Monday, 19 July 2010

Quite frankly, a bit rubbish

Oh, I know I said I wouldnt but it seems i am destined to extrude words for the rest of my articulate days. But my former reticence comes from a valid position, which i will now explain a little of.

It started when I was at school, about 6 or so. I suppose it was the growing emphasis on literacy that started it. Once our rudimentary and individual styles of handwriting had been developed, it became clear to me that there were those who could produce clear, tidy, attractive oieces of work. And there was mine. Similarly, with drawing, but that was ok. I knew some people were artists and others werent. It was the writing which was expected of us that caused me most discouragement and later pain.

Mine always looked untidy. We were asked for a piece of work by the teacher and it was apparent this was our obligation. My clumsily formed scrawl was always conspicuous by its malformed and scruffy jumble (though it was, I contend, always legible)
The content was at best, secondary, but the style was all. And my style was messy and a bit crap.

And i always envied those people who could turn out such attractive stuff, stuff which made my attempts look so inferior by comparison that I felt shamed and embarrased. So, I tried my hardest to make mine good too, only somehow, i never managed to do it and the results were still always messy, untidy and criticised.

And so, I realised that other people can do good stuff, whereas, I on the other hand, was destined to always produce second rate stuff. I was a bit rubbish at football, I couldnt draw, I was gawky and clumsy. I didnt excel or even become adequate at anything, It seemed.

So, I grew up, my handwriting remained awful (but legible!), I was sent to remedial writing classes with illiterate kids who could not read two-syllable words. At home I was reading serious adult books, quality literature, borrowed from the library with my mum's tickets.
But my handwriting was so bad that it seemed to offend against some standard set by the educational establishmet. So, in place of assembly every Tuesday, i was sent to a class with possibly the most self-ignorantly stupid man i have ever met. And my handwriting never improved.
At this time, i wrote a couple of pieces for the shool magazine which were universally lauded and I began to realise that my content was a little beyond the average. But O levels and A levels left me too busy to explore this and I never really explored this aspect.

And so, I continued to perform in a mediocre fashion, admiring those dazzling people who seemed to do everything right, and wo were usually attractive and better dressed than me, and wishing fate had supplied me the attributes to do the same. But I was resigned to my lot and I went on to get nine fairly mediocre O levels, except of course English, in which I excelled (I was beginning to get an inkling by then), and physics which I enjoyed.
Others got 10 A grades, some by swotting relentlessly and others by dint of apparent sheer brilliance.

And then A levels came: I worked a bit, still no longer distinguishing myself particularly. I discovered girls, alcohol, the usual kind of thing. And for my efforts I got some extremely poor grades in Maths, Physics and Chemistry that were just enough to get me into a very crap polytechnic in a grim and godforsaken part of the world.

Then I took up the banjo and went busking and generally didnt do all that much work. But I sensed that had I worked harder, my performance probably would not have been significantly better as I generally found the subject matter laborious and tedious, and well, everything I did ended up a bit crap anyway. So, engineering was not me and academia was not something I took to easily, though everyone seemed to expect me to.
And so, I failed the first year of my degree, which was silly, and suffered the ignominy of falling down into the HND class, largely regarded as some kind of remedial course for dullards by most of the peole I associated with.
I scraped a pass. Just.

This enabled me to get a job at British Aerospace. I didnt really want to work there but none of my other interviews bore fruit. It seems this grim and pretty crap establishment was all that would accept me. And so I farted about for a couple of years, working with people who had given up all hope of being productive happy humans until I could bear no more of the Death of Aspiration and left to work on the production line at the company I now work for.

There, due to my crap qualifications, I was not allowed to do anything worthy as I was apparently a bit thick, what with not having a degree and all. the management stated (to my face) that without a good honours degree, I would not be accepted into the engineering community as they "didnt want to dilute the skill pool".
And so, one day, I had a furious row with an influential manager who basically fired me. Luckily, my own manager took pity on me and pointed me towards a job that was going in marketing and I went for it and got it, much to my surprise and delight. And truly, it was the making of me. I found working with people, explaining technical concepts and reading responses from posture, expression and gesture to be much easier and more rewarding than engineering. I used a lot of words and I could type them.

Here I discovered that, though I am a bit slapdash, which has generally been the root of most of the crap results I got when i tried to do something worthwhile, I am actually quite good with words. Released from the tyranny of using a pen, which my fine motor coordination always struggled with, words can flow freely and the myriad ideas that course through my head are given voice in a way that frees them and allows them to associate with other ideas, sometimes to a hyperbole that when I subsequently read them, I cannot recollect writing them, or scarce believe I was in fact the author.

And so, as I stood miserably in the shower yesterday, remarking to myself on the mediocrity with which most of my endeavours have been met, it occurred to me that stringing words together to portray thoughts I have is really the only thing I have found myself to be half-decent at.

Oh, occasionally people say I have a "gift" for words or I "should write a book" but I take this with a grain of salt. Others are equally good or better and I have no pretensions of being professional at it.
But I do think I am probably better than average at it and so, casting aside my recent grumpy petulance, I feel it would be a shame were I not to do the only thing I have ever been pleased with the results of.

And so here I am!

1 comment:

Librarian said...

It is irrelevant whether "others" are equally good or better. If you ever do decide to do something about your writing in a professional manner, it should not have anything to do with what other people do, say or write, but entirely with your own motivation for writing.
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Speaking of handwriting, my colleagues have often urged me to please give them call back notices and other such messages by email instead of leaving a note on their desk. Someone once said to me I should have become a doctor, for my handwriting is just as illegible as that of most doctors.