A Matter of Time…

It’s been nearly two months, and staring at a blank page feels… weird.

It shouldn’t be. The fear of the blank page has kind of faded away as I write essay after essay after essay and then a 10,000 word dissertation on top. Yet, I imagine that the feeling of disconnect has come around as a result of my rather lengthy absence from blogging, with the last post being published on 13 April. Sorry about that.

Photo: Pixabay.

Although, on the topic of dissertations, I now face a particular dilemma when it comes to my writing. Three years of academic coursework has programmed my brain somewhat into writing – and reading – non-fiction. It’s either factual journalism, or a detailed essay. The former (if it’s broadcast journalism), allows for some creativity, but for the most part, it’s quotations, analysis and formulaic structures. Big academic subjects have drawn me to books on post-truth, politics and media law. Whilst they have all been fascinating, I fear that getting back into reading and writing fiction will take a very long time indeed.

Yesterday night saw me meet up with fellow writers (both of fiction and non-fiction) and I remember explaining to them that the creative spark – the one where a random character or story idea just pops into your head – has just… gone.

At the end of the evening, I reached this conclusion that this balance between being able to write both journalistic articles and works of fiction would be struck at some point in the future. It would just be a matter of time – and time is something I have a lot of at the moment.

After all, I’ve pretty much finished university now. I mean, I have one shorthand exam towards the end of June (which is external and not to do with coursework) followed by some work experience and then that it me finished at Lincoln until September, when I graduate in a cathedral, which is pretty cool.

Until then (and indeed afterwards), I have a period of time on my hands – ‘free time’, you could say. With no more assignments to complete or any additional commitments to honour, I’m faced with the same freedom I faced at the end of previous academic years, except this feeling is more permanent.

Now comes the job search and an empty diary to be filled with opportunities, job interviews and networking events.

I started writing this questioning whether ‘A Matter of Time’ was the right title for this piece, but now I realise that the phrase is one which I have heard a lot of recently, and it is the perfect way to describe the position in which I find myself.

At the start of my degree in Lincoln, I was told it would only be ‘a matter of time’ before I find myself at the end of my three years, ready to graduate. It’ll hopefully only be ‘a matter of time’ before my love and inspiration for writing fiction returns. It’s only ‘a matter of time’ before I get my first job after graduating…

If the next steps of my life post-education all come down to ‘a matter of time’, then I’m not waiting around.

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Thoughts on Freshers Week 2017

A calendar is pinned up on my noticeboard and once again, a strict routine returns to my life. Dissertation deadlines and exam dates have been added, and I’m back in the mindset which sees me look ahead and soldier on. Although, that hasn’t stopped me from taking a step back this week, as Freshers Week at the University of Lincoln got underway.

In full, the week saw me see Radio 1’s Scott Mills and Chris Stark, Lethal Bizzle – which was an interesting experience for someone who doesn’t like that music at all – and Pendulum (although two of the main three DJs, such as Rob Swire, weren’t present). There were also two of the main club nights in Lincoln – QUACK! and Superbull – as well as a quiz, which we took the cash gamble and lost. Damn.

Other than that, with lessons starting next week, the past seven days have seen me be stuck in some sort of limbo. Aside from working on my radio show yesterday and going to my course’s Welcome Talk for this year, having a week to wait for things to pick up again did make me feel somewhat lazy. I was able to get other things on my to-do list done, but not as much as I would have liked. Annoyingly, I know that I’ll have the motivation to get other things outside of my coursework done – in my spare time, of course – once my course starts again properly tomorrow.

Tonight will hopefully see me take part in my last Freshers Week activity (a ‘rock and roll bingo’) before my Court Reporting and Political Journalism sessions.

The fun starts tomorrow…

Exciting Existentialism

Life is a pretty random thing. So much so, that we have meta-narratives such as science and religion to help us understand it all. There’s a variety of ‘paths’ we can follow in life, and in the world of UK education, it can certainly feel a little streamlined – that is, until you enter your third and final year at university.

I will miss this view come August 2018, when I graduate.

Up until that moment, everything is pretty straight-forward for most people: primary and secondary school (or alternative versions of this system), Sixth Form and then university. Of course, there are people who do apprenticeships or college, but for the most part, this is the usual route which most people take. For a lot of people, going to another county and getting that all-important degree is their end goal, so what next after that?

