Tuesday, 21 December 2010

So much to do, so little time!!

stressed-out As it turns out I picked the best – and the worst – time of year to get a job. Best because it’s the priciest time of year, not only for gifts for Christmas but also because I’ve had to buy snow boots (the irony being that they won’t arrive any time soon because of the snow) and I’m having to think about a new coat that doesn’t just soak up the cold and wet. Worst because I’ve got about a gazillion things to do before Christmas and another gazillion to do before New Year. Made worse by the fact that I was going to get loads done this weekend, but snow ruined everything! I couldn’t meet my friends for present delivery, so that’s something to do this week. Then I spent three and a half hours trying to get home from Harrow on Saturday. It’s normally a 25minute journey!! We decided that as it wasn’t snowing, we’d go to get most of the food. Next thing we know – blizzard. Still, got a lot of reading done in those three and a half hours. Even if I couldn’t feel my fingers by the time I got home.

And I also have to work Christmas Eve, which I sort of don’t mind because I can go once the last person has been seen. There are no appointments available after 1pm so even if I’m there till the last appointment, it’s not too late. The problem I have is that I’m doing a late on Thursday and last Thursday I finished an hour later than I was supposed to. If that happens again and there’s travel chaos, I’m not going to get home until very late and I’ll have to be out at 6:30am the next day to get in on time. I also haven’t seen hide nor hair of a contract and no one seems bothered about asking for my bank details. I hate having to ask about that stuff because I can see how busy everyone is and I feel like I’m worrying them. But I’m going to have to ask today because it’s getting daft now. And I really would like to be paid at the end of the month.

And finally! My internet started playing up last night which somehow – don’t ask me how! – led to iPlayer deleting every download that I attempted to play. So I’ve lost the last episode of Live at the Apollo and the last two episodes of Holby City. No great loss I hear you cry – but it’s my guilty pleasure and I wanted to see the lead up to the great Connie Beauchamp’s departure!

To sum up: I am feeling very stressed right now. I can’t even think about that short story competition that I wanted to enter.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

So this is my job.

Yesterday I had my first day working the reception solo. It was an evening shift and it was relatively quiet so that was good to ease me in. I think I did ok, I haven’t had any phone calls today to say I managed to totally screw up the system yesterday. I take it that’s a good sign? There’s a couple of things I need to go over again but otherwise I should be ok. I admit I was really nervous. But practice makes perfect!

It was pretty slow, so I will be certain to keep a notebook with me so that I can write once I’ve got everything I need to do done on the quiet days. I’m no shirker, but once I’ve prepped for the next day and there’s no one waiting, no tidying or faxing to be done, it makes sense to occupy myself. I think I’ll work on some short stories and reviews until the end of the year.

I am so grateful for this job and the freedom I suddenly have. I can give cash to charities which I like to do at Christmas, especially now that I’ve been blessed with some good fortune, it’s good to pass it on. I also got a thrill when I spotted something so perfect for the Pal and knew I could get it for him. I also treated myself too, to some clothes that I could also wear to work.

And now that I can stop worrying about finding a job and having enough money in my savings to dodge the dole, I can think about other things. Pray silence for the Things to Do Before the New Year list:

  • Clear out wardrobe, give clothes to charity.
  • Clear out bookshelves, give books to charity.
  • Sort out the files under the bed.
  • Sort out this year’s bank statements.
  • Sort out a writing/running schedule for the New Year.
  • Sort out make-up, throw away old/unused stuff.
  • Type up handwritten notes.
  • Clear up computer, documents, photos, emails.

This is a yearly list. I like to start the New Year fresh, with the decks totally cleared. Everything I don’t want or don’t use anymore is either recycled or given to charity, I try not to throw things away if I can help it.

Friday is my day off so I’ll start then. This weekend is mad busy, can you believe it’s the last one before Christmas? Vulpes Libris will be on hiatus from this Sunday until the New Year, so I’ve also got plenty of time to put together some reviews. And as I’ve already sorted my outfit for the New Year, there are no more worlds to conquer! So roll on 2011!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The girl got a job.

Happiness_1 So remember my “inspirational” post yesterday wherein I said that I was certain that 2011 was going to be great? Turns out I’m a touch more psychic than I thought because guess who just got offered a job?

