It has been five years and two months since my last post. I try not to feel too bad about this, as I was drawn away by novel writing, working two teaching jobs, moving house a multitude of times and launching my children into the world of adulthood. Still, I feel bad about it.
Re-reading the posts I wrote back then I can see they were written by a different person. She was direct with a dry sarcasm and not afraid to state her opinion. She was also curious, observant, fully engaged with trying to balance writing, teaching and motherhood, trying her hardest to be truly excellent at it all.
Didn’t someone say that life is what happens when you’re busy doing other things? I feel this in a visceral way reading back those posts, knowing that I’m no longer the person who was grappling with the challenges of her life, but also relatively carefree. I have learned a few things over that five years and two months, about motherhood, about writing, about the world and the people within in, so I can see, I can feel, that my voice is now more introspective, more meditative. It’s going to be an interesting exercise resuming the discipline of writing regular blog posts about the things I’ve learned, and the things I don’t yet know or don’t understand, of which there are many. This is one of the joys of writing. A way of discovering new things through thinking, formulating ideas and finding ways to express those ideas in a way that other people can relate to. As Philip Gerard wrote in his essay Adventures in Celestial Navigation, ‘We don’t write what we know—we write what we are passionate to find out.’
I’ve talked about where I am right now on my About page, but just to recap here:—
I have taken voluntary redundancy from Bath Spa University, so I can no longer call myself a University Lecturer. This, I realise now, is a fundamental part of my identity, so I’m sure I’ll be writing about this sometime in the future.
I do still work for Advanced Studies in England, so I can call myself a Creative Writing Tutor (although arguably not right now as they don’t have any work for me until September, and even then it’s not a done deal).
I have no steady income and I’ve moved into a flat in Frome, Somerset. For the first time in my life I’m living alone, so I’m enjoying full freedom but also full responsibility for meeting the rent.
I am no longer writing novels. Quite bizarrely, after a lifetime obsessed with reading and writing fiction, I am now only interested in nonfiction. True stories are where it’s at, a form that both excites and intimidates me.
My plan, such as it is, is to write true stories while I figure out what to do with the rest of my life.
I’ve already made some progress in this mission, with a piece of flash memoir published by The True Story, as well as finishing a long-form essay about a recent trip to Sicily. I’ve also written an essay on being tattooed, which is so deeply connected to the last two posts I wrote over five years ago that it could be seen as a convenient coincidence, although I like to see it as just the natural progression of things.
Those posts (The future is built on the dreams of today) dated 16th November 2014, describe my daughter’s struggle with fitting into the education system, and how she gave up on A-levels to follow her own path. Sadly, the education system has changed very little in that time but my daughter has, so I’ll also be posting about her journey since then, and how she’s never regretted being a drop-out.