Tag Archives: writing

Echo. Zine⤴

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Today I got an email: “Please find attached a fold-your-own zine titled: Echo. Zine”

Exciting! What would it be? I opened the attachment and followed the instructions.

I pondered, I wondered, I got out my colour pencils.

I coloured, I savoured the words.

I pondered, I remembered Steller.

I did not remember my password!

Eventually I got access. I played for a while.

Time to stop dithering. I publish. I did not add a description. You can imagine it is there.

Thanks Wendy 🙂

Gray and Glasgow – Living Imaginatively⤴

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I was deeply saddened this morning to hear of the death of the author and artist Alasdair Gray, undoubtedly one of the most significant English-language authors of the last century. I have a strong personal connection to Gray’s writing as in some obscure way it’s bound up with my decision to come to study and live in Glasgow.

I first came across Gray’s writing in one of Penguin’s Firebird anthologies in the early 1980s, when I was about 14, then the following year my partner’s brother, who was studying Scottish Literature at Edinburgh University, came home with a copy of Lanark and gave it to me to read it. I was completely captivated by everything about the book and pestered my friends to read it, most of them did and were equally enthralled. (Dragonhide was a condition we recognised well.) After Lanark, I went on to Unlikely Stories Mostly and 1982 Janine. I know 1982 Janine is a divisive book, and I certainly read it at an impressionable age, but I still think it’s an incredibly powerful work, and one that comes frighteningly close to capturing the disorienting reality of mental breakdown in words and typography.

When I had left school, I had hoped to go to Edinburgh to the School of Scottish Studies, but although I was successful in securing a place, the university didn’t offer me a place in halls, and, as I couldn’t afford to travel to Edinburgh to find a flat, I had to turn the place down. Instead I went to Glasgow, which offered me accommodation and a place to study Scottish Literature and Archaeology. I wasn’t exactly keen on going to Glasgow at first, but in an odd way it was through the writing of Alasdair Gray and Edwin Morgan, and an anthology of Glasgow poetry called Noise and Smoky Breath, that features Gray’s artwork of Cowcaddens on the cover, that I warmed to the idea of moving to the city. I say odd, because Gray’s vision of Glasgow in Lanark is very much a dystopian one, but it’s a very human dystopia.  

When I first read Lanark in Stornoway as a teen, I had no real experience of Glasgow, it was a city I’d visited only once as a child, so re-reading the book at university while I was living in the city was a real eye-opener for me.   I saw Gray reading several times while I was a student, most notably at Felt Tipped Hosannas, a Mayfest event in 1990 to commemorate Edwin Morgan’s 70th birthday. He read an excerpt of McGrotty and Ludmilla and he was hilarious.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read Lanark since then, at least a dozen probably. It’s a book I go back to time and time again and every time I read it, it becomes more relevant.

It goes without saying that I love Gray’s art as much as his writing, as it’s really impossible to separate the two. For a short time, while I worked at Strathclyde University in the early 2000’s, we were privileged to share our Cetis office with some original prints of the Lanark illustrations from the University’s art collection.

I’ve lived in Glasgow for over 30 years now and somehow my experience of the city is still inextricably bound up with Gray’s work, whether it’s his artwork in Hillhead, Oran Mor, or The Chip, or his words that are woven into the fabric of the city.

“Glasgow is a magnificent city,” said McAlpin. “Why do we hardly ever notice that?”

“Because nobody imagines living here…think of Florence, Paris, London, New York. Nobody visiting them for the first time is a stranger because he’s already visited them in paintings, novels, history books and films. But if a city hasn’t been used by an artist not even the inhabitants live there imaginatively.”

Lanark ~ Alasdair Gray

As an eighteen year old teenager from the Outer Hebrides, I was able to imagine living in Glasgow because I had already visited it through Gray’s art, and never once have I felt like a stranger here.

