About Me

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Tokyo, Japan
In 2011 I graduated with 1st class honours in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. I lived in China for nearly two and a half years, where I was working as an English teacher. I just moved to Tokyo where I will be spending my time teaching and writing. This blog is about my experiences of TEFL teaching and living abroad.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Busy busy bee... BUZZ!

I haven't done any writing for pleasure in....weeks. I say weeks, it's more like... 2 or 3... which is still far too many in my opinion. I haven't really been given that much work from Uni, it's just when other things get busy it all piles up and you run out of time... hence my mad rushing to get things done. I like being busy but rushing is never good. I have DECIDED (because it IS going to happen) that things will be a lot calmer and less busy starting next week. *nods hopefully*
My editing system is in place - I have a brand new folder filled with compartments for my work to be filtered through 5 stages of drafting...so when I get the time, I shall enjoy sitting down and doing some editing!

Hang on, did I really say that? Me, enjoying editing? Wow!

What other news? Well, I'm currently reading lots of things - Terry Pratchett's Nation being one. I've only red one other Pratchett before (Jingo) and quite liked it, but I'm not one of those massive Pratchett fans, I simply don't have time to read widely of one author, I prefer to jump around. But so far Nation is impressing me. I'm also still ploughing (slowly) through In America with the fabulous Stephen Fry. I don't often get time for it (and being a massive book I can't fit it in my bag to carry around on buses etc) but when I do get the chance, it's always nice to hear from Mr Fry. I've recently been picking up the Woman's Hour 50th Anniversary Collection of Short Stories which has been a mix... the first few I red had disappointing endings that made the story a bit pointless, but I've red a few that I quite like, including my first experience of Margret Atwood, hurrah! Also...Stuart, a life backwards by Alexander Masters. I'm reading this for my life writing course at uni, as I don't usually read biographies for pleasure. It's interesting, but not my usual sort of thing.

Right...I'd better crack on with some of that darned work of mine! Currently trailing through a collection of prose poems for class tomorrow, hurrah hurrah!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Productivity? Can it be?

So I had this lecture today on 'networking' from my fabulous tutor Annie McGann. Like most of the C/W lectures I attend there were mixed feelings about it, but on the whole we (the student body, of course) were pretty impressed and came away full of knowledge. I was surprised at how few students have blogs (and out of those that do, how many of those are actually their attempt to further their career?) but I guess it makes me a bit of a rarity. Everybody likes being special sometime :)
So away from this lecture I came, and I now have a profile on google - which will apparently make me more easily found and searchable - and I have also just joined the twitter community as MissCeliaJ (because MissCeliaJenkins was one character too long, darn!). So I'm pretty pleased, maybe I'll get a bit more traffic through my blog with these other self promotion outlets (and maybe someone will actually comment on something...perhaps...no? Oh...okay then...)
What else can I tell you? Oh yes, my poetry collection 'Love and Other Nonsense' has recently become available, not only in actual physical book form, but as a download straight to your computer for about a third of the price. Bargain. That's the way things are going, isn't it? All this dowbload stuff instead of having the real thing. Then again, I think it will take a long long time to completely phase out 'the book'. People like having something to hold, and own, and pass between friends. Ahh, I do like books :)
After some ace advice on some of my poems, I am going to start up a new system for editing my work. I will have different sections in a folder, and a piece of work will have to move through all the sections before I can consider it complete. So I it shall start with 'Draft One' and maybe end with 'Draft Five'. I need to get into the habit of redrafting and redrafting and redrafting... and actually edit it properly each time. Yes. This is my plan :)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Some poems pour vous

Remember the entry of the script 'who is he?' I posted a while back? The one I sent to the BBC? Well this is a poem I write on my rejection of said script


The BBC Stole my Crocodile Clip

It’s how they make their millions.
Searching for ‘new talent’,
eager for fresh blood,
more unsuspecting writers
to send in their scripts.
“Don’t forget your SAE!”
because heaven forbid the BBC
should fork out a penny.
“Clip all your pages together!”
...then when we’re done
we’ll send it back,
no word of encouragement,
no hopeful note,
no crocodile clip either.
We’ve stolen it.