I had an interview on Tuesday for the role of part-time receptionist at a private clinic. I didn’t mention it because I didn’t want to jinx it, even though I came out feeling that I had got it. I tried not to dwell on that and I didn’t mention it to anyone because well, you don’t want to look an idiot if you don’t get it. But I did, as of about an hour ago. Good money, good job and because it’s part-time I can still write and I fully intend to put myself about (um, publishing-wise that is).

This is just the early Christmas present I needed. I’m very glad that I didn’t go back to the Job Centre, although I told myself that I’d have to in the New Year, funds not being what they were a few months ago. So this is well-timed. I feel really good about this job and I intend to celebrate this weekend by dipping into my savings one more time. Well, I’ve got to have a work wardrobe, haven’t I? And an outfit for New Year wouldn’t hurt, would it? After all I am ushering in a great year!

So to those of you that are out of work and feeling a bit rubbish – keep your chins up! I know that is the hardest thing you can do right now, but if you do remain positive, you’ll write better applications, you’ll come over better in interviews. And remember – it’s impossible that you’re going to be in this situation forever. Every no is just taking you closer to that yes. And I know that this isn’t my dream job, but it’s keeping me going while I work towards my overall goal. It’s good to see the bigger picture, but it’s also worthwhile thinking about the brushstrokes, the steps between you and your dream.

I should probably point out that this blog isn’t about finding a job anymore. But I’m going to keep writing – about trying to get published and working towards the dream goal. Life is still full of challenges!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The girl gets inspired.

london-2009 I have just received the January edition of Zest magazine (I’ve got a subscription) and it’s brimming with inspiration for change in 2011. I am determined that 2011 will be fantastic, in fact I have a feeling that it will be. I had such a feeling about 2009 and I was right (well, apart from the last couple of months when I had my very first taste of unemployment). I had a feeling that 2010 wouldn’t be great and I was right again, it’s been mainly about managing disappointment. Which is a good lesson to learn actually, so it’s not been a wasted time.

But now I’m feeling much better, the job search is well underway and I can only receive so many no’s before I get a yes. And the writing is going well, I’m still plugging away which counts for something! You can’t publish something if you don’t write it after all.

This year has not been the greatest, unemployment and terrible jobs being the main reason. But we’ve also had our fair share of bad news. Sometimes you have a bad year, when everything that can go wrong in your family seems too, all at once. So I’m ready to let this year go in a few weeks time and only remember the fun times I had (yes, I did have some!)

But next year will be better. I have decided it. I don’t have any control over the bad news days, but I do have control over the things that can make me happy. It’s really easy to feel useless – after all, if I keep getting turned down for jobs there’s got to be a reason, right? And that reason must be that I’m useless, mustn’t it? Well, no actually. I know full well I’m not useless and I hate falling under that spell because that gets me nowhere except to the bottom of a large box of chocolates. The only way out of the hole is to climb out myself, no one’s going to throw me a ladder. And I spend so much time worrying about whether I can afford to go out, whether I can afford to have dinner with friends that life becomes unendingly dreary and sorry, but that’s not my bag.

So bring on 2011! I have great plans for you. And in case you’re wondering where I’m getting my sudden zeal from, check out Zest magazine and also check out some of these inspirational ladies: Natural Beautee, A Beautiful Mess, Skunkboy Creatures and The Bothered Owl.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Best laid plans…

tube-strike163844 So, remember me mentioning that I had an interview today? Yeah, well, that’s not going to happen. Firstly I had zero sleep last night (thanks insomnia) but I was up and all set to get ready to go when I watched the news. Strikes were affecting all my travel options and I caught something about delays due to weather. So I rang TFL for travel advice and basically, it was going to be a nightmare.
Did I really want all that for a job that I didn’t even really want? Ok, so I’m pretty desperate for cash (my savings are a-dwindling) but this was only ever going to be very occasional work. So I decided not to risk catching cold while waiting for rail replacement buses and being sneezed on by some random bloke who is standing on my feet (true story – he sneezed right into my parting). I really have too much on this week to get ill!
But today is not going to be wasted. I’m off to buy wrapping paper, pick up a Metro for the job section, then I’m going to tear through some job applications and get a few other things done. At some point today, with any luck, I’ll also feel warm.
But it is not all rubbish news! Merlin was incredible this weekend, I had a good night out and Vulpes Libris had a mention in The Guardian. Woo! Speaking of VL, got two reviews up this week (Tuesday and Friday) so check them out!
In other news, I’m living with the Grinch. Only don’t tell her I said that. Also, my weakness for boys in bands with guitars is approaching legendary proportions.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

About! TURN!

