Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Week 9/10 - Pulling Out the Stops

Manor House, Godstone, England
Week Nine and part way through Week Ten.  Hectic, stress, frenetic, and overwhelm seem to be the uppermost words that spring to mind.

Although today is a glorious blue with a biting cold in Aber, I sit inside after a hasty bus trip into town to get more ink for the printer.  I've finally run out of ink!

As the semester slides toward the holiday break, I've just completed a 2497 word essay (Do NOT exceed 2500 or you will be marked down) for my PGM0120 module on Research.  Although only 15 workshops were necessary, I attended thirty and listened to another that was recorded earlier.  Still a glutton for punishment and over-achiever.

Stairway to the theatre in the School of Art
I also sent in my Abstract of 180 words (Not to exceed 200 word count) on my novel and planned analysis, which is part Critical Theory and part Self-Analysis of my writing process and will hopefully challenge how Classic is defined in literature.

Then there was PGM0410, Ways of Reading, a study in the various theories of deconstruction.  I chose to write on Narratology as it is theory of the narrative.  Relatively new as theories go, I completed 3497 words just three words short of the max thereby preventing me again from losing points.  The UK take their word counts very seriously.  As I compared Bleak House by Charles Dickens, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, and Sepulchre by Kate Mosse, I began to get the hang of foreshadowing and backshadowing, framing a story, genre, as well as verbal patterning and motifs used.

I eventually took the plunge and did an analysis of the opening paragraphs in my novel, Standing Stone.  I read the words as a reader coming fresh to the page rather than a writer, who has toiled with each word, trying to make sense of the story that likes to peek-a-boo around corners, show itself as I drift off to sleep, or present itself in the chance remark of another student, professor, or perfect stranger.  I was pleased for these few paragraphs, 215 words, passed the litmus test.  I could see motifs, a frame, foreshadowing of events... and, of course, knowing the end, I could see that I had backshadowed the eventual outcome.  Happy Dance!

Theatre or Classroom in School of Art.
(Rich and Ash in front row)
 Then, of course, was the fine tuning of just over 4000 words of the novel to hand in to my second-reader.  That will happen shortly, possibly tomorrow, just one more review.  The assignments (over 10,000 words) are ticked off my rather lengthy list and I can now hopefully settle into a daily writing pattern, getting to know my characters and telling their interwoven story as they whisper to me.  Another author, Pete Fromm, said once that he had the best job in the world because he got to go to the basement and play with his imaginary friends each day.  Lovely.  I so understand.

Maybe I can do this, I said to myself, referring to my great undertaking.  For cheek-by-jowl with the euphoria of handing in assignments early and tickets for home taped just above my computer, the PhD is a solitary process.  Incoming students are warned that this honing of skill, this laser focus on becoming an expert in one's chosen discipline, can consume both life and the art of living.  Choices must be made and consequences faced.

Thanksgiving this past week dawned without fanfare and sans turkey.  I had leftover stir fry before which I presented my Visa to the proper campus authority which will enable me to return home next month.  However, despite feeling sorry for myself that I was going to be alone, I was grateful for modern technology and the chance to see everyone via Skype.  My daughter held her iPhone with me on video chat from Wales, while my son-in-law held a second smart phone connecting my husband from Oregon so that we could join the sixty gathered in Utah.  After going round the room and giving each a chance to say what they were grateful for... a new baby coming, religious freedom, being together, "my smokin' hot wife," family, country, and, of course, the food, which threatened to collapse several tables, the two phones were held together for a Thanksgiving kiss across the miles.  It made me smile, lessened the ache caused by distance, and made me ever so much more grateful as I listened to and was included in our joint and heartfelt family prayer.  Thank you sweetheart, children, grandchildren, extended family, and friends for your love and support.  Families are truly forever.

Aberystwyth Bay/the Irish Sea.  View from the cafeteria.
Sunset over the campus on my walk home tonight.
Dear Readers:  I plan on a bit of a hiatus while I return home to enjoy the Christmas season with family.  See you in the New Year.  May your holidays be joyous and 2013 filled with blessings.


  1. You truly are on the adventure a many lifetimes! I commend you for all your hard work, your stamina, your dedication, and for your kind heart and beautiful way of seeing the world. You are an inspiration and not a day has gone by since you arrived in Wales that I haven't thought about you. You inspire me to be better in every way I can be. Thank you for the gift you bring to all of us!

    1. Thank you. It is friends like you who help me to keep at it when the going gets tough. I appreciate the kind words.