Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A lot of life updates // a book haul

It's been so long since I did a life post, recap, or book haul that I've forgotten how. I do have these blogging crises sometimes, when I'm like, what am I doing, why do I spend so much time writing about myself and taking photos of books, nobody cares. And then I remind myself that I love reading other people's writing about themselves, and looking at their photos of books, so why shouldn't I do it, too?

I could dwell on my angst further, but instead let's plunge into THE BOOKS (that's why we're here!).


So, this is what happens when you don't do a book haul post from December until August. OOPS.




// lobster pots are fun. And this edition is so pretty I could cry.
These four -- Shadow and Bone, Finnikin of the Rock, A Darker Shade of Magic and Neverwhere -- were all Christmas presents from my great brother. (My family has finally figured out that I want books for presents. It's taken nearly nineteen years but it's happened and it's wonderful.) There are all super pretty and, more to the point, the entire blogosphere is OBSESSED and throws them all at my head. (Maybe not so much Finnikin (which is in the picture with Shadow and Bone, hiding), but the other three? Pftt. I can't leave the house without the bloodthirsty chant of “Schwab, Schwab, read some Schwab!" rolling into my ears.)

Have I actually read them yet? Considering I've owned them for eight months? Hahaha. As if. I need a healthy four years to make it through my TBR ... (I hate myself.)



 Despite being Scottish, do I ever read Scottish literature, ever? Nope. I could count on one hand the number of Scottish books I've read IN MY LIFE! (I mean, I would need about twelve fingers. But let's not bore ourselves with the details.) So here's two Scottish books.

Trainspotting was a Christmas present from my lovely friend Cat (along with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings). It's an iconic book about the Edinburgh drug scene. According to a friend who has read it, The Goldfinch alludes to it. So I'm there! (Metaphorically there. Literally, who knows when I'll read this book. I'm a travesty of a sham, asphyxiating under a TBR pile.)

Nil Nil is a poetry collection by Aberdonian poet Don Paterson. I got this book last December from an incredible place in Oxford called The £3 Bookshop. They sell NEW BOOKS for £3 EACH?!! How does that business make money? I HAVE NO IDEA. When I go to Oxford, will I fritter away my life's savings in increments of £3 and buy everything from the entire shop? Yeah, probably!


Also bought in The £3 Bookshop! What a place. This is one of my FAVOURITE BOOKS EVER and I can't wait to reread!

A Further Stack // the university edition



Yup, these books are all new (to me) for the purposes of my degree! Ahahahaha. Who needs education, right? I think I'll pack it in, move to Paraguay and herd alpacas. I do love South America ...

I got my reading list for Oxford a month ago. It is ... what's that word? Long. As you can tell from those books! I'm meant to read all those by October?! As well as Great Expectations and Moby Dick, (not pictured because I already owned them)?! The alpacas look more and more inviting ...

I did have a small crisis when I got the list. Suddenly the next three years of my life lay stark before me: read through the list. Go to uni. Study, write essays, die a little. Get reading list for next term. Go home for Christmas holidays. Read through list. Return to uni. Study, write essays, fall further into Tartarus. And repeat for three years??

You hear people say it, don't you, that studying books ruins the love of books. Allow me to be a massive narcissist for a minute and quote myself. This is what I said on this blog on 1st October, 2016 (which is actually not far off a year ago. WHAT IS THIS THING WE CALL TIME):
I'm currently going through the uni application process again.  I have unexpectedly had to navigate people telling me a) not to apply to the uni I want to go to and b) even more bafflingly, not to apply for English Lit ... 
my exact face
"But, Emily, studying English means studying books and thinking about books and writing about books and criticising books and you've not been taught it in school the way it will be at uni! AND YOU'LL STOP LOVING BOOKS!"

 
I'm not trying to be an annoying 17y/o who disregards adults' advice and generally yells "YOU DON'T KNOW MY LIFE, MOM*" ... but equally, don't patronise me and tell me that what I think I want is not actually what I want?! In fact, I know what I want. And I'm not expecting uni to be the same as school, obviously, and even if I do get there and hate studying English I can always drop out and still like reading, it's not as if I'll be like "SHAKESPEARE IS A LIE AND GATSBY NEVER HAPPENED!" 
*To clarify, it's not my actual mom" who has said these things. She's a great lady. 
So you can see, my past self was mighty convinced that this Stopping Loving Books thing would DEFINITELY NEVER HAPPEN. "Don't patronise me and tell me what I think I want is not actually what I want?!" I said in a rather angsty way. I STILL STICK BY MY ANGSTY PAST SELF. But I did have that moment of horror where I wondered, what if I could find my degree a grind?

