Flash Fiction – Real-Time Record/Write

After the amazing Basically Britt uploaded a video where she recorded herself reading in real-time, I felt inspired to do a Write With Me: Real-time video! If you’d like to see that click the link here!

As for what I wrote: Here it is. Prompt taken from ‘642 Things to Write About’ –

A conversation about you that you weren’t supposed to overhear: 

“No, I don’t want her to find out.”

“She has a right to know.”

“It’s not your decision to make.”

“It’s not yours either.”

I had come down for a glass of water. The glass I kept in my room, the one with the painted flowers, daisies and daffodils, cold in my hand. The second to last step always creaked. A guttural, squeal of pain-like sound, and my left foot hovered over it. Retreated to the previous step. My whole body was waiting on pause. Did they mean me?

“The sooner she knows, the sooner we can work to move forwards.” My dad’s voice, usually calm and reasonable, is almost hysterical. He can’t seem to shake the irritation from his voice. The betrayal.

“There are no forwards.” My mum’s voice. Usually shrill, cold and calculating today. I don’t like it. The world feels backwards. And I don’t understand what they’re saying. What they mean. “Not for me anyway.”

I perch on the step behind me. I’ve come in too deep in the conversation. I’ve missed the beginning. The catalyst. I’ve missed the whole point. I can hear my heartbeat in my ears, blood rushing through, straining to pick up more information. I wonder where they’re positioned. Are they perched on the sofa? Stood by the door?

More immediately I think, how can I move closer? I put the glass down gently, making sure it rests against the coarse carpet, and I wipe my sweat palms against my pyjama bottoms. I lean heavily on the bannister, skipping the squealing step, and trying with all my might to be delicate when my foot lands on the step below.

“If you keep talking like that, I’ll…”

“You’ll what?”

I’ve never heard mum so defensive. So animalistic. She seems beyond anger, and I’m desperate to see it on her face. Desperate to see if I recognise her at all. My second foot follows the first, easily with the first rooted to the quieter step. I tuck my lips into my mouth in the hopes that it’ll silence any loud breathes. I know I’m breathing harder and faster. I’m so scared of what they’re saying. So, lost without the cause.

“What do you think will happen if you tell her?” Dad asks. “Why are you so scared she’ll know?”

Mum takes a minute to respond, and when she does the animal in her has tamed a little. “I don’t want her to look at my differently. I don’t want her to hate me.”

This doesn’t make sense. Mum and I row all the time. I tell her I hate her, and she tells me I’m spiteful. And then we both act like nothing’s changed. Nothing’s wrong. She knows I don’t hate her, can’t hate her. Not really. Not for long.

Still, this last sentence comforts me. At least it’s not cancer, at least she’s not dying. That means we’ve got time. Something we can fix. I’m more like Dad in that way. I want to help; I want to fix things. I want to make everything alright.

I’m by the door now, my eye peering through the crack between hinges. Mum is sitting on the sofa as dad stands over her. She looks close to tears. Dad is red in the face, his arms crossed. They both look tired. But dad looks more resolute than mum does. He knows he’s right. She does too.

“She won’t hate you. Not if you’re honest with her. But if you don’t tell her yourself, if she finds out on her own…”

“I just need more time.”

“You don’t have it.” Dad moves to pull her towards him, but though she stands she steps away from him.

“Don’t do that. Don’t coddle me like a child. This isn’t your problem. It’s mine.”

I can see, on dad’s face, in the way his jaw loosens, in the way his shoulders slack, and the way his hands don’t know what to do with themselves, he’s heart broken by that statement. She’s breaking his heart.

I push the door open slowly, unsure what impact this will have on the conversation, but I can’t bear to be on the outside of this anymore. Can’t bear to be cut out. To watch from the outside as they hurt each other. Over me.

“What’s the problem?” I ask. I don’t know how many times I’ve asked this question, whilst being flippant with mum, or cursing at dad. But it has so much weight here, in this room, in this moment. It makes me hot. And hotter still when they both just stare at me. Even dad’s disappointed. This isn’t how he wanted me to find out – whatever it is. Mum starts crying. Big wet sobs into her hands, and she turns away from me.

