11 Life Lessons From My Thirteen Year Old Self

“Fuck up at school, and you fuck up at life- it’s fucked”- Jonas Takalua

I was a big fan of comedies as a thirteen year old. I wrote bizarre and eclectic sketches and feature film scripts, aspiring to see them on TV or on the cinema screen. Of course, now looking back, they are so stupid and need so much work I don’t know where to start.

Despite this and how lame I was back then, I did have some form of wisdom worth sharing. It came to me today while I was de-cluttering- clearing out crap in preparation for moving to Glasgow. (I’m going to Glasgow University and turning 20 in September, which I still can’t quite get over!) I ploughed through scraps of writing, old greetings cards, cuddly toys and more useless tat to find a list titled “Life Lessons Learned Either From Myself Or Others”. It had the little quote at the top (from Australian comedy ‘Summer Heights High’), and 31 points. I’m obviously not going to include absolutely all of them for brevity, but here are some of the best ones. (In no particular order)

  1.  “Start winding down and getting ready for bed earlier”

This is a lesson I’m still trying to apply to my everyday life. It’s true though- especially when I could barely get up in the morning for school the next day.

2. “The Spice Girls lied- friendship does end.”

As a young girl and teenager, you’re bombarded of images of everlasting girly friendship from films, TV shows, magazines, adverts you name it. So it only took me the whole of primary school and some of secondary school to learn that friendship does end. People fall out. People grow out of each other. People grow apart. People abandon. It’s never usually personal, except for when it is. It’s a rare time you keep friends you made in school, or anywhere as a young teenager, for the long term.

3. “Don’t try and be a smart alec and make a joke in another language. Especially in a languages class.”

The class will never get the joke, no matter how witty you think you are.

4. “Just because everyone else is doing something, doesn’t make it right.”

I saw most of that lesson from my peers drinking at bus stops and things. I hated not being included in things. Part of me wished that I could be included. But really, deep down I knew I wasn’t missing out on much. Especially when they were talking about when they were sick, as if it was all part of the fun. (Yes I have been drunk before and I know from experience that when you feel queasy that is the time to stop!)
5. “Not all adults have grown up completely yet.”

As a nineteen year old, who has been a school assistant and a support worker, I amend this slightly- no adults have grown up even slightly. It’s a conspiracy and a lie to keep children in line. Nobody knows what they’re doing. Literally nobody. Everyone is making it all up as they go along.

6. “Don’t chase. Boys smell desperation.”

This was a hard lesson to learn. I’d spent the first two years of secondary school jumping from crush to crush, without a clue about how to deal with the feelings I had. I made a real fool of myself for it, and became an easy target.

7. “In the long run, your social status matters much less than your grades. Your grades decide your future but how popular you are in high school doesn’t.”

I’ve only kept a handful of the friends I made in school, and even then I made those when I was fifteen. Although your grades do affect your future, you’re not damned forever for not having perfect grades.

8. “Men and women in magazines aren’t really your role models”

Whereas most people have somewhat distinction between fantasy and reality, not everyone does. It’s so easy to be captivated by these models and writers and hold the unrealistic pictures they paint as the reality you want. It honestly can’t be achieved.

In reality, you couldn’t really sustain a kale and juice diet or screw a porn star. You can fantasise, but you know it won’t happen. Yet the eating disorders, self-esteem issues, addictions and outright bizarre behaviour these things can cause is insane.

9.“Don’t quit a show because none of your friends are performing with you, or you haven’t got a good part.”

This applies to anything else as well as drama, from sports clubs to science groups. When I was younger, I used to spend my summer doing shows with a drama group in Paisley.

In the show before this one, I made lots of friends and had a really great time. In the next one, it didn’t have the exact same people, but there was one boy who went to the same one as me. He was one of the people I was pretty good friends with. Or so I thought.

When we were on our break together with his friends, he snapped at me “Why are you following me around like a puppy?” I was so ashamed, hurt and taken aback that I couldn’t bear to go back. I do regret that, because the guy was quite clearly behaving like an arse and it could have been a really good show. I could have had a lot of fun as part of the chorus.

