Welcome to my blog. My intention in writing it is to reflect on my life as I try to become a writer outside the familiar world of academia. Or at least, it had become familiar to me over the course of a twenty year career. For a mixture of reasons – my own health, family care responsibilities, the desire to flex my creative muscles in a way that I couldn’t balance with my previous jobs – I decided to become a writer. I know, right? Like it’s that easy. And like there aren’t thousands of talented people across the globe trying to do the same thing.
Well, I’m a believer in trying. It’s an utter cliché, but if you never take the first step, you never make the journey. So I took the redundancy payment from my last job and studied for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth. I’ve just submitted my dissertation, and am waiting to find out whether I will graduate this Autumn.
I’ve learned a lot. Some of it has been about myself. I’ve had to dig very deep at times to get the course completed, not least because of the health challenges I have had. The last two years have been a bit like the Country and Western-style blubfest required of X Factor hopefuls. And some of it has been about the art of writing. I knew that fiction requires different skills from academic work, of course, and had written several short pieces of creative writing, but the MA showed me just how different it is to write a novel rather than read and critique one.
I believe and hope that I have a distinctive contribution to make that others will enjoy receiving. I’m told I have an original ‘voice’, and as I am about 402 in gay years I have a wealth of life experience upon which to draw. And in my non-fiction writing, I’m enjoying the opportunity to write more polemically, in the hope of reaching a wider audience than my academic books did. That wouldn’t be hard in most cases, but one of them did sell pretty well around the world, and even got translated into Korean.
I hope you’ll check back and see how I get on. At the moment, I envisage writing both kinds of book, and hope to develop a profile in both kinds of publishing. But who knows where destiny will lead? This third act in my life is based on something new for me, namely the wisdom that only change is constant. And so, as my favourite philosophers put it, here I am: standing calmly at the crossroads, no desire to run. I hope, though, that for me all is very much not said and done.