I am now on the brink of Week 10 of my first university semester, and the first nine weeks alone have taught me many things about how to write and what I can do to improve my writing. Two of the more recent lessons have come in Publishing and Social Media, which I had as usual yesterday morning. As a blogger, the first was one that I found particularly useful. Even as someone who is a stickler for good spelling, punctuation and grammar, it wasn’t something that had occurred to me before. We were taught that before a post is published on any given blog, it should always be written up on Word first, so that any mistakes can be exposed by the processor. Once it has been tidied up as necessary, it can be freely copied and pasted across. This method is – as of this post – one I am officially adopting for Third Time Enabled, as it’s more than likely that one or two keyboard slips have occurred over the last three years, in spite of all my best efforts to avoid them.
We have also learned that as this is a creative degree, we are free to explore new artistic horizons that stretch beyond writing alone. This is especially true in the Publishing module, since I will soon have to submit a piece that can take almost any form I want it to. As I have a microphone sitting idle in my bag (which hasn’t had to record any lectures recently), I have decided to try something totally new – a podcast. I am neither an entirely confident speaker nor an expert on technology, but doing this will add to my skill set and – at the very least – I will be able to write what I need to say. Thankfully, I will be graded based on the actual content of the podcast, and not on its sound quality!
When I made the decision to do this, I obviously had to consider what I would talk about, and the inspiration behind what I eventually chose came at the most unlikely time. Heading towards Winchester High Street last week, I passed a rather nice hotel, which looked it must cost an arm and a leg to eat in. Leaning against the railings outside was a pizza delivery bicycle, and sure enough, I saw that a pizza was on its way in through the front door. I immediately took out my phone and made a note of what I’d seen. Call it a writer’s curiosity – I couldn’t help but wonder who would order pizza to a place like that, and why. My mind was full of stories and explanations, so there was no way I was going to ignore something that was apparently so out of place. I may have spoken before about how I am often inspired by the smallest words, phrases and observations, since I believe even the most insignificant things can bear fruit. This was no exception, and it led me to base my planned podcast on what can result from such things. My current intentions therefore look something like this – I’ll talk about the latest little source of inspiration at the start, before I read a story or other piece of writing that I have managed to develop from it. It’s a simple concept, but if it is executed well, I am confident that its unpredictability could make for an entertaining listen – and yes, we do have to publish the podcast when it’s complete! Now that I have the basic idea established, all that’s left to do is write my script and do my best to record, and I have a feeling that could involve some trial and error at first. Uncharted territory can be daunting, but also very intriguing…
The formalities separating me from the start of university are gradually diminishing day by day. Last week, I participated in an assessment arranged following my application for Disabled Students’ Allowance – something which proved to be very fruitful indeed. It answered more of the questions Mum and I had about the support I would be entitled to as a student, and at its end I was relieved that my pre-Winchester to-do list was one item shorter. She and I travelled with Louis to the offices of a company that I was subsequently told would collaborate with the university to work for my benefit; once there I met with a very helpful man who started to ask me about how cerebral palsy affects me in certain situations. Obviously, as you might expect, the questions mostly related to education and how I have coped within it.
Among other things, the man asked what I found difficult during my school years, and what I still find difficult now. He asked about the people and the resources I have had at my disposal to make things easier, and based on my feedback he was gradually able to recommend the support that would best suit my needs on my new course. As I had anticipated, there are many options open to me, and I intend to pursue a great deal of them – not least to acquisition of a piece of software to assist me in lectures. My handwriting is somewhat slower than that of others, making it hard to keep up when I need to jot down a series of notes. With this equipment, however, I would no longer have to worry about such an obstacle. It is compatible with a microphone that can record a single voice whilst excluding all other surrounding noise, meaning that every crucial piece of audio can be captured without a problem. On a computer, this audio can then appear along with the breaks in speech, allowing the user to isolate any given section – this can be especially helpful if a particular piece is more relevant to an essay than another. In addition, these sections can be colour-coded to help them stand out, and notes and photographs can be placed alongside them as further visual aids.