10. “Don’t take on other people’s problems more than they are.”

I did this quite a lot, especially during S4 and S5. People used to befriend me because I would sit for hours and counsel them through their problems. But quite a few of these people were just looking for a safe space to have a bitch or didn’t have the stones to sort themselves out. It left me exhausted, and I got really emotionally invested when I probably shouldn’t have. By all means, help people. Help your friends because most people will appreciate you being there. But when people relinquish responsibility for their own wellbeing and expect you to provide their happiness is when you detach. They need to help themselves, you know.

11.“Enjoy your teenage years but keep in mind that what you do now can affect you for the rest of your life.”

When I was that age, I fell for the “if you fail your exams, you fail at life” dogma. So to me it was as grave as it might sound to you. But I know as an adult, if you don’t do well at school, it’s not the end of your life. Far from it!

How you are as a teenager will affect how you’ll be for the rest of your life. But that doesn’t mean you’re done for. You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll grow from them.

So have fun with your friends, go to all the after-school clubs, kiss every frog, pop all your zits- make the most of every minute, because you won’t get it again!

 

my halloween costumeDSCF9725me in the pace foyer

Advertisements

Down With The Sickness

The sun shone through an open window. I could hear birds singing, people laughing and talking, ELO’s Mr Blue Sky playing. I was sitting on the toilet, holding a basin, wishing I would just throw up already. Today, I was sick. And not in the cool, hip-hop way either.

In fact, by this point, I’ve been ill for two weeks. This was the second round of antibiotics, as the first one Amoxicillin was just too mild-mannered to fight off this chest infection. The flem clung to my throat and ribcage like stubborn cobwebs, or like a weepy, creepy ex. My sinuses were clogged, making my head heavy in aching pain.

I had to watch from afar- or in other words my Facebook newsfeed- all the nights out, dinners out, days out and other people having an all-out great time. I had to cancel shifts with my Easter holiday work- all of them over two weeks; Burnsfest, Easter Sunday with my family, Easter Sunday with my boyfriend’s family and god knows what else.

Why? I was housebound with it. As in the Disturbed song, I was well and truly down with the sickness. It was like the poltergeist that just wouldn’t go away. It was named The Cough.

I could barely move without coughing violently. I could barely think without coughing violently. All I did for the next five or so weeks was cough. Sometimes, I coughed for so hard and so long I made myself throw up.

I tried everything to exorcise this demon that haunted my body.

At first I thought: it’ll only last three days at most. I’ll stay positive, guzzle as many vitamins as possible, rest up and maybe if I ignore it for long enough, it’ll go away. Right? And for three days, I was led to believe this.

But on the fourth day? Nope! The Cough decided to stay, and it decided to exhaust me. For the next three days after that, I was bedridden. Then for the next two weeks, I would be couch-ridden. The Cough took up all my energy. I could barely play video games, let alone write meaningful content.

My Easter holidays evaporated and any shred of positivity had gone along with it. The Cough’s hold upon me had weakened, but I couldn’t bring myself to do everything I could do before. Still zero energy.

Another four days and I dragged myself back to work. If I didn’t go back now, The Cough would win. So I went back. I’ve been back at work for a week or so now and I’m still fighting it. Just about.

It’s not just a bad excuse for not producing new content. I really have been so ill I’ve not been able to write. I’ve been so used to going at a hundred miles an hour every day, but this past month I’ve been barely moving at a snail’s pace. Maybe if I hadn’t been going so fast, The Cough wouldn’t have had such an ample target.

I’ve decided to pace myself as best I can. I have an unbearable urge to say yes to every new project that appears but I doubt that’s a sustainable practice. This little blog post is one small baby step into creating new, fresh content for the website. Be patient though: I’m still locked in mortal combat with The Cough and it’s still breathing.

Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend for helping with the editing process. I’m still pretty new to blogging and wanted to make this one worth your while! x

Do you have any illness horror stories? Have you also been a victim of The Cough? Send me your stories in the comments! It’ll give me some goddamn perspective! 😀

Ink Prelude

My mind is a dark room with red lighting and a desk where I create and destroy at my will. It is a continent, surrounded by paper and ink. Like my study, it is cluttered, but unlike my study it has no walls.

There is nowhere the ideas can float but everywhere. That is until I drop them. It is funny to watch them squirm, drown and be forgotten.

Did that scare you a little?

Don’t worry, I’ve not killed anyone.

Well… at least not a real person.

 

NOTE: “Ink” was the first short film that I had been involved in. It was made as part of a GMAC Summer School, and shown at the Glasgow Film Theatre. I added the flier as my image because it is inspired by the film. 

“Ink” is the intellectual property of GMAC film.

February Update!

According to the ‘laws’ of NaNoWriMo, I should have started editing my first novel, The Dormant Queen, by now. But as I’ve hinted at before, life has gotten in the way.

I’ll start from the beginning. When I left school, I was desperate to work. I attended college, applied for basically everything going including care homes, community care companies, school assistant bank lists. I was doing at least one a day, and was hitting a lot of dead ends, despite getting a lot of interviews. I worked placements in schools and sheltered accommodation. And panicked about my SVQ units, but that’s another story.

 

I managed to finally get a job working with children with disabilities during school holidays, but nothing for during term time. After college, I managed to get on council’s school assistant bank lists. But then when I got on these, it took them months to actually get me any work due to HR processing my references and other things.

 

Then one council offered me a 10 hour a week contract at a primary school. Paid work, that was a good start. But there was still three days vacant, which for the most part, I was being roped into an endless loop of housework or errands. I was sick of it. Then, my relief hours contract offered me shifts every Saturday on outreach. This was great! I was an outreach worker!

And not long after that, one of the council bank lists I signed up for offered me a five-day contract. I was to start in January, when the Christmas holidays finished. Then I was really excited. Five days a week, supporting a pupil one-to-one every day. Something to really get my teeth into!

But then, I realised. I am now working a six day week.

Despite having everyone around me telling me how difficult it would be, I was excited. I would be gaining a LOT of valuable experience. I was going to be truly busy. I could do it- finally get everything I’d worked for. I would finally prove to myself that I could function like an actual adult.

The first week, I was on fire. I was writing and managing everything I was doing during the Christmas holidays, and all the hours of my day were driven. It felt amazing. I said yes to any opportunity or project. Because I could totally do it. I kept burning the until half way through the third week.

One night, I took a bath to try and relax. I knew I was getting tired, so I tried to wind down.

I had a conversation on the phone with my boyfriend, and I forgot to get a date for when their February break was. We hoped to arrange a long weekend somewhere. That one omission broke the camels back. I panicked. And I panicked some more. And then I talked myself down. I realised for myself that I had taken on too much.

 

So I’ve had to prioritize a bit. My job obviously must come first, but there are a lot of writing projects that I’ve had to shelve in the mean time like my serial, editing my novel and redrafting my short stories.

I’ve also muted notifications, and effectively left, the 52 Week Flash Fiction Challenge. This has served to build my portfolio of flash fictions to no end, even if I was unable to complete all of them. I have a gig reading some poetry for the FreshAyr festival at Ayr Town Hall, which will take up most of my time and energy until the beginning of March.

As for content on the website, I doubt I’ll have much to show for myself for the next month. But hopefully I may prove myself wrong! I may be just talking crap and blogging for the next wee while, but should be posting some juicy drabbles or poems in March.

In the meantime, happy reading!

