An Update? Can It Be?

Hi everyone (if there is anyone)!

It has certainly been a while since I have uploaded anything. Around two years to be exact. As I’m sure you can tell, I’m not the best at updating. But that’s all going to change (she says as she begs the procrastinator in her to please, please, please let there be change).

So, what’s changed in those two years since my last post?

Well, as of today:

Originally “An Adolescent’s Attempt At Blogging”

Unfortunately, I still age and having reached the wonderful age of 18 at the beginning of the year, I realised that I couldn’t really go on calling myself an adolescent *cue the sad violin*. Some of you may disagree but, hey, the law says I am officially an adult so how can I argue with that?

And now without further ado, let me give you a warm welcome to: An Adult’s Attempt At Blogging 😀

I have changed a lot in these past 2 years but if you still want to access my cringey first few posts then they’ll still be up as well.

So, very briefly, across the last two years: Ya gurl was highly commended for her spoken-word poem We, The Homeless in the Orwell Youth Prize 2019; I’ve completed journalism work experience with an investigative journalist based in London, Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi (we met a lot of interesting people!), and with my local newspaper, the Shropshire Star, where I was able to get 2 bylines (I can’t find the other one) in the papers; I, somehow, got an acting job with an interactive murder mystery company and lastly, I have finished 6th Form (albeit abruptly and without the milestone of actually writing my A Level exams – thanks, Corona -_-).

Oh, and I had a hair cut!

I’m that person who lied on every personality test when asked if I accepted change…it depends on the change but I have come to terms with the fact that I actually dislike it a lot so having cut my hair shorter was actually a huge milestone for me.

Looking back over the things that I’ve done and achieved actually stuns me. I feel like I’ve done nothing and then I’ll remember all that and be like, ‘Oh wait, I actually have done a lot’.

Of course, it wouldn’t be life if there weren’t negatives in between all that and there were. Sickness mainly. I swear I was allergic to 6th Form. All throughout Years 7-11, I barely had a day off school – I get to Years 12-13 and the amount of days I had off school made it sound like I was genuinely dying. For example, when I started Year 13, I only managed 3 days of the first term before I went and got appendicitis. Like, really? I barely, started the new academic year before my body was like: “Meh, time for the ol’ appendix to go.”

It was ridiculous sometimes but we got through it. We survived like I’m hoping my blog will survive this time around (chants in brain: I will update more often, I will update more often, I will update more often!)

Last but not least: we are all enduring one of the biggest negatives we have seen as a global population with the Coronavirus pandemic going on. Where ever you are in the world, I hope you and your families are keeping safe. Please, stay indoors as much as possible to protect not only yourself but others too!

For those of you who have lost family and friends, my prayers are with you.

Wishing you all the best ❤

– Jade


Year 11 Is Finished!

Hi there 👋😊👋

Long time, no see, well, blog 😅

Firstly: Wow, I’m incredibly terrible at keeping a blog 😅 I’m so sorry – probably my own fault for picking one of the worst school years to start one, whoops 😅

Secondly: Year 11 actually finished around 8 weeks ago for me. I guess I was using these past weeks to recover properly 😊 and that is a tiny white lie – I am also a bit of a procrastinator and have been trying to write this for the past three/four weeks. Oops. Hopefully, I will have published this at some point today. 😅

Thirdly: I realised that all the times I mentioned my school year, I failed to explain what that meant as I understand that not all countries have the same way of classing their year groups. Year 11, I believe, is grade 10 in the USA/Canada? (I could be wrong 😅) Um, Year 11 around the rest of the world, well, I’m sorry, I don’t really know – I’m quite intrigued to know now though so I’ll Google it as it’s what everybody does these days 😂 heh 😅

And now to the point!

The lovely subject for today/tonight/this early morning, is exam stress! Woo! Every student’s ‘favourite’ subject whether you are in middle school, secondary/high school, college or university.

I am a chronic worrier. I tend to worry when I have nothing to worry about (because I’m weird like that, I don’t really know why myself 🙆🙆🙆). I only started to really stress about my exams in Years 9 & 10 (possibly Grades 8 & 9 – please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong 😊) and in those years, humongous waves of dread and worry for the future consumed me. What if I fail my GCSE’s? What if I don’t get the right grades in my subjects and they drop me to a lower set? What if I end up in a job I don’t like in the future because I failed my GCSE’s? Tons and tons of these kinds of questions were like weights, dragging me deeper and deeper into this sea of nervousness and I was finding that I was struggling to get out – probably because I’m a terrible swimmer but, you know, I held my breath in the hopes that a sun would appear to evaporate all my worries and fears.