I don't think so, though. Because I've had such a great time with the books so far. I've read Moby Dick, which was blimming great, and Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction -- fascinating -- and some great poetry by Browning, and I'm now really enjoying The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, so I can confirm that I do not hate books. And anyway, since getting the list I read The Mark of Athena. I'm not going to stop reading YA and fantasy. That just isn't going to happen. I WILL ALWAYS MAKE TIME FOR PERCY. (Gosh, though, my Percy emotions are running high at the moment. SOMEBODY HOLD ME.)

I'll leave the angsty rant there for today, but send me good vibes for getting through the reading list!

Peter LiversidgeĆ¢€™s-everythingisconnected:
[source]
In Life

SO IN JUNE I MET ASHLEY.

Ashley! As in the blogger behind [oddly novel title], the co-hoster of Footnotes, the beta reader of my first novel, and my great friend of several years! 

SHE CAME TO SCOTLAND AND WE HAD LUNCH.

throwback to when I had dreads
My mother was very concerned. She kept saying things like "but are you SURE she's a real person?" and "don't get in a car with her!" There is quite a lot of stigma surrounding internet friendships -- firstly, the assumption that the people we talk to online are definitely secretly 50y/o men, and the idea that "internet friendships aren't real friendships". It was absolutely wonderful to meet an internet friend face to face! We had such a nice afternoon. Unfortunately we spent it in a rather down-at-heel small town north of Glasgow -- I wished Ashley could have seen better parts of Scotland than that! -- but in spite of the less than inspiring setting, it was pretty delightful. Have you ever met an internet friend? Don't forget to hit me up if you're ever in Scotland!

AND SHE GAVE ME A BOOK?!


Basically, 90% of our friendship is based on Sherlock gifs. Ashley is a better person than me and has actually read some of the books, instead of just watching the BBC series (side note, I still haven't finished series 4?! It came out while I was in Kenya!), and is encouraging me to do the same!

Such a good day, folks!


In July I went to Dublin!

I went on holiday with my Kenya team and it was really lovely. I have always been very attracted by the celtic magic of Ireland, the myth and the music. Dublin is a great city, both exciting and traditional. We got lost around the cobbled streets; walking out in the long July evenings live music would float from the beautiful pubs and bars. Once I did a bit of impromptu ceilidh dancing in the street, to the tune of a busking fiddler. There was so much character in each lovely Georgian building, and the River Liffey, winding through the city's heart, was gorgeous.

I always think there is something so atmospheric about straight beams of sunlight, something divine. The glory of the Lord descending through clouds.
It was a hilarious holiday of art galleries and museums, of cooking pasta in a youth hostel, of walking until our feet blistered because we refused to pay for public transport. Sitting drinking wine by the Liffey, reminiscing about Kenya, wondering about the future, laughing about the present.

One glorious day we walked to the beach. I love cities by the sea.


Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing, sky, ocean, cloud and outdoor
It was so nice to spend time with these girls. Ft. the fun skirt I got made in Kenya.
Of course, no holiday would be complete without some secondhand book-buying! Because I really have nothing to read .... *ahem*

Chosen because The Road by McCarthy is one of my faves.


It was a great holiday! (I spent a lot of time looking out for Derek Landy, who lives in Ireland, but somehow didn't manage to spot him. It's so fun, though, seeing the place where your fave books (in this case, Skulduggery) are set!)

[source]
In Writing

I am redrafting Stay In the City!


No but seriously! It was November when I finished the first draft of this book! That's like half a year ago! Heck, that's like nearly a whole year ago! It's just SO NICE to be jumping back into the story with my beloved team of characters. I loved working on the first book in May/June/July, but I always had this knowledge that their story had continued past that book, and they needed me in the future! Now it is the future. If that makes sense.

If you want to know more about the book (bless you) you can click here.

This morning I finished reading it and made a Redraft Action Plan. I'm very professional, me.


This is only the second book I'll ever have redrafted! It's a learning curve, right? Right. Ahahahaha.

Seriously, though, I'm excited.


So, I was going to talk about stuff I've been reading recently, but I think I may die if this post gets any longer, and goodness knows how you're feeling! If you actually read this, you're a hero. Anyway, TELL ME ALL THE THINGS: what are you writing? What are you reading? Have you been to Dublin? Do you ever have blogging crises? Are you an internet friendship success story like I am? Have you ever been to the setting of your favourite book and got stupidly excited? Any recent book haul excitements? Share it all!

