Friday, 1 July 2016

An Untethered June // Starting Sparks: July

June 2016: a strange month. I started my last post with the words, “I feel untethered".finished school, but I was still going in for drips and drabs and this and that and the other, so I don't really feel like the Rest of My Life has begun. It feels like a double exposure photograph, images overlaying themselves; different strands of life weaving out of each other. 

In Books

Favourite was Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. It was originally broadcast on Radio 4 as ‘A Play for Voices' before being published in book format. It tells the story of a day in the fictional Welsh town of Llareggub: 
To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black…
It is whimsical, surreal and not at all plot-driven, but Thomas creates certain characters -- children, lovers, shopkeepers, the old blind sea captain -- and weaves their narratives together. It was beautiful, funny and poignant (and only about 80 pages long, which is always a plus in my book!). In it Thomas displays a real love for Welsh people, Welsh countryside and the vanished ways of village life, and as I've said before, I really love reading works by authors who clearly adore their home country/city/town. I would definitely recommend.

Also really enjoyed Ariel, a very beautiful book of ethereal poems. (Though Plath was married to Ted Hughes, my #1 love, so reading Ariel I was always slightly on my guard. I did not enjoy the poems about hating her husband / adultery or whatever!)
A disturbance in mirrors,
The sea shattering its grey one--
Love, love my season.
~from The Couriers by Sylvia Plath

Another highlight was Great Expectations, which was a wonderful coming-of-age book. Pip, the narrator, was one of the best characters I've read this year, and I felt myself immersed in the mist of the marshes, in London's grey streets. Pip, a blacksmith's apprentice, comes into unexpected money, and Great Expectations is the story of every teenager coping with changed circumstances; leaving home, meeting new people, seeing how much you can change the world and how much the world will change you.

In Life

At the start of June I went on a very cute holiday with three friends from school. Most British teens go on end-of-school holidays to Xante or Magalouf, but our destination was even wilder ... Loch Long.

[source] // image not mine
We stayed in an adorable cottage overlooking the loch and had a marvellous time laughing, swimming, eating amazing food, drinking wine / Pimms and enjoying the countryside.

From then onwards, actually finishing school was quite bitty. I had a lot of things to tie up, a lot of lasts: last Scripture Union party with my kids at the Primary School; last bit of work on the school magazine, which I've edited this year and has been the actual bane of my life; “official" last day with certificate presentation and what-have-you. Then prizegiving, and finally Leavers' Ball.
Pre-Ball. Me, my garden, my dog Tig. 
If I'm honest, the whole night was a bit of an anti-climax. It was lovely to have everyone together and dressed up, and we had a great ceilidh, but all in all it felt both sad, and not sad enough. Maybe we all have this idea that you end school on a marvellous, teen-movie-esque high, and I did have some lovely conversations, but other times people would leave in taxis and I'd sort of be like, “oh. Probably never going to see you again."

I didn't leave the after-party until 7am ... by the end I was very much:

Honestly, my overwhelming feeling from the party was sadness. By the end, nostalgia was attacking me: the knowledge that things will never be like this again. I was sitting there with a friend at 6am in the beautiful dawn of the Scottish countryside (the party was on a farm, strange but true), and we were having a very interesting conversation, as we always do (you know you have those few friends with consistently great conversations?), and suddenly I was just thinking, when are we ever going to do this again? Of course I'm going to keep in touch with my best best friends, but, soppy though it may sound, there are a lot of people in my year whom I love. I made a lot of promises to keep in touch, but how many of those will I fulfill? How many can I fulfill? How many of those friendships are just going to end up as memories?

It's a bit glib, but it's true: there are things you don't realise you want/love/need until they're gone. There are people (eg this dawn friend) whom I didn't realise how much I loved until it was over. I know this is everyone's experience of finishing school (to some degree at least; from what I gather I've had a better high school time than most), but it doesn't make it less bittersweet.