A sun never really appeared for long enough so there I remained submerged in all of those terrifying thoughts and questions. I would be nervous a tiny bit before hand and be anxious a tiny bit afterwards but that was it really. Until one set of mock exams in year 10 (grade 9?) where I panicked like nobody’s business. I was sat with my friends in our English class and our teacher had decided to give us some time to revise for our science exam in the lesson. Thinking back to that moment, I remember that I was feeling sick because I had a cold but I also recall looking up briefly at everyone else. Some people weren’t revising, others were and I can’t remember exactly what happened but I just started to cry and I had this crushing feeling in my chest and it was all a bit of a blur but I do remember that it was one of the most horrible feelings in my life. It was almost as if a part of my mind had decided I would fail before I had even done the exam and another part of my mind was simply struggling to cope with the idea (haha, me, fear failing? You’re probably right 🙆). Long story, short – my teacher took me outside to talk and by the end of it, she had decided that I would go into a room (rather than the sports hall) for my exam (I’ll probably touch on ‘rooms’ in another post if anyone’s interested).

And I remained in those rooms forever more however I don’t think I should have. In fact, for the following mock exams we had throughout the year, being in a room stressed me out more. More fearful questions plagued my mind: what if people were judging me for being in a room? What if I won’t be able to go into a room for my real GCSE’s? What if I forget which room I’m going to? What if, what if, what if… they simply wouldn’t stop. I kept it to myself for the most part though because anxiety is a human emotion that everyone feels sometimes (some people have it worse and feel it more intensely, I understand that – I have no intentions of offending anybody with any type of mental health problem, I’m so sorry if I did, it wasn’t my intention at all 😅).

I really did try to stay optimistic but it was almost as though the good thoughts were hidden behind a thick fog of negative thoughts. I panicked again on another night when my mum and I were driving home from a parents evening. Again it was the similar tight feeling and the suffocating feeling of dread for the future that tried to squeeze the life out of me but because my mum is simply the best, she reassured me and my panicking seemed to come to an end after I was honest to her.

The actual exams themselves (all 18 of them 😥) went alright apart from the first and the last exam where I had a bit of a panic. In general, to calm down, I find that talking to someone really helps me. It was hard to be honest at first about my fears but after I got them off my chest I was a lot calmer.

Obviously, talking about it doesn’t help everyone so I researched a few more ways that can help one deal with exam stress too:

As hard as it may be, organise yourself: whilst I wasn’t able to organise myself all the time, I know friends who found that creating a revision time table helped them a lot in the run up to the exams. Having a schedule to stick to reassured them as they had worked 20-30 minute revision sessions into their evenings or mornings (or often both) in the weeks before the exams. They made sure they had enough time to revise everything. Also, if you tend to be the kind of person to make revision cards, I find that starting to make cards for the last exam on the list and working your way to the first exam helps. Mainly because you then know that you have everything else ready and you would then be able to focus on the first exam without panicking too much about the others.

Excercise a bit, as stressful as you think it might be for distracting you from revision: taking walks during your breaks can help you clear your head so you are then able to go back and face a revision guide with a fresh eyes. Allowing your brain a break from the work should also help you retain more information. Or you could go for run (if you’re into that kind of thing) or you could simply go and play another favourite sport. That way, not only will you be giving your mind mind a chance to process everything but you will also be having fun and remaining healthy whilst doing so. I would go on bike rides with my dad and little brother when I was revising on weekends or I would practice my katas that I had learnt in karate. 😊

Maybe meditate? Practice a bit of mindfulness: If you have frequent break downs about your exams and you haven’t yet tried this then I really do recommend it. Whilst it doesn’t help everyone, it can help some of you. Being aware of your thoughts and the paths they take, whether they be negative or positive, is always good to acknowledge. If you start having a rather horrible thought process you can try to think if something else (puppies, kittens, rainbows, sleep 😅). A few of your favourite things should do the trick (love a musical reference 😁). Or simply talk to someone else about it if you don’t find that thinking positive before you go too far into the negative works.

