and sometimes you just need to bee
and sometimes you just need to let your true colours shine
and sometimes you just need to bee
and sometimes you just need to let your true colours shine
Asking a twelve year old to write their autobiography in hindsight seems a slightly bizarre project for an English class.
Stumbling across said autobiography some thirty-seven years later was equally bizarre!
Boy Child was tidying up the large walk-in cupboard in his room recently and found some of my old schoolwork. No idea how it got in there but can only presume my mother has evicted it from her house at some point and sent it home with me.
As I re-read those handwritten pages (my handwriting was SO much neater in 1982!) I do actually recall writing some of it.
My English teacher during my first year in high school was a gentleman named Richard Coton. He was in fact the teacher who gave me the best piece of creative writing advice I’ve ever had and it’s stuck with me for all these years. He advised me to write about places I loved and knew well and topics that I was passionate about.
His words came back to me when I started writing the story that evolved into the Silver Lake series of books.
So, how much have I changed since my twelve year old self wrote the first volume of my autobiography?
(Don’t panic – I’ll spare you all of the details!)
There were ten parts to this autobiographical assignment.
Let’s explore a few……
Babyhood – ok, please don’t laugh too much at the photo – and having read that section, one thing hasn’t improved over the years. I still don’t sleep great at night!
Playing Cafes – I still clearly remember the game that inspired that section. In reality there were more “meals” served to my long-suffering cousin that night. To this day I’ve no idea how we avoided actually poisoning the poor boy! Happy memories of the summer of 1977…EEK!
The Kind Of Person I Am – well, I’ve grown a whole three inches since I wrote that! Ha Ha. I’m still an avid reader. The model horse collection still lives in the same old shoe box as it did in 1982 only now it resides on a shelf in my parents’ attic. One quote from this “chapter” stuck out.
“So far you might have got the impression I’m out spoken. Well, in a way I am but at the same time I am a very nervous person. My mum says I worry about trivial things.”
Absolutely nothing has changed about that facet of my character. I over think my over thinking! (Blame the INFJ personality type)
The professional ambitions changed slightly. I remember wanting to say that the dream was to become an author but, as a class, we were advised to keep the piece factual/real. The two options I listed were lawyer or physiotherapist. Six years after I wrote that chapter, I went to college to start my physiotherapy degree but it wasn’t to be. Anatomy and Physiology and I have a very poor working relationship and I failed my first year. Maybe I should have written about chasing the dream – I have managed to achieve that!
There’s a map in the autobiography of where I lived at the time. That “slightly” inaccurate road map made me smile.
In Years To Come – the final part of the assignment was to forecast the future. So how accurate were my predictions? In fact there are a few profound observations in there. One of them being
“One thing I’m certain of is that I will not be very far away from home.”
Currently, I live about 100m away from where home was in that map from 1982. In fact, the land my current home is built on was the field I played in as a little girl. Roughly on the red dot
I ended the last section by saying
“Well, I plan on a busy life. On the whole, I don’t think I will change too much over the next five or six years.”
Life is busy and I don’t think I’ve really changed that much over the past thirty-seven years.
So, how did I do on this homework assignment?
Maybe some day I’ll write a second volume ………
Sometimes I forget how long it is since I ventured into the weird world of social media but Facebook very kindly reminds me on a daily basis with its “You have memories with…. to look back on today”
I don’t always check these out. I’ll be honest, it sometimes depends on who it says I have memories to share with.
One caught my eye about a week or so ago. It was a memory from 2010 from a school friend.
“Don’t know why I remember this so clearly but you wrote a book in school with a character called Maggie or Megan, didn’t you? Did you keep up the writing thing?”
A short conversation followed this post:
Friend – I think I just remember being really impressed at the time.
Me – I tried writing short stories for a few years but never got anything published. Tried again a few years later with children’s stuff but no luck. Still scribble for my own amusement. Really touched that you remember. Thanks x
Friend – Hey – look at JK Rowling! Should give it another go. Was it Megan or Maggie?
Me- Megan x
I was, and still am, very touched that she remembered my early literary efforts.
And to be honest, she wasn’t the first school friend to quiz me years after the fact out of the blue.
A few years earlier, I met another old school friend when our daughters both went to the same dance class. She too remembered my teenage “story” and I recall flushing scarlet as she told the other mothers present that she got her sex education from my story! EEKKK!!!!
(Yes, even at fifteen and sixteen I wrote romantic fiction…..)
The Facebook memory got me thinking….reflecting…
I was fourteen when I started that “story”. My reporter notebook and pen went everywhere with me for about three years, maybe four.
