“I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.”

A few months ago, Angelle posted a lovely piece called ‘Why I Write‘. Reading the post and all the comments that followed it, it was so nice to see all these people that had the same kinds of feelings and motivations as me, people that I could really relate to, as it was never something I ever talked about with friends. I sometimes feel like, even if you’re not very good at it, writing is this really visceral thing, and that if it’s in you – and I mean really in you – you have no choice but to do it. It’s somehow both the most cathartic and exasperating thing you can do. It’s almost masochistic. But, really, would you have it any other way?

I have been writing since the moment I learnt how. Reading and writing were literally my favourite things to do as a child. Sure, a bit of colouring was nice for those rare moments where I wanted to switch off my mind, because, let’s be honest, what do you really get out of colouring? Maybe I was just bitter because I couldn’t draw for shit, but that ish was for babies; I was a grown up because I had all the words. I clearly didn’t subscribe to this ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ idea, because, you know what else is worth a thousand words? Yep, a thousand words. I didn’t understand why almost no one else in my class found it as exciting as I did. With age, I have obviously come to understand that there’s more than this one creative outlet, but when I was a kid, it genuinely baffled me why anyone would want to do anything else.

I started with writing about writing. I had a little Hello Kitty notebook that was full of Mr Men and Little Miss book reviews, because fuck reviewing Biff, Chip, and Kipper. I would rehash the plot, and then use up to three ‘describing words’ to illustrate how I really felt about it. My mum was the only person who would read them, after I badgered her to, but I was okay with that. Everyone knew how the books went, I just felt like my opinion was worth being recorded. Some things never change, eh?

Writing about writing quickly turned into writing about everything after I watched Harriet The Spy. Yes, I watched the movie before I read the book – I was, like, six or seven years old, I didn’t even know there was a book. Let’s just take a minute to remember how awesome both were, though, shall we? It spoke to me on every level I had. It was the first time I realised that writing was something I could do. I could have my own words, not just write about other people’s. In the movie, Harriet says, ‘I want to learn everything I can, and I write down everything I see. Golly says if I want to be a writer someday, I better start now, and that is why I am a spy.’ So, naturally, I became a spy, too. So, off I went with one of my little Hello Kitty notebooks (we’d given them out in party bags and had shit loads spare) and I wrote down everything I saw. I was never without that notebook. I would sit on the stairs and listen to my parents’ conversations, scribbling down anything I thought I could later use as ammunition against them. I would sit in my classes and watch all the other kids; I’d write down which ones were picking their noses and sticking the evidence under their desks, who was talking to who about what, who was getting in trouble for using an ink eraser – you know, all that really important stuff. Luckily, unlike Harriet, I never got caught.

Then, through school and through reading more, I caught the fiction bug. It was fucking glorious. Nothing had ever felt so right in my little life. Like most kids, I had a crazy imagination and, up until then, I had channelled it into playtime. Not to brag or anything, but the games I started for my group of friends would turn into whole class shindigs within two lunchtimes. I was that good. So, once I understood how to turn all the thoughts in my mind into something tangible, so that I could truly share them with other people, I was all over it. I wrote short stories, I wrote plays, and I wrote fucking poetry. We all had a poetry phase, didn’t we? My house is full of shit like this:

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Let’s just take a minute to appreciate that I thought my play was worth £19.99

It started with stories about princesses and the like, but, as I got older, everything got a little bit more sinister. When I was in Year 6 I wrote a story about a woman being skinned alive and her killer using her intestines as a skipping rope. My parents may have been a little too liberal with the remote. It got to the point where someone would always die in whatever I was writing. I really couldn’t tell you why, though. In retrospect, I think maybe I thought that if I broached the subject of death, my writing would feel more ‘grown up’. I hated my voice. Everything I wrote felt like a child had written it. I wanted to write something that I would want to read, but that just wasn’t what I was producing. When I was 14, my English teacher, a woman I really admired, told me that I was writing about things that I was too young to understand, and that my content and voice were too mature. It was exactly what I wanted to hear, but in a negative light. I was too young to properly understand what she was saying, and even though I really looked up to her, I basically ignored all her advice and carried on with what I was doing.

