Education – I have spent most of my life involved in it in some way, but after a six-year stint (including on-the-job training) to become a qualified graduate librarian (that was then, they do things a bit more quickly now) and a double dose of parenting, I didn’t anticipate being a consumer in the system, well not the mainstream system anyway.
So what changed? Well to echo many a song lyric, I’ve always thought life was for learning, and since giving up voluntary work (lots to learn there!) I’ve been aware of a big gap that just sitting here writing didn’t seem to fill, however much it was my raison d’etre. Adding a handful of new interests – singing – dancing – calligraphy – was fun but still not quite doing it for me. The trouble was there didn’t seem to be anything I really wanted, or needed, to learn.
It was only after talking to a Bath Spa Creative Writing graduate – and then listening to a talk by another, that I realised the answer might be staring me in the face. So after a hurried application, a few phone calls and an interview in the disconcertingly magnificent Corsham Court (not to worry, uni wing a bit more ordinary!) here I am off to start my educational life all over again.
Yes, I shall finally answer the question of whether or not creative writing can be taught by trying it out for myself. In fact I always thought it was the wrong question, i.e. not about teaching but about learning. Everyone who wants to write has to learn and we all do it in different ways at different times, sometimes by ourselves but in my case mostly with the help of other people, sometimes by soaking up someone else’s work, sometimes by simply being told what works and what doesn’t. Horses for courses and sometimes these courses change. A year ago if you had asked me if I wanted a creative writing degree, I would have said ‘why’? Now my answer would be ‘why not?’
Of course I have all kinds of qualms. Not least I am fearful for my WIP. Making it a better book is one of my primary aims and I intended to take a break from it for a few months anyway. But now that these few months are going to involve new people, new ideas, perhaps new writing models, will it stand up to the test? I feel my characters shuffling their feet in impatience. Why can’t she just get on with it?! Of course the impatience is actually mine, but I know full well that some proving time is required before I bash on (and bashing on is a crucial part of the degree, especially towards the end.)
Which brings me to Mary Berry (on WDYTYA last night) who trained at Bath Spa when it was the Bath School of Home Economics. As for Nathan, we all know what happened to him!
And there are lots more graduates – some good friends among them – who can testify to a good experience at Bath Spa.
All in all, I can expect to be in good company.
So roll on my second (or is it third?) stab at student life.
Bags first at the bar!
3 thoughts on “Full circle: or Mary Berry, Nathan Filer – and me”
Congrats, Ally, on getting on to the MA at Bath Spa. It is supposed to be an excellent course. As you know I did an MA at Sheffield Hallam around the Millenium time, so I will be fascinated to compare notes!! Enjoy and good luck! 🙂
Hi Harriet I’d forgotten you had done an MA – not quite sure what to expect but should be fun finding out 🙂
Congratulations, Ali, and I’ll be really interested in following your experience of joining an MA course AFTER publishing your first novel. I hope you’ll feel the freedom to play.
Another Bath spa graduate worth mentioning is Anthea Nicholson whose first novel The Banner of the Passing Clouds was published by Granta last year: http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/anthea-nicholson.html