Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Monday, 20 April 2009

500 Word Short Story About Me, written for TBJITW

If I don't let this go, it will die in a folder on my computer: dark, lonely, unread and trapped with a load of miserable, angsty old poetry I wrote as a teenager. So I'm opening the cage. No writing deserves to get stuck in electronic eternity with a sonnet about milk bottles.

Fly, my little (salmon) pink bird: fly. 

(Remember as you read that this little bird had to include: personal details, family, background, local area, education, employment history, what is most important to me in life and who I would take to the island. It was not a bird that ever had much room to grow wings, let's put it that way.)

My story starts with a snowflake.             

I was born at midnight on the 7th of December, 1981, and on the same night began the heaviest snow storm the UK had seen in a hundred years. Mum claims that we arrived at exactly the same time - in utter silence - but dad says that if this is true, it is the first and last time either of us has managed to stay quiet for that long.      

Growing up in Welwyn Garden City was no mean feat for an awkward, freckled child who had a habit of wearing white ankle socks and correcting the grammar of adults.  My younger sister - like me in many ways, but two years behind and with sharper teeth - spent most of our childhood trying to bite anyone who commented on my social skills.  It wasn’t until I left school, bought a ticket around the world and returned a year later - with decidedly more freckles, the much needed ability to make friends and no socks at all - that my sister was able to stop fighting.  

The following four years were spent having my grammar re-corrected. 

By the time I left Bristol University with a Masters degree in English, I knew that I actually knew very little; in my graduate job at a top London PR agency, I discovered that I knew even less.  During my two years there, I wrote a lot, met some of my best friends and drank far, far too much coffee. 
Which was great fun, but somehow not quite enough.  Dreams are like teenagers: they make a lot of background noise, but if you leave them to their own devices they’ll sit on the sofa, doing nothing and shouting at you when you’re in a different room trying to focus on something else. Seven months ago - when the din finally became unbearable - I resigned from my job and moved home to write the novel that had been hollering at me for as long as I could remember. Which has made me happy and fulfilled, if considerably poorer. 

What matters most to me are the things that have led me to where I am now: family, courage, and the energy to always prod my dreams when they’re getting too lazy to move.  To never ignore them, even if it’s easier.  To get them off the sofa and out of the house, even if I’m scared of what will happen when they leave. 

The island job is my next dream: one that the people I love would regularly visit. But it’s also a dream that would give me the space and opportunity to continue writing, and the freedom to keep making new friends (perhaps losing my socks again in the process).  So it would be a dream I would go into alone to begin with.  As most dreams are. 

And who knows? 

This story started with a snowflake.  Maybe the next one will begin with a grain of sand.