During the lengthy summer break, the questions got more frequent: what do you plan to do next after university? Will you stay and do a Masters? Granted, there are options, but at this moment, everything feels much more unrestrained. To refer back to the aforementioned ‘end goal’, I’ve got there and am soon to complete it, so what next?

Such thoughts unearth a bubbling existential crisis inside me. As someone that’s always liked structure and whose iPhone calendar is the main way they organise their life, having to accept the fact that come May 2018, the slate is blank is a little terrifying. It was a dread I felt last month when people asked me if I was going to the next Summer in the City convention next year. Taking place around the time of my graduation, I simply had to say that I had no idea, and not knowing my availability is as frustrating as it is alarming.

So, as I’ve now settled in to my university flat, I approach my third and final year of university with excited existentialism. This academic year sees me work hard on a 10K word dissertation (the subject of which I am genuinely interested in), produce extensive amounts of radio work, and work as the editor of the university’s student newspaper, The Linc. I’m looking forward to it, whilst knowing that time will indeed fly by.

Let’s get started…

The Second Year: Flats, Radio and Newspapers

Tonight, I shall be back in Lincoln, ready to start my second year at university. My first year – although it had its ups and downs – led to me making friends for life. I miss them, I miss the beautiful city, and I miss the adrenaline and excitement that comes with studying a journalism degree.


I mentioned this in a recent blog post, but I have a lot to look forward to this year. I become a course representative for my journalism course, start work as the News Editor at the student newspaper and return to hosting my radio show on Siren FM – which I love doing.
There’s that, plus the fact that I’ll be aiming to pass my NCTJ 100wpm shorthand exam. It’s the final exam I need to do and I know it’s going to be hard, but I can’t wait to start working towards it.

The other thing is that I have my own space now. Last year I learned that living in a group flat in student accommodation wasn’t really my thing, and that I still wasn’t ready to move into a house just yet. This year, I’ll be living in a studio, and I cannot wait.

Then again, I know that second year will be busier than last year. This time, the grades count. However, I’ve chosen to study radio, online and ethics amongst the compulsory modules – topics I’m interested in and will enjoy, so whilst it’ll be a challenge, I’ll love every second.

Lastly, I have to talk about Freshers’ Week, which starts tonight. Example, Scouting for Girls and Matt Willis (from Busted) are all playing across the seven days, so it’s fair to say that my Students’ Union did an excellent job with bookings this year. You can read my review of the week in next Sunday’s post. 

Are you off to university this month? What are you looking forward to in this academic year? Who’s playing at your Freshers’ Week? Comment below!

Liam

Thoughts on My First Year at University

Aside from one final exam in the middle of May, this week saw me complete my last set of lectures for my first year at university. With that in mind, I decided it would only be right for me to write a sentimental and reflective blog post about the past year I’ve spent at the University of Lincoln.

Before starting university, I suppose everyone asks if it’s right for them in terms of their career and life in general. For me, I knew it was the course I wanted and – of course – had to do to get a career in journalism. However, it was the university culture which worried me: the search for friends during freshers, being that one guy who doesn’t like clubbing and someone who attends 9am workshops religiously (yep, that’s me). It’s fair to say that I wasn’t the typical student, and that worried me.

Thankfully, there were options available which meant I could make friends before I started. The university had a scheme which allowed you to find potential course mates, which helped. I was then added to a huge Facebook group chat where I made even more friends, and it was the same when it came to finding out who I would live with.

As well as this, I have to thank Kimberley from The Colour Chronicles for kickstarting what was an amazing set of opportunities. She introduced me to her friend who currently studies at Lincoln, and since then I’ve worked with them on the local community radio station, which led to me having my own radio show myself! What a small world.

It’s this sort of ‘snowball’ effect which has constantly led to me having new opportunities come up almost every day. By hosting my own radio show on Siren FM, I was then able to interview Public Service Broadcasting – a band I admire and who have played for the BBC and at Glastonbury.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time now, you’ll know that I used to do a ‘Liam Interviews’ series, where I managed to interview a couple of bloggers and authors. Whilst doing this, I couldn’t help but feel like starting an email with: “I’m a lifestyle blogger” or “I’m an aspiring journalist” would lead to an interview request being declined. Now, I have the opportunity to say I volunteer for Siren FM, or am a student journalist, and that tends to open so many more doors. Basically, having the ‘university stamp’ has allowed me to achieve so much more.

