Too much to tell

You’ll probably recognise the problem: if you delay writing to  your friends with your news, the news builds up and the challenge  of producing a catch-up becomes very daunting.

In January I began a University of East Anglia/Guardian part-time course at UEA’s London campus. Two things drew me: the tutor is Adam Foulds whose novel The Quickening Maze I absolutely love. And the course was advertised with the very attractive promise ‘Finish the first draft! ‘ Well, I sort of have, though it’s a novella, really. But there are still three weeks to go.

What have I learned? To inspect every word and make it work really hard for its place on my page. To dramatise rather than summarise. And I’ve learned a bit of humility – my seven fellow students are superb writers already and part of the joy of this course has been getting to know them.

Any regrets? Not about the course. But about my own mistakes – I began with something very like a memoir and  it would have been better not to  say so – I think it inhibited my fellow students and it made it hard for me to discuss some parts of the book in our workshop sessions.  However, a trick I developed for short stoires has stood me in good stead and I offer it to any writers reading this blog : take a sad piece of real life and invent a happier ending.



One thought on “Too much to tell

  1. Jan Gullachsen

    Hi Barbara Glad you have enjoyed this year so much & I shall remember those pearls of wisdom….hindsight is the perfect science eh! I too have loved my year at Warwick university & have finished it now & even managed 84% for my oral assessment ..don’t ask how as I was so nervous & despite absence from academic writing for a zillion years managed a first for that too. Now I need to build up a business….I have chosen not to go into executive coaching as altho’ that is where the money is,my heart wouldn’t be,too many years working in a huge international corporation says…steer well clear…too many agendas. So,it’s life coaching & if I fail in getting sufficient,I may contemplate associate coaching in my old industry.I have a real desire to learn more about mediation work but for now a rest as my Gamma Knife treatment at the national centre in Sheffield should go ahead sometime this summer on my brain tumour. I helped at the Coaching at Work conference in Bloomsbury this week & worked with Professor Paul Brown who was amazing & his insights into Neuroscience & its influence on life & work was inspirational.Some speakers can do it & he is at the top of his game.His pacing & use of metaphors was dazzling.I was helping the editorial team,Professor Stephen Palmer is the publisher.David Megginson was also brilliant. My Gamma Knife consultant (& I have asked for him to do the op as well) is Jeremy Rowe who I believe started off at Green College,a really lovely man,reassuring & very human in his approach,I shall feel safe in his hands. Ross continues to work hard in London & was working with super models for awhile recently,Naomi Campbell was one of them….not the easiest to work with apparently. Chloe is still at the house in Ettington but was short listed & got the job as Diversional Therapist at Shakespeare Hospice,I knew the team who were interviewing her but never let on & when I saw one of them after she got the job they said that she was head & shoulders above the other applicants,so I am one very proud Mum!! Well hopefully I shall get to see you by Autumn so will give you a ring nearer then & sort a meet up. Love, Jan x x

    Sent from my iPad

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