WRITE OUR AGE: SELF-DOUBT

If you’re a writer like me, I think the title of this post really speaks for itself. A few days ago, I posted a picture of a blog post in the drafting process on this website’s Instagram (@thereis_nowhy- if you want to follow.) Since then, that post has been drafted and re-drafted and now, is completely dismissed. I may revisit the idea another time, but for now, it’s moot.

I’ve discarded entire collections of poetry, short stories and countless blog posts in the name of self-doubt. I am duly surprised that this post made it to the internet. Like many of my fellow writers, I scrutinise every detail and sentence, and eventually, question the entire concept of my work and deem it void of purposeful content.

And I guess this has its silver linings, because I’m learning to edit and adapt and craft meaningful content. However, on the other hand, this infuriating cycle of work and abandonment leaves me a drained writer and a sorry excuse of a blogger.

At 16, the time I dedicate to writing does not exceed more than half a dozen hours a week, as much as I would like to, I am not a full-time blogger and writer. My energy and motivation comes in unpredictable surges, I create a months worth of content within a few hours, publish it in a wild frenzy of excitement and revel in the smattering of comments left. Alternatively, I abandon my blog for months, neglect my unstructured schedule and leave people wondering where I’ve been. (sorry)

Although I’m confident that I’m not the only young writer who has trouble being consistent, I’m sure there are some writers, either young or experienced, out there who have strict disciplines when it comes to writing and follow structures that help then produce a steady stream of content. I’m not striving for military discipline, and as much as I am in love with the notion of spontaneous prose and Kerouac’s work, I am fully aware of the fact that On The Road is old Jack’s single greatest hit.

Whilst I can, I’d like to nail the art of successful writing, seeing as we are destined to have a life long love affair, and I would like to share this journey with you.

This post is the commencement of a new blog series on this website: WRITE OUR AGE.

Share this post on Facebook and Twitter with any writers who you think may have the same issues and invite them to join the discussion!

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HOW TO BE A MODEL STUDENT

Half a decade ago, I started high school. I had a pink Puma rucksack full of crap I would never use and fish out from the deep dark depths of it at the end of the year. My blazer was as stiff as the ironing board it had been soldered against and I wore these translucent pink Ghandi glasses that made me look like a bug – the usual.

Since then, I have perfected the art of being a model student and am eager to pass my golden notes of wisdom onto you.

#Lesson 1:
Do not introduce yourself to teachers as ‘Viktor Pickles.’

#LESSON 2:
Avoid producing self portraits that look like this:image (4)

#LESSON 3
Know that this is not an acceptable thing to draw in your history book: image (1)

#LESSON 4:
Under no circumstances is it acceptable to eat fajitas in class.

#LESSON 5:
Try not to fart in assembly and blame it on your friend.

#LESSON 6:
Learn to spell correctly:

#LESSON 7:
Just because Scout is wearing a ham costume in To Kill a Mockingbird, it does not permit you to proclaim her as ‘dead meat.’

#LESSON 8:
Holden CAULFIELD, not Holden Cauliflower.

#LESSON 9:
If you still can’t spell ‘difficulty,’ I suggest you read Matilda.

#LESSON 10:
If you were meant to colour it in, just colour it in. image (6)#LESSON 11:
If you can’t draw, you can’t draw.

#LESSON 12:
Please learn how to spell
photo#LESSON 13;
Develop all points fully to avoid confusion and private meetings with your English teacher.
image (8)#LESSON 14:
Don’t giggle when being told off.

#LESSON 15:
Know when to ask for help.
image (7)#LESSON 16:
Try not to insult children by calling out: ‘YOU THINK YOU’RE SO COOL, HANGING OUT NEXT TO THE FIRE EXHAUSTER, BUT YOU’RE JUST LAME.’ =__=

#LESSON 17:
If you’re 12, you may not realise this, but swearing in every sentence is not okay. Please stop.

I hope you enjoyed this post and if you did please give it a like or maybe share it with a friend. All pictures and examples used in this post are my own and not intended to insult teachers, pupils or anyone in anyway.  =]

A WEEK ON THE OTHER SIDE

I don’t know if the teenage population of the rest of the world have to suffer this, but here in Britain, most 15-year-olds are required to complete a week of work experience. My particular school required me to find my own placement through a series of poorly penned emails and husky phone calls. My first call was to a well know book retailer that kept asking for my age and hung up on me after 54 seconds. It was lunchtime, they were busy and I was a kid trying to emulate Lord Alan Sugar’s tone of voice as to sound more professional.

