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Let's talk: Question and answer - Part 1

In 2014, I started my PhD studies at the University of Birmingham where, as part of those studies, I had to write a full-length novel. On January 30th, that novel was published by Bloodhound Books, and on February 8th (last night) I launched the book officially at my local library, surrounded by friends and family who I simply wouldn’t be without. I was terrified – as I often am before an event – but the entire evening was a beautiful experience and I’m grateful to the people who made it so.

As part of the evening, there was a question and answer session scheduled. I didn’t know how this would go – very few people who were there had actually read the book, on account of the event being its launch and all, so I was relying on people having questions from the extracts that I’d read, but it felt touch and go with a book like Intentionwhether people would really want to ask anything at all. That said, to my surprise and utter delight, people not only asked questions, but they asked percept…

Poem: Anniversary offerings

It's been a little while since I shared something here, and it's been even longer still since I shared some poetry. However, it's a particularly important day for me and my family, and it's also the time of year where in among tinsel and sparkle, we can't help but think of the people who should be here but aren't. So, to that end, here's a little poem from me:
Anniversary offerings
We bring you flowers, talk about plans for Christmas and New Year, still bitter that you can’t be a part of them.
We bring tools from the shed – they were in the garage but mum’s gone on one of her sprees; you know how she gets.
We bring a Santa Claus figure; the Church says we can’t put things on the grave but we don’t mind being condemned.
We bring soft sentiments, take turns telling you that you are missed, loved, still important. It’s our family’s saddest duet.
We bring stories that we’ve lived and ones we imagine you would have lived, if the world were a little less cruel.
We bring tear…

On parking in disabled bays: An open letter to the man who shouted, ‘It’s probably not even her badge.’

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An open letter to the man who shouted, ‘It’s probably not even her badge,’ across a road earlier today –
Firstly:
It is, and if you’d had the nerve to shout such snide comments before I’d hauled myself into my car and belted myself in, then I would have shown you the picture of my face on my blue badge, not that it’s any of your business.
Secondly:
Thank you for validating many of the rants, raves, and other expressions of disappointment that I often voice about people and their general ignorance towards individuals with invisible illnesses. While I can’t help but think even now, hours later, that your actions were those of a total pillock, I have to say that in many ways it’s nice that my cynicism has been proved right – again. So, there’s that silver lining to take away from this afternoon, if nothing else.
The full story:
After starting work at home at around 6:45am, I decided that I could afford a lunchtime stroll into town. By this point in the day my forearms were hypersensitive (o…

I should(n't) be writing, right?

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It’s been a little while since I wrote one of these things so let me catch you up:

I’ve finished my PhDI’ve finished lecturing for this academic yearI’m publishing my first poetry pamphlet in July (you can pre-order it here if you feel in the mood to treat yourself)I’ve placed my debut novel with a publisher (Bloodhound Books, who are kind and sympathetic people to work with), andI’ve started writing another novel
They’re the major blanks filled in – unless I’ve forgotten something, but we can always come back for a quick edit later. I’ve been exceptionally lucky so far this year; that’s my only real explanation for all of the above. After worrying ‘how I would top 2017’ – after submitting my thesis and publishing The Women You Were Warned About – 2018 has, in fact, been quite the beaut of a year so far.
But, I digress! My main reason for coming back to this blog is that I have a new/different/changing relationship with writing at the moment, and I feel like I need to get that …

'Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine' and Entirely Necessary

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During the penultimate weekend of March, I found myself in a well-known bookshop with my other half. I picked up a copy of Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and gave a sigh so deep and heartfelt that my partner snatched the book from my hands and headed straight towards the till. The deep and heartfelt sigh was entirely unjustified at the time, though, because I knew absolutely nothing about Eleanor Oliphant. I knew that the novel was critically acclaimed, I also knew that many book bloggers and Instagrammers who I follow had read and loved the book – but I knew nothing about it, its protagonist, or indeed this protagonist’s story.
Nevertheless, I was bought the book and I set about reading it a day or two later. This is the part where the spoilers are likely to sneak in so advert your eyes – and skip a paragraph ahead – if you’re looking to avoid surprises about the plot. Eleanor is a young woman – thirty years old, if memory serves right, and she lives in social hou…

The Diary of a (former) PhD Student: One last panic...

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It’s been so long since I last updated this space that it took three attempts to get my password right just to log in here. Off the top of my head I couldn’t actually remember when I’d last rambled on about my PhD but, if Blogger records are anything to go by, it looks like it was back in September 2017 – which must mean that it was immediately before or immediately after handing in the dreaded thesis.
If you’re reading this and we’re friends on Facebook, or you follow me on one social media channel or another, then you’ll already know the outcome. If by some minor chance you have stumbled across this blog without knowing me – or you’ve started to follow this blog, without really knowing who I am – then: SURPRISE! I PASSED MY PHD!
But there were one or two steps between then and now so kick back and let me fill you in (or, alternatively, you could click the top right X and call it a day; I have, after all, given you the ending to this story already).
I handed in my thesis in late Septem…

A flare up: Chronic Regional- what?

DISCLAIMER: Reader, I wrote this post a few days ago now, and at the time of writing I was yet to see a doctor to either confirm or deny what was actually happening with my health. This morning, I saw a doctor. She said quite plainly, 'Yes, this is the same problem as before, just flaring up again.' She also said the treatments are the same as the ones I've already had, and the investigations are the same as the ones they've already done - well over a decade ago, and all. I was angry about this - horrendously angry, and I have to pause here to thank my mum, my sister, my partner, and two amazing friends for being on the brunt end of that anger. But I was hugely frustrated that, after all this time, the first answer was, 'You still just have to live with it.' Now the anger has died down and I'm oh-so-aware that people out there are living with much worse things than this. But now more than ever, it seems important to me that I talk about this thing/malfuncti…