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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Judging a Book by Its Cover

I have always thought of myself as quite open-minded and non-judgemental but yesterday I had to call this into question. Basically, it was my view on CHAVs - I'm almost ashamed to say that I have the typical view of them: bad dressers; mouthy; rude; pain the arse teenagers. Yesterday I went to the park with some friends, we were sitting on the swings when a teenage girl came up to us and joined us on the final swing. She was wearing tracksuits tucked into her socks and when she opened her mouth her voice and choice of words screamed CHAV at me. What followed was a very interesting conversation between her and my friend John who is a 'alternative' - it was mainly about what he was wearing and what he believed. At no point did she judge him, though she disagreed with some of his beliefs, and yes, she did refer to him as a goth.

But then she said something that made me stop and think. To her friend, waiting on his bike, she said "At least they're polite, it's that whole you can't judge a book by a cover and all that, innit." I think that's more-or-less word for word accurate. And I realised that I had been judging her. As soon as she had come over I had gone on hyper alert, expecting her to become violent or just be unreasonably rude, and hadn't given her the benefit of the doubt. Realising this I thought back, and was ashamed at my attitude, as she had done nothing wrong, she had simply been interested in John's approach to life - trying to open her own mind. So I congratulate her: on her confidence and her openness and for not judging us. As she said "We are all who we are, no point being someone else, is there?"

Friday, 25 September 2009

That's 'nice'

I was watching Loose Women today and up came the debate about the word 'nice'. Apparantly, Michael Palin has voiced that he hates being described as 'nice' and therefore is going to change his image. This immediately reminded me of school. One of my English teachers, I can't remember which, really hated that word. And this prejudice has stuck - proof that sometimes things stick for years after they are taught.

Basically, I won't use the word 'nice' if I can help it, I'll find any other word to fit the bill. That word is bad - incidentally another one of those never use words. These words don't describe anything. They are bland and unimaginative. And as a writer, I feel they are way overused (probably by myself as much as I hate to admit it), and is simply proof of laziness. Surely you would rather the dinner you cooked was delicious/tasty/mouth-watering rather than simply 'nice'.

Words are a writers bread and butter - I know this phrase has been used over and over - but it's true. So think about the words you use to describe things, and if you get stuck, turn to a thesauras and learn some new way of explaining exactly what you mean, rather than sticking to the boring bland good/bad/nice which have very limited meaning.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Aiming for the top

I have always been told to follow my dreams, aim for the top and reach for the stars. But it occurred to me that perhaps that isn't always the best way to go through life. Of course dreams and hopes are important - they are what keep us going, make us live day to day, and what makes us human. But if everyone spent all their time and effort into making it to the very top, the world would become chaos. No one would have any regard for anyone else's feelings and certainly not for their dreams. We would be treading on each other left, right and centre. But it's apparant that not everyone is like that (I'm not going to say no one is like that as we all know that that would be a flat out lie). Then again, surely it depends on what your dreams are, as we don't all share the same ones.

My dream is to be published, but to be honest I want more than that - I want to be a bestseller, I want everyone to have heard of my book and of me, I want money and fame. Well for starters I don't have anything to be published - yet (I'm working on it). Not because I don't have the ideas, or the talent or the time. But because I'm not using even half my potential. I find I have better things to do - like dream and imagine about when I get to the top. But that's not of any use to me. I can't write a bestseller just by dreaming of it happening.

The main problem I have though is that I want to aim for the very top - I want my book to be a bestseller and to reach millions. And this thought alone scares me. How am I supposed to live up to what everyone else is writing? I'm worried I won't find a publisher let alone have my book at the top of the reviewers list. And so I don't even start. The fear of failing is holding me back. The little voice in the back of my mind which perhaps isn't so little, is telling me that it's reach the top or fail. Basically - if my dream is achieved to its fullness I will have failed. Even though my common sense knows better, that voice is still there; stopping me from starting.

Now that I've realised this, I am going to stop worrying and start writing. Afterall, I can't let my fears stop me from trying. Because in reality, just finishing a first draft of a novel, or having a short story published will be a big success for me - simply because it will be proof that I've done something. If I never write anything then I can't call myself a writer and I'll never know if my dream is achievable as, to use a wellworn phrase, the race can't be won if it's not raced.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Gift

This morning as I was watching the end of series 5 of Buffy (episode - the Gift) something occurred to me. It wasn't so much as was it a gift that Buffy receives or a gift that she gives to the world, but more of a does it matter?

