Very short Update!

I am a graduate!

I graduated today!

12 months are validated as I dressed up, walked across the stage, got my handshake and collected written proof that I had completed my degree in front of my family, my friends and their families and friends.

This is one of the better pictures my mum took (she has problems focusing for some reason).

Thank you to Kingston University, all my lecturers and all the friends I’d made along the way to reaching this goal!

EDIT: 27/01/2017!

ANOTHER ONE! Travelled all the way down to Brighton. My brother is also a graduate!2017-01-27 13.29.57

 

Stretched thin: A learning curve

It’s summer term.

Well, it would be the summer term, if I was still taking classes.

I’ve learned about my limits. I’ve learned about prioritising. I’ve learned about self care.

So, after the Easter break, I had an overloaded schedule. I was travelling and working almost every single day of the week… and I was not coping well. What exactly was taking up my time?

  • Researching and writing assignments for my MA.
  • Attending the final few days of lectures.
  • Working 3-4 days a week at my university on a charity campaign.
  • Interning 3 days a week at a company in North London.
  • Babysitting after these various classes and jobs.
  • Looking for & applying post grad jobs and internships.
  • Trying to squeeze socialising into the few hours I had to spare.

I don’t want to complain about it, because I signed up for all of this. I was stubborn. I refused to reach out for help, or prioritise properly out of pride, and to be honest I suffered for it- but damn, did I learn.

Basically… I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating right. I only had one working hand and, to be honest, I’m still working on rehydrating myself because despite all of the above, I was still trying to act like I could handle it. Like I wasn’t struggling. Like I had the time to go out with friends and attend events because to present anything other than the image perfection (even if I was failing to juggle everything) was something I could not do.

I need to be able to understand that while I can do so many things at once, doesn’t mean that I should– especially when I’m trying to perform at a high standard. Because I’m still recovering from a burn out. So I need to learn how to say “No.” Which funnily enough was one of the things we were taught on the course, clearly it has taken a while to sink in.

I need to be able to ask for help. Suffering in silence is not cool, it doesn’t make me stronger- only tired. Despite my broken hand, I was still trying to perform as though I had both hands at my disposal. And never actually able to reach those goals, which had me feeling down because I knew people who had situations that I saw as “harder” than mine continuing to do great things- and I’m terribly self-critizing. And I’ve not been able to break the habit of comparing myself to others just yet.

I need to feel comfortable unplugged. I spent almost every waking hour on the in front of a luminously bright screen, which did not help me get as much sleep as I needed. (I believe it has something to do with the blue screen?) I’ve recently downloaded a set off applications that mimic artificial light when the sun goes down- so that my brain knows the time to sleep is soon. I’ve even started to leave my laptop downstairs and my phone across the room instead of giving into temptation of accessing them when I’m frustrated by how long it’s taking for sleep to visit me.

I need to make time for myself, I need to take care of myself. It’s not normal to literally be crying over spilled milk  (in private, quietly and ashamed) because everything else has you so high strung that a small spill feels like the end of the world. In joining my council library, I’ve given myself access to thousands of books with no extra stress on my wallet, which has given me the opportunity to actually read for pleasure with no guilt, and I have never been more thankful.

And now, as my load has lightened, I honestly do not need to put myself through so much stress again in the year. Having this experience so close to the three months that I have to  work on my dissertation? I’m trying to find the silver lining. Kinda succeeding too.

 

& then I broke my hand…

I have had such a good few months. I levelled up successfully to 23 years on Earth, started my internship, managed to get along well at my part-time fundraising job, finalised my dissertation title and topic, attended the London Book Fair, gave the last of my presentations and started to work on my last 3 essay assignments.

And then I broke my hand. (23 years of my life gone without serious injury, until Friday 15th April 2016)

My left ring finger to be exact. A spiral fracture. I actually can’t use my pinkie finger because the two are taped together, and every time I try to use my middle finger in any way- I hiss like a cat being lowered into a flea bath (it hurts like hell). Oh, and my injury is now in a plaster cast so I have a greying Zoidburg claw instead of a left hand.

Do you know how hard it is to type with literally seven fingers? I never realised how much I used leftie so much, until it was gone from me. Washing my hair by myself is no longer possible (I guilt my mum into helping me), I have to wear a strange rubber thing over the plaster so as not to get it wet and ruin my body’s attempt of healing.

Exam and deadline season have been a right mess to deal with.

Yesterday was the date of my (only, and hopefully last) exam. Normally I would be excited at the prospect of enjoying summer evenings in the park, sipping on cider in between job applications . Now?

