I really am in my bliss when I am writing. And by writing, I mean crafting stories. I love the challenge of developing a character and discovering their story. I think that is why I love writing courses; they challenge me by drawing me out of my comfort zone.
There are elements of children’s writing that I can’t seem to wield into my writing repertoire, which held me understand that I need to write for older kids and adults (possibly). But I am trying. And that deliberateness of writing practice really stimulates me. And motivates me.
I started the following piece yesterday. I worked hard on it. It flowed to a point. And then I wasn’t sure what the main complication would be. I knew the beginning, the end (sort of) and what I wanted it to be about, but I wasn’t sure how to get it there. Today I kept plugging away until the inspiration hit me. I was relieved when it did. But it came after many edits and attempts at other ways.
I still need to refine a child’s voice – this story is aimed at kids in Year 6 (11-13 years of age). I channelled my nieces for a lot of this. I am not sure they are typical though. And I think my tenses are a bit off. But I am happy with it. And I’ve submitted it for ‘marking’ (Ann, if you read this, I really do love and appreciate how you pull my stuff apart – I hope you see my efforts at embracing this style of writing).
I will leave it to percolate for a few days and then, with fresh eyes, attack anything that seems out of place. And then, well then, I’m thinking of sending it to the Magazine I have composed it for. I can only try …
For your reading pleasure:
“I had a really bad dream last night,” I said quietly, without looking directly at Kayla’s face. I had decided I wasn’t going to tell anyone, but I knew that as soon as I saw my best friend I wouldn’t be able to keep it from her. I’ve never been able to keep anything from her.
“I dream all of the time,” Kayla twisted the end of her ponytail between her fingers absentmindedly, “Like, last night I dreamed that I was at the One Direction concert and Harry looked at me every time he sang ‘You light up my world like nobody else’ and I just knew we were meant to be together …”
We were walking slower than usual. Even though it was only 8 in the morning, the sun was really hot and the air felt really thick. We both wore sweat as moustaches and were regularly waving flies from our faces. An Australian summer, typically starting well before it should. Usually it doesn’t get this hot until we come back to school in January. I could feel sweat start to sit on my back under my bag. Yuck. It was going to be a long day.
Suddenly Kayla’s hands were waving in front of my face, “Hellloooooo! Anyone home?”
I smiled. Yes, this was my best friend, Kayla Edwards. Nicknamed The Tiny Pocket Rocket. She was shorter than me, thin, blonde, with blue eyes, just like a porcelain doll. Everyone loved her. She was smart and funny and strong; she didn’t take garbage from anyone. We have been best friends since I moved here in first grade. I love her but sometimes I question how we stay friends; we are as different in appearance as we are in personality.
“Where were you? I was singing to you.”
“I was thinking –“
“You think way too much Bella. Like, WAY too much. You need to sing more.”
And twirling her hair in her hand, she started to skip, loudly singing, “The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed. Come on! Sing!”
Laughing, I flipped my hair awkwardly, and we sang, skipping together, in the heat.
The day moved slowly. The temperature rose quickly. By lunch I was more than ready to be at home in the pool. We were all told to sit under the COLA and not move much. The teachers’ faces were red, and sweat marked their dresses or shirts where they had been sitting and leaning. Kayla was at the Formal Committee meeting. We usually ate lunch together. In a way, I was relieved. She had been singing that stupid song most of the day, and I was well and truly over it. I had my plugs in and was thinking about my dream.
My mum says that I have always had an overactive imagination. She thinks that’s why I have so many nightmares. I’m not convinced. I think there is something wrong with me. I am different to everyone else. If it weren’t for Kayla, I probably wouldn’t have any friends. I’m not pretty like her, or popular. I am too quiet, and prefer to be reading than talking. And it’s not that I’m ugly, just not pretty. I’m average really. Average weight, average height, average brown hair, average skin tone, average face. Just average.
I shuddered as I choked back tears. It isn’t like I don’t fit in with everyone, I just don’t try to; when I do hang out with the others I blend in just fine. Like, I like One Direction and Five SOS, but I really like the music my mum listens to, the old stuff, like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. And I am most comfortable in jeans and t-shirts rather than the flowing summer dresses that Kayla and the other girls wear. But I can wear them, so I can fit in. I just wish there was someone more like me to hang out with, just for a change sometimes.
There is less than two weeks left of school. I am in Year 6. Both Kayla and I are going to our local public high school. Most of our class are. We’d had Orientation Day two days ago.
Our teacher, Miss Beckett, wasn’t really teaching us anymore so she let me go to the Library after lunch to write my report about Orientation Day whilst the other kids helped her pull down our work from this year. Miss Beckett was teaching Kindy next year so the whole room had to be emptied and cleaned.
The day started like any other day
We had all heard that we could get our head flushed
As much as we are scared of change
Being the big fish in a pond
All I could come up with were clichés. Miss Beckett says that I write really well, differently to the other kids. That’s how this became my job. Times like this though, I wish my writing was just average.
“What are you doing Bella?”
I looked up. The Librarian, Mr Spotch, was looking over my shoulder inquisitively at an empty screen.
