Saturday, January 14, 2012

Life Moves Pretty Fast

I've been going through a rather reflective period of my life, of late. Okay, so I actually mean for the last six months or so, but who's counting? (Yes, I am... it's actually more than six months.) It's had me look at things in a different way, both friendships and this thing I call my writing career.

Way back in July, I got bored. I started to write a novel called Bliss (Have I mentioned that before?) as part of Camp NaNoWriMo. About half-way through the month, I stopped writing. I figured it wasn't worth it. I mean, I loved the book, but part of me just didn't see the point in trying to write it. To put it bluntly, that part of me considered giving up writing altogether.

I finally got my head on straight towards the end of the month, and in defiance to that niggling doubt ten days earlier, I started to write Bliss again, picking up where I left off. Four days later, I finished the required fifty thousand words for the month. More than half of that was written in the four days.

When I realised I could write pretty quickly and that, yes, things were worth pursuing, my head started going all over the place. I immediately set up the account that would host the foundations of my website.  Over the following month and a half, I got to work on articles, poems and a short story to put on the website. I enquired about newsletters and hosting and all the fun stuff that make websites fun, but they had to be free for the public (i.e. the people looking at the site) and affordable for me to justify the expense.

However, it was still only the start of August when a link to an article was posted on Twitter. I read the article, thought 'That was fun', then noticed two words down the bottom of the page: Writers wanted. I tweeted the writer of the article, he told me about the site - turns out he's the editor - and later that day, after my exceptionally nerdy cover letter, I had a job at The Phantom Zone. Go figure. In three days, I had finished an impossible fifty thousand words, begun work on my website and had my first ever writing job.

I thought, life just got pretty strange. And continued on as well as I could.

I wrote a play. Between getting the writing job and writing a few articles for it, and a month into college, I had gotten the whole play written and edited, which was no simple task considering what it's about (you know, depression, suicide... the usual stuff a debut play should be about!). That should have been enough for me, to have written my very first play. But no. I handed it in to someone wanting to direct it.

It's going on stage in a couple of months. What? I mean, what?! That made October pretty strange.

Of course, the fun was only really beginning. I edited a novella I wrote in the summer of 2010, Stepping Forward, and put up a sample download on my website. That same website, with the download, went live on September 11th 2011. The date was significant for the release only because of when I would be going back to the college (i.e. the 12th!). Go forward three months, and Stepping Forward was available in its entirety for download on Smashwords. During that week, I was also interviewed about the book.

In November (yes, I'm going back and forth, but things don't just happen overnight in my life, most of the time!), having gotten back from Taizé in France, I decided I would give NaNoWriMo an attempt. I didn't have a full month, I had a lot of work to do for college, and I had an unfinished manuscript. I resolved to finish Bliss. Thirty thousand words later, the first draft was done.

Come up to January, and I'm teaching. Now, part of this is to write reflective statements, but I don't really care very much for them. The teaching part was significant, though. I didn't think I would be able to do it. I thought the syllabus was much too complicated for me, but when I went into the class and kids began to learn things - and I mean, they were remembering dates and names for Judaism and the consequences of the Schism and taking a huge interest in Islam and all that other fun stuff - I really started to believe in myself as a teacher.

Of course, I did say this post was also about friends. So, significantly, I spent more time talking to friends in college. I have an awful habit of vanishing on people in college, I should add, so I was glad to be able to talk to people properly. Not only that, but taking part in Drama again meant I made yet more friends (the Drama Society has a way of doing that!). Add in the Writers' Soc and my inherent boredom in the morning, and through one mature student in first year I met over half a dozen others.

There's something to be said about mature students. Generally, they don't do clubs and socs. Generally, there are a few who just barely hit the over 23 mark and a lot more who are in their forties. These ones are mostly in their twenties. (Immediately less terrifying, because none of them are old enough to be my mother!) Since they didn't take part in any of the clubs or socs I did, I only really got to know them through proper human interaction. Mostly this was while blocking the smoke from a couple of cigarettes with a cup of tea (what can I say, I favour conversation over health - I just hate the taste of smoke!), but it meant I got to know some people who had a lot of real life experience (which you can only get after leaving school, unfortunately) and who made the decision to come back to college.

What this meant for my social life - which largely doesn't include a nightlife, because of the exhaustion of trying to keep up with third year and everything else I do, while having parents call me to come home for dinner - was that I had about a dozen new people in my life who were all that little bit quirky. (I have a theory that unless you're one of the ladz (yes, with a 'z') or you're a girl who loves shopping and WKD, you need to be a little bit quirky to survive my college. I'm more than a little bit quirky, but that's aside the point.

Now, remember that boredom I mentioned? The boredom back in July? Well, it was because I'd lost contact with a friend. (Boredom was the preferred mood, trust me.) Well, that same friend called me recently (okay, at four in the morning, and then again a couple of days later at twenty to six in the morning) and it's made me pause and think about life (hence this post.) During the first call, he had been watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If you're seen the film, you know the iconic line:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Consider me looking around. I can't complain about life. Sure, there's always going to be something that could go wrong, but I've gotten to a point where I can deal with that sort of stuff, where it doesn't have to put everything on hold. (The teaching puts everything on hold, but that's expected when it's worth half my degree...) I'm happy, I've released a book, my play is going on stage, I have a writing job and my own website, and I have a whole load of fantastic friends to give me a reason to do it all, so I can finally show them and myself that I can do this.

Ferris Bueller, you're my hero.

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