So, since my last post, a lot has happened. Most of it bad.
I’m sure you’re all now familiar with the drastic mistake the UK made on the 23rd June to leave the EU (not me though, I made sure I voted remain) and everything since then has pretty much descended into chaos. Not only is the pound dropping, the world’s single largest economy is getting annoyed with us, Scotland are threatening to leave to a brighter future, the Labour party is imploding and now we have to choose which Conservative wingnut will lead us next. It’s worrying that I’m considering Theresa May, infamous for her rather imperialistic approach to refugees, the best option at the moment, considering the other options for Tory leadership are Michael I-hate-teachers Gove, a firm Brexit supporter despite everything that’s happening, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary that believes in homeopathy and seems to be dedicated to slowly torturing our NHS to death, and Stephen Crabb, a NARTH-wannabe who claims he can cure homosexuality.
Yeah, not looking too promising.
On top of that, my own future at university is looking pretty uncertain. Everyone has told me not to worry, but I’m having nagging doubts, which is why I’m making sure different options are covered. It’s going to delay the writing of my novel too. -_-
So, I’ve decided to do a little something that might improve my mood somewhat. Take a look at a frankly terrible old story of mine.
Casting my mind back all the way to my days of Year 9, I frankly didn’t have much to complain about. OK, so I complained a lot, but at least, y’know. EU.
Anyway, in Year 9, I was very much an enthusiastic writer, and had even bonded the previous year over writing with someone whom I now consider my closest friend. Let’s call him Jack Fenton, because that’s his name. You can also follow his blog here, but that’s probably surplus to the viewer’s he got, so make sure you let everyone know that I sent you, alright…?
The kind of writing we bonded over was a little series of mine called Fred Toast, which was this zany comedy series were everyone had food as a surname. There were many wacky hi-jinks in the series, and some of the humour even actually stands up to scrutiny today. I had a lot of fun writing that, and Jack also started to write some stuff of his own, and it was around that time when our attentions turned to more serious works. As you can imagine, at the wise age of 13 (he might even have been 12 at the time), we didn’t quite get people or what made for a decent story, but unfortunately we thought we did. What was more, this was our attempt to prove the world that we actually understood and could interact with ordinary, decent people. Suffice to say, it did end up coming across as wish fulfilment a lot of the time – Jack started writing an interesting story that he named ‘This Life’ (a working title I’m sure) dedicated around the school life of a girl called Katie, and her friends, which included the two of us. Fascinated by this concept, I, with his permission, wrote a similar kind of story, but one that deviated quite considerably with what was going in Jack’s. For starters, I actually finished mine. For another thing, I think we can both agree (he can argue me on this point, I don’t mind) I was a little more focused on steering the plot, although given our pretty poor writing abilities at the time, this wasn’t saying much. Because Jack’s story was called ‘This Life,’ I, unable to think of a title (something that still haunts me to this day) jokingly christened mine, ‘That Life.’ And…the name stuck.
But looking back on this does actually give me hope – it’s so profoundly and hilariously bad that it does astound me that I was able to improve as much as I have. People keep on telling me about my talents for certain areas of my writing, something I certainly didn’t have at this age, and many more are encouraging me to keep writing. Furthermore, this story does exemplify the enormity of the loneliness I experienced at this age, incapable as I was to interact with people and make friends, which is why, in the story, me and Jack are characters who DO have friends. This is no longer such a problem, and it does make me pleased that there are many friendships and relationships I have today that far outstrip what is portrayed in this story.
So, what is the story of That Life? Well, it’s a little unfocused, due to my attempt to include a whole tonne of subplots, but on the face of it, it’s a primarily school-set teen romantic drama. Not exactly what most 13-year-old boys write about, but back then I was well on my way to embracing my inner girl. For the next few posts, if I can manage it, we will be exploring, chapter by chapter, the absolutely biblical failure that is this story. Starting with Chapter One: The States.
“Hey!” came a voice up the corridor.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is LITERALLY the first line. Oh, we’re off to a good start.
I’m the one being addressed in this by my friend Ian (already this is unrealistic). What does he want with me?
“Can I borrow some of your history notes? I’ve got an assessment on Monday.”
“Why does everyone ask me for history notes?” he asked. Ian shrugged.
“Can I borrow them?”
Toby took the notes he had written down in his last history lesson and gave them to Ian.
I should point out that this positively riveting story-line we’ve opened with is never brought up again, like quite a few things mentioned actually. And whilst we’re on the subject, shall we point out the few glaring problems in this particular scenario?
