Emma is currently...

  • Addicted to: Fruit and nut mix
  • Listening to: Band of Joy - Robert Plant
  • Reading: Naples '44 - Norman Lewis

Thursday, 27 May 2010

I don't need no good advice.

It's a bit strange: people keep giving me advice that most people would love to hear, and yet I am incapable of following it.

My mother: "You need to do less revision and have more fun!"

My doctor: "You need to eat for England and put on half a stone!"

I know what you're thinking: "Are you crazy? You've just been given a legitimate reason to slack off and eat like a pig!" So why can't I do it? The answer is that I can't help it. I'm a neurotic freak. I can't have fun with my friends if I think there is work I should be doing, and I have an irrational fear of putting on even a single pound. I suppose I just like to control things.

We often say that our gang at university is a bit like the cast of a sitcom, I think mainly because there have been so many love triangles and dramas amongst us. In this sitcom I would be the 'the neurotic one'. Before I go to sleep I often make a list of things I need to do the next day, to stop myself from worrying about them. These lists often start: "8am: wake up. 8:15am: eat breakfast."

Don't laugh. The great thing about starting your to-do list with "wake up" is that, unless you die in your sleep, you will always manage to complete the first thing on your list. After that you are unstoppable.

Anyway, moving on. Yesterday I was doing some revision for my Seventeenth Century exam, and I stumbled upon a passing reference to a woman in an article I was reading. Although she was only briefly mentioned, this mention leapt off the page at me. She seemed like an incredibly fascinating person, and her life story was both very cool and very, very tragic. It stuck me that she could be the main character in a really good novel. I tried to find out some more about her, but there's barely anything on her. She's an enigma. Sadly, I don't think I'll ever be brave enough to be able to write a historical novel: not only would I find it near impossible to replicate seventeenth-century dress, manners, culture, speech etc. without being laughed at by historians everywhere, I just can't get into the head of an overweight fifty-year-old widow (for that is what she was). So the novel will never be written. But I'm not going to tell you anything more about the woman, just in case I do decide to tackle her story one day. I don't want you to steal my amazing idea, you scoundrel you.

I have completely gone off the idea I had for The Novel. It had absolutely no substance. I'm thinking of sticking to what I know and writing a novel about a university student, set entirely in the university library. At night. Sounds dull, doesn't it? I was thinking of making it kind of supernatural-psychological-magic-realism...y. With lots of sarcasm and humour, since that seems to be my trademark. I don't know though. The trouble is that once you publish a certain kind of novel, you have to be consistent. That's why I couldn't write a historical novel. I might be able to get away with it once... But then I'd have to do it again, and again! I can't keep up the sham of knowing stuff about history for that long! I know jack all about history!

One last thing. In times of darkness and revision, a little comic relief is always helpful. I decided to read through some of my very first novel, which I wrote when I was about thirteen. It's your typical "adventurer gathers together party of mages, warriors and rogues and travels across generic medieval fantasy land to defeat evil overlord" story. My heroine meets a Hot Guy, finds out Hot Guy is actually the son of Evil Overlord, and then defeats them both using the powers of LOVE and FRIENDSHIP, which are harnessed by (I kid you not) holding hands with her friends Captain Planet style. I practically wet myself laughing. Here's an extract so that you can wet yourself laughing too.

The man continued. “We both have power…you and me…think what a team we would make! We could conquer – we could control everything! You and me, and our powers…think…”

I rolled my eyes. “Please, have some self-respect.”

He said nothing, only carried on staring, pleading. I pointed a finger at him, and he flinched as if I had hit him with a physical force. “Take hold of my arm,” I instructed to the girls around me, and felt four hands clamp around my outstretched arm without question. I took a deep breath and grinned as the magic exploded inside of me, and I felt this tingling energy rush from them to me through their hands, where it was building up inside of me, simmering and burning like a star, getting greater and greater, overwhelming. I began to deliver my final speech.

“You are nothing but evil, greedy and power-hungry; this house is far more than your vile family ever deserved for the things you did. Yet instead of accepting this great kindness, you continued in your evil, ungrateful, destructive ways, lying and cheating and deceiving innocent people to help you achieve your selfish goal – but of course, you will not achieve it. I suppose you thought you were very clever, preying on young girls and risking their lives so that they could do your dirty work for you, but unfortunately for you you picked entirely the wrong girl. I would never be on your side, or help you, or even spare your pathetic life; the only thing you deserve is to be destroyed. You will be missed by no one.”

From the passionate terror welling up in his eyes, I could tell that he could feel the intense force of magic building up inside of me as well. He scrambled back up the steps, keeling over his throne, clammy hands gripping onto the wood and he begged with me silently and audibly to save him.

“Please…” he began an a quivering voice, “my son is a Protector, and I am…you can’t…”

It was time. “Goodbye,” I said, and then the power erupted.