The story itself was a family saga spanning three generations of women – Terri, Bethan and Megan. I would love to have shared a little bit of it here but ,despite an extensive search earlier today, I can’t find the box in the loft that has the sixteen reporter notebooks in it. I still have it….somewhere!
There are a lot of parallels between then and now as to why I write.
Basically, it’s an escape from my own reality for a while.
Back then it was an escape from the school bullies and was a way to cope with secondary school. I would sit in a corner at lunchtimes and write. After school, I would walk into town to meet my mum from work. Many an hour was spent sitting writing in her office as I waited on her finishing for the day. I also wrote at night, alone, listening to my music. (I’m still listening to some of the same music to this day!)
Now, it’s a means to relax after a long day and, yes, it’s still an escape from my reality. Yes, it’s still a coping mechanism. If I haven’t written for a few days, I can tell! Those who are close to me can also tell. Occasionally, I will spend a wet lunch hour writing at my desk instead of venturing out for a walk. Mainly, I write at night, alone, listening to my music.
Once I find those reporter notebooks (I wonder where they are hiding?) will anything ever come of the “story”? Highly unlikely but never say never. The first incarnation of Jake Power is actually written in “Megan’s” part of the story. ( I told you he’d been in my head for a very long time….almost thirty years in fact! EEEKK!)
Has my approach to how I write changed since the mid-1980’s? Eh……………..no.
I still write everything long hand in crazy colours of ink. I still need a new notebook and a new pen every time I start a new “long story” or “book baby”.
Now I buy A4 notebooks and tend to buy four or five the same to ensure that each book baby has its own identity. (Book Baby 4 is blue)
I’ll confess…. I’ve already bought the notebooks for Book Baby 5, which will be a Silver Lake tale, too. They’re purple.
If I rounded them up, I’ve probably got enough pens to start a shop! I love pens! Love multi-coloured ink. Even at work in the salt mine I use a Bic pen that has four colour options. No, not blue, black, red and green. Mine has pink, blue, purple and green ink….trademark pen! Lol
Back then, I wrote primarily with a green Berol pen ( I’ve just realised that I’ve picked up a green pen to write the first draft of this blog…some things never change.)
As a teenager, I let very few people read what I wrote. I guess I was terrified that folk would laugh at my story. That instilled a deep rooted fear in me of sharing my words with people. It’s one I still struggle with. Its taken a long time for me to feel even remotely comfortable with sharing my work. A crippling fear for a storyteller.
When I had that Facebook conversation with my old school friend back in October 2010, reflecting back on whether it was Maggie or Megan, little did I know the path I would venture down three short years later.
So, here I am, sitting here reflecting (and procrastinating a tad) on my stories.
If there are any of you reading this who are debating whether to write that book you’ve always dreamed of writing, I have one simple piece of advice. Go for it!
A friend posted a motivational quote on his Facebook wall a few years ago that has always stuck with me, become my mantra almost.
Now pick up that pen ( it doesn’t matter what colour the ink is) and tell your story to the world.
I’ve been reflecting and thinking….. (Oh, no! Here she goes! I hear you cry!)
Life is busy. Life is chaotic. It’s demanding on us mentally and physically. We are overloaded on a daily basis with information thanks to the technology that we have at our fingertips. It’s terrifying the amount of information that we carry around in our pockets without a second thought about it. At the touch of the screen, we can connect with friends all over the world and see snapshots of their lives. Web cams allow us to “peek” live time into cities and beaches and who knows where else the world over. We even have devices in our own homes that we talk to…”Alexa, play songs by….” Sometimes she even does as she’s asked. (My Alexa is developing an attitude)
So, how often do you actually press “pause” and look at the world around you, the real world?
This thought first struck me a few weeks back as I strolled through a largely deserted Dublin on a Sunday morning. It’s struck me a few times since.
Autumn (Fall, if you prefer) is a myriad of colours. Have you even noticed? Did it even cross your mind to look?
I did….. and here’s some of the colours I found.
So, next time you go for a walk, keep your phone in your pocket and look at the world around you instead of the screen. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Back at the end of Dec 2013 I set myself the challenge of posting one blog post each week. It’s a challenge I’ve risen to and, to date, I’ve posted something every week.
This week I’m struggling to find words to post that don’t trivialise the tragic events of the past few days.
Invariably when I seek solace I turn to music and lose myself in the lyrics.
So this week’s blog is song that I’ve sought solace in many times.
Some of you may take the time to play the video link below.
(credits to the owner – sourced from You Tube)
Some of you may prefer to read the lyrics like a poem so I’ve added them below too.
Confession – I have the intended blog post for this week half written but I paused…
The past week has been busy, busy. There’s been incredible highs and one or two lows.
It’s been surreal so it’s time to pause, breathe and reflect.