Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff

I started posting to jtns on 20 February 2010 with just one word, 'Mosaic'. This seemed an appropriate introduction to a blog that would juxtapose fragments of memoir and life-writing. Since 1996, I'd been coming to terms with the consequences of emotional and economic abuse that had begun in childhood, and which, amongst other things, had sought to stifle self-expression. While I'd explored some aspects of my life through fiction and, to a lesser extent, journalism, it was only in 2010 that I felt confident enough to write openly about myself. I believed this was an important part of the healing process. Yet within weeks, the final scenes of my family's fifty-year nightmare started to play themselves out and the purpose of the blog became one of survival through writing. Although some posts are about my family's suffering - most explicitly, Life-Writing Talk, with Reference to Trust: A family story - the majority are about happier subjects (including, Bampton in rural west Oxfordshire, where I live, Oxford, where I work, the seasons and the countryside, walking and cycling) and I hope that these, together with their accompanying photos, are enjoyable and positive. Note: In February 2020, on jtns' tenth birthday, I stopped posting to this blog. It is now a contained work of life-writing about ten years of my life. Frank, 21 February 2020.

New blog: morethoughtsnstuff.com.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

clanfield cross-country, bird's nest, sheldonian, 2016 mogford prize, why we write about ourselves

Walked to Clanfield cross-country on Sunday. We said it would be the last time we would do so for a while because from now on we would be working in the garden or on the allotment at weekends. But the weather is so changeable and I doubt the allotment at least will dry out for some weeks yet. Oxford clay and all. The garden, though, is free draining light soil over gravel.

Spring is springing but the landscape still looks quite bare. Saw the old bird's nest over the ditch in Marsh Lane near Clanfield.

Last week was unusually social. On Wednesday, I attended the Department for Continuing Education's degree ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre, It was great to see Certificate of Higher Education and Undergraduate Diploma students receiving their awards. Tried to capture a flavour of the ceremony with this tweet and this one. Very enjoyable buffet supper followed at the newly refurbished common room at Rewley House - tremendous improvement on the old décor.

Thursday I went to the annual Mogford party at Quod in Oxford High Street, at which Martin Pevsner, an Oxford author, was awarded the 2016 Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing for ‘Çay’, which you can read online. I'd not been invited to the party before. It was a wonderful evening. Saw many old friends and some faces from the distant past. I loved the bound copies of the story that were handed out to guests. At £7,500 and with over 600 entries, this is a significant prize.

Came across a thought-provoking article about life-writing via a friend on Facebook, entitled Why We Write About Ourselves. The piece is linked to a new book called Why We Write about Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature (Plume Books, 2016), which I intend to buy. Since completing Trust: A family story - and indeed in relation to writing jtns - I have become increasingly interested in why people write memoirs and autobiography and the article provoked further contemplation. Is life-writing therapy, for example? Or part of a therapeutic process that can seem anything but therapeutic to begin with?

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