 

 

images

PS I feel this meme is appropriate but it’s not my creation so take no credit for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Know The Effects of Gravity

From my top floor apartment I can hear eery Christmas jingles from inside shops. It’s got a good location, if you like going out in the town and to the student union but I’ve never been a big fan. Usually, games nights in my house would do me. If I had any friends, that is. They’re always busy, and they live at the other side of the country. They don’t call or text anymore.
I look down at the great drop below me. The shoppers are like aphids. From here, you can’t see their expressions, and you can’t hear them talk to each other. Any one of those aphids could be squashed, or burned by the magnifying glass of God at any given moment, and they’ll never see it coming.
I could jump you know. I can’t stand this life anymore. I hate Christmas, especially. The cheer is fake and that once a year I have to pretend that my family actually care about my life, at least outside my career prospects. All of them piling in from St Andrew’s to lord it over because I’m at Glasgow which is for slow people. But I’m studying medicine, like they want me to, so they can’t hold that against me.
Next week, I’ll be in the exam hall, tested on how efficiently I can regurgitate facts. Everything I’ve learned, everything I am will be defined by that day. I know for a fact going to fail it. I’ve missed so many classes, because I’ve been either so anxious I can’t speak or so depressed I think I’m coming down with the worst flu ever. Slow person. It almost suits me now. I can barely drag myself over to the window sill.
The only person who is actually there is my cat, Tesla. She’s out hunting. Every time she comes home, she brings back a bird or mouse corpse. It’s these little kindnesses that make my life less bitter. Except for her, I have no-one.
I bring myself to my feet. I look down again. I could do it. I could jump… but then, I can hear the cat flap. Tesla. I can hear her meowing. You can’t be hungry, can you? There’s food in your bowl. She sits at my feet. Her claws dig into my feet and she’s looking up at me with those ‘Don’t Leave me’ eyes. She knows.
“You’ll manage fine without me.” I cry.
Tesla meows louder, and sadder. As if to say, ‘But I don’t want to, without you.’
I collapse onto a heap on the floor, and cry my lungs out. She pads up to me, climbs onto my knees and starts to lick my nose. I need help. I pick up my mobile phone and text some of my friends to invite them down for Christmas. I’ll try to keep going for another six months.
My phone pings. It is my friend Stephanie. She says she’s coming down tomorrow.
Featured Image by McKenzie Clarklove-is-a-violent-feeling

Love Is Blind

My girlfriend Millie said she was having quality time with her mother today. So seeing as how I was behind with my Christmas shopping, I thought I’d get cracking. I’m feeling pretty smug, now. I’ve got Millie’s presents more than sorted: a box of chocolates, a golden necklace with a heart pendant encrusted with diamonds and some really cute stationary from Claire’s Accessories. This week, she’s been moaning about how she’s got virtually none of her stationary back from her students. She’d love to have some more.

But as I’m walking past Costa Coffee, I can see Millie and her mother in the distance. No!

I walk the other way so I’m not spotted. I peer over my shoulder and they’re following me! What a pain! If she sees me she will want to stop and chat, and when she stops and chats she’ll notice her whole Christmas. Then the magic of her Christmas will be gone!

Keep calm, Becca. Maybe she won’t see it. Maybe she hasn’t seen me.

I peek behind me again and find they are closer, and yet closer. They close in and….

…. It’s not them. It never was. They are probably wondering why I look so pale! I slip into the nearest shop, trying to look as casual as possible.

img_20121125_164205

Entering NaNoWriMo/Starting the Dormant Queen

Well as you can guess by the title, I am participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. I’ve been Facebooking and Tweeting about it for a few days now, and feel my time there deserves a blog entry.

For those who are unsure what NaNoWriMo is, it is a writing program where participants aim to write 50,000 words of a novel in just 30 days. It takes place in November, with optional editing periods during January or February. If you’ve been wanting to write a novel but have found it difficult to stay motivated, this is a good way to start. You can buddy up with people who can encourage you and cheer you on, or act as an audience.

NaNoWriMo itself is a non profit organisation and website that runs almost solely on donations from participants and its website helps keep together this world-wide operation to get people writing during November. Everyone has at least one novel in them, I believe. If you want to find out more, go to http://nanowrimo.org/

I first heard about it through my friend, who also put me onto Archive of Our Own, who told me it was a lot of fun. I was a bit sceptical at first, just because I wanted to build a short story portfolio at the time. Then during October, I decided to be a little bit more selfish. I’ve had this Dormant Queen novel brewing and developing since 2013/2014, and I felt that the plot and characters were relevant to me now. And I’ve been writing nothing but short stories, flash fictions and poems for the past two years, as I didn’t feel like I could finish a full novel. Now I feel like I should give it a try.