With a mighty roar like a thousand raging thunderstorms colliding in the sky the blinding light surged from every inch of every one of us and exploded from my hand, not letting a single corner of the room escape from its burning fury, hitting everything in its path with the force of a gale or a crashing tidal wave, formidable bursts of magic coming again and again, tearing through everything in the room with unbridled wrath. I heard the man’s short but agonizing wail through the ear splitting roar as the magic blew him to millions of pieces, and I felt the power slice into the ceiling of the house and tear apart the rafters with a groan, crashing through into the sky above, even penetrating the very clouds. This destructive power was flooding into me through my feet, and it was as if I was sucking it from every inch of the room and then unleashing it through my hand as a golden onslaught that was a million times more devastating. Though I could not see through the overwhelming light I knew that the house was collapsing around us, and I felt splinters rain down on my head, heard china and glass shattering, walls crumbling, wood bursting into flames – crackling and crashing and splintering and groaning and screaming filled my head, but I knew that there was nothing to be scared of as we continued to blast the evil place, purging it of everything worth destroying.


And if I am now a competent writer (I like to think I am - I hope that's not arrogant) then there's hope for anyone!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The many ways to avoid revision.

It's really amazing, the things you can find to occupy yourself with when you have lots and lots of revision to do. These things include:

  • Going out to M&S to buy 'revision fuel'. Returning with half the store. Inviting people around to eat all the food you have bought, since it is far too much for one person.
  • Going out for a 'quick coffee' with a friend. Returning with shimmery hairspray, tanning moisturiser, bathroom cleaning products and 24 felt tip pens in various colours (why?).
  • Watching an awful movie called 'Ninja Assassin' which involves every Chinese/Japanese stereotype you can possibly think of, all rolled together with some awful scriptwriting and industrial amounts of red poster paint ("blood").
  • Actually talking to your parents.
  • Actually doing the washing up.
  • Bouncing on your bed with your housemates and attempting to take photos of yourself striking poses mid-air.
  • Baking a GIANT cake that is the exact same size, and decorated exactly the same, as your Romanticism anthology. This included painting on the front cover in food colouring, and took us about 3 and a half hours. Our justification was that it was for a friend's birthday. We didn't even get to eat it though, because when we took it to our friend's party in a local bar, they didn't have any knives to cut it with. "We're not allowed to keep knives behind the bar," the girl told us. "If you want to bring your own in though, that's fine." You what?
  • Taking up running. Yes, I have become a runner. My first run was a bit of a fail: I went out and returned home an hour later sweaty and exhausted, having pulled every muscle in my body, wearing no shoes and socks covered in blood. No, I didn't get my shoes torn viciously from my feet by a pack of enraged foxes. The shoes cut into my feet, so that I had to take them off and limp home. I also think I swallowed several flies. However, I went out and purchased a pair of disturbingly expensive Nike running shoes, which means that I now have to go running to offset the cost.
  • Designing an elaborate door sign with my name on it, in swirly letters with chalk pastels and gold leaf, then deciding after two hours that it's rubbish and throwing it away.
  • Fake tanning. It can take a surprising amount of time.
  • Shoe shopping. Enough said.
This is all I can think of for now. However, I'm sure over the next few days I will discover many new forms of procrastination, so I'll be sure to fill you in.

Might I add that revision is killing me? At least with an essay you have a word count to work towards, and once you've hit it and polished your essay to a good standard you can relax. With revision there is always more you can do. And it's not even interesting, because it's stuff you have learnt already and just forgot. I love Great Expectations but reading it for the third time, Mr Dickens' jokes are starting to get a little tired.

I think my cat has noticed my distress, and this morning tried to console me by bringing me a dead bird and sneezing its feathers all over the dining room. It was not appreciated.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Odd Moddities

  1. Two of my housemates are now going out. It takes a bit of getting used to. We have gone from being the Single House to the Half Single House. Once upon a time, all eight of the people in our little gang were single. And then there were three... I am feeling so Bridget Jones right now. The other night the three of us got together to bemoan our sad, lonely, single lives. A meeting of the lonely hearts club. I am going to start watching weepy romantic movies in bed while stuffing my face with chocolate and crying quietly to myself. The last time I went on a date was three years ago.
  2. The other night I had a dream that I was the doctor on Embarrassing Bodies. My patient was a girl who was pregnant with a crocodile. I helped her deliver it. I am concerned for my mental health.
  3. I was on the bus the other day when one of my lecturers got on and sat in front of me. The other day he gave us an amazing lecture, which inspired me to write an essay on the topic he was talking about. He's in his twenties, is very tall and very thin, like...a massive toothbrush, has his hair gelled back, and wears giant spectacles, a brown velvet jacket and tweedy trousers that are too short for his sticky legs. He was reading a book and looked nervous. I realised I had a slight crush on him. I've always gone for geeks (well, more geek chic than actual geek) but you know the situation's desperate when you will transfer your need for affection onto almost anyone.
  4. I have completed my essays a week before the deadline, after spending all easter stressing about them, and am now so bored that I find myself voluntarily doing my housemates' washing up. The other day I made spaghetti bolognese from scratch. I am watching daytime repeats of Country House Rescue.
  5. Help me.