So, you know that new novel I’ve been kicking about for a while now? Well, let’s put that to one side for a moment, shall we?

There I was, chilling out in the bath last night, minding my own business and then bang – it hit me. Novel Number 1 is not finished. If I’m honest, when I saved it for the last time under the defiant title “FINAL DRAFT!” I sort of had a niggling feeling that it wasn’t finished. But I’d had enough of it by that point. I was sick to death of editing. And I honestly couldn’t think what it was that was niggling at me, what needed to be changed.

But it hit me last night and I wanted to leap out of the bath and get editing. I wanted to stay up all night to sketch in this big change. But I didn’t, mainly because the fire was off and we have no heating. And I was really tired. So while I got dressed, brushed my hair, washed my face, brushed my teeth, it was all going mad in my head.

So today I sat down and I sketched in that big change. I adapted the scenes that needed adapting, changed the names that now needed changing. It’s basically all there now (and 2,500 words shorter! Wimper) but I do need to get on with the fine detail editing. That could take two week’s hard work.

I’m not looking forward to it. I quite enjoy editing short stories because you can lay the whole thing out before you and it’s so easy to find things, check things. A novel is not quite so manageable. But I know it’s going to be worth it.

I’m going to be able to put the niggling feeling to bed and I’m finally going to feel like it’s finished and I can stop playing with it. And I’ll finally feel free to work on my next novel.

So I’m psyched up for this. I really am. Can’t wait to get started on it.

But first I’m going out to see Harry Potter. Byee!!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

One of those days.

The library was utterly DEVOID of what I wanted.

William Boyd?


Ken Follett?

Um, only one of his.

Charles Nicholl?


This is deeply unfair and unjust. How can you put Boyd and Follett on TV and not carry them in the library?? And don’t you know it’s Shakespeare week on Vulpes Libris?? So give me Charles Nicholl!!

Yes, I was a tad annoyed by that, but I still managed to find seven books. One of which I think is about a girl who falls in love with a polar bear. If this is not what it’s about, I’m going to be properly disappointed.

I have yet to make a Harry Potter date. Monday was suggested but Monday is protected by the golden halo of being the day of The Class. As yet, no further plans have been made. So if I go fruit loop it’s because I CANNOT BEAR THE WAITING ANY LONGER!!

Oh and some Tory MP has resigned because he made some bloody stupid comment about how we’ve “never had it so good.” Yes, he has resigned because he said something daft. Does this strike anyone else as completely ridiculous? Yes, I thought he was a moron for saying it and quite obviously not living in the real world, but for goodness sake! Where is your backbone, Lord Young? I say half a dozen stupid things before breakfast so what should I do – kill myself??

But all things – from a disappointing library jaunt to spineless Tories – can be cured by Knights! 



Friday, 19 November 2010

The girl gets a makeover.

biscuits A lot of things happen when you give up chocolate, cake and biscuits. I thought I’d be absolute hell to live with considering I build my day around chocolate breaks and biccies keep me going between breakfast and lunch. But I’m actually not too bad, occasionally a bit tetchy, but that’s nothing. And hey, half way through the month and I’ve only suffered a two day wobble (hardly my fault when there was a CARRIER BAG of chocolate buttons in the house!) And I’m starting to get these looks from le fam. Little sideways ones when they think I’m not looking, while they’re having tea and biscuits and I’m just sipping my green tea. They’re actually starting to look quite impressed.

Secondly, you lose weight. I hadn’t realised that I actually eat pretty healthily and I don’t eat loads. Take away all those sugary snacks and I’m a breakfast-lunch-dinner girl. It’s surprising how pecking away at biscuits between meals, cake for elevenses and chocolate for pudding makes you think you’ve eaten loads that day. Which – calorie-wise – you probably have.

Anyway, I’m doing less running because it’s getting too chilly for a wuss like me, but I’ve got back into Pilates and yoga. Pilates had slid away when I got into running and I had forgotten that it was actually a cardio workout and crikey, it doesn’t half make your legs ache. But combined with the no-sugar-month the results were super speedy and I’m feeling pretty good. Bring on that Christmas Little Black Dress! I’ll be cranking up the Flirt-o-Factor so watch out Laaandaaaan!

