So I am perhaps a little slow on uploading a post about the fabulous World Book Night event (it was yesterday ) but I did enjoy feeling very philanthropic as I handed out the books.

I chose to gift mine to pub goers. I opted for Maggie O’Farrell’s The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, because it was one I had read and enjoyed and had already given away; a clear sign I wanted to get other people to read it.
I could have gone highbrow and taken on Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca but what a foosty old book that is to try and foist onto unsuspecting folks.The aim of the evening is to get non book readers to read .. now that is harder than you think and perhaps a little patronising. The website even gives you handy hints for targeting ‘non-book readers’ but I found the tone implied a level of condescension that I didn’t quite hold with – so I went for people who looked friendly!

This year the books all have numbers and the idea is to trace how far a book will travel as it is passed from hand to hand to hand … I imagine that folks will stop registering them after a while but here’s hoping one of the books I gave away will reach the other side of the world! ūüôā

It was also the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and death! So in honour of the bard each novel had a sonnet attached to it – Esme’s sonnet was no 63!

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Sonnet 63

Against my love shall be as I am now,
With Time’s injurious hand crushed and o’erworn;
When hours have drained his blood and filled his brow
With lines and wrinkles; when his youthful morn
Hath travelled on to age’s steepy night;
And all those beauties whereof now he’s king
Are vanishing, or vanished out of sight,
Stealing away the treasure of his spring;
For such a time do I now fortify
Against confounding age’s cruel knife,
That he shall never cut from memory
My sweet love’s beauty, though my lover’s life:
His beauty shall in these black lines be seen,
And they shall live, and he in them still green.

Progress on the revisions has been slow – hence the lack of blog posts – but I am still daily on Blipfoto so if you fancy dropping by and saying ‘hello’ feel free.


Going Experi-mental

Are you guilty of playing it safe? Of sticking to tried and tested methods of writing, researching, thinking? I know I am.

Write Dangerously

However the way to discover new things is to think outside the box, to challenge conventions and to get go a little bit experimental!

In the past I have talked about software I’ve downloaded, tactics I’ve tried, thoughts I’ve had, mind mapping, even blogging – all of these are my way of trying to find fame, fotune, a wealthy husband, notoriety, success, media attention ¬†a new way to succeed in a very traditional field, that of Literary Criticism.

Yesterday’s post about lacking originality was another way of trying to find a pathway to something new – even when you feel there is nothing left to find.

It is very hard to be innovative when studying something like literature. But when you ¬†analyse literature to any degree you are immediately confronted with writers who are trying to do something new, something hitherto unseen, something exciting. The trend of the Modernists to ‘make it new’ was a reaction against the generic formulaic Victorian and Georgian formalism. Modernism was the apotheosis of experimentation, with Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake being the apotheosis of that apotheosis … imagine if he had stuck to the tradition of writing in linear, structured, coherent sentences. ¬†Whilst Joyce is often held up as inspirational and ridiculous in equal measure, and often to cries of Emperors New Clothes, it cannot be denied that his work has the authenticity of longevity – we will be talking about if for many, many decades to come. Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf wrote fervently to create ‘the woman’s sentence’ – the antithesis of the black imposing masculine ‘I” that had dominated literature in the preceding centuries. They argued against the male dominance of the novel and took a step allowing women writers to engage a more feminine approach.

If unlike me you are not into Modern and contemporary literature, it isn’t a far stretch to look at the greats, such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Herbert, et al and recognise experimental literature when you see it … any banned book is another test case for change and advancement.

It’s easy to dismiss this ‘experimental verve’ as part of the artistic or ‘creative’ process that as academics we ‘should’ sit outside of, but we don’t and we shouldn’t. Any piece of writing involves the creative process.¬†Yes we do have to follow certain conventions, but that doesn’t mean what we ‘say’ has to be conventional. Whilst I do find some forms of new criticism, like the idea of Hymenal Space (especially considering it’s medically questionable that the Hymen actually exists/ed) ¬†‘out there’ and I find my nose wrinkling up slightly at the thought, I do applaud anyone who is prepared to push back boundaries to create or investigate something new.

We don’t have to be Joyce, Woolf or even Leavis, Bahktin or Chomsky, but we can all try to look at our work from a different angle, structure our work in a way that works for us as well as for the examination boards and test the boundaries (via out supervisors) a little. Even if it turns out it doesn’t work, you will have learned new things in the process and become a more thorough academic in the process.

