It’s a hot and sunny day in Manchester. It’s just over a year since I first visited, with the feeling that I was about to spend a lot of my time here. My current lease ends in three weeks’ time, and I’ll be in Warwickshire for the summer, but I’ll be back to finish up my MA in September. I’m nearly halfway through the course, and we’re nearly halfway through the year, so it’s a good time to see where I am.
By many measures, I’m in a bit of a pickle. As I mentioned, I’m not in Manchester over the summer, which is frustrating to my sense of independence, and I haven’t got a place sorted for when I come back. However, my Dad is having a back operation soon, so it’s important that I’m around to help out. It’ll also be good for the money situation – I have no money. My only job at the moment is at a theatre, which is closed over the summer, so that’s no help. I’m currently running one or two months’ paycheques behind on my expenses, and I’m not likely to pull forward any time soon. I have to look for work in Warwickshire, which is a strain, and the lack of ready funds makes it difficult to travel to see friends, who live all over the shop nowadays. I can’t see me going to Edinburgh this year, let alone having a proper holiday. I haven’t done any proper writing or exercise since my two weeks of flu interrupted my weeks of essay hell, which is bad for a host of reasons. My computer is being particularly wheezing lately, which is always a bad sign. Plus, I have done pretty much none of the things on the list of goals I made at the start of the year, which pretty much caps the whole situation off.
However, I’m actually in a pretty good place. Back in Leicester I was resentful when I was stuck at home, and often unimpressed when I ventured out. Here, I’m more comfortable with my lifestyle, even if it’s largely the same in terms of hours. Working evenings and occasional afternoons has been a barrier to me going to all the artsy things I would like to go to of an evening, but it means that I can structure my mornings as I please, which is important to a sleepy person, and the days are my own. I have great colleagues, and being able to see a succession of shows I wouldn’t have gone to off my own back, which have plenty of interesting things going in in them, has made me interested in doing theatre again, after stropping away from it in 2014. I actually finished my “first play” Just a Kiss and sent it off to be read, and even if nothing ever happens with it, that’s a three-and-a-half-year weight off my mind. I have a good idea what I’m going to do with my dissertation, and might start it this summer. I’ve been playing more guitar lately, and am finishing off some half-done songs, so there’ll probably be another demo tape on Soundcloud this summer. I’m kicking around various performance projects in my head, and I’m sure one of them will surface before the year is out. I’m close to having organised and prepared the twenty or so good poems in my back catalogue, so I can send them off to be rejected by poetry magazines across the world. I’m sure not many of you read blip, but I got some nice feedback from it, and I’m glad that particular set of poems is completed, like with the play. Finishing things is a good feeling. I need to go back and finish/rescue my NaNoWriMo project, so I should prioritise the reading needed for that. (I’m not sure that book will ever widely read, but it’s important that I write it.) I’ve actually managed to do a good hunk of reading this year. I’ve set the absurd goal of 100 books on Goodreads, but that’s mainly because I’m blasting through a lot of excellent graphic novels at the moment, and I don’t want to feel absolved of the need to get through the prose, particularly the stuff left half-read (although, it is true that some of those books are being neglected because they’re nowhere near as good as they need to be.) Not to mention lots of movies (for me, who can watch downwards of ten a year), lots of podcasts, and even a bit of TV (which I’m not convinced is the great saviour of the talkies, but I may just be watching the wrong shows).
Compare this year and last, I feel much more engaged and creative. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m beginning to find out the sorts of things I do. While the second paragraph remains very true, they’re all problems that can be solved. Wellesbourne’s going to be tough, but I’ll get by. It’s a hot and sunny day in Manchester, and I’m going back outside to read a book. Speak soon.