stand alone complex

I haven’t posted anything real in months and months, despite having oodles of drafts dicking around my computer. This is the state of play/Y2 retrospective as I wrote it about three months ago (!).

So! This year, I averaged a First, wrote a novel(la), decided on a career, escalated my tea consumption to apocalyptic levels, and still managed a good sixteen hours’ solid procrastination each and every day. That’s a pretty good round, I reckon.

I am very, very glad that I’ve ended up friends with the explosively talented Mr Reeve; it’s been one of the great unexpected blessings of the last few years. Writing-wise, I discovered that, just with essays, what brings it out is pressure. After far too many rewrites of the first three chapters, I contrived an outside deadline with him, then sat down and actually bashed out 43,000 words of Blood on the Tracks. The only issue with the story now is that it doesn’t know quite what it is; it was from the (incredibly distant-seeming) beginning a love-letter to Mortal Engines, and while it’s exactly the Mortal Engines fanfic I would write, it’s not the stand-alone novel I would write at all. So now that I’m rewriting and retrofitting it to be Its Own Thing, it’s in a sort of limbo of creative doubt. As an example, the mostly minor but occasionally drama-critical Mad Science aspects, like Stalkers and electro-zap thingies, just become contrived deus ex machinae if the world is no longer established as Fever Crumb’s weird ruined-future blend; so for the sake of verisimilitude, either I need to go back and establish a greater presence of Mad Science in the generally mundane, blood-and-iron technology base (which runs the risk of turning into overly campy steampunk bullshit), or I need to totally rewrite the scenes based around things blowing up, which is a shame, as I think they’re among the best (yes, I know, murder your darlings). Still, doable, I just need a kick of inspiration (or pressure) to finish it. The vague distant dream of being a writer is still very much there.

Something much more concrete, though, is the six-month-old wish to get into law. I have direction in life, drive for the first time ever, and it’s a nice feeling. There’s a lot I need to do with it this summer, particularly for the Law for Non-Law society, but it’s all doable, it’s all good.

Academically, it’s been a complete success. I was surprised as anything when I got my first 77 (my best mark in first year having been a totally unexpected 73 at the exams) for Critical Analysis, and continued to be surprised at my second and my third, particularly when I realised they between them made a good 33% of the year. After that I could only go down; but further essays in the 70s, and 71 and 73 in exams, reduced my average without hurting the grade boundary. Most importantly, there’s consistency there; I’ve got 70s from at least five very different academics (and their second markers!); and the essays which were below par, I was doubtful about knew they were shit before handing them in. I need to keep this up – I certainly can’t afford to be complacent in third year – but I’ve gained with it a confidence in my academic ability I never really had before. I’ve come a long way from the totally uncertain wreck who first begged essay advice off Siz almost two years ago.

The house is done and dusted, without financial penalty or the loss of any friends I wanted to keep. I had planned a sort of house-retrospective – possibly a long, embittered screed that I would probably friendlock out of embarrassment – but it all seems pointless now. We have all made our beds now, or had them made for us, and we will all lie in them.

Romantically… let’s just gloss entirely over the interactions-with-girls side of second year.

I am alive. I am awake. I am in control. I am full of hope and optimism. And I have a long free summer ahead of me.

More details on all points later.


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