Rambles, rants and raves

A lot of opinions spilling out of my brain

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Angry TigerI feel like this. The reason for that is multi-faceted and not very hard to explain. But I won’t explain it because I was once told you should never write when you are consumed with emotion – or you should never write anything that may be seen by others when you are consumed with emotions. The best time to write is when your mind is so quiet that you can hear everything you have ever felt and dreamed of and everything you will feel and dream of. You want your mind to be a blank slate rather than a twisted web where you can’t find beginnings or ends.

I often find it harder to write when I am calm. I like to write when an idea sweeps me up in it like a gigantic wave and I have to swim to keep afloat. But maybe that’s why so many things lie unfinished in my desk drawers or in forgotten folders on my laptop. Once the wave of excitement is gone I’m too scared, too judgemental of my own writing to carry on.

That’s the thing with emotions, it is very easy to get swept up in the moment – that’s no bad thing of course, but it does not bode well for when those emotions pass and you are left with the consequences of following your emotions and thinking of little else. I don’t mean in gestures of love, or crazy moments of adventure or of finally taking that step to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Songs, films and novels are created based on those emotional triggers and catching the magic in them.

But there are times when it is best to think, take a step back and breathe. Soak it in and embrace it without having to significantly alter your life or risk altering it in a negative way.

We are not robots obviously and our emotions help make us the people that we are but it’s also worth embracing the calm – the ‘nothing’ – between those moments of euphoria or sadness or anger. It is, after all, where we live most of our lives; not in the extreme but the in-between. I think we would do well to embrace that and enjoy it too. We may become happier, more balanced and better people. Not everything has to be life and death. Joy, or satisfaction, can come from the medium too.



Shorthand has taken over my life

SHERLOCK JR.This is what I should be doing. This would benefit me in many ways, it would help me with the whole journalism thing, it would help me with my blogging and it would help me not feel like ripping my hair out because I have to master the ability of writing at 100 words a minute.

Shorthand has taken over my life and sadly it is a necessary thing to pass the course (the exam is this Friday!) and also a requirement of many, many places.

Wait, you say. You already have a job at your local paper, you say. And I would smile at you with a painful smile and say: “alas I do but I still need my 100 words a minute, I have to have it. It is an expectation.” Then I would hang my head out of exhaustion and the reluctance to face up explaining further as I lock myself in a room and listen to shorthand passages about pubs called The Rose and Crown and planning permission for an old folk’s home.

Shorthand is taking over my life. I seem to have reached my limit somewhere just before the 100. When people speak to me I see the shorthand symbols coming out of their mouths like some weird, journalistic Alice in Wonderland experience. I am practising until either my hand hurts or my brain cannot take any more words and so I can no longer understand what is being said.

If I fail this exam I will carry on until I can retake it in two weeks time, like a weary traveller because that’s how I feel. If I pass, I will rejoice with the biggest celebration I can contemplate in my tired mind, it sounds almost too good to be true: cheesecake, wine and the boy. Perfect.

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The writers’ block

I had tried writing eight different posts on various subjects. I have tried re-writing four previously unfinished posts. I have also tried to create a few picture based posts. I have rewritten and redesigned all of these posts at least two times. I have spent way too long trying to write something that is at least slightly worth reading, entertaining or interesting.

All I got was this.

Yep. That. That’s it. That’s all I got. A damn brick wall. This was after slamming my head into it six times. No epiphany has happened, no amazing black out induced idea. Just a brick wall.

I hate writer’s block.

Writer’s Block is like trying to run a race and someone steals your shoes and tells you that you have to run the race with your legs tied together. You try, you panic, you keep trying, you kid yourself you can do it, you try some more, then you realise trying is futile. You fall flat on your face and wait for something to happen.

It is like being told you have to write a 25 page essay on women’s rights in Chad during the 60s without the use of a library, computer or ability to travel. You don’t even try with this one. Frankly, you realise that this is a fail waiting so you only try for a little while before you realise that you could be doing something else and be feeling productive.

My writer’s block likes to tease me. It gives me a thread and then breaks it as I think: “Holy crap, I think I may be able to knit myself something here” (If I could knit of course or had sewing needles or whatever it is you need to sew – is sewing the same as knitting? I don’t think it is but I digress).

