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”

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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.

Continue reading “Watching Austen with a Real Person”

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”

It’s a Metaphor, Fool (Fantasy vs Reality)

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


 “The anthropologists got it wrong when they named our species Homo Sapiens (‘wise man’). In any case it’s an arrogant and bigheaded thing to say, wisdom being one of our least evident features. In reality, we are Pan Narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee.”


I’ve always enjoyed science fiction and fantasy, even if I don’t get as involved in things like fandom* as I did as an overly-earnest teenager. Nowadays, when I’m nowhere near as much of a reader as a used to be (and when I spend the majority of reading time on trashy crime novels** about murdered girls – your fave is problematic) I tend to get my fantasy fix through gaming, logging more Skyrim hours per week than I’m willing to confess to in a public post.

But sometimes when I’m getting immersed in fantasy worlds, being emotionally invested in fictional characters, or fixating on small aspects of world-building and mythology, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by a sense of pointlessness. Even standard fiction does this to me at times. What is the point in spending so much of your real life thinking about pretend lives? Why is it easier to cry at a wizard dying because of a magical contract than it is to cry at wars on the news, or at the small unfairnesses of life?

Continue reading “It’s a Metaphor, Fool (Fantasy vs Reality)”

poemstuck//life roundup

What with all the stress of the last few months, I haven’t had the time or inclination to work on much new material. I’m happy to say that I’m mostly settled now, living in a nice house with a kind friend and working a job that I enjoy.

This morning I tried to work on a few drafts I have stored in my iPhone notes (the unromantic holding area for pretty much every poem I write) and found that my brain is completely dry. I can’t get into a rhythm, can’t find a way in to any of the images I’ve previously thought of… I have tons of rogue stanzas and no idea how to develop them into something larger.

Hopefully I just need a bit more time – I’ve only really been safe from homelessness about two weeks (I’m still legally homeless but to all realistic ends I live in a house) and being sort of neutral-to-happy is still something of a surprise. I keep feeling sad for no reason, possibly because I’m just used to it – left to my own devices, I settle into my bad mood before I remember that there’s no real reason for one at the minute.

Continue reading “poemstuck//life roundup”

is nostalgia useful?

Gabe Saporta (of Midtown and Cobra Starship fame) once wrote a long post on his now purged tumblr entitled ‘nostalgia is the failure of true emotion‘. The post, which I will have to paraphrase from memory, wasn’t dissimilar in intention to the truism that “remember when?” is the lowest form of conversation. It’s not a real or immediate feeling, it’s a memory of a one. It’s a failure to live in and experience the current moment, and as such, it’s not mindful and it’s not authentic.

I’m not certain I agree with this, but I am a person who has lived the majority of her life drowning in nostalgia. I’m not sure what it is about me that makes me so achingly backwards-looking, but I only need a distance of about six months to romanticise a past that was, at the time, unbearable. In this way, nostalgia has been a curse since my early teens – I have never truly been able to appreciate the time in which I’m living because I’m always certain that other times were infinitely better.

Continue reading “is nostalgia useful?”

sometimes you see yourself

Have you ever read something and sort of wanted to burst into flames because you see yourself in it so clearly?

“Should you happen to be possessed of a certain verbal acuity coupled with a relentless, hair-trigger humor and surface cheer spackling over a chronic melancholia and loneliness – a grotesquely caricatured version of your deepest self, which you trot out at the slightest provocation to endearing and glib comic effect, thus rendering you the kind of fellow who is beloved by all yet loved by none, all of it to distract, however fleetingly, from the cold and dead-faced truth that with each passing year you face the unavoidable certainty of a solitary future in which you will perish one day while vainly attempting the Heimlich maneuver on yourself over the back of a kitchen chair” – David Rakoff