Although I also want to put out a Harry Potter spoof serial of five parts on the website, in time for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them coming out on the 17th. I may have taken on waaay too much. All my motivation is going to my novel.

NaNoWriMo is really working for me. I’ve already written the 6th chapter of The Dormant Queen, and working through Chapter 7 tomorrow. When I first started, I hadn’t actually thought that I could possibly get as far as the middle of the novel as I find it so difficult to finish things. Although it might seem modest so far, especially considering that I’ve started on the 25th October as opposed to the first, I’m so proud of my progress I can’t contain it! It’ll be amazing to have a completed novel, even if it is a very very rough draft.

I had to get it all out! I’m so happy!

Happy writing everyone!

 

Braineater

Always hungry, Never sleeping. Mind, eaten- decaying. Lucky to speak. Feed me. Where am I? Help me. Move slow, like corpse. Move by smell of food. Many corpses- like me, around. Rotting as walking. Guts hang out. Food moves. Food talks. We catch food. It has body like mine. It screams. We break it with our teeth. Devour.

Another food screams for his brother. “No!!” We turn. More food. This food has a stick. Bang! One falls. Stick kills. We don’t care if we drop. We reach, trying to grab food. Bang. Now black.

The Writer’s Mind (memoir, nonfiction)

I cannot even think of where to start. Hmmm… wait, I think I’ve got something! Okay, here goes:

People say that the human brain is like a complex computer: it can do logic and maths problems, transmit information, have memories that grow, adapt and learn, etc. Although, the pitfall with that analogy is that computers can only follow commands- they don’t have freewill, love, passion and, of course, creativity. The human brain is so much more than just an efficient automaton, it determines what and who we are, how we perceive the world and what we put into it and what’s even better is that, unlike a computer, we are not manufactured to being the same, we grow into unique human beings.

My brain at the moment is like a crashing computer, in the sense that nothing works and I feel like smashing it with something. This is my third attempt. Third time lucky, I hope. I don’t usually have this problem. Usually my brain is bursting with fresh inspiration, so much so I find it hard to keep to Task. Task, that interminable treadmill, what computers work best with. Tasks, like rules are made to be broken. There’s a balance to strike between expressing yourself freely and taking you, my audience or readership into consideration. Whoever you are, I must keep you in mind as you are the one who is reading this. To you, I am probably just another essay in a large pile. Reader, let me do a Charlotte Bronte and acknowledge you. My name is Jen McWhirter, I am seventeen years old. I’m doing my final ever year in school and I would like to tell you how my brain works.

I’ve been writing and coming up with ideas from even before I could hold a pen. However, my earliest writing roots can be traced back to the homework I was set in Primary Four. We were learning how to spell, and we got homework often. There was a “Look, Cover, Write, Check” doctrine applied, which helped us process the spelling of each word, and there was another part, however, that required a degree of creativity. By this time, I had a firm grasp of syntax and could weave out sentences like Rumplestiltskin. I had a golden idea: a series of stories centred around what I called “The Werewolf School”, where the pupils were, of course, werewolves in wolf form full-time. I liked them to be feral. One of their most memorable adventures was when the class sneaked on the school bus and drove off to an indoor waterpark for the night. There were so many characters, it was surprising anyone could keep track of it. The main antagonist was their teacher, Miss Battle-axe. She would have, if she had known about this excursion, stopped them in their tracks. Had I have known the words “wee crabbit sour faced auld cow”, that would have been how I described her. What I hated about her was her devotion to stopping her students from enjoying themselves, and forever sentencing them to hours of hard Facts and textbook work.

Back in reality, I had this wonderful feeling that she would enjoy reading it just as much as I did writing it. I had incorporated the words of the earlier spelling task, too. But she thought it was all just straw. I hadn’t stuck to the Task. Task? I wrote her sentences didn’t I? But I was only to write three, not fifty. What? I couldn’t understand it. I only want to make things a bit more interesting for her.

