As an aspiring author you don't look much beyond the dream of one day being published. You hanker for that almighty 'yes' from an editor or agent, yet rarely question the world you're entering. It comes as a great surprise to encounter the other elements of a published author's life. There's the in-person library talks, the on-going social media presence, the on-line book groups discussions, the competition giveaways, the advice requests, the mentoring queries and the flow of 'Thank you' messages from grateful readers which fills your week; each provides an interesting and pleasurable aspects outside of writing your book.
Last week, I experienced the ultimate thrill!
As a youngster, I wasn't encouraged to pursuit higher education post 18; my parents were pretty old-school in believing that I needed a full-time job before 'life' followed a set path. At the time I knew no different, so trusted the guidance I had. By the time I hit my twenties, I actually resented that guidance. I may have collected average grades throughout school, but I was nobody's fool! The education system appeared to be behind me, the chance of university and qualifications felt like a missed opportunity, and yet I yearned to learn more. It didn't help that my sibling attended uni for a short time before being kicked out for spending all his time in Pizza Hut!!!
So imagine my delight on discovering The Open University! Boy oh boy, how life changed from that moment. I was able to study two degrees: psychology and English literature before completing teacher training. It wasn't an easy route, but a necessary one for me. Whilst focusing on my OU studies and securing the 'day job', I spent my free time working on the 'dream job'. It'll come as no surprise, that as part of my English Literature degree, I was eager to study the OU's two creative writing courses. I learnt so much about the basic 'tool kit' and creative foundation necessary that I adopted some practises as my own. That was back in 2008 and 2009!
Last week, some 12 years after studying their two creative writing courses, the OU interviewed myself and Shereen Malherbe, a fellow author and OU student, to create a study resource for inclusion as course material for their current Creative Writing course. OMG! This interviewed topped every other event I have undertaken as an author. I was literally blown away to be given the opportunity to share my experiences, publishing route and study journey with other OU students and aspiring authors.
It's quite amazing to think I have literally gone full-circle, 'day job' and 'dream job' thanks to The Open University.
As mid-August draws near my mind has already sprung forward into autumn; my favourite time of the year! Since childhood, I've always aligned September with January in relation to new beginnings and goal setting - this year is no different.
For the forthcoming season, I'm going to focus on reading my 'classics' - something I've let slide in recent months as I've tried to juggle modern fiction alongside. For the remainder of 2021 I'm heading back in time!
Like most bookworms, I plan my reading order, record my completed books and actively seek out specific books to enhance my experience. To a non-reader that must sound crazy but its what us bookworms do. I can get as much enjoyment from selecting a pile of books to fill the next three months as others would from a night out. Seriously, that's simply me being honest!
I currently have a 'book challenge' which I'm partway through but I've come across a stumbling block; I can't remember how three listed books end, so have refused to scribble them from my challenge list. I definitely read them years ago, could discuss them if someone asked, but for the life of me I can't remember the endings. So, my September read, or more specifically 'reread', is to revisit the following three books.
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Wilde
Mrs Dalloway - Woolf
The Catcher In The Rye - Salinger
Each book is a short read, so by 30th September I'll have the satisfaction of crossing them from my book challenge, once and for all.
In October, I'm thinking of tackling an epic read - one of the chunky doorstoppers which litter my book shelves; I'm tempted by Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. November might be claimed by Hardy's Jude The Obscure and December ... well, I haven't got that far in my planning but I can hear Dickens' calling to me!