So, my skin is glowing because I’ve been so healthy these last couple of weeks and I’ve got into the habit of drinking water when a sugar craving hits. I’m feeling pretty fit and good about my figure.

And then insomnia made me decide to cut my hair. I was tossing and turning and when your hair reaches down almost to the middle of your back, it gets in the way. I woke up with a birds nest and spent nearly ten minutes untangling it. And that was it, its fate was sealed. But my good mate C couldn’t fit me in for a cut for a couple of weeks so it’s been driving me mad for a while. So when it went I was totally ok with it. Relieved even. I would have gone shorter, I love cute little bobs, but I’m lazy and this is just long enough that I can tie it up if I don’t have time to style it or I’m having a bad hair day.

And here’s the results (posing is not my forte):
In other news, I’ve received a couple of ever so polite rejections. The sort that made me think that in any other time I might have made it to the interview stage. This is both heartening and depressing! Still, I’m plugging away and that’s the main thing.

The writing goes well too, which is wonderful and possibly the only thing that’s keeping me from climbing on the roof and going “Wooooee is meeeeeee!” And, rather excitingly, I’m going to a script-writing class on Monday. This makes me very happy indeed!

Oh and this week is Shakespeare Week on Vulpes Libris and it’s been rather wonderful. Here’s the link to my contribution: Shakespeare and Me

Monday, 8 November 2010

Dream Bike and Duckworth’s Demise.

I’ve been saving up for a bike for a while, but without any specific bike in mind. I just knew I wanted something a bit retro. But then I spent Sunday in Camden with a friend and we walked past Evans bikes, where I discovered this beauty:


Isn’t it gorgeous? That, ladies and gentlemen, is a Dawes Diploma 2009 and I’ve got a fair bit of saving to do to get it. But it’s gorgeous. I’m absolutely in love with it.


Also, is anyone else still sad about Jack Duckworth dying in Corrie? Poorly edited at the end there, I thought (who cares about Nick and Leanne after seeing Jack and Vera reunited?) but a bloody sad ending nonetheless. I’ll miss you, Jack.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The news in brief.

Saw my oldest pal this week. There was so much chatter, it was nuts. Massive amounts of gossip and the realisation that I’d forget to tell him large-ish occurrences in my life, yet I still manage to text “Omigosh! Merlin was epic tonight!!” or “Gavin Henson dances like a cardboard box.” Perhaps it’s not a big deal if the Pal doesn’t know.

The November Challenge is fine, by the way. My Nan offered me a biscuit and when I said no, ta, she said, “Go on, I won’t look.” How can you resist an offer like that? With great difficulty, that’s how, but I did. So take that, sugar addiction.

Did I mention I’ve got an interview at the end of the month? It’s for occasional work that is certainly not going to set my world on fire, but there’s a chance that if I get it my bank statement’s won’t look like this anymore:

IN: £0.00

OUT: £78.56

I’ve applied to a few other jobs and otherwise caned the writing this week. There was also post-birthday-sorry-I-couldn’t-make-it drinks with H. And I’m about halfway through my Christmas shopping (sorry, bank account) and I’m counting the days till the 19th. Bring on the Potter!! (Although as far as I’m concerned it’s Bring on the Neville!!)

Otherwise I’m pooped. Bye-bye, motivation. See you in the spring. There’s something really depressing about not earning at this time of year. I’m not doing what I did last year and buying crappy small presents to save money. I’m not chucking my savings around like a man with no arms, but I am buying nice gifts, thank you very much. Maybe it’s the darkness, it’s not exactly conducive to going out there and smacking the world on the nose. It’s hibernation time as far as I’m concerned. Still got my good feeling though.

To keep me cosy on these long, dark nights I’m looking for a cosy and baggy read, like last year’s Bleak House, since I’ve heard sweet FA about an upcoming BBC period drama. I was hoping to get The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet, but the library doesn’t have it. Also is it fogey if I was stunned that they were playing MUSIC in the LIBRARY??

P.S. Matt or Kara for Strictly champ 2010! (X who?)