By the time I was nine, I had created a selection of fantasy settings, my own worlds with their own cultures, and everything. I drew many crude maps of towns and countries where several hundred characters lived happy and relatively uneventful lives- or so it may seem on the surface. It would be another thing to look at these people and figure out their life stories, which I will do some other time. I drew epic scenes like the kind you might see in Renaissance pieces except they were children’s drawings with poor perspective and proportion. I had even made a list of popular book and film titles in one of my settings. Looking upon them now, they look like hieroglyphics. It was like they were written in a language only I could understand, their meanings I have forgotten. One day, I will be able to sit and decipher it all and transfer them all into a few epic fantasy novels.

I’ve got this crazy imagination, with hundreds and millions of embryonic ideas growing there. Unlike that chump computer, where everything is systematic and perfectly laid out, in my brain is chaos.  Once these ideas are born, they’re left to fight amongst themselves for my attention. Picture Dragon’s Den, except there’s no business-y type millionaires like Duncan Banatyne, Theo Profiteroles and that grumpy woman but in this case (pardon the pun) it’s just me. Instead of all the little civilised entrepreneurs, begging for scraps like street urchins with flipcharts and model prototypes, one at a time; my savage and colourful ideas stampede, barge, elbow and scream. And there’s maybe thirty of them at once.

They grab me with their fantasy, their diabolically dark twists, their smouldering bodice-ripping romance scenes, their attractive male protagonists and I simply can’t refuse them. And there is me, in a big armchair unable to decide which one to tackle first. I can’t say I’m out, because they’re all my own. It’ll only take my entire life to raise them all, but I’m determined.

The good thing is that, unlike Dragon’s Den, I can take some of these ideas and shape them to make it easier. But only some. The rest refuse- yes, refuse- to be changed. They have strident personalities and are not pinned down without blood being shed. So I let them be. I leave them to simmer in my subconscious for a while before I try again. Can you picture this? Now you can probably imagine why I find things difficult to finish, and I sometimes forget that Task is even there. It’s so loud and Task is not quite loud enough to compete with it. Task needs a megaphone.

Hey I’ve managed to actually type something! I was in pretty full flow, wasn’t I? Nope, it’s gone… loading… My trouble is that this imagination is still going and it’s like I’ve got millions of different programs open. It takes up a lot of memory. Hence why I’ve forgotten a fair bit of my childhood and am virtually dependant on a diary. The files have been lost, and I can’t get them back.

Where was I again? Oh yeah, I remember. Speaking of writer’s block, I had a really horrific bout of writer’s block really recently, like January. My mind was unbearable silence. It was a void. It felt like hundreds of people had died in a huge tsunami but they were all my family. Melodramatic, but accurate to describe how I was feeling. I was breaking down. I had three prelims, an expressive unit for Higher Art to be finished. Higher Art is no cake-walk, despite what you may think, especially when I have two Advanced Highers to be doing as well. They’d told me to design a full house as part of the Art prelim, which I’d never done before as I’d only designed CD covers and hats. I’d only chosen art because I like painting.

One evening, me, Mum, her partner and my brother went bowling and go-karting at The Garage in Kilmarnock. This normally would have been fun but I was miserable that day. All I could do was not cry. I was pretty moody and depressed. I lost at the bowling, and I was livid at myself for being so damn irresponsive. I felt like my limbs had weights on them. Negativity is so heavy. I took out a good deal of that fury at go-karting, which I think I enjoyed despite feeling the lowest I’ve felt for years. I screamed in sheer fury as I whizzed around the racetrack at top speed. But I went home, straight to my room and cried. I had no ideas anymore, my imagination was crushed, I was a failure, I’d never amount to anything- if I am my creativity and my creativity is lost, then what am I?

