At thirteen I wrote poetry, revisiting the practice throughout my teen years. Then I didn’t. I forgot about it, more or less, thought I might get back to it some day.
At forty I tried my hand at children’s stories. I had kids, taught teens, knew all about them – how could I fail? Like most would be writers, I had other and often more immediate draws on my time – life. It was not only the kids, but a career, a difficult marriage and a lack of belief. Don’t get me wrong, I thought I could do it, even won a couple of competitions ( a children’s story / a tv script) – but I didn’t, absolutely, without a cloud of doubt, totally know I could do it. Not then.
Then, a few years back and flying solo, I made a decision: I bowed out from my career to follow that old dream. How better to learn the craft than to study it at an academic level. I already had a degree, so an MA seemed the answer. Wrong. Well for me, then, it was wrong. I’d assumed I would get a place (I’d be paying) but, without a considered portfolio and only a week to produce one, I fell flat on my face. ‘You can’t write,’ I was told and, ‘Your academic experience is too long ago.’ Erm, my life as a successful English teacher was being called into question. How dare they? Then I pondered on two points: i) my writing might just be too bound by ‘the rules’ and ii) to find the means to prove them wrong. Of, course, I don’t even know if they’d really read my application, but I took them at their word. I knew then, to succeed I’d have to unlearn then relearn; I’d have to crash the ivory tower right down to the ground, smash it to pieces and build it anew.
And that is where this story begins …