#Dear Me

Dear Me
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Dear Me (Age 13),

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CALM DOWN. I know, I know, every day you wake up angry and you don’t know why. You lash out at those you love because you can’t stop feeling this way. Well, Dear Mehere’s the thing; you’re bored. You are actually bored out of your skull. Stop watching TV, put down the trashy chick lit, and get a head start on your reading. I highly recommend anything from the turn of the 20th Century; Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Dorothy Richardson. Throw yourself into it and go crazy. Don’t be afraid to approach people and talk about it. BE ENTHUSIASTIC.

Also, stop drinking caffeine. It probably isn’t helping. Oh, and deep breathing is your friend.

There are a few choices you are going to make over the next few years, and I’m going to say it now; you’re doing the right thing. I Dear Memarvel at your ability to go with your gut. Going to sixth form college was the best thing you could have done. Your attendance rate will sky rocket from 63% to almost 100%, because it turns out when you’re not being told off for wearing the wrong colour hair tie, or trousers made out of the wrong fabric, you actually enjoy educational environments.

I know that leaving secondary school, causes a rift in certain friendships, but they weren’t worth it. You may not realise it now, Dear Mebut the one who introduced himself by gyrating in your face, turns out to be a far better friend. Even when he’s gone, you miss him a great deal. Besides that, you will make solid friendships wherever you go. Join Tumblr as soon as you can, go to ALL the Cosplay Cymru meets and NERD THE HELL OUT.

Give people time. You may not be what they expect, but once they realise you’re serious they will grow to respect that. Stick to your guns, and don’t hide who you are, even if you’re not entirely sure who that is yet. You’ll learn more about yourself by answering otherDear Me people’s questions on your sexuality, beliefs, gender etc, than you could ever learn by sitting inside your head all day.

Your skin will clear up. The redness will fade by university. Having to take a pregnancy test every time you need to refill your prescription is hilarious, particularly that tense moment where you know you’ve never had intercourse, but you’re still worried it’ll be positive.

University will be exactly what you hoped it would be, but it will also be entirely different from what you’d imagined. You will learn Dear Meto argue with students studying PhD Physics, about Physics, and you will win. You will often be wrong, but you will still win, because the central skill of an Arts degree is being able to pull connections out of nowhere. Also, you will find a sport that you actually care about!

Finally, graduating will seem like the weirdest thing, and you will spend a great deal of time faffing about, trying to figure out what to do. The answer is, go with that gut. There is only one thing that you’ve ever wanted to do, and you will find a way to do it.

dear me

Best,

Em.

P.S. While creating the main graphic for this, I realised how much we photobomb. Keep doing that.

P.P.S. For those of you wondering #DearMe is a feature currently running on Youtube, in which you write a letter to your younger self. I’m not a big vlogger, so I thought I’d get involved this way.

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Review: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

the long dark tea-time of the soul
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The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

I was introduced to the character of Dirk Gently as a fresher with a serious Sherlock hangover, and only BBC iPlayer to keep me company. I fell in love with the BBC’s adaptation, partly because of my not-so-secret crush on Stephen Managhan, but also due to Gently’s infectious attitude towards life. Over the summer, I managed to read the first novel in this short series, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. I was so taken with Adams’s bizarre writing style, that most of my creative writing projects for the next athe long dark tea-time of the soulcademic year were dedicated to replicating that sound; the unequivocal, deadpan satirist, with a unequalled sense of humour. In particular, it sparked the creation of a certain giraffe scene that became semi-infamous amongst my course-mates.

Over a year later, I finally found time to read The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, and I am pleased to announce, it was well worth the wait.

While the book is technically a sequel, reading the original is not at all necessary. All you need to know is that Dirk Gently is a man who takes the interconnectedness of all things deadly seriously, to the point where he has given up conventionalthe long dark tea-time of the soul methods of navigation, and instead follows cars and people that look like they know where they’re going. No, I’m not joking. The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul sees Gently investigating the death of a client, leading him down the back streets of London, past an old people’s home and straight into the great hall of Valhalla. Oh, did I forget to mention Thor, Odin, and a fella named “Toe Rag” all have a major role to play in the novel’s events? Woops.

