Ducks in a Row; 0th Week Begins

Ducksinarow by moonpie dig itMy to-do list at the beginning of this week included editing and sending out two stories, writing another story from scratch and writing an article for which I’d conducted an interview. It also included seeing friends, spending time with my mother, figuring out how tumblr works and reading some books that don’t feel like school.

Then my cat got sick. TMI warning – it’s about to get graphic. He was peeing blood. It was pretty gruesome. It was like having a fat boy cat having a period and horrible cramps because damn, the poor little kitty was in pain. He’s doing better now, but he’s still too fat to wash himself properly and he still has some sad dry bloody patches around his nether regions.

I did, however, manage to get everything done, even while worrying that my cat was about to bite the dust at any moment (we weren’t sure at first whether he was going to be alright or not and my mom and I both tend to worry more than we probably need to. Pessimists have more fun and all). I have rather a history of getting shit done when people are close to biting the dust. WOO, LIFE EXPERIENCE, WOO.

Tomorrow I’m going to be leaving a country and arriving in another country yet again, and there’s nothing more I can say about it really, because the process becomes extraordinarily boring. Airport, security, flight, passport, airport, bus, Oxford. That will be that, hopefully, and tomorrow I’ll get to see some people I haven’t seen in forever.

Trinity term is going to be interesting. Finalists at Oxford are, from what I understand, almost 100% unavailable until after their exams are finished, and the colleges and their environs become quiet and studious places where the slightest peep after nightfall is an offense punishable by forceful glares. Fair enough, of course, but I wonder whether this will put me in the delightful position of feeling at home amongst an introverted and gloriously studious crowd or else will entirely alienate me as an outsider without the same exam-stress-vibe as the finalists are experiencing.

Towards the end of last term I’d already found a variety of different types of studiousness going around – there were the coffee-coffee-coffee types, the going-to-bed-at-sensible-hours-waking-up-at-sensible-hours-got-my-shit-together-smug types, the party-till-the-last-possible-second types and the clumping-together-for-comfort-and-warmth-in-the-library types. There were the I-cannot-have-friends-anymore types, the I-will-not-see-you-for-months-now-deal-with-it-kthxbi types, the I-actually-do-live-in-the-Bod-thanks-very-much types and the pfft-this-is-easy types. There were various combinations of these as well, because very often, I noticed, people switched between types throughout the last couple weeks of term.

It’s going to be interesting coming back and seeing how everyone’s holding up, whether everyone is surviving okay, and how many will need massages, chocolates, hugs or cheerleader dances of encouragement. I’m advertising myself now as a giver of all of these, so shout out if you’re in need.

 

PHOTO / moonpie dig it

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I Stopped Reading Big-Name-Authors’ Articles (to Save Myself a Soul Crushing)

WriterAnywayMy mother opened up the International Herald Tribune the other day and said “oh” in a fatalistic kind of way. “There’s an article by Scott Turow here.” Granted, I haven’t read any of his novels, but I know he’s one of those BIG NAMES that you see in BIG LETTERS on the covers of BOOKS. My mother is an incredibly fast reader, so she’d probably already skimmed a bit of the article by the time she’d let out her exhalation of a syllable, but when she further remarked that the piece seemed to be mostly about Amazon and the “state of authors today” I said immediately that I didn’t want to read it. I may have said it a bit forcefully. I may have also wanted to run screaming from the room in order to avoid contamination.

Here’s the thing. As a 22-year-old writer who is incredibly serious about her aspirations to remain one, I am fully aware of the state of the publishing world today. I know that Amazon is monopolizing the e-book market, not-so-slowly but ever-so-sure. I know that there are fewer and fewer BIG NAME PUBLISHERS in the market, because they’re all merging, buying each other out, and trying to stay afloat while more often than not paying their authors a pittance instead of working wages. I know that things are never going to be the same as they used to be.

I used to mourn it. I really did. For a while, I was even panicking. How will I be able to keep writing? How will I support myself? How will I ever make money? How will I ever survive? How will any young writer survive in this horrible, horrible world?!

But then I realised that I was falling prey to the fear-mongering. And I looked around me. And I took a deep breath. And I got over it.

The world is changing. But the written word is still prevalent. The format may be changing, the market may be changing, and the way business is happening may be changing. But the point is that people are still reading, and writers are still writing, and art is still happening everywhere. Some things are worth fighting for – equal rights for women, for the LGBTQ community, for instance (still not a thing in too many parts of the western world, let alone the rest of it) – but fighting to maintain a certain kind of business model for a certain kind of profession that has been changing for as long as it has been around? I’d rather adapt, learn as I go along, and continue to write and communicate.

PHOTO / sbpoet

Juiced-up Jitterbug Jet-lag

People say that coming over one direction or the other is worse. Everyone’s an expert. I don’t know, man, I just know that I got it bad right now. Three flights over oceans or seas or what-have-you in a matter of less than two weeks, coming off the stress of an Oxonian term, plus a bus ride as long as a flight in the middle of that and no time to get over the first jet-lag because there was just too much to do in New York, and let me tell you – I’m seeing the world through zombie’s eyes.

My brother called me a jet-setter, and boy, did that stick in my craw. I tried to argue him out of thinking that, but once you get started arguing with my brother, you may as well count on being in for the long haul. I love that about him, though. He makes it seem like he knows everything about everything, and me, with my little sis hero-worship eyes, I sometimes forget that it isn’t so. I sometimes get so deep into some nonsense argument about the fashion industry – something neither of us, by the by, knows much of anything about – that I need to pause, breathe, and then remind myself and him that we’re both spouting bullshit. I’ve even encountered the rare occasion, lately, in which I was able to tell him flat out that he was just being contrary for the fun of it, to which he admitted readily, with that little grin that I can transpose onto his face at any age.

I’m not a jet-setter, let’s be clear about that. I may fly a lot, but it’s due to my peculiar circumstances. I’m lucky, yes, that both my mother and I have incredibly simple needs and desires outside of our traveling. Or maybe it’s not luck at all, maybe I’m reared the way I am because I always knew that purse strings need to be pretty tight in order to be able to fund all this necessary international travel.

I’ve never been further into the real South than Arlington, Virginia, which is technically below the Mason-Dixon line, so it kind of counts, but my jet-lagged fingers are typing out this mildly Southern accent in my head and probably doing it all wrong. A fourth flight is coming up soon, and everything starts a-winding down then. A scary thought, that is. A real terror, truly. The next year and more are laid out in front of me and let me tell you, that rose path of a red carpet is nettled with thorns. I’m barefoot, you know. But I’ve got calluses this thick from all the walking I do. It’ll all be alright, honey. Yes it will.