In my eyes, Buffy jumping off the scaffolding to save the world is a purely selfish act. She doesn't do it to save the world, but more that she doesn't want Dawn to die, as she would have to live with this. Granted, she probably doesn't want the world to end either but more because she would have to deal with it rather than what it is doing to everyone else. Summed up - Buffy dies as it's the easier, less painful option for herself. But in the end, it's the same result - the world is saved and Buffy is a hero (or heroine technically). So does it matter if she only did it through selfish reasons - does that change the act? Is intent the most important thing or is the end result the most important?

Personally, I believe that the result is more important than the intent. This of course only applies when everyone can live with the result and the result is in the best interest generally speaking. Though, being a relatively selfish person myself, I have to admit that this goes completely to pot when the result isn't as predicted - then, suddenly, intent becomes everything. (Granted, this is just to save my own back - like I said - selfish.)

I also believe that everyone dies ,so in the grand scheme of things, nothing we do actually matters. So long as you can live with your choices and stick to them, not regretting, life can become so much more pleasurable. Regret, in my book, takes up too much time and energy, so now I just enjoy life as it comes and leave the past in the past - or use it as ideas for my writing - the present is what matters, nothing else exists.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

A Walk to the Park ... or Not

Today I went for a walk with my bf. I have recently moved to a new part of town (finally sharing a house with friends rather than living in uni halls which I hated) and thought that having a random wander might be the best way to enjoy my new surroundings. I knew there was a park nearby and so we left with the theory that we could try and find it. Honestly, I wasn't that bothered.

Of course, thanks to my M.E I can't completely enjoy the freedom of random walks as I have to be aware of how far I am from somewhere where I can completely rest if it gets too much. The las thing I want is to be stranded, lost and unable to walk any further.

Perhaps that is the reason I have such great sense of direction. And I'm not actually bragging about that - it might take me a moment to work out how to get back but I usually know which direction to head in, even if I can't tell you the exact roads you should be going on.

So we went for the walk. We had a short discussion about which way the park was (as it happens, we never made it to the park but I still believe I was right'ish'). He was worried that we might get lost, but as I've said I have good sense of direction. Also, I kind of wanted to get lost. That was the whole point of the escapade. To find somewhere new and not need to worry about where we were going or how we were going to get back. I knew that I wouldn't get really lost unless I wanted to, I wanted to enjoy the walk. Once I worked that out, the walk became much more enjoyable, more of a ramble with decent company.

But it also got me thinking about life. So many of us start life with a plan, an exact route to follow, like a road map (did I mention he wanted to google the directions). Of course, this philosophy is fine if it all goes to plan, but when something unexpectedly crops up, we become lost. I am not suggesting we start blindly stepping into life - though that's how it can often feel - but become more flexible with our plans. Don't assume that you can dictate your life, if you do this, you'll miss the scenery and to be honest, I feel that's kind of a waste. In the end we all die. (OK, so that may have been excessively blunt but it's true.) The point to life isn't to get to the finishing line with everything, but to enjoy everything that is happening at the time. I realise that if you're depressed, or something not that great is happening at the moment, this will seem harsh - how are you supposed to enjoy it? Again, I don't mean 'enjoy' in the sense of enjoyment, more in the sense of allowing yourself to notice everything and take it as it comes, learning from experiences and actually experiencing them rather than closing off and only focusing on what you want. By all means do this, but don't panic when it goes wrong and certainly don't forget to see the scenery.

Saturday, 19 September 2009


The latest craze for anyone who enjoys writing is to be found at where you write, comment and challenge with stories. The catch? Each story must be 1024 characters or less - this is actually more than you might realise. Although the site is far from completion it has many users, with the same faces popping up constantly, enough that you can feel a real community growing - a feeling which is enhanced by the ability to leave comments and write prequels and sequels to other user's contributions. There is also the challenge page - my personal favourite part of the site. Users initiate challenges and then judge the entries themselves, not only does this give you the chance to compete against other writers in an informal and friendly way, but provides ideas and sparks the imagination.

I highly recommend this site for anyone who feels that they just don't have time in the day for their writing. Due to the short space you won't necessarily spend hours creating it (though of course there is nothing to stop you doing this), there are no other limits and the vibe from reading other works will make you want to start typing. Find me there at:, if you join, please leave a link in the comments for all to enjoy your work (and please excuse the fact that I have somehow managed to publish the same story twice - I can't work out how to delete the spare - if you know, please leave me a comment).