Monday, 1 November 2010

The November Challenge

1476_MEDIUM What is it about autumn that makes me want to cook everything and eat everything? What with Nigella and Nigel Slater as well as Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals, I feel like I could eat the world! It doesn’t hurt that now is the season for eating up and keeping warm. Oooo, butternut squash, honey-roasted parsnips, sweet potatoes, spinach, courgette, cauliflower. How do I love thee, let me count the ways…

Yesterday I made vegetarian Lincolnshire sausages with roasted butternut squash and sweet potato wedges and stuffed mushrooms (did I mention how much I adore mushrooms?). I can actually cook, what a revelation! And it tasted goooooood.

So, as I’m able to glory in the wonders of autumn veg and my new – miraculous – ability not to poison people, I’m giving myself cadbury-milk-chocolatea bit of a challenge. My family, through long acquaintance with my gluttonous adoration of all things chocolate, thinks I can’t give it up. That I cannot do without it. And true, I haven’t exactly done anything to dispel this idea, I am after all the only person I know that gets brownie mix in my fringe when licking the bowl. But I’ve decided to prove ‘em wrong. Not a lick of chocolate will pass my lips until 1st December. Surely there’ll be some tins of Quality Street going cheap in Asda by then? I’m already facing the knowing chortles of le fam (mainly because even a yeast intolerance hasn’t curbed my appetite for peanut butter sandwiches). But I’m coming over all Obama on this – Yes I can!!

In other news, I am wildly attempting to get tickets to see the RSC production of Romeo and Juliet at the Roundhouse and Nan has decided she doesn’t like Einstein in the new Genius gluten-free bread advert. Why? “He makes me feel like I’ve shit meself.” Eloquent as ever, Nan.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The writer who came in from the cold.

cold I’m not good with cold. It’s comes of growing up in a house without central heating. I kid you not. We have one fire in the living room and a heater in the bathroom. That’s it. We’re all about jumpers, layers and blankets. And tea. Lots and lots of tea. On really icy days I even brush my teeth with the warm water.

So I was either going to grow up to feel the cold worse or have become immune to it. Sadly, I’m the former. But I have my Paddington Bear coat so I’m prepared for the outside world and I have retreated from running and gone back to Pilates. On really lovely days I’m tempted out, but on cold and rainy days like today I’m quite happy with an hour of Pilates. It does the job.

This is also the time of year that colds set in. My Nan has already claimed to have one in her bladder. Not sure how medically possible that is, it’s not something that Holby City covers.

But this is ideal writing weather. Although produces a certain sort of prose, I’m tending towards more atmospheric stuff than normal, slightly spooky.

In other news, I had an email today offering me an interview at the end of November. Only a part-time thing, but hey, it’s cash! And coming in the same week as my work experience fell through (it was in Bristol, despite me stating I live in London and was therefore after experience in the London office) it was a bit of a boost.

Got a couple of other applications to fill in when I’m done here. So the application process rolls on.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Meet The Daddy

notebook Yikes, I was a bit grim the other day, wasn’t I? My apologies.

It’s just occurred to me that I haven’t really addressed my writing on this blog. Mainly for the shameful reason that I haven’t done much of it. I’m not sure if other writers would agree with me, but I find it much harder to write the more time I have on my hands. It’s the same with a lot of my life – if I’m working full time I find I run more, write more and socialise more. I get less done on a week off work than I do on my first week back. Bit mad really.

The main writing news is that I’ve sadly scrubbed Idea Number Two from my whiteboard. Purely because it’s a brand spanking new idea that needs longer to stew. So I’ll be scribbling notes on that while I tackle Idea Number One, henceforth to be known as The Daddy.

I had promised myself I wouldn’t do this again. My first novel wasn’t straightforward – I used three narrators and covered 50+ years and not in chronological order. It was an editing nightmare, but I did it! I refused to be defeated! And then I was done I said to myself “The next book you write is going to start at the beginning and end at the end.” Ah, the promises you make yourself, do they ever remain unbroken?

Meet The Daddy: a family saga spread over two parallel universes. Oh yes. The first few thousand words have been divine. Absolutely wonderful to write, mainly because the split hasn’t happened yet. But we’re swiftly approaching the big question. “Yes” will lead to one universe and “No” will lead to another and thenceforth I’ll be juggling two worlds. Help! At least I can say that the story does begin at the beginning and end at the end, no more of this jumping about through time malarkey. It’s just that I have to write two stories at the same time.