My writer’s block flashes me an image quickly like some stupid game and then tells me to work out the rest. Doesn’t even give me a clue. Just shrugs its shoulders and stares at me. It watches me struggle, the sweat dripping from my brow (not really, that would imply it was hot, which it definitely is not, but it’s dramatic so go with me), my frustration and random grunts that not only scare the boy working next to me but also make me resemble a swine. And it just continues to stare.

Unblinking writer’s blocks are the worst because you know they’re not going away. It’s those that settle with you and like to make you suffer. A lack of inspiration is one thing but writer’s block is like a dementor. It takes everything you have that could have been moulded into something and sits on it. It gives you a wisp of something, gets your hopes up, and then gives you nothing more so that your desperation builds.

The writer’s block loves desperation and there’s not much you can do. It likes to make you squirm and struggle like a mouse caught by a cat. You can’t push through it, you can’t reason with it, you can’t ignore it and you can’t feed it until it submits. The only thing you can do is go: “fine, you win. I wanted a rest anyway.”

I would normally never support giving up. I am all about trying your very hardest until you can’t try no more. But different rules apply to the writer’s block.

So that is exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to walk away. Bury myself in Law and Public Affairs books, watch the X Factor and eat lots of food to make me feel better about myself.

Writer’s block may have won the battle but I will win the war.

Although score’s currently stand at: Writer’s Block – 1498. Me – 2.



Brain Fart: I surrender

I have written nine different types of blog post. From these nine I have written at least seven drafts of each type of blog post (with various subjects). Each of these posts varied in length, some I didn’t get passed three sentences. Others were almost finished and hundreds of words long. All were doomed to go into the trash and be wiped clean from their virtual existence. That’s a lot of effort with nothing to show for it.

Thinking about it frustrates me because I have effectively written sixty three different posts, hated them, and thrown them away. In that time I could have trained myself to become either an international spy, a ninja, or written a novel. Roughly speaking.

That, I can tell you with much sadness, is the result of a brain fart.

This is a brain fart. The only difference is that my brain looks frustrated, tired, and nowhere near as happy at such a moment. But this was the best picture I could find. Oh well. (http://arthurdailies.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/brain-fart_76.html)

Your brain tries, fails, self implodes, tries, fails, self implodes until it can not do anymore and a post like this comes out.

Today I have spent most of my time working my brain, more than should be allowed on a weekend. I have been studying for my course like any awesome student should. I have also been trying to blog whenever inspiration struck me today. Inspiration was a little elusive this Saturday and it’s now 8pm and my fingers and brain have not been able to work together to type up something at least a teeny bit interesting.

I blame the beginning of my course, the endless job applications and thinking of new ways to get employers to give me work experience (more on that another time) and all the shorthand, which is effectively another language (a rant on that will be more than likely in the near future). Oh and the boy arrived yesterday so my brain is just pooped from all the emotions and work it has been through in such a short amount of time. I think it was a shock to the system after a pretty laid back summer.

I guess it’s true: too much work and no play will make my brain crappy. Is that how it goes? No? Well, something along those lines.

This is my official surrender to my brain fart. I am waving the metaphorical white flag. It’s fine, whatever, I don’t even care.

This is my deal: I’ll give my lovely little neuron filled grey matter a rest tonight. I will eat cheesecake, make the most of the rest of tonight relaxing with the boy, possibly play the wii and watch my mum and the boy sob as I destroy them on it, and tomorrow I will be fresh as a daisy to work on journalism things, blog things and work things.

It’s a great deal. Please take it.

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CV Writing

Exciting title for this blog post right? Well I was inspired by, as you may have already guessed, writing my own CV. My CV isn’t even what you may consider a boring CV, I mean there is stuff to read on there in terms of work experience etc. It’s not a CV in desperate need of pumping out. It is readable. Yet, I find it dull. It’s because I’ve read a lot of other CVs; from exemplar ones to my friend’s ones to CVs that belong to people that have been in a career for quite a while. They all read the same. My question is simple: how can you tell which one is special?

Obviously here I’m classing my CV and my skills as special. They’re not, but if I have no confidence in my ability and in my knowledge of being able to do something and do it well then I’m doomed.