Black Mirror Writers Room – #MozFest 2019 session⤴

from @ education

I've got a whole host of stuff to blog from MozFest (and Accessibility Scotland), and I'm sure I won't get to all of it, but here's an attempt at least! One of the best sessions I went to at MozFest was the Black Mirror Writers … Continue reading Black Mirror Writers Room – #MozFest 2019 session

Past me⤴

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Thank You

Sitting, pen in hand, with blank paper in front of me, I chastise my past self.
I shout at her for being lazy, for not writing more, so that I would need to write less.
But my past self was not ready to write: she didn’t know what I know now.
Her thoughts had not crystallised, she had not read what I had read.
I need to stop blaming past-me for what she did not do
And start thanking her for what she did.

Thank You” flickr photo by Orin Zebest shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Writer’s Block⤴

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I’ve stalled. With just under five months till I submit my completed thesis I have run out of steam. I have no time to waste, and so I waste time. I know all of the advice – I have given it many times, but still I pause. My bookshelves are tidied, my yarn is sorted, my fridge is clean.

I still feel that I need to give myself permission to write. I’m framing my thesis as an auto-ethnography because that feels right – it feels authentic – but I still struggle to justify my approach. Maybe I worry that it is not rigorous enough – maybe my background in anglo-analytic philosophy has trained me to privilege an argumentative style over the explanatory … Maybe I need to channel my inner philosopher (note to self: do not channel your inner Deleuze).

Whatever, the time has come. I remind myself of one of my favourite quotes:

“Fool,” said my muse to me. “Look in thy heart and write.”

Wish me luck …

Good enough⤴

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Disco ball
Image by author CC-NC-SA

I was asked this week how I write. Quickly, I said – in odd moments snatched whenever I can find them. I try not to think too much about what I’m writing – I scribble words on scraps of paper, I doodle on the scribbles and scribble some more.

I try not to worry about choosing perfect words and phrases – I often use square brackets to remind myself that parts need polishing – that the words I have scribbled there are placeholders. But, when I finally sit myself in front of a word processor and force myself to type up all the scribbles, I often find that those temporary words are fine.

Of course I do revise what I write – over time, as I edit, I will refine what I say – add to it, delete parts -but often the parts that I wrote as placeholders turn out to be good enough.

Being “good enough” is very much the ethos of the remix culture of DS106 and CLMOOC. We don’t mind about things being perfect -though we appreciate and value skill, expertise etc. they are not the only sorts of things we value. As I write up my PhD thesis I think about this, and wonder how to link what I am discovering about my affinity networks and maker spaces into something that I can use in HE.

Dictation Tools for Unlocking Creativity⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

We can usually speak far more quickly than we can type, so being able to get ideas on screen can be time-consuming. And we can also lose the flow of what we are thinking if the mechanics of typing get in the way. So being able to speak naturally as the text then appears on screen can both allow for ideas to be captured in text form, and this can then more easily be edited later.

Click on the Sway below to see how to enable and use the dictation tools on Apple, Android, Windows or Chromebooks. So whether it’s  PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone your device will most likely have the facility to have speech to text. As long as there is a microphone and the device supports speech to text you should be able to then use the dictation feature to say your thoughts aloud and have them appear as text which you can then later edit.

 

When using dictation tools you need to say what punctuation you wish to appear in the text – whether comma, full stop/period, question/exclamation mark, or new line/enter.

Speaking close to the microphone, and as clearly and distinctly as possible, will aid the dictation tool to be as accurate to what you wish as possible.

If you wish to find out more about the benefits of using Dictation or Speech to Text Technology in a classroom environment then the following links be of interest:

 

Word limits⤴

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word limits

Busy days – holidays ending, a conference to prepare for. Not enough space to write. Still, I watch the conversations from the sidelines. Words constrain, words are constrained.

How many words are pictures worth? Nick’s post inspires me.

Bookshelves

I look over at my bookshelves to see if I still have a dictionary. I do, and am amused to see Nick’s book next to it. Serendipity again. Sorry, Wendy – I don’t feel like making  a word salad today.