And if we can’t do that in our actual Ph.Ds we can do it in places like this! Or NaNoWriMo … places that encourage you to be different and new and unique and uninhibited – unleashed from the constraints and conformities of traditional academic writing.

So today is ‘Forget health and safety Tuesday – go a little bit experimental’.

Book Day!!!

Today it has been a day for the postie to bring me lovely surprises.

First off the door bell rang and I opened it to discover two parcels for me. How exciting!The first was a ‘special delivery’ and contained my Tiffany chain, which had been sent off for repair after it snapped. Marvellous service – free repair and polish and packaged up in a beautiful Tiffany box complete with white ribbon. I can now wear my Tiffany key pendant again! I wear it all the time so I have missed it whilst the chain was away being repaired!

The Prize Pile

The second was a parcel of books that I won in a competition run by the blogger Little Interpretations. I have never won anything before so I am thrilled to have won this as the prize was BOOKS! And you can never have too many books! I am particularly looking forward to the autobiography Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay, who is a wonderful writer and is also partly responsible for me winning the prize ( I submitted a review of Kay to the blog for the competition). After the first batch of books went missing, Marie kindly offered to source replacements – and it was those that arrived today. The blog itself is a fabulous for anyone (like me) who can’t get enough of books! So THANK YOU MARIE.¬†

The Research Pile

A little later in the afternoon I took delivery of my amazon order. All related to my thesis so I feel justified, but also all look like interesting reads. Lost Voices of the Edwardians is snippets from real people, a recorded social history compiled from letters, journals and other personal writings. A nice one to dip in and out of when I am needing a dose of ‘what life was really like’ (which always helps to prevent me imposing a 21st century sensibility on an early 20th century period.)

Planning Perfection

Also in this parcel was my new 2012 Molesekine Weekly notebook planner … *SIGH*. I have missed using this perfect diary! If it’s so perfect why did you stop using it I hear you cry …. Well, my daughter bought me a lovely diary for Christmas last year so I had no need to buy a Moleskine like usual. But I am such a creature of habit that I am almost relieved to be getting near the end of the diary so I shall be able to use the Moleskine again! I am a fan of these notebooks anyway but the planner is perfect as it has a note page for each week, as well as a notes section at the back, which allows me to compile to do lists and jot down thoughts etc without having to carry around another notebook! Perfection thy name is Moleskine!

Now all that remains for me to do is read all of them! I could be a whole!

Update:¬†My posts about mind mapping and Scrivener¬†generated quite a little debate here and on another website I frequent so it’s good to know that the stuff I choose to share is worthwhile. I really have enjoyed getting feedback and other perspectives on these subjects. Keep them coming.

I am still enjoying Scrivener (on day 5 now so that’s pretty good going for me and new software!) and I can actually see me buying the license when the trial is finished. Sadly I haven’t quite managed to keep up the 1000 words a day effort (unless you count the blogs in which case I am over – yeah!) ! It’s a definite ‘could do better’ on that one I’m afraid! Still, as they say, tomorrow is another day!

Diaries and Planners

I need a new one – I like the 18 month planners by Moleskine but they run from July to December (but ironically not from December to July – which would make sense surely?)
My daughter bought me a diary for Christmas which I felt obliged to use and now I find that as the end of the year draws closer I need a lovely soft back moleskin planner – so will unfortunately have to opt for the 12 month variety.
Ok so this isn’t as much of a problem as it sounds but the academic year runs at odds with normal 12 month planners … which means I can’t neatly file my diaries into corresponding academic years (sounds anally retentive but it is good for trying to remember past conferences etc) …

I also like the 18 month variety as it allows an overlap for each year and makes planning more fluid ( I am actually surprised at how my own geekiness has grown)
Oh the frustration! And I need to solve the problem soon as my commitments for 2012 are already mounting! I fear I am going to have to opt for the 12 month version! *sigh*

Literary QUERY:While I am here does anyone out there know of novels from about 1900 whose main or supplementary characters include a woman writer (working writer, journalist,novelist)? a fellow Scots Modernist is on the prowl for material of this nature and I wondered if anyone dropping by might have any relevant information.