Dancing Through Hell

Dancing Through Hell

Quick post today, because I realised it was a very long time since I last posted and I should maybe keep you updated. Short version: exam term is hell. Finals are hell. I am in hell. Insert witty Dante reference here because dammit I’m a medievalist, I should know what to say!!

Sorry. I’m just fighting the feeling that I’m a failure who doesn’t know nearly as much about medieval literature as I think I do. My first exam is in nine and a half days, I’m extremely stressed, and it feels like all of my brainpower is going on work or work-adjacent things (like job applications).

Every dot is half an hour of work.

The worst part is that I’m neither reading nor writing fiction at the moment, because I just don’t have the mental energy to switch tracks like that. I think it’s the first time during my university career that I’ve more or less completely stopped reading for fun. But I just have SO MUCH other stuff to read that I can’t justify using that time and brainpower. I keep telling myself this is temporary — that in a few short weeks I’ll be done forever and can read and write as much as I like. But right now, it’s tough.

Especially as my rewrite plans for Butterfly of Night are still ticking over in the back of my brain, and I think I might be close to a breakthrough, but I’d need to take time to write it down to figure out whether it’ll work and I can’t. Because if I start writing a scene it’ll get the gears turning and before I know it my one-track mind will have moved on from exams completely, and I can’t do that to myself right now.

So. Characters and ideas are in brain jail. Trying to stay focused. Struggling. Aware that I’ll probably forget some crucial idea because I didn’t write it down but having to resign myself to that. Other things keep demanding my attention: job application deadlines and interviews and keeping myself alive like a functional adult who eats real food. Plus stress makes my pain worse. And hayfever makes fatigue levels go way up. It’s terrible.

I did, however, take a bit of a break this weekend and go to Oxford for a feis (Irish dance competition). I had a few plans in place to make it better than the last one, first and foremost of which was to make sure my enjoyment of the trip didn’t depend on the feis itself. So, I went for a nice sunset walk in Oxford on Saturday night and saw some ducklings, and I also had a nice chat with my uncle (who was kind enough to let me crash at his), which made it worthwhile regardless of the dancing.

The feis went a lot more smoothly than the last one, but it was also a very small competition for the over 18s, so while I came away with quite a haul of trophies it was partly due to the lack of competition in some dances. However, a win’s a win, even if I don’t get to advance to the next level in competition! (You need a minimum of five dancers for that.)

That silver trophy was literally taller than my suitcase. Bringing it home on the coach was fun.


  • O18 Intermediate Premier Trophy (two rounds: reel and heavy jig) — 1st (of 2)
  • Hornpipe — 1st (of 3)
  • Hop jig — 1st (of 2)
  • Heavy jig — 1st (of …1)
  • Slip jig — 2nd (of 3)
  • Reel — 4th (of 4 — whoops)

I’m particularly pleased with the hornpipe because I really felt I nailed it, and this is a big step up from not placing at all at the last feis, even if there were only three of us. This is also the first time I’ve placed in slip jig, though again the small numbers may contribute to that.

Anyway. It was nice to get out of Cambridge, have a break, and come home with some shiny trophies. But, now that I’m home the exam stress has really kicked in, and I can foresee being Very Anxious the next couple of weeks.

May as well use them for something…

I also might snap at the next person to talk about writing, tag me in a challenge about my WIP, or tell me how much they’re enjoying working on their novel, because I really, really, wish I was writing at the moment but I can’t, so can people stop rubbing it in my face?! (While you’re about it, take your delicious cheap pizza away so I don’t have to smell it and know what I’m missing, thanks.)

I’m unlikely to post again before my exams actually begin, so… I’ll see you on the other side. Or at least halfway to the other side.

exits shrieking, pursued by deadlines

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

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