30th March 2018
The online anthology for the Creative Writing MA has been released. Surprisingly, I felt elated when I spotted the announcing tweet and realised it was two years ago I stared at the screen of my previous (temperamental) laptop clicking through profiles of previous students who had completed the MA and finished manuscripts, thinking, ‘I want my face in that anthology.’
Yesterday, it happened.
Often, I’m so focused on where I want to end up that I forget to be grateful in the moment, even now my brain’s knitting and tangling over the ‘next novel’, but yesterday really brought home how much I’d achieved since first finding the Bath Spa course and toying with the idea of applying.
Nina was the first person I told and she encouraged me right through the application process reading everything I wrote. God, I miss her. If only I could send her the link to my page on the current anthology. There are times I think that everything good I’ve achieved in the last four years is because of her because she made me believe in myself more than anyone which is a reminder that I must keep looking for a new violin teacher. It’s just hard when I’m crawling out of my overdraft and because no-one, will live up to her.
I hope that one day I’ll be like her.
I’m in The Greenshop avoiding the house because it’s so bloody cold. How can I write with numb fingers and toes? The coffee is organic, fair trade and not so strong it makes my heart convulse. Hate that. Coconut latte and Wuthering Heights in the quiet coffee shop watching rain spot in puddles in the car park beyond the huge windows. I miss working here.
The spice shelves are so strong smelling that they used to infiltrate my fluffy jumpers and on seeing Dad, he’d say, ‘You smell like the shop.’ I liked that.
I buy valerian here. It’s brilliant for sleep, and anxiety. Although I mainly get anxiety when I’ve been ingesting caffeine, missed sleep, am obsessing over death and the uncertainty of life, have an upcoming public speech, must endure a group situation, or have managed to get caught in a snowstorm. So not often.
Decided to avoid my manuscript for a couple of weeks and give some time to considering what the next novel might be. It’s exciting and terrifying. Earlier, I wrote five lines knowing that even if it was the next novel, the lines would look completely different in a year’s time and the gravity of writing a novel struck me.
I must be obsessed, again, with an idea, story, or character to want to write at least 50,000 words. I think about others on the creative writing course, like Emma and Henry, who have genuine interests and feel like I have none, apart from violin which I don’t play enough. How am I supposed to write a novel with no obsession? King of Rabbits stemmed from not being able to shake the feelings around the impact of drug use on kids. I knew of four young lads, cared about two and was fixated on how close to home it all was. They’re gone now. That shit f*cks you up.
Lithub wrote an article recently on how authors tackle fiction. Some say to write what you know, others say not to. Before I went to uni, I attended Clare’s writing group and it made me consider various, ordinary prompts as a start. There are ideas everywhere. Overwhelming moments unravel when stories wink from every crevasse in life, but that’s not enough for me to find a novel. I don’t know where to go, internally or externally, for writing motivation. For the drive.
For thirteen months I’ve jotted ideas for the next novel, but on reflection, they all seem, flaccid. There’s never time for a flaccid anything.
I crave that initial acceleration I experienced when I started King of Rabbits. I couldn’t stop and would write late into the night, start early in the morning, wake in the early hours consumed and grab my laptop, voice recorded in my car as I drove. It took three months to get there, toying with two previous manuscripts before I faced what I needed to do; be a brave writer.
The yearning for consumption is my new disease. How to be a brave writer now?
So much has changed in the last year and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s how to be brave, but am I courageous enough to write about those things? I feel myself dodging them now, but perhaps it’s because I feel like it isn’t my shit to talk about.
Being a writer exposes people. Where does morality lie when writing the grit? In being honest for the craft or respecting loved ones?
For now, I’ll enjoy this moment: I have my own page in the Bath Spa Creative Writing MA anthology (even if the extract of my manuscript has been edited three times since the online version – damn it).