Now Playing: The Lucky One by Taylor Swift (they tell you that you're lucky but you're so confused because you don't feel pretty, you just feel used)
Easily, the hardest exam I'm preparing for is English.
Which, ya know, might sound funny considering I have subjects where I'm on a 65 average but I'm on a 90 average for English and topping the year to boot. But I'm terrified of the English exam.
I don't like exams. At all. Full stop. It's not the hard work and it's not the stress - I'm not an artsy fartsy yuppie who can't stand a bit of blood sweat and tears. I don't like exams because three hour periods of enforced isolation, starvation and stillness doesn't seem to me the most intelligent way to test someone's intelligence. But nobody can say a damn because the people who think it's so clever to do WACE exams are...how to put it...assholes.
The abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, Ajahn Brahm, once said that a junior monk who dreams of becoming abbot must know that he is only swapping the pain of being a junior monk with the pain of being an abbot. It feels like that now. It was tough, skipping a grade, getting some of the lowest marks in the class after eight years of paralysing boredom but ego boosting easy As. Now I'm at the top and I'm scared, so scared that I'm going to fall.
I don't have what you call 'orthodox' studying habits. I know I have a short attention span and I try and work with it. I study in short, intense bursts that leaves my head spinning, and then I quit before I have an aneurysm or I get distracted. I blog a lot, because I get stressed and this helps. But also...this helps.
This blog has been my baby for four years. I am on my blog every day, doing maintenance, scheduling posts, editing, writing, moderating, formatting, wrestling with html. Anyone who wants to write well, anyone who dreams of making it big some day through writing...start a blog. It'll teach you the commitment to your art. It'll teach you how to write for an audience, how to sell yourself without selling your soul. But I can't describe how my writing has improved since blogging seriously.
There's only so much a teacher can teach you. A teacher can teach you essay structure and grammar and to underline movie titles. A teacher can't teach you voice - and that is the most important thing, to me. To me, it's worth dabbling in a few taboos and bending a few rules to make writing interesting, exciting. I enjoy what I write. I think it's funny. I can see myself in my writing, I can hear my voice - and the people who know me say that too. There's no point in writing something nobody will read. It could be flawless, but if it's boring, you won't get marks or money or joy out of it. Blogging has taught me how to write with voice, and that is a great safety net to have. You can screw up conventions and structure and formal language and correct bibliography formatting, but it's hard to screw up voice. Once you've got it it's hard to lose it.
Everyone tells me I'm wasting time, blogging about feminism, about gay rights, about anything else that I think is important. What if I told you that some of my highest English marks have essentially been rehashed blog posts? If you read some of my funny sarcastic journalistic essays, they read much like what I put up here - slightly more polished, but still with the raw emotion and dry humour. I'll post some of them here next year when I don't have to worry about shameless people trying to rip me off.
It infuriates me that my insecurity issues permeate even my beloved English - the one thing I know I can do well. But in a way, it has served me well - it has kept me humble. I have seen one person reach where I am now, only to stumble and fall for arrogance. Anyone can fail, nobody is infallible. Life has taught me that, but some people apparently missed the memo.
I don't worry about numbers. Prizes are nice, but I've had so much experience with missing out on them and lived to tell the tale. It's my art that is my love. I can't bear to not do a piece of writing justice. I can't even write birthday cards because I agonize over what to say. Everything I do or think or say tumbles out in imperfect, blighted, beautiful prose. I never ever ever want to lose that.