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(cries in elvish)

 please take a moment to mourn my entire post that i just lost by accidentally clicking away and returning to a blank autosaved draft

Essentially, it consisted of the jubilant announcement that I have at last finished my entry for the Hero's Journey Matryoshka Challenge. It was definitely a challenge!!! I definitely enjoyed it nonetheless. 

Then, an apology for the absence because I was travelling in Europe with my mother.

Then I ranted a bit about my writing projects, which were basically:
  1. Camp NaNoWriMo this July. An 80k word overhaul of my 2016 attempt.
  2. Golden Point Awards entry (a Singaporean literary competition).
  3. Writeup of my Russia trip.
  4. Writeup of my Europe trip.
  5. Completing my first 'villain treatise' (which is basically a quasi-analytical rant)
Then I was excited about starting Malay lessons in two weeks!

And then I mentioned the books I'm currently reading now that I have time - Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes, and The Unfinished Tales by Professor Tolkien.

Sorry for this slapdash summary, I'm so heartbroken about that lost post and it's too late to write it nicely again :(

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A Quick Hello

 I just wanted to post a quick update! I'm currently travelling around Europe with mum for the beginning of the summer before heading back to Singapore for the rest of the vacation. Right now I'm working on my stalled recount of my trip to Russia in April. Thanks to many train rides between Normandy and Paris and Cologne and Amsterdam and Norway, I'll be able to finally finish it! 

Soon I'll be posting my entry for the SWG's Matryoshka challenge as well, and I really look forward to doing it! I've also signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo this month, to help me get down a new first draft of my original novel. It's in a much better place now.

Train just pulled into Cologne! I can't wait to catch everyone up with our wonderful trip through Europe. 
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&nbsp;I just wanted to post a quick update! I'm currently travelling around Europe with mum for the beginning of the summer before heading back to Singapore for the rest of the vacation. Right now I'm working on my stalled recount of my trip to Russia in April. Thanks to many train rides between Normandy and Paris and Cologne and Amsterdam and Norway, I'll be able to finally finish it!&nbsp;<br /><br />Soon I'll be posting my entry for the SWG's Matryoshka challenge as well, and I really look forward to doing it! I've also signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo this month, to help me get down a new first draft of my original novel. It's in a much better place now.<br /><br />Train just pulled into Cologne! I can't wait to catch everyone up with our wonderful trip through Europe.&nbsp;<br type="_moz" /> <em>This is crosspoted on my <a href="https://fernstrike.dreamwidth.org/"Dreamwidth</a>! Please feel free to leave a comment here or there :-)</em>


The End of Finals and the Last Essays

(That title is a not-so subtle allusion to a certain Francis Fukuyama essay that's been referenced one too many times this academic year)

I just finished my last final today! Hooray!! I can write an actual, proper post in longwinded prose because I suddenly have free minutes! Despite the relief though, it's been rather a terrible week, if I'm perfectly honest. I'm going to divvy this up into a couple of parts.

Recount of my strange sickly spell interspersed with finals drama

Saturday night, halfway through comforting a friend (who'd abruptly gone from being in a relationship to single) with wine and ice-cream and Netflix, I had a pain in my neck - must be a pulled muscle, I thought. Of course, when the fever started on Sunday afternoon, I realised that it was, in fact, a swollen lymph node. I didn't even know you had lymph nodes in that part of the neck. I was convinced they only turned up under the jaw (usual place). But a quick look at a diagram and it's true, there are some just under the ear and along the side of the neck. Anyway, everything went downhill from there, just in time for finals week! I had a fever all through Monday which made study impossible. That night it devolved into a high fever, which was dreadful. Tuesday was my history final, and I feel dreadful, because I don't really know what I wrote. I was still in the fever haze for the first forty or so minutes. I can only hope it was something comprehensible about the post-WWII Soviet strategy and Samuel P. Huntington's Clash of Civilisations - and hopefully good enough for a pass, if not something better.

The second Tuesday of every month, our university holds a Catholic mass in the chapel on campus (campus is a converted abbey, which is why we have a chapel - so might as well use it!). I'm not a Catholic in any way, but I enjoy the mass, the chapel is a beautiful place of worship, and it's a wonderful way to find some peace in the middle of a hectic life. So I went on Tuesday, and it was good for me, even if the fever ended up coming back that afternoon. I had a lovely close to the evening in any case - the sky, and my eyes, were blessed with a stunning sunset - golden, orange, red, pink, purple, lilac, and blue, all fading into one another. Couple that with the baby birds wheeling through the sky on their new wings, and it was a wonderful, unlooked for end to a difficult day. That's not the end of it though - when I sat back down and opened my computer to study for my macroeconomics final and write an essay for the subject due on the same day - I see an email from our professor extending the deadline until Friday night. I don't know if sunsets and extensions are happy coincidences or answered prayers, but they gave me a ray of hope at a time when my body was frail, my mind couldn't compensate, and I honestly wasn't sure I would survive the week with anything good to show for it.

