Critical theory, political economy, and Marxism, oh my!

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post but it made me laugh when all I want to do is pull my hair out...


“What does a ‘political economy’ approach to study of the Creative and Cultural Industries involve?  What are its advantages and disadvantages?”   (word limit: 5,000)

What, I ask you, did I do to deserve such punishment? Political what now? I’m not even sure if I am reading English, though it is far better than one of the alternatives:  “What is cultural hegemony?  Is it ubiquitous and insurmountable?” Huh?

I’ll tell you what is insurmountable — this essay! I am up to my eyeballs in textbooks grappling with the delicate issues of critical theory and analysis in relation to the cultural industries, economies, and all sorts a fancy crap that is going way over my little writer’s head. I write stories. I try to avoid politics and complicated theoretical stuff at all costs. Sigh.

When I was in high school I loved the sciences. I adored balancing chemical equations and had a perverse affinity for the Periodic Table. I could tell you all about the process of osmosis and enjoyed rolling “deoxyribonucleic acid” off my tongue. Science I can handle. English Literature I can handle. Heck, I’m not even too bad at math…

But this? Ideological hocus pocus? It surpasses me. Just… can’t… get it.

And it isn’t for lack of trying — I keep reading and reading and the more I read, the dumber I feel! Lol. It is truly a cruel joke.

So I’ve emailed the tutor for a desperate sit down session so that I can somehow grasp these utterly foreign concepts. I have a deadline on the 23rd and all I have so far is a stark blank Word document and a splitting headache.

Anyone out there in cyberworld have a clue about any of this?? Honestly, I can’t be the only one mystified by this… can I?

Grey skies

After a particularly distressing weekend with sad news from home, my surrender of the NaNoWriMo challenge, and two sick kids (AGAIN!), I seem to have lost all motivation to even… breathe.

Call me Gretel, who, after carefully laying down her trail of breadcrumbs in the heart of the darkest woods, turns around to find them gone. There’s no way back. I must move forward.

It’s the forward part I’m having trouble with.

I was torn with the decision to throw in the towel on the WriMo novel. I hit 23,090 words yet could go no further. Strangely, I feel at peace now. And I feel accomplished. To date it is the longest piece of work I’ve ever written and that in itself is a great achievement. I still intend to finish, but in my own time. When I have the time…

Yesterday there was fog. I ventured out to buy milk and was met by a thick, damp haze. I stepped forward almost blindly, trusting that my feet would remember the path it so often treads. I let the fog envelop me and didn’t miss the irony. Me, stumbling through a fog.

Now I am at a crossroads. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to cook, clean, or go to class. I don’t want to write notes, novels or essays. I don’t want to try, think, or care. I just want to lay here with a mind as empty as a clean glass jar. Waiting to be filled with something bright and alive.

I’m having a patch of grey skies. Someone send me a sunbeam.

I write, therefore I am?

What began as a perfectly reasonable day ended in me threatening to cry into my borrowed raspberry vodka cocktail.

I can’t quite put my finger on the point where it all began to unravel, but I think it was somewhere between watching Inua Ellams recite his poetry in my Publishing class and mock bidding for art’s festival funding in my Creative Professional Development class.

On the train home the tears sprung up. A seven hour stretch in class will do that to you. I suppose it didn’t help that I was also listening to a bit of Ed Sheeran on the Tube.

I suddenly became rather melancholy and morose. It was one of those uncomfortable moments when you begin swimming in sadness and are not quite sure why.

Fatigue? Frustration? What was it that ailed me? I still don’t know.

I just recall that the weight of the world slammed squarely onto my shoulders whilst I sat in Metro bar with my friends after class. I stirred up the plump raspberries that floated in the fizz of my drink and thought, what exactly am I doing here?

I am lonely and homesick and without two of the most important men in my life – my husband and son. The sacrifices of this MA get bigger every day. It’s been 10 months and 4 days since I last gave my little boy a cuddle or a goodnight kiss.

I push myself onward with blind reassurance – it will be worth it, completely, in the end.

In the meantime I struggle with feelings of guilt and fear and worry all wrapped neatly into a bitter package. I try to convince myself that I’ve done the right thing. For everyone. In the long run.

But it wasn’t just my guilt that made me abandon my drink and my half eaten bag of cheese and onion crisps. It was something else. Something bigger than me, that dragged me down with hooks of despair.

It was the writing.

I have never been so fully immersed in my craft and it is taking on a life of its own, morphing into something I didn’t know it could be. In the midst of tears that threatened to spill as the train zipped me home, I had  a very small epiphany that I think had been there all along; yet I had been ignoring it.  I want to keep writing and not just as a hobby.

