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Archive for Ebrill, 2010

            Bah! This will never do, blogging etiquette (according to Jenny, cyber-inklingette and blog enthusiast) requires that I make daily posts, or people won’t bother to come here, and my last post was 5 days ago! I had thought the weekend would enable me to get into this habit, but nope, it seems my weekends are busier than I thought, considering I keep them mostly free for housework!

            Every week it is the same, I tell  myself I will get all the shopping, washing, ironing, cleaning and all other non-fun activities out of the way so that I can then enjoy, guilt-free, any fun activities I wish to engage in (namely cooking, yoga and writing).

            Cooking obviously takes top priority since it can also be deemed a ‘useful’ activity, closely followed by Yoga since this keeps me fit and healthy and, perhaps more importantly, as bikini weather approaches, it helps, more than writing, to make me look less pudding-esque! And it seems, despite my best efforts, there are not enough hours in a Saturday to allow for all of this AND some creative writing time, so I’ll have a day of this on Sunday, I thought to myself. Sunday came; I pottered about, cooked Sunday roast, enjoyed a bit of Belle de Jour’s début novel (research for this blog) and before I knew it evening was upon us and I hadn’t even so much as checked my emails!

            So it seems this is the reason I haven’t yet managed to come up with my award-winning, Welsh-language Science Fiction novel, translated into English, turned into a box-office smash and thus generating a chain-reaction of global desire to learn the old tongue so that fans can enjoy the story in its original context: I think, I plan, and I organise my time so that I can make time to ‘create’. But I never actually get there…there’s always something which takes priority; but I’ll have time tomorrow…

            Interestingly, it seems that even if this blog does not result in a lucrative, career-building book-deal, and nobody else ever reads it (which is likely given its obscure title) it may already be acting as a reflective tool; a metaphorical pair of ruby slippers to help me escape this ground-hog-day-budding-author-not-quite-there-yet-mindset, setting me free to publish, publish, publish! Then my dreams of living a la Jessica Fletcher shall be realised! Ahem.

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            ‘To begin at the beginning’ (as Dylan Thomas once famously wrote) I have harboured the secret dream of being an author and poet for many years and I have, for the past five years, been busy doing something about it: writing poems and short stories and sending them off to competitions; attending writing courses at writer’s retreats; and my Pièce de résistance, my column in the Welsh language community magazine back home.

            Okay so it’s voluntary, and actually, they didn’t ask or even agree for me to do it, I just started writing it and sending it in, but it is going pretty well so far. Whenever I am back in Treffin and see people from the old community – teachers from my old school and people who run the chapels, and many of them comment on having seen my articles and how interesting they are – so I know some people are reading it at least. It is comforting to know that my column nestles within this well established magazine, full of community news and gossip, which people read each month – so there is probably more chance of gaining new fans there than from writing a blog, here in the wastelands of cyberspace, which may never be read by anyone. But we’ll see, I’ll give it a go.

            I have ideas for about 5 novels, good ones too, but there is a world of difference between having the ideas, and scribbling the synopsis and a couple of chapters, and actually focusing enough to get something ready to send to a publisher – and then you have to hope someone reads it and sees something in it. Anyway, in the meantime I am also busy trying to build a career for myself in the academic setting. I am a researcher and I am also in the ‘write up’ phase of my PhD.

            One day, I was telling my fellow researcher, Faith, about one of the writing courses I had applied for, and explaining my grand plans to be the next Margaret Atwood, and she began telling me about how she had found lots of her old schoolwork when she went to clear her room at her parent’s house. Her lovely blue eyes were all sparkly as she recalled reading the stories she had written at school and being surprised by what a vivid imagination she must have had back then.

            Of course this got me all excited and I decided we should set up a writer’s group and read our stories to each other as the Oxford Inklings used to. It was at this point that Faith laughed and said she thought she had better get on with writing papers from her PhD first, before going off and writing short stories. As you can no doubt tell already, despite her whimsical appearance, Faith is more focused and together than I am, which is why she has already finished her PhD whilst I am struggling along with mine!

            Anyway, Caroline came into the office and could half hear the conversation; I carried it on with her whilst Faith made off to get some lunch. She seemed amused by my secret (or not so secret now) plans to be a writer and raised an eyebrow when I got to the bit about my column, but she smiled and said lots of encouraging things. A few minutes later the conversation had turned to our PhDs and the tricky matter of ‘Navigating the theoretical framework’. We lamented over the hours we had spent trying to decide what in fact these were, which ones were appropriate for our research. It was then that we came up with the plan to organise research seminars for the doctoral students in the faculty, where we could actually address this thorny issue, which is often disguised and glossed over as no one wants to admit to not understanding them (or even various aspects of them).

            I went home and excitedly told my husband about our plans. He seemed amused rather than impressed. “We’ll be just like the Oxford Inklings” I said. Then “What shall we call ourselves?” He looked up from his very serious Science book and said “The nerds”. I was disappointed. “But it’s not nerdish to want to think seriously about your subject, nor to want to write impressive fiction” I bleated. Then (feeling triumphant) “You wouldn’t have called C.S Lewis a nerd would you? Or Tolkien?” At this point he laughed out loud and said “Oh yes I would!” I was shocked. “Eh?” He: “Well they were nerds weren’t they? Come on, if you’re going to write about goblins and elves and even make up your own language for the purposes of the book, what else are you but a nerd?”. Hmm, I had to admit he had a point, although making up my own language for a piece of fiction I shall write is a long-term goal of mine so I suppose it all seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Not that any of this bothered me, in fact it was like a seal of approval. I have for many years embraced my nerdom, and celebrated it, indulged it and even sought to increase it; and now it seemed I was being nerdish without even trying, how fabulous.

            So I set to work reading about the Oxford Inklings, of whom I only had a vague knowledge, and it was whilst reading of their almost exclusively male membership, with the exception of Dorothy L. Sayers (and there appeared to be some dispute over whether or not she was an actual member or just a friend of the group) that it occurred to me that our group was, broadly speaking, the opposite: mostly female but with a few male friends who may or may not be considered to be full members. I regularly use the term ‘dudette’ when emailing Faith, much as ‘Paulette’ and ‘Bernadette’ are female derivations of the names ‘Paul’ and ‘Bernard’…and so I stumbled upon what I felt was the perfect name for our little group: ‘The Inklingettes’. Needless to say I was very excited and couldn’t wait to tell the others – and anyone else who would listen!

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