I’m Not Dead

…I’ve just been horrifically negligent with my blog especially during a period when I’d have had so much relevant stuff to write about. I’ve been through a Beckett (Happy Days at the Young Vic) -induced life crisis, celebrated the first anniversary of Until the Light Goes Out, written a promising start for a short story collection and decided to become a scholar on May Sinclair’s fiction. After I finished reading her most famous novel Life and Death of Harriett Frean I had vivid and disturbing dreams about it for three nights in a row and took this as a sign. I also bought her collection Uncanny Stories which consists of late Victorian ghost stories with a twist of Freudian psychoanalytical complexity. Pure gold.

On Friday I went dancing at the Blues Kitchen on Camden High Street. The DJ was amazing and kept us dancing for six hours straight with a mixture of list hits, old school Rock’n’Roll and the occasional Nirvana or Sex Pistols song. That was enough social activity for my weekend the rest of which I spent going on the swings in the playground in Finsbury Park.

I’m writing this during a lunch break and now have to head off to class: Research Methodology and Ethics in Creative Writing, my favourite module this term. There’s been a lot of talk in the media recently about the uselessness of teaching creative writing and how great novelists should just emerge out of nowhere as born geniuses and all that comes out of creative writing degrees is pretentious and identical authors. I believe that those who claim so have only come across inadequate writing tutors and unmotivated students. I don’t know if taking classes will make my writing better or more saleable, but at least I’m more aware of what I’m writing. My classmates and tutors will pick up things in my work that I won’t notice because they’re so closely knit into my worldview; it’s dangerous for a writer to take anything for granted and that is why it’s so essential to workshop texts with other writers. Those claiming that creative writing can’t be taught often say that the only way one can learn about writing is by reading a lot and that you can learn as much by using public libraries as by paying lots of money for a degree. Of course it’s true that many things can be learnt using public libraries but I wouldn’t want anyone to be discouraged from getting educated in this field because my degree has been incredibly useful and I have discovered literature (such as May Sinclair) and met people (fantastic classmates and lecturers, many of whom are published writers and therefore good networking) I’d never have come across if I was self-taught. Whether it’s bestseller material or total crap that’s coming out of me doing this degree, at least I’m writing it consciously.

xx

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