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Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Professional Writer: My Professional Profile

Shit just got real on my degree.

Up until now, when people asked me about my degree, I would respond that it’s ‘laid back’. This is where that all changes.

We’ve started to push down on the accelerator as we drive along the road towards being a writer, and as such, that demands some changes.

This blog will continue to run and be updated, but rather than having a seperate category for work-related things, I’ve just gone that extra step and started a new page altogether. It’s called Emrys’ Escapes.

So far only the ‘About’ section has been uploaded, but as time goes by, I’ll try and post some portfolio building stuff. And if my lecturer is correct, that means two posts a week, whether that be on this blog or the other.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit scared.

I’m just going to continue to think about my Halloween costume to take my mind off of it.

I’m going as a pussycat.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2015 in Life

 

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Accidentally published this without a title, and thus, this is now the title (Short Stories)

I figured it was about time for an update and the best part is, what with all the quick little writing workshops we’ve been doing on our course, there’s no need to write any new material. Huzzah!

#Laziness

Also, because although all these things are pretty short, together they add up to something mighty, I thought I’d just throw out a little plea here. If anyone has any humorous or interesting stories about Tinder, I’d love to hear them for a compilation of writing I want to try… uh… writing. The names would all be kept confidential, of course.

Anyway, the first piece is a short story I had to write revolving around the word ‘Malaise’ (don’t worry, I didn’t know what it meant either at the time).

Malaise

He sat there, un-moving, as he stared out the window. In the time he had been sitting on the train, many people had come and gone, but he had remained, like a lone sentinel, guarding the carriage. In time, someone decided to engage him in conversation. She was a friendly looking young woman, wearing a pantsuit and carrying a small briefcase. She was rather flustered as she explained to him that she was on her way to work.

“It’s my first day at the job” she blurted at him, blushing slightly. The excitement was rippling off of her.

In response, he simply refocused his gaze from the outside scenery and smiled slightly, before nodding, and looking back. The woman looked down, slightly put-off. She had thought the man handsome, and figured his encouragement would send her down a good path for the day. She tried again.

“Where is it you’re off to?” she asked him.

“Crewe” he muttered back.

“Oh dear” she started.

“Yeah, I know, I know. Crewe’s a horrible place” he said as he returned his gaze to the scenery outside.

“No, it’s not that, I meant to say that Crewe was where I got on; that was two stops ago” she explained to him.

“Oh. That’s a shame” he claimed. His attention still focused on the scenes unfolding outside his window. It had started to rain, and at this, a slight smile snuck onto his lips before quickly disappearing.

Before she could continue, the train pulled to a stop. The man made no effort to move; instead he now studied the people milling around outside on the platform.

“Don’t you think you should get off here and head back?” the woman asked him.

“You think so?” he asked, but again, before she could answer, the train pulled off once more. She looked at him uneasily. By this stage, she had stopped adjusting her clothes to look smart and presentable, and had begun switching between staring sadly at him, and trying to find what he was looking for out the window.

Meanwhile, from the back of the carriage, the conductor locked eyes on the man and began marching forcefully forward.

The man matched his gaze, before looking back out the window.

Next up is a short story written in parataxis format. We could write it about whatever we wanted. I promise it isn’t telling of my true thoughts.

There’s no title, but I’m sure you can figure out what it’s about:

It was too much. My housemates were rushing down the stairs. Someone was banging at my door. Blood stained the carpet. The banging continued. I looked at the knife. I looked at her face. She was motionless…  

The next short story is one we had to write using some instructions about either baking a cake or changing a tire. Being the manly man that I am, I chose the cake. And thus, it is aptly called:

The Cake

“Bit heavy on the sugar there”

“You’re not helping Jessica” I growled, secretly fearing she was right.

“I’m just saying, you don’t want to give the kid diabetes for his birthday. No one wants that”

I shot her the most hateful look I could, attempting to remind her that her presence here wasn’t necessary. She smiled at me devilishly, before pouring another glass of wine. She then poured a second glass and offered it to me. The wine was bright crimson; it fired horrid thoughts of splattering her blood across the room with my rolling pin. I took the glass and had a sip.

“Careful you don’t let that go to your head. You don’t want the cake to be even worse than its currently shaping up to be” she smirked.

I added the lemon zest, savouring the zesty aroma and hoping it would distract me from the incessant pestering my ex-step-sister was offering.

“Is there not something more useful you could be doing with your time? Blowing up balloons perhaps?”

She laughed at my question; a strong hearty laugh that descended into a fit of coughing. She then calmed herself with a sip of wine, before pulling out a cigarette. “Oh sweetie, you’re hilarious. I don’t have the lungs for blowing up balloons. Get Michael to do it”

She lit up her cigarette, whilst simultaneously lighting up another grin. I wanted to punch her in the face.