How this realisation caused me to arrive at a mini meltdown I can’t understand but maybe it was the gravity of the acceptance. Finally admitting to myself that what I really want to do with my life is the thing I both love and fear the most.

NaNoWriMo ate my brain!

Thirteen days and 12,667 words in and I am recovering (barely) from a massive 2 day writer’s block. The kind that found me staring blankly at my laptop screen in an I-don’t-know-where-my-plot-is-going stupor. I’ve spent the weekend hiding under my duvet and scarfing copious amounts of chocolate in an attempt to forget that I still have 37,333 more words to write. In 17 days…

Because my novel is at the crucial point where it has to start coming together I think I panicked a little. In fact I’m still panicking, just a bit less. I’ve introduced all my main characters, built up suspense, added a mystery, an ex-boyfriend, a new boyfriend, a dodgy boss, a flashback or two, and an amazing peach cobbler.

I think I need to blow something up.

Or bring in the aliens.


Here is an excerpt for your viewing pleasure:


Good question. I’m just writing as it comes to me.

Right now Ava is on a train to somewhere. It is nighttime and there is a sense of foreboding. The train is late. It’s never late. She is tired, resigned, and wearing uncomfortable clothes.

She might be going to meet someone or deliver a package. She will likely find something unusual along the way which will plunge her into a world of mystery and chaos. Or she might meet the man of her dreams. However, I get the sense that her character is less about the lovey dovey and more about action and intrigue.

Slow and steady wins the race? Hope so.


She glanced up to see that there was a man sitting in the opposite row of seats. She was surprised that she hadn’t noticed him before.  He smiled and she returned the pleasantry. He was tall, middle-aged but heading for a crisis. She could tell by the leather jacket and the gelled hair. Dirty blonde tresses, carefully spiked. The I-just-rolled-out-of-bed look which took half hour to perfect. His eyes were very blue and very clear – like a swimming pool that you can see to the bottom off. He was reading a book that she recognised. A corporate-world crime novel.  She had begun reading it once but didn’t have the motivation to finish. It bored her terribly. She had a fleeting urge to lean over and ask him what he thought of the book, but she didn’t. He seemed perfectly approachable but she simply couldn’t muster the energy or presence of mind to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger.  Not now. Not tonight.

Outside, light and shadows flickered across the window. Flashes of billboards and skyscrapers dissolved as quickly as they appeared. She rubbed her eyes, careful to avoid smudging her mascara. Her head hurt. A dull, clodding type of  headache.  One that thudded at the back of her neck and radiated upward to her temples. She closed her eyes and uncrossed her legs to stop them from falling asleep. They had started to tingle. She pressed her back into the seat and felt her dark curls tumble across her shoulders. She noticed that the cardigan was not only flimsy but it itched like hell.  After tonight she would make sure it found its way to a charity shop where some other unsuspecting soul would be tempted by its crimson threads, conned into its prickly embrace. It gave her a grim sort of satisfaction that she could pass on a bit of her misery. Romantic notions like karma meant nothing to her. You lived the life you were dealt. She’d learned this the hard way.

Hopes, dreams, and what?

I'm the gal on the right.

Last week’s assignment for Creative Development was to write 500 words on the  “hopes, aspirations, and goals for your career.”


This would be an easy task provided I actually knew what they were.

Hopes? I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow because I have a mountain of laundry to hang outside.

Aspirations? I aspire to make it through the next week on a minimal grocery budget.

Goals? My goal is to go through life with my sanity intact.

But seriously, (or perhaps I was being serious?) I’ve never really sat down and thought about it. I mean really thought about it. In the context of, “what do I want to be when I grow up?” Because 28 is hardly grown up. Trust me.

What I really want out of a career is lots of money fulfillment. I want to do something that I enjoy. Something that I am good at. Something flexible. Something fun. And of course it goes without saying that the pay should be better than decent. But. I just don’t know what that is. Yet.

I set out to do this MA as a way to discover myself. Nevermind that I have been discovering myself since my first day of university 11 years ago! Who starts out studying Pre-Med and then switches to Creative Writing? It seems I have been indecisive since day 1, no?

Well what is it that I’m good at? Let’s make a list. Lists are fun.

  1. Writing stuff, all kinds of stuff
  2. Planning parties
  3. Decorating
  4. Editing other people’s writing
  5. Crafty things
  6. Procrastinating (honestly, that pic at the top sums up my life)

Anyone know of a career that combines some or all of the above? Drop me a line if you do.

My life assignment depends on it…