For example, two recent opportunities which have taken me by surprise have been when an article for the university’s student newspaper – The Linc – then went on to appear in an article on The Independent. As well as that, I was thrilled to go to my first media awards ceremony, where a blog post of mine was ‘Highly Commended’.

What I’ve loved about university is how it offers new skills and opportunities. I’ve mentioned some of the opportunities above, but in terms of skills, I like to think that I’ve changed as a person. It’d be unfair for me to say that university hasn’t had its ups and downs, but it’s those tough experiences which act as the perfect training ground for the world of work and later life. On another note, I’m one of those weird student journalists who loves shorthand – it’s strange to see how I’ve gone from knowing nothing to taking my 80wpm exam last month!

Now, as I look ahead to my second year at university, I’ll hopefully get to branch out into radio and online journalism. It’s funny, because when I first started the course, my main aspirations were to write for the Guardian or to be a court reporter. However, being a presenter on Siren FM has really opened my eye to the world of radio journalism – which I love just as much as print journalism. But, that being said, doing online journalism should be good, as I’m slowly starting to admit that the print industry is continuing to decline. Newspapers and magazines won’t decline completely as there’ll still be the big brands, but some will soon cease production and move online, which is a shame.

Now I have a nice long summer break to look forward to, which is filled with work experience opportunities and a couple of festivals. Roll on summer and the next year of university!

How was your week? What did you get up to? Comment below!

Liam

Opening the windows of opportunity…

Sorry for the rather poetic and ambiguous title, but once again, this week was full of incredible opportunities which still excite me as I write about them now.

First of all, more and more events are popping up during the summer holidays, which is something I’m really looking forward to.

Next up, I said in a recent blog post that I had been nominated for an award as part of the Midlands Student Media Awards 2016. In particular, my review of Channel 4’s Humans made the list and I was invited to an awards ceremony in Birmingham on Friday.

At the end of the night, I found out I hadn’t won, but I had been highly commended. I was thrilled and shocked because I seriously didn’t think I would do well anyway. Let’s be honest, who’d be interested in a 1,000 word blog post about artificial intelligence? All entries in the category were amazing so congratulations to all the other finalists too.

Finally, I received a tweet from a friend on Wednesday with some exciting news. In particular, The Independent reported on the National Union of Students cracking down on anonymous social media apps like Yik Yak, and mentioned my article I wrote for the University of Lincoln’s student newspaper, The Linc. So, essentially, I am on The Independent’s website – how cool is that?!

Missed this week’s Brunchtime? Catch up on all previous shows here:

So that was my week – how was yours? What have you been up to in the last seven days? Comment below!

Liam

Weekly Update: Returning to University

After a nice Christmas and New Year break, I returned to Lincoln this week to start my second term/semester at university.

Whilst I’ve only been back a week, I can definitely say that university life has got even better. Despite having to take a break from shorthand over Christmas because of a law exam, I absolutely love learning the written language and am using it more everyday – it’s so useful!

As well as that, there’s a new part of the course called Public Administration for Journalists (basically, politics), which I am finding really interesting. I think after last year’s General Election – when I could vote for the first time – I was thrown into the deep end when it comes to understanding political parties. Since then, I’ve always dabbled in politics more – I went to the Conservative Party Conference to interview MPs, for example – because it’s certainly an interesting thing. We talk a lot about the monarchy, government and law in this module and I can’t wait to learn more.

Additionally, my radio show – which I co-host with my friend Danyal – is going great! I had a bit of coverage in the local press about it, I’m learning plenty of new things and the opportunities and skills it has provided me with has been incredible. I’m so thankful for it and can’t wait to do more radio work with Siren FM in 2016.

Speaking of music, I also saw Philip George this Friday. Although, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. Save for a few remixes, Philip’s choices of tracks were all too similar. In terms of the support acts, the first DJ had a small crowd, whilst the second act had an annoying frontman (which, if you don’t know, are those people who hype up the crowd). I appreciate the need to get the crowd excited, but I just want to listen to the music!

But nevertheless, this week was awesome and it was a great start to another year education-wise.

How was your week? Comment below!

Liam