Warm greetings to all who happen across my humble, budding blog. I hope what you read here proves interesting – I’m new to all this, so bear with me while I find my feet on this new writing platform. My name is Anne-Marie and, after 3 years of continuously working towards coursework deadlines for my Undergraduate Degree in English Literature, I’ve recently been feeling rather bereft of opportunities to think and discuss critically those aspects of life, culture and literature that catch my attention. Unless I’m given a script to follow, I struggle to communicate with ‘the spoken word’. I get the feeling that my voice is quite monotonous, and I possess none of the spontaneity required for normal, everyday conversations. So I thought: ‘Why not start a blog?’. I can express opinions and process thoughts while being completely silent, avoiding all the awkwardness of actual human interaction that follows me around more successfully than my own shadow.
I am 21 years old; however, based on the reactions of those who enquire about my age, my appearance suggests that I have only just entered adolescence. I attempted to buy a lottery ticket a few months ago and was asked to show my I.D. (the required age for a lottery ticket purchase being 16 years). The shop assistant nearly fell off his chair when my driving license showed I was in fact 3 years into adulthood. I’ve learnt to accept it as a positive, in the hopes that 20 years from now, people can still tell me with a straight face that I don’t look my age.
I have lived in the second city of the United Kingdom for most of my life, apart from a 3 year interlude in Aberystwyth for my university study. In spite of the beautiful scenery, quiet environment and close community that Aberystwyth offered, I think I’ll always be a city girl at heart. Our house is located within 20 minutes of 2 major shopping centres, the roads are easier to drive on, and there’s lots to do throughout the city. Aberystwyth could become claustrophobic: everything was located within the town itself, with just small villages surrounding it. There weren’t that many places to escape to if things became stressful. It was a great change living by the sea, though, and I met some wonderful people who made me feel more accepted as an individual than I’d ever felt before. They understood (and often shared) many eccentricities of my personality – my obsessive perfectionism, my aversion to cosmetics, and most importantly, the value I set on reading and cups of tea. I finally felt comfortable with myself, although I think my hair’s resistance to any attempts I make to control it will always cause me a great deal of grief.
I loved my course. I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy learning as much as I did at university. I realised how much I loved the process of researching, writing and editing critically, and how much fun it was to discover all the clever techniques and issues, and generally great storytelling, that fiction presents us with. Reading has, as long as I remember, been my favourite past time. I would try new sports, learn an instrument, but my interest and motivation in these activities only lasted a few months, if that. I would always return to my books. A quote from Helen Keller speaks to and about my life: ‘Literature is my utopia’. When the real world becomes too complicated to deal with, I find a good book, make myself a cup of tea and read for hours on end. I’ve almost made myself late for work on a few occasions, so desperate have I been to finish a chapter of a book.
It’s madness how involved we can become in these stories, with these authors, past or present. I mean, across 3 years, I spent innumerable hours and thousands of Great British pounds to read and write about fiction. Books have the power to change people, to alter the way they perceive and interact with the world around us, without losing the basic entertainment that reading should provide. Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ completely changed the how I reacted to literature. As a required text for my GCSE study, it was my first introduction to real analysis of fiction, unveiling the deeper historical or social issues integrated within the basic plot, yet I still appreciate and enjoy the story itself.
Whatever career I eventually decide upon, I’m not sure I’ll be completely invested in it if there is an absence of books for me to pore over. I’d prefer to work in Publishing, although as I’ve discovered in the past 9 months of filling applications and making my cover letter specific to individual publishing houses, it’s a highly sought after career choice so places are limited. I’m sure persistence will pay off though, it just takes one accepted application to start the process. In the mean time, I’m content enough in my full time employment in a restaurant. It’s close to home, I work with lovely people, and the skills and confidence you acquire are invaluable. I’ve definitely learnt how to keep calm when confronted by an unhappy customer, although I still think I go bright red and stammer over my words with embarrassment. I just don’t cope well with irate people, and you’d be surprised how worked up someone can get over chicken and chips.
I’d also like to see a bit more of the world. I’m not sure my nervous disposition could cope with being independent in an unfamiliar country for any extended length of time. I’m not even sure I’d get past arranging the flights before I formed a long list of reasons not to go travelling for longer than a month. But I love exploring, I love being a tourist and experiencing new places and cultures, even for a short while. I see photographs of castles, hills, landmarks from across the world and I envy others of their confidence to actually get up and go there. I just want to see things, and be awed by them. Just as books tell stories, so too do buildings, statues, and other such landmarks. My family and I went to Paris for our first holiday outside of the UK in 2011 (except Florida in 1999 but I was 7 and all I took notice of was Disneyworld); I can’t explain how amazed I was by everything we visited. The Palace of Versailles took my breath away, and I was seriously considering buying a tent and camping secretly in the grounds for the rest of my life before I realised how impractical and highly illegal that would be. That’s how beautiful it was to me. The history, the architecture, the gardens – I just wanted to be there forever. I’d like to experience that feeling as much as I can: of being fully aware of how important a place is in terms of natural beauty, or historical and cultural significance.
Anyway, I think I’ve rambled on enough for now. I’m hoping the content of future blog posts will flesh out this sketch of my person better than any list of ‘Fun Facts About Me’ I could compile, not that it would be that long. If you’ve reached the end if this, my first ever blog post, thank you. I hope I haven’t bored or insulted anyone enough to make them run for the hills and never return here again. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions if you’d like to hear more before I click the shiny ‘Publish’ button for the second time.