Thankfully I’m yet to venture into parallel universe territory. I’m the sort of writer who will work and re-work the first 5,000 or so words. This is where I experiment, where I figure out if the story is best in third or first and if in first, who’s voice? I feel like I need to get these words right before I can move on, then I'm comfortable writing the rest of the story because I know my foundation is solid. the foundation might not last the edit but it will have done its job.

And I’ve just put down The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver, a parallel-universe story of such brilliance I couldn’t stop grinning. Fortunately mine is just different enough that I don’t think I should give up, instead it has inspired me – it can be done!

Oh and keep an eye on Vulpes Libris, got a review up next Friday.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Banging head against brick wall?

I can’t be the only unemployed person that thinks that, right? That all I’m doing really is smashing my head up against a brick wall and not really getting anywhere. It’s got to a point where I can’t actually remember how many applications I’ve sent out. Or who to. And then there’s the looming possibility that actually, sorry, off you go into some job you don’t really want purely because you need some money to help out with the bills and put clothes on your back.

I really wish money wasn’t such an issue. I know some people would say, well you live at home, it’s not like you need money for rent or bills or anything. But actually I live with my Mum and Nan and I actually think I do need to help with the bills as I live here and use the gas, electricity and water too. And last time I checked I was a grown woman who shouldn’t be living off her Mum. And unfortunately you need money to live. I like the odd night out, the occasional trip to the cinema or lunch out with friends. And guess what – that costs money!

So go on, tell me how exactly I’m supposed to go about getting my dream job. I’d really love to know. But please none of this “I just fell into it” rubbish because all I ever fall into is the sale rack at H&M.

That being said – or, more accurately, ranted – I have spent the last couple of days emailing loads of different magazines about job opportunities or work experience. I thought as my working in the theatre line of job-hunting wasn’t exactly setting the world alight I should consider other options. So I’ve been looking into more school work (with a particular focus on drama) and working on a magazine. I’ve had a couple of responses, which was lovely given my current ARGH!! mood and there’s a chance of some up-coming work experience. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Maybe I’ll realise that this is EXACTLY what I want to do and lo, I’ll be surrounded by actual people have have done it! Who are doing it! And then… then I’ll be able to ASK them how! Pass me the smelling salts, I may be about to get some answers!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Inspirational posts

Here are a couple of posts that I’ve found inspirational. This first one is an old one that appeared in the howies catalogue a while back. I loved it so much that I ripped it out and stuck it on my wall. I’m working along these lines at the moment: Find your love

This second one is a new post, I got the link through The Do Lectures which I follow on Twitter: How BIG is your BUT? I’d recommend The Do Lectures anyway because although I cannot even imagine being able to afford to go, I love watching the lectures online. Some of the most inspirational stuff on the net, I think. Check it out!

What are your favourite inspirational posts? Or where do you get your inspiration from?

In other news I’ve have to confess that I haven’t looked for an agent for my novel in weeks. Yes, I know. Bad writer, how do you expect to ever get published?! So I’ve re-evaluated my time management. I’ve decided that given the time job applications take, how boring and eye-itching I find them, I’m only going to work on them every other day. I’ll try and average getting out about five on the days I work on them. The days I don’t work on them I’ll work on my own writing and on the agent search. At the moment I’m applying and then not bothering to do this other work because my eyes need a rest from the computer screen. I think this way I’ll still manage to get out plenty of applications and also work on other things. And hopefully having a day’s break will mean I’ll be fresher when working on personal statements and stories.

Any suggestions re: time management/agents/job hunting are cheerfully accepted!

Oh and if you’re interested in reviews, here's my latest: The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller

Monday, 4 October 2010

Norman Wisdom

wisdomold1501_468x716This was not my intended post. But given this awful news I had to write a post to say that I loved this man. I’ve always loved old films and I always looked out for anything with John Mills in or Norman Wisdom. Days off sick from school were brightened if one of his films was on telly and work for uni went on the back burner if I could watch his films instead.

He was a talented singer, actor and comedian. I last remember seeing him in Coronation Street and being in fits of giggles. His decline was heart-breaking (as was some of the vicious press coverage when he was put into a nursing home) but I’m still really sad to hear this news.