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Guilty Shoes

Every woman I know has something in her wardrobe that hasn't been worn, or something she has only worn the once and never taken out since. For me, it's a pair of sandals. Simply put, I don't like them. They technically weren't an impulse buy but more of a rebound buy. The sandals I really liked didn't fit, but I still needed a pair, and so I ended up with the second choice. I have worn them once, and that was more just to please my mother - she was there when I bought them and so she knows exactly how much I spent on them - the guilt just piles up. I have to admit that the guilt is worse simply because I'm worried about what my mum will think. However, when I was packing up for uni this year, I chose to leave them; partially because I didn't have space in my bag but also because I was taking a breath and making a decision on my own, leaving the guilty party behind me, and simply moving on. Granted, I'm not quite up to the point where I could give them to charity (I might like them next year) but I made the first step to getting rid of things I don't really need. So I have given myself a pat on the back, I believe I deserve it - make your own decision but stop being so hard on yourself - would you treat your friends like that? (I mean, I hope you would be supportive of them as you should be to yourself, not giving them away).

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Rushing Through Life

As a student on my summer vacation, it could be presumed that I am doing nothing. And in fairness, that's probably how it appears to most people. I stay at home most days (not by choice - I have M.E and going out a lot is just not an option) and watch t.v, read, blog, neopets, facebook, crafts, occasionally write and that's pretty much it. But I still feel that I'm rushing through my life; all the time I am constantly thinking about what I will do next, and for how long, and what after that, but I need to that, but I'd rather do that - and you see where I'm going with this. My mind is constantly on. Even when I'm sitting or laying still, I am always thinking about what else I will be doing. Even now I am watching 'My Family', and doing many things online and am thinking about how much I want to finish the book I am reading. But I am still rushing - I am not enjoying it as much as if I completely stopped and did one thing at a time and put all of my mind on it, I assume. In fact, I have managed to slow down to that extent once or twice and it was better, and induced much better rest, but I don't often achieve it as there's just so much to do.

This got me thinking about how our society always rushes through everything. We are full of clocks, alarms, timetables and calenders. We pack our schedules so as to stop ourselves getting bored and in the process manage to completely tire ourselves out and so therefore don't enjoy anything we have achieved anyway. Even walking through town, you will notice how most people are walking very fast and, ok, so some of them have places to be, the rest of them just feel the need to speed around the shops as quick as possible and pack everything in. Try walking slow and see how hard it is not to get knocked to the floor - tip, if you do try this you might want to hold your head high if you don't actually want to be walked in to (from experience). So slow down your life, even if it's just for 30mins of focus on one thing and see just how much more relaxed you feel.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Poke, Yellow Car, No Returns

Lately I have been playing the poke, yellow car game - most frequently with the bf. It's not like I'm specifically looking out for the yellow cars but I see them and have to poke someone, and he's usually the person who happens to be next to me. I know some people feel the need to punch but I severely hate anyone who does - not only because it hurts, but because part of the reason to play the game is to resurrect a part of my childhood. I love acting silly every now and again - it takes the strain out of life, not to mention that everyone wishes they could stay young forever. Playing poke, yellow car, almost has the same effect as telling someone YOU HAVE JUST LOST THE GAME - something I seem to be doing a lot lately. Keeping the fun in life is paramount to enjoying life - and you only get one (at least in my belief) so no need to make it all about succeeding and money.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Not Enough Time in the Day

I often find that I plan the day ahead in my mind but will only manage to complete half, or less, of what I originally intended to get done. I never seem to have time to do anything anymore. But then I actually assess my day and realise that that is one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever made. I don't have time, but that is because I spend my time staring at a computer screen full of games, watching my favourite television shows over and over, reading books, sometimes I even manage ten minutes of tidying. I never have time to write. (Though I'm fully aware that that's because I do something else instead, anything to put off actually putting pen to paper). I am a chronic time waster. I do believe that part of this is caused by my having M.E. but I am also sure that it has something to do with the fact that there is simply too much to distract us. We have facebook, cinema, computer games, and I'm sure you can think of many other things you do that have no purpose other than to take us away from the lives we lead. Are our lives that bad that we need distractions to get from one day to the next? Do we all hate our lives? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for relaxation and recreation but maybe not to the excess that I, for one, live with. The problem is I just can't seem to stop doing these things, I have a compulsion to find out what happens in the next episode of Buffy (even though I've seen the show many many times), to make sure nothing too exciting has happened in the few hours I haven't been on facebook, and the time just flies. I'll start tomorrow with the same belief that I start every day with - today I'll be productive and actually do something, and you never know, I might actually do something.