Attempting to make it as a writer

Posts tagged ‘school’

Back to School

The trunk needed packing, it lay open and waiting on the bed.  As normal a variety of new clothes had been bought and waited to go in the case. I knew for certain that I had not grown any taller this year but just possibly I had shed a few unnecessary pounds, hence the reason for so many new items.

The full case was loaded into the car and off we set.  I was going back to school and I was full of a variety of school girl emotion; trepidation, excitement, uncertainty and euphoria, which I now realise, will always accompany my return.  The journey was unbelievably long and hazardous with traffic and holdups at every turn.  Were they there just to frustrate me or to pour more anxiety on the tension in the car.  We shuffled laboriously up the M5 and tried in vain to move forward to the M6.

I knew one friend was not coming back this time so I would be on my own. It was she, who’s glow I usually basked in.  It was she who led us in, but far more importantly pulled us out of mischief.  It was her I was missing already and I had not even arrived.

With relief we approached the school.  The pressure in the car dissipating every inch we moved closer up the drive.  I collected my key and we made our way back to my old familiar room.  It was still the same, just as I had left it, ready and waiting for me to unpack and stamp my own character back onto it.  Having unloaded, I waved off the family.  A moment of sudden missing them as the car vanished round the corner and I was left alone.

Turning my back on the disappearing car, my stomach tightened as I wandered into the lounge. Suddenly I was surrounded by old friends and acquaintances, I had not seen for a year.   Hugs, laughs and memories of previous years as new people arrived and the magic began to embrace us.

I was back, back in my own world of fiction, non-fiction, romance, CSI and all things literary.  Surrounded again by friends and new friends I was at Swanwick Writers Summer School and ready to absorb the atmosphere, magic and material that will guide me through the coming year’s projects.Swanwick 2015

This year I had promised myself I was going to stretch myself and learn outside my comfort zone.  Thrown in at the deep end that first evening, I found myself stood up in front of a room of proper writers.  It was as my name was called I realised how hot the room actually was, the door was too far away to run and all these people were so much better than me.

A deep breath and I launched into a speedy resume of what I had already written, forgetting or withholding the additional information that it still needed to be published.  I stumbled my way through my current and future projects  focusing  on this year’s plans;  to learn research, historical plotting and characterisation for my next NANOWRIMO novel.   I then fell back into the welcoming arms of my chair and anonymity.

I’d got away with it. The welcome in the bar was still going on and I joined in with my own celebration at overcoming a personal fear.  Is it the magic that carried me through?  Most definitely!

The first night done already, but I was entrenched back into the enchanted ecosphere of the place I love most; Swanwick.

Tiggy

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New Chapter

Like many mothers at this time of year I watched my child close not only a page of his life story but a whole chapter. Mini Son has just left primary and is about to launch himself into all the new and exciting adventures Secondary School will throw his way.  Having spent the last 15 years involved in the primary system it will seem strange next September to have no children in the closeted cocoon of primary education.  The silent salty tears I shed at his leavers performance were for the loss of a way of life as well as the harsh reality of losing a little more of my youngest child to the wider world.

As Mini Son transforms from baby to young man he will flourish as he embarks on the new events, activities and opportunities he will be offered.   He has pages of his own life to fill with stories, memories and photos. He has adventures and dangers to explore and conquer learning not only the lessons from education but the more important lessons in life.  In truth his story will take him further and further from my own as he grows with stature and confidence.

Watching my youngest stand with his classmates and say their emotional farewells to the place they arrived scared, shy students only 7 short years ago, my tears tumbled in memory of those scary September mornings leaving him with his new teacher.  I remembered trips, competitions and the friends that have come and gone and those who are moving up with him to new adventures.  Remembered too, the committees and fundraising that swallowed so many of my evenings. Finally the tears fell freely with the fear of the future and how the next chapter will write itself.

My own life has been woven inextricably with that of my children in a trilogy that can never be separated.  Now my children are marking their own independent pages should I too turn the page, start my own adventure, return to the tantalising inviting sheets of my life story to create and continue my own journey.

ending the chapter

Ending a Chapter

With the closing of one chapter a new one begins, quests and exploits bring opportunities that may have been passed up before. I can now grasp them with both hands and fuse them onto the pages of my life.  Shedding tears are as cathartic as shedding the chrysalis of motherhood and re-emerging as a person with my own story to write.

Moving on may be enhanced by my holiday.  I am attending http://www.swanwickwritersschool.co.uk/ this summer for a week of writing, inspiration and independence.    I will listen intently to those who have been where I am now and taken their writing further.  I hope to attend workshops to fine tune my creativity and direct me to the next phase in my journey to publishing.  I will network amid fellow writers, editors and publishers to find out how, where and what the next step will be.

My family will be not many miles away sailing and camping as I take my first foray into my future.

