I have to say, I was a little nervous returning to high school to celebrate book week 2011.
When I graduated, I swore that I would never look back and I had stuck to my plan over the following years too. I refused to go to my school reunion (even after a certain friend broke our ‘Romy and Michele‘ pact and helped organise it!). I had also (mostly) fallen under the radar on the book-of-face, so even cyber-reunions were rare.
I clearly remember myself at the end of grade twelve, believing that in 10 years time I would be living in a cool flat in LA while I was working towards becoming a famous actress. (Actually, I’m pretty sure that I had planned to be rich and famous by then. Hey. These things take time, you know?)
But then I got into the One Book Many Brisbanes 6 anthology, and who was on the list of winners but a girl I graduated from high school with. It was Natalie Repetto who dobbed us both into the school, which led to our role as guest speakers in the book week assembly.
I always enjoy talking about writing, especially with school students as most of my stories are written for their age group. I also like demystifying the process as well. Like you don’t have to be the top of your English class to become a writer or that just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you don’t have a day job. I think it’s only fair to the students considering a similar path to mine.
I also had a few realisations while I was there. Nothing profound. Just weird little things that made me realise my memories of school were just that rather than hard facts. These were things like:
1. My school was tiny. I knew this at the time, but from the stage all I could notice was the big gap at the back of the hall where I’m sure I used to sit.
2. I was tiny. I was always in the same spot in primary and high school photographs – seated first row, either second or third shortest in the grade. But I’m sure when I looked in the mirror I looked like a sophisticated woman – not like a baby-faced, slightly-older version of me!
3. I used to think all those guest speakers were full-on adults. Some of them probably were, but judging from the reaction from the girls when they realised I graduated in 2000 they’re probably weren’t. (Apparently, Backstreet Boys are retro now. Hilarious.)
4. I used to think all those guest speakers were fairly old. I’d like to retract that statement now. Whole-heartedly.