A Roundup of Writing

I haven’t been using my blog at all recently, due to yet another round of personal chaos. I have been writing though, albeit not on the scale I’d like to be.

If you’d like to catch up with my recent work, it appears in:

FWYL – A zine about pop/rockstars and our teen crushes on them. I wrote about Gerard Way (of course), being a little freak who grew up into a big freak, and my ever-growing ‘thing’ for femmy boys.

Cheval 9 – Two of my poems appear in this anthology of the best entries for the 2016 Terry Hetherington Award.

One Week One Band – I wrote about The Used for one whole week at the amazing music blog One Week One Band.

Mental Health Awareness Week

It’s currently mental health awareness week in the UK. I tried to find a blurb for what this is officially aiming to achieve, but mentalhealth.org.uk‘s page for the week is unsurprisingly vague.

I say unsurprisingly, because awareness itself is a pretty vague concept: it’s quite hard to pin down what it actually means in terms of charity and activism. On the positive side, people still find it very hard to talk about mental health due to social stigma – increased public awareness of MH issues could go some way to decreasing this difficulty. People being more aware of how widespread (and to some extent ‘normal’) mental health problems are could lead to more people being comfortable seeking help for their undiagnosed conditions, in theory. Mentally healthy people having a better understanding of mental illness could allow those with MH conditions to talk about their experiences more freely. The key word in all those statements is ‘could’, because ‘awareness’ is such a nebulous term that its impact is very hard to measure.

Continue reading “Mental Health Awareness Week”

False Dichotomies 2: Intro/Extroversion

This is the second in a two-post series about false dichotomies. To read the first (much heavier) post about sexuality, please click here. This post deals with constructions of introversion and extroversion.

Continue reading “False Dichotomies 2: Intro/Extroversion”

New Series: Teenage Rereading

The only thing I like more than consuming media is irreparably spoiling it for myself by overthinking.

With this in mind, I’m embarking upon a new challenge, what with my recent thoughts about nostalgia and taking novels too personally: I’m going to read the books I loved most as a teenager and see how my perceptions of them are altered by reading them as an adult. This is potentially due to the quarter life crisis that’s brewing within me (and won’t that be fun when the wave eventually breaks?).

Continue reading “New Series: Teenage Rereading”

Abertaweversary

As of today, I’ve officially been back in Swansea for a whole year! It simultaneously feels like I’ve been here a much longer and a much shorter time than that – it’s gone in an absolute flash, but I can’t believe how much I’ve done in that time.

This year, I met the most incredible people – friends that I hope quite anxiously that I will keep for the rest of my life. It seems mad that I’ve not known most of them a whole twelve months, but the length of a friendship is almost entirely immaterial when considering how strong or deep it is – human relationships are far too complex to be meted out based on something as arbitrary as time.

I’ve also taken on HOWL, the poetry evening. This matters a lot to me – I agreed to take over before I actually moved, so tomorrow’s event will be the anniversary of my first HOWL back in Swansea. Before the poetry night at Mozarts was called HOWL, it was a brilliant evening called The Crunch, which I attended regularly from 2010 to its untimely demise in 2012. Without The Crunch I would never have started to write or perform poetry, as before it I stuck almost entirely to prose and had never encountered a creative community of its kind. The openness and the warmth of The Crunch, as well as the irreverent and fun atmosphere in the breaks and after the sessions, brought something out in me that I’d never had before, something that is now possibly the most meaningful part of my life. I am very very grateful to it for that, and I feel extremely lucky to be a part of HOWL, which despite being a different beast has some of the camaraderie and energy of acceptance that first greeted me when I entered Mozarts as an uncertain 18 year old.

I also regained a social life this year, which I’d been sorely lacking in Lancashire. Aside from my brilliant best friend Joe, who I’ve known for 20 years (a terrifying fact), I really didn’t know many people. Everyone had left for university and not come back, or moved for work, and I was on my own an awful lot, mooning about the house being lonely and skint and unhappy. Since coming back to Swansea, I’ve been able to go for loads of proper nights out (something I really missed in the time I spent at my mum’s), get to gigs, go to the movies and just hang out around various houses with a selection of awesome people on a really regular basis. Having had both, I can’t begin to describe how much better this is.

