Nanowrimo

So I’m very late to the party but currently considering writing something this month… It would of course be semi autobiographical but focusing on a particular theme. I thought about writing about my dating history but honestly and without the excuses I use when describing it to friends. I think it could be a good exercise for me but also quite funny. Well the content is funny and I would have to work on my comedic timing! Not very original but a lot of easy content for a first attempt.
Yes this is another distraction but I am justifying it because it is an exercise in writing over an extended period of time…which I am famously poor at! Might publish on here if it isn’t terrible!

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Since my last post…

I have started many novels and finished none. Currently I am 1152 pages into War and Peace but after coming back from Wales (where I read most of the book) I have lost momentum. Also I think I know that I won’t be happy with the ending and I’m enjoying the ability to fantasise about the possibilities before accepting reality. I guess that is a funny way to approach fiction but once I have read the real ending I won’t be able to fully dream up alternatives without knowing they are impossible!
I haven’t been doing much reading recently… Back into bad habits of Netflix! Star trek, gossip girl, (finished) orange is the new black (awesome) and dipped into skins again briefly.
Things that I want to do that I probably won’t: write a short story, write and draw a comic for a friend, paint 5/6 panels showing the seasons on the river, sew a simple skirt, make an amazing dress to wear to a ball, paint a mural on the wall outside, knit gloves\hot water bottle warmers for Christmas, get super fit!
I read a friends blog yesterday and it made me remember this page. He only writes entries when he is low or something has happened and I think it is a kind of therapy for him. Maybe that is what I need and I guess using a forum like this you can kind of check on yourself.
I like having to simplify things and condense without modifying what you say to the person you are telling it to. Obviously I am making decisions based on the forum but I don’t imagine anyone I know reading this so hopefully what I write can be naturally more open and less contrived.

Feeling- buzzing but close to tears
Future- immediately boring and mundane
Looking forward to- rugby match
Love- trying to sever ties
Lust- a silly boy
Life- fleeting
Art- stressed jenny
Music- alt-j every other freckle
Doodle-

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Blind Assassin

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I finished! However I haven’t decided on a format for reviewing novels so as unsatisfactory as it may be I will just have to wing it!

One word description: Repressed

Dust jacket quote: An absorbing, multifaceted adventure through the 20th century, which interrogates gender roles and societies accountability.

The book was gripping in parts but not as captivating as the other works I have read by Atwood. The characters seemed to take a long time to take shape and breathe, which may have contributed to the confusion I suffered at the beginning of this book.

The last 200 pages however were read all at once in a desire to reach the conclusion and know. I could almost see the twist at the end but the skill of the writing whipped me into a frenzy to find out for certain.
After finishing I almost immediately went onto discussion boards because I still had this desire for definitive answers which Atwood did not want to supply. While the discussion boards mimicked my feelings of confusion but also love for the complexity, style and span of the novel they did not help with the biggest burning question about Laura’s death. Why did she kill herself? For a number of reasons is all I can conclude but I don’t fully understand the final meeting between the two sisters that trigger’s Laura’s final action. The only forum help I found was the suggestion that Laura’s mannerisms and mind set could be indications of autism. This somewhat explains Laura’s attitude and perception of situations.

But still what was the final motivation for her suicide? Did she love Alex? I don’t really see how, they did not really know each other or see one another. I guess she had been enduring rape in order to protect him but that was loyalty surely not love? If you accept she cared for him deeply then the next question is what hurt her… The fact that he was dead and she hadn’t succeeded in saving him or that her sister was having an affair with him?
Also Richard’s death, the result of his heartbreak in believing that Laura had been seeing another man or the scandal threatening to expose him? Again I find it bizarre that he would care for Laura even love Laura but perhaps this fault is not my own… The character is purposefully written as a ‘cardboard cut out’ and is also impossible to empathise with.

Atwood

Peonies

Margaret Atwood is currently my favourite author. I really enjoy her emotive, detailed, fluid writing style and find myself interested in her novels whatever the subject. I have read
‘Alias Grace’, ‘The Handmaiden’s Tale’ and am currently embroiled with ‘The Blind Assassin’.