I saw this all demonstrated in my assessment, and was left absolutely sure that it could be beneficial to me once I am settled in Winchester. I expressed my enthusiasm and was told that I am entitled to four hours of tuition in the software’s use (although I don’t have to use all four of them). If I do go on to accept it properly, I will be very eager to see how it can help me, and it was very encouraging to hear about everything else that the company and the university could do for me. It just goes to show that anything is possible if you ask for it – and this positive mindset makes the prospect of requesting help at Winchester even less daunting. Very few questions remained before the assessment, and Mum and I were already highly enlightened on arrival. It is even better to know that we are now tantalisingly close to being fully knowledgeable about what lies ahead.
Politics dominates the news we wake up to every day, and in the last couple of years, particularly following the Brexit vote and the arrival of Donald Trump at the White House, the world’s focus on it has only intensified. Generally, it doesn’t make reassuring or uplifting reading, and whilst I do understand the importance of paying attention to the events that shape the future, I don’t feel I can write about them confidently on Third Time Enabled right now. This occurred to me only a short time ago, when I was looking over Angharad’s most recent post. It was incredibly well-researched and had been written with clear passion and concern in the aftermath of yet another terrible American school shooting. She did, of course, hit the nail directly on the head with her content – you can see it right here if you wish – but in seeing this I realised that I could never match what she had done, no matter how strongly I feel about the topic.
If you have read all of the posts I’ve written since the beginning of January, it might have struck you that life has been very good to me of late. University looms, accompanied by a fresh and exciting start, and in the wake of accepting my place, my mood has been lifted infinitely. A year ago, I wondered if my life was heading in any sort of direction at all, but now I feel as though anything really is possible. I’d like this new-found positivity to be reflected regularly in my writing, both in the lead up to my departure from Somerset and beyond, when I am fully settled in Winchester. This won’t be at the expense of the more hard-hitting aspects of life, as I will return to those on a day when I can bear to face them, but for now I will leave their exposure on this blog to those who are eager to speak about them, such as Angharad and Will. To cover them in a proper and well-informed manner, a lot of potentially difficult reading is required, and I can rest safe in the knowledge that both of them are capable of doing the job well. If I’ve mentioned it before, you may remember that Will once told me this blog has what it takes to save lives with its positivity. If this is true, I’d better make sure it lives up to the hype – and at this moment in time, I have more of a reason to accentuate the positive than ever.
I was sat at the kitchen table when I saw it, just the other week. Behind me, a window above the sink displayed the garden, which was still but not quite tranquil. Whilst there was no wind to disturb a single leaf or branch, there was no warmth or sunshine either, and so the lawn and its many accompanying plants were a somewhat unremarkable sight on this particular day. It tended not to interest me anyway, and my attention was indeed commanded by my laptop, at which I was typing away eagerly with only a mug of tea for company. The brightness of the screen had been turned down to preserve battery power, so the light from the great outdoors shone heavily on the screen. In this was reflected myself and everything behind me – cupboards, the kettle and the aforementioned window.
Very little is capable of breaking my concentration when I am engrossed in typing, but I would soon be stopped instantly in my tracks when the bottom-left hand corner showed me a most unexpected but intriguing visitor. Framed perfectly by the right-angle of the laptop corner, I was sure that a face had appeared for a split second in the window, as though someone was standing on the garden path that ran in front of it. I initially thought that maybe it was Dad, but if that had been the case, I would have recognised him immediately. Instead, I struggled to make out any features at all. No eyes, ears, nose, mouth or hair. No clothing of any kind. It was almost like whoever I had seen was merely a silhouette.
My reaction to this seemingly shapeless figure was what surprised me the most. I did not wheel round to see if anyone or anything was actually there. I was not scared, and I did not fear for my safety. The possibility of the visitor being an intruder or even a ghost – if you believe in that sort of thing – never crossed my mind. I was as cool as a cucumber and, interestingly, I found myself thinking back to somebody I used to know, but unfortunately am no longer in contact with. I had always longed for a reconciliation since we last spoke, and this desire had intensified more than ever in the weeks leading up to this visitation. I imagined the visitor taking the form of this person and granting me my dearest wish, but sadly it was not to be. As I have already said, the appearance was fleeting, but the impact it made has lasted. Some unexpected visitors are cold callers, frowned upon by those on the receiving end and swiftly forgotten once the encounter is over. Mine, however, had the effect of causing me to reminisce about better times, and hope once again that they may be rekindled one day. Perhaps it was less of a ghost, and more of an angel.