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The Research Roundabout

The Research Roundabout

Last year on the Long Form Fiction (LFF) modules (yes, modules plural, since there was one in semester 1 and a second one in semester 2) students would produce around 12-15,000 words of their novel. This year with only one semester of LFF we'll be doing half of that for the end of module assignment. My approach to that is no different than if I was writing the whole darn novel of 100,000 words ... it demands just as much research to give it a sense of authenticity right from the opening lines. Obviously if I was writing a murder mystery set on a spaceship it might prove costly and impractical to take a trip into space to experience weightlessness but, for earth locations, it helps to know the place where the story is set.

First Exit: Paris

Distance between Swansea and Paris is 543 kilometers (337 miles)

I'm going to need to be a little careful about how much I say in this blog until next year because, if I want to say things in my reflective essay (2,000 words) that I initially put on here, it might get flagged up by the Turnitin system that checks that plagiarism isn't going on ... I'll spare myself the task of needing to footnote and credit all of my blog posts in my essay if I can!

The story I've been working on in LFF is set in Paris. Although I've travelled on a coach through Paris as a teenager, I've never walked through Paris absorbing its atmosphere, getting an idea of what the buildings are like, what shops there are and how busy they are, and noting down the names of streets where my story is happening (being blind I can't use Google map's to look at the buildings and whether there are alleyways that would mean 3.2km by car could take 100m on foot โ€” these details are important if the novel is going to feel authentic.

I do have somebody who would have come to Paris with me (who wouldn't like a free trip to Paris given the chance?!) before Christmas, but I did begin to question myself about whether my classmates would go to such extremes ...

To cut a long story short, I've decided to put that storyline aside and write something else set in Swansea, a city I've known for years and feel a deep love for. So my assistant and I will get to walk the streets and visit the coffee shops of Swansea rather than the fashionable shops and artisan cafes of Paris. As my tutor suggested, the Paris story might be something I return to once I've completed my MA :)

Second Exit: Bogota, Columbia

Air line: 5,124.17 mi (8,246.56 km)

The story I've been developing for my screenwriting module is set in Swansea with short digressions into the south Wales valleys, Cardiff and London, places I've known and lived for half of my life. The storyline involves emeralds and the best source of expensive emeralds is Colombia! I wonder what the odds are of taking a field trip to Bogota before Christmas?

Packing List

  • insulin
  • kidney meds
  • fudge
  • AK47 ...

I suspect this is one to research from afar! One time not to take the road less travelled perhaps ... though that doesn't necessarily mean my character can't ;)

Third Exit: University Library

Yesterday wasn't a story of roads less taken as books less read. The external disk on which all my course novels and poetry collections are stored electronically so I can listen to them ... well, it broke. When I tried to access it to find a document, Windows cheerily informed me that the drive needs to be formatted before it can be used. I have so many files on that drive it's not even funny. I've only had the drive about 6 months so can get a replacement, but I won't be able to copy all the files from my home laptop onto it until Christmas, and by then I'll be up to my neck writing texts and reflective essays for LFF, screenwriting and poetry ... a total of 13,000 words for the poetry and LFF, plus 45 pages of movie script plus 2000 words of plot treatment and character profiles for screenwriting ... โ€˜We wish you a challenging Christmas and a hectic New Year. Love Swansea University.โ€™

So, accompanied by my French next-door flatmate, Nicolas, I took the disk over to the library IT helpdesk. and, apart from crossing the disabled parking bay which I managed to drift a little to the left (quelle surprise) I went the whole way without doing sighted guide! sighted guide is where I my guide's elbow which means I don't have to do anything very much other than follow ... this time I managed not to drift to the left or the right very much at all and, and this was what pleased me the most, despite campus being very quiet so the normal hubbub outside the library wasn't there, I could detect the extra heat coming from the library building so knew exactly where I was! My mobility instructor likes me to try and detect the heat and the smell of coffee as a signpost of sorts that signals the library ... I often pick up the coffee smell if the door has opened but rarely the warmth ... yesterday the Costa coffee wasn't open so there was no coffee smell but I did detect the building's warmth :)

The IT support people have taken my drive and I should hear sometime next week whether they have been able to recover some (hopefully all) of my files. In theory, if I am desperate for the files that were on the drive, I could take a day trip back home and bring my old external hard disks back since the majority of my files are on those ... that is a definite indication of how much my confidence is improving from being back at university ... knowing that I can decide to get a taxi to the station, the train to Abergavenny, taxi to my house and then repeat the journey back again is very empowering :)

The Road Most Travelled: My room to the Kettle

  • door to kettle: 23 steps
  • kettle to tap: 10 steps
  • tap back to kettle base: 10 steps
  • take plastic jug, cup with coffee granules in, and carton of milk to sink: 10 steps
  • return to kettle when boiled and take it to sink: 20 steps
  • return milk and plastic jug back to cupboard and return to sink: 20 steps
  • re-fill kettle and return to plug and then return to sink: 20 steps
  • take cup of coffee back to room: 25 steps

So the most exercise I get, other than walking to my workshops, is through making coffee! 138 steps per cup of coffee ... I suspect I do 1,000 steps per day just imbibing coffee and making my dinner! :)

The #Research Roundabout #Paris #Bogota #Swansea

Published inblindnesseducationtechnology


  1. Frances Browner Frances Browner

    I was reading the first part of this thinking, why is he setting his novel in Paris if he’s never been there? Then you answered it for me! Swansea much better. Not saying it can’t be done, but why put all that work on yourself? Best of luck with it?

    • Giles Giles

      Indeed! But, speaking to my tutor, she does like the characters so thinks this might be something I keep to work on after my MA … and I agree and did a quick bit of research into funding possibilities for PhDs! ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

  2. Susan Susan

    Who knows when an opportunity will come to visit Paris? That’s about the same distance as from my house to Atlanta, though I don’t know that the time would be the same. You could do a one-day turnaround, if it is a similar time. So any holiday week, you could run over, even spend a night, and come back. I’d say you’re likely to have that time in the next few years. =) Bogotรก is another matter, entirely! LOL

    Best of luck on your hard drive. Bah, humbug that it didn’t last long!

  3. Giles Giles

    it is technically possible to do Swansea to Paris and back in a day, but it’d mean a very early start and late return and there’d probably only time to get a hint of Paris. I’d stay overnight and one wiling volunteer to come with me, but fitting it in around Christmas just proved too challenging!

    Current hard drive status: the library team’s recovery software identified 175,000 files that may be recoverable. I’ve taken over as much storage space on other disks as I’ve got, and they will try and recover what they can. Sadly I’m almost certain it’ll be just a folder full of 100,000 files and sorting them back into any kind of structure would take me years!! I’ll probably just copy the files over from my backup drives and at least then they will be in their relevant folders even if a few files are missing ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

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