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!