November’s Jukepop Reading Party is over.
As usual I prepared this month’s reading list with gusto. My plan was to start on J.A Waters Lyncia. Unfortunately, this month has been a little tumultuous so I only managed the first fifteen chapters. I say ‘only’, the JRP isn’t about quantity – it’s about Jukepop authors coming together and reading what they can together in order to support other Jukepop authors in time for the JP30. It doesn’t matter if you read one chapter or a hundred. That said, there was a reason I read so little over the weekend.
Some of you may be aware that I have been wrestling with a difficult decision these past few months about whether to defer my home study course for a year to focus on my writing. What prompted this …?
Well … let me start by saying that I have been a writer since before I can remember. I’m sure it’s the same for most writers. More often than not, it feels less like I’m an architect of imaginary worlds and characters and more like I’m the conduit for a thousand different voices, each with a tale to tell.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, I will admit that I have never considered my ability to write as something ‘special’. It was just something I did and always had. Do you consider breathing ‘special’ …? True, at its most fundamental level, breathing is important; without it you would die, but it is in no way special. I have also never experienced writers block. I’d heard authors and friends talk about the dreaded writers block and had always been somewhat confused. How could one just not write?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not gloating nor am I saying I’m an unparalleled prodigy or anything. There is no doubt in my mind that I have much to learn. Quite simply, what I am saying is that for me, writing might as well be part of my DNA – like my eye colour. It’s just one more building block that makes me ‘me’ and I have never given it a second thought.
Fast forward a little to the summer just gone. I made the decision to give my writing an overhaul. I dubbed it my ‘Creative Summer’. I dedicated every spare moment I had to it. I entered into three competitions – The SWP2015 being one of them. I didn’t win but I learned so much and that, to me, was the best prize. Ideas buzzed around my head and I had plans to write more – to self publish, to start a new serial on Jukepop and to continue writing at least one short story a month. As the month of September rolled by though, there came a distant knell: my home study degree started early October.
Once I started the course, I began to push my writing away. I had essays to write, chapters to read, tutorials to attend. After completing the first essay, I sat down to give myself time to write and … nothing. I figured I was just tired and would try again the next day. My husband took our daughter out for a few hours to give me some time and space to harness my craft. Again nothing. All of a sudden I was, figuratively speaking, suffocating. There was no creative air in my lungs.
For the first time in my life I was suffering writers block. There is no simile or adjective that could possibly begin to describe how unpleasant it felt.
Throughout my life I had always balanced my need to write with work and other responsibilities. Even during the years when I earned minimum wage and had to work 70 hours a week to pay the bills or after my daughter was born and I was sleep deprived, hormonal and exhausted. What went wrong …?
I realised then that perhaps I had prematurely pulled the plug on my creative development and I was paying the price.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m learning a lot on my course but it pales in comparison to the personal growth I had made during my Creative Summer.
This left me standing at a crossroad:
The left turn will keep me on my home study degree. The course will take six years to complete part time. Putting it off by a year will obviously add another year. There is the possibility that once my daughter starts school in a few years I will be free to shift to full time and complete it quicker. There is also the possibility that I can apply to the local university to undertake the course full time and complete it in three to four years but there is no guarantee I will be accepted.
The right turn will take me down a path where I defer my course for a year so I can go back to dedicating all my free time to writing.
Some of you may have seen me reach out on twitter for some advice (special thanks to M. Howalt and Allison Spector by the way!).
After weeks of wrestling and fretting and running countless plans and scenarios through my mind, I have decided that I will take the right turn and defer my course.
There are several reasons for this. First, it will make me happy. Second, if I want to be accepted into the Literature and Creative Writing course at the local university, I will stand a better chance if I actually have some work published and the best way to do that is to keep writing and submitting stories be they serials or short stories. Finally, I feel that neglecting my craft would squander all the hard work I did over the summer.
It’s fair to say that I didn’t appreciate the gift of writing as much as I should have until now. I suppose people don’t appreciate the air in their lungs until they find themselves unable to breathe. That changes now.
Writing has opened so many doors in my life. For example, my love of writing drives me to read which has in turn lead me to some fantastic adventures. Most recently it has led me to Jukepop where I have read some amazing stories and met some wonderfully supportive authors (who have in turn given me fantastic advice!). True, education is invaluable, but not all education takes place in the classroom. After all, the few months I dedicated to writing saw me place in the top ten of the SWP2015 which in turn led to a podcast interview. Imagine what might happen after a year?
I will, of course, still be taking part in the JRP every month. J.A Water’s Lyncia will still get a review which I will post in time for Christmas.
I’d like to thank those who helped me overcome this personal hurdle – not only my fellow authors but my husband too (I don’t know how he put up with my mopiness!).
As always, stay tuned for further updates and of course the review of the fantastic Lyncia.