Better Write? (Off Topic Yet Somehow Relevant)

When does a hobby become a career? 

Today I have been looking at the University of Strathclyde site, looking at courses – and all of it, every single bit of it feels so out of reach!

I looked at undergrad courses. Pipe dreams! I looked at the Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. I looked at what was required for entry (yikes!), fees, etc. That one really is shooting for the moon!

The next one I looked at is English and Creative Writing & Journalism, Media and Communication. That needed quite a level of education as well. But could I achieve the “baby steps” it would take to get there? 

Yesterday I was at the site looking at the Centre for Lifelong Learning. There are online courses in Creative Writing. Starting at the beginner “Kindling” stage, progressing to the “Feeding the Flame” stage, then on to “Ablaze”, then finally “Inferno”. Each course is online and lasts 10 weeks. But the progressive classes don’t seem to follow on in stages through the year, so this would be year by year. It’s a drawn out process. If I was to enrol in the “Kindling” course and really enjoyed it and gained something from it, I know I’d just want to move on and on. Not wait until the next year, then the next year and the next.

Adult learning terrifies me now. It’s been a long time since I stepped into anything like this. Especially in a way like this, that requires study – with your brain engaged! The last adult education course I did was a photography course and that was over 15 years ago now.

I cried this morning looking at the course. Wanting to take the plunge but feeling no confidence in my ability to do it well at all. The whole social side of it terrifies the life out of me! Even in an online way. Talking with other students via Zoom style meetings. I’ve tried distance learning in the past (pre-Internet) and I didn’t do very well at it. 

The tears were because…it just feels so massive already! It should be an exciting prospect and fun! But to me it feels like this is my last chance to try and DO SOMETHING – and if I fail? I feel defeated before I have even begun!

There’s a testimony of the course from a lady named Mary Elizabeth Wylie. She’s 88 years old and has just published her first book. She started the Creative Writing course at 75. Seventy-Five! I should feel inspired by her story, but it still just sounds like a glorified hobby.

It just feels like folly. Another one of my dreams that’ll go nowhere. How do I justify spending out “hunners” of pounds for each of these short courses? For it then to be 2025 and I am enrolled in a full-on university degree in English and Creative Writing & Journalism, Media and Communication. And then that is “hunners” times ten!

To feel able to string some words together on paper is a vastly different thing to where all this could go. And it is PETRIFYING! I feel almost physically sick at the prospect of it. Study. Focus. Deadlines. Submitting work to be scrutinised and graded. 

Currently I am a happy but disillusioned amatuer. Do I want to be a professional? Perhaps turned careerist? 

Aspects of the course that I hope I’d gain from it are appealing. To feel much more competent AND confident in my writing would be fabulous. To potentially feel more adept at working to a deadline and handling the pressure that brings. 

I am in “serious pondering” mode. I am considering it. And I wish the idea of the leap didn’t make me feel so sick to my stomach. I should be filled with enthusiasm! But, perhaps it is as David Bowie suggested?

Lanark Last Night

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I have just started Lanark. Only just. I’m not the fastest reader and I started much later than I wanted to, which meant my eyelids already were starting to get heavy barely one chapter in. I managed two. Lol. And am already attributing the identity of Sludden to a certain someone. Lol. And I would be any of those hangers on – apart from Gay – I should be so lucky! Or Rima (she has standards – it seems so far anyways). So I guess it only leaves me to be Frankie – most likely – or the other one whose name escapes me (irony!).

Anyway! Early days.

But I am already wanting to explore the world of Alasdair Gray so much more already as a consequence of those couple of chapters of Lanark.

So very later last night, after listening to a new episode of The Archers (now caught up with the real world – Ambridge is now in lockdown too) – and a very emotional yet beautiful Desert Island Discs with Charles Hazlewood as the castaway – highly recommended listening by me, not always easy, granted! (I still keep wondering when the frig they are going to get Jim on there!). I then put in Gray’s name in the search wondering if the BBC had done any adaptations to his books, etc, so thought I’d see what a search of him would bring up.

Well, it brought up this in the search results. A wonderful interview with BBC Radio Scotland’s Janice Forsyth. I didn’t know what to expect from it when I started listening. I had assumed Gray would sound very dour and “Weegie” for one – but I found his voice mesmerising and beautiful. He has such music in his voice. A beautiful burr and lilt that I just was not expecting – almost as if he sang as he spoke. As a consequence, as enthralled in the interview as I was, I found myself drifting off to sleep halfway through, to awake again for the final few minutes and the talk of the hardships of making a career from art – making a sustained paid professional income from artistic pursuit.

His final goodbye was pure music, and rather poignant for this must have been one of his final interviews. He passed away at the end of December last year.

I fell in love with him. He sounded like a magical being. Like a pixie or elf or something. Little did I know my flippant little line to Jim the other day about “starting a book at chapter three – seems like my kinda guy” would ring so true.

You can listen to the interview via BBC Sounds HERE