I saw the ad as a pop-up on facebook – a course in Creative Writing at Craven College. This might interest my son, I thought. He has had to give up work through ill health and has begun writing in earnest. I passed the link to him, then the Voice in my Head said – Why don’t you do it? The Voice is right. I am always passing on information that might help other people, yet I never do it for myself.
It turned out not to be a simple course, but a full-blown University degree – BA (Hons) in English and Creative Writing, taken over three years. Well why not? I never got a degree and though I definitely don’t need one now, it would be interesting. The main attraction though was the mental stimulation it would provide. No harm in applying: I filled in the application form.
Today I went for interview. I saw a lady called Jane. She told me a) the course probably will not run as only three of us have applied; b) she did not know what else they could teach me that I did not already know, and that I would probably end up teaching them; but that c) she loved my application and wanted to meet me!
Like the Walrus and the Carpenter we talked of many things (of shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings – and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings) and I told her that I do not know why I cannot write fiction but that I hoped to learn.
On the way home I thought of a strange set of circumstances that has recently occurred and how it would make an ideal beginning for a spooky story. Three people I met in the last two weeks, on completely unconnected occasions, turned out to be involved with each other in a web of intrigue. Sitting on the bus I tried to imagine how this story might develop – and I could not. I asked why not - and the answer was: because if I start doing that, the things I invent may come true – and this makes me afraid. And at the same time I was whisked back to when, in my twenties and trapped in an unhappy marriage, I was faced with a one-year wait before my youngest would be old enough to go to Nursery School and I could leave. I decided to spend that year in writing a novel. I enjoyed doing it and my imagination worked perfectly. Then the things I invented started to happen in real life. One or two minor incidents and then the big one: my father worked in a foundry and I had one of my characters fall to his death in the furnace. It was when Dad came home ashen-faced and reported that this had happened to one of his workers that I gave up writing my novel. This had completely vanished from my conscious mind until today, when I pushed my imagination to do its work – and it informed me why it could not.
Now I have identified the problem maybe I can start writing fiction again.