There is also the not-so-small fact that Britain has left the EU. This has been debated back and forth and I can't pretend I'm an expert, but I can say I've been incredibly disappointed in my country recently. In members of the population, who, in response to the refugee crisis following the war in Syria, have become increasingly racist and small-minded. In the leaders, especially Cameron, who panickedly gave us this referendum in order to stop his voters defecting to UKIP (a far right British party), and then didn't plan for the result, and has now resigned as Prime Minister to retreat into his millions and his house in Cornwall and leave everyone else to clean up his mess. I don't believe in hating on politicians -- after all, I've never met them -- and David Cameron has been often in my prayers over the years, but nonetheless he acted irresponsibly. I'm extremely disappointed, also, in my age group -- apparently only 36% of 18-25s voted in the referendum. I don't think it's too strong to say that this figure is shocking and disgusting.

I can only pray for my country, our leaders and Europe, and thank God that, though earthly rulers, unions and empires rise and fall, he is always in control, working out his supreme purposes.
The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?
Psalm 118:6
This week, personally if not politically, has been a lot better; I've been on holiday in Northumberland with my family. We are staying in a converted church -- the garden is a graveyard! It is very beautiful. (Click here if you want a nosey.)

As ever, it is a joy to spend time with my brothers and sisters, and my nephew, Arthur, is an absolute delight. I've also been greatly enjoying Wimbledon (Andy Andy Andy!).

My siblings and I attempted to go swimming in the North Tyne, but it was only about three foot deep (I look like I'm submerged, but that's only because I'm sitting on a rock). So instead we just larked.
In Writing

I finished the fourth draft of The City and the Trees! This feels more final than any other draft, because guess what? I sent it to a beta. I was very stressed about this, because that book is my child and I hated pinging it off into the ether, and then the days when I didn't know if she was reading it or not, and I didn't want to be annoying and ask her, so I was just waiting, and--

Anyway, she texted me the other day saying “Freddie is a bae" and all my fears were allayed! She went on to say, “most of my comments are just fangirling. Apologies." She really didn't need to apologise.

As ever, I feel slightly strange and rudderless parted from my baby, but I am super excited that someone else is finally reading it (and I have a bunch of other betas lined up!). Also, I've been enjoying spending time with the Ruskins, Kit and Abel, and LesMisBook (yes indeed -- look out for JBH himself at some point in July).

Honestly, though, I don't really know what to do next -- that is, I don't know how long to wait before beginning TCATT Book 2. Because I have Ten Whole People whom I've said can read it, but am I really going to wait to take all their comments on board before I start the sequel? I don't doubt some of them will take months to get back to me -- some of them may never read the book at all -- and I don't want to be hanging in the balance. But equally, once I've started Stay in the City (the working title for Book 2), I'm not going to want to return to TCATT, at least not until I've completed SITC Draft 1 -- and I'm imagining that'll take about a year.

So you see my conundrum.

Nevertheless, it's all Part Of The Process and I'm learning more and more every day!

Starting Sparks July

Starting Sparks is a monthly link-up hosted by Ashley @ [insert title here] and me @ well, can't you guess? We post a prompt, and it starts the sparks (get it??) of your creativity. Thanks to all who entered last month -- I recommend you hop around the link-up for some amusing chip-related stories.
The July prompt.
We'd love to see you linking up!


How was your June? What was the best thing you read? Also, a quick reader opinion poll: did I cram too much into this post? I used to do the Starting Sparks prompts as their own posts, but they felt so short and meh I combined them with this monthly recap thingie. But would you rather I go back to the way things were before?

Happy July!



  1. Such a pretty dress! And a dog! I love them both. <3

    ALSO THE COVER OF ARIAL IS AMAZING. I looked at it and it just LOOKS like a poem book cover for some reason. xD

    // katie grace
    a writer's faith

    1. Thanks, Katie! <3 The cover is amazing, I looove it so much!

  2. It sounds like you had a good time at the Leavers' Ball - regardless of the nostalgia. The dress looks very pretty, by the way! For me, when all of the nostalgia really hit was the last week of school and graduation, especially. Seeing everyone in their cap and gowns, and realizing this was the last time we were going to see each other at school...things at graduation parties just felt different.