“Please don’t smoke in here” I asked, trying to hide my frustration as I beat together the lemon juice, water and vanilla. I paused as I reached for more icing sugar, only to be interrupted as she blew a huge cloud of smoke at me, driving me into a coughing frenzy.

“I don’t understand why you didn’t just order a cake anyway. That’s what Michael was planning to do”

“Well, I’m the one throwing the party, so I’m doing it my way. Not Michael’s” I explained to her, tipping in some more icing sugar and resuming my thankless beating of the mixing bowl.

“How old is Timothy, anyway? Fifteen? He probably doesn’t even care about the cake”.

“You’re seriously not helping, Jessica”.

This next story is called The Probe. I don’t think there was any specifications here; just my warped mind at work. We eventually had to whittle it down to 120 words, but that version really doesn’t make any sense. We did however generally have to have a ‘resolution’ that the story was about. This one, I suppose, is about knowing your limits when it comes to drink…

Oh God, my head. I drank far too much last night. I, wait…

It’s dark. Cold. Where am I? Metals floors. Metal walls. Oh God, oh God, what’s happening? Movement outside. Footsteps. Someone’s coming this way. ‘Okay, okay, what’s in here? A picture. A picture of—

What the hell? Is that a hard drive? How on Earth did it get up there? I really hope that’s not mine. 

Before I can check, the door smashes open. A man saunters in. He looks at me with intense fury.

“How did you do it?” he demands.

“Do what?! I don’t know what on Earth is going on!”

“The hard drive belongs to our employer. He wants it back. Give it to us”

“I seriously don’t know what you’re talking about” I blurt at him, although I’m starting to piece it together. It is mine. It is definitely mine.

“Look man. If this X-Ray is of me, I don’t know what happened. I just woke up here. That’s all I know. I swear!” I shriek at him, as he lumbers forward, ready to take action.

I feel an intense pain as he delivers a punch to my jaw and my head springs from his fist to the cold hard flooring. Blood splatters across it.

“Please, don’t–” I beg. He hits me again.

“How did you do it?” he screams at me, following through with another brain-shaking punch.

“I shall ask one more time, how did you do it?” He demands. He continues to stare intensely at me from his dark, seemingly lifeless eyes. I stare back. He’s a hairy herculean man. Not the sort you’d want to mess with. Not the sort you’d want making demands about how you woke up with an important hard drive stuck up your arse.

These final few extracts are less short stories, more just… extracts, I suppose. They’re just things. Good things though, I hope. Read away.

The first was one in which I had to write about a new place or person I encountered. Again, fairly self explanatory:

He was a rather burly man, with a thick handlebar mustache that marked him out as someone who would no doubt have undergone various masculine endeavors in his younger years. Had I not heard him speak, I could have seen him as having once been a cowboy who had misplaced his stetson and gotten lost in Cornwall.

Similarly, before I had properly engaged him in conversation, he had carried the air of a man of the community. In keeping with the idea of him as a cowboy, he would have perhaps been a sheriff, but instead of raising his hat like they do in the movies, he would instead raise his cigarette and nod as he walked past my house.

“What are you up to today then?” he asks me as I sit down on the bus. I tell him about my ‘homework’, where I essentially just have to go somewhere new. He laughs at this. “Alright for some”, he jokes, before telling me he’s just finished work in Truro. Turns out he’s a counselor, dashing my mental image of him wrangling animals and roughhousing in taverns. 

Damn. So close, right?

Next up is a piece about George Orwell being shot, which we had to rewrite as someone else. I chose Jack Kerouac (don’t worry, it’s nearly over now).

It was a fantastical sound, one that ripped through the sky, seeming to stop time in its tracks. I knew in this moment that I had been shot, for a most terrible pain ripped through my body. It was the most terrible pain in all the world.

I thought in that moment of all the people in my life, and how I would never see them again. I thought of New York, and those women that I had danced with and loved and who had a beauty that was not matched by any others.

I tried to move my arm, but shock and numbness had overcome me as I lay in the dirt, unable to move or speak. I thought of one girl in particular as blood poured forth from my mouth. A bright crimson red, that filled me with both awe and an intense sadness.

The final part of this is something I wrote today. We had to write a reference, for ourselves, using the voice of someone we admire. I chose my aunt Mary. There are several reasons for this, which I won’t go into here. You may have noticed her name pop up in a few news stories about the influx of immigrants in Calais.

The fake reference is as follows. I hope those who know her will appreciate it.

I believe my nephew would be a promising addition to your organisation. He is a kind and motivated boy who has the drive to accomplish any task that is set before him.

His working methods are stable and effective and despite his young age he has amassed a wealth of experience in dealing with people through his time at the Ruthin Tandoori takeaway, Café-R restaurant, Leonardo’s delicatessen, Homewood Bound shop and volunteering for the Nightline organisation.

