Why I Volunteer at a Homeless Drop-in Centre (and what’s the point of anything?)

There may be many things about my life which are far from perfect, but on the whole, my life is very good. Really very good. I have shelter, warmth, food, health and opportunities. Nothing makes you appreciate that more than plunging yourself into a world (or the world) filled with those who do not.

In writing this, I am reminded of an episode of Friends in which Phoebe is adamant that there is such a thing as an unselfish act and tries to prove it, while Joey believes it’s impossible. After several failed attempts (including letting a bee sting her so that it will look ‘cool’ in front of its bee friends), Phoebe gives up; as Joey says, there is always that ‘good feeling’ you get from doing something altruistic – that warm buzz which lingers even when you think you are doing something purely because it will help others. Continue reading

Rain, Doors, Beaus (or Beaux)

I have absolutely no idea how time whizzes by so fast; it’s quite dizzying, but I suppose I have been quite busy since opening the door of novel-land and looking outwards, letting the light gradually eke in and, symbolically speaking (because, in reality, there is always more facebook to check, more articles to read, more emails emails emails to reply to), closing the laptop (on my novel) for the final-ish time before creeping gingerly out of the room. Continue reading

Pi, and other half-grasped concepts

If my mobile phone camera can’t take a photo of the back of my phone (to show my instagram followers the beauty that is my brand new red phonebox-styled phone cover), does the back of my mobile phone really exist?

Apart from such important conundrums as these, I’ve been at least ankle-deep recently in the structure of the universe, stretching the boundaries of my minuscule brain (‘minuscule’ not in fact being spelled ‘miniscule’, however more appropriate that spelling seems – who knew?*) with research surrounding the link between mathematics and music, nature and numbers.

Let’s talk about pi. Continue reading

Another thing*

I never had an imaginary friend growing up (two brothers; too busy beating each other up**), but I imagine that chuckling quietly to oneself at one’s character’s remarks isn’t too dissimilar to laughing at one’s own jokes, and that constructing entire conversations as a way of recording the voices in one’s head (each with their surprising insights) has got to represent at least a mild foray into a dance with psychosis***. Continue reading

Two Things

1. Writing is always a game of tricking yourself into productivity via reverse psychology (luckily, my subconscious doesn’t ever get the joke); when I sit down and intend to write absolute nonsense, in a mockery of myself, that’s when I write the good stuff. When I sit down to write the world’s most innovative, surprising, heartfelt prose, that’s when I decide I need a walk, and another cup of pomegranate green tea. Continue reading

Dating; not a series of picnics

Ah, dating, that awful, brilliant, awful thing…

I don’t ever want to be a heartbreaker. I’ve had my heart ‘broken’ (let’s say temporarily bruised/punched/squashed) a couple of times. It’s horrific to be on the other side of things, alternatively, and I have even taken breaks from dating in the past purely because I can’t deal with the guilt I’ve felt at being the one to turn someone else down (I know how I want to feel about the person I end up with, and I would rather not accept less). Feeling less for someone else than they feel for you is an awful feeling and communication of that fact is a delicate moment (and I know exactly how painful it is to be on the other side of it). Continue reading

What’s in a name?

One of the themes in my novel involves the process of naming, and it’s a motif that is echoed around in both the overall premise of my story and, more delicately, in the history of one of my main characters.

Mystical, practical and logical associations with the power of naming abound in our cultural history, and it’s been interesting to think about and research. (What does it mean to name something? What are the effects?)


Continue reading

Spelling music in colours

One of my characters is a synesthete.

According to wikipedia (because… well, nevermind), synesthesia is:

‘a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.’

It’s quite unarguable that colours naturally evoke particular moods (or colour therapy wouldn’t be A Thing, as wouldn’t such literary clichés as ‘red = anger’ and ‘white = pure’, etc.), but there is a certain automatic and unselfconscious precision with which a synesthete experiences the connection of disparate sensory experiences that, to me, is fascinating. Continue reading

Reign Beau & The After Man – a poem on the novel (how meta!)

I find it very difficult to describe my current project. Last night was a prime example; it’s not easy to shout coherently to a new acquaintance across the noise of an East Oxford bar about philosophies, humanity, and a character who is ‘a bit unusual, metaphysically’ but ‘not really an angel’, or about how I think my novel is ‘sort of melancholic but also quite funny’. I need to equip myself with the classic elevator speech for such emergencies, instead of resorting to ‘themes’, buzzwords and the wonderful armour of a mysterious smile.

I hope I might be exquisitely talented at describing what I’m doing once it’s actually… you know… done.

In the meantime, I wrote a poem: Continue reading