Then, when I was at a new school with a new English teacher that didn’t know me, and the time came to do our creative writing coursework for our GCSEs, I was hella nervous. I tried to tone it all down a bit, I mean, someone obviously died at the end, but the rest of it was very hopeful. I handed it in and was pretty sure I’d done alright, but when everyone was getting their pieces back, I didn’t get one. Instead, she told me to wait and see her after class. I was scared shitless. I thought I had failed the whole thing. I thought I was going to bring shame on my ancestors. Who fails English?! It was the longest lesson of my entire life. Eventually, it ended and I went up to talk to her about why she had kept my paper. It turned out that I had gotten full marks and she wanted to question me about it because she thought I had plagiarised my whole story. She asked me where I got the idea for it, where I got the ideas for the names of the characters and why I was making pop culture references that were fifty years before my time. It was so surreal. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or insulted. I knew that, ultimately, she was praising me, but I didn’t believe her because I still hated my voice so much.

You know that feeling where everything you put to paper is just disgusting and you don’t know why you bother? I had that. All. The. Time. I couldn’t catch a break. So, instead of pushing through, I slowly started to give up. Then I went to university and writing became about essays and free time became about being drunk. I completely stopped writing for me. I told myself I was too busy to write stories, but, in reality, I had shit loads of time. I could’ve written a bloody novel. I’d just fucked up my priorities and confused being drunk with being happy.

I started up this blog after all my schooling was done, because as soon as my thesis was written, I missed writing. There was nothing left that I had to write. I’m not brave enough to share my fiction, but I wanted to put something out there. I wanted to find my voice and I wanted to share it. I’m not the most vocal person in real life, I don’t know how to express my feelings or show what I’m thinking, but I know how to do this. Maybe not very well, I don’t know, you can decide that. But, honestly, it’s the best decision I’ve made. I started writing fiction again, and it’s the only thing in my life right now that makes me really happy. I still fucking hate my voice, but it makes me really happy, and that’s all we really want, isn’t it?

Angelle asked, so I figure I should, too – why do you write?

The Men That May Have Been

As I’ve said before, I’m definitely one to jump on the bandwagon. After seeing posts by The Shit Show That Is My Life and Emily over at Incurably Curious on the ones that got away, I got to thinking about any fellas that I may have let slip through my fingers.

At first I drew a total blank, because, let’s face it – if the opportunity’s there, I’m probably gonna take it. However, after thinking about it for two weeks, I came to the conclusion that men generally get away because I never know if I actually want them or not. So, this is more the men that I was unsure about or too much of a pussy to go for..

The Dimpled Aryan

There was a boy in my year at primary school who all the girls fancied; he was blonde with blue eyes and looked like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. We were the only two kids in our class with dimples, so we were obviously soulmates – except for the fact that I couldn’t stand him. In a class of 30, it’s hard not to know who everyone is, but everyone knew who this boy was. He was incredibly athletic and it was obvious that he would grow to be a good looking man – he just wasn’t that bright. I, on the other hand, was awkwardly tall for my age, kind of a lone wolf, and in all the ‘advanced’ sets that got to go out to the hut to be taught by the Headmistress. We were very different, but we used to hang out because he lived next door to my sister’s best friend and I wanted to hang out with his big sister. I was in awe of her. She was a ridiculously pretty ballerina with long blonde hair – basically like a human Barbie to me – and I just wanted to be her. The blue eyed boy was my in.

When we were in Year One, I was at his house and we were playing in the garden whilst my sister was next door with her friend. One thing lead to another and.. Just kidding. He did show me his willy, though. It was supposed to be an ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ type situation, but obviously I pussied out/was mortified by the whole idea. Then, before I knew it, our whole year was talking about how he and I were naked on the trampoline together. Six year olds love a good sex scandal.

Although the kid never flashed me again, this general kind of fuckery carried on for the next five years. When my Year 6 teacher decided that we’d no longer be seated according to our ability, guess who I ended up next to. This was also the year that I started to fill that elusive ‘tall, chubby Asian’ niche and started to wear glasses, and the year that he started to wear gel in his hair and, I kid you not, developed a six pack. We were very different, yet he still sang Nelly’s Hot In Herre to me every day. As much as I enjoyed being told to take off all my clothes on a daily basis, it just wasn’t happening.

Naturally, he did grow to be a good looking man – but he is also a massive chav now. Oh, and his sister? She looks like an extra from The Only Way Is Essex. No, thank you.

