I’ve been in a bit of a tussle recently, and not only with Phyllis, the Ever-Expanding-Hernia.
My blog was born in October 2012, a dreadful time for me.
Not only was I coming to terms with a diagnosis of MS, my first Alemtuzumab treatment and a Teenager in High School, I was also being horrifically bullied in work.
I desperately needed an outlet and I had always, always wanted to write.
I reached out to the fantastic author M J Hyland (who had written a beautiful piece describing the darkness around learning to live with MS in an Observer ‘Review’ piece), and who, through many emails, urged me to find a way to get everything down, document it all.
I took her advice and my blog went live; I typed away every single day, posting blog after blog after blog.
My writing was simple, direct and to the point. I wrote about me, The Teenager and The Boss, who employed me as soon as I was sacked for having MS.
I blogged what I saw, what I experienced and what I was going through, warts and all. My aim was to show MS as it really was for me. As the only adult in a house, life with MS was frightening, terrible and daunting in equal measure.
Six years on, I’m still blogging, but in that time, and thanks to a huge amount of encouragement from you guys, I completed my Masters in Creative Writing. And The Teenager is in University.
For my Master’s dissertation, I wrote an angry piece about the realities of care work (having worked in that dismal sector) a brutal and unflinching novella laying bare the real-life experiences of ‘social care’.
Reader, I won that year’s Humanities Prize for Academic Excellence.
I took a break for a year or so. I uhhhhmed and ahhhed about taking it further. I liked my job – I enjoy it, and need the flexibility of working with my best friend, but something was nagging away.
Could I go further? The next step was a PhD. Lol.
Nope. I’m not a natural academic.
I don’t write academically. So, in short, no.
I had an interview recently, to teach a ten week course in Digital Media, and the first thing I told the interviewers was that I wasn’t academic. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. But my passion was there.
I had the most incredible feedback two days later. Sure, I was let down on the technical side of the course, but one of the points was my claim that I wasn’t academic.
So, what is academia? Is it ivory towers? Yep, that’s what I thought. Convoluted arguments? Yep. Long stripy scarves and a pile of books? Yep.
Well, no. Not always.
I’m going for it, despite my ingrained fears that I’m just not clever enough. I don’t have the right vocabulary, I can’t write paragraph-long sentences and I have no idea how to conduct myself in a tutorial.
I’ll still have to work, still run the house, be available for all The Teenager’s Uni dramas. And still cope with everything MS flings at me.
It might take a while. Perhaps a lot longer than my goal.
And for me, the great thing is, I’ll need your support throughout it – and not only that, I want you to contribute to my studies.
My dissertation will put you at the centre. The more I think about it, the more excited I get – it will be a collaborative effort.
How does that sound? Let me know …