This time four years ago I was finishing up my GCSE exams. Way ahead at the end of the summer I was due to leave all of my close friends behind to start at a new school almost three times the size of my secondary school for sixth form, and sixteen-year-old me wasn’t entirely sure how to process that.
My sister suggested the summer onehundred project, in which she herself participated during the year she left sixth form. It was useful, she believed, for those transitional summers; through daily photographs and diary entries it documented the end of something and the start of another, and the long days in between.
I enjoyed the first hundred, which I posted on a different website. It was a means of self-discipline and introduced me to the notion of carrying a camera everywhere I went to find the right moment to depict my day. I relished the writing practice and having the chance to record everything I did. It was a busy summer complete with exams, prom, the Olympics, musical ventures and lazy days with friends before the stresses of A-Levels took over.
In fact, I loved it so much that I barely had to question whether I wanted to do the project again the following year. Although it was a difficult time for me, it remains my favourite: for one thing, it’s the only one I have entirely completed and posted, but it also depicts a careful healing process following a very turbulent year.
When 2014 rolled around I was a little blasé; it’s easy, I thought. You’re a pro at this now. I’d failed by early August; there were no photographs, diary entries were weeks late and I lost all motivation for reasons I couldn’t quite pinpoint. So last year I set myself up weeks in advance: there had never been a more transitional time than this, the year before I left for university, and I was so excited, but I failed before we even hit August and I’ll never really know why.
I’m still gutted about the ones I didn’t finish. When I say I’m going to do something I like to see it through until the end, and I feel like two failed projects in consecutive years says something I don’t really like about myself.
All I can do, as ever, is learn from it and adjust accordingly. I loved the onehundred on busy days – days when there were people and events to photograph and write about. I struggled, I now realise, on the nothing-days when there was little to tell. It’s true that the project can be great incentive to get out and do things, but given that I can’t drive it’s simply not possible to go out and about as often as I’d like, especially if the weather isn’t on side.
What’s more, recently I’ve been thinking about the reasons behind my blogging. This site was originally set up purely for my summer onehundred, and after the first project I used it as an outlet for my occasional political and feminist articles and disposable camera snippets. Over time it grew to document my gap year and, when I started getting a bit more serious with it, my first year at university. Now I want to work out where to go next, and how exactly I want to do it.
As a result, it’s become clear to me that I need to do things a little differently. I feel a bit strange about putting the details of all my days up for anyone to see; I love the opportunity to write about events, days out and adventures, but I want to be able to enjoy it rather than slogging through days of bad pictures and no stories to get to the good bits. So why bother?
Summer Days, Summer Nights
Enter Summer Days, Summer Nights, or SD-SN. It’s in these posts that I’ll be documenting my various summertime adventures, but without the daily constrictions of the summer onehundred. I’m hoping to finally settle into regular posting each Monday and Friday, with SD-SN entries as and when the opportunity presents itself.
I’m hoping that SD-SN will give me the opportunity to be a little more flexible with my blog and my schedule, whilst ensuring I can write about everything I get up to this summer in my usual summer onehundred style. At the moment the next few months are looking pretty bare, so hopefully it will also provide an incentive to make new plans.
One thing I’m aware of, though – and this is something I’ll be expanding on in Friday’s post – is the tendency for posts like these to be very ‘me, me, me.’ This is something I’m really keen to steer away from, so a further focus of SD-SN will be more research-based and outward-facing writing on the places I visit, the events I go to and the people I spend time with. I’m excited to show the internet just what Norfolk and its neighbouring counties have to offer, or at least give anyone who reads an entry a taste of life in East Anglia, as well as documenting what I hope will be a happy and relaxing summer break.