Travel Awkwardness

This evening, I’ve been clearing out some paperwork from my home office. So much of what I found was so old, I’d forgotten ever writing it. Alongside my long-abandoned novel, and a partial script for a random radio play, and drafted children’s book, and doodles for a Christian colouring book were six loose pages.

Two of the loose pages outline a story I will share here next week, and the other four (titled ‘Travel Awkwardness’) form what I’m guessing was supposed to become a blog post. Well, today, I’m going to make that blog post a reality, because it’s (in my opinion) so cringingly funny I just have to share. Below, therefore, is a direct transcription.

I travel fairly regularly – not very far most of the time, but usually just enough that I require a small wheeled suitcase. Other than a suitcase, though, I travel alone, and this comes with a few issues that couples or groups would never experience. Like, when sitting in an airport for a few hours – waiting for a flight, obviously – a common thing to do is to read and/or help yourself to a caffeinated beverage. This is fairly standard, regardless of who you’re with (/not with), but the difference is what happens after this period of sitting but before the period of getting up to sit in a big metal bird: one goes to the bathroom.

Going to the bathroom is not as simple as it sounds, for people with other people. But people without other people have to pack up everything and head to the bathroom with it for fear that it will be stolen (by security guards more likely than actual thieves).

People with people (PWP) can leave their caffeinated beverage half drunk, their magazine open on their table, their suitcase and their toddler behind them for a few brief moments alone to freshen up because – joy of joys – they have a minder.* Meanwhile, I’m getting strange looks reflected in my direction from the lucky “look, free hands!” woman standing by the mirror, taking her sweet time to fix her already perfect hair as I try to squeeze both myself and my case round a tiny cubicle door only to find that, now I’m in, the door won’t shut because me/my suitcase are in the way. Needless to say – it takes some manoeuvring.

As the perfect-haired PWP resumes her coffee/magazine/parenthood I am now faced with the problem of releasing myself [from the space] I’ve just spent the last seven minutes trying to get into. Typically, when I do get out, I discover that – due to the plane being “delayed for unforeseen circumstances” – my pre-flight preparation piss was in vain, as I’ve suddenly got two more hours to kill and will therefore no doubt have to complete the process two more times (a side-effect of all those time-killing caffeinated beverages).

Just recently, I was in Dublin – on my own, of course – and an odd thing happened:

Snoring in toilet.

Unknowledgeable fart.

(Yes, that’s really how it ends.

*There’s an asterisk here in my original notes, but no corresponding footnote. Absolutely no idea what I had been planning to clarify or elaborate on at the end. I was so very good at this!)

Letter to My Body: Part Two

Dear Body,

I said in my first letter that I wanted to open a dialogue, and I do, but I guess it’s harder than I thought it would be because it’s been almost a year between that first letter and now. There’s so much we need to hash out, I’m still struggling to know where to start. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot – all our issues.

It’s a lot, you know?

I had planned, today, to bring up the complicated topic of food but, well, we’ve had one hell of a weekend, haven’t we? It’s only fair I give you a break and save that can of worms ’till later.

Right now, I know you’re in pain. To say it sucks doesn’t cover it.

I’m trying to figure out all that’s wrong, but it takes time. I feel frustrated, but I hope that all answers will come eventually, if I don’t stop looking for them.

I’m trying to come to terms with just how sick we are, and the possibility that I might always be in some amount of pain or other.

I’m scared.

I want someone to hold my hand through all this and keep me going. Obviously Steve is great for that, but he doesn’t have any more answers than I do. It’s hard to reach out for support from people who have gone through the same things, when you’re not sure what all of the things you’re going through are called.

I guess I should be grateful that I have diagnoses for at least some of it. Twenty years ago, I probably wouldn’t even have that. And Steve is so great. He listens, and sympathizes even when we don’t understand. It’s such a change of pace to how things used to be, living with my parents.

We can take solace in that. Things could be a hell of a lot worse.

I like to think we’re making progress. And, in the meantime, I really do plan to write more often. We shouldn’t be at odds with each other.

Take care, body. We’ll get there.

– Ellie.

Goals for the New Year

A lot of the goals I have for this new year are directly inspired by my progress (or lack thereof) from last year.

In 2019, for example, I set myself a reading target of 60 books and I successfully completed 68 so, this year, I am setting my target to 65.

Also last year, although it wasn’t something officially on my list, I got into the habit of posting to this blog every week. Therefore, it is my intention to keep this up and have 52 blog posts on here by the end of the year.

September last year, I started studying an A-Level in English Literature. So my next goal is to complete that course.

Three things that showed up on a number of lists for me last year but I wasn’t able to tick off were: weight loss, admin for my writing group, and an anthology for our writing group. These things now have top priority. I hate having things hanging over me.

On that note: for the longest time, I have been going through my old fan fiction and archiving it to Ao3, so I have a goal to finish that this year. I also want to send more short story submissions, complete five fanfic works-in-progress, as well as all (five) of my short story works-in-progress.

I want this to be the year I finish my trilogy. So, between National Novel Writing Month and the two ‘Camp NaNoWriMo’s, I need to get book three finished.

Later in the year, I plan to move house. Which leaves me two last things for my list: completing a tax return and (hopefully) organising a second event with Books, Paper, Scissors.

Let’s see how this goes!

What I Wrote and Had Published in 2019

In 2017, I wrote 146,000 words. Then, in 2018, I wrote an entirely different 146,000 words.

2019, however, I upped my game by twenty-thousand to arrive at a grand total of 166,000 words!

That’s across twenty-three poems, fifty blog posts, essays, reports, memoir, short stories, flash fiction, drabbles, fan fiction, and novel work.

I completed a novel in 2019 – the second in my trilogy – and I wrote a little towards book three. I wrote a children’s picture book. I finished off three fanfic works in progress that had been left abandoned for way too long, and wrote an entirely new fanfic from start to finish at a total of 28,000 words. That’s pretty much a novella.

I shared my children’s book with actual children at an event Liz Weir MBE was doing at the freshly opened Mo Mowlam Park, part of Libraries NI’s Big Summer Read. I read at events part of the Armagh Food & Cider Festival,  Belfast Culture Day, and the C.S. Lewis Festival. And I facilitated a short story showcase at Books, Paper, Scissors.

I was one of the recipients of a Kit de Waal Flash Fiction Bursary for the 2019 Bridport Prize.

I won a Margaret Carey Scholarship to attend the 2019 annual SCBWI conference.

I had one poem published in a book, and four poems published in online journals.

I had two short stories published online, with one of them also due to come out in print format later this year.

As I look back on 2019, I could very easily focus on the fact that I didn’t get an agent or a publishing deal for my novel. But just look at all the things I did achieve! It wasn’t the most perfect writing year ever, but I think it might just be my best one yet.

I am feeling good for all that is ahead 🙂