- Why is he telling me that he personally has got an assessment on Monday? Why don’t we both have it? Perhaps we’re in different History groups, but it’s unlikely we’d be doing different assessments, and if so…
- Why does he assume my history notes are going to help if we’re not even doing the same history work…? Even Ian doesn’t seem to know why people always want my history notes.
- Why can’t he use his own bloody history notes? If the lazy bastard does have an assessment on Monday, he shouldn’t be relying on me to get his work done for him, especially if we’re not doing the same history.
- Won’t I be needing my history notes from the last lesson in the next lesson?
- How exactly am I carrying my history notes? If this character with my name is anything like the real me, they’ll probably be in some massive messy pile somewhere in my bag, so giving him the notes would not be that damn simple. All the narration says is that I ‘took’ them. From where? The inside of my undergarments? From thin air? Did I summon them with a Summoning Charm or a Summoning Jutsu?
- WHY DOES EVERYONE WANT MY BLOODY HISTORY NOTES?? Maybe I really do keep them in my undergarments and everyone just wants that smell…
Actually, I think I can answer number 6. Back in year 9, my best subject was history, and it was a matter of pride, I think, considering I had little else going for me. This was just me on an ego trip.
So, Ian thanks me, but then gets distracted by the random appearance of another character by the name of Ruth. This early in, and I’ve already introduced a female character? Things must have been looking up. Ruth isn’t given any proper introduction, but I’m glad for the lack of tired exposition, and I leave the two of them to chat.
Toby went over to his locker. Caleb was there too as his locker was right next to Toby’s.
Well, thanks for that handy floor-plan, I would have been lost and disorientated in this completely featureless school if it wasn’t for the information that Caleb and I’s lockers were next to each other.
And here’s the introduction of Caleb…oh Lordy Lord.
An interesting thing that I find about That Life is that, while it’s clearly a self-insert story (name and everything!) I don’t big myself up that much. It’s all in omniscient third-person, and I’m not even the protagonist. There’s no real protagonist to this story as it happens, it jumps around a lot between the characters, but you’d think I’d give myself something distinctive, other than being good at history, which as I’ve already pointed out is never brought up again. I could be the dark and brooding character, who was very street-smart and resourceful and all the girls adored. But no – I gave that distinction to Caleb. Quite why I created this character to be hero-worshipped and why I loved him so much, I really don’t know. I’ll tell you something, I don’t like him any more…
We discuss the possibility of Ian and Ruth being an item, or at least interested in each other, to which Caleb tells me that Ian’s actually moving to California in a few weeks’ time, and that we’ll find out before then about Ian and Ruth’s feelings for each other, as either will be reluctant to leave, presumably. Well, I’m glad we’re playing this sadistic game with our friends’ love lives as supposed to making them confront their feelings…which also brings up the question as to why Ian hasn’t bothered telling the rest of us, or even why his history assessment on Monday should matter…but I don’t have time to digest the news, as it’s time for yet more character introductions! Yes, because Jack’s in this story too.
“Watch out,” he muttered. “Something wicked this way comes!” He was right. Just a few moments later, Aiden Gorse swaggered up the corridor, flanked by his crony, Russell, his younger brother in Year 10.
Just in case we were left in any doubt about who this story’s villain was. Using words such as ‘swaggered’ and ‘crony’. Although having just one crony seems a little pathetic don’t you think? Even more embarrassing when that crony’s your little brother. Draco Malfoy managed to gain two heavy-weights before he even arrived at school! One of them later did turn into a psychotic nutjob, but that’s besides the point.
Caleb, showing his incredible ability to be the more ‘edgy’ and ‘dark’ of our friends here (was I hiding some inner desires when I conceived him?) decides to piss Aiden off by calling him the ‘resident physco of Year 11’ because apparently my spelling was a little off then too, which is really rather embarrassing. But not nearly as embarrassing as calling him something so ridiculous. Aiden somehow takes offence, in the most stereotypical manner possible.
“What did you say to me runt?” he demanded, pushing Caleb up against the lockers.
“Just stated a fact,” Caleb replied, causally (or casually as you can when you’re being held up against lockers by someone two years above you) and added the worst insult he could think of.
This insult is left ambiguous, but knowing Caleb’s eloquent and armour-piercing artillery of pejoratives, it’s probably something like, ‘you git.’ Oh, and did you take note of how suave and cool Caleb is? He was so unfazed by being held against the lockers. WHAT A REBEL!
