god damned awful Fifty Shades is, that is one point which will not be featuring in my essay. Indeed, I can’t let my own personal judgements cloud my analysis. Instead I’m actually going to talk about how the series, specifically because it was so commercially successful, and regardless of whether or not the average person thinks it’s good or not, it opened a window into a community very far removed from everyday life and did a lot to remove the taboo surrounding erotic cinema and eroticism in general. And that is quite the feat.

To be honest I’ve found so many interesting articles and journals, and books on the subject I’m finding it hard to stick with one clear narrative, but what I’ve written above I feel pretty good about it so far. Planning on actually watching it tomorrow, assuming Splatoon doesn’t lure me away again. Wish me luck!

Fifty Shades of Why: A Student’s Absurd Journey Into The World of Fifty Shades of Grey (Part 1)

Not going to lie, when this book series first came out I was both too young and too disinterested in anything that wasn’t a murder mystery, for it to even register as a blip on my radar. Then, when I was finally old enough to acknowledge its existence, I just didn’t care.

Part of me still doesn’t.

But when a few weeks ago, my screen studies lecturer showed a clip from “Fifty Shades of Grey” on our way out, for the sole purpose of seeing if anyone had the balls to write an analytical essay about it.  I took it as a challenge. One little problem though. I’ve never seen “Fifty Shades of Grey”, in fact, I spent all of my time from when the film first came out straight up denying it even existed. But, of course, writing an essay where you have to apply film theory through your chosen film’s reception and context of production (fun title right?) without actually having seen said film is impossible.

Then one of my friends casually mentioned that, for context purposes, I would probably have to take a look at the source material too.

So, I now find myself having to both read and watch, Fifty Shades of Grey for the first time in my newly adult life. At this thought I did find myself questioning how far I was actually willing to go, for something that amounts to nothing more than shits and giggles.

But as thoughts of surrender crept into my mind, I became spurred on by the rather amusing image of my lecturer A) Having to read an analytical essay about fifty shades of grey and B) Having to mark it seriously. Why the very fabric of time and space may tear itself in half. As might my lecturer, and that would be a sight!

So, my determination to write this fucking essay set in stone, I set about trying to track down my source material.

Which takes us to Saturday last, where in lieu of being able to acquire the book or DVD for free. I found myself in the cold and rain with my boyfriend, trawling my towns many, many charity shops looking for these damned things. Because I decided to myself, if I did have to pay for them, I didn’t want to pay much. We checked every single one and there was nothing. Not even a whiff of either item anywhere!

Slightly dejected, it took me a couple hours of drowning my sorrows in Pringles and chocolate, before I came up with the brilliant idea of stealing (see: temporarily borrowing) my mum’s audible account. That way I could just listen to the book when I’m walking to class, or anywhere really, as journeying to and from places from my house consists of a lot of walking.

While my plan didn’t quite work out the way I intended, a cheeky 30-day audio book trial was my saviour, until I tried to download the book and saw a rather disturbing 19 hours 45 minutes at the top… ‘Shitting hell’ I thought to myself as I came to realise that by the time I’d finish listening to this behemoth, I will have wasted more than a whole day of my waking life on this thing.

But like the determined little shit I am, I soldiered on and determinedly pressed play on the first chapter and wow! It was certainly something.

Incidentally the first chapter was about all I managed. Anything more than that and tiny little bits of brain may have started dribbling out of my ears. The pacing was odd, which when reading it can be looked over, but when it’s being read to you it is so glaring and so distracting it’s hard to listen to more than a single chapter a day. Locations and characters were described in overly specific detail. For instance Anastasia’s friend Kate didn’t just lend her a sleek Mercedes, which as the audience is all we need to know, Mercedes = fancy, we get it. No! we had to also be told the specific make and model which, unless you are a car enthusiast, means jack all to the everyday reader.

Other things that bugged me were the buildings, particularly Christian Grey’s office building, although the hardware store and Anastasia’s apartment are also contenders. I mean once you’ve described that the building is made of glass, metal, and white sandstone you do not have to repeat that exact same description on every single floor and every single room we enter afterwards. And if it is truly as cold, straight-edged and uniformed, as we are told can it really be described as “an architect’s wet dream”?

Other things I found jarring was the odd metaphors (for anyone who has read the book a reference to the communist manifesto comes to mind), as well as strange observations, made by the main character. My personal favourite being, that at a glance she was able to tell there were precisely 36 mosaics on Christians office wall.

Then, of course, there was the use of vocabulary way too sophisticated for the story that was being told, which if consistent I could forgive, but instead it just crops up randomly in Anastasia’s internal monologue with absolutely no rhyme or reason. I guess you could argue that Anastasia being an English lit major on the verge of graduating would justify her use of the words equilibrium, besieged and utilitarian (along with many others). But as her common lexicon is established early on, which is perfectly acceptable when writing popular fiction, it just feels out of place.

I am sad to report that after seven whole days I have only made it to chapter four. So we’ll see if it picks up in any area.

As for the film… well! Having had no luck with finding the DVD either, I resorted to ordering it on Amazon for the super high price of 1p. I got the email today happily declaring that it has been dispatched and is due to arrive any day now. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts once I’ve watched it, but even with my first few tentative steps into this universe, it’s shaping up to be a very questionable experience.