This next one is very recent, and dedicated to my dear friend Mel



I am the first born,
and although a mothers arms
are not without their charms,
you give me something else.
I know it’s cliché, but
you’re the big sister I never had
and I’m glad
it’s you.
You guide me, and shield me,
and lead me astray
but that’s okay.
It was your birthday,
but still you sat with me in the rain,
and dried my tears.
You let me smoke your cigarettes
because I needed them more,
and in that moment I saw
the big sister I should have been,
should be.
I can’t thank you enough.


Pathetic Fallacy always reminds me of King Lear, and how is mood seemed to correlate with the weather. Here is a short one...


Pathetic Fallacy

A racing heart beat,
tingles from fingertips
to feet.
Girlish giggles
and wistful sighs,
lightning in my eyes,
electricity on my thighs.



I love being busy, but these few days I have been RUSHED which is not what I like at all. Trying to get the balance between classes, work, volunteering, social life...and still managing to do my own writing? Pfff, not the way it's going! So I'm having some serious rethinking about what I can and can't do with my time...fingers crossed that very soon I will be posting a helluva lot more on here!
So where are my writery things at? After my Writing for Children Lecture I started on a piece that I'm pretty excited about. Haven't done much in the way of writing yet but this one is heavily research based as it's going to be very fact heavy. Fingers crossed we'll see that developing soon.
Sudden Prose class with Carrie Etter was very interesting, I'm hoping to spend a lot more time looking at short stories and prose poems. We had to do a piece of work based on 'The Church of Insomnia' by Charles Simic. We had to come up with our own affliction based Church and write a short paragraph about what it would include. Churches people came up with included 'headache', 'Prozac', 'kleptomaniacs' ... lots of awesome ideas. I opted for 'The Church of Period Pains' as a bit of a challenge, so here is what I came up with:


The Church of Period Pains.

The furnishing is all stained red: carpet, drapes, cushions. One tall glass window depicts a tree bearing fruit, ripe and fertile. Another is Christ, suffering under the cross. The white robed minister holds his wafer plate filled with pain killers and looks disorientated. Chanting ebbs in moans and groans.
Men leave the pub and walk past, scratching their balls.


The idea was to describe the church and things in it with things correlating to your affliction, and the final line had to be something in contrast to such an affliction. It was an odd exercise but quite revealing...not a bad way to start a Friday morning. :)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Big it up for Taylor Mali

Hello, been doing a bit of surfing on YouTube, thought I'd mention Taylor Mali. He's a performance poet in the US and is awesome. I particularly like 'what teachers make', 'depression too is a type of fire' and 'for the life of me'. I think his poetry can be both really depressing and touching, as well as clever and funny. check him out
so...my writing? well I started chapter 10 of the transplant one today, its going okay I guess. Just about to get right into the action, Dita and Sparrow are about to find out how the transplant donor died etc so epic stuff. I've recently been very aware of what a long process it is. I've sort of been thinking that once I get to chapter 17 or whatever the last one is, that that's it, done and dusty, but of course then I have to type it, and after 2 or 3 drafts, gosh I'll probably have finished uni by then. Need to get my skates on huh!
I had my first class with Steve Voake on 'Writing for Children' which was ace. He is probably one of the most published lecturers on the creative writing team so I'm thrilled to have him as a tutor. He really opened me up to the subject which I hadn't previously thought about, so now I'm thinking up some new projects which will be really research based which is a bit nitty gritty, but it's for kids right, so it's got to be fun!