21 phone calls later, I was rewarded with a pending case of tonsillitis and the knowledge that if you choked on your spit during a phone call, they would just put you on hold until you died and then move onto the next person.

For a few months, all efforts to confirm a placement jumped out the window with clipped wings and waited to become fossil fuels. My classmates had gotten placements at the vets, law firms and the House of Commons. They were destined to become well accomplished members of society with secure bank accounts and a glass of wine with cheese of Friday nights. On the other hand, I had a new mole on my middle finger and earned myself a detention when I showed it to my teacher.

So of course I ended up in a primary school.

My mum took me shopping the weekend before I was due to start my placement at the primary school door. I brought a new shirt in my least favourite colour and another blue pinstriped shirt with an odd silky texture as well as some black slacks. My mum didn’t seem too concerned, I mean, how badly could I mess up in a school? I was yet to be kicked out of my own.

Monday rolled around and I dragged my scuffed shoes off the bus and towards the bright scarlet entrance of the school. I ducked into the building and quietly informed the receptionist that I was Miss White’s work experience placement.

The school had no Miss White.

After 10 minutes of my insisting adamantly that the email I received from them clearly stated ‘your will be placed in Miss White’s classroom,’ the receptionist asked for me to take a seat and wait for the staff meeting to end. Annoyed, I slid my phone out of my pocket and tapped on the email.

‘you will be placed in Miss West’s classroom,’

Following my red faced apology to the receptionist, I greeted my temporary boss by calling her Miss White again and followed her into her classroom, which made me feel like the BFG’s freakishly gargantuan sister. Clearly having no idea what to do with her bright pink helper, Miss West asked for me to open her blinds and we stayed in stony silence for twenty minutes as I eventually began wipe the water stains off her windows with my spit.

Then, oh gosh the children came tumbling in like a wild eyed, sticky hurricane that smelt like soap and old trainers. I felt my entire being seize up as they seated themselves and Miss West asked for me to come up to the front. 38 pairs of ten-year-old eyes fixed into me and immediately regretted my choice of bright pink attire, they could charge at anytime.

‘This is our lovely helper for the week, her name is Vivien.’ Miss West said, a boy at the front squinted at me with a frog-like expression. Did he need to be burped?

‘Let’s make her feel welcome, okay?’ Miss West continued and then proceeded to hug me.

Now HOLD UP lady, I have no warranted you access to my bingo wings, back off or at least buy me sushi first.

Three hours later, I’d broken the school printer, sprayed coffee all over the new classroom display and argued with a child that 7 squared was 42. In the staff room, I was offered juice by a tall teaching assistant who must have pitied me, declined his offer and anxiously stood there gulping down glass after glass of ice cold water, until I choked and puked in my mouth.

By day three, I got so bored of doing nothing and still cocking up that I emptied a pack of cashew nuts into my trouser pockets for something to do whilst I stood at the back of the class, leaning against the top of a drawer. (I hadn’t been offered a chair and was too shifty to ask for one.)

I was trying to stay awake whilst a observing a Powerpoint presentation on Sir Richard Branson with far too many slide transitions, when I was tapped on the shoulder by Miss West and presented with four A4 sheets. She wanted each of her 38 students to have one of each and would I please go to the office and photocopy them all in time for the activity that she wanted to start in 5 minutes.

Sure, except I had no idea how to work a bloody photocopier.

The first time round, I accidently printed off 80 copies of an A3 sheet on individual A4 sheets and stood there helplessly as the copier spat out sheet after scorching sheet.

Eventually, I managed to get it right and stood there sweating vigorously as the office staff glared at the huge mound of paper in the recycling bin. I relayed each individual sheet as they came out of the copier to Miss West to make up for the amount of time I’d spent in the office and I could tell she was seriously considering asking me to please leave before I broke something else.

That lunchtime, Miss West told me I was free to go to the staffroom for lunch, clearly relieved to be free of me for an hour. Upon entering the staff room, I realised that I’d walked into a meeting where the same nurse that had taught me how to use a tampon five years ago, was informing the teachers on how to answer their student’s questions about sex.

After returning to the classroom and informing Miss West of the meeting that was taking place, I was horrified when she told me to go on in anyway. So I was left stranded in the corridor, hungry and unsure what do to. The only solution, it seemed, was to eat my bagel in the surprisingly clean bathroom and peek out the door until I saw the meeting end.

On my final day, I got tired of standing up and sat on the drawer I’d leant against for the whole week whilst everyone else was outside and yes, it broke.

