Bolt Upright

The persistent itch that drives me to write something can sometimes be a difficult one to scratch. Many of my new ideas pop into my head at the most inconvenient times, in the dead of night or when I’m already pre-occupied. Otherwise, I can find myself attempting to scrape the bottom of the barrel out of pure desperation, and that only tends to produce mediocre results. I’ve recently come to the realisation that my usual sitting position can’t help matters much either. I write most of these posts slumped on the sofa in the living room, and whilst that might be one of the more comfortable ways of achieving productivity, it’s much better to be sat upright at the kitchen table, as I am right now.

I am level with the laptop keyboard – neither straining upwards nor bending down to reach it. That in turn means that I am relaxed, alert and focused on what I want to say. I recently saw a Facebook post that said:

“If you’re reading this, release your shoulders from your ears, unclench your jaw and remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth. We physically tend to hold onto stress in the least noticeable ways. Relax.”

I took a moment to do all of those things and, sure enough, I did notice a difference. I could breathe easier and felt just a little less weight on my shoulders. It might not be stress that I bottle up when I’m struggling to write on the sofa, but it must surely be the case that sitting at the table with renewed focus has relieved some degree of tension, allowing this post and the ideas within it to flow more freely onto the page. Who would have thought that the kitchen could provide such a useful writing desk?

Mason

 

 

 

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Things I Wish I Knew As a Teenager

​I’ve been an adult for a little while now and have spent some time learning a little bit about just what that means. Having said that, though, I’ve also had time to reflect on my time spent as a teenager. So here’s a few things I wish I knew back then.

1. People will bitch and backstab and gossip. As will you. Don’t take it to heart.

2. Work hard and save as much as you can. Trust me, you’ll need it.

3. Everyone has struggles. Everyone has their shit. Some just hide it better than others.

4. You don’t have to do things or squash yourself down just to fit in.

5. Before you stress about something, consider if it’ll matter in five years’ time.

6. Take pictures. Every chance you get. Everyone you love. You will treasure them.

7. It’s okay to not like things everyone else likes. And vice versa.

8. It doesn’t matter if you’re popular, unpopular or somewhere in between. It doesn’t make a blind bit of difference the minute you’re out of school and into the real world.

9. Find your passion and don’t let anyone laugh at you for it.

10. It’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life. I’ve already changed the career I was working towards three times, and gone back into education twice since A-Levels.

11. Honesty really is the best policy. People value it and you’ll value it in other people.

12. No one has it all figured out. I don’t now, and I doubt I will when I’m 80. That’s just life, I guess.

Emily

Ironic Sadness

Recently, I was asked to name one or more of my pet hates by a friend. Aside from the obvious things we all hate – racism, sexism, homophobia, snobbery and the like – every single one of my peeves escaped from my mind at that very moment. I definitely have them, but I couldn’t think of them when they were needed. I was, however, reminded of a particularly elusive pet hate through a chance remark someone made in front of the TV soon afterwards. As a Mastermind contestant sat down in the show’s famous black leather chair, they revealed their chosen specialist subject to the host, and it was to this that my companion uttered two highly infuriating words: “That’s sad”.

Upon hearing this, I felt an instant hot flush of anger. Sad? How dare you! To suggest such a thing is to fail miserably at looking big or clever, and to ruthlessly belittle someone else’s passion. Yes, there are plenty of differences between us, and we might struggle to understand what other people see in their respective areas of interest, but it is immature and needlessly disrespectful to criticise them for enjoying what they do. The mentality that leads someone to do this must be of the “glass half-empty” variety, and incredibly cynical. I pity those who are like this. Wouldn’t it be much better for them to listen and learn about what they don’t know rather than dismiss it immediately? Let’s not forget that this would have an added bonus, in that you’d be indulging their enthusiasm whilst doing so. What’s not to like? Above all, make sure you remember that the people who are unlucky enough to be ridiculed as “sad” are actually – and very ironically – the exact opposite. They will engage with whatever they love the most regardless of where they are or who might be watching, and it’s all because they’re not sad in the slightest. They’re drunk on pure, undiluted passion, the best possible natural high. There can never be enough of those in life, so if you don’t have anything nice to say when you witness them, don’t say anything at all. Especially nothing so childish!