All of these various jobs have given him the discipline to manage various tasks at a time, and I truly believe that one day he may be able to keep up with my routine of walking the dogs, looking after the kids, dealing with their humorous but slightly outrageous (and very, very French) father, cooking, building schools, looking after refugees, teaching English, studying extra degrees, hosting guests, taking in any animal I set eyes on, writing magazine articles, setting up a cafe and riding my horses all on a daily basis. He has potential, and may one day be as hardworking as I am. But probably not, because it may not be humanly possible.

Perhaps you should just hire me instead; I’ve managed to free up a spare few hours on top of all that; don’t ask me how, I’m just bloody fantastic at time management.

Made it all the way through? Well, it’s appreciated. Give yourself a pat on the back and know you have my thanks. I’ll send some positive thoughts your way when I think you need them. Don’t ask how I’ll know because I haven’t figured it out yet.

TTFN xo

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Life

 

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Chirpy Charity Workers

I feel a bit bad typing this, but oh well.

First off, I do admire the people who work for charities; I think you’re doing a stand-up job and devoting your life to a good cause. For that, I salute you.

Unfortunately, as I’m going to put forward as one of my ‘resolutions’ for potential short stories we have to write in class tomorrow, “Working for charity doesn’t necessarily make you a nice person”.

Now, my two examples here aren’t necessarily nasty people, but talking to them both actually made me not want to give money to their specific charities; a more accurately, give money to their charities, but not via them.

Is that petty?

Yeah, I suppose. But screw you. This is my blog, I can say what I want.

So I got paid for the first time since January yesterday; not because I had a boss who neglects me and I was too stupid to leave, but because I’ve never before worked at university until now. I’ve spent the last month working as a sandwich artist. Seriously, it’s in my sub-title right up there. You should know this already.

I thought I may indulge myself a bit and go shopping. I haven’t bought new clothes for a while. So I hopped on the train to Truro, and visited River Island, Topman and TK MAXX. Gotta love that last one.

I did want something specific from H&M, but unfortunately the nearest store they have is in Plymouth. Cornish problems. Am I right?!

I can say that now; I live in Cornwall, just in case you’re new to this whole thing. In which case, shame on you.

Anyway, I’m walking down the street, and this man stops me to ask if he can talk about his charity. I’m in no rush, I’m rolling a fag and I feel sorry for these guys who spend their days being ignored by everyone. So I say yes.

He’s ecstatic about this, joking that most people just shout at him when he tries to talk to them. It’s a joke, yes, but it’s also implied that he doesn’t get much of a chance to push his cause. I am one of the few indulging him in this respect. Remember that.

So he starts telling me about his charity, a worthwhile one, for sure. He then starts explaining that he doesn’t want money, which made me suspicious. Everyone wants something. Everyone. Especially charities.

He goes on to say that he’s trying to collect ‘people’ rather than pounds. He wants to be able to go to the government in the future, and explain that these people support us.

It is at this moment I realize that he’s trying to be sly and does want my money, but regularly and more than I would have given him at the present moment. I try to stop him. He ignores me and continues, finishing his pitch with the exact ploy I had already figured out.

I apologized and said although I’d be happy to give him money now, I couldn’t commit to something like that, because a) I’m a student and b) furthering that, it’s rare that my bank account exceeds £0. My overdraft is far too familiar to me.

He then looks at me with judgment in his eye, and suggests that I may never get to positive monetary figures, and also, he’s a 26 year old unemployed musician.

These statements paired with his obvious judgment, believe it or not, didn’t make me inclined to give him my bank details. Instead, they made me think that perhaps, PERHAPS, (this is now directed at the guy in question of course) you should fuck off out of my face and get a job before you suggest other people should part with the cash they’ve earned.

Now, it’s not that I’m judging him as such, or that I think people shouldn’t give money to charity.

It’s just that first part was a lie; I am judging him and I take issue with what he said for numerous reasons. Said reasons are as follows:

Firstly, your obvious ploy to make me think you’re better than me because you’re unemployed yet still work for charity is insulting. You don’t know my story. I used to volunteer for a charity when I didn’t have a job and although my role didn’t involve asking for money, if it did, I would know when to give up.

Secondly, what has you being 26 or a musician got to do with anything? I didn’t tell you my age. I could be older than you for all you know. Am I? No, but you don’t know that. All that suggests is that you’re taking longer to get your act together than I have. I’m 21 and I have a job. Is it a great one? Fuck no. But I needed one so I got one. I understand that can be hard, but using your unemployment for pity can start to make your whole argument slightly questionable. And the musician thing? Why are you telling me that? I write things, but I don’t actually go around saying I’m a writer regardless of what my lecturers say; I say I’m a sandwich artist; that is my job. If I publish a book or get a job that involves writing, I might introduce myself as writer, rather than a sandwich artist and writing STUDENT. For all I know, you could be shit at music, hence why you’re unemployed. Conversely, you may be a fantastic musician, but choose to put aside your passion so you can help a charity.

