By Jemma Burgess
The fear of becoming a Copywriter
I didn’t read as a child. I was too busy climbing trees and scraping my knees on the pavement as I fell from my scooter from what felt like a million miles per hour. I was pretending I was in Wacky Races (great show). And then I got really Ill so I was tired all the time. The most strenuous thing I could do was watch Bear in the Big Blue House ( again, another great show ). So really the majority of my childhood was playing outside and watching cartoons. I didn’t like reading. I didn’t understand long words and I was called stupid when I asked what it meant so eventually I got frustrated and bored. Books were not my friend. As I grew older, all I heard was how brilliant writers read when they were young. So I thought fuck. That’s clearly not a career I can get into. To my surprise though, I was quite disappointed.
One of my first memories of writing was in primary school when we all had to write a story about a dragon and the dragon’s egg. I think we only had to write about 5 pages but to me, the thin lines across a sea of white seemed to go on forever. It didn’t matter though because I only ever wrote the title. I didn’t like writing because I was too scared of what people thought of me. It made me sweat. So there I sat, staring out the window and in the safety of my mind I told a story. I narrated it to myself and I had so. much. fun.
I then went to drama school and discovered that you could speak written words out loud. Not fancy oxford, what does that even say words but sentences that are supposed to be spoken to an actual person. Raw, gripping, emotional words that I chewed on as I learned the rhythms and beats of how people speak. And not all people speak the same. I thought it was beautiful. I still think it’s beautiful. I learnt that most people only listen to half of what you say because they are already thinking of their response. That it takes a hell of a lot of effort to actively listen to what someone is saying. I then began to watch. I watched how people used their words to control how someone felt. To manipulate them into believing their side of the story. I watch people communicate their truth and how some words feel vulnerable when you hear them and others can stand alone, holding your full attention. I watched how words could shatter a being and I listened to how silence could be the loudest thing in the room.
So it might, after reading this, come as a surprise that I came to SCA hoping to be an Art Director. The fear of not spending my whole childhood reading came back to suffocate me and it’s only until recently that I thought, I actually might have a chance. You will be happy to know that I now actually enjoy reading. I specifically get quite obsessed when I need to take notes. I am by no means the best writer in the world. I have a lot to learn and in a short period of time but between you and me, I think I love it.
As Paul Arden said ‘It’s not how good you are now but how good you want to be’
And I want to be one of the greats.