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NaNoWriMo, a different kind of November

Ever said heard yourself proclaiming that you’d ‘love to write a novel’? Perhaps you’ve done so while sentimentally gazing into the middle distance, your eyes glazed over by visions of the things that could be? And you’ve still not written that novel? Don’t fret – NaNoWriMo is here!

‘NaNoWriMo’ is short for the ‘National Novel Writing Month’, an annual creative writing event ran completely by the National Novel Writing Month charity, and it’s free to take part. Participants in ‘NaNo’ are often referred to as ‘WriMos’ – people who have committed to writing a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. 

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Student stress – my experience

I think I was quite a typical Cambridge student. I studied Modern and Medieval Languages and loved it. I worked hard at it, too, especially during my finals. I did my share of going out and singing along with The Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside’ or Rihanna’s ‘S&M’ (yes) with passionate, if drunken, vigour in sweaty nightclubs. I also rowed for my college, became a enthusiastically vocal member of my college’s mixed netball team and played guitar and sang in a rock band. I was by no means a workaholic or someone with big academic ambitions; within a couple of months at university I had decided that the ‘mid-to-high-2.i’ bracket was where I saw myself, and I managed that grade each year.

Yet during my time at university there were times I experienced stress which I found entirely disproportionate to my situation; I really enjoyed my degree and was comfortably on target for the grade I wanted but couldn’t shake my doubts and anxiety about the work I was doing. Despite my best efforts to take a balanced approach to studying, I felt it was impossible not to get caught up in the ‘exam term phenomenon’ that was playing out around me.

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Destroy the meat industry and SAVE the WORLD

Don’t leave the tap running while you brush your teeth. Switch off the lights when you leave a room. Take your canvas bags when you go to the supermarket. As cool and groovy citizens of the 21st century we accept that eco-friendly practices like these are the responsible ways to behave; social pressure to prioritise waste reduction over convenience is mounting. So it’s curious that our fundamentally inefficient and destructive meat industry is largely ignored.

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Musical genres are the easy way out

It turns out I’m really into baroque pop.

‘Tch!’ I hear you tut, ‘just got back from university, have you? Take your pretentious musical genres back to the library!’

Well, once upon a time I may have had similar reservations about such an extravagantly-named genre. When asked what kind of music I like, I tend to place my musical interests pretty exclusively on the ‘alternative/indie rock’ end of the spectrum. For years I have remained faithful to the alternative/indie rock holy trinity of The Smiths, Oasis and The Libertines in what can only be described as a poignant show of solidarity with my teenage self.

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The UK, the EU and Europe – arrogance abounds

For me, the idea of an EU referendum has been more like an abstract, intellectual problem to be mused over in the news than a ‘real thing’. The people who write political thinkpieces do need things to write about after all, if only to lead them away from stories about the influence of the media and lobbyists on our democratic process (psych!).

But campaigns are being launched and it looks like the referendum is a real thing after all. I’m not sure how I’ll vote. There’s still David Cameron’s renegotiation of the UK’s membership deal to consider but it alreadly looks like EU referendum is shaking up the usually neat divisions of our political landscape. The decision will be a personal judgement call and my concern is that this judgement risks being made for the wrong reasons.

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Let’s rewild the world and play Pokémon in the meantime

A couple of years ago I was struck by inspiration and, as a good child of my generation, naturally took to twitter:

(One retweet – a solid result)

I had just moved to Paris for my year abroad, drawn in by the beautiful streets, the elegant buildings and the idea of musing over crumpled paperbacks in trendy cafés. The city might not have let me down on the latter of those counts but the Parisian ‘glamour’ did wear off on me after a time. Just give me some trees! Give me a park where the grass is free from evil little wiry fences! Remind me that offices and buses and Excel spreadsheets are not all there is to this life!

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