The pencils to sharpen. The textbooks to carry. The lockers to decorate. The bleachers to kiss under. The bell to wait for. The bus to shit talk on.
God, I am thankful I don't have to relive the agony of adolescence, but there are a few things I miss about school. Working towards something. Being on the same goal track as your peers. Only needing above 50% to graduate.
I have written since I was able to turn my crayon scribbles into shapes that resembled words. Grocery lists, checklists, journals, cards– anything that I could put from pen to paper. When I was seven, I asked Santa for MacTac (adhesive lamination paper) so I could publish my book–a story about a big-mouthed, cheeky girl who discovered her calling to slay dragons after finding an alternate universe through the neck of her new t-shirt when she put her head through the hole. Riveting stuff, I must say.
There has always been an outlet for writing. Elementary to middle, high school to university. Then my mid-twenties came upon me and I found myself rudderless. No teacher to edit and grade my work. No peers to review with and give notes. I missed the structure of having deadlines and assignments. I craved the community of creators with like-minded friends and students alike. I longed to write anything other than my self-involved diaristic scribbles filled with self-doubt and confusion.
I swear they didn't pay me to write this–but Vocal+ filled my school void. It gives me all the things I missed in school. And IknowIknowIknow... you're thinking to yourself, "why would I want to be at school again?" Well, this is why.
THE RUSH OF ACCOMPLISHMENT
The writing challenges gives a sense of urgency with deadlines to meet
You know when you would cram for a test, or rush through an assignment–all that coffee and staying up past 3 am to use every last minute of your limited time left just to hand something in half decent? And sometimes, you would even do well. I know that panicked rush like the back of my hand. In a sadistic way, I miss it. The challenges on Vocal give me that healthy anxiety for a time crush and a due date that drives me to not get stuck in my similar procrastinating-fueled writing cycles. Now I can get that thrill in a less dramatic and more satisfying way–rather than my normal antics–like dating fuckboys, washing that black dress an hour before your night out and hoping it dries in time, or needing to take an extra shift two days before the new month to make rent in time.
The 'challenges' spark creativity
You know when you had a school project coming up? Let's say it was about the war of 1812. All the students would make a similar PowerPoint with bullet points of facts. Me–you ask? I was the kid that would write a skit to perform wearing war clothing that I sewed after showing a replica of the Capitol I guilt out of clay. (Yes, you guessed right. I got made fun of for being brainy.) I always wanted the most creative outlet to the simplest prompt. Now as an adult, I can write a sad poem or a dramatic funny rant any day. Those are the two genres I am comfortable in and seem to frequent most often. But with the challenges, they help me think outside of my comfort box of sadness and (coping) humor to explore different writing styles, topics, and genres. From fantasy to true crime to food reviews, they always keep me on my toes, helping me expand and explore different corners of my mind.
Publishing gives a sense of achievement and finality
Don't you miss handing in a paper? After the weeks (okay, the 6 hours before the due date) of pouring your heart into an assignment, you can take a deep breath of relief seeing it in your teacher's hands. Then you graduate and tell yourself you still want to write–all the time. But sometimes you can grapple with that idea for days, months, even years. Something always gets in the way. I can write a first draft and keep it buried away for sometimes years before I pick it up and polish it. When you publish a story on Vocal+ you've had to read it, and reread it, and read it some more. Once you actually hit that 'Submit For Review' button, you feel like you have a pretty cohesive piece that you are okay with strangers reading. It's hard enough to get to that point, but once you click that button, a wave of satisfaction washes over you.
THE FRIENDS AND COMMUNITY
This community gives the opportunity to meet like-minded friends and creators
Don't you miss being in classes in university when 90% of the students in your class wanted to be there? The other 10% just need a few filler credits to round out their degree, but for the most part, you could talk with your classmates into the night of all the weird, beautiful, confusing things you are learning, and feel a sense of belonging. With all the categories that Vocal+ has to delve into, you can really find your niche and the group of people within it. I have started talking to people from Vocal+ on social media and following their work more closely. I even started an Instagram account just for my writing. I have a small circle of people I have met through Vocal+ but am excited to grow my community even more as I continue to read and write.
Reading other's work inspires and motivates
Do you ever miss when your bff would ask you to edit their paper and you would read it and see everything in a new light? Their positions and perspective sparked a creative light in you as you admired their words and point of view. Now, where do you find fellow creators? The internet is daunting. And wonderful. There is something for everyone. But sometimes it is unnerving trying to find it. Vocal+ has been wonderful for me to be able to view thousands of people's work in one place. I don't need to follow a hashtag to an Instagram profile to a link to their blog. I can browse and explore and read anything and everything. I can read fellow poet's work and get inspired, or comedic writers that brighten my long days at the office, or read the winning article of the most recent challenge to clap in unison with the judges.
There is a space for your words, no matter how big the audience
There are the jocks and the cheerleaders. The band and choir kids. The french immersion kids. The science kids. The theater kids. You find your people no matter where you go. And then graduation comes and it is harder to find people with the same interests. You aren't in a class together that you both like, you are both working at a job you don't like. With Vocal I can find my people. I don't care if I have one reader or one thousand. To have any other eyes grace something I poured my mind into is something to celebrate. It is a compliment to have someone care. Someone is going to like your writing. And you are going to like someone else's writing. There is a space for every preference.
WORK THAT PAYS OFF
A portfolio is subconsciously made
Remember that teacher who had soooo many assignments in their class? And you hated them at the time, but once it got to the end of the semester you had so much work to show for yourself? With Vocal, it is the same experience. It starts with one, two, three. Then before you know it, an entire portfolio has been created–and all in one space. You can share your profile and look back on all the articles you published. Every submission is unique and feels small, but when you step back and see all the work you've made, it is substantial.
You get paid
Okay.. this is nothing like school. (If your teachers were paying you for something I would report them immediately.) But with vocal, your work pays off. If that comes from winning a challenge, getting tipped, or having enough readers to count your pennies, you get income. The work you create is not only being read but also being paid for.
Always learning more, Always getting better
School always had one center focus–learning. Developing your brain and gaining knowledge. Now I just watch Netflix and drink wine. Besides reading, I was finding it difficult to exercise that creative muscle and have a source to learn. Vocal gave me a place to continue to develop my writing while also reading other's work. I'm learning more about myself as I reflect and write, while also learning more about topics I would never think to look up, but have stumbled across while browsing. Each submission may vary with content or style, but to just keep going and creating something is enough for me right now.
Thank you Vocal+ for filling the void of my school days!
Again... they did not pay me to write this.