Mason

 

 

 

Sometimes Streamlined

As a pair of budding writers, Will and I often discuss the ways in which we hone our craft. He does so in his screenwriting degree (being in his third and final year already), while I do so mainly here, on this blog for all of you. I find the idea that each writer has their own individual style very interesting, because – in my case at least – it was developed subconsciously. Not for one minute did I think “I want to write in this way” or “I want people to take this from what I write”. I obviously never fully recognised what was influencing me in each piece of work, but it was there, albeit in a behind-the-scenes role that almost allowed my supposed style to shape itself. But is it the same for others? What are their styles, and do they come about in the same way, or are they more consciously designed?

Before I go any further, I should explain how this train of thought came about. It actually emerged from a “senior moment” for Will, if I can call it that. When we were exchanging our latest opinions on one another’s writing, he happened to enquire after a blog post I had written comparing our respective styles. The only problem was that it didn’t exist – but I swiftly decided that perhaps it should. So, upon announcing this post’s imminent arrival, I asked Will again what he thought the differences between us were as writers. In a nutshell, he believes trial and error is at the heart of his own creative process. When he is writing a script, the dialogue he uses will most likely come spontaneously, but everything else he writes is derived from his own personality. “I often don’t know how my sentence is going to end as I’m starting it,” he says of the way in which he talks. He redrafts, of course, but you never quite know what the destination of his material is going to be – and that’s what makes it such a rollercoaster ride to read, with comedy and drama often in unequal measure.

The fact that Will was able to properly explain his writing style would suggest that he’s been able to actively build it to some extent. I, however, have much less control over the direction of what I produce. I told Will that whenever someone compliments my style I never quite know how to respond, because although I appreciate the fact they like it, I have no idea what I actually did! I suppose it’ll always be interesting to keep on finding out. “You seem to analyse every word you write,” Will said to me, “leading it to be more straightforward.” Then he paused for a moment. “Not straightforward, but streamlined,” he added. Streamlined. Blimey, that’s a cool way of putting it, whether it’s true or not. I’ll take that!

Mason

 

Bargains and Beyond

​Whilst my guest posts are usually covering bigger topics, I thought today I would try something different.

I have been living by myself now for around two months, and whilst actually getting homeware has been stressful and taken all of my savings (although to be fair, that wasn’t much), it has allowed me to be resourceful, and I now know what is worth splashing out on and what’s best being cheap and cheerful.

So whether you’re like me, about to move out, a student off to uni halls, or even just a bargain lover, strap yourselves in for the wild ride that is my top 5 places, in store and online, to get cheap but decent quality homeware.

1. Wilkos. This was my absolute saving grace. Where else can you get a bowl for 75p? Wilkos sell everything you could possibly want for kitchens, bathrooms and more. About 75% of the stuff in my home is from here.

2. Primark. If you’re looking for bed sheets, I highly recommend Primark. They’re cheap, and often offer fairly decent quality. I own two sets of bedsheets (one is Christmas themed and I use it all year round, but we don’t need to talk about that) and they’re both from Primark. They also do towels and general home trinkets.

3. eBay. This site isn’t only about second hand things as some people think; it can quite often be home to some hidden gems too. I have an Aztec blanket from here, which was lovely and cheap, but is also thick and warm!

4. TK Maxx. Whilst the store is quite messy, and can sometimes be a bit of a headache to walk round, they do a lot of homeware cheaply. I find they’re best for kitchen utensils, but they do plenty of other home bits too. Definitely worth a look round (if your head can manage it!)

5. Last but by no means least, Amazon, an obvious but often overlooked choice. Amazon has literally anything you could ever need. Mixing bowls? Check. Microwaves? Check. Nicolas Cage pillowcase? Check. Don’t ask how I found that last one out.

Hopefully this short list will help you in not completely breaking your bank when you inevitably have to flee the nest.

Emily