Monday, 22 February 2010

An autobiographical bit

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

After the hubris of my introduction, and my naive and vain fantasy of being discovered, I found that I couldn't get off to sleep. This was partly because I had lots of ideas of what I might write about, but also because I got a bit scared - scared because I started to worry that if someone read it, they might not like it; that they might think I am an arrogant idiot, pretentious and not a very good writer. And I also got a bit scared that they might be right.

I thought that the writing and the chance to express some of my thoughts was the most important thing - and mostly it is. But I am finding it increasingly odd to be writing into a void, with no idea if this is being read by anyone or what they think of it.

I found myself coming back to two instances in my life that relate to the written word (although, admittedly, in the latter case the words weren't written by me). I could say that they scarred me for life, but that would be a melodramatic exaggeration. I could say that the memories came back to torment me, but that would also be too strong. Maybe taunt would be better. They are certainly events that I don't really talk about. Mainly because I feel like I don't come out of them very positively - and no-one really likes to re-visit past humiliations.

The first was at school, and I was maybe about 10-12 years old. We were given homework to write a story, and I wrote about something that I think my father once told me about being chased by a dog on a cliff path. The teacher hated my story so much that she gave it to the rest of the class as homework, asking them to correct it (the only point that I can remember was that apparently you use shorter sentences if you are trying to introduce tension into a story). I didn't go to school the day that they were going to dissect my story - it felt too painful (and at this point in my life I had perfected the art of legitimate truant - working myself up to psychosomatic illness, and then recovering a couple of hours later when the threat of school was safely passed).

It now feels rather like cowardice, but I cared about what I had written and couldn't bear to have it torn apart. That said, I do feel distanced from this memory now. It doesn't feel like it happened to me, although I do recall it with anger - but it is more the abstract anger that someone would do something so humiliating to a child.

The second instance was at university. I went with some friends to see a theatre production of "Frankenstein." I was talking with a friend before the play and firstly said something inaccurate; that Mary Shelley had quite a few children. I should have phrased it that she had numerous pregnancies (I think about 5), but that few survived (I think she had a premature birth, 2 children who died young, a miscarriage and, finally, a son who survived - but that's if you trust wikipedia). My point was to underline the birth and parenting imagery in "Frankenstein." I also made a comment about how amazing it was that she found time to write when she was so busy with children - this was meant to be a satirical comment on the attitude towards women at the time, but in retrospect I think it came out sounding rather facetious. Particularly when coming in close succession to my previous stupidity.

When the free university magazine came out, there was a review of the production. However, it didn't review the play - which I remember being pretty good - but instead chose to review the conversation of an idiot in the audience. Me. I felt angry for numerous reasons: that someone had eavesdropped on our conversation, that they had written a theatre review that pretty much ignored the play, but, mostly, that I had been caught out being stupid. Which isn't such an isolated occurrence as I would like to think.

This reminiscence of my troubled relationship with the written word might only be on the blog for a short amount of time. In a few days time, I might regret writing about this and try to delete it.

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