Unproductive and Unprepared

Unproductive and Unprepared

My plan for the first couple of weeks of the holiday wasn’t complicated. I’d work on my dissertation, and hopefully get a good chunk of it written. I’d go to enough dance classes to learn all my steps (well, everything except hornpipe; that would be too much to ask). I’d read for fun and catch up on a few shows I’ve been neglecting and get out my harp for the first time in far too many months.

But it turns out I’m just really tired, and I’ve done very few of these things.

Take my dissertation, for example. I have actually written about a thousand words of my introduction, which is better than nothing. And there’s an increasingly detailed mind map on my wall that constitutes my planning for the rest of it.

I keep it above my bed so I can add things to it in the middle of the night when they inevitably occur to me at 3am, but that does mean it’s not all super readable.

However, I keep finding things I need to read before I can write a particular section. There’s an article on one of the key points I want to make, which I didn’t know about before now, so I’ll need to read that before I start that section to make sure I’m actually making new points. I need to read the Achilleid by Statius, too, but I just keep getting distracted.

So. Not a lot of dissertation has happened.

As for dance, it was going pretty well last week. I learned the lead round of my slip jig and all of my heavy jig, so I thought this week would be a case of just finishing off the slip jig and polishing the heavy jig. (For those not familiar with Irish dance terminology: a slip jig is a delicate, graceful dance in 9/8 time, done in ‘soft’ or ‘light’ shoes; a heavy jig is done in ‘hard’ or ‘heavy’ shoes and is in 6/8 time. Most dances consist of a lead round and a first step, though some have a second step. These sections consist of 16 bars each.)

But when I was practising on Saturday, I pulled a muscle. I didn’t think it was particularly bad; I thought I’d just kind of twanged it slightly. It felt fine on Sunday. Then I went to class on Monday and it felt like someone was ripping my thigh open every time I tried to jump or, after a while, do anything at all.

So, my quad muscle is screwed. I think it happened because my knee has been misaligned for a few days now and it was putting the quad under strain, and that’s why it pulled so easily, but I don’t know. It sucks, anyway. I had to leave Monday’s class early and I wasn’t able to go to today’s, though my teacher did helpfully film the steps for me so hopefully I can practise them a bit once I’m better.

As for the rest… well, I’ve watched some Netflix. Read a little bit, though not as much as I’d have liked, because I have a ton of stuff to read for uni and also keep falling asleep while trying to do that. Haven’t touched my harp — or any other instrument, for that matter. It’s been taking me about two hours to get out of bed every morning because I just can’t drag myself upright, and even putting my alarm clock on the other side of the room doesn’t help because getting up fast enough to turn it off leaves me so dizzy I have to lie down again, which obviously defeats the point.

I’m also woefully unprepared for Christmas, having only ordered presents for a grand total of two people, neither of which have yet arrived. Sigh. I just… suck at buying presents. I have no idea what to get people.

On the plus side, I did make a decision to try and query Butterfly of Night in the new year, and in preparation for that, went through the latest draft making some minor changes and polishing things. Then, because it was #PitMad the next day (you pitch your book on Twitter, and if agents ‘like’ the tweet, it’s an invitation to query them), I pitched it too. One agent liked it, so I sent them the chapters as they requested. I have no idea if anything will come for it, and I don’t even know if their agency would be a good fit for me as it looks like they primarily don’t represent ‘genre’ fiction and most of what I write would probably count as ‘genre’, but hey, it’s a start. It got me moving. Hopefully I can follow through with the actual querying come January.

And I did finally schedule some posts for my book blog to bring it out of its eternal hiatus, which is long overdue. That’s an achievement. But it’s not quite what I’d hoped to do with my time.

Tomorrow, I’m heading back to Cambridge for a few days to use the libraries and work on my dissertation. As far as I know, all of my flatmates will be at home for Christmas, so I’ll have the place to myself, which should give me the peace and quiet needed to make me actually write the damn thing. (I say this, but I know I’ll get distracted). I’m going to treat it as a sort of mini writing retreat: a chance to lock myself away and just concentrate on getting this thing done. I mean, ideally I’d try and get some other work done as well, since I don’t know how else I’m going to get four essays finished by the end of the holiday, but getting the dissertation written would be a strong start.

It should also give me a bit of an opportunity to do some Christmas shopping, because there are more interesting shops more easily accessible there than at home. Though I’m limited by not being able to cycle due to the aforementioned pulled quad muscle, so that’ll be less convenient than planned.

I don’t know. This holiday’s been frustratingly unproductive so far. I really just need a way to make my brain less nocturnal: the only time I get coherent thoughts and ideas is at, like, 3am, but then having to get up and write those down means I don’t get to sleep until ridiculously late and as a result I’m sleepy the whole of the next day. Hopefully, the next few days will help change that.

How are things looking for you guys? Is anyone else woefully underprepared for Christmas (if you celebrate)? Book Depository have been sending emails about ‘last minute’ gifts since way before I started shopping — I feel called out.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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