Archives For Writing

Try, Try again

November 13, 2013 — 74 Comments

Following my attempt at entering a writing competition during the Summer I took on board all of your suggestions about how I could improve my writing style and found the help and guidance really useful and very encouraging.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw an article in the Guardian about another competition aimed at students and asking them to share their experiences of their first day at University.


I read the outline :

       “The judges will be looking for blogs that use a crisp, conversational writing style, free from jargon and abstract nouns. We want specific examples of what you experienced on your first day at university, not vague generalisations. We need writers to paint a clear picture that readers can imagine. We are looking for originality and something out of the ordinary. Your article needs to feel meaningful to other students, not simply list one event after the other. A catchy intro and a strong finish are essential. There should be a logic and a flow of ideas throughout the piece. You need to engage personally with the reader in your own voice, and perhaps quote other people too. The reader shouldn’t feel they are reading a lecture.”


I thought to myself, a blog article, I can do that 🙂  So I sat down and after several false starts I came up with what I hoped was an improvement on my last attempt.  I hope that it displays that I have taken on your suggestions and that the piece gives a more personal view of my first day at University.

Here is my entry :

From the minute I opened my eyes in my student attic bedroom I could feel a frisson of excitement racing through me.  Hair styled straight or curly?  Should I wear make-up or go natural? And what should I wear?  Jeans and a casual look or trendy chic? The clothes I picked the night before didn’t seem right that morning.  Can’t wear heels – too big a walk.  Should I pack my heels and wear flats?  All of these important decisions were running through my brain.  I wanted to make the right impression; I had learned that people make their mind up about you within three seconds of meeting you.  Yikes!

Aspirations for that year flooded through my head as I walked decisively, alone, up-hill to college.  I could feel the blood surging through my body as I waited to begin.  I was hoping for a great day full of new challenges.  Up the tall steps I walked, through the main doors, and I immediately felt at home – even though I missed the top step and casually fell with grace into the entrance.  Luckily I smiled as I dove into the room, so my confidence held.

I had packed a wheeled briefcase full of musical scores, wanting to be prepared for any occasion.  Timetable at the ready, I met friends from fresher’s week, and I introduced myself to everyone I met.  The conservatoire foyer had the look and feel of a bustling bazaar bombarding me with mesmerising sounds: consonants, vowels, mouth and tongue clicks, with a wide variety of languages being spoken and musical instruments played.  Hearing a bright brass quartet surprised me, but looking back now I understand that being washed with energetic music is just a regularly daily occurrence, as is walking past symphony orchestra rehearsals.  It’s a wonderful atmosphere.  The underlying smell of the place was of old sheet music and I made obsessive use of the hand sanitising machines as fresher’s flu was doing the rounds.

Lunchtime came quickly.  I’d packed my favourite cold butty: brown buttered bread topped with mature Cheddar cheese and tomato ketchup (-yummy-), a banana and bottled water.  I was just about to tuck in when I heard the most amazing sound coming from behind me.  I turned quickly….

But that is another story…


My first day in my student halls of residence ( Sep 2012 )

Though I did not make the final short-list I enjoyed reliving my first day experience and I hope that I gave you a flavour of life at the RCS.  You can check out the finalists and their entries on the Guardian website.