At noon, on Monday 9th September, after a gap of thirty-eight years, I will be re-entering full-time education as I embark on a four-year honours degree course in Creative Writing with the University of the Highlands and Islands.
As a child, I had eight “first days” at school to endure as the family moved from village to village, to Australia and back, and then from village to town to city. Each time was terrifying for me as a shy, introverted child…or was it the lifestyle that caused me to be that way?
Eventually, I would make a friend or two, only to have to say goodbye soon afterwards, and repeat the process at the next establishment. Even going to university for the first time held the same fears for me as an eighteen-year-old straight from school.
Whilst it does not hold the same levels of anxiety I suffered as a boy, it is not without some trepidation that I now venture into unfamiliar territory.
This time though, it is not the fear of strangers and an alien environment that I face, but the uncertainty that I will be up to the task. Certainly, I have self-published two novels and dabbled in poetry, but the prospect of tackling as-yet-unknown, deadlined assignments, engaging in an on-line learning environment, being subjected to peer reviews, keeping a journal and creating a portfolio, seem mysterious and formidable to my untrained mind.
Nevertheless, I face these challenges bravely, choosing to see them as opportunities to hone my craft, learn some self-discipline and expand my skill base. I look forward to discovering the secrets of writing for the stage, screen and radio, improving my prose and poetry, and gaining an understanding of the publishing sector. Although this will stretch both my emotional resilience and intellectual abilities, I know I will be supported, encouraged and guided by my tutors, some of whom have successful writing careers themselves.
To tell the truth, I am also excited. I have my favourite fountain pen, a recycled paper jotter, a laptop and an open mind eager for change. I’ve grown up now haven’t I?
As Maurice Moss says in The IT Crowd, “I want to bite the electric tiger’s tail and ride it till the end of the mother flipping line!”
Bring it on.