I just can’t wait to wash and moisturise my hand when the cast comes off…

To be able to type at full speed again because I have a dissertation coming up…

To take off the nail polish on the fingers obscured by plaster and bandages.

Adulting and Auditing- Building Reader Communities

Apparently I do not sit through enough lectures on my course.

Why do I say this? Because on Wednesday I attended a panel on Building Reader Communities at Greenwich University. Unlike my regularly scheduled lectures, this event was held in the evening, and also… there was wine (a major plus).

Building Reader Communities? I thought it would be focusing on something like what the Royal Burough of Greenwich is doing to improve literacy rates in the council. But that’s what happens when you click attend to an Eventbrite event that you haven’t read the description of properly.

I was wrong. But pleasantly surprised.

In as little words as possible, this panel was hosted with people with experience in building a repertoire with consumers, heavily featuring recommended reads or acts, online fundraising campaigns and general fan interaction. I casually called it the “fandom conversation”.

The panel consisted of 4 (originally 5) people whose interaction with their communities in the physical and online world helped them in their endeavours. Our panelists were the Co-Directors of the Greenwich Book Festival, Auriol Bishop and Alex Pheby; Meike Ziervogel, novelist and founder of Peirene Press (they do translated “un-sellable” books); Alexis Kennedy, CEO of Interactive Fiction Studio Failbetter Games and Kate Russel, a tech reporter and author of Elite: Mostly Harmless, a novel based in the Elite Game World who attended via pre-recorded message.

We discussed the various ways that they have used their position in reader communities to promote their work and courses simply through interaction. Alexis Kennedy and Kate Russel both talked about crowdfunding and appealing to existing markets looking for new products- which were games based on literature, and literature based on games respectively. Meike Ziervogel was passionate about how publishers can do more for their authors in representing and creating a brand that communities are curious about, and therefore investigate.  Auriol Bishop and Alex Pheby focused on how they try and elevate new author’s voices, especially those of Greenwich Uni’s Creative Writing students during the Greenwich Book Festival.

From them, I have learned 5 basic tips about building a reading community from. Below,  in no particular order are these 5 tips for building a successfully engaged, enthusiastic community, with some quotes from the panelists as back up.


Unfortunately due to drinking wine and taking notes,these quotes cannot be properly credited, which does suck tremendously.


1. Be aware of the fact that community and audience are not the same. A community is more likely to enjoy your product if it is interactive, and audience implies passive consumption of your product.

“Audience is passive.”

2.  Be genuine and interact with your community. Don’t just peddle your wares, take note of what others are doing and give them feedback because they will be more likely to return the favour. Interaction can also lead to hiring from the community.

“Find something you love and show interest in the genuine community.”

3. Be regular and consistent. Have a regular appointment to post a blog feature, set a number of tweets that need to be produced a day. Anything that keeps you constantly active in the community can only help.

“Keep the show on the road or you might not be able to continue to do so.”

4. Be creative. Pair this with consistency, find new or perfect old ways to engage with your community and bring fresh perspectives to them. Do not wait for your genius to be discovered, trust your gut and write for the sake of writing [if you write], not to sell.

“Go and create!”

5. Hold your nerve. In what you believe and in what you like and what you know the community has been proven to like, sometimes this is where bigger corporations can fail.

“We’re good at knowing whats good.”


Greenwich Book Festival is held during the 27th and 28th of May this year (2016).
Elite: Mostly Harmless Elite:Dangerous is available for sale on Amazon, Kate is working on the second instalment of the series.
Failbetter Games have just launched Fundbetter in order to crowdsource for the production of their smaller, narrative-drivenn games.
Peirine Press have recently announced a winner for their flash fiction online competition an will be publishing breach by Olumide Popoola & Annie Holmes in August (2016).

When it rains, it pours.

When I was little and we used to visit my parents’ family “back home” there were two things I loved the most about the weather.

  1. Summer in England is Rainy Season in Trinidad & Tobago.
  2. The rain is warm and hard, but not often.

It’s Rainy Season in my life.

I’m in the second term of my MA Publishing course now. I feel like the time has gone too quickly, I am learning so much and I have learned so much. I’m actually making progress on  surrounding myself with like-minded people and I have an understanding of the industry that the person I was a year ago was only vaguely aware of.

As January came to a close and I realised that I was already halfway through February, (oh, not to mention that Easter is early this year which means I have a lot of March off) I finish classes around April. I feel like I’ve taken the International Baccalaureate all over again, instead my five terms have been halved.

