Back To School

It will soon be time for me to get down to WH Smiths and buy a pencil-case and some lined A4 paper.I’m going to be studying for a part-time writing MA starting in January. As I write the prospect still seems unreal, and yes, exciting.

The last (and so far only time) I formally studied English literature was for an A level in the mid 1980’s. I say studied– I was reading a lot of books, but Kesey, Kerouac and Camus weren’t on the syllabus. I did love John Donne, and picked up a bit of Shakespeare – I can still quote from Othello. I scraped an E grade (I’d read Orwell’s 1984 before). Summer came and went. My girlfriend packed for Uni. I got a job.
I made an abortive attempt to study for an Ecology degree at the end of 89, briefly studied for a counselling diploma in the early 90’s, and did eventually go to university to study full-time in the late 90’s, qualifying in adult nursing and topping up the diploma to a degree a few years later.

I’ve returned to self-education in the last few years, almost exclusively reading poetry, firstly because I discovered so much that I loved and secondly because I was starting to write again myself having almost stopped entirely around the time of the aforementioned A level.  Looking at my bookshelves I realise that apart from poetry I’ve also acquired biographical books on Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, John Clare, Wilfred Owen, David Jones and Edward Thomas. I’m aware that there are no women in this list, but have started Jeanette Winterson’s auto biographical ‘Why be happy when you can be normal’ and can highly recommend it. Oh, and I read ‘The Bell Jar’ back when I was supposed to be reading Vera Britten.

I’ve been gathering up poems for the book which is coming out next year, hoping to get a good idea of what will go in and in what order before term starts.

The reading list for the MA has arrived, and being determined not to once more sabotage my chances, I’ve been to the library and obtained a couple of books.
One of these was James Kelman’s ‘Mo said she was quirky’. It’s the first novel I’ve read for some time, and I hope to post a short review here soon.

I’d forgotten how I used to walk and read as a teenager, book in one hand, dog lead in the other. Alas I don’t have a dog at the moment, but have been amused to find myself walking with a novel once more.  It almost feels like time traveling; WH Smiths, lectures. I’m sure I can fit in a bit of extracurricular reading; this time I’m determined that it will be as well as what’s on the reading list.



  1. I’m excited for you! I hope it all goes well and that the reading and studying feeds into your writing, and vice versa. Part-time is a good idea. So it’s writing prose and poetry then? I’ll be checking to see which other books are on your reading list. Good luck!


    • Thank you Josephine. It is writing prose and poetry. There are scriptwriting elements and short story.
      The course is part time as travel is involved and I still need to work and have family comitments. This will hopefully enable the sort of balanced life that I’ve been searching for. Thank you for your interest, I hope my reading will help to inform this blog.


  2. Good luck with your course. I returned to education several times and loved them all – there’s nothing so good to stimulate the aging brain cells as an academic approach to a subject you love


  3. All this sounds very positive for the year ahead. Very much hope you keep on track. There’s a great little book called 101 ways to Motivate Yourself by Christine Ingham which I’ve always found useful. Good luck!


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