I don’t know. I only met you for about two minutes. Likewise, you don’t know me. And yes, I realize I’m being a tad hypocritical about judging him after acknowledging that he did the same thing to me despite us only encountering each other for a few minutes. Which leads into my next point.

What he should have known.

What he should have known was that when I said I’m a student, there was an implication that I don’t have any money, as the student stereotype suggests. I was shopping, yes, but I was getting a bit tired of wearing the same things over and over. Some new jeans that fit properly, didn’t smell like Subway and aren’t ripped seemed like a worthy investment.

I shouldn’t have felt the need to explain myself. However, I did leave the encounter feeling bad, because I would have liked to be able to help but realized I couldn’t personally commit to the cause in the way that he was suggesting.

This was the exact same problem with the last charity worker I spoke to. I met a man who worked for Oxfam in Durham. Our conversation started in much the same way as this previous one. Although he did actually have a bucket on him, I again was rolling a cigarette and in no hurry. I stopped, gave him money, and he asked if he could take my name and number because he needed to get feedback on his work to prove he was actually doing his job. He was lovely, so I said yes. He continued to explain that they may also ask if I wanted to give further donations; but this man, seeing that I was probably a student, also explained that I should just be able to tell his coworkers that I couldn’t commit to their cause, if that was in fact the case.

Two days later, they called me, but I was catching up with a friend, so I quickly said I couldn’t talk right now, but the guy was doing a good job although unfortunately I couldn’t afford to make regular donations. They said that was fine.

Then they said they’d call me back the next day and quickly hung up.

Fuck.

So the next day comes; I’m back in Leicester, my home at the time, and they call. The guy tries to run through the regurgitated spiel that I’d heard the day previous, so I stopped him in his tracks, and said I couldn’t make a regular donation. He told me it’s not about the amount, so much as the regularity.

I tried the student approach. He was cunning, and blurted back that he was also a student.

This confused me a bit, but he should have known, as I do, that if you ask someone for money, and they reply that they’re a student, there is that aforementioned implication. The implication that they’re perhaps closer to the student stereotype financially than they want to be.

But fuck that. This guy wanted to play ball.

The only thing I could do at that stage was be honest. I told him outright “I’m so far into my overdraft that I only have £20 available”.

He repeated that it wasn’t about how much I could give, but how often.

I pointed out once again that I couldn’t give anything at any point soon. I had twenty pounds to my name and no job.

He kept trying, bless him, the cheeky sod. He explained to me that it didn’t have to be much at all, it could even be one or two pounds a month. I started to think he was enjoying this, as he could almost certainly hear the irritation in my voice.

I had been replying to him in perfect English and thus could comprehend what he was saying. I didn’t need it explaining three times. I’ll admit I snapped at this point, although thankfully no swear words were thrown into the conversation, although I have been known to do that. I’m not always so great talking to businesses on the phone.

“I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU’RE SAYING, BUT I STILL DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY. NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU SAY THAT TO ME, IT’S NOT GOING TO CHANGE. I CAN’T COMMIT THE ONLY TWENTY POUNDS I HAVE TO YOU, NO MATTER HOW MANY INSTALLMENTS THAT’S IN. I JUST CAN’T”

I paused, before he started trying to explain it one last time, as if I had misheard him.

“I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY!” I shrieked quickly, and hung up as my housemate burst out laughing at my annoyance from upstairs.

The guy didn’t call back, thank fuck. I assume he either understood or got confused when someone shouted at him despite the fact he worked for charity.

And that’s my problem. If you work for charity, there is a strong chance you are a nice person. But it doesn’t mean you are one for sure.

If someone says to you “I can’t give you any money”, yes, they may be lying, but it also could mean that they actually can’t spare more than the money they give you in the street. Either way, they’ve made it clear they’re not going to.

Sorry, I just got a text that threw me off. Lost my flow. Not that it really matters, you’re not reading this live after all…

Um. Yeah. You just need to know when to give up, I guess? God, being pushy for a good cause. How dare you.

Seriously though, the homeless I’ve encountered tend to be less insistent and their lives can literally depend on the money you give them. They tend to be nicer too. There have been occasions where I’ve spent a fair amount of time chatting to a homeless person before giving them more money than I would to a charity collector. Were they perhaps exaggerating their emotions to trick me into parting with my dosh?

Probably, but at least they were actually nice about it and listened to what I said.

That was probably a pretty shit ending, I have completely lost focus. I was so close to the end as well. Bloody people texting me.

Totally wasted your time with how long that was as well. Sorry, not sorry.

And here I am still wasting it.

You should probably stop reading now.

Because I’m going to stop writing.

Bye.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2015 in Life

 

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