So it’s a Saturday night, and all of the interesting people are off doing something fun, and that’s fine. I’m sat here, looking at the gnarled and bent forrest’s edge through the window, feeling rather content with my life choices thus far.
At times my choices in life can seem so random and abrupt that there isn’t any logical order to it whatsoever, then as I gaze back, I realise that it couldn’t have happened any other way. It’s as if my brain has already made the decisions to put me on the right path, but patiently waits while I try and do things “My way”.
I have taken risks my whole life to go after whatever it is I thought was most important, and in the end they seem to work out just fine, even if I end up a little bruised and battered by the end of it. That’s fine, scars help others take a glimpse into out lives, like the blurb’s on the backs of books. The information is never extensive, but hopefully compelling enough for you to want to pay attention.
I was thinking the other day about how I haven’t landed on this writing path sooner, and I think it had a lot to do with listening to the wrong people. Career advisors, bad teachers, and bullies are people you should under no circumstances take seriously. Like the blurb of the book, they cannot possibly hope to understand the complexity that is you, but they will try and define its existence all the same.
The difference between a good teacher and a bad one is for me something more than getting you that good grade, it’s communicating with you in such a way that you want to learn more. I have had my experience throughout the years of bad teachers, who seem more interested in helping people who reflect their personal interests and view points, than realising that it’s the ones who struggle and don’t understand that need the most help.
I have locked horns with teachers who didn’t like me, not because of my grades (which were on top form), but because I didn’t appreciate the way they treated people who weren’t their sort of people. I have issues with bullies because I genuinely feel that if given the right incentive and a chance, they can change the world around them. Bullies seem to know this too, and in their petty-minded fear, they seek to belittle and beat that which they cannot control.
The best teachers in my life are those so passionate, that I cannot help but notice, and that goes for everyone in my life. I think everyone has something to contribute and add to the great complexity of life, and in doing so make its infinite chaos that much more enjoyable. Through peoples passion I end up walking around with fresh eyes and a clean soul, wondering why someone hadn’t told me this sooner.
I went to university at Manchester Metropolitan, a polytechnic, and considered by some a lesser university of choice given my college results, but my Molecular biology teacher convinced me that labs were cool. I wanted to go to a lab-based uni, solely on the fact that he had communicated with me in such a way, and I wanted to see if I could make labs cool.
I didn’t. I am terrible in labs, with all the white tables and walls hurting my eyes, and I couldn’t quite full comprehend how to stop contaminating everything. I was a Roald Dahl creation, all elbows and knees, messing everything up. I realised early on that labs were not my port of call, and my attentions lurked elsewhere.
I loved university. A place like no other, filled with people who are confident and considerate enough to want to contribute to the world. Some of the people I have met there have changed the way I see the world, including my partner, who I met incidentally on graduation day.
An awkward affair, where I could do nothing more than smile and stare at my red and white spats, to then mumble as I went on to my seat. Six months later, and several trips here and there, and we finally met up for NYE for that first and most important kiss. I keep thinking of that night, and just how difficult it would be to top such a romantic moment.
There have been a lot of times in my life that I have felt well and truly lost, but whenever I take the time to breathe and look around me, I marvel at how far I have come. Even on days like today, spent scrawling into my Grolier notebook, grinning at how close I am to finishing what is hopefully the last draft of my first novel, I keep finding myself worrying that it’s not quite enough.
Luckily I have a partner who is exactly the same, and there at times when I tell her that she’s allowed to rest if she wants, to which she always points out that I can too. Very smart, and extremely true, but we find ourselves working away in secret, worried about an unlucky future that may or may not come.
I feel happy when I write, and I grin ear to ear whenever someone wants to read my work, or trusts me with a chance to read theirs. Artists are some of the most wonderful people I have encountered in my life, and I think that’s because all they want is a chance to share their interests with as many people as possible.
I have finished the Martian Chronicles, By Ray Bradbury, and I was glad to find that it wasn’t quite how I hoped it would be. I was expecting tales of strangeness, weird incidents, and alien characters. What I found were the words of a man who knew the dangerous power of greed, and the fear to let go by those who wield it.
I read stories which were strange, but not in a novel or new way, more relatable and scary, but cleverly disguised in SCI-FI wrapping. The bitter thoughts and worse comments in “Way Up In The Middle Of The Air” pointed at the calloused nature to those seeking refuge from the plights of extremists, only to feel forced between a choice of freedom of expression and a likely death, or oppression under more “tolerant” western views.
“The Martian” shared the dangers of not being able to let go, and the lengths in which someone will go to keep what they want most indefinitely. And the Final “Million-Year Picnic” tilted the minds lens in such a way that left you wonderfing, whether it is a happy ending or not.
For me a sign of a good artist, writer or otherwise, is someone who can trick you into letting your guard down, and just make sense of the world. Stories that are great are often so because they aren’t about the story themselves, but the hidden thoughts beneath them. Good literature knows no genre, because life works that way. A story is good because it speaks to you and connects you to reading, while a great story makes you apply some of those thoughts to the world around you.
People who tell you what to read are doing so out of fear that they could be wrong, it’s snobbery, and it is more fictional than anything else you’ll find on the shelves. You know what you like, what makes sense to you, and leaves you feeling slightly changed for the better. Don’t ever stop reading what you like just because someone pulls a face when you tell the title, show them the cover, or give its genre.
It took me a lot of battles and arguments that wasted my time to realise that if I wanted to be happy that I had to listen to what was inside. If something makes you happy, and makes you want to do more, you should do it. It’s not always easy, and it can often be difficult, but that’s all part of it. People are always going to tell you that you can’t do it, and maybe that specific way isn’t for you, but keep trying anyway.
It’s not always clear, as you clutch your dreams close to your chest, like a tiny flame in the midst of the storm. You will be tempted to just let go, and find somewhere safe and comfortable. If you do so make sure you’re doing it for yourself, and after you’ve had a little rest and warmed those bones, try again.