There are times when I write and the majority of it goes straight in the shredder. You know how it is, one of those days when the its and it’s aren’t right. The POV changes more times than the second-hand on the clock and I wonder why I am here. Pen in paw, covering the little-finger side of my hand with ink as I try to convey in words what I want to say without sounding like a petulant child wanting an ice-cream.

I reach for some light entertainment (for me that’s easy – Twitter) to blow the cobwebs away. There I find all manner of interesting topics to look into. The research links alone would fill my head for years if I clicked on every single one.  Some I find intriguing, they make me consider and re-consider options that I maybe hadn’t delved into before.

And then there are the others – the 14th Century Art lovers who deftly describe their beloved paintings as if it were a family photograph. The broadsheet readers that have finished the ‘really hard’ crossword before I’m even out of bed. Nearly every writer I have spoken to or tweeted has some sort of continued education attached to their CV. I watch in awe as my favourite authors get accredited with the keys to the this and the freedom of cities etc.

It’s difficult to explain but at times I just feel academically inadequate. I stayed on til the end of Sixth year, I didn’t go to Uni but I got a job straight away and I managed to carry on for the next 20 years. Bored. I wanted to write.

I have pondered over whether to head back to ‘school’ and get myself a degree. In what subject? Where would I study? Is it necessary? Would it be a waste of my time and money for that matter? Could I cope with all the studying, exams etc – it wasn’t really my ‘thang’ at school, back in the day. Do I want the embarrassment that I haven’t read all of Joyce/Shakespeare/Austin…typically sweeping min my generalisations of everyone that attends Uni, but there you have it. I just read the ones I wanted to read.  I can’t recite reams and reams of dialogue but I can tell you how to make my kids laugh when they are poorly, run a fund-raising event and do the triple time step.

University life and the class/balance that can be thrown at you is very disorienting for me. I just want to succeed, in my own way. I don’t want to turn into a literary bore and forget all my fantastic ideas – a book robot that has no mind of its own is not how I see myself. I have no idea what goes on in these classes, maybe I need to get away from the stereotypical nonsense that comes with higher education and just be myself. Is the academic world out there ready for that though?

I have a recurring dream where I am nominated for a book award. I turn up at the red carpet event by myself and my agent air kisses everyone and ignores me (this is my dream and I am in no way slating agents and the fantastic job that they do). I go home empty-handed and ashamed. Ashamed that I couldn’t pluck up the courage to speak to anyone (I know – unheard of isn’t it lol) and let them hear my story. I didn’t want to bore them and I just felt I couldn’t interact. What do you talk about when you are face to face with your idol? Their books adorn the walls of your house and you ask them…I like your shoes? No, no, no! I suppose that beats ‘I’m your No 1 fan’ s they walk away thinking they have been approached by a stalker. I walk around my dream with my mouth open, spying all these amazing people and not saying a word.

Horrifying. Cold sweats, the lot.

I am a different person now from the spotty teenager full of angst sitting her exams and only passing Higher English after all the subjects I could have gained. But I really think that I would enjoy it. It would, like many other things, take over my life but that’s what I’m good at. I grab onto ideas and don’t let them go until I am satisfied that I have done my best.

I will sit on the fence for a bit. Financially it’s a massive commitment and there are so many things in life that money could be much better spent on.

It’s in my dream. So I’ll leave it there for the time being.

Here endeth the lesson, I write.


  1. Thanks David. I wrestle with this idea all the time. I know my family don’t care about whether I have three heads or wear tabasco sauce in my hair. I will ponder it some more and make a decision…soonish..possibly in another five years time lol. It was good to get it written down though. Very therapeutic – as I’m sure you are well aware. Keep safe x

  2. If you feel you have something to prove to yourself, go to Uni. If you feel you have something to prove to the rest of the world just continue to write. Your children don’t need proof you’re special an talented and I doubt the rest of your family do either.As for the rest of us, well I doubt going to Uni and reading Joyce will make you a better writer and you don’t want to emulate him do you.Just use the talent you have to produce books that thrill, make us laugh or make us cry and that’s plenty I promise. xx Hugs xx