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Archive for Gorffennaf, 2010

           Today I posted a 4000 words short story to a competition and I have a good feeling about it…I also have several ideas for more short stories and poems to send to lots of competitions which appear to be running simultaneously. I really think some of my ideas are winners. Seriously, with this amount of talent and motivation – how can literary success not be just around the corner?

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I awoke yesterday morning at around 4am in one of those irrational panics about how completing my PhD was an insurmountable task – at least under the current circumstances of working two jobs and having no “room of one’s own” in which to work on my thesis.

By 5.08am I was wide awake and huffing about so much there really was little point remaining in bed so I decided to go over to the baths for early morning training – even though I hadn’t planned to for fear the dreaded fatigue would kick in and render me useless for recruitment later at clinic.

Once I got to the pool I felt better and as I ploughed up and down, completing approximately 4000 meters, my head cleared and I knew what I must do. I raced into work and went to see my boss. I explained that, whilst I can be flexible, I was going to have to confine my working days to my contracted Monday – Wednesday, rather than switching days here and there to make different clinics. If I’m to finish the 60 hours left on the other mini-project and have any clear run for my thesis I’m going to need to keep the 2 days at the end of the week clear so that I can get organised and stay focused.

My boss was sympathetic and could see my point of view. I began to feel calmer…and more conscious of my bedraggled appearance complete with scruffy pink flip flops and stringy hair! I came through into the office and waited for Faith to arrive – when she did I gushed on about my panic and why I couldn’t do Thursdays thus I couldn’t pick up the clinics she’d asked me to do.  To my relief she didn’t actually seem that bothered and suddenly what had seemed a huge problem had melted away and my 2 day slot was restored!

I finished up some office faff and sped home to smarten myself up a bit before heading over to clinic for recruitment. I always go early and eat lunch in the car as the clinic awkwardly coincides with visiting hours at the hospital and if I arrived ‘on time’ I’d never get into the car park. It was then that a wave of fatigue washed over me and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The morning’s activities had caught up with me despite the “Mars refuel” I’d had straight after training.

               I put the seat back thinking “I’ll just have a 10 minute power nap”. Three quarters of an hour later I had to peel myself from the seat and lumber over to the hospital entrance; I was agonisingly tired and I could almost hear my body creaking with every step. In desperation I dragged myself into the hospital shop and looked about for chocolates and crisps to give me an energy boost.

                Nervously I hovered around the “energy drink” part of the fridge; these have so often proved disastrous, making me feel sick, causing palpitations and bringing me out in a rash from the additives – but I needed something to get me through the next 4 hours of recruitment. My eye rested on an unfortunately-named drink: “Pussy”.

“Ridiculous” I thought to myself, scoffing – but then I noticed the “Natural energy drink” claim on the can and reached for one to take a closer look. It sounded good and, in any case, it couldn’t be any worse than Red Bull, so I bought it along with lots of junk likely to set back my bikini-diet plans for a few weeks.

I walked over to the ward and sat in the waiting room. I was so fatigued and dazed I could barely respond when the nurse saw me and started chatting as she set up for clinic. I reached for the can and swallowed the contents – it was actually not that bad…a bit sweet but not revoltingly so!

Then the transformation occurred! It was like the incredible hulk but in reverse. My swollen, crinkly skin around my eyes felt smooth and fresh; the cloud over my brain disappeared and I felt jovial and awake. For the next four hours I found myself smiling charmingly and joking, chatting and generally being very good at my job! The ward was hellish busy between the two clinics but I coped and signed up a whopping 11! I sailed out into the car park and drove carefully home…I was tired but coping. I cooked tea – which I had thought that morning would have to be given a miss, and I did all the cleaning up before finally throwing in the towel at 10.30pm! I also watched two excellent programmes about the Southern states which were interesting and a good laugh…but more about that another time.

The magic finally began to wear off and I couldn’t keep my eyes open enough to read Nene – the sister paper to the one in which I have my column (Welsh language community newspapers that is!) So I drifted off to sleep. The only side effect I can report on this elixir so far is that I woke up in the night and I had been so hot that my pillow was wet, but I was so tired I went back to sleep without any trouble. By this morning I did feel a bit groggy, so it seems there’s a price to pay for staying awake so long – you have to sleep it off sooner or later, sleep displacement rather than the complete removal of the need, but good to know it’s possible in an emergency.