Writing

On that very note, I have had feedback from my friendly barrister and at the beginning of her comments she says  “I read your novel really quickly, and thoroughly enjoyed it”.

There were a couple of major legal inaccuracies but she has guided me on how those would happen in a real family court, which now leaves lots of work to do over the summer to create a new character and weave them into the story.

She also picked up on a line of story I was unhappy about and wondered like me if it lost some credibility.   I feel comfortable now that my instinct had basis and am changing and developing the storyline without it.    Was  she the catalyst to galvanise me back into edit mode?

 

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

 

Restrained Opportunity

I was not a model pupil.

Although I was not a naughty child I did not willingly fit in to the pre-formulated pathway the nuns at the convent had planned out for me.   Coming from a catholic background meant I was a “special” pupil and it was their sole purpose to convince me to follow them in to the church.  My aspirations refused to be restrained in their restrictive direction.  The nuns did have other acceptable callings for me; nursing, teaching and if all else failed housewife.

I would never take away from any of these wonderful caring and selfless vocations that take far more from a person than just intelligence.   I needed more choice and even then lacked the good grace to just conform for a peaceful life.  I was determined to leave my mark on the world.   My literacy report year in year out complained;   “She has such a vivid imagination but needs to spend less time in

such a vivid imagination

her mind and do what is asked in the question.”  I am still blessed with that wonderful imagination but now I use it creatively and one day will be awarded by seeing one of my books in print.  If the nuns were still alive now I would send them all a signed copy.  Unfortunately with no new novices joining the convent, the school closed as the nuns departed this world.

Looking back now I feel sorry for the head teacher, she tried so hard to persuade me to quash my desire to become a mechanical engineer, to keep me on the path of righteousness and steer me towards the servitude of others.    I did get away with so many rebellious defiant actions although today these would be termed as independence, initiative and inspiration.  The head did succeed in some ways; I never became an engineer.  I left school as soon as I was allowed for my own home based gap years.  Dutifully I learned to be a secretary at my mother’s insistence that I at least had something to fall back on.   Then spent a glorious year earning and spending, partying and enjoying all the freedom I then had.   Finally I did go into nursing but what the school had not prepared me for was life; real, hard and emotional life.  I didn’t stay!

Like many mothers across the country it will be another momentous heart wrenching July as my son moves schools, the preparations have already started.

We were invited to take Mini Son to an open evening at the local Top school to show him around.  Taken into the hall with hundreds of other parents, nervous 10 year olds and a few older students milling around; we were told how transition would work with his current school.  Following the initial introduction we were split into groups and two sixth formers led us around.   Unfortunately No 1 Son had too much homework to join his classmates and there was never any promise that he would have been our tour guide had he been available.

Having two boys already there we have been through this evening twice before.     There were parents of mini son’s friends who found it all new and overwhelming that their eldest would soon be moving on.    I remember the first evening we had come with No 1 to visit.  It seems only yesterday and somehow I must have missed it but he has been right the way up through the school and now settling into sixth form has his next step; university in his sights.

Standing in a neat group at the edge of the climbing wall; a teacher invited the children to step forward and have a go. A shyness that I had not seen before descended over the friends, the chatter ceased and the class mates stepped subtly behind their parents.   I pushed Mini Son forward slightly whispering that he should try.  Once he had taken the first step he was overtaken by the torrent of eager friends racing to get to the top first.

Shyness abandoned he gelled with the music teacher who was delighted when he discovered Mini Son is learning the saxophone.  Mini Son in turn was bursting with enthusiasm to find the tiny recording studio and drama theatre.    Finding his own way over to the pottery wheel he began turning it and demonstrating to the other young faces how to use it.  He has never to my knowledge used a potter’s wheel although he has made clay cups and pots at primary school.

He may not be my first but I felt that same pull of emotional heartstrings as I watched my youngest race around the complex trying his hand at setting fire to the strips of liquid soaked accelerant.  The awe erupting over his delighted face as the multi-coloured flames leapt into the air.

Moving over to the generator I watched Mini Son hold a shining silver surface.   As we watched and the other children round us began laughing his hair stood to attention mimicking the wonderfully eccentric Dr Emmett Brown from the Back to the Future series.   Still mad professor like he was guided to a pile of tiny screwed up paper balls the size of peas, which I had assumed were bits of paper bored pupils had played with instead of listening. As the now excitable group round him watched; the paper balls began juggling around and leaping up towards his extended hand.

I have no worries about him fitting in and loving the facilities available to him as he completes this momentous year of transition.  It will be me that will find it hard to say goodbye to primary schooling after 12 years.  Letting go and allowing him to take his own faltering steps into this wide world.  I know the school will equip him better to deal with the future than mine did.

Looking back at my schooling maybe school and I might have not have had such an antagonistic relationship if there had been a few more facilities to stretch my creative imagination.  Where would I be today with my independence encouraged, my initiative rewarded and my inspiration fuelled?