“It’s not the time,” Dad says, holding his hands out in supplication. Hoping I’ll back down or back off. I’ve never seen them like this. I don’t know what to do. But I don’t want to leave either.

“You were just telling her it is the time. The time for what? What are you guys talking about?”

Mum sniffs, and I can see her shoulders are still shaking. Dad is still trying to usher me out of the living room, he’s moved closer, trying to push me out without touching me.

“What is it? Is mum dying?” I know she isn’t. They would have said. They would have told me. Relief softens my dad’s face for a second.

“No, baby,” he says, “she’s not dying. Can we talk about this in the morning?”

“I can’t sleep not knowing,” I say, forcing my voice to stay flat. Stay calm. “Mum? Say something?”

Mum flinches. She goes quiet. She turns and her whole face is red from crying. Her eyes are bloodshot and desperate. I feel bad for pushing. I hate that I came downstairs. My skin runs cold and I expect her to tell me she hates me. Tell me I’ve ruined her life. I’m making it worse just by being here.

“I don’t know how to tell you…” she mumbles. “I’m so sorry baby, I’m so sorry…”

“Just…” I try to find the words, in equal measure annoyed she can’t and frantic. “Just say it. Whatever it is. I deserve to know.”

“I don’t… I’m not…” She goes quiet. A shadow falls across her face. “I’m not your mother. I’m your mum, I’ll always be your mum, but I’m not your mother. I’m so sorry baby. I’m so sorry.”

It hits my chest and presses like bricks. One beat after the other pounds and hurts and I can’t breathe.

“What are you talking about? Of course, you’re my mum. People always say I look like you.”

“No, baby. I’m your auntie. My sister gave birth to you in prison.” I sink to the floor. The world sinks around me, and continues to sink, and sink, and sink. “She got out today,” mum continues. “She wants to meet you.”

Why do you do what you do?

I guess, as I’m technically asking myself this question, it would be a bit of a cop-out to say ‘because I love it’. Though I do, and I always have enjoyed; writing, editing, conversing, blogging, reading, and everything that connects those dots together.

It’s just become more obvious to me the more I’ve been layered and layered with jobs and writing-related stress.

Untitled

Today I did a workshop with the Metis – Ashford and Folkestone Network for women in business. I was, unsurprisingly, really nervous about it. How can I explain to people – in only half an hour – how to get the most out of their blog? How do I dare when this is my current shop front? I’ve had blogs in the past that have done really well (and others that haven’t). What if I’m not as good as I think I am? What if I’m a fraud?

Turns out – everyone has those fears. Everyone is trying to do their best. This shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did highlight the amount of pressure I feel to be the ‘voice of authority’ when it comes to blogging. Which is stupid – for the simple reason I AM an authority when it comes to blogging because of years of experience, my client track record, my statistics and my research.

Of course, you never know you know something until someone reminds you.

UntitledI went to AccessxHelenAnderz last week at Hoxton Hall. I’ve been to a few workshops on Youtube and blogging, and this was – in my ever so humble opinion – one of the best. Helen Anderson introduced herself in a humble/hustling hard kind of way which was fresh and authentic. She didn’t teach anyone in the room to ‘suck eggs’ or ever assume that people were too stupid to understand her. She was friendly, fun and informed.

Now I ghost write for other people, I wanted to make sure I was evoking that same kind of reaction.

I started with a little game, asking people in pairs to tell an anecdote. Telling them they had three minutes to explain the anecdote. I then gave them 45 seconds and cut in.

“Not everyone is going to have time to read everything. And you’re fighting against the noise around you. You’ve got to make sure your blog stands out.” – And away I went. We talked about types of blog, types of content, types of audience. And I ran over my half an hour easily – even though I’d skipped two slides so I could leave time for questions! I hope Helen Anderz doesn’t mind that I quoted her directly – “If you’ve got a voice or a message, you’ll find an audience.” I just felt, for these brilliant businesswomen, it was the perfect take away.

I was asked at the end, “what is your favourite quote?” (and maybe that’s what this blog post should have been called.

My response:- Shia LaBeouf, “Just do it.” I wanted to make people laugh. When you’re laughing, you’re relaxed and open to new things. And that’s what I wanted to share with them.

