Building A Future?

woodUntil fairly recently, I had dreams of taking a Doctorate in Creative Writing.

After the utter implausibility of finally mastering a Master’s through much trial and error (plus a decapitated mouse which appeared in my first, futile attempt at short fiction), I thought, ‘why not?’

I duly collected leaflets about available courses and being a mature student. I scanned blogs of those gone before, downloaded information and looked into funding. I even attended a Postgraduate Student Fair and found myself surrounded by kids I was old enough to parent. But. I could do this?

I can’t.

I’ve read the case studies. Bright-eyed eager (young) people with many, many awards under their belts and obscure research titles to their names. I’ve read the tiny success rates about securing funding and have looked in to alternative sources of funding, i.e. living like a pauper for six years, existing on Super-Noodles and crackers.

I would love to surrender my life to this dream over the next three years, or six years part time as I still have to work. I want to be immersed in writing and carry a notebook confidently into the nearest cafe, flick open a fresh page and jot down suitably astounding and genre-defying remarks.

I can’t.

There’s not much funding out there for a getting-on-for-mature MS blogger who fancies herself as the next Sylvia Plath.

So, I have a brand-new, shiny idea.

After much googling and sending-off-for-information, I have decided to retrain (perhaps) as … a carpenter.

Brimming with excitement, I laid out my life-altering plan to The Boss, aka My One-Time Best Friend over a coffee. After he stopped laughing, he asked why.

Well. After project-managing many building projects, I felt confident that I could carry out such an artisan craft, all by myself. And a training course would merely solidify all that I have learned these last years?

I like the word ‘artisan’ and pictured a future workshop where I would wood-turn and create dove-tails and suchlike. It would be a dusty, arty place, with deliberately mismatched chairs, a Scandinavian name and hand-thrown pottery mugs.

He mentioned that I could already cut architrave, lay floors and use a drill. I was even a passable tiler (praise indeed from The Boss, although I am an excellent tiler, if the space is small enough and I can sit down).

He queried my MS – would I be able to cope with the course? Yes – he could be my helper, if needs be. This didn’t go down so well, so I won’t be telling him when I go for the interview.

What do you guys think? Have I got enough drive to cut it in the World of Wood?

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24 thoughts on “Building A Future?

  1. Nah, stick to the world of words

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Really? Can’t I do both?

      • Duidn’t realise there was an ulterior motive. Be breave and give it a whirl. Sounds like a case of nothing ventured nothing gained.

        • stumbling in flats says:

          Thank you! Funnily enough, I had a great chat with The Boss today and he’s thinking of expanding and possibly putting me in a more organisational role (basically bossing everyone else around). Which could mean I could learn a more intricate form of wood-working instead – something discussed in these comments.
          Honestly, putting a blog out asking a question is the best thing ever – like asking loads of my best friends for advice. I love it!

          • Bossing everyone around, he has realised that you are real asset and natural diplomat. Good on you.

          • stumbling in flats says:

            Definitely! I’m very good at creating a relationship with our clients as I always treat their houses with respect and as if they were my own. I hate sloppy builders, lol.
            It could be a really exciting time for our company and we’re going to have more time tomorrow to talk over plans – I’m being kicked out my house tomorrow night – The Teenager’s girlfriend is back from Uni and they want to have some food and watch telly. I have a really small house!
            So me and the boss are having a Pal-entines Day, lol.

  2. Tony Cardis says:

    Only one way to find out, I have faith in you c

  3. Debra Smith says:

    Mmm, tho’ I love wood & wooden things, my hands are too “crappy” for such things now. I used to love all sorts of ‘making things’ & crafts e.g. egg cutting, glass engraving, calligraphy etc., but now I’ve “put such childish things away” and realise that my best hope for achieving ‘my dreams’ will have to lay in more cerebral matters! Thus, (being a UK patent attorney) my dream at the moment is to become sufficiently fluent in Welsh to file a UK patent application in Welsh – having learnt that 1. English & Welsh are the two “Official Languages” in which a UK patent may be filed and that 2. to date 0 patent applications have been filed in Welsh, even though the UK Patent Office (based in Newport, Wales) has several examiners who read/speak Welsh. A foolish dream I know, but everyone has to have “a dream”.
    Good luck with your carpentry ambitions!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      I never knew that about patents in the Welsh language! And I very much hope you will be the first to file one in Cymraeg (?).
      You’re absolutely right – everyone needs a dream and sometimes we have to modify them to suit changing circumstances. Right now, there’s no way I can devote six years to something, without a guarantee it will lead to a better career, no matter how much I’d like to explore writing further.
      But I do know that people will always need skirting boards 🙂

  4. John Cowburn says:

    I take it you’re not doing this for pecuniary reasons? If not then why subject yourself to the onerous straitjacket of having to meet all the petty requirements of some college’s inflexible syllabus both prior to and during the course itself?

    At the end, you will only know the rudiments of carpentry and will be far from being a highly skilled craftsman. Why not look at a craft which you could learn at your own pace, be an artist – watercolour, acrylic or oil. There is a huge number of courses for these crafts online and some of the teachers are very skilled indeed. There are also weekend courses you can attend along with your online study.

    I am 70 years old with 2ndry progressive MS and I started to learn watercolour about 2 years ago. At first, it was difficult and I thought I would never produce any work which didn’t look amateurish but I am now starting to produce some really nice paintings, many people have complimented on them and I am going to start selling some work on Amazon Handmade, Ebay and Etsy. The feelings of accomplishment are huge and I enjoy every day in my little studio at home. Think about it! John

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Sadly, yes, it is all about money. As a lone parent, I need to find a way to support myself and my son and I could earn significantly more if I had a trade.
      This isn’t for frivolous reasons, but this last year, I have really felt the sting when I have been off ill with MS, often for weeks and weeks at a time. Basic sick pay just doesn’t cover bills.

      I do know exactly what you mean, and I would love to think I would still be an artist, were I to go down the carpentry scholastic route. I try to balance the demands of work and paying bills with my writing which I hope will still nourish my psyche. I’ve been at a very inspiring creative writing course today and have booked my next one for a couple of weeks time. I also upcycle furniture in my spare time and have a great love of handcrafts.

      It’s really lovely to hear that you will be selling on Etsy – it’s a brilliant site and I’ve bought a good few things from them as gifts for people. What you are doing with your painting is amazing and long may it continue. I’m very impressed!!

  5. Jan Jordyn says:

    Course you can, B! If you dream of becoming an ‘artisan’ in the craft of carpentry, then I’m sure you’ll take the ‘World of Wood’ by storm – go for it! We, (your dedicated readership), look forward to the next chapter of your amazing blog – and indeed – your first ‘own-brand’ products. Gosh, we might even commission you for a piece! x

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Ah, thank you! Who knows what the next chapter of my life will bring 🙂
      I adore working with wood in my job, so it makes sense to see where it can take me?
      p.s. I make fabulous candle holders from tree trunks 🙂

  6. Cowlander says:

    Go for it, but why not show examples of your work to sell.We buy on recommendation, not college qualifications.

  7. Suzanne says:

    Absolutely. I think you’ll shine x

  8. Michael Johnson says:

    Of course you can do it – be yourself and your carvings will be as creative and as fun as your blog and book. Look forward to seeing what you’ve made.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      That’s lovely, thank you! I’m always messing about with bits of wood left over on building sites and have taken a few things home with me, that I’ve made 🙂

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