Make sure you go to bed at a decent time: You need rest! Your brain will also be able to process everything you’ve learned/revised from the day. Also, you don’t want to be falling asleep during the exam (I almost did in a mock exam once 😨). On a serious note though, don’t stay up all night revising because rest helps too.

And finally, the most important one to me is remember that if you don’t get the grades you wanted, it’s not the end of the world: This is a big one for me as this is the point that kept me calm for a majority of my real exams. During the holidays, I’ve met up with friends and have asked them how they are and what they are going to do: one friend didn’t even complete all of her GCSE’s but she is still getting into college. I know some people who are trying to get apprenticeships, some who are still looking to get into the armed forces. Some schools/colleges/sixth forms even let you re-do your English and Maths exams whilst you work on the subjects you chose. Exams may not go how you want them to go but it’s also important to think about which subjects should be your priority. A majority of the careers I want to pursue surround English – if they surround English, then why am I worried about getting an amazing (yet probably highly unlikely 😅) B? I mean, of course I want to do well but I don’t really need it. Therefore, it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. ☺

There is a life after GCSE’s, don’t worry. 😄

– Jade 😊

More Decisions, Easter and Magazines!

So many things to talk about for today but first off, happy Easter to everyone! I hope everyone got spoiled with lots of chocolate, because, hey, who doesn’t love a little bit of chocolate on Easter? 😄 I know I had a pretty good day except from choking on some smoking incense at my church mass today. Yeah, the mass is honestly lovely, but the fact that I am an alter server and I have to sit in the exact corner of where the incense is left to burn, kind of kills me a bit. Just a little bit. I forgot my water also! I told myself to bring water and I forgot! Ugh, the pain of feeling nauseous during mass. Although, a smile was put on my face again when I was wishing everyone a happy Easter on the way out of church (the point furthest away from the still burning incense 😷), when I saw one of the TA’s (teaching assistants) that used to work with my Spanish class last year and her adorable baby! Her daughter greeted me with the most adorable and loud, little ‘hola’ I have ever heard. Bless her. It almost makes me feel bad that I am failing Spanish. 😨 Oops.

That leads me on to the decision side of my blog today. Last week, I kind of had a mini break down after failing my higher GCSE Spanish paper (I got a 2 which equates to an ‘F’ – the government changed our grading system, why, we will never know but apparently no one knows how to use it 😂) and after failing my foundation Spanish paper (I got a 3 which is an ‘E’ – we think anyways – anything lower than a 5 in Year 11 basically means you are failing). My Spanish teacher spoke to me about it and told me to speak to my parents when I got home. I did and we established that I quite simply need more time, which I don’t have and so I will be looking to drop the subject. Will I be sad if I do? Yes and no. I will be sad because I have enjoyed learning Spanish but I also won’t be sad because then it means I will be less stressed. Will I regret my decision? I don’t think I will because, if I ever want to pick it up again later in life, there are modern foreign language clubs that I could join to do so. Instead, next year I will look to learn sign language (I’ve always wanted to learn it and I do know the BSL alphabet but nothing more than that). That way I will still know part of a spoken language and I will be able hold an important life skill that I would probably use more in life. Also, if I do manage to drop Spanish, I won’t have to panic about failing a subject and I will have extra time to revise my other subjects.

Moving along, you are probably wondering how magazines fit into this right? Right. Well, I have been feeling somewhat blue about the decision I made to drop Spanish and mum took me out to Costa (a coffee shop) the day after to mainly talk business (we’ve planning on making an Escape Room business – how exciting!) but also to cheer me up a bit. After, we went to the shop and mum started browsing the magazines. I haven’t really been one to read magazines – I mean, I’ll read a newspaper occasionally if my phone hasn’t given me the latest news updates but magazines don’t really give me much. That was until mum noticed that there were two magazines on writing and pointed them out to me. I swiftly swept them up and put them into the basket whilst I endured my mum’s teasing about ‘I thought you didn’t do magazines’. Well, mum, times change – when a magazine is actually targeted at you anyways 😂.

Those two magazines have provided me with tips and competitions galore and I couldn’t be happier. Mum will end up poorer though if I ask for them every month. Woo, the perks of raising a writer 😂.

That kind of brings us to the end of my little update. 😅

Ta Ta For Now 😊

– Jade

Entering A Writing Contest

I’m so sorry I never updated last week! You see, last weekend was a little hectic with the fact that I was trying to finish my fifth draft of my short story for a writing competition – Oh my word, I panicked so much after I entered it at 11:45pm on the Sunday. Then, I simply panicked more throughout the Monday after. In fact, I’m still a little nervous about it now but hopefully, I’ll forget until the day when they announce the winner (which is in about 7 months 😰😰😰).