    The vacation you're on sounds awesome, particularly staying in a converted church! I would definitely be spending time exploring the yard/ cemetery!

    Good luck on TCATT and the sequel! Plus can I just say, I'm really looking forward to seeing more of JBH! :)

    The July prompt is great - Vance Joy lyrics, right? :)

    1. It was quite sad, but there were good elements. Thank you for dress comments! :D There is that feeling of stuff ending, though ...

      The graveyard was super exciting! I wrote out there <3 :D

      Thank you! Ha, I'm so glad XD I edited that story today so it should be up fairly soon!

      Apparently, I didn't realise that when I posted it, though! I'm so embarrassed! Because I always get really annoyed when I see fave lyrics/quotes on Pinterest pinned by people who clearly don't know what it's referencing, but now I have been that person! >.< !!! And it's Riptide of all songs! (As I found out when I googled Vance Joy. Obviously I know the song but I didn't know the artist's name before.) RIPTIDE! Favourite of 18 y/o buskers everywhere. I AM VERY ASHAMED. It's still a great line. But ugh!

  3. That is a lot in one post, but I don't really mind (I just won't be wont to respond to every part of it). Congratulations on your graduation, first off. I'm afraid, at least in my experience, you won't see most of your classmates over the course of the next year. I have managed to see most of my closer friends a few times, and I've kept in touch with them through Facebook. I'm not sure that my bloated reading list can hold anything else right now, but Under Milk Wood has piqued my interest from its setting. I'm a big fan of Wales at the moment, in my romanticized approximation of it (though I know of some of the economic troubles it's facing, similar to those in my neck of the woods). That dress is pretty. I'm not fond of many dresses girls are wearing these days to dances/balls, but that one appears sensible. Last but not least, I'm also a fan of "Riptide" (and am indeed 18 for another twelve days, though I don't know what a "busker" is). I have a recording on Facebook of my sister and I singing the song while I play it on my mandolin, and I've since picked up the ukulele and can play it on that as well.

    (American) Cheers!

    1. I'm off to see two of my best friends this afternoon, but I'm afraid you may be right about the majority of my classmates. As for the reading list sitch, I fully understand and sympathise with you! Nonetheless, Under Milk Wood is excellent and will not take long to read. Thomas' love of Wales is a joy to read. RE the dress, thanks very much!

      As for Riptide, I like the song, but as a latent hipster I also have a certain distaste for it. A busker is someone who plays their guitar and sings on the street / in shopping centres / in train stations, hoping to get money from passersby. In Britain at least, all teenage boy buskers' repertoires seem to be topped by Wonderwall, with Riptide a close second.

      However, I am a big fan of the mandolin!

      Thanks for stopping by, Patrick :)

  4. Under Milk Wood- that's another one to put on the reading list!

    It's a terrifying thing (for me, at least), the feeling of being untethered. But there is something in these moments of change and uncertainty that somehow ...solidifies, I suppose.

    Exciting news about your writing! Can't wait to see where it all leads!

    I admire the way you respond to political disappointments. I've had many political disappointments of late. It weakens my trust in government, but I think it refines my trust in God.

    1. Definitely!

      I am hoping to solidify soon. I'm sure I will. The good thing is, my life /is/ still full of constants: my family, books, writing, Jesus ...

      Thanks! Me neither XD

      God often uses such times to strengthen our trust in him, I think. What men mean for evil, God means for good ...

  5. In my opinion Loch Long sounds so far superior to any Magalouf to Sante Ponza! Staying in a cottage by a lake would be a fantastic way to celebrate finishing school. And you look lovely in your dress for -- Leaver's Ball? I think that's the equivalent to the Debs or Grads here. And your dog is so ugh god damn cuuuuUte! I want a dog so badly!! I'm going to help out at an animal shelter tomorrow and I know I'm just gonna fall in love with all the dogs and kittens and rabbits and donkeys and anything else that lets me hug them <3

    Also I am very excited about your book(s)!! When you get published I am expecting a signed copy sent to my door immediately.

    And to answer your question, you didn't cram too much into this post at all m'dear.

