Friday, June 13, 2008
18 things to do before you're 18...
OK, I am going to compile a summer reading list in the next couple of weeks, but it needs careful thought and consideration. I've compiled another list for you, because it was fun and I welcome all distractions as I trudge through the dark hinterlands of second draft hell. Oh, yes.
Also, someone left a comment asking me if I have to pay to mention songs or bands in my books. Well, I don't have to pay to simply name check bands or song titles, but if I use a quote, like I usually do at the beginning of each novel, I have to pay! Hmm, actually I can think of two instances when I didn't, but I should have. Basically, all words that have been written or recorded or broadcast are under copyright so you have to get permission of the copyright holder (usually that artiste's publishing company) to use them. Then they send you an invoice! How much, depends on the artiste. Pablo
Neruda's (one of the arguably greatest poets of all time) estate charged me £60 to quote from one of his poems in Let's Get Lost, while a whiny, moperock band who shall remain nameless charged me three times that to quote one line. Them's there the breaks!
On to listage:
18 things to do before you're 18
1. Dyed your hair an outrageous, impractical colour. My hair had definitely been pink, blue and a fiery red before I was old enough to vote.
2. Stayed up all night – even if it's because you ate too much food with a high sugar content at a sleepover, but there's nothing like watching the sun come up to give life a new perspective.
3. Stayed out all night – obviously not something to do if you're, like, 13. Or you're no good at lying to your parents.
4. Read all of Jane Austen's novels. Yes, all of them! And don't be giving me any nonsense that they're written in Olde English (they're not) or they're boring (they're so not.) You'll thank me for this one day.
5. Had a torturous, beautiful, out of control crush on a tortured, beautiful, out of control boy. Or girl, if that's the way you roll. Crushes are what your teen years are all about.
6. Had a job. I babysat, did a paper round, worked in a horrible souvenir shop in Bayswater, sold more tourist tat at a stall in Camden Lock, taught at my synagogue's Cheder and was an admin assistant. All while doing the book learning. I got the sack a lot, once for daydreaming, which is actually pretty cool, but it did instil me with a work ethic. And the wherewithal to buy books, records and clothes that my parents didn't approve of but couldn't do anything about because it was my money.
7. Been to see a foreign language film. With sub-titles. And good-looking foreign boys with sexy accents and other worldly cheekbones. When I was 16, I saw a film called Rouge Baiser, which I can honestly say shaped my taste in men for ever more and has influenced every single book I've written.
8. Formed a band with your friends. I was in a band called Mellowstar. We never even had a rehearsal or picked up an instrument but we did have a great chorus to our theme song: Supernova, she's no pushover/Spacecat, he knows where it's at/MoonBuggy, she plays the guitar/Do you know who we are?/We're Mellowstar!
9. Made an item of clothing. No matter how ineptly. I once made a polka dot dress and worked out the pattern for it, by lying on brown paper and getting a friend to draw around me. God, I wore that dress to death!
10. Kept a diary. Regular readers of this blog will know how evangelical I am about the keeping of journals, blogs, diaries, whatever; especially if you want to be a writer when you're all growed up because how can you be a writer if you don't actually, like, write?
11. Have heroines. I think it's very important to have strong female role models or just women that you look to for inspiration. When I was a teenager, my heroines were Patti Smith, Edie Sedgwick, Dorothy Parker and Miss Hill, my English teacher when I was at school; all difficult, misunderstood women who helped me figure out how to start the journey towards who I was meant to be – a difficult, misunderstood woman!
12. Had the courage to dump bad friends. I think teenage friendships can be wonderful but they can also be these horrible power struggles that make you feel shit about yourself. When I was 15 or 16, I had this friend who constantly undermined me. In fact, she made putting me down into an art form. I can still remember sitting by Camden Lock and telling her that our friendship was finito – it was about the bravest thing I've ever had to do.
13. Have boy mates. Because they don't just exist to have mammoth crushes on. In fact, I would go one step further and say have gay boy mates. My gay boy friends found their teenage years very hard and needed good, non-judgey friends and they encouraged me to behave very badly and to be fabulous at all times, so it worked out very well.
14. Don't sweat the school stuff. Do your homework on time and get your qualifications, but honestly most of it you will never need in the grown up world. Have I ever needed to use chemical symbols, algebraic equations or the timeline of the 100 Years War? That would be a big, fat no.
15. Been to see a band live. Preferably in a hot, stinky back room and preferably not anyone who does formation dance routines while wearing matching outfits.
16. Screamed the words, "I never asked to be born!" at your parents. Total rites of passage, man.
17. Made a mix-CD and sent it to a boy. Though they were called mix tapes when I was your age, young lady. My speciality was sending mix-tapes full of angry, shouty songsto boys who'd done me wrong, accompanied by angry, shouty letters written in gold pen on purple paper. I was a very pretentious teenager, if you haven't already realised that!
18. Had a little cry the night before your 18th birthday because you're not ready to be an adult. Hey, I'm still not ready to be an adult...
(Edited to add: If you have any of your own 18 things to do before you're 18, put them in a comment and maybe I'll get enough to do a reader-produced list!)