2011 and 2012 were incredibly busy years in work, and I was happy to set a lot aside to focus on my day job. However, mid way through 2012 the pressure was starting to take its toll, and I knew I was and remain my own worst enemy in just pushing on and pushing out my stiff upper lip. I knew change was necessary.
That said I was not expecting change to be forced upon me. On 7th January 2013 after feeling under the weather I was diagnosed with pulmonary emboli. So spending less time working came instantly true but not for the right reasons. I was too ill to work for several weeks, and have been gradually building back up ever since. In May I decided to go part time for a year, with the full support of my company, and work 4 days a week. This in essence gives me the opportunity to catch up on rest and life.
The silver lining of my illness is that my creative side started to assert itself, usually suppressed behind the all consuming cerebral life of a Client Development Director. I couldn’t go out too much and when I tried it was pretty unsuccessful. I had a dreadful appearance at a friend’s 50th, and lasted all of about 40 minutes before admitting defeat and heading for a black cab. But I didn’t want to just fester, so I started writing. There were no time pressures, and I have always wanted to write more. Whenever I have been on holiday and the grip of work lessens novel and story ideas start to flood my mind, and even when I had promised myself I would carry on, this invariably lasted a couple of weeks maximum, as the weeds of work choked and suffocated my creativity.
So when I was able and up to it I wrote. This might only have been 20 minutes a day, but I felt like I was achieving something, and my brain loved the freedom to think creatively. After a while I had a few short pieces, and got some feedback from a fantastic author I discovered and befriended this year. She said that I had a voice but lacked structure and recommended I went on a creative writing course. I love constructive feedback, and thought this was really positive. Years of writing corporate reports would change the way I style and structure pieces, and I needed to transport myself back to youth when I could write creatively and to the classroom.
The words of Raymond Carver which were kindly shared with me ringing in my ears…
‘It’s akin to style, what I’m talking about, but it isn’t style alone. It is the writer’s particular and
unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There’s plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.’
I was off to Ways into Creative Writing – An Introduction at City Lit, an adult learning centre squashed between Holborn and Covent Garden. The class was 2 hours a week for 6 weeks, and I thought this an achievable commitment. It was also on a Friday, i.e. a non working day, so I could rest in the day and then head to college.
The six weeks have passed really quickly and I want more! I of course had big decisions each week as to what to wear, especially after the second week when the teacher commented on my having great taste in T shirts! I had to perform! Hair was also always quiffed to perfection! However, for once I am not going to indulge too many words focussed on hair and outfit!
I was absolutely transported back to school, and was nervous about making friends, which of course I shouldn’t have been, and met some lovely people at various stages in the evolution of their writing. I connected with one student and we have linked on social media, and we text before each class to make sure we are saving seats for each other!
I relish the homework which has consisted of pieces of prose varying between 300 and 1000 words, and two pieces of reading each week, generally a poem and a short story or part thereof.
I also bumped into the tutor at a literary salon event which was not only great, but enabled me to indulge my need to impress the teacher! I often used to wonder why I was accused at school and college (of yesteryear) of sucking up to the teachers, but it flowed so easily this year I have to accept it! I would like to rebrand it as great networking!
We have developed new characters, written short stories, monologues, and learned lots of new tools to add structure and widen ability to create imagery.
Teachers comments on my monologue homework ‘Lovely, Wayne – really poignant. Terrific voice – consistent throughout, entirely believable and natural. Good flow and balance of longer and shorter lines. Nice rhythm through the whole piece, and a truly sympathetic character. Completely engaging’ (Monologue at the bottom of this entry if you are interested in reading it)
A successful Boulevardier should feel confident in his ability with the arts!
The advent of my writing, and attending the course have shown me:
1) I want to learn more about the creative writing process
2) The fragility of life is sometimes thrust in your face, and I would implore any reader with aspirations, dreams or longings to pursue them without delay!
We can not predict what is coming next or hidden in the shadows of life!
Love living life, and live to maximum capacity!
Dotty visits Maurice’s grave for the first time
I never in a million years thought I would be visiting you here, and in fact once you were gone I didn’t think I would be able to come, but here we are three days after we said our goodbyes and I managed to come. I really don’t know what to say. I thought of so many things since the funeral but they escape me now.
Jackie Webber has been really good, and comes to see me every day since, you know.
I brought you some fresh flowers, as these have already wilted in the Spanish sun. I am not sure what they are, but they are small, yellow and beautiful. You know I always looked at colour rather than type. I got myself a bunch for home too.
Brian and Lisa set back off to England yesterday, and to be honest it’s a relief. I miss them love, but I need some space. I need to get back to work, but it’s hard enough getting up without you here, let alone thinking of anything else.
The Foundations came on the radio yesterday, and I wanted to dance and laugh as we always used to, but I couldn’t. Maybe one day, but it’s too soon.
Maurice, how can I do this alone? Spain was our plan. What on earth were you doing walking on the beach road in the dark? I can’t do this now.
Why did you leave me? What am I supposed to do now? How am I meant to go on living?
This afternoon I am supposed to meet Mrs Barker for tea, but I don’t think I will go.
I am going to try and come back tomorrow, God willing, and if I can bear to.