An Author in Progress

This is where you'll find me trying to mould myself into a respectable writer - it may take sometime...
You'll find anything from a piece of experimental creative writing, some thoughts on my novel developments, to even the occasional literature-based academic paper.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


I have finally completed three years of study.

In that time my course has been cut, my child has completed high school, I have met a fantastic artsy dude who's going to see me into my old age, I have a predicted first to come from my graft, AND... I'm published!

So several big events make the whole thing insane, and it's easy to lose sight of the original grand plan amongst final presentations (who opts to spend 20 minutes talking about the language of romance in Lord of the Rings? - evidently me), the last rushed meetings with student friends with whom the final months have been barely spent, and the all important final year dissertation.

The first thought I had about ending my course was, 'That's it, I'm done... I'm free!' then very quickly I realised the final events which have made up the past few weeks have been crazy and I've had barely a moment to take stock or mental photo of this next step.

So what exactly was my grand plan? Honestly, I really didn't have one, and I really didn't think I would make it to the end. I thought the dream I've had for years was yet another of the dozens of unrealised ones that make a thirty-something little more than a jaded big kid. Oscar speeches and testimonials aside. There are a whole collection of people who facilitated my progress.

There are of course the amazing lecturers, the in-house politics between these hen-pecked academics and management and our fabulous new UK higher education cutbacks which either bring out the worst or the best in us. I am going to put the 2000 word letter of complaint I composed when my course was discontinued down to a newly found language.

But that's also because I wasn't just speaking for myself. There are the students who we learn from and that really is the priceless part. Not just about who they are and what they know, but about what they bring out in us. They brought out something bigger in my grand plan - which was purely to glean back three years doing something for myself after a long stint of single-parenting. Thank you guys. You made part of the writer I am today.

Together we are all bound in print all thanks to our student editorial team who brought together our multiple voices into an anthology of creative writing called Ignite. Yes we have an ISBN and we aren't afraid to use it... :) And thanks to the help of my lovely David we have a fotos and a crafted weblog of our book-launch in the making.

There will be a day of book-signing at Waterstones in West Quay, Southampton on the 9th June from 11am onwards, so maybe we'll see you there.

So consequently, here I sit allowing myself time to take stock. Now while I'm staring at job adverts for receptionists and HR staff, marketing for small companies and pondering my nightmare relapse into cleaning for the sake of getting work, I seem to have a change of heart. Books still whisper academic questions in my ear, and the scent of a horde of hungover 20 yr olds has a poetic nostalgia.

I'm on the cusp of considering the publication of my full three years of studies - warts and all, angst and glory, with bad punctuation unedited and the joy that really 'getting' a sudden burst of understanding can bring as a guide of sorts, or at least a something so my kid will know I actually did this.

Thoughts turn to, 'hang on a minute, I'm not done yet!' and perhaps I may have something I can develop and share beyond a collection of rough essays and scatty presentations - maybe learn from some more undeniably avant garde kids.

You can't see the application form on my desk for postgraduate study, but it's got my name on it and I'm not afraid to use it. Watch this space.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Room to write outside of gender

First blog in an extremely long time. I'd be more sorry if it was beneficial to be, but this year I have to stop apologising and regretting things, accept I am who I am and do what I do... when I can.

Research has been jarring for months on the novel I am developing for my final year dissertation project. I love literary criticism and breaking it down in itself, I love theory but would love to try it all out and see how it works in fictional practise. Gendered language as a prison of classification, and the reading of the diaries of French Herculine Barbin who was classified as a '19th Century Hermaphrodite' has brought me here to try and create a different ending than suicide.

What keeps running through my head is this: what on earth was I thinking and what the heck do I know about the hell that society puts upon people born with intersexed bodies, or who feel the unavoidable, heartbreaking and brave journey through one gendered existence to another? Between changes at home that made even finding the head-space to read even my university reading lists a challenge, proving to people that you are a serious individual researching transgender/ intersex issues for a literary exploration is even more complex.

Trying to prove I am genuine to societies and closed help-groups who deal with these issues I would much prefer to understand before I progress, is a real hurdle. I would like to be one of those people who can just pretend, rummage through a few websites and magazines, read a couple of case studies and churn out word-counts, but that just is not me. Arguably, surely understanding the subject as a writer you hope to represent, as broadly as possible is the ideal?

What I would love of course is for all the research to flow, my brain to unblock itself, and for every door I knock on to magically open.

Life is not like this.

Writing is not like this – unless it's inside your book and you want to write it that way, but then how interesting a read would it be with no conflict to halt the narrative or to turn the perceptions of the reader, to alter the character? And more ideas will come from the result of research than I can hope to dredge out of my little mind, in my little writing room. If there's anyone out there who reads this, who may have an introduction they could make I'd be more than grateful.

I wont deny that at the moment I am my own biggest adversary. 'Darn you Sandra Murphy', I say with shaking fist! I have to be a bit more patient, but hey, that word has a double meaning. Writing can be a sickness sometimes that makes us grumpy as hell and prone to indulge on available and sometimes wonderful, modes of escapism. I guess the real part has to be a bit of dedication and acceptance that time management is essential for progress. A book, in concept alone, can be anything, but it amounts to nothing until you get yourself in gear.

Thus, Sandra has got to get herself in gear. But Sandra is also going to remind herself, here, in third person, that she would like very much to timetable in, with as little boring planning as possible, very frequent periods of rather wonderful escapism. After all, isn't that also a source of writing? Final thought: outside of gender, how the heck do I refer to myself in third person? Part of the reason for the research.