I really enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experience with women with their own keen business understanding. Plus it helped that I was told at the end how “amiable, and well presented” I was. How professional. How enthusiastic. I couldn’t stop grinning the whole way home.

So why do I do what I do? Because I love it, for all the reasons above and more.

How long does it take for you to get ready?

Blogger's Daily Routine Timeline InfographicIf you’re one of those magical people who can wake up and just ‘be awake’ I’d ask which demon you sold your soul to and how can I get in touch?

Waking up for me is an ORDEAL! Firstly, why do all alarms ring through your head? Why can’t they lull you awake, gently? And with enough time to become sentient, after that weird fever dream you were just experiencing? I’ve tried using different songs, phone ringtones, the radio. All of it hurts. So once I’m awake I like to lie awake and stare at the ceiling for ten minutes whilst I contemplate pretending to be dead or calling in sick. Eventually, the need the use the bathroom becomes overwhelming and I get up.

When it comes to breakfast, well, this is the laziest part of my morning. I’ll either have cereal or toast if I’m doing it myself. I’ve recently moved back in with my parents (because my MA in Creative Writing has rinsed my account), and my mum likes to have bacon and eggs on toast for breakfast. If she’s cooking, then I wake up to the smells of bacon and it’s a lot easier to be enthused.

Once I’ve eaten, it’s time to shower and brush my teeth. I don’t spend longer than ten minutes in the shower. My hair is quite long, but I find a simple wash once and condition every three days keeps it in good condition. I don’t douse it in hairspray or straighten it very often, so it keeps my hairdresser happy when I see her.

On a dry day, it takes me exactly eleven minutes to get dressed, make my bed, brush my hair and brush my teeth. It’s the only part of my morning where I feel even remotely efficient. Rarely does my underwear match. Rarely can I find two socks with the same pattern, so I tend to stick with at least the same colour. I’ve tried to only buy black socks to that I can pretend I have my life together. But I love a novelty sock. I will not apologise.

On a wet day, it takes slightly longer to get dressed because of the drying process. First, I have to enjoy a cup of tea, a bit of my book or a youtube video. It’s a must, without this part of my day everything else crumbles. Then I lightly blow dry my hair at the root, and towel dry the ends. If I’m sat at my desk/vanity table whilst this is happening, it’s about this time that my cat comes running into my room, screaming, and sits on my lap slowing the rest of my morning down. Whilst I’ve been working from home this hasn’t been a problem – but when I get back to a nine-to-five in September? Well, we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.

Finally, Makeup.

I timed this bit, because it’s the longest part of my ‘getting ready’ process – which is why it only happens if I’m:

  • Sick – and need to hide how awful I look to the general public.
  • I’m on a date – and need to hide how awful I look to the poor schmuk sat across from me.
  • I’m on a night out with my friends – and I need to hide the fact I’m the Lena Dunham to their Taylor Swift(s).
    • This is a reference to Katherine Ryan’s stand up comedy AKA The hilarious retelling of truths too relevant to my life. If you’ve not seen her Netflix Specials – fix your life immediately. 
  • I’m bored and I’ve got time.

Seventeen minutes to do my makeup. I’m saying that up front so you know in advance that I have no idea what I’m doing. That’s not the expedient ‘I do my make up every day, bit of foundation, bit of mascara and away I go!’ nor is it the ‘Everything I learned from my professional MUA course I’ve put into bite-size chunks for Instagram and Youtube – you’re welcome’. It’s in the chubby middle section of ‘I learned from everything I know youtube and cannot get the cat-eye flick on even the sixth try’.

It happens like this: Wash face, prime face, foundation, concealer, blusher, eyes, face powder (I know this is wrong, but I make no apologies. I’m just doing my best!) eyebrows, mascara, lipstick, check for boogers, maybe take a selfie. Depends how good the light is and how much spare time I have. Filter it. Save for later. I don’t like posting too many selfies at once, I don’t want people to think I’m at that level of self-confidence because I’m not, and they might expect me to do confident things like show up to parties.

I only have one bag that I use on a regular basis, so it has phone, keys and purse already in it. If I need anything else then I’ve usually packed it the night before because, again, I like to pretend I’ve got my life together.