This is definitely a novel for those of you who love the Marvel movies, or just have a passion for Norse mythology. While Toe the long dark tea-time of the soulRag lacks the sex appeal of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, he makes up for it in his hilarious attempts at tormenting Thor. Thor himself is rather adorably unable to think and talk at the same time, and is prone to outbursts, which have a habit of transforming lamps into kittens and so forth. For the fanfiction writer’s amongst you, it will certainly provide some headcanon fodder.

In the middle of all this absurdity, it one of the best written female characters I’ve read in a while; Kate Schechtor. Unlike the usual floosies of your common noir, Kate is a curious, level-headed, the long dark tea-time of the souldriven woman, who has as much trouble comprehending bath salts, oils and bombs as I do. She is not your common dame, she is brave enough and smart enough to make her own path through the story, and is all about the practicalities, “Kate sighed. “Will I need a coat in Asgard?“. For a detective novel from the 1980’s, she’s a real treat, and you’ve got to love Adams for that.

My only complaint was the lack of MacDuff, the previous book’s secondary protagonist, and Gently’s onscreen sidekick. This is purely because, MacDuff acts as a Watson the long dark tea-time of the soulfigure, giving background information on Gently’s character from their university days together. For this reason, I personally recommend reading the first book, simply to get a fuller sense of Gently’s character, although the order in which you read them is up to you.

The Dirk Gently novels are certainly some of my favourites. As a student, they were a breath of fresh air in a pile of dense literature. As a graduate, they provide a wonderfully warm gulp of humour to fill the hours I spend in coffee shops. But most importantly, as a writer, I recognise that they are something entirely different, and that is what makes Adams one of my literary heroes.

the long dark tea-time of the soul

Finally, for those of you who find yourself hooked, there are further chapters available in The Salmon of Doubt, the third, but rather unfortunately incomplete, novel in the series. RIP Adams, you beautiful man, you.

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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I admit, I was sceptical to begin with. The synopsis gave me the impression that this was going to be a book about a girl who outgrows fanfiction and finds real love in the real world, and that was not a storyline I was interested in. I put the book down, I walked away. And then a friend told me that they’d enjoyed it, and I was in the market for some light-reading, and figured, “Why not?” I have never been more pleasantly surprised.

Rowell’s voice is fluid, and her characterisation is generally good. While many of the characters are detestable as people, they are also brilliantly well-rounded. There is just enough of Laura (the twins’ mother) present to allow us to understand the motivation behind her actions, without the words ever being said. There is just enough of Nick, to give us a sense of his teetering ego. And there is enough of Wren to make us hate her, before we love her all over again.

What is lacking is a full sense of Levi. We know his physical appearance, we know his background, but we don’t know any of his real flaws. From 460 pages, I can tell you a 100 things that Cath loves about Levi, but not one that she hates. Even his reading difficulties are turned into an opportunity for romance, rather than an individual fault. Levi is the kind of character that sweeps you off your feet, but you can never quite ground him in reality. Perhaps I shouldn’t grumble, after all it is a young adult romance, and therefore feet sweeping is to be expected. But the perfection of Levi left me with a bad taste in my mouth, like the message had been corrupted. It’s fine to support the idea that you should be yourself and do the things you love, but adding in the perfect guy who will hunt you down no matter where you hide was just a little to ‘happily ever after’. Maybe a greater discussion of the looming summer apart would have helped. I just needed something to shake the fairy glitter of this otherwise amazing tale.

However, what is lacking from Levi, is made up for in other ways. Rowell may not have grown up as part of the ‘fandom’ generation, but she gets it, and she gets fanfiction. Cath’s obsession with the world of Simon Snow (Rowell’s creation with in a creation) was spot on.  Rowell understands the need to explore, play, and finish stories differently. She even understands that sometimes, the fanfiction is better than the fiction.

I grew particularly fond of the Simon Snow interludes, and Cather’s fakefiction. As someone who never really enjoyed Harry Potter, as others seemed to, I found Snow to be very interesting. In my opinion, Rowell explored more engaging concepts and story paths in a few extracts than Rowling did in 7 books. Specifically, I loved the spells that relied on the power of words, such as ‘please’ and ‘up, up and away’, as well as The Humdrum, who managed to be both a surprising and sinister villain, something that Voldemort never quite achieved.

Ultimately, this was just the book I needed. It was emotionally rich, but still playful. I hope Rowell will someday bring us more of these guys, and until then I’ll be browsing fanfiction.net to keep me going. For a romantic, looking for a light read with a kick, this is definitely the book I would recommend.