The trick to writing a CV is to make it as easy as possible for you reader/ prospective employer. It’s not like writing a novel where you keep building tension to the climax of your story. It’s more similar to writing an article for a daily newspaper where you need to keep your audience reading until the end, inform them of everything that they need to know without filling their brains with useless information. A CV is even faster though. You basically hand over your bones whilst telling your prospective employer: “Look at these! They’re good, strong bones; they can handle anything you throw at them, they are there for your moulding if you so wish but they can do it alone too.”

What an employer needs is someone who understands. I think when people are applying for jobs, they miss this very important thing. If you can show an understanding for a job, then you’re not only showing that you’ve read the job description. You’re also showing that you have taken the time to read it, understand it and tailor everything including a CV to said job. You’re showing that you can do it on your own and fit the mould of a perfect employee for the employer. You’re showing that this application for this job matters because it is tailored for the job. You want it.

That makes a good CV and a good application. Add a little colour, some easy to spot and read titles and you’re showing your employer how easy you can make their life. You’re more likely to get a callback and an interview for a job if your CV is neat, organised, informative without having too much information. Think of a CV as an instruction manual to your ability working in a certain company.

Thinking about it, a CV isn’t necessarily where you’re going to shine brightest. The CV, like much in life, is a stepping stone to getting you an interview. Once you’ve cinched that then you can go all out in the interview: then you can shine.

Many companies now are still using CVs and an additional cover letter and application form so this advice still stands and it is still important to keep a CV updated as often as you can. Many companies, however, do insist on online applications and nothing else: advice still stands as far as I’m concerned. When writing a CV or filling out an application, your goal is to get an interview. That’s the focus. From there you could get the job, and who knows where that could lead you?


A rambling…and a new start

I set myself a target that I was going to post on this blog every other day. One day a, hopefully, worthy post would be put up and then 24 hours could pass before I would, hopefully, put up another good post. It hasn’t happened that way. Obviously.

I’ve decided that although it’s impossible I’m going to do my Masters, there is no other way. I’m too stubborn. To update: the budgeting has been going on for about two weeks now, and it’s going well. I figure I’m going to be able to save quite a sum of money. Not my dream of £10,000 but still it’ll be something and I’d have saved properly on my own whilst studying. I almost feel like patting myself on the back now but it’s early days. Plenty can. and probably, will go wrong but I’ll persist. Wish me luck.

The reason I haven’t been blogging lately, as much as I love to and love the idea of doing it is because once lectures started, those on top of working with the vTeam (the volunteering section at my university) and working for the student paper was a little hectic frankly. I don’t know if I should say the social life has suffered. I personally don’t think it has, but I know a few people that would probably disagree with. I’ve only been out clubbing once since I’ve been back at university (almost five weeks now). That, in student terms, is a recluse. That, to me, is busy…and valuing sleep over a hangover: that too.

I wanted to start this blog (I have attempted, and failed, once: a fresh start I believed would be the best thing) so that I could keep writing and show to prospective employeers that I can write things apart from essays and book reviews (from my stint as Books Editor last year). But working as Deputy Editor has meant that I have written more articles than I expected to. People don’t seem to stick to word counts, and if they do the software decides that there is still room for one more piece.  This is usually where I come in and that’s where I get to practice my writing, I believe the more you write the better you get (practice makes perfect and all that) and hopefully that’s what I’m doing every time I put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard.

This blog was my resolution and like every many resolutions made on New Year’s Eve by millions of people around the world, it failed. I’m going to start a few new resolutions, this time I’ll call them aims (apparently this makes them more realistic). My first, and in fact only, aim will be to write as often as possible; hopefully this new no pressure approach will mean that I will actually write more often. I’m also going to be more easy-going on myself, my main focus will still be my money making and saving schemes. I feel, on a personal level, that I should track my progress somehow but I’ll also use the blog to write about lots of wonderfully random things. It’ll be a collection, a scrapbook of sorts (an online, more text based scrapbook but a scrapbook nonetheless) rather than a concise narrative of one student’s mission to save. This will be the main part of my blog: the spine,  the foundations but not the be all and end all.

Fingers crossed it goes smoothly…only time will tell I suppose.