Tape

Ring of God

Stuck all on me

pulling at my pieces

so desperately.

 

I had a good day

then a bad day, okay,

The worst day,

whatever.

Now I need more tape

to stick me back together

 

soon I will have tape instead of skin

instead of fingers,

instead of toes,

I will use string for my joints

my eyes, lips, and nose

 

I’ll have so many new movements

I could sit, stand or twirl,

i’ll be the shiny new toy

your Sellotape girl.

I Grieve

All of today I couldn’t stop thinking about you. you’re always there, sitting in some distant corner of my mind but, today, you were front and centre.

I’d read about what happened to you in the newspaper. Your picture sat, out of focus, in the bottom corner of the 3rd page. A small headline crowned it, followed by a four-line article. “Body of local teen found drowned in river” my mum had it spread wide open on the table, carefully clipping coupons from the adjacent pages. I had just come down for breakfast still in my pyjamas.

I glanced over her shoulder scanning the article ‘Body found at the mouth of the Seven Sisters river confirmed to be that of 17-year-old Michael Olivier. He was discovered in the early hours of Tuesday morning by a young couple walking their dog. There is no further information at this time.’

“A terrible thing isn’t it? He was your age,” she spoke with the distant concern most people had upon hearing of a stranger’s death. I nodded, silent. Something sat stone heavy in the pit of my stomach and as I seated myself opposite my mother, nibbling half-heartedly at a slice of toast, it only seemed to tighten.

People talked about you that day at school. You didn’t go there. Your school was on the other side of town, but everyone knew someone, who knew someone that went there and something this big got talked about everywhere.

There was a lot of speculation. In English the teacher was called out to deal with a problem child and my classmates, few in number though they were, launched a massive debate over whether it was an accident or suicide. Most people thought suicide, they said that drugs were involved, a poor home life, the death of a family member. I could relate to that, my brother had died two years before.

The picture that they were posthumously painting of you wasn’t the prettiest.

When Andi the girl who sits next to me asked what I thought I just shrugged and said to her in my soft quiet way “there’s no way to know really,” although inside, I was hoping you had never been in the level of pain required to take your own life. Which left accident. Of course, there was the ever ubiquitous third scenario. But, that was seen as too much of a distant impossibility to even be considered.

You influenced a lot about that school day. Our weekly assembly was about coping with death, and how it’s important to talk to someone and not hold anything in. That was because of you, I don’t doubt the people in that room were indeed saddened by your death, though as I gazed at the sea of faces they looked about as grief stricken as my mother had that morning.

On the solitary walk home, my thoughts were occupied by you. I looked at the wood around me, which I walked through every day, and wondered if you had ever walked through here too. Maybe I’d seen you and never known it. Had you felt the sunshine on your skin, dappled through the deep green tree canopy. Did you even like the sunshine? Had you ever tripped over the exposed roots of the oak trees like I had? Maybe you stumbled home through here in the dark as a shortcut after a night out. Maybe that’s what you were doing the night before they found your body, grey and lifeless in the river.

I had to stop, the sensation in my stomach rose up in a crippling wave of nausea leaving me doubled over and fighting for breath. I slammed my hand into the rough bark of the tree I leant against. Desperate to feel something other than this. I managed to scrape off a layer of skin, small pin pricks of blood appeared on my palm.

I told my mum I tripped on a paving stone.

Another article appeared the next week. Front page this time. I saw the horror on my mother’s face first, the headline proudly announced ‘NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN TEEN DROWNING’ it was a large article, covering nearly the entire front page and I remember almost none of it. The two words that stuck for me were the ones I feared of reading for you.

There was a call for any information, witnesses and the like. I hoped for your sake, they got something.

I muttered I wasn’t feeling well and, retreating back to my bedroom, I drew my curtains and hid under the covers where I choked my cries down with a pillow and washed the running makeup from my face with the fur of my favourite stuffed animal.

Later that night after mustering up the courage to emerge from my cave I logged into Facebook only to be met by a barrage of posts about you. Other, more far-reaching newspapers had picked up the story. People had shared them and they came up in my recommended page. A memorial page had been set up for you, lots of people sharing their condolences and concern. Your older sister made a statement thanking everyone and asking for privacy she was the only person who actually knew you that did this. It was, on a certain level, touching. But I found myself getting increasingly sadder every time I logged on. It would eat me up until I was left sobbing on my bedroom floor.

You. A perfect stranger had gotten to me.

I couldn’t find anyone aside from your sister that knew you personally. No mother, no father, no girlfriend or boyfriend. A fist lodged itself in my throat when I realised, that you had never known that kind of love. I had never known it either, but my clock was still ticking, I had a lifetime to experience what you never could.

I wished for you, more than ever, to be alive. It confused me, why I felt like this. I couldn’t be grieving; you can’t grieve someone you’ve never known. But that’s what I was doing.

I waited for more information every day, desperate to know what had happened to you. If you’d suffered. Maybe you were at peace now. I didn’t believe in any God, or a heaven. But for you I wanted to. For you, I did.

They never found who did it. No more was ever known about you or what happened. You know, you’d be my brother’s age now.

I think about you and your sister. And while it is the nature of people to forget I still remember you. But this is the last day, I can’t do it anymore, after today I won’t remember you.

So I wanted to write this. I wanted to say goodbye.