Anyway, it was the second time I entered the BBC Young Writer’s Award competition. As you can guess, I didn’t get anywhere last year but the winner from last year definitely deserved it! If you click: The Roses then this will take you to read the winner’s story which is amazing. If you click: Decisions then it will take you to my favorite out of the top five shortlisted stories which makes me cry nearly everytime I read it. Check out the other three stories also: Wolf, Something Wicked, Something Wild and Sunflowers as they are equally as brilliant.

Right, now to get to the main purpose of this post: a few tips for if you are like me and are just starting out at entering writing contests.

1) Think up your story a few months before the closing date – If you don’t have an idea ready to go, it can be a bit of a problem as you may find that you’ll end up sat at your desk or on your bed staring at your phone or notepad, desperately trying to form an idea and annoyingly, nothing will up. It’s better to have an idea already formed to give yourself the best chance of forming the whole beginning, middle and end with a sufficient amount of time to write it.

2) Give yourself a month or two before the closing date to write the story – I made the mistake of writing my story about a week before it was due and I swear it wasn’t enough time. Yes, I wrote five drafts within that span of time but I feel like there was still some room to improve. Especially considering I had made the mistake of not double spacing my paragraphs (😨😨😨). If you give yourself a month to write it, then you should have a sufficient amount of time to edit your work several times before submitting.

3) Always read the rules of the competition – Some need you to pay a small fee to enter, some will have preferences over the genre of story that they want you to write, others may have a particular maximum of words. Also, it’s always important to read the many pages of rules as they may have a specific way that they will want you to submit a story (in my case, they wanted double spacing between the lines and paragraphs, presumably because it makes it easier to read). If you don’t follow their rules, you may be excluded from the competition altogether and nobody wants that.

Other than that, those are the tips I would have given myself last year and this year to ensure that I had increased my chances of possibly getting into the shortlist. I don’t know if my story will be liked by the judges (but of course I hope it will be) but I know that I have a small fan base already, made up of my family and friends if all else fails. In addition to that, there is always next year to enter! That and I can’t wait to read the stories of the winners of this year as there are so many talented writers out there with fascinating stories to tell. So, even if I don’t get into the shortlist, at least I’ll have some stories to look forwards to.

Keep writing and reading everyone!

– Jade

P.s. if you click: Ode To A Boy Musician it will take you to 2016’s winner which is a fantastic story that I highly recommend you all read 😄

Decisions, Decisions…

So, seeing as I’m in my last year of secondary school and I literally recieved the dates for my real GCSE exams yesterday, I’m going to need to make some big decisions some time soon.

*Cue frantic panic and screaming because oh my word I wish I was starting Year 7 again!*

I already know my dreams because, hey, who doesn’t want to do something they love as their lifelong job? Writing books, writing scripts, that’s where I wanna be someday and I will get there if it is the last thing I do. Woo, positivity! However, there was an apprenticeship evening that my mum took me too as we were both curious. At every stall we went to, I was asked the same questions: “What do you want to do?”, “What interests you?”, “Do you think this might be right for you?” Etc etc etc (references to The King and I – it’s a great show/movie if you haven’t seen it).

Looking around at all the stalls, the difference to last year was that there were less armed forces this year and more stalls offering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathamatics)/secondary sector careers. Needless to say that they were definitely trying to attract a lot of people towards them but you could tell that a majority of people were simply politely listening (including me 😅). More and more people these days are definitely more attracted to tertiary and quaternary sector jobs and there weren’t many stalls for those kinds of opportunities. However, the armed forces stands, the only archery stall and the many university stands were the ones to catch my eyes.

The first one we went to was one of the armed forces stands and I was just listening in to a conversation when one of the officers/cadets (I honestly don’t know which) struck up a conversation with me about the STEM careers that one can take on with the army. He told me about the fact that you get paid whilst learning which is always good, you travel, you do a bunch of great things and I was thinking ‘It’s an option, my dad’s a plasterer and I take product design at school’. The only problem is I don’t really possess much of a brain that is good with STEM careers as such. Just as we were finishing the conversation, they also started a bit of a competition to see how much they could give to me. I almost ended up with two water bottles. 😂😂😂

Sometime later as we wandered around the huge warehouse with all of these stands, I realised that there was archery! I love archery, hands down. I even have a beginners certificate in it and I would love to pursue it but the deal is that I get my black belt first before I look for an archery club. That’s fair enough in my mind. I met Patrick Huston from the GB Olympic team and so we got into a short chat with him. I got some tips about archery also which was awesome. 😄😄😄 Suddenly considers becoming a professional archer and gains the occasional nickname ‘Katniss’ from certain friends.

