Friday, 16 October 2009

My Week At Book Trust

This week has been one of quite a few hidden revelations I’ve discovered about myself. Partly, it’s all job orientated, but most of it’s about what sort of person I really am. I always thought I’d be rubbish working in an office environment, that I was more suited to somewhere else. Where else? I don’t know, but just somewhere else—since my experiences of going into offices have always been that they’re tediously boring places where nothing ever happens and the works all dreary and boring. I’m pretty much convinced that although some parts of the work that everyone does here at Book Trust will be tedious and boring (because let’s face it, in all aspects of life boredom will rank pretty highly in one of your most frequent emotions) but quite a lot of it seems to be, dare I say it, fun. Even when I was stuck doing spreadsheets (which aren’t a picnic, let me tell you!) I didn’t really mind. Which strikes me as sort of odd considering I would find that pretty boring in any other environment. I think it might be because even whilst doing those spreadsheets I felt like I was contributing to a higher purpose. At school, you rarely are given tasks that fully contribute to a purpose. Sure, they’re generally all contributing to your grade, which in turn gets you jobs—but honestly, what sort of purpose is algebra or trigonometry going to attain past your schooling years? Unless you’re a sadistic masochist person who likes to inflict pain on themselves, of which, I am surely not. I think part of the reason I’ve enjoyed my time here so fervently is due in large part to the people, but also to the feeling that I’m being given responsibility and independence and being made to feel like some of the work I’m doing really matters, like mail, writing blogs and writing about The Book That Changed My Life, helping out with an event and picking competition winners. You see, all of that matters, in some small way to someone, it will matter, largely and probably mainly, just to me.

Although I don’t really hate school (although sometimes the feeling of hatred is a very tempting emotion when mixed with the word school) I find it quite boring. I bet you’re thinking of course you do! Boredom is an emotion associated with teenagers. We are the army of the bored. All we are is bored. All we do is sit at home whinging about everything. I’m not going to try and pretend that’s not me. It quite frequently is, and school is often a cause of that moaning. During this week, I’ve managed to pinpoint the reason to why I struggle to like school as much as I loved this week. The reason is pretty simple. Here, I’m being given that allusive thing—independence, and its counterpart, responsibility. Here, although of course I’m being told what to do, I’m also being left to get on with it. At school, we are wrapped and wrapped in hoards of cotton wool, and after all that we’re STILL stopped every couple of minutes to check that we’re getting on OK. Sometimes I wish people would just leave me to get on with it—to make my own mistakes, to learn by myself, to find what I’m looking for with the one person I can fully trust. Me.

At school it’s all about working as a collective amoeba, and whenever you sort of veer off the perfect little arrangement and make a mistake you’re absolutely SCREAMED at. Getting something wrong is not the end of the world. Maybe the teachers need some life lessons, because mistakes are part of being that carbon-based life-form called human. Mistakes are what you learn from, and are what shape who you really are. If you don't have lots of errors in life then you're not human. But, how can you make a mistake if you constantly have someone a) telling you exactly what to do and b) tearing you limb from limb whenever you make one? Frankly, the two things just don’t add up with what their saying. Adults, particularly teachers, always say that mistakes can be made, so why don’t they practise what they preach?

I’ve just realised I’ve veered wildly off course. I was meant to be telling you about my time here, and about what I’ve learnt. But all of the above is what I’ve learnt. I’ve learnt about me. I’ve learnt that this sort of job is exactly what I want to do—when I’m not writing, which is my ultimate goal in life, to write and have someone like it—that I feel I thrive and seek enjoyment from the sort of environment I’ve been working in this week. That I find the one thing I so rarely find at school. I find some sort of passion and love. At school I go through my day like a bit of a zombie, always stumbling along, just getting on with what I’ve got to do, never really coming alive unless it’s English or History. Although on a whole I don’t find it mind-bogglingly hard (unless the class names are Chemistry or Maths) I just don’t find that magical, burning desire to really knuckle down and get on with it. I’ve found out that here, I want to get on with it, and I want to really try and do something that will be helpful. Even when I’m on the bus home and deliriously tired, I still want to be back there doing more. For reasons I cannot explain to you fully because they don’t make sense to me—I’ve loved it here. Absolutely, purely, decidedly, loved it. In fact, if they I could come back volunteering to do it next week, or in the near future, I’d say yes in a heartbeat. Probably because when I’m here I’m not bored, and when I’m sitting at home, or sometimes even when I’m out with my friends (only sometimes, I’m not that serious and devoid of a likeness for social life!) I usually am. Not only have I had a real, true work experience (of the non-tea making variety) but I’ve discussed my ambitions and received advice from the people that know best about that sort of thing. One thing I know with utter certainty and clear clarity—I’ve had a life-changing week, one that if I was given the opportunity, I’d relive again and again.

Now it’s time to discuss my favourite books. I have so many favourite books it’s almost as if they don’t warrant the title favourite. I have many favourite books, but ranking pretty highly is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Purely because it’s gripping, romantic (if not quite tragic, what with the love being destructive and mad) and it's such a brilliant story, filled with wonderful, mad and generally unlikeable characters.

I also really enjoy the work of George Orwell. Having analysed both Animal Farm and 1984 for school, I am certain this man was a genius, with such excellent morals and ideas. His books have been life-changing, and truly opened up my eyes to the world around me. I also really like a prominently boy-book Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Another one I read for school, that I can say, with full integrity, I’d never have touched with a burning hot poker. My Dad tried to make me read it. I read the back, started some chapters, got to the killing of the Simon—and being the sensitive, squeamish girl I am; I felt violently sick. I stopped reading and put it back on the bookcase, wishing to never see it again. The following year, low and behold, it pops up for a book I’ve got to read and analyse. Great. The sarcasm and half-hearted attempt to re-read it came next. That was until I read it with an open mind, delved into the complexities of all Golding is trying to convey, and found out that whilst this book is violent, sickening and quite painful to read, it’s a very important, intelligent book, one I found myself liking more and more.

Of course I read normal books. I dabble in teenage fiction too—with one catch. It has to be intelligent. I can’t stand a book that’s all about the trials and triumphs of a first love, or falling out with your happy little close knit group of friends—and everything magically straightening out by the end. That isn’t real life. I prefer to read books that try to give me realistic expectations of what life’s going to be like when I step out that door in the morning. Filling me with silly whims and notions of princes on magical white ponies just isn’t for me. Sure, I like escapism and fantasy as much as the next person, but at the same time, I like my fantasy to be taken with a pinch of realistic salt. I like anything by Kevin Brooks; Candy, Martyn Pig and Lucas. I also enjoy Nicola Morgan; Sleepwalking, Fleshmarket and Deathwatch. Other books I’ve found intriguing are; The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Generation Dead by Daniel Waters and How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, among many others. I sort of live for reading and writing, so you see, if I wrote all my favourites, it’d take you days to trek through them.

I honestly expect you’ve stopped reading by now. I probably would have, but if you’ve stayed along for the messy ride, I hope you’ve liked what you’ve been reading, and if you haven’t, then I’m sorry for stealing some of your precious minutes of life.

Other News

You can now listen to an audio interview with Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell following our September Tour of the Highlands. A couple of weeks ago Heather promised you all a tour video, this is almost complete so watch out for it soon! (Chris "Speilberg" Newton)

We also recieved a beautiful poem from at Raigmore Primary which you can read on their blog.


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