Wednesday we had our business management final (it's a module we are all required to take). I think I did okay? I hope I did. It's a subject that's actually pretty intuitive but is made convoluted and bewildering by terminology and structure of content. And right after that, endless macroeconomics study. I'm happy the fever went away - and stayed away - so I could work for the final I was most worried about. We went all the way until 9pm, at which time we had a farewell dinner for our residence hall (so touching of them to organise it). We're all moving out for the next year - I'm excited to share photos of our apartment once we're back in September!

And today, econs! Or rather - egads! It was interesting to say the least. I woke up with a stiff neck (curtesy of still-swollen lymph nodes) and walked in to a paper with one too many questions about the topics we'd studied right at the start! Oops! I'd only spared those a cursory glance. Big mistake. But I think I solved the problems well enough. At least for this course, we need only pass either midterm or final in order to pass (all other things considered), and I did very well on the midterm! And all other things considered, my problem sets and theory during the course have been very good too - surprisingly better than microeconomics?? I barely scraped a pass in that subject (I'm doing this degree for the humanities parts guys), but I'm actually doing good in the - supposedly - harder aspect of it. Well, I've nought to complain! Even if this exam wasn't good, I'm quite confident I'll pass the subject :-) I've been relaxing all day since. I was going to play Shadow of Mordor on a whim, only to discover that while the thumbnail remained on my Macbook's Launchpad, I had, in fact, deleted the game at some point. You can imagine my anguish. That's alright - I mostly just relaxed, read, and wrote since then. I'll be taking a break (not sure yet whether the whole evening), and tomorrow, I'm going to chiong* until that macroeconomics essay is done!

*A word we use in Singlish** - of Hokkien*** origin I think - that basically means to work really really hard nonstop. It's also a double entendre though if I'm not mistaken (because of tones in Chinese languages)

**Singapore's creole - used informally, like between friends (not officially...they make sure we learn actual English in school haha, even if success is sometimes questionable). It's made of English, Hokkien, Malay, some Tamil as well I think? Also maybe some other Chinese language families? I can write a whole post about it, it's pretty cool

***A language from southern China, related to Teochew. It was once a lingua franca of the traders in the region.

Updates on fun creative things I'm doing

My friend and I, who'll be flatmates next year, have started work on a crazy brainchild of ours. We want to start an Inklings-esque community in our university. Not exactly the same - but the principle is. It's going to be an informal discussion group, where we get to talk about literature and books and writing and philosophy and history and music. Oh, and bake and knit of course. Hence its original codename - The Grandma Club. Of course, we needed something a bit more exciting than that to entice students! My friend came up with two brilliant ideas - Bookish Elves is the first (a play on 'bookshelves' and the fact that I'm a Tolkien nerd who's drawn her into the realm of nerd-dom. We're having a LotR marathon next week and it's going to be amazing. I can't wait to share Tolkien with her - more than I already have, of course!). Musings was the second, inspired by the Greek muses. Not sure if we'll pick either of these, or come up with something else. We'll see. We've already got the GoogleDoc up and running and it's been bombarded with ideas! I'm so excited!!!

I've also gotten back into fic writing after several weeks of sad departure. I'm really bummed that I missed the deadline for the Woman's Sceptre Challenge! I couldn't finish though, truly - I had a great idea for the story, and I began work, but of course school had to be put ahead of it. It just hurt that it had to be done. My mum - who's quite spiritual - suggested that the swollen lymph nodes and pain in my throat could be a manifestation of blocked creativity, the inability to convey a message. I thought that was actually a really interesting and valid idea. So on top of painkillers and fever drugs, I've been trying to visualise to bring these things back into balance. Hopefully now that the fever itself is gone - and those blasted finals too - I can get down to letting out the creativity and writing! I'm going to try and post it to SWG by the end of the week, if I can. Then I can get to work on another fic brainchild that hit me midway through revision - a story about the War of the Last Alliance, told from Thranduil's perspective. I already got down ideas for the first chapter and I'm so stoked to get it done! On top of that, I'll have time to work - at last - on my slow-going fic series about Mairon/Sauron. It's going to take time to write, despite actually being quite short, because it's so character heavy, but I've had fun getting ideas down so far, and it's going to be great to jot more down.

Other than that, I've just been working on my original novel a bit today (trying to figure out geography, different kindreds, celestial hierarchy). And I'm going to start reading again! READING! When was the last time I read something that wasn't a political treatise or UN Resolution or Keynesian theory explanation? I'm sooo excited.

This has been a monster of a post. Much love and hugs to you if you read the whole thing. And if you didn't, much love and hugs anyway because you deserve it.


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Just an update!

My lord, it's been eons since I've posted on here! Or it feels like it, anyway. I just wanted to say hello, I'm alive and well, all is good, everything's swell.

We've got final after final and assignment after assignment rearing their ugly heads daily, which is why I haven't had time to do very much at all since I left for Russia. Speaking of which, I'm working on a [very lengthy!] write-up about my trip - we saw and did and learned so much in those 7 or so days, and there's a lot to share! The only thing is that I will post this reflection on Dreamwidth and share the link on LJ rather than directly crossposting. Because of the nature of my study and the country I traveled to, I necessarily had much to comment on in terms of the society, and I'd rather not risk any mines that might be lurking hidden in my writing. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, and I will definitely be going back to Russia at some point in the future.

