I happened to admit to a colleague recently that I had written a book. I’m still struggling with the ‘proudly-putting-it-out-there’ part of this whole learning curve. So following my mumble about having published a small crime fiction blog/story on Amazon, they asked me, in all innocence, if I had taken a creative writing course.
Let me answer that for you by telling another story…
Early in the autumn of 2015 I ran a half marathon.
It was the culmination of a year spent learning to run, pounding the streets and fields, finding a rhythm of my own, getting over difficulties with breathing, motivation, appropriate fuelling, the dreaded runner’s tummy (not easy for someone who suffers from IBS! – on one occasion Barry coincidentally drove past me and I collapsed into the front seat in floods of tears of relief), timings, distance, blisters…you name it, I’d found a solution and kept on going.
Yet, as I crossed the line with a slower than I’d hoped but respectable time, I knew it was the end of my journey with running.
What had gone wrong? What had put me off so dramatically that it had undone, in a few short weeks, my months of hard work? It was such a small thing, such an obvious development, something that is advised to maintain motivation across the board…In the middle of that summer I made the fatal mistake (for me) of joining a running club.
The people at the running club were lovely, welcoming, encouraging and friendly. They chatted to me as if I’d been going along to their club for years. Only, I hated it. Faced with everyone else’s techniques, rhythms, self-motivational tricks, watering timings and running outfits, I lost my own methods, I lost my motivation and I lost my love of running.
I started to go out by myself less and less, everything I had developed that had worked for me went out of the window, I felt like I was doing it all wrong, my cadence was wrong, my gait was wrong, even my shoes were wrong. I went from comfortably running eight miles, to struggling to get around 5k. It was devastating.
I resolved to do the half marathon anyway but my heart wasn’t in it. I had lost all my mojo and, two years later, I am still a “non-runner”.
So, no. I have not participated in a creative writing course because, although it might help me improve my writing, i’m terrified it might also mean I lose my own “voice”.
In reality, it doesn’t much matter if I make mistakes or write rubbish that is grammatically suspect. In the same way that I was learning to run for me, I am also learning about writing for me. This time I shall accept that it is something I have to do by myself.
Having said all this, I would love some feedback (even if it is to tell me my grammar is dodgy!) so please do feel free to tell me what you think.
And perhaps that is the answer. Perhaps I don’t need someone being lovely, welcoming, encouraging and friendly. Perhaps I need someone who tells me to get off my arse, put on my shoes, or pick up my (proverbial) pen and do better.
I guess we all learn in different ways.