Thursday, 29 October 2009

Absolutely Flawless

To improve my own blog I am trying to read as much of others as possible. The idea behind this is so I can learn from their writing styles, see what it is like to write from other view points and well, be as nosy as possible. However, when I read other people’s writing all I get is self doubt. Mean thoughts about my own ability fill my mind:

Why can’t I write like that?

That was funny, I wish I was funny, how can I become funny?

That person’s grammar is so much better than mine!

I’ve recently gotten over the hurdle of letting other people read my work. As you can tell from my ever-so-secret, won’t let anyone know about it blog, it is not something I enjoy. Though I feel I can take their criticism pretty well. In fact, the more of it the better. What I can’t take, like so many before me, is their praise.

How can these people whose writing I respect and is so amazing be blown away by mine?

Do they not see that some of the sentences don’t really make sense and that I tend to get carried away by one point that is interesting to no one but me?

Oh yes, I know my flaws and this is supposed to be a good thing. I’m supposed to learn from them until I am flawless. Yet I don’t. I know I should check, check, check again yet how many times have I only just check, checked only to click ‘publish’ and find a million mistakes. I know my grammar isn’t up to scratch and I have several books lined up on my shelves so that I can improve it, yet they remain unopened. I’d choose the latest Marian Keyes any day. And knowing these flaws, yet not improving on them just makes me all the more paranoid that ultimately my writing is terrible.

However, I do like to think that whilst I clunk my way through life I am learning. I try to face my fears (though not daily, who has the time or nerves to handle that?!) For example, after admitting that I find talking to my very friendly boss terrifying (it really is a silly fear) I try my best to say something witty/embarrassing to him every morning.

The book I’m reading at the moment (why the tree loves the axe) has a very distinctive writing style which in the eyes of a grammar Nazi is flawed: the author doesn’t use quotation marks ever. But that makes it kind of beautiful as you really feel you are living the life of the main character- after all going about our daily lives we never envision punctuation. Maybe this is the kind of writing style I should learn from: the kind that makes its own rules, the kind that will never be flawless yet that’s its charm. A bit like me.
Maybe I will let the world know about this blog, flaws and all…

My New Boots (My Newest Lie)*

For the past two days I’ve been wearing a pair of nondescript brown lace up boots.

They’re not much, quite boring and not really on trend (they’re not covered in buckles for one thing) but it is safe to say that I am head over heels in love with them.

It’s the way they make me feel that elevates them from a comfortable, day-to-day boot to an object of my up most affection.

When I’m clomping about in them I feel like I’m a character in a movie: a poor, Bohemian writer struggling for success. And I know technically I am poor, Bohemian (my upbringing saw to that) and a writer: it is just very rare to have found footwear which makes me feel so amazingly confident in my ability to just be myself.

Ironically, when I am truly being myself I tend to be daydreaming about being someone else. The best form of fantasy is not when I imagine I’m Kate Moss for a day (I’m bound to wake up and feel shit about myself for not being her) but just fun, life affirming day dreams.

In them I transport myself to another time and create stories about myself in my head. Essentially I’m a character in my own novel for a day.

And that’s what is so great about the boots: they’ve become my latest prop. When I lace them up in the morning I can transform myself into a hard working chimney sweep who whistles on his way to work and when I undo them at night I’m a tired, homeless girl who’s just found a place to rest for the night: her boots her only true possession.

Being lost in a different made-up world may not sound like the most practical way to live your life, but then practical is never something I’ve aspired to be. I want to walk around with my head in the clouds saying ‘hiya’ to dogs as they pass. It makes me happy. And you know what? When I wake up from my dream world and take a look at myself I’m not sad that I don’t see that tuggy haired homeless girl or cheeky chimney sweeper because I see myself, and I’m still a heroine in reality. A heroine who happens to own some very good boots.
*The boots actually belong to my housemate Corinne.

Monday, 26 October 2009


On Saturday night I joined a cult. They didn’t seduce me into their inner circle with the tried and tested routine of chants and green tea, but with the much more effective disco music and vodka. It seems it only takes a little of each to become totally hooked on Madonna.

My good friend Edward has been an avid Madonna follower for years and is constantly barraging me with facts and reasons why I should love her just as much as he. I always, no matter how amazing the story, remained completely un-swayed, shaking my head to each suggestion- ‘no, I don’t like that song’; ‘I think she sounds like a total bitch’ were my most common responses. So it was with my obvious reluctance that I agreed to join him and the other so called ‘Madonna mentalists’ at a special tribute night at G-A-Y on Saturday. I decided to give myself three hours and plenty of booze before I would wearily take myself home. In my mind that counted as giving her a chance.

Turns out I didn’t need the booze and although I did only stay three hours that was only because after that time they stopped playing Madonna, substituting her for Kylie (anyone who says that she is the Queen of pop is mad!) You see, within minutes of being inside the door the sheer love for Madonna was so overwhelming I couldn’t help but smile. Hordes and hordes of men in various Madonna tour t-shirts were perfecting their awesome dance routines whilst rare Madonna videos flashed on television screens around the dance floor. I sat down and people watched for a while, praying for a “who’s the biggest Madonna fan” bitch fight to break out. But it never did. It seems Madonna fans have as much love for their peers as they have for their idol herself. Immediately my presence there meant I was one of them, loved: my position in the family secure.

Hesitantly I made my way to the dance floor full of fear that my lack of dance routine to ‘vogue’ would reveal me as a fraud and I’d have to hastily leave. Surprisingly I found that my classic ‘side to side shuffle combined with miming along to the words’ dance was as equally accepted as the break dancers in the corner. Between each song we would all clap and yell ‘well-done Madonna, you go girl!’ – In fact we did everything short of getting down on our knees and praising her. I admit I did start this over energetic praising with an edge of sarcasm but then slowly I began to realise that Madonna did in fact deserve all of it. She was more than a pop star: she was an icon and a pioneer.

Like me, maybe Madonna’s music doesn’t directly appeal to you but you’re bound like at least one of the spawn of female pop stars that followed in her suit: Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Pink plus many more all grew up listening to Madonna and cite her as a big influence on their careers. Well known for singing about sex, love and even political issues (as Pink did with ‘Dear Mr President’) it was Madonna that paved the way for them to do this: even at the very beginning of her career Madonna was pushing the boundaries of the lyrical content of mainstream pop.

Music wasn’t the only thing she advanced either: she contributed greatly to the sexual empowerment of women across the world. Using her songs, movies, videos and the infamous book ‘Sex’ book, Madonna took away the Barbie Doll image of women and told the world proudly that women need and want sex.

That night I must have seen all of Madonna’s different personas she has created for herself over the years: this constant image over hall which continues to spawn fashion trends. Every time there is a 80s fashion comeback the trend is all about Madonna’s iconic pearls and lace gloves.

These changes didn’t just influence the fashion world but were key to Madonna the business woman: the inspiration to other inspiring female entrepreneurs out there. She was the first female to achieve financial control over her work- something that women had long fought for within the industry. Nowadays, the London Business School presents Madonna as a ‘dynamic entrepreneur’ worth copying identifying her vision of success, her understanding of the music industry, he ability of recognize her performance limits (and thus asking for help), her sheer hard work and her ability to change according to the times as the reasons behind her phenomenal success.

I’ll never be able to list every knock on effect Madonna has had on the world nor will I ever be able to list all of her criticisms, but I am very grateful that I had the chance to spend the night appreciating everything she has done and how it has influence my life (despite my stubborn protests). You see, love her or loathe her we can all learn something from Madonna: to take our criticisms, fight back and never underestimate an image over hall. I’m certainly a convert.