Finally, as we took our last wander around, we happened to catch eyes of some lovely women working for a food business and got persuaded to enter a little competition they were running. One of the ladies happened to be South African and we struck up a bit of random conversation with her, discovering that she used to work as a designer for magazines. We also found out that she worked for the BBC at one point as a human resources department as a recruiter, helping to recruit camera men and women, journalists and all sorts of other people within the media industry! We randomly got off on a tangent and she told my mum and I about BBC and ITV apprenticeships for me to look at and keep my eyes on online.

It was a good evening really but I almost feel like I’m more torn over what I want to do now. I want to be a writer/screenwriter but, I want to help people and join the army and I want to be a professional archer and this and that. I still have a bit of time before I decide but, before I know it, that time will come like no time has passed. 😧 I’m so conflicted right now. 😂😭

The best advice I’ve been given is to make sure you do something you love and are passionate about because then it won’t feel like you are working but simply enjoying your passion. 😊

– Jade

You Don’t Always Need Experience To Be A Writer

Experience. It’s something we gain everyday of our lives. Experience builds our character, makes us stronger and teaches us lessons. Every second, every minute, every hour of every day of every month of every year we gain more knowledge about life. However, I find that it can take too long.

I feel like I am a 35 year old trapped in a 16 year old body. I’ve been told I look and act older. I tend to write about things I have no experience in. Currently, I am working on a short story about a man who has lost the love of his life. Firstly, I’m not a guy so there was a little problem there. Secondly, there is a part where he is drunk and needless to say when I showed the first few paragraphs to my mother, she was kind of like ‘what do you know about getting drunk?’. I don’t really know about being drunk at all. Thirdly, I’m not in a relationship so I have no idea how ‘couples’ work other than what I have seen in movies/TV shows or have read in books. The works I write and want to write, I simply don’t have experience in (and honestly it’s probably good that I don’t have experience in murder, or else that would be horrifying and a crime worth a prison sentence 😨). The subjects I like to write about are certainly out of my expertise but crime, psychological problems, tragic events and a tiny bit of romance here and there is what I like to write.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to wish my life away. Regardless of how hard it feels now, I know that when I am older, I will be wishing that I was still at secondary school. My writing can simply frustrate me sometimes as I feel I lack some knowledge in the topic I may write about. I still do my research and I make my notes however when I write, sometimes my writing just lacks that realistic touch to it. That said, you don’t need experience to write everything, just your imagination and that is brilliant! After all, I highly doubt J.K. Rowling has any experience in being a magical witch for her to have written the Harry Potter books. Sometimes a bit of research and your imagination is all you need.

When I told a friend about this, she simply said ‘you don’t need to experience everything to be a writer, you simply need patience, practice and you need to do a lot of research’. I think this is good advice as any writer knows they won’t get their story right on the first draft. You need to have patience for rewriting your draft and for editing. Again, I find researching can be quite fun as well when you find that random, intriguing fact to surprise you for the day. As for practice, write, write, write. That is the best advice for writing practice out there. 😊

– Jade

So Blogging Has Gone So Well So Far

Well, to anyone who may read my blog, you can probably tell that it has gone amazingly well…

Yeah, sorry about the lack of updates or posts. I haven’t been able to get into it because of school funnily enough. Perhaps it was a bad idea to start in the last year during the time I should be revising for my mock exams and real exams which are nearing rather soon.

I have a plan though! If I want to be a writer, I need to discipline myself a little more. This year, despite the quickly approaching GCSE’s that I will soon have to face, I will hopefully be able to write a little post to put up every Sunday. It’s annoying because all I want to do when I am revising is write. I mean I still can and I can simply call it revision for the English Language Fiction paper I will have to write but I really should be focusing on the subjects I don’t know and should be revising more.

This blog will really be helping me with discipline if I can stick to it (and I will! I must!).

Sorry for the lack of posts again 😅

– Jade