    Happy July!!! ^_^

    1. Mine too, Marian, mine too! XD RE the dress, thanks, you're a babe. I think all the end-of-term dances have different names but they're all pretty much the same, I imagine. I hope the animal shelter stuff went well! Donkeys!!!! <333

      You'll get one, don't worry ;)

      Thank you! <3 ^_^ (fun side note: I never use that face, but you always remind me of its existence and I remember how great it is.)

    2. ^_^

      I do love this face

      ^_^ x

  6. So I read this post a while ago and didn't get to comment. I think I had to go to work or something boring and adult life related.

    Love the photo of you and your prom dress. Very classy!

    Under Milk Wood sounds like a really good book! I kinda want to read it now.

    It sounds like you had a good time with your friends at Long Loch. It looks beautiful!

    It's always sad when friends part. But I hope you do get to stay in touch with most of your friends. It's awesome that you made so many friends! I think it's great that you had such a good high school experience.

    I heard about Britain leaving the EU. I'm not sure I completely understand it. I was trying to google it and read different articles. But they didn't really say much except the obvious, while I wanted to know WHY those who voted to leave wanted to leave. I'm sorry though. I know what it's like for an unwise decision to be voted through (all too often, unfortunately). And, gah! The disappointment when young people just won't show up to vote. *grumbles*

    I'm glad you had a great time with your family though!

    Oh! And I can't wait to hear more about the Ruskins, and KIT AND ABEL! and JBH. *grins* How are they all?

    I do like how you recap with Starting Sparks. I've been thinking about doing something similar, or at least DOING SOMETHING. Putting the link up by its lonesome is so short and I wonder sometimes if people even read it. XD

    On a lighter note, someone mentioned to me that the prompt was the lyrics to a song. Riptide by Vance Joy. Did you know that? (I had no clue. . . I'm a bit of an idiot when it comes to music outside of what I normally listen to). I gave it a listen; it's really catchy with a ton of metaphors. I read an article wherein the artist said he the title is from a motel his family used to stay at on holiday, called Riptide. He seemed to be saying that most of the lyrics are there because they sounded good together. (Maybe this is why I don't "get" popular music. . .) What was funny though, is that after that I read this, I guess it was a forum? And everyone was trying to interpret the song and nobody had the same idea at all. XD It was really interesting seeing what they came up with for all the different metaphors. Often times they were completely opposite of each other. Oh, and because it's called Riptide, half the comments under the lyric video I watched was about Percy Jackson (gotta love PJO!).

    1. Ew, adult life?! Sounds grim. I started my job last week. Nngghh!

      Thanks <3


      I did, I had a great time, and it was! <3

      I'm so thankful for the great time I've had at school; I know a lot of people can't say the same. And I've made so many lovely friends.

      ALL RIGHT SO. From my point of view, as a Remainer (not that I could actually vote -- I'm only 17 and you have to be 18 for UK-wide elections (in Scottish ones it's 16)), the main thrust of the leaving was for bad reasons. Firstly, an increasing tide of racism and xenophobia in Britain, catalysed by the numbers of immigrants/refugees coming to the country. People are really afraid of terrorism, which has led to a big increase in suspicion and even hate crime against Muslims -- whether they've actually come from Syria, say, or whether they are British Muslims whose families have been here for centuries. One of my friends was recently the assistant director of a piece of political theatre for young people and one of the cast members was a Glaswegian Muslim girl who, because she wears a hijab, has been shouted at and had rocks thrown at her in the street, with people calling her a terrorist and telling her to “go back to your own country." She performed an open letter to these people which nearly made me cry. This is an amazing blog post on this same topic from a blog called The Controversies:

      As well as all the terrorism scares, there’s also the whole thing about “immigrants stealing British jobs” – because a lot of Asians and Eastern Europeans coming to the country are willing to do the worst jobs for less money. Also fears that immigrants only come to sponge off our NHS / benefits system …