“Not much,” I whispered, staring at the empty screen.
“So I see,” his eyebrows raised as his mouth tightened, “What are you supposed to be doing?”
“Writing about Orientation Day and summing up my experiences here.”
“Ah … okay. Start by brainstorming words that describe both, recount your experiences. Write about one first and then the other. You’ll get there. One step at a time.”
I liked that about Mr Spotch. He was really good at breaking things down, “Thank you.”
He smiled and walked back to his desk. The Library was so quiet. It was almost lonely. I turned my eyes back to the empty screen and drew up a table to put my brainstormed words into.
Sweat caked my very red face and my shirt clung to me tightly as I tried to peel it off. Ugh, so gross I thought as I threw it on the floor, kicked off my shoes and started on my shorts. I could feel my toes crinkling up as I pulled off my socks, smelt them and, screwing up my face, threw them onto my uniform, lying in a dishevelled pile on the floor, before squeezing my swimmers on and racing from my bedroom.
“I hope your uniform is in the wash!” barked my mother.
“Nup, it’s too hot,” I barked back, “I’ll do it after I get out,” and I jumped into the pool.
Warm bath water caressed my skin. I hate this heat. Dry sweat melted off me as I knifed through the water, one handstand after another.
I surfaced quickly. Mum was standing at the open back door, hands on hips, thunder on her face.
“Get out of that pool, dry off and put your clothes into the washing machine!” More barking. I weighed up my options. I am usually a good kid but man, it was hot and she’s been in air-con all day –
I reluctantly waded to the steps, stood up, twisted my hair dry, wrapped my already hot towel around me, and tiptoed to the back door across the hot concrete.
“Do not drip water all through the house. It won’t take long for you to dry off.” Seriously mum? Make your mind up.
“Bella! Kayla is on the phone.”
“Thanks mum. I’ve got the other phone here …” I called out from my bedroom, “You can hang up now.”
“You’ve saved me. I so can’t get this thing written for the website,” I said. There was silence on the other end of the phone. I looked down to see if we were still connected. The light was on.
“Yeah, I’m here Bella,” she whispered.
“What’s wrong?” For the first time in a couple of hours I remembered my dream; the sick feeling I had experienced on waking was clawing its way back into my stomach. I closed my eyes tightly, pushing the memory away.
“My mum and dad are splitting up,” she whispered.
“Oh … I didn’t realise there were problems,” I replied.
“I’m so sorry Kay … Wow.”
There was silence on both ends of the line as we digested the news … together. Kayla’s parents had always seemed to get along; there were no fights like used to happen in my house before my parents split up. I was relieved when my parents split up. But Kayla’s life had always been so perfect; this was a shock –
“Bella, that’s not all …” Kayla’s voice trailled off nervously.
“Where to?” I gulped.
I wanted to vomit. I knew the answer already. She was moving to another state. Last night’s dream was coming true. I was going to lose my best friend.
“Mum wants to go live near my grandparents in Perth. She says she needs their support,” Kayla sobbed.
“I don’t want you to go,” I cried.
Staring at the ceiling, even after counting sheep, and I still can’t sleep. Am I scared to dream? Or scared that if I sleep I will wake and it will be real?
I was scared the day I had started at Gregory Hills Public School. Mum had fussed over the uniform and was taking photos, smiling and telling me how excited I was. I didn’t want to tell her how terrified I was that no-one would like me. I was only six. My dad had left us; he didn’t love me anymore. My grandpa had lifted me above his head, trying to make me laugh. I did. It made him feel better. And I saw mum relax. She didn’t let go of my hand as we walked through the office doors, and I saw her struggle to walk out after the lady said she would take me to class.
I wish I could have told her how scared I was. I think she could have shared her fear with me too. I don’t really talk about much with my mum; school stuff, sure, but not the emotional stuff. I wish I felt like I could. I guess it’s just not who we are. I think that’s why I read so much. I find kids like me in stories. They become my friends.
I’m going to miss Kayla.
THE WAY FORWARD by Isabella Logan 6B
“Moments in time,
I’ll find the words to say,
Before you leave me today …”
“Moments” by One Direction
Primary school has been wonderful. We have had great teachers, and unlike when we started school, we are all leaving able to read, write and count. Primary school has been about best friends, pop stars and long summer days. It’s been about growing and laughing together. It’s been fun.
But high school is about change and facing our fears. High school sometimes means losing our best friends and making new ones. Last week most of us in Year 6 went to Gregory Hills High School. It was scary. Some kids there told us we would get our heads flushed. We told Miss Beckett who told their teacher and then we laughed as they got yelled at. It was a great day. We met our Peer Support leaders and lots of the teachers. We learned where everything was and we played some games to get to know all of the kids coming from other schools. We also did some Year 7 work!
For me, high school represents becoming independent. My best friend won’t be going to my high school anymore, and I’m scared. She has been my rock. But I know I will make new friends, and because she is such a great friend, I know she will make new friends in her new school.
I hope that we will still be BFFs, but if we can’t be, I know that my primary school memories and successes will always connect me to her, and to all of us.