I’m getting the chance to help bring a short story anthology into print. I’m coming up with and practising a pitch for a hypothetical mobile app that I think could increase the number of readers-for-pleasure in those aged twenty-five and under. I’m still looking for that placement, and I’ve yet to be discouraged or focused on putting all of my eggs in any one basket. And finally, I’m coming up with the bare bones of what I think could be a study on Fantasy fiction for my dissertation.

It is a lot to handle- and yet I am doing it?

For a while I was feeling overwhelmed. I think I don’t often let myself go through the short panic, I used to let it consume me for at least a month before the pressure got to great and I perfected my fail or fly baby bird imitation.

Before when I was going through these situations in life, it felt like I was taking an ice-shower in Hoth- too cold to do anything other than stay in place and wait for it to pass by so I could finally make a chance to move on. Now, it feels a lot more like the hot rains back home, lying in the conservatory alcove opposite the stone mermaid and under a galvanised roof and listening to the raindrops pound against it. I have red stained lips on account of all the salted prunes I’ve been eating and the bottles of Chubby Reggae Red I’ve been drinking. The mosquitoes aren’t biting my legs and the dog is hiding from the rain with me. A book is lying across my lap and every now and then the wind changes direction and I get a little rain sprayed in my face- but it isn’t enough to drench me.

And I am fine.

 

 

 

Let’s get down to business, to defeat the cold

This week has been different than what I’ve gotten used to over the past two months. It’s broken my schedule, and for a while my motivation. The thing that’s messed me up? The common cold… To everyone else it’s a nuisance for me it’s one of those medicine chugging, tissue paper piling up in rubbish bags, late night wheezing and sleep depriving illness. I am a wimp who can’t function well when ill.

It hit right smack in the middle of my first reading week, which was also my first week away from my job in about six months. I’d expected to spend the week catching up on my reading, socializing and sleeping, but no… that was not on the cards for me. Other than one outing to the cinema and a ridiculously quiet night at a ‘spoons, I couldn’t muster up the will to leave my warm home.

All the cold and flu remedies became redundant Monday evening. No combination of rum, honey, ginger and lemon, no Antihistamine, no Olbas oil in my pillow, no Vicks rubdown could prevent me from e-mailing in to my lecturers with a very sorry, much more formal “I’m ill, I can’t come in.” in the morning. So my Tuesday, which I usually spend on campus from twelve to eight, was instead spent in bed with fluids and a bin by my side as I drifted in and out to sleep with a old podcasts playing in the background. It’s been only one day since, and I already feel better. My head is clearer, as are my sinuses, and not spending two hours a day on public transport, packed like sardines with other equally sick people has really helped.

In my slight increase of health, I’ve found that I’m a bit of the domestic goddess now (I can fold fitted sheets correctly apparently). All the chores that I left abandoned for the past week, and the schoolwork I had put aside in order to focus on healing have been initiated. I’ve submitted one of my assessments and am working on the second all the while looking for a placement. It’s taken a while but I think I’m finally in tune with this MA student thing. I’m feeling accomplished like.

And I know I love my course. I was so devastated that I had to taken even one day off, it was definitely academic FOMO. Though I’m not sure how much I would have learned with my head aching to high heaven and trying not to disturb my classmates with my constant sneezing, sniffling and wheezing. I just know I’m excited to head back next week.

La Première Entrée

It’s the start of a new academic year. I want to avoid cliche’s but I truly feel as though I’m turning over a new leaf already. This time last year, I was struggling to find work and dealing with the permanent move from my university home in The North, back to London. This year? I applied for and accepted a place to study a Publishing Masters at a wonderful university close to home.

It’s been about three weeks since my induction and I am so beyond excited to be an active student again. I wonder how my student life in London will compare to my time in Cheshire, how I’m going to manage the workload of an MA as opposed to a BA, how I’m going to juggle schoolwork and actual adult work, how I’m going to cope living with my parents while studying full-time.

Well I’ll tell you this, I’m already finding myself at ease communicating my peers. I haven’t been in such a small class for a while, the higher in education you go, the smaller the classes get it seems. I’m a little relieved that I have a chance to become more intimately acquainted with my fellow 30-odd students than I did with the 100+ of my undergraduate course. Already, it feels familiar to see their faces, learn their names and go out for a cheeky Nandos between lectures(!)

So this blog?

The plan is to use it to document this new year, this new experience, my new encounters. This new me.

This has been the first entry, La Première Entrée. Fingers crossed there’ll be more.