      Voting Leave gives us more freedom to act how we please with issues of immigration etc. The government is no longer under EU regs to accept a certain number of refugees. Also, everyone in the EU – even if you’re not European – is protected by the European Bill of Human Rights, which says, for example, that criminals cannot be deported to their own country if they’re going to get killed/tortured when they return. This means we have to keep terrorists etc in our own prisons, but some people disagree with that – apparently it’s OK to send people to be killed “because they’re a terrorist” …

    2. PART 2 (because the original comment was so long it wouldn't let me post it!):

      Secondly, there’s the issue of sovereignty/nationhood. To quote my sister-in-law’s German colleague, “Britain always wants its own special sausage!” Obviously I think Britain is a great country and a country like no other, and (at least up until June 24th!) there was nowhere I’d rather live. However, because we used to be such a massive power and own a third of the globe, and now we DON’T, I think there’s this latent sense of colonialism / a sense we should get special treatment cause, you know, WE’RE BRITISH! I can best sum up this viewpoint with a Tweet and a cartoon:
      So, I am NOT trying to say that all Brexit voters are racists/islamophobes/latent imperialists. I don’t know that much about the economic side of the things. The value of the pound has plummeted, but people wiser than I say that leaving will be a good thing for Britain in the long run. I can’t see how that’s true – we’ve just lost our trading partners in the European common market, and America has also turned its back on us – but as I say, I’m not an expert. I’m also not trying to say that there are NO valid reasons for voting Leave. There are definitely some EU laws that we’d be better without – for example, the British fishing industry is going to be a lot better off now. However, on the whole, I think this was indubitably the wrong decision and comes from a sense of panicked isolationism / fears over the refugee crisis/terrorism / and a feeling of grievance that we are not the EU’s main power (Germany is, and as we beat them in two world wars this does not sit comfortably with some Brits. I’m pretty sure Boris Johnson actually compared Angela Merkel’s agenda to Hitler’s. Which I think is kind of disgusting – as if German people are /proud/ of what their country did in the twentieth century, as if they’re not desperate to repair those terrible wrongs – but there it is). The truth is that we are no longer the conquering nation who spread our emperor over the globe. Today, I think we should be fostering a global village, a sense of community, and cutting ties with the European Union is going to damage that greatly.

      Phew. That was a bit of an essay.

      You did ask.

      I did have a great time with my family though!

      Ruskins are good (Edmund, I love him!) and JBH is v well, I've got TWO stories to post! ~grins with you~

      The link does seem very lonesome when it's just it. Try a recap. They are fun.

      I know! I didn't know that when I chose, it, though, I CAN ASSURE YOU! Refer to my comments to Lauren and Patrick for my feelings on this topic ..... I do know and sorta like the song, but I am still very ashamed of myself, because it's like that whole Pinterest thing, you know, the me Pinning the TMR quote without realising it?? I HATE DOING THAT. You have gotta love Percy, though. Can't wait to start the Heroes of Olympus series ...

    3. Really? What is your job?// What are you doing?

      I did ask. :) And I did want to know, so this was indeed very helpful!

      Ugh! That's awful about what happened to that Muslim girl. I hate it when people are like. I understand the terrorist scare, especially nowadays. But not all Muslims are like that. I think a lot of people don't realize that. Yeah, and that immigrants take jobs bit has been around forever. That's here too. I do see what you mean. And the effect on the economy! I heard about that. I'm sorry everything's been topsy-turvy for you lately. I hope it gets better soon for you and of course the UK also.

    4. You may have since discovered this but I'm a receptionist.

      Great! I too hope it gets better for the UK. I don't know. We're living in a dark time.

  7. I LOVE YOUR LONG POSTS <3333333


    Also omg good grief I AM SO MAD ABOUT THE EU REF - i couldn't even vote, A FEW WEEKS AWAY FROM VOTING - i turn 18 on Monday... #old

    also i have knews for you *wiggles eyebrows*, i've officially deferred my place at uni (if i even get the grades and get in) - and i am doing art foundation/hopefully getting a job/learning how to drive/brushing up on the languages i know this year.