Eventually, I crawled out of the dark cupboard and sat on my bed. I opened my notebook, and something whispered. One of my novel ideas- Reverie. It was inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, except more surreal, sick and twisted and based off of my own dreams instead of Carroll’s imagination. I added more to my female protagonist and more about the symbolic importance of her two fair-weather friends who lead her astray from the start of the novel. She self-destructs, and after taking drugs she follows her best friend, Locks, into the garden and falls down a wormhole or, more appropriately, rabbit-hole. She is trapped inside her own childhood imaginary world which is being eaten up by pink smoke. This pink smoke is one of many forms of the antagonist, Rasputin, who she must slay in order to rescue her best friend Locks. She meets many quirky characters along the way, including a giant Widow spider who literally devours men and had encouraged her human lady friend, The Bride, to eat her husband on their wedding day.

I’m into writing darker stuff at the moment, and I’m rolling with that tide. I started watching The League of Gentlemen last year and since then, I’ve been relishing dark humour and diabolically evil plot twists. I also had a mild crush on Reece Shearsmith. He even looks good in drag.

As you can tell, I can talk for Scotland, if anyone’s up for listening to me. If anyone can keep up! In reality, I am not great at speaking up for myself, and I also don’t usually sing my own praises. I can type up for myself okay, but in moments of confrontation, I seize up and my mouth freezes shut.

Like when my S4 English teacher showed me up for writing a 4,000 word essay on the Merchant of Venice: I should have shouted back, “I love Shakespeare, take it or leave it”, or “It’s just so inspiring I couldn’t control myself” or, even better, did a Father Jack when he himself was confronted for giving the Bishop Brennan cheek and responded, oh-so-sarcastically: “I’m sooooo, soooo sorry!!”

If only I had that confidence! Or when she made me write a story in a group, with three of the biggest slackers in the whole class: “Please don’t make me work with these idiots!” or “Miss, I’m doing all the hard work, I’m going to have a nervous breakdown if you don’t say something.”

A nervous breakdown, I very nearly had. But I had a dragon of an English teacher and basically everyone in the class hated me for some reason, so I sat back in my seat, bright red and put my head down and worked, as usual. I was put under a lot of stress, then, though I acted rebellious behind her back I was terrified of her. I was terrified of being shouted at by her, and even worse when the entire class were there to witness it. I don’t think she realised, but my whole year basically ostracised me and, no matter what I did or how right my answers were, they smirked and sniggered at me. My English class was one of the worst, and it was actually a fairly traumatising experience. To this day, I hate myself for getting even the smallest of things wrong, and I’m deeply embarrassed if I make a mistake or misread a social cue in front of people. It’s like I can feel their smirking eyes on me, like from before, and they’ll all laugh about me behind my back, like they did before. I look on it now, and I think she was frustrated at me. She couldn’t understand why I was missing deadlines and got annoyed when I couldn’t.

This crazy writer’s brain I’m talking about had caused me a lot of grief over the years: I’ve missed so many deadlines, procrastinated so many times, missed most of my childhood because it was spent in my head, lost a lot of friends because I’d neglected them , and it had really impacted on the relationship I had with my Dad. I was diagnosed with autism when I was two, and rediagnosed as Language and Communications Disorder when I was four. But he seems to have forgotten that. He stopped listening to me 4 years ago and shouted at me instead, and we been estranged from each other for two. My mum was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was about ten or eleven years old, and the medications she had made her brain work far slower than usual. Because of that, she was unable to keep up with what I was saying, about all my ideas. My mind has isolated myself from people.

But hey, I managed to get good grades. I have good friends who know what I’m like and leave me to it. My mum is getting better and has been really well for two or three years now. I’m actually doing Advanced Highers, despite being told on diagnosis I’d never be able to go to a normal school. I just need to be patient with myself. I won’t be able to do things at the same pace as everyone else. Practical things take longer to process in my mind, but that’s okay because I have plenty of creativity and passion to compensate. And I will get there eventually. Here, and now, these are my beginnings in my writing career, and I’ll make plenty of mistakes and there will be plenty of times where I will mishear or even completely misregard Task. For me, it’s about coming to terms with that. Because, you know, despite everything I wouldn’t change my mind for the world.