2. It’s probably going to be really dull

I took a look back at my first entry and my first thought was “Oh god, I sound so grim!”

Because I’d spent two months waiting to find out if I was going to be handed money to do this really exciting thing, and then yesterday I was handed that money.

And I whinged about the wait.


I was always going to have to wait. It’s the worst part about doing anything big. If you’re writing fiction, you can always deflect that itchy grinding sensation that goes along with Waiting To Find Out by submitting to more and different places.

Unless, of course, it’s one of those “no simultaneous submissions” type places.

My main problem was that I couldn’t keep applying to all and sundry. There may have been charities I could have approached, but I couldn’t see one really feeling that magical objects and texts of Late Antique Egypt was a key strategy for their future interests.

For a while, I thought about trying to write here whilst I was waiting. Can you imagine how awful that would have been? Severe depression crushes everything: ability to be entertaining, ability to feel emotion... I tried writing again at the beginning of the year but a granite boulder had just rolled all over me and I realised I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t summon the emotion, or the energy.

Who, honestly, wants to read a blog about walking down to the postbox to find an envelope that isn’t yet there?

I suppose if it was written by somebody horribly entertaining, or Dr Seuss. He would do an awesome job of waiting on potentially life-changing news.

The trouble is, I’m not sure how entertaining I’m going to be now, or rather, how interesting. I have one condition on my offer, and that is to pass an exam in Ancient Greek in August, before I start.

How thrilling is sitting in bed under a blanket, endlessly revising Greek? Especially when your protagonist is also still depressed (it doesn’t magically go away when good stuff happens, which is, honestly, depressing). Probably, for most people, not that thrilling.

This is all I have to do, and I have instructions to do 1. that and 2. rest.

I might also be reading and writing reviews for the BFS, which is my secret other job.

The reason why I have to do this is an odd one. When I started the MA, the idea was “do something”. I thought I’d do Medieval Studies, but then Classics was a better fit. I transferred across, and started off learning intensive Latin and Greek.

That was a bad idea.

Every single one of Wile E. Coyote’s bad ideas, all rolled into one.

I have a tiny bit of working brain available for study, and Latin took all of it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with this MA, so I took Latin (it was also slightly less like being endlessly run over by a train in a different language with another alphabet).

About seven weeks later, we did a session on epigraphy. I read about curse tablets and magic, and that was my fate sealed. Then came a papyrology session, and there is nothing quite like looking at a tiny scrap of papyrus with somebody’s handwriting on it.

Not for me, anyway.

The problem was, I hadn’t done Greek. I didn’t realise until the start of my thesis, the following year, that this would be a major issue. I couldn’t do Greek then because illness had swamped my life and honestly, auditing an ancient language while trying to learn about Roman law and society seemed a tall order for me.

My supervisor was initially skeptical of me (for obvious reasons). I had a PhD, and who does TWO of them, other than all the twelve-year-old genius side-kicks on Bones. And I didn’t have the Greek. This sentence has come to dominate my life.

It certainly dominated my funding application process, filled with careful phrases like “learning Ancient Greek privately”. That’s a polite way of saying that in the next ten days I am going to be learning three tenses, including one that doesn’t appear to exist in any of the other languages I know.

I’m following the Intensive Greek programme, but on my own. I have form for learning languages alone, and as this one is the kind with very few living speakers (unless, of course, I wish to start toying with spells and hold a seance), it’s essentially a constant timetable of rote learning.

This is why the title of today’s blog is that it’s probably going to be really quite dull here for a while.



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Joely Black

Joely Black

There will be dragons. Academic and fantasy writer in love with Egypt, cats and rats. For more dragons, fantasy, and magic: https://www.amnar.org.uk/