Tag Archives: writing

A Considered Response …

terrifyingI’ve been so fortunate to receive glowing reviews of my book on Amazon and Good Reads, and I treasure every single one (often reading them when I’m having a low day).

However, I had one the other day which made me stop and think.

The essence was, ‘loved the start but at the end … so much of it rambles on and is not really in the realm of most MS’ers, eg. taking on an MA’.

Do I ramble? Yes, most definitely. I even have a category on my blog labelled, ‘My Ramblings’.

It was more the second part which stuck in my head. Let me explain:

Due to MS, I have had to give up my entire career path. It just won’t happen, especially after being sacked for having MS. I was derailed. Luckily I was offered a job by my best friend, which, although fulfilling and excellent at fitting around the myriad of appointments I suddenly have, has no real career path. I will no doubt end my working days with this company.

I needed something else; something mind-expanding and difficult. As I struggled tremendously to complete my degree just when MS struck, I thought, ‘OK MS, you almost won, but get this, I’m going to try something even more challenging.’

I hit on the idea of a Creative Writing MA. Could I write anything else apart from my blog? Believe me, it’s looking like I can’t. But at least I tried.

I’m not that different from MSers who run marathons, who raise money for MS charities or hold cake bakes. Or the MSers who progress through their career path, defying their detractors. My way of pushing back the frontiers and limitations of MS is to indulge myself in something I never thought I would be able to do.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been hell. I’ve cried, almost withdrew from my course several times, torn up endless manuscripts and sniffled in class when my short story was brutally dissected.

Perhaps an MA is ‘outside the realm of most MS’ers’. Just as jumping out a plane is for me. Or winning a gold medal in Rio.

My MA is precious to me – it shows me I still can. 

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The MS Muse …

WriterAfter a very rocky start to 2016, life is slowly becoming more settled.

Sadly, MS hasn’t.

Perhaps it’s the stress of everything that has happened so far this year. And what a year.

Yet, life continues and I’m absorbing the same-old challenges MS insists on chucking in my path, like some super-charged Easter Bunny with a basketful of chocolate eggs: the slower than expected recovery from the flu, the mental fog, the tiredness (I now fall asleep sitting up, gah) and the usual increase in nerve pain.

Anyway, I plan to funnel this bounty of symptoms into my latest challenge – writing 4,000 – 6,000 words of my novel for my Masters. In six weeks.

Er. What novel?

Despite all the turmoil of the last two months – very ill relative, family dramas and ridiculous politics – I’ve at least attended my tutorials. I mean, I was there. But I appear to have taken nothing in. Thank goodness I have a scribe and I’m fascinated by the notes he sends me. Did we really discuss that? Did I actually make that terribly pretentious point?

Yup.

I’m panicking. A novel. Ok, not a whole novel, but the makings of one. Erm. Must dig out my fingerless gloves and turn the heating down. Exist on eggs boiled in saucepans of soup. Could be the makings of a new diet?

In between all this, The Teenager is interrupting my feeble efforts. He swoops downstairs, randomly flies his fingers across a few keys on my computer and sings along to Oasis hits. I mean, really? And … Stevie Wonder’s ‘Sir Duke’.

This isn’t really helping. Neither is MS. So I will call upon the MS Muse: when the worst has already happened, how bad can it be?

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It’s A Hard Life, Being a Student…

studentIt truly is.

Especially the evening lectures, when The Teenager cranks up the guilt:

Can you bring me back some sweets?
Nope, there’s carrot sticks in the fridge.
Can you bring me back a drink?
Nope, there’s Council Pop in the tap.
I need help with my homework.
Welsh isn’t one of my languages.
I’m calling Childline.

And with that, he strops off upstairs and turns his music up. When I get back later, he’s slumped on the sofa chucking the carrot sticks at re-runs of Countdown.

Anyway, apart from that, it’s the essays that are my main challenge right now. I had imagined, when signing up for a Masters in Creative Writing, I would be stumbling around in artistically-put-together clothes (garments?), staring at the clouds then scribbling long words and my meaningful impressions of life in a shiny new notebook.

There were two problems with this. First, MS brain has reduced my observations to, ‘the clouds were pink. And white. And a little bit fluffy’. And, ‘the cat ran away. And then came back.’

Second, I hadn’t expected to write essays about writing essays. I had no idea there were so many theories and ‘-isms’ in writing. I am currently staring at a stack of books about ethnography as a research method. Out of the eight books, I have found five quotes, and two of them say pretty much the same thing.

The university library is a scary place, full of very young intelligent-looking people. And it’s very, very quiet. They can hear me scanning and dropping my piles of books a mile away. The machine hates me and the librarians at the desk tut.

I also have to write a portfolio of short stories by the end of December. This is going ok, but I seem to be writing very dark stuff. Ho hum. No idea why. But, as with everything over the last three years, I am nothing if not determined. My putty brain is being stretched to capacity. And I have decided to, gulp, publish the last two years of my blog as a book. At least I can then call myself a writer/author/deluded. I think.

I told The Teenager about my grand literary plans and he stared at me aghast. However, he quickly recovered and suggested ideas for new blog posts I could write about him. I interrupted him and told him the blog wasn’t fiction. He muttered something under his breath in Welsh, swiped the last scone and disappeared.

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