Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Personal, Writing

My 21st Birthday

You set off the fire alarm,

pulling me from my novel,

to the grass outside.

From a boy into a bird,

you surfed towards me,

and I was wrapped up in you,

and bows,

your giddy gift,

though it was my turn to receive.

 

Your bullish greed,

wouldn’t let my eyes,

or my heart wander.

Still, I couldn’t complain,

I was spoiled by the strands of silver,

spray painted gold,

lazily lying over lapis lazuli.

 

I had the world on a string,

and rain in my shoes,

as I chanted your best wishes,

until my throat begged for mercy.

I ran across town,

and painted the world,

rainbow,

with the sound of your voice,

and a cry of,

“Happy Birthday Jennifer.”


Order “Stormy Weather” here

Order “Last Of The Greenwich Glamour Girls” here

Order “The Things We Did Last Summer” here

Order “Home Wrecker” here

Listen to”Past Preston” here

RECENT FREE CREATIVE WRITING COLLECTIONS
Are You Afraid?
Ladylike
Summer Of Love

RECENT BLOGS
Hello 2018, Goodbye Porn Watchers
Why I Hate Dating In The Modern World
A Letter To My Fifteen Year Old Self

COME FIND ME
Twitter
Instagram
Ask Jen
Facebook
Patreon
Tumblr
Amazon
Podcast
Spotify
YouTube

Posted in Blog, Personal

What I learned in 2015

For those that don’t know, I have a habit of being late. I was once three hours late to a first date, but still managed to get a second date (and a three year relationship) out of it, but it isn’t one of my habits I encourage, or, hard as it is to believe, do on purpose.

With that in mind, I’m aware that I’m late for the “What I learned in 2015” post, but if I did it on time, I’d feel like I wasn’t being myself. So, without further ado, and further anecdotes on how awful it must be to date me, here is what I learned in 2015.

1. I don’t have to leave a window open for the people who have left my life.

I know this is probably something that everybody else learned years ago, but I have always had a hard time putting my own needs behind what people tell me I need (more on that later) which has lead to me having people in my life that I didn’t need or want there.

Some people believe that it does no good to keep painful opinions, thoughts and behaviours away from people, but personally, I don’t see any value in being forced to endure someone else’s negativity, when for the most part, I don’t have to. Is suffering really good for the soul? Probably not, and there are so many handy tools available to keep it at bay, that in 2015, I decided to use them all to their full advantage.

I finally figured out how to block one of my ex boyfriend’s IP address from my tumblr page, and I finally found it within myself to do so. It may seem a small thing, but knowing that he could (and actually at times was) peek into my life, find out what I’m doing and how I’m feeling was something that had bothered me for a long time. I also blocked him on facebook, and thanked God that he had always thought twitter was stupid (although I did do a quick check, just to make sure, and didn’t find him). I know it is a common opinion that you shouldn’t put things on the internet if you don’t want the entire world to be able to hypothetically see it, but given how social media has evolved, and how many people utilise it to vent frustrations, or curate a safe space for themselves and their emotions, that opinion is rather outdated, and it’s useful for people to have the tools to protect themselves, and it’s incredibly useful that I learned that it was okay to utilise them.

I have so much to do, and so much I am experiencing, and I have a right to isolate whoever I chose from those experiences, without having to isolate potential new friends.

2. I am capable.

Again, this could be something that a lot of people learn earlier, and I did in fact pick it up around the age of four, but I lost that belief somewhere around twenty one.

Self doubt is probably the highest contributing factor to millions of crushed dreams throughout the world. We all feel it occasionally, some more than others, and I felt it for almost two years.

I’ve never felt anything worse than being surrounded by people who believe in me, and thinking them all to be misinformed. I convinced myself that I’d been wrong for years about my potential, about all the things I had achieved, but in 2015, by learning to accept the possibility of failure and allowing others to show me what I could do, I learned that I am in fact very capable.

I don’t doubt that somewhere down the line, I’m going to lose confidence in myself and my abilities again, and hopefully, it won’t take so long to find it again, because I, and everyone around me deserves to feel confident.

3. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t meet my expectations at university

I have honestly been torturing myself since I graduated. I graduated, yes, but I could have done more, or I could have met more people, or read something different, or gone to more events, or got more stuff on my CV, or…

It doesn’t matter.

It genuinely does not matter at all.

For the longest time, I had an iron clad plan, and the thought of deviating from it was scarier than all of the horror movies I watched when I should have been reading, or researching, or whatever it is I had planned to do at university. The truth is, it doesn’t matter that I didn’t quite adhere to that plan, because I’m still alive. I have time (God willing) to study again if I want to, meet whoever I want to, read whatever I want to, and with the way media is evolving, I’m not even sure my CV (which actually isn’t as bad as I thought) will limit my future too much.

Gaining a lot from university is great, and if you figure it out straight after you graduate, that is amazing, but if you don’t, that’s okay too, because there is time to figure it out when you are ready. People (myself included) put a lot of pressure on themselves in regards to academics, and it’s no wonder things sometimes go wrong. I’ve given myself a break, and I’d recommend it to anyone else too. Take a moment, figure it out, and remember that you’re going to be okay.

4. It doesn’t matter if people don’t like me

This again is something a lot of people get to grips with earlier, and it’s something that some people never have, but now, I have.

Everybody wants to be liked, to some extent, and finding out someone doesn’t like you can be a terrible feeling.

I could tell you that I overcame this by remembering that a handful of people not liking me pales in comparison to the many that do, but that isn’t what helped me.