‘Alias Grace’ was my gateway to Atwood as I generally sway towards historical fiction when choosing books. I read it a few years ago and mostly remember how powerful her descriptions were of landscapes and nature. I still have a very clear image of the main house and the female prison driveway described in her book. Also I remember many references to Peonies which in hind-sight seems to be a recurring theme in her novels.

‘The Handmaiden’s Tale’ was a very striking read. I borrowed it from my mum on holiday and had no idea of its awards or fame, which definitely improved the experience. I was utterly transfixed by this book and remember feeling physically uncomfortable, disgusted and anxious while reading it. The story had so much resonance with today’s society but also the ordeal of the main character was put across so expertly as to affect the reader completely. The novel was clearly written with deliberation and skill and I felt every sentence had been crafted but not overly contrived. I understand now why it is part of schools reading lists.

My first book review will be for ‘The Blind Assassin’…I haven’t thought about how to structure it yet. One of the main goals of this blog is to improve my writing style so perhaps I should research and structure my reviews, with guiding questions and topics to discuss. On the other hand an overly planned review will run the risk of being stale, boring and repetitive. Let’s wait and see!

Reading Challenge

 

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Reading Challenge

I stumbled upon this link a few weeks ago and have been contemplating taking on the challenge! I loved watching the Gilmore Girls with my sister and remember feeling connected to Rory because of her hunger to read. I have the talent (?) of becoming totally absorbed in a novel, to the point where I will not notice my surroundings, even if someone is right next to me calling my name! I used to read a lot more and had periods of devouring one or more books a day. There was a time in my late teens when I would keep a list of books and films…I would try to read one good book then one ‘trashy’ novel so that I didn’t get bogged down with too many classics or just fill my head with the latest soppy romance or a predictable crime saga. I enjoyed this rhythm of reading and perhaps that can be my continued challenge.

Today I googled reading challenge and so many alternatives popped up…

good reads

Telegraph’s 110 best books

TED talks list

Oxford: writers inspire 

I am still undecided as to whether I will actively pursue a reading goal. It might improve this blog if there was an actual project involved but it seems a little misguided to read with the aim of completing a list and not in an attempt to enjoy, understand and learn something from the content.

I am currently reading Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Blind Assassin’ and enjoying it. The problem I am having with this book is piecing together the family connections…I am sure if I had read the first 100-200 pages consecutively there would be no problem. Unfortunately I was frequently distracted by daily life and it has taken me at least a month to get to page 160. I am tempted to start again!

Hopefully my next post will be a little more decisive and by that point I will have some idea of what I want to read.

Neither rowing nor reading

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Yesterday I watched an interesting documentary called Missrepresentation about many things including misrepresentation in the media. The film had multiple messages about the issues in todays society but one of the main things I took away from it was that I watch far too much television! Part of the fuel for starting this blog and reading for pleasure more often.

I had already heard most of the arguments in the film and was aware of the changes it advocated which I fully support. The documentary was well crafted and did not only focus on women’s rights or their place in society but also addressed the burden society places on young males. This seems to me to be the less well known topic and is often over-looked by social activists. Possibly because the task of changing how society expects men to behave seems so enormous, largely due as a result of the industries which perpetuate these male stereotypes prominence and influence.

New beginnings

“Rowing provided a place to go, a community where people cared about what I did and what I achieved.”
Nancy Greene

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
C.S. Lewis

Probably the two loves of my life so far are reading and rowing. Hopefully they will help me get over the biggest trial of my life…writing.

There are many reasons for starting this blog and unfortunately they are entirely selfish and unsuited to the blogging medium in general. Blogging in my experience is about two-way communication, writing about something because of a love of writing or for the purpose of publicising/documenting something important.

This blog however is an experiment, a personal test, a diary and an anonymous testimony. Its goals are simple…to stay active, to encourage personal reflection and to overcome a fear of writing.

The content of this blog will inevitably evolve and hopefully improve over time but to begin with I will be focussing on the titled subjects.

I welcome any comments and feedback on this forum but as I will not be promoting the blog so do not expect many responses.