The Jew

I can’t tell you how this gangly 6’4″ man child entered through the peripheries of our friendship group, but I can tell you I was deeply unhappy about it. We clashed like Jay-Z and Solange in a New York elevator. It took over a year of outright hostility from me before we came to realise that it was less a case of us clashing, and more a case of us being ridiculously similar. Somehow, through the sheer fact that we were both massive The Big Lebowski fans and had an unparalleled love of Firefly (were huge geeks, basically), we fell into a really weird friendship that was constantly misread.

Our friendship really took off when I started my first year of University. We would talk every day and when I came home drunk we would either Skype or talk on the phone. In retrospect, I can see why it looked like something may have been going on, but, at the time, I was livid that people would even think it. And not just that they would think it, but that they would think it and openly discuss it. Constantly.

I won’t lie – there were a few incidents that lead people to this conclusion. Like that New Year’s he took off my bra and hung it on a lamppost. Or that time he got in the car with the boys and drove two hours in the middle of the night to see me. Although I was incredibly naive back then, I still think I was right when I would say over and over again that it was just friendly. But, having the emotional awareness of a dildo, I started to get really fucking confused by everything that everyone around me was saying. I didn’t understand my feelings, or anyone else’s – so maybe they were right when they told me what we felt?

Anyway, it all blew up one messy, messy night in Brighton where I was running around the streets with no shoes on and racing head first into glass windows. He wasn’t there, but our mutual bestie was. I remember absolutely nothing from the night, but from what I’m told, he alluded to the fact that The Jew liked me, and I apparently let on that I may have felt similarly.

I call bullshit on the whole thing, though. Our fucking meddling friends fucked with my mind. I’ll admit it, it was kind of a pseudo-sexual relationship, but it was SO innocent. Obviously nothing ever happened. He got a crazy whore girlfriend and we drifted apart. I can’t tell you how glad I am, though, because he is dull as fuck and super weird now. Oh well.

The Seminar Leader

He was my first year ‘Foundations of Human Culture’ seminar leader and, despite the Jesus sandals he would wear, I really fancied him. I loved him from our first class when he asked who had watched Dexter that week and we had a five minute chat about it. I loved him even more when I realised how smart he was and how passionate about anthropology he seemed to be. There’s literally nothing more sexy than listening to a man who really knows what he’s talking about. His intelligence was captivating and he was young and fun – he was so perfect to me.

The upside of this compulsory module that I had no interest in was that we got to go on a trip to a wildlife park so that we could study the non-human primates. Basically, it was a day off to go look at monkeys. As it was fairly near the start of the year, I hadn’t really made any friends on my course – I’m not kidding when I say I’m shy and awkward. So, there I was, wandering around the park by myself, struggling with my worksheet and spilling coffee on my clothes when my knight in Jesus sandals sidled up beside me and asked if I needed any help. It was awesome. He was like my own personal David Attenborough. We walked around for hours and I mainly listened to him talk about intellectual things and it was magical.

There were literally so many private places that we could have snuck off to, but I was not always the brave and daring sexual opportunist I am today, so, nothing happened. I don’t think I even flirted, to be honest. The day came to an end and we got on the coach to take us back to campus. Two months later, he failed me on my first paper. What a cunt.

The Travelling Welshman

I have an uncle who lives in Berlin; the Welshman is one of his best friends. When I first met him, I must have been around 16 or 17 years old and I found him fascinating. He was old, and too short for me, but he was so interesting and kind that I would just hang on his every word. He was a craftsman – so naturally that was just sexy in and of itself – and he would work in Berlin for periods of time to save up some cash, then sub-let his apartment and go travelling for months at a time. I was young and he was the first person I’d met who was so travelled and the inner anthropologist in me found his extensive cultural knowledge to be mesmerising. But, alas, he had a girlfriend.

When I was 19, however, he did not. We (myself, my sister and uncle, the Welshie and a few other Berliners) had decided to hit the bars where they lived in Prenzlauer Berg (my uncle was nowhere near trendy enough to live here), and, as always seems to be the case in Berlin, things escalated and we ended up in a club, drinking and dancing inappropriately. The Welshman and I found ourselves in a separate room, flirting outrageously and grinding up on each other. It got to the point where our faces were millimetres apart before we simultaneously realised that it was an awful idea and just backed away from each other without a word. I think he thought my uncle would kill him if he ever found out, and I just didn’t want to get with an old dude.

A year or so later I lost my virginity on a yoga mat in his apartment, but that’s another story for another time.