Time for another poem, I wrote this a few days ago, no editing so far so this is raw :)



Feet pumping fast,
I’m carried down the road.
You call after me but
I can’t turn back now.
I don’t think you follow.
I shift the bag from my shoulder
and it thumps on the ground,
pencils rattling in their tin,
my phone, purse, keys;
all jumbled on the floor.
I run on.
People are starting to look
as the wild girl streaks past,
her breath is fast.
Now I peel off my coat
and fling it
behind me.
I’m soaked with sweat and rain.
Liberated, unburdened.
Letting it all go
I’m natural, naked.
Up ahead are lights,
I’m soaring now,
shoes slapping on concrete.
The moments counting down,
everything goes numb,
I can only smile.
As my feet
leave the pavement
it’s all slow motion.
My legs are pedalling in
the air.
I can’t decide whether
to turn my head
and watch, as the car moves forward,
or lock straight ahead, oblivious,
so I close each eye
and then,
I fly.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Two posts in one day? Record!

I promised a revised addition of 'your office is my favorite' which a wrote a month or two back. I am not big on editing, I tend to bury things away after draft one and leave them be, but this year I will make a conscious effort to redraft all my work at least once or twice. So here is me getting off to a good start, with my sparkly poem, fresh from the edit :)


Your office is my favourite.

Your desk is the centre stage,
life evolves around it.
I’m standing in your world.
Shelving units
are bowing under the weight,
all those books.
No order, just crammed,
ready to cascade.
Dust tries to settle
on the pages of poets,
Dickens, Coleridge, Shakespeare.
I clean carefully
around the medley of mess,
a special method
understood by no one
but you.
Little scraps of paper
in shorthand and symbols
are anything but rubbish –
these are your bibles,
your babies.
I understand the necessity
for a dirty coffee cup,
flecked with mould.
A writer cannot be
without their coffee cup.
The obligatory assortment
of pens and pencils
stare at me.
They are the middle men
to your thoughts.
I hold my breath as I dust,
cautiously vacuuming,
tenderly wiping.
All cleaners have their favourites,
to treat as their own
and lavish with love.
Your office stole my heart.


P.S. this is the first post of mine that, when spellchecked, had NO typo's or spelling mistakes! YES!!!

Ahead of schedual

I try to read at least 20 books a year, preferably 24 so that it works out nicely to 2 books a month. The average British person only reads 3 books a year, so I feel my efforts are pretty good really. I've nearly reached my quota already, with 23 done and dusted and a few more I'm half through. I don't generally like to read more than one book at once, but I have some that are 'part timers'. I only read a little of them each week, things that can be broken down into easy chunks. I guess I will have at least one of them done by the end of year, so all is well in the reading world!
In the writing world, things are not too bad. I was checking through old emails when I came across a writing competition for students that I might have a crack it. It's to write a modern day German fairytale, not something I am an expert at, so not expecting much back from it, I just thought it would be cool give it a go. I'd better get my skates on though, deadline is rapidly approaching. If you want to check it out, http://london.daad.de/fairytale/call-for-entries.htm
Still not back in lessons yet (one day to go!!!) so no 'homework writing' as such. But I have kept myself busy with my own stuff. I've written the first 9 chapters of the transplant story, only typed up the first one or two, but I'm more than halfway there in first draft terms. Golly, doesn't writing a book take a long time!

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Next Project...?

So at the moment I'm trying to decide whether or not to self publish another book. My first one, the poetry collection, I published in 2006 and it's sat there doing nothing since...but as the publishing service was free it's not like I lost anything by doing it. I thought an angle for the next one could be something like 'a creative writing students guide to year one' and then I could include all my work from last year, so poetry, prose, flash fiction, scripts etc.
I guess if I were the kind of writer who did gigs, like poetry slams etc, a hard copy of my work would be a good idea as it could be sold on from there, but as for just having it on the website, I don't really get anywhere with promotion, and the lack of ISBN means I'm unlikely to get stocked in any shops either. Hmmm. Fingers crossed I'll get to speak to my personal tutor about it, I'm sure she'll have some words of wisdom!
Today I'm trying to be productive, once I've got all my housey stuff done I'm going to crack on with writing :D