This academic year has been an odd one for me as I’ve ended up on a completely different path to the one I started on. I’ve also discovered myself a little bit more in the process, so it all worked out well eventually.
On the writing front, I certainly feel like I’ve been putting the effort in since Christmas. Back in September, my plan had been to keep my writing in the background, almost as a hobby, while I studied for my Psychology MSc (secretly hoping that somehow I’d either do well in a writing competition or have a literary agent show some interest so I’d get to do my writing full-time instead of just on the side).
I’m relieved that I managed to see the light as far as the Psychology Masters is concerned. I enjoy the subject a lot and I’ve acquired a fair bit of knowledge over the years, but I’m missing the passion I really ought to have to excel at it. I know I’ve made the right decision choosing to do a Creative Writing MA – and I’m still amazed I had the courage to apply for it in the first place.
So, the year: I started out not really knowing where to turn after finishing my Counselling Certificate and (finally) beginning to deal with some of the things that came up for me as a result of the course, stuff that I never even knew was there to discover. Months later and I’m still noticing the benefits. I’ve found my voice and truth in amongst the confusion and I’m sure my writing will help me with that too. My next challenge will be finding a way to get my words ‘out there’ and then eventually stepping away from memoir completely and finding a narrative that’s separate from my past. Hopefully a new project will help with that.
I’ve enjoyed my daily writing routine this year. At the moment, my Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays look like this:
5.30 Coffee & writing for half an hour or so until I hear the kids messing around upstairs. Then it’s getting the boys dressed, breakfasted, spellings with my 6 year old, teethbrushing, and lastly shoes on, bookbags ready and in the car.
9.00 Coffee and emails, submissions (if any), and keeping in touch with any writer friends, catching up with my writing group etc, then finally – writing, if there’s any time left over.
10.30 Pilates, coffee, and reading (currently ‘Solutions for Writers’ by Sol Stein)
12.00 Lunch & coffee, listen to music
I finish at 2pm for the school run.
Sometimes I’m able to do some reading or writing in the evenings after the kids are in bed, but I don’t do this as often as I used to now that I’m able to focus more on my writing. Lately, I’m finding that I actually get a bit of spare time to watch TV (Coronation Street, Have I Got News For You, University Challenge, Masterchef, Who Do You Think You Are?) and do a spot of genealogy – my favourite pastime besides writing.
Next year, when my youngest son starts his 15 hours a week at nursery, I’ll have 5 mornings a week to keep up with my course, read and write. I do worry that it won’t be enough time, but he’ll also be going to a childminder once a week for a session, so I should get one day where I get a longer stretch of time. I guess I’m worried that the other students will be so much further along in their writing careers than I am, and I don’t want to fall behind.
I’m so excited about the MA that I can’t even think about the difficulties I may have earning a living once the course finishes. At the moment, I’m just brimming with ideas. I hope to use my memoir as my main project for my course, but I also plan to edit a novel and continue with another first draft that’s a bit of a melting pot at the moment.
I’m still uncertain where this blog will take me, but maybe I’ll get some ideas and feedback when I start the course and meet other writers. At the moment, it appears to be like a holding place for all my plans. It helps me chart what I need to go and allows me to experiment occasionally with ideas. I know I should probably develop these a bit and think more about my audience, and when I get back to it after the school holidays, I hope to be able to give it a bit more time.