I haven't really been up to all that much, certainly nothing that really seemed worth recording in the blog, but I figured I'd get something down.
I was asked by the school to participate in a competition to write an essay about Ningbo through a foreigner's eyes. I gave it a go, tried to write the most complimentary thing I could in half an hour and submitted it. Unfortunately I'm up against some stiff competition as I don't think I sucked up nearly as much as some of the other entries (although I did try). You can read the essays on the Ningbo Today website.
I've been working on my novel - mostly by writing down everything I know about it in a Tiddlywiki. This allows me to make WikiWords which can be used to identify other tihngs I want to write about as background so the whole process is kind of like mindmapping except that it allows me to explore ideas in a way that suits me better as a writer - and the tiddly creates a fantastic reference for me for when I am writing. I counted the number of words are in it yesterday and it already comes to nearly 5000 and there's still plenty I want to add in to it as well. It's a fantastic writer's tool - or indeed for any planning task. Of course mind mapping is still useful for a lot of reasons but this is a kind of next step on the process.
Speaking of which I suppose I ought to also big up N-Gen, a random name generator for writers and anyone else who might be interested in such things. It's been built by a friend of mine but it's simple and it works well. That also reminded me of WriteThis which I've also now downloaded again and is a great little app for just getting started.
As for work; I'm giving examinations this week and probably part of next week too. They're fairly simple (it has to be to get through 40 kids in 40 minutes) and it kind of makes it a fairly easy week in some ways as I just have to sit there and prompt the kids for answers to some basic questions that they should be able to answer. Of course what it does mean is that this semester, for me, is nearly over and I need to start thinking about the summer holidays. I am probably going to spend some time in and around Ningbo to do some intensive writing but I am also planning at least one big trip away. I am thinking about going to Kashgar*, in Xinjiang, which probably will take about 5 days of travelling overland (it's possible to fly but still difficult and extremely expensive) but it just somehow seems worth it. Haven't really decided for definite (well, ok, I probably have) and I haven't any firm plans so I'll keep you updated.
Yesterday I had an interview to do some part-time work teaching some employees of a stationary exporters. It's a small company and they seem nice and are willing to let me dictate when and where so it should suit me over the next few months so I can earn a little bit of cash and meet new people without disrupting my plans too much. (I've already turned down two offers of full-time summer schools...)
And that's about it.