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at

she has too vivid an imagination

Teatime Treats with Tiggy

Running Rungs

Do you find there is a certain treadmill quality to life?

I know the seasons rotate in an orderly fashion; months following months, hot sometimes following cold.  Cold, wet winter chases the crisp frosty autumn days, just as blossoming spring precedes the fullness of summer and so on. The full moon wanes leading to the next crescent of new moon as the cycle begins again.

Was it only six or seven weeks ago we were all breaking up for that

Keep on climbing

long balmy summer ahead?   Plans of how we would survive those days trying to entertain the children were being drawn up.   Childcare being divided up between parents, grandparents and unusual educational activities.  Holidays to be prepared for, shopped for and enjoyed, precious days spent with loved ones.  The morning rush eased to permit treasured time to lie in or permission to watch CBBC. It already seems a blur on the fringes of our short term memory.

This weekend found me stepping back to the Rugby club with a new season already upon us.   Youngsters the country over will have been registering with their clubs, learning new laws as they move up an age level, meeting up with old friends they may not have seen since April.

I; too caught up with friends who I have missed over the months. Friends who have stood solidly by me over the years as our children have suffered injuries, lost important games and grown with the game.   There was a certain reassuring buzz of activity, smell of bacon butties and the constant flow of cheap instant caffeine that passes as coffee.

Even the forecasted sunshine kindly waited till the end of training to dry out the drizzle that had arrived on cue to welcome in the new season.   Routine resumed its rightful order as boots were tried out for size, outgrown shorts that had just about lasted till the end of last season were replaced and shiny new mouth guards bought to protect developing teeth.

This rugby heralded the cog in the ever moving treadmill of life; children will this week return to school.  Back from all the holidaying; now only a distant memory, flashing past on the digital photo frame.   The juggling with childcare is finished as we hand our precious children back over to their new teachers.   Some will be moving to new schools, colleges or universities; some will climb a rung on the well-worn ladder of their school hierarchy and some will be out in the world wondering where to go next.

I know this week will bring tears and heartbreak for mothers of reception aged children suddenly seeing their tiny tot in a complete new school uniform, breaking the baby bonds that up until now have been unyielding.  Little people venturing out into a world without their mother’s perpetually protective hand supporting those faltering fearful footsteps.

Other mothers will suffer the effects of their children’s nerves; they will tolerate the self-importance of young adolescence and take a step back as their little one grows independent and superior joining the masses at Top School.   Giving their once infants the space to be a big child in a world of even bigger children and learn to make their own waves in this ocean we call life.

There will be mothers who will reluctantly transport their offspring away to some way off university.   Leaving their homesick tearful teenager in some bleak utilitarian room to carve their own way in the world, knowing this is the final bond to be broken as they allow their child to grow away from them.     Reluctantly, leaving alarmed adolescents with reassurance, resolutions and reliance despite all their own reservations.

I feel lucky this year that I do not have to overcome the emotions of a momentous change in the cogs although No 1 Son is moving into sixth form.  The change for him will not be as dramatic as he stays at the same school; nonetheless he will have to make his own decisions about how much he studies, what he wants to achieve from his A ‘levels and how he will apply them to his life.  It will be a big jump for him to take control of his future; the same future he does not know what he wants to do with.

Middle Son glides up to this final year of GCSEs which he will find harder than before, not only due to the level of work from school but from the level of support for his schoolwork he will receive from his parents.    Here is a boy who could achieve so much if he only focused long enough to acquire the necessary information to apply it.   Had there been GCSE’s in BMXing, X-boxing or I-Padding he would be guaranteed straight A s.  Unfortunately he is going to have to work hard this year to get the grades within his grasp.

Mini Son becomes a big fish in the small pond as he joins year 6, the final year before moving up to big school.   He will be a role model for the younger classes a task he will fulfil brilliantly.  He will be coerced into independence as he learns to accept responsibility and study hard filling in the missing bits of his education before bridging the gap and joining throngs of know it all secondary school children.

I will also return to my job at the school this week, sad to say farewell to the summer that never really materialised in terms of the weather.   Reluctant to welcome those manic mornings trying to get all five of us out of the door in different directions on time with all the remembered kit for the day ahead.  Unenthusiastic to return to the drudgery of routine after my long weeks of freedom from humdrum tedium, I know that it is only a matter of time before the wheel of time turns further.

Before we know it, half term will be upon us with Christmas poking its pointed head in our direction.  The New Year will be here all too soon and then we will be half way through the school calendar.  Exams will be sat and then the long holidays upon us again turning yet another full turn of that wheel.

I shall continue to climb the rungs of the treadmill expecting to reach the haven of happiness at the top but never quite arriving there as the wheel turns again for another season.

Whatever stage of the wheel you are at, keep climbing and keep focused.  It is so easy to fall off the spinning circle but never easy to climb back on.

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

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