When I tell people that I’m going back to study for an MA, they’re initially impressed – until I tell them that I’m going to study Creative Writing. At this point they look at me as if I’ve just told them I’d like to become a unicorn riding mermaid. I then receive either the jokey response of ‘ooooo, fancy yourself as the next JK Rowling do you’ or ‘there’s not much money in writing you know’.
Both infuriate me.
I know the chances of ‘making it’ as a commercially successful author are pretty slim and I’m not deluding myself that I have even an ounce of talent to even touch some of the great writers I enjoy so much. But I do believe I have something to offer and that writing is what I’m meant to do. I feel very strongly that every experience in my life, the good, the bad and the downright ugly, has led me to this epiphany.
I was an early reader and could read fluently before starting school at four. By the age of 7 I had flown through all the reading levels in school and was able to read whatever the heck I wanted. I remember English being my favourite subject and I used to fill page after page of my exercise books with stories. I even won a regional writing competition with my riveting story about a girl who was afraid of ice (*spoiler alert* she thought it would crack and she would drown). I got lost in the worlds I was creating in my imagination, whether I built them myself, or I was reading someone else’s words.
The best days were library days. My Mum would take my sister (for whom library day was a form of torture, Barbie, ponies and make up were her life) to the library every two weeks and I would get to choose whatever I wanted to read. I remember always being so impatient to get home and dive into those books, devouring them all from cover to cover within days and then starting all over again.
My life was books. I read widely (I accidentally read a Mills and Boon at the age of 9, suffice to say sex education held no mystery for me) and my appetite for expanding my imagination was insatiable. Enid Blyton was my absolute favourite, in my mind I was the sixth member of the Famous Five, joining them for picnics and lashings of ginger beer, and I longed to be best friends with Darrell and Sally at Mallory Towers.
I knew I wanted to be an author. But, I was told it wasn’t a ‘real’ job. I should work in an office or be a teacher.
So, years passed and I bounced around after leaving school, trying this job and that, being happy enough, but never fulfilled. Eventually I decided to go back to university, and the English Literature and History Dual Honours sang to me, calling me to it. I absolutely loved it. It was hard work as I studied full time, worked full time and kept a long-distance relationship going (we got married, so that was definitely worth the effort!) but I felt excited, enlightened and so freaking happy – I was exactly where I was meant to be.
That’s exactly where I am again right now. I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I know that this is the beginning of a wonderful journey for me. Life over the last six years has dealt me a real mix – I’ve been deliriously happy, but I’ve also seen rock bottom, probably unbeknown to most people other than my husband. For me to have the belief in myself to finally go for this long held, almost forgotten dream is an achievement in itself. I am daring to go for my dream. I’ve thought about it. I’m making an informed decision. I know the risks. I know I’m not going to be rich. But I also know that I will be happy. Support me, don’t mock me or make me feel I need to justify my choice. I’m striving for my happy place, my dream. Isn’t that worth more than every penny the world could ever throw at me?