John Leonard an audience of one.

About Projects Now Archive

Writing history, part one

So, all of a sudden I don’t get the chance to write meaningless drivel in a personal diary. I’ve committed to writing things down that will be made public on the internet, and that places a burden on me to write something that will be interesting, or at least doesn’t make me look like a complete fool, anyway.

Let’s start off with something easy, and a bit meta - let’s write about writing.

I started realising that I was a better writer at secondary school, I think - at least, that’s the earliest memory I have of writing stories. Please understand that this wasn’t a series of creative writing classes, but a series of punishments - a series that ended up benefiting me in my exams.

I wasn’t really all that interested at school. It wasn’t helped by the headmaster who set a dangerous precedent on my first trip around the school with my mother - She told me on the car journey home that I was perfectly capable of getting 11 A Grade O-Levels in this school, which started off my time there nicely. (I never got 11 A Grade O-Levels; I finally left there with 4 mediocre qualifications which haven’t made a jot of difference to my professional life since).

I was particularly able to be led astray by my fellow classmates. As you would expect, I was the one who suffered for it, and this meant I got to spend a lot of time behind after school. I’d like to add to this that I was quite bright - as least, I think I was - and so I got bored easily. As any adult who looks back on their schooling will remember, being bored never really works out well for a secondary school kid, and while I did get some support for my appalling handwriting, I never particularly recall any support that was designed to make me shine as a academic star.

Except for two teachers.

I should point out that my secondary school was an all boys institution and as such was packed with hormonal teenagers who continually bordered on tribal struggles and violence. I have some true horror stories about the violence. This highlighted the good things that teaching staff did for us, and I had two teachers who did make the most of the situation I was in to help me out.

I sadly can’t remember their names, but both were women - one taught German, which I was awful at, and the other was my English teacher. My German teacher quickly cottoned on to the fact that I was not adept at second languages, but couldn’t ignore my bored behaviour so I got a lot of detention. My English teacher realised that my boredom was not conducive to the volumes of coursework that I had to complete, so between them they hatched up a plan.

In detention you were supposed to be punished. You were supposed to either catch up on homework or do things that reminded you of the futility of your existence during punishment. My exercises during other detentions were many, but during my German detention I got to write stories.

I’m already over my 500 word limit for the day, so I’m going to park this story here and come back to it tomorrow.