I'll leave you with this, my most recent favourite thing.

I want this life a painful amount


Until very soon!

~***~

Friday, 4 August 2017

Other Worlds


Footnotes is a new link-up hosted by Ashley and me. For quotation obsessees (and isn't that all of us?). This month's prompt is: a quotation from an author.

Adams Carvalho
[source]
“Characters pre-exist. They are found. They reveal themselves slowly – as might fellow-travellers seated opposite one another in a very dimly-lit railway carriage.” ~ Eudora Welty

I had to Google this quotation to find its source, Eudora Welty. A Goodreads search told me she’s a twentieth-century writer from Mississippi. I did not know this before. These words were simply written on a scrap of lined paper, stuck to my wall: a jotting from an English lesson some year or two ago, copied down without reference. Nonetheless, I have long loved this quotation and often thought about it.

Characters are not names and eye colours and favourite foods, bullet pointed in a notebook. They are not stick figures. They are at first the whisper of an idea, a shadow, and slowly they move out of darkness and the writer sees them, fully human, having waited there all along.

Often the characters I write surprise me; they do, say or think things completely unexpected, and I look down at my hands, my pen, and think, I am a vessel for someone else.

Is a writer therefore a creator or a conduit? I am a prophetess, looking through the veil from this world to another. Think of fantasy lands; do they not spread, real and vast, far beyond the brains of their writers? Does George RR Martin know every complexity, every inhabitant, of Westeros? Did Tolkien look upon Middle Earth with the benevolent smile of a god; or did he gaze up at its hills and wonder? I think it was the latter. I think there is a third space, between our physical world and the writer’s abstract brain, where all the multitudes of voices from fiction dwell. A parallel universe? A series of parallel universes, bobbing against each other like a conglomeration of stars? Perhaps.

Because it’s true, isn’t it, that readers find things in books which the author did not knowingly place there. Think of those times when you find in a book something so exquisitely specific, so pertinent, it makes you sit back, blinking with recognition. Haven’t you found yourself in the books you read? You have known the book, as the author themselves did not know it. But the truth you have found is real, valid, not merely a cheap insertion of your circumstances or emotions. It is there, shining from the page. Must it not, then, exist somewhere, somewhere neither the author’s brain nor yours?

It amazes and excites me, this shadowland of people, places and ideas, just waiting for someone to discover then. All the books I’ve not yet written, all the characters I haven’t met, seem to float around me, like fish lying deep out of sight in a still dark pool.

To return to Welty’s image of the train: I am a passenger on a journey, heading I don’t know where, and all the possible destinations fill me with wonder. What a privilege, to pull back the curtain and look upon another world, here in the dimly-lit railway carriage.

Agata Wierzbicka_Hidden
[source] // Agata Wierzbicka
ft. my wall
~***~

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Introducing Footnotes (new link-up, get excited!)

If there's one thing readers, writers, bloggers and even normal humans love doing, it's quoting each other.

AA Milne wrote, “[A] quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business." I enjoy the irony of this -- when he wrote these words, did he picture future generations wanting to quote it, yet not wanting to quote it for fear of hypocrisy, and laugh to himself? Maybe there's truth in it, too; maybe sometimes we hide behind the words of others. But I'm sure that our yen for quotations is more than a cheap recycling of others' thoughts. To explain what I mean -- and, in the explanation, give an example -- I'm going to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald.

It's all getting a bit meta, isn't it?

F. Scott Fitzgerald

We quote others because, when their words match our feelings, we find ourselves part of some great and unstoppable tide of literature. Others have stood where you stand now. Others have felt what you are feeling, and translated that heart into language, and spoken it out. “You belong."

Now, do you remember way back in the dark and misty past of October 2015?

Hahaha, me neither, but reliable sources tell me that was the month when Ashley and I started a link-up called Starting Sparks. 

Starting Sparks has since reached its conclusion -- to quote (see, there's a theme going on here, folks) a wise Kenyan baker, “Everything that has a beginning has an end." But your favourite dynamic link-up hosting duo is back, and, to quote someone somewhere, “it's going to be fun!"


It's an easy concept, really. On the first of each month, Ashley and I will post a quotation-related prompt. You will choose a quotation and tell us why. That simple. This month we're starting easy:

A quotation from an author.

Hope to see you around!

~***~

(And, to start us off on a good note, comment one or more of your favourite quotations!)