All posts by Lynsey Macready

Writing solo

It’s week nine and the pile of reading list books still doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I’ve accepted now that reading only parts of books until week 12 is a perfectly reasonable thing to be doing at this late stage of the game.

The last few weeks have been particularly fun but full-on. We’ve had a Writers Read with Daniel Shand who talked to us about his brilliant debut novