It’s the last day of the month, and tomorrow Advent begins, but it seems the weather is ahead of itself here, because after a faint and disappointing flurry this afternoon, it is now full-on snowing in Paris.
And the stars have aligned for me, because tomorrow I don’t have work until four, and am free to spend the day reveling in it!
I think I’ve been a better blogger this month than I have been in some previous months. Hopefully I can keep it up over December, but since things are going to be busy (special highlights include a coach trip towards and through London the day before Christmas Eve – madness!) I can only promise to do my best.
For the record, bringing a wool coat to Paris is among the best decisions of my life. I’ll need it tomorrow, when I intend to go for a long long walk and hunt for inspiration in the snow.
Christmas might be well on its way, but that’s no excuse for keeping a lid on pens and fingers away from the keyboard. This will be the first time in several years that I don’t have to work over any of the festivities, and over the interludes I intend to use my free time well. I’ll be spending it with some ink, paper, and some good music. Here are my latest finds.
1. Pale Waves – There’s A Honey
Sometimes you find a song that encapsulates everything you’re feeling at a given moment, and for me, this is one such. With a perfect contrast of upbeat rhythms and melancholy lyrics, this is my song of the season. And the band’s aesthetic is good too! If you like this piece, be sure to check out ‘New Year’s Eve’.
2. Seinabo Sey – Pistols At Dawn
In short, I love her. That voice. It gives me chills, and this particularly dark song is a perfect one for inspiring dramatic scenes.
3. Lana Del Rey – Love
Something a bit more mainstream, but that shouldn’t be a reason not to like it. I find Lana Del Rey’s songs a bit hit and miss, but this one is one of my favourites. A soft and subtle song, but underneath its sweet lyrics this piece has a lot of power.
4. LANY – Super Far
Another one disguising a sad message beneath a catchy beat. I heard this one playing whilst I was out, and couldn’t rest until I’d tracked it down.
I feel like a post is never really finished without a nicely rounded ending, but I can’t think of anything, so I’ll just say blah, and bye 🙂
Summer is a distant memory, and the wind in Paris is the kind that tightens the skin on your face. It’s almost winter, and my favourite time of year.
I’ve been busy! This week one of my best friends paid me a visit, and we tried to do everything there is to do in Paris. We went to and around the Musée du Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, up and under the Arc de Triomphe, along the river as far as we could walk, and down beneath the streets to see the millions of skeletons buried in the Catacombs. And of course it wouldn’t be a true Parisian trip without a croissant, a French crêpe, and an evening view of the Eiffel Tower.
She even met my boyfriend, the first of my friends to do so in person. I was feeling really quite shy before Dekka arrived, wondering if they would like each other, but spoiler alert: of course they did. All in all, a most satisfying episode of my life.
Work and university have got me so stressed I’m like a thread held at maximum tension, but I’m holding it together, and getting stuff done. I’ve managed to get myself into a good rhythm, and I think this is it. This is what it means to be doing just fine.
Poems have been happening, and plans, and writing, and everything seems to be coming together in one great glorious smorgasbord of experiences. I know I’m going to look back on this period of my life with great fondness, and there isn’t a day that goes by without me feeling immense gratitude towards the University of East Anglia. Sometimes things really do work out better for taking a different path than the one you first chose, so thank God they rejected my application.
I could write more, but the truth is this is only a distraction from the work I should be doing. Next time I update, I think it will be almost time for Christmas! 😀 Until then…
New month, new me. I say that at the start of most months, but on this occasion I’m quite serious that a disciplined writing schedule needs to come into being. There is much that must be written, much more that I want to write, and the weeks are ticking by towards the end of my first semester. So here are some of the songs I’ll be listening to, whilst I’m beavering away at my computer.
1. Rae Morris – Eye To the Storm
I’ve dug through every song this woman has written, and no matter how much I listen, I still can still listen again. This is one of my favourites.
2. Annie Lennox – Pavement Cracks
This song reminds me of sitting in the car with my mother. The CDs get changed so rarely that I think I’ve been hearing this one most of my life. Fortunately, it’s very worth listening to.
3. WILDES – Ghost
And here’s something with a darker sound. I like the melancholy of this song. I think it’s good for writing dramatic tragedies and death scenes (something prevalent in my fiction).
I guess that will do for now. This month I will make sincere efforts to post on a regular basis. So, day one, done!
So, it looks like I’ve been off the grid for a bit… again. Like most of my creative outputs, blogging seems to come in fits and starts. One month I have too many ideas, and the next, not enough.
A lot has happened since I last updated that I didn’t write about at the time, but I think sometimes that’s the way of things. The most important moments strip away any ability to articulate them. I have to break them into pieces, and write about those pieces rather than the incident as a whole. Quite often I also have to wait a while, if I’m to stand any chance of being more objective than sentimental.
But wait over.
I started university five weeks ago, and I’m already waist deep in a gritty essay, a short story about carnivorous mermaids (less weird than it sounds), and the looming shadow of my dissertation. Here I breathe a sigh of relief, because going back to education has proved a good decision, and I’m enjoying it, maybe even more than I did before.
And let’s talk about now.
We can’t without saying that the Parisian summer is just about over. It’s officially the time of year when spiders creep inside the house, ghostly encounters are most likely to happen, and the gutters fill up with leaves.
And I have some personal news… which is that unexpectedly, accidentally, and without my having a great deal of say in the matter, I have fallen in love. And maybe it’s a strange thing to say, but I don’t want to write about it. It’s like a secret I’ve been trusted with. One which I’m not only happy to keep, but one which I feel privileged to have been trusted with in the first place.
I’m going before I give into the temptation to be annoyingly self-indulgent, but I just want to welcome you, my new followers, and thank you, the less new, for your continued interest. My output has been poor for the last month or so, but I am truly flattered that you find my site worth visiting.
Here’s hoping it will be a productive autumn, for me and for you!
I’ll write again soon, but until then…
Deanna, out ❤
I think I’m getting back to my former pace with writing. Whether my progress will withstand the work/university/life balance remains to be seen, but for now I am doing better than I have been for a while.
And, as ever, I’ve been doing most of my penmanship to a soundtrack. Here are a few of my current favourites.
1. TENDER – Illuminate
I like a mellow tune, and a voice-over when its use is effective. A little bit sultry, a little bit sad, I think this one is good for writing after dark, or about hot summers in which bad things have happened.
2. Maroon 5 Feat. Future – Cold
Sometimes I need a repetitive song that makes for pleasant white noise in the background when I’m really into the swing of a scene, and this catchy piece does the trick. It’s trashy mainstream pop at its trashiest, but sometimes you need a song that isn’t too distracting.
3. Feist – My Moon My Man
I don’t know where I was when this song came out, but I’m glad I’ve discovered it now. This song has a dark, moody vibe. I think it’s not just good for writing, but for being awake in the small hours, surrounded by the mysterious sounds of the night.
Et voilà (no, let’s not talk about my French…), I think that counts for a post.
Okay, so I’m an anorak, but I love the Russian classics. They’re so moody, dark, and brooding. They have bleak, harsh settings. And (most importantly) they have miserable, self-absorbed characters, all of whom wear their torments beautifully.
I think it’s high time I shared my favourites, so here we go…
1. War & Peace – Leo Tolstoy
There’s no list about this branch of literature which can fail to include Tolstoy’s most famous work. War and Peace lives up to its reputation as one of the longest books out there, but it’s an epic everyone who is serious about reading should try to get through. Really it’s got everything, be it love, death, religion, revenge, pride, evil, righteousness, faith or whatever else you’re looking for. It’s just hands down one of the best books ever written.
2. A Hero of our Time – Mikhail Lermontov
My favourite ever book. Yes, you read that correctly. This is the one book I’ve ever read which nothing has beaten. It’s a short one, containing five novellas about the anti-hero Pechorin, a man who has essentially spent his life ruining his own existence through vice, apathy, and his inability to connect with his emotions. The concept is quite simple, but the depth of feeling this book manages to convey is just perfection.
3. Oblomov – Ivan Goncharov
In some ways similar to the above, Oblomov is the story of a eponymous man who has inflicted his own moral self-ruin through apathy. His circles are much more domestic than Pechorin’s, and the plot is considerably less dramatic, but its still one of the best books I’ve encountered.
4. We – Yevgeny Zamyatin
It’s hard to believe this book was written in 1921, because it reads like a much more modern text. This book is, I think, far less famous than it should be, since it is the forefather of 1984 (and, I think, the considerably better novel of the two). It is, as many dystopian novels only try to be, truly disturbing, gritty, and chillingly believable.
5. The Zero Train – Yuri Buida
A far more recently published work, this short novel makes the list for being one of the most beautiful texts I have ever found. Even in translation this book has a poetic rawness that brings every sensation it contains to vivid life. Somewhat surreal, but piercing, this is a harrowing portrait of life under Stalinism. Short, but sharp.
And that’s the list. I’m always on the hunt for reading suggestions in this genre, so please feel free to leave some in the comments!
I’m now living on the other side of Paris, in a house, which is every bit the antiquated (somewhat dilapidated) writer’s retreat I was hoping to find. Complete with a creaky stairs, dark wood furnishings and a spider or two, it vaguely reminds me of Howl’s Moving Castle.
And that’s to say nothing of the rambling garden that sprawls out the back. There are grapes and plums, plenty of trees, and a handful of cats who sit by the little pond.
At night I can hear the rumbling sound of the trains heading into the city, and the view from my second floor window is wonderful – white buildings poking up through the greenery on the hill.
I’ve lost a housemate, but gained three more. My landlady is French, green-fingered, and a genuine hippie, and I share the upstairs with an Indian PhD student. There is also an Italian who lives in the basement, and they are all lovely.
In other news, I’m going back to work in a few days, which is just as well, since my financial state is a sorry one. I am not (yet) truly poor, but I have been reduced to frugality, and the bad exchange rate is not helping me when it comes to the monstrous sum of my tuition fees.
But that being said, there are far worse places to be without means than the city in which to be a penniless artist is something of a lifestyle.
I have also visited my university for the first time, and it is tiny, but also rather pretty. The thought of going back and studying gives me mixed feelings. I’m half dreading it, especially from a social angle (I was never much good at choosing the right friends last time round), but also I’m hoping it will reinvigorate me into some kind of disciplined writing schedule.
At the moment I’m being a bit of a flake with my own novel, forever promising that I’ll finish this scene and edit another, and really not achieving much. It will be good to go back to having the structure of a curriculum, but it will be a shame to give up the freedom of life without deadlines.
Last night I went out in the city, and walked home from the station in the early morning light. There was a thunderstorm just as I arrived back at the house, so I sat on my windowsill and watched the white cracks split across the sky. Wearing a disheveled pair of smart trousers and nursing my aching feet, I felt lucky to be awake at just the right time.
I’m in Glasgow, holidaying. I’ve done all sorts of exciting things, like climbing The Lighthouse for an aerial view of the city, visiting Kelvingrove Park (I wrote a poem there, like a brooding misery no one should ever aspire to be), and walking Sauchiehall Street from end to end.
It’s been fun, but soon it will be time to go to Paris, and I’m in really quite a terrible state, having spent the past few days holed up in my friend’s flat whilst she works.
I’ve been house-hunting, and my goodness it is an awful, exasperating task.
Having trawled the sites, and sent an obscene number of requests for viewings, the only thing to do this afternoon is see who comes back to me. I feel burnt out, and really not at all ready to start university in less than a month, but if there’s one thing truer than all the rest, it’s that time waits for no one.
Tonight it will be cocktails, a third round of planning the wedding my best friend’s boyfriend has yet to propose, and goodbyes, again.
I think I must be getting quite good at them, by now.
Tomorrow, in the company of my little blue and green suitcase (more stylish than it sounds, I assure you), I’ll be off, back across the Channel, and into my first autumn abroad.
Like, aaah! How is it here already? How is my French still so bad? But there’s no time for theatrics. It’s time for me to grow up, and buckle up, for whatever lies ahead.
I really, really want a distinction for my MA thesis. And I think it’s feasible, but it means I’ve got to get organised. So tomorrow afternoon there’ll be no relaxing after the flight. I’ll be landing in Paris like a storm, and going to get things in order.
Wish me luck! Perhaps I’ll update soon, if this blogging streak continues…?