I hate this character so much.
Anyway, Aiden and Caleb get into a fight (LOOK HOW GUTSY CALEB IS) and next comes probably the most realistic scene in this chapter…
“Time we intervened methinks,” Jack whispered to Toby. He nodded and they both walked forward. But Russell wasn’t going to be left out of this. He slammed his fist into Toby’s stomach and kneed Jack in the groin.
This would be exactly what happened if Jack and I ever attempted to intervene in a fight. I’m glad I decided to utilise our uselessness. The next scene is even funnier:
“WHAT’S THIS?!” roared a voice. Mr Mothman was marching up the corridor. He stood with his hands on his hips and surveyed the scene: Aiden was standing with his fist raised, preparing to smack Caleb in the jaw. Caleb’s leg was raised to take a wild kick at Aiden, but he was sporting a bloody nose. Russell was standing guiltily near Toby and Jack, who were both doubled up in pain.
I don’t know what part of this is funnier: the fact that there’s a teacher called Mr Mothman, the fact that he’s looking at our scrap with HIS HANDS ON HIS HIPS. Is he going to give us a sassy rebuke?
“Oh, NO you DIDN’T!”
Or it might be the fact that Caleb is frozen with his leg raised to kick Aiden. Is he just standing there one leg? How soon until he topples over, perhaps into his locker to remind him that his locker is definitely right next to mine (seriously, did I have a crush on this character I created…?). Or maybe it’s just another reminder that Jack and I are COMPLETELY USELESS. And actually, why is Russell looking so guilty? “Oh, sorry, I didn’t realise you guys were made of paper, and you can’t handle even the slightest touch or else you’ll die.”
So, Mr Mothman takes us all to his office where he lets Jack and I go as all we did is get beaten up, but gives Aiden, Russell and Caleb an hour’s detention after school. At this, Caleb panics, asking if he can do it another time, but Mr Mothman refuses. To be completely fair, this was at least an early show of mildly competent writing, in that I don’t immediately Caleb’s reasons for his panicking. But trust me, come the next chapter, you’ll wish it stayed that way…
The story then cuts to Ian and Ruth walking to their next lesson, at which point Ian decides to drop the bombshell of him moving to California on her. Neither of them seem to have a clue how to react to this…just take my word for it, it’s as weird as hell, but was actually my attempt to build up romantic tension. We’ll continue with that thrilling story-line later on…
Caleb later meets up with Jack and I, very angry with being given a detention, and our reactions imply we know exactly what’s upsetting him about this. He blames Aiden for getting him into this (but really Caleb, you shouldn’t have been so suave and edgy) at which point we get yet another couple of character introductions.
“Aiden giving you grief?” came a voice behind them. They turned round to see Sean Adams, who was in Aiden’s form.
“I wish I could dissect his spleen,” Sean muttered angrily.
Oh yes, that burning desire we all have to do to people we don’t like…? In all fairness, this does sound like something I would say. Maybe Sean just had dissection on his mind, having just had a very revealing biology lesson.
“And I saw this little Year 7 kid smoking that same stuff he does,” said Naomi, Sean’s younger sister in Year 9 who Sean was immensely protective of.
Well, that was clumsy character exposition. That being said, I obviously wanted to make sure that the audience knew the relationship between these characters – it’s just an informed trait now, but it definitely becomes more important later, as do both of these characters. How so? Well, let’s see…
Ian joins us and informs us that he told Ruth about him leaving and doesn’t know how to take her reaction because he’s a total idiot. Jack then protests that nobody told him, and then we get this…
“Did I tell you Toby?” he [Ian] asked. Toby didn’t reply.
“Hmm…?” Toby replied who was looking in the direction Naomi had just walked in. He turned back to his friends.
“Oh sorry. Yeah, Caleb told me.”
Oh, and so it starts! My brewing creepy obsession with Naomi Adams, and a major plot point in the story that steers my character arc. If you can call it that – how will this develop? How will Ian and Ruth’s romance develop? What will happen when Caleb has his detention? Will Rose and Rosie ever reply to my tweets? Well, that’s the end of the chapter, so we’ll have to wait until the next post to get some of those answers. My commentary of the next chapter should come tomorrow, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
I have to admit, this was a lot of fun. It’s quite enjoyable pointing out why rubbish is rubbish and being safe in the knowledge that I am not as rubbish as this anymore. I hope you enjoyed it, leave a comment with your thoughts and I hope to see you next time…?