My political theory final is tomorrow. I'm not screaming into a pillow, what are you talking about? :P It shall certainly be easier than the midterm, of course. We are doing ideologies, essentially - conservatism, socialism/Marxism, liberalism, nationalism, war & peace - which is markedly easier than social contracts and governance theory. Still, I'm nervous! I have so much respect for my teacher and for the subject, and it's probably just overly high expectations of myself. I want to do really well.

Anyway, I hope to update soon with my reflection on Russia (and a link, for LJ), and with more about uni, fics, other writings, and other adventures!


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The Briefest of Updates

So as a few of you know by now I was travelling to Moscow. I arrived yesterday, in fact, and it's been just brilliant so far. Because we are doing such a vast number of things over the short time period, and because I didn't bring my laptop, I'm going to wait to do a day-by-day log of the trip until after I'm back in Spain. I'm making notes for now but I definitely need more time than I have to write up my observations properly. For the rest of the Easter break I'll probably not be on LJ much, but I'll be back soon!


A Reflection On My First Ever B2MeM

Yesterday brought about the last day of Back To Middle-earth Month 2017. It was my first time ever taking part in it, and I had a marvellous time taking in the immense talent of the whole community and posting some of my own work too.
First, for my own personal achievements:

  • I wrote 12,435 words according to my wordcount on AO3 (!!!), over the course of 15 pieces

  • Some old fics of mine had new elements explored that make me keen to try a follow-up or two, particularly the Fourth Age stuff

  • I created OCs like the Númenorean healer Nilûphel that I'm keen to write more about, and found new problematic faves (sideways glance at Sauron) that I'm excited to explore in greater depth

  • Characters I hardly knew or never thought to write were written and I'm desperate to learn more about them and who they are, especially those in my Silmarillion-centric pieces

  • I learned so many new things about the legendarium and the lore, and got a chance to dig in deeper with the Silm fandom!

  • In an unintended but great side-effect, I was so inspired by all the different events and personalities I had a chance to explore, that I now have renewed inspiration for my original novel

Second, I want to try and express how wonderful it's been to be a part of the B2MeM community, though I'm not sure I can do the experience justice. I was nervous joining in, to be part of a group of amazingly talented people who've been a part of the online fandom presence for a long time. What I found though was a friendly community of warm and encouraging people who shared a love for some amazing source material and expressed that love in writing and artwork that never ceased to blow my mind. Really - everything that had been posted has just been mind-blowingly good. More than that - everyone has been so welcoming and so positive, and I didn't feel like an outsider. It was a group of fans exploring a world, characters, and story that they loved, and it's been one of the great highlights of my year so far. I didn't get a chance to read and view everything, and so I'm still going to be doing that in the days to come.

I want to say a big thank you to the
organisers of B2MeM and to all the participants for an absolutely wonderful month! :-) I also want to thank each and every one of you who read my fics or saw my artwork. Thank you for your immensely supportive comments. I'm so glad you enjoyed my work. It was a pleasure to share it with you!

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Hooray, a birthday!

Happiest of birthdays to you, shirebound! Hope you have a wonderful day!


Need an opinion!

I've been thinking of setting up a Dreamwidth journal since a lot of Tolkien fans seem to be over there too. Folks who are on Dreamwidth, or aren't, but know a little about it, would you recommend making an account? What are the main differences between it and LJ? If you're on Dreamwidth, what's the reason? :-) Thanks in advance for the advice guys.


B2MeM: Things Are Not Black And White

This artwork was completed for the B2MeM 2017 challenge, with the wildcard prompt of 'Black and White'. I really enjoyed creating this piece of Sauron disguised as Annatar - it's a rework of a previous piece, and I'm much more enamored of this design for Annatar. Because I enjoyed making the piece so much, I also did a colour version, which is posted here, but not on the original B2MeM page.
Things are not always black and white (B&W)

Things are not always black and white (colour)

Happy Tolkien Reading Day!

Time for a celebration post!

On this day in Middle-earth, the Ring was destroyed and Sauron defeated. It's also a day when folk all over the world sit down to read something Tolkien and enjoy the professor's wonderful work. This year, I'll be reading "The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun" that I purchased by chance last weekend, while in Madrid.

Because this year's theme is poetry and song, to celebrate I also have a little acapella video here, of Legolas' Song of the Sea. It was set to music by Yolanda Mott (listen to the original here). It's a beautiful and terribly sorrowful poem, and I love how she set it to music.

I also created this artwork - "Sauron Defeated" - of my personal headcanon: his spirit lingered on in Middle-earth for a time, finding its way to hiding in Ithilien, broken and ruined and miniscule, while Elves and Men reclaimed the forests he had once destroyed and moved on with their lives in peace. It's something really well explored in Prackspoor's exceptional fic Fiddler's Green, which I keep going back to. I also touched on it in my story Where The Shadows Lie.