And I think now is the perfect time to get Lee Evans on the phone about playing Norman in a biopic.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Mind The Gap

I was watching Notes on a Scandal the other night (thanks BBC iPlayer) and something Sheba Hart, as played by Cate Blanchett, said struck me: “Mind the gap – the distance between life as you dream it and life as it is.”

And it’s true, isn’t it? But how many of us would be happy living our big dream? My dream goes a little something like this:

Lovely big house, lovely husband and 2.4 lovely children. All of them faceless, of course, given that they don’t exist. There’s a long hall Bikeway and me ushering them all out to work and school, bikes jumbled under the stairs (my dream bike – currently being saved for one pound coin at a time – gleams brightest among them). There’s me waving them all off. Then I shut the door (Victorian stained glass glowing in the sunshine) and make my way up to my study to work. So far, so general. But the truth is that this whole fantasy hinges on my study…

Tucked right up in the attic of the house, so high there’s no need for curtains. With windows either end the light streams in. Three quarters of the way down the room there’s a wall, with an arch and a step leading into the smaller side of the room. The floor is wooden, real wood, the sort that glows like sunlight through a jar of honey, and is scattered with cosy rugs. Under the window in the biggest side of the room is my desk, nice and wide with a comfy chair, clear but for my laptop. There are bookshelves packed with all my favourite books, filing cabinets for everything from ideas to finished work, letters to bills. There’s also my trusty magnetic whiteboard, with my word count, things to remember and post cards on. Down the length of the room is a bigger table for thought processes. I find i think so much clearer when it comes to editing if I can spread the pages out.

The smaller half of the room, up the step and through the arch, has the other window. Here is my cosy reading chair, red and squashy and just that bit too big for one person. A handmade throw tossed over the back of it for snuggling up in the winter. There’s a table beside it with a stack of library books and plenty of room for a cuppa.

The ultimate sanctuary. Bliss. Oh what I wouldn’t give for that particular room of one’s own. But the rest of that dream, the house, the husband, the work-from-home-mum that happens to be me – not really sure about that. After all, if I’m not out and about, what on earth would I have to write about?

And who wants a faceless husband anyway?

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

“No one wants to kiss a girl in black.”

s03e01_homepage_1600x1200 So we’re three weeks in and I can no longer resist the urge to talk about Merlin, the BBC’s modern re-imagining of Arthurian legend. Why do I love it? Well, go and iPlayer the first two episodes of this series and see for yourself. It really hit the ground running. With a cast of relative young unknowns and older big names (Richard Wilson, flexing his comedy muscles as Gaius this week and Anthony Head as Uther) this is a series that blows Robin Hood out of the water. And also proves that the BBC can produce other work to equal the standard of Doctor Who. There’s a five-series plan or so I’ve heard, and I can’t wait to see how it all pans out.

DowntonAbbey And there’s the superb Downton Abbey which premiered on Sunday and from which I take my title quote. I was hooked since the first trailer which used a choral version of Every Breath You Take by The Police (inspired by Cranford’s choral use of Scandalous?). Now I’m a period drama junkie anyway, but this is really fantastic. Not only does it boast some of my favourite actors (Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Dan Stevens, Brendan Coyle and Penelope Wilton to name but a few) but it’s written by Julian Fellowes! When it comes to this sort of complex, peopled drama, he’s the man. Really looking forward to seeing how this pans out over the next seven weeks.

In other news, I’ve had my first job rejection. Although I would like to take this opportunity to thank The Bush Theatre for actually having the decency to email me to say they wouldn’t be inviting me to interview. Yes, it was obviously a mass email sent to everyone who wasn’t getting an interview, but it was better than nothing. In my experience nothing is exactly what you get, you only know you’ve failed because no one has bothered to contact you. It’s actually really nice to receive a kindly-written no, even one that’s been sent to 100 other people. I also had an email to acknowledge receipt of my application for another job which also told me when I could expect to hear from them again. You see, employers? It’s not that difficult to be polite!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Things to do

I’m taking time out from my job applications to write this. I need a break from the constant repetition of where I went to school and what I studied at A-level. I remember a little while back one of my favourite company’s howies was looking for staff and rather than the traditional application form, they wanted a letter telling them about yourself. I was tempted to apply just for the enjoyment of letter-writing. So much more fun and less production line like than the traditional application process.
I thought I’d share some pictures of my things to do:

The Whiteboard
White board
This is my trusty whiteboard. It’s got the reviews that are ready to go onto Vulpes Libris when there’s an available slot. Space for short story notes which is blank at the moment because I’ve only recently decided to really work on my short stories. There my current word count in a bright, accusing red and a few notes on my current work-in-progress (as well as notes for another possible  W.I.P). There’s also, way down in the bottom right hand corner a little tally chart for rejections. So far my novel has been rejected by three agents and I’m keeping count because every no is one step nearer a yes! I also stick up postcards and my library receipts and brochures for things I want to do (currently Open University – World Archaeology please – and Rosetta Stone because I want to learn Italian).