I like me. I like me a lot. If I could settle down and marry myself, and have many interesting pets and a gallery of my selfies in the upper west wing of our mansion, you bet I would. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could marry myself, but I can live in sin with myself for the rest of my life. I could also hypothetically have the pets and gallery, maybe the mansion too if I hustle hard enough.

My point is, I am the only certain thing in my life. Friends can come and go, family might too, boyfriends and girlfriends certainly do (I’m going to put this down to my constant lateness and talent for ignoring people spontaneously when I get emotionally overwhelmed), but I’m here forever, and if I like me, does it really mean that much if someone else doesn’t? I actually have a mental list of the people who have either expressed dislike for me, or who I think might secretly dislike me, and I can’t see any validity in their reasons, so, I’ve finally decided it isn’t worth bothering with. I’m still my favourite person in the world (and perhaps, according to some, my own problematic fave), but I’m on the whole, a good and kind person, so I’ll stay away from anyone who isn’t on the bandwagon and keep it moving.

5. I don’t have to justify saying “No, thank you”, or even just “No”, especially to myself. 

I’m a fussy eater, for those who didn’t know. I’ve spent years pretending to be allergic to seafood because I didn’t like it, and I was frightened someone would tell me I was being stupid, or tell me “Just try a little bit, if you don’t like it, don’t have any more”. To be perfectly honest, the very thought of trying new food, or food I feel like I won’t like is one of the worst scenarios I can imagine. If I was in Saw, he would have me tied to an explosive device, with a plate of new food that could lead to my freedom, and I’m not sure if I could do anything but shake my head and accept death. However, in 2015, I decided that the worst that could happen was a minor argument and someone thinking I was a bit stupid, which as I mentioned previously, is something I’m no longer concerned with, which lead to me being able to be more open about closing the doors to new food.

This may seem counterproductive, and I do expect someone to tell me how I’m limiting myself, and not experiencing the world around me and so on, but I will be just fine experiencing the world in other exciting ways, and keeping my mouth free of anything vaguely exotic, thank you very much.

Speaking of saying “No”, I finally got round to realising that I have romantic prospects, and don’t have to say “Yes” to everyone who asks, in case nobody else ever does. As it all turns out, years of spending every spare moment in the library and only practicing flirting on posters of William Regal did mean that I didn’t date much (or at all if I’m remembering correctly) until sixth form. By this point, I had convinced myself that my lack of boyfriends must have been because I was terribly undesirable, as opposed to it being more to do with the fact nobody actually saw me, ever.

Unfortunately, this has been something that took a while to figure out (I wasn’t lying about the lateness), but I’ve finally realised that I probably won’t die alone having never experienced a loving relationship, ergo, I don’t have to go on boring and fruitless dates with people I don’t like, because I’ll probably find someone I like eventually anyway, and if I don’t, as I mentioned earlier, I’ll always have me…and my William Regal posters.

Until next time, Por siempre tu chica,

J x

Posted in Blog, Personal, Thoughts On Writing, Writing

Twilight

Jennifer Juan selfie

When I was seventeen, I decided to go to university. I had considered, and dismissed it before, but at seventeen, an English teacher remarked of his hopes for me to continue my studies at university, and I decided “why the fuck not?”

So, off to university I went. I decided to do a course in creative writing, and was excited at the prospect of meeting people like myself, and I did. I met a lot of wonderful people, but I also met quite a few people that I’m going to discuss further.

Before university, my writing was isolated. I occasionally shared it in english classes, when pushed into it, but it never went further than that. I had never really met other writers before, but they always seemed nice in books and movies, and so I wasn’t too concerned.

In one of my first classes, there was stifled laughter from one corner when a student stated that Twilight was her favourite book. Now, I’ve never read Twilight, and I probably won’t, but this moment highlighted a big issue in the writing community for me.

There is a startling problem with elitism among students in writing classes (and writing in general). I’m not sure why I was so surprised to discover it, in hindsight, because it’s incredibly visible. Of course, all writing is subjective, and there would be no point in writing continuing if we all read and enjoyed the same content, and with that in mind, why should someone be laughed at for enjoying Twilight? A student inspired by Twilight is still capable of writing to the same level of somebody who has been raised on a diet of Keats and Wilde, and it’s unfortunate that people still think otherwise.

Every writer has limitless potential, and the way they discovered their passion for writing is valuable, regardless of who pointed them in that direction. There is no reason a person should be written off immediately, due to their creative influences, because it potentially throws away future best sellers, books that will change lives and open minds. Drowning out a potential writer’s voice with obnoxious laughter at their influences only isolates writing further as a medium, and continues to present the stereotype that writing is for a small section of the population, and that no other voices are worthy, which is hardly the image writing needs.

There are expectations, of those who attend creative writing classes, to consume a certain type of writing, and then produce the same, which completely undermines the word “creative” in the title of the class. No writer has the same journey, and your journey being full of Plath and Morrissey vinyls doesn’t make you more intelligent, or more entitled to be in a writing class, because a learning environment should be for anyone who found their way there, and wants to learn more.

If a person has something to express, and decides writing is the best medium for them, they should be encouraged, and not mocked, because their influences don’t match up to your own expectations. The content of their inspiration isn’t important, the existence of the inspiration itself is the key factor that earned them a place in class, and you don’t get to tell them otherwise. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, passion is the only prerequisite to advancing their writing journey.

I’m now twenty three, and while I have understood this for a while, I am aware a lot of people still struggle with the concept. The truth is, it doesn’t make you a better writer if you laugh at somebody who read and was inspired by Twilight. It just makes you rude.