Things that will never be part of my morning routine:

  1. Painting my nails – it never dries in time. I always get it everywhere. If I’m going to make a mess it’s going to be in the cool afternoon time so that I don’t have to worry about spending too much time on.
  2. Exercise – my dad goes to the gym before work three times a week, swimming at the weekends. And this blows my mind. I don’t want to be damp and gross from sweating and then showering in an unfamiliar place. I don’t want to hurt and ache when I walk around the office. Who am I kidding? I don’t want to exercise if I can help it…
  3. Food Prep – there’s something exciting about wondering whether you’re going to eat lunch at a normal time or scrabble at the local supermarket to throw something together in the short break you have. Unless… does leftover Chinese count as food prep?

So what do you think? Could you improve my routine? Or does it sound all too familiar? Leave a comment below, share with your friends and I’ll see you next week!

Who are your favourites on Youtube?

Below are all the Youtuber’s which aren’t just my favourites – but I 100% recommend and why. So, in no particular order…

ListiclesWhat Culture 

Matt Holmes began What Culture as a direct response to Superman Lives being terrible in 2006. Since then, their web content has ballooned into covering Films, Television, Sports, Gaming, Comics, Science and more. They welcome new content from smaller names, paying per article and the team behind the youtube content know exactly how to keep you interested in films you thought you’d heard everything about already. They review, critique and list quirks about films into nice little bites of awesome perfect for those ‘in-between’ moments like bus-rides and toilet breaks. 10/10 would recommend.

Community Queen USAMeghan Tonjes

This Goddess is the epitome of the Hussle Hard. She’s founded body positive collaborations, appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show, featured as Catherine The Great in an Epic Rap Battle (nominated for 2016 Streamy Award), has the voice of an angel, the wisdom to recognise trash and the compassion to explain why it’s trash eloquently. And who can forget #bootyrevolution? She knows what she’s about, encourages confidence, and makes me want to be a better human being. So yes. Flame Emoji. Heart Eyes Emoji.

Community Queen UKLex Croucher 

This wonderful human being always seems to predict exactly the content I was waiting for; whether it’s a rationalized and eloquent opinion on the politicised advertisements from Lush, Feminism, Sexy Darth Vader or discharge. She’s one of the few youtubers that I’ve seen encouraging her ‘community’ to engage by engaging with them via twitter on a regular basis – rather than just posting and not responding. She’s the most humane human being on the entire site. #Queen.

NewsPhil Defranco

If you’re ever feeling lost or exhausted by the constant barrage of anti-Muslim media, or Fox and Friends pretending the world isn’t fucking bleak – turn to the Defranco show. Before the PDS, there was SXEPhil. An opinionated hot-headed Italian boy with backward facing caps, too many volatile reactions, and clickbait titles. But over the last ten years or so, Phil’s let people into his world via the vlogs and BTS videos and become one of the few places I go for my news without worrying about ‘fake news’ or biased media. His opinions are still part of what makes his narration of events interesting, but the teenage angst has become something productive and considerate. And the team that works with him are second to none. I hope one day I can buy them all a drink to thank them for their service to the industry (as ick as I’ve made that sound).

“News, it’s what we do here.”

ComedyMike Falzone

I was (metaphorically) introduced to Mike Falzone through his time on SourceFed. He’d had a career as a muscian and youtuber previous, but he was coming into his comedy and stand up career which has since exploded. I’m just waiting for him to come to the UK so I can see him live. That’s the dream. He’s got a show called Mike in the Morning which is a parody of all those boring AF morning and daytime shows – which includes such elements as ‘Reading Tweets from Far Away’ and ‘Bad Furniture’. I’ve contributed to the latter with a gross sink I found on the road with a leaf in it. Mike responded by calling it ‘lovely’. Which made my day.

Video EssaysLindsay Ellis 

So, it’s no secret amongst my friends that I’m obsessed with video essays – and I blame Lindsay Ellis and her ‘Nostalgia Chic’ for getting me hooked in the first place. If you’re not sure if video essays are going to be your thing, have a flick through her content. I’d put money on you finding something worth your time. Nazi imagery in Star Wars maybe? Or the gender battles of Transformers? What about how Rent is the worst musical? Or the history of the Hunchback of Notredam? She’s got something for everyone, I promise.

So who are your faves? Leave me a comment below with any recommendations you’ve got!