    I AM SO EXCITED AND ALSO SCARED BECAUSE ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GOING TO UNI THIS SEPT I'M NOT GOING TO KNOW ANYONE FOR A WHOLE YEAR (art foundation is at my new people to meet) but hey, i've been doing official exams since i was 11/12 I NEED A BREAK.

    1. THANK YOU


      SAME. And me neither! Happy birthday ... tomorrow! :O

      THAT'S SO EXCITING. I AM SO EXCITED. I actually forgot to say in this post (and the post I published yesterday) that I'm going to Kenya for my gap yah! Ugh but WELL DONE ABOUT ART, I AM SOOO HAPPY, YOU KNOW THAT HAS BEEN MY LIFELONG DREAM FOR YOU! <3333

      I FEEL THAT. (Well. Actually. Two of my friends are doing art foundation courses in Glasgow. They are my other closest friends are all staying in Glasgow. So we'll all be knocking about together!) But it will be weird being the only one not in education ...

      A BREAK'S GONNA BE NICE, THOUGH. I will miss English lit, but it'll be good to do some different!

  8. Em, you look absolutely stunning in your dress! I hope you had a fairly alright time at the party, even if it made you kinda sad.
    And the vacation to the Loch with your friends sounds great too! I've never been to a Loch, but from what you said about it, it sounds like I should go someday!
    And yes... sad times in the UK with Brexit. It's scary and terribly sad, and I'm hoping that things can somehow be sorted out and go back to normal? I know the United States is dealing with sort of the same thing at the moment... very few young people are voting! I could rant about this forever, but I won't. It just seems like people our age should care about the future of their countries more. I'll get to vote for the first time this November for president, and I couldn't be more terrified for the result no matter who gets chosen. I guess the only thing we can do is pray.
    Anyway, onto lighter topics... lol. Congrats about your writing! It's great to finally move onto that step in the whole process.
    What else do you have planned for the summer?

    1. Thanks! <3 I did :)

      Yes! Come to Scotland!

      I'm afraid to say I think it's a bit late to go back to normal! People here are already talking about a campaign to get back into the EU, but I can't see that that's going to happen. Ugh and ugh again. Young people's voting apathy upsets me so much. But you're right: the way is to pray! (Ha, I'm a poet.)

      Thank you! I am doing three camps -- leading on two, camping on one -- and going to Skye with my family, and I've got three weeks' working in there too. What about you? :)

  9. That untethered feeling is not a pleasant one, and it brings a whole slew of conflicting emotions, doesn't it? But congrats on graduating! Your dress is in one of my favorite colors. :)

    All of your holidaying looks/sounds absolutely delightful, and I'm a wee bit jealous. XD I wish I had such awesome holiday destinations closer to home, but I feel like we have to drive hours and hours to get anywhere interesting. You have the benefit of a smaller landmass. XD

    I haven't read much on the leaving-the-EU issue, so I haven't formed an opinion yet. I did appreciate your mini essay in the comments, though. I definitely agree on the lack of young people's involvement being frustrating! Don't they CARE? Don't they realize how important their vote is? I was the odd one among my peer group who was excited about turning 18 because it meant I could vote. I don't care about the drinking side of things. Just let me vote! And I also can sympathize with disagreeing with one's political leader. :/


    Yikes, that IS a conundrum, though! If I were you, I'd start *something* while waiting for beta feedback, whether SITC or something else. I hope you figure out a good compromise!

    I love recap posts that cram all sorts of random things together! And I certainly don't mind you putting Starting Sparks at the end of them. It's more efficient than giving them tiny little posts of their own, I think.

    Hope your summer goes wonderfully, Em!

    1. Very conflicting >.< but thanks <3

      I bet if I drove through Canada I'd disagree! ;)

      Glad you enjoyed the essay XD But YES. It's our future! Our country! Our government! I think over 80% of over 70s voted?? And yet our generation hardly bothered. IT ANNOYS ME SO MUCH.


      I'm currently LesMisBooking. I'm gonna start SitC in August, I can't cope with going any longer!

      Thank you, I'm glad :)

      Yours too! <333

  10. Love your dress, you look lovely and Tig is adorable.


Thanks for commenting! :)