Of course I couldn’t stay in bed to sleep it off as I had to be in work this morning, but my husband brought me a cup of tea and eventually I managed to haul myself into the shower. To cheer myself up I put on my new “Merch y Mynydd” t-shirt that I had bought at the international Eisteddfod at the weekend and, since it was brown, I teamed it with my brown “Sketchers shape-ups” and jeans…since the weather has inexplicably turned cold.

I’ve been in work for an hour now and my brain is just beginning to wake up (good thing it is as we’ve got a nerd-meeting this afternoon about the website!) I’ve found “Pussy” drink available to buy on amazon.co.uk so if I can’t find a handy, local supplier I’ll pop to the hospital at the weekend and pick some up and then order a crate over the net! Meanwhile, I’m off now to make a cup of tea and then force myself to get through the admin from yesterday’s successful recruitment…

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           Once upon a time there was an aspiring author/ poet called Alwen Jones. She had been writing poems and short stories for around 15 years, submitting them to competitions, magazines and such, but without much success. Then, one day, she was invited to an ‘Eisteddfod y dafarn’ (pub eisteddfod) and she saw that one of the literature competitions was for a telyneg (lyric) on the theme: Llygaid (eyes). Her mind cast back to a particularly bitter telyneg she had written back when she was 17…one of her first ever poems, about a particularly poignant instance of heartbreak.

                This poem had already ‘done the rounds’ so to speak, having been sent as part of a collection to the Ysgoloriaeth Emyr Feddyg at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff, and then having been passed about various Welsh language journals. It had eventually come to languish amongst Alwen’s other ‘unpublished’ works; sad and forgotten.

                “I wonder” thought Alwen and fished it out for inspection. “Hmm, there are a few clunky bits here and there, but these can be tidied up” she thought. But years of criticism had made her cautious – what if the judge tore it to bits on the night? It would be far more difficult to sink into the back of her chair in the lager club than it had been at y babell lên! Eventually though she submitted it along with a 500 word piece on the theme “atgof o’m mhlentyndod” (a memory from my childhood”).

                On the night in question she was nervous and almost regretted the decision to go at all. But then, when the judge revealed that her poem had won not only he competition for ‘telyneg’ but also for Y Gadair, because he liked it so much, she suddenly felt as though she had won the Booker prize and there was nowhere she would rather have been! As she sat listening to the ‘barniad’ she could feel the pride welling up inside her and then the judge read out the poem, in his lovely rolling Machynlleth lilt, the poem suddenly sounded far better than it had in her head; the emotion of the poem struck Alwen in a way she had forgotten about and she felt the hot tears rolling down her cheeks. She collected her prize, vouchers for Siop y Sistwrn, as though she were in a dream, oblivious to all others in the room, save for herself and the judge…

                Reflecting next morning, on this, her first literary success since a teacher had put her poem on the wall back in primary school, Alwen wondered if this might be an omen – a sign of things to come, and whether this year, at last, might be the year that her tireless toiling and struggling would finally pay off and she would find recognition as an author? Watch this space for details!

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             This week was, for me, the culmination of years of nerdish, obsessive fascination with Jean Rhys. All the hours I spent trawling the internet, systematically searching for out-of-print material and any scraps of information about her (and all for no good reason!) finally found an outlet at the Jean Rhys conference in Kings College London. It was more like a convention really, with the respectable veneer of an academic English literature conference, critically evaluating various aspects of a well-respected author…but with the undercurrent of Jean-nerds coming together in appreciation of the great lady!

           For the first time I was able to babble on, quoting passages and making observations, and actually have the other people know what I meant! I even overheard one person at the wine reception comment “That’s very Jean”!! And there I had been thinking I was the only person out there saying this! It was fabulous and I was much encouraged by my new friends to write up my “I dream of Jean Rhys 30 years later story!”  I must get to work on this pronto…literary success is just around the corner!

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