Future Projects:
This is all the stuff I want to do over the next few months and in the New Year. There’s a Swiss ball set there because I’d like to keep healthy and as I can’t always go for a run, I thought this would be a good alternative. I’ve been using it for two days and I really am feeling it in my core muscles. Love it!

There’s two vegan cookbooks there, Meals Without Squeals. I’m vegetarian, not vegan, but I like to use as few animal products as possible and I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. As soon as I get chance I’ll be flicking through these and writing a shopping list.

The books are an assorted bunch. I read (and reviewed!) Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas a little while ago. Not only did I adore the book but it made an impression on me as I really identified with the heroine. I suppose it partly inspired my decision to look for the life I want rather than wait for it to fall into my lap. Anyway, two of the books there are read by the heroine in the book – Getting Started Knitting Socks and Bach Flower Therapy. As I was learning to crochet and really enjoying it, I wanted to make more things, but practical things, hence the sock book. Once I’ve made my Christmas presents, I’ll be tackling socks and I will not be defeated! I was also intrigued by the idea of Flower Therapy and I will definitely be reading that soon, maybe even trying it out. Then there’s my Complete Guide to Running which I bought for the tips and the motivation. I’m only dipping in and out at the moment, but I think I’ll try and read it in full so I don’t miss anything.

And right at the bottom is chess, which I picked up for the bargain price of £1.99 in Help the Aged. I’ve never been able to get my head round the game but now I’ve got some free time and know someone that can teach me, why not have another go?

So there you are, all the things I want to start doing. I’m already dreading facing the socks…

Friday, 17 September 2010

New start – new blog!

004-pola Today was the first day of the rest of my life. It was also the first day of unemployment.

I’m Nikki, I’m 23 and this is the second time I’ve been unemployed since I starting working when I was 18. I finished university in 2008 with a first class in Drama and Creative Writing. I was unemployed the first time about this time last year, when I left my retail job because I felt I was getting stuck there, but after a month of looking, I couldn’t find anything else. I’m also looking for an agent for my first novel and working on my new one. I’m planning to work on short stories to submit to competitions and magazines to build up a portfolio along with the reviews I post on Vulpes Libris. I love writing and I once wanted to be a writer full-time, but I couldn’t cope with being at home all the time. So I want to look into working in the theatre, the dream is to work with new writers. But I’ll start anywhere really!

Last time I was unemployed it was possibly the most depressing time of my life. I got out of it by taking a Future Jobs Fund six-month contract as a Reading Tutor in a local primary school. It’s been an interesting few months, mainly because it confirmed that while I love working with children and teaching them, I’m not cut out to be a traditional classroom teacher.

So when I was offered a permanent position at the school, I recklessly turned it down. Brave, some said. Right decision, my gut said. Bloody stupid, a wee voice in my head said. But turn it down I did. And here I am, hopefully on the threshold of a brand new life. I feel hopeful. I feel that the time is right to make a change in my life – lots of changes. Big changes. And I thought I’d blog about my journey because I know I’m not the only one out here that’s stuck in this rut and I’d love to hear from others in the same position. 

Career isn’t the only big change I’m after – I’m going for a health overhaul too. I love running but I’m flaky about it, so I want to get more serious and get my speed and distance up, time down. I also want to start doing my yoga again in the evenings because it helps me sleep and I’m not the world’s best sleeper but I’m generally too lazy to do it! I’ve also developed a real taste for healthy food since becoming a vegetarian but it’s often so much quicker and easier to have toast or a frozen meal. Bad habits!

So that’s me. I’m going to blog about my career hunt (which means there might be the odd feeling-sorry-for-myself posts), my attempts at a life overhaul along with the films I’ve seen and the books I’ve read and things I make (I like making things!).

Wish me luck!