There were definitely low points: I’ve been ill quite a bit this year, and we’re not really much closer to knowing exactly what is up with me. This persistent illness ended up with me being sacked for being sick too often, which triggered a horrible chain of events towards the end of 2015. After losing my job, I couldn’t pay my rent (benefits just don’t cover it, I’m sorry to report) and I lost my flat. This was very, very stressful for me, as I thought I’d have to move back home and leave the life I’d built in Swansea. Even worse, moving home turned out not to be an option, as my mother moved in with her parents to save up for moving in the Spring. Luckily, I was saved by the generosity and kindness of a friend, who let me move in to her house while I find somewhere else to go.

During the time before losing my flat, I also had some problems with extensive damp and mould, which most likely made my chest infections worse, as well as spreading across a whole external bedroom wall and destroying a lot of my possessions. I spent the last month or so in that flat on a camp bed in my living room. I also lost Moomin, the little rat baby that I’d had for four years who was pretty much the most special thing in my life. I will probably be sad about that for a long time.

I have to confess that from December to February was a very dark time for me, and I was saved only by the kindness of others – my friend Chen for letting me live with her, and the incredible people of Swansea who donated to my crowdfunder to pay off my January rent. I can’t believe how generous and community spirited people can be, and I will forever feel a debt of gratitude to everyone who helped me, not only by contributing financially in a dire situation, but by showing me how good and selfless people can be, something that is hard to remember when you’re in a bad place.

I’m happy to report that I now have a job I like more than the one that let me go last year, doing similar work in a more supportive environment. Everything is starting to improve for me, and I’m really excited to see what another year back in Swansea might bring.


 

Highlights of my first year back:

  • Taking on HOWL and having great turnouts, as well as some brilliant special guests
  • Winning second place in the Robin Reeves award from the Welsh Writers’ Trust
  • Goth nights at The Scene with some excellent ladies
  • Having my own place (if briefly) for the first time
  • Chairing a huge, well-attended anti-austerity rally
  • Getting three new tattoos
  • Meeting people I will probably love forever
  • Laughing harder and more frequently than I ever have before

Here’s to more of the same!


 

Cheer Up, Emo Kid – SI Awareness Day

TW for SI and mental illness after the jump:

It’s self injury awareness day, and my very reluctance to write this post is the reason I should do it. While very few mental illness related issues are understood or treated ideally at the moment, SI is probably one of the most misunderstood, probably because those who are affected by it are often very shy about it.

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Jane Austen, Designated Driver

Let me preface this by saying that I really like Jane Austen. I have enormous affection for many of her characters and I respect her for being a clever, shrewd lady novelist at a time when being a smart girl probably wasn’t the best thing to be.

Having said that, I do sometimes get the feeling that Jane Austen would be the friend on a night out who insists you switch to water after 1am. I feel like she’d say something like “we have toast at home” if you tried to buy a kebab on the way back from said excursion. Basically, I feel like Jane Austen is trying to make me behave, and I don’t like it. Continue reading “Jane Austen, Designated Driver”

Watching Austen with a Real Person

My housemate/informal landlady/rescuer/excellent friend Chen is a wonderful person. She can do so many things that just don’t come naturally to me: she understands what solicitors do, thinks about things like the nutritional values of food, has different forks for eating cake. Sometimes she interprets me commenting on this as thinking she’s boring, which is simply not true (she is actually very interesting) – I am extremely envious that she is much more of a proper adult human being than me, less fundamentally ridiculous.

Never has this difference in personality been clearer than watching Austen together. We both like literature, and enjoy Austen (to differing degrees – see my next post for more information!), but Sense and Sensibility seems to have been written with us in mind. I, she of wailing tantrums and terrible taste in men, am all sensibility, and capable, spinach-eating, DIY doing Chen is sense.

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ICYMI – Writing and Identity

This piece is reposted from my old blog, The Thing Itself.


My job is writing, but I don’t feel like a writer any more. In the past two years I’ve graduated from my BA, completed a Creative Writing masters and gained a job writing full time, yet I feel much less involved with writing than I did as an unproductive undergraduate – and I don’t know why that is.


I run a busy, well thought of poetry night. I know possibly hundreds of writers. Sometimes I’m not too exhausted to scribble two lines of what might one day be something into my iPhone notes when I come home from work. But I have (and I appreciate that there is no un-wanky way to say this) lost any connection I had to ‘literature’.

I used to feel like I lived inside it. I was living by the sea, in squalor and in a doomed, destructive relationship with another writer, who was charismatic and cruel and pretty much everything a girl raised on romantic poetry, who spent her teens thinking about Lestat and Byron, would home in on. I ground myself ever downwards amongst piles of decaying books and the smell of smoke.

Continue reading “ICYMI – Writing and Identity”