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Southendian freelance writer and caffeine enthusiast, author of a few books you’ve never heard of
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The Eighties’ sci-fi movie classic Flight of the Navigator contains a snippet of conversation that I’ve always found rather refreshing.

In the film, a 12-year-old boy called David Freeman is abducted by an alien spaceship called Max. Life-altering chaos and various feats of bravery ensue, but my refreshing snippet occurs in a more reflective scene, when David wonders why Max decided to abduct him.

“Why me?” he asks.

“Why not you?” replies Max, with a casual vocal shrug.

That’s it. The story moves on, and we know that David isn’t special or magical, or somehow ‘different from the rest’. …

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Selfishness is a perfectly acceptable human trait that nobody wants to own up to.

In the unlikely event that they do, their words will be served with a tasty side dish of guilt, as I discovered when I interviewed child-free women for my book, ‘I’d Rather Get a Cat and Save the Planet’.

“I’ll admit that I’m selfish, because I like my life the way it is,” these women would tell me, one by one, in the sort of embarrassed, hushed voices they might have used to share details of a grubby fling they’d once had with Nigel Farage.


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Back when I was an insecure, acne-ridden teenager, I listened to my seventy-year-old Nan telling a friend about her upcoming holiday. She was fretting about how she’d look on the beach in her one-piece, after what she described as “a winter of pies.”

The conversation surprised me, because up to that point I had assumed that adults didn’t worry about the same things that teenagers did.

Once I was grown up, I’d thought, I would be perfectly confident, and everything in my life would be nicely sorted out — surely — or why bother growing up at all?

That moment…

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I had no idea I was an INFJ until I was forced to take a personality test for work.

The company believed that the best way of ensuring workplace harmony would be to force everybody on its payroll to take a personality test, then share the results.

If we could just treat our colleagues according to their specific ‘types’, we’d never argue or mis-understand one another again… or so the MD’s logic went.

(Think of those ‘hot drink’ charts in office kitchens. Instead of “Adam: tea with milk, one sugar”, you’d have “Adam: prickly, extremely quick to take offence, probably…

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You’d think not.

Especially when famous quotes like Eleanor Roosevelt’s “do one thing every day that scares you”, and Neale Donald Walsch’s “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” regularly do the rounds on social media.

(In case you’re curious about who Neale Donald Walsch is, he’s a self-described modern day spiritual messenger who writes about how best to speak with God.)

Your comfort zone is a tempting place to stay in most of the time, because… well, it’s comfortable.

Like an overprotective mother, it cossets you against life’s harshest fears and pressures, bearing a never-ending supply of…

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If you’re friends with someone who writes, you might be familiar with the dreaded question: “Can you read this for me, and let me know what you think?”

Instead of responding with a bright eyed, “of course!” your palms start sweating in anticipation of what you’re going to say.

If you don’t write yourself, you may not have a clue how to respond, whether you like the writing or not… and who are you to say if it’s any good, anyway?

Suddenly, you feel completely unqualified to offer an opinion, even if you had no problem dissecting the plot of…

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Why is the Pope “allergic” to objectives?

(That’s not the start of a joke.)

You probably know good writing when you read it.

But could you explain what makes good writing good?

It’s a conundrum, isn’t it? Especially since what you think is “good writing” might be indecipherable trash to your best friend, who also happens to love the latest fiction bestseller.

You know… the one you thought had an unrealistic plot, with clunky dialogue spoken by flimsy characters you didn’t care about.

“Tell us, in 100 words or fewer, what the secret to good writing is.”

That directive had snuck in right at the end of a competition entry form I was recently…

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When work people try to contact you outside of your ‘usual’ toiling hours, do you respond immediately, or do you let them wait until you’re back at your desk?

This is no longer a dilemma solely faced by freelancers. Work had already stolen life’s identity, wearing its clothes and assuming its mannerisms long before 2020 swaggered in and tore up the rule book.

“(Employees) remain attached by a kind of electronic leash — like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails — they colonise the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down,”…

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Your mother’s your mother, that’s what they say

You won’t get another, so hug her each day

But what if your one kept going astray?

Instead of wholehearted motherly love

Life gave you a hefty shove

With healing hands hidden in gloves

“Don’t cause trouble,” whispers would plead

A gentle child, you paid innocent heed

You camouflaged every emotional need

“But… she’s your Mum!” others opined

When they saw you’d cut the ties that bind

Past with present, life redefined

Not everyone will understand

Your soul’s desire, its fiery demand

That you walk alone, your path…

Nina Jervis

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