That really was the mouldy cherry on the asparagus flavoured cake.

Dear school, I promise to try harder in Maths class so long as you never send me back there.

(please note that all names mentioned in this post, excluding my own, have been changed to respect the owner’s privacy)

QUOTE OF THE DAY: ERNEST HEMINGWAY

‘All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.’

– ERNEST HEMINGWAY

HOW TO GYM LIKE A PRO

What is it? Are you finally taking your doctor’s advice and joining the gym? Was it the pushy, overbearing friend, whom the neighbours dog will drag out from under your patio steps when they start to smell, who forced you to sign up? Or maybe you were strutting up to the entrance of KFC, perfectly content with your existence, when someone complimented your shoes.

They look gorgeous on you.’ They may have oozed. And maybe you felt a twinge of unease when you had to answer:

Thanks, I do wish I could see them though.’

Either way, your desperation and yearning for advice on how to handle your current situation has lead you here, in the hope that I will provide you with golden notes of wisdom. If that is the case – I will pay for you to visit a psychologist. Seriously, I know one in my area, she teaches at my high school and said I had a terrible work ethic and serious issues regarding my attitude towards self-motivation that would restrain me when I entered the Real World, however, she also claimed to have died momentarily whilst practising a breathing exercise, so I’d take her advice like I’d eat raw buffalo.

Anyway, returning to the topic of discussion, the most important element of integrating yourself into the environment that is The Gym, is confidence. Do not shy away from sporting erratically coloured track suits. Even better, invest in those trainers that convert the floor you walk on into a mobile dance floor every time you take a step. Now, you may be thinking: ‘what is this shennegans? Flashing footwear was stylish when Micheal Jackson was black.’ But let me tell you something – everyone is just waiting for someone to take the first venture, Jessica Ennis has a stack of custom made flashing shoes that she is just dying to break out. Go for it. Be a trendsetter and mention my name when you get offered your own Nike campaign, okay?

Also, the water fountain. The water fountain is your oyster, guzzle from the tap like a comel coming across the only oasis in the desert, splash water on your face and grunt enthusiastically as you shake your hair out like a wet dog. Even better, get on all fours and growl at approaching predators like a real dog- even go as far as to pee on the area, whatever works for you. Dominate the taps. Mark your territory. You’re paying hard earned money for this membership, the least you deserve is an all-you-can-eat water buffet.

Next, how to tackle the monstrosity that is the treadmill. Now, not many people really pay attention to you whilst you’re working out, but if you just happen to be positioned next to Miss-I-Wear-White-Yoga-Pants-Because-I-Do-Not-Need-To-Wear-Slimming-Colours, you may need to make an effort as not to look like a pregnant gorilla. First of all,there is a kind of mutual agreement in place amongst gym members that one does not glance below the waist, primarily because it’s just a little bit dodgy, but also because your legs are clearly a work in progress and people should respect that. So the trick is to place you feet on either  side of the moving belt and stimulate a running action with your upper body, if it helps, dangle a couple of towels off either side of the machine to conceal your stationary legs. Now you are free to turn to setting up as high as you want. Remember to pant lightly and swipe at your brown occasionally – a snack is also handy if you feel yourself begin to lapse into boredom. I suggest Snack a Jacks, the name makes up on half of the activity ‘jumping jack.’ Deeming them perfectly acceptable for consumption within the gym. If anyone approaches you and questions your logic, pack the crisp packet with peach stones and slap them about the face a few times to knock some sense into them. If after all this, White Yoga Pants is still running faster than you, toss a wet towel over her and relocate to the changing rooms for the warm shower you so richly deserve.

Of course, after your vigorous work out, you must be feeling a bit peckish. So after placing your order, inconspicuously flick your gym membership card out of your wallet  and allow it to clatter nosily onto the counter, just incase the cashier didn’t believe your lie about the three friends who will be joining you shortly.

This brings me to my final point, if after all this you still feel as if you cannot bear this fitness nonsense any longe and must escape the misery of it all. Try hurling a few dumbbells at the overhead televisions that had been broadcasting the latest episode of Masterchef whilst you had been trying to burn off the pizza you had for lunch, courtesy of the Masterchef that is Dominos. It should take approximately a few seconds for you to be frogmarched out of the gym by security with a lifetime ban.

Hey there,

Thanks for taking the time to check this post out. I hope you enjoyed it and if you did please give it a like and follow me for more posts like this. Also share this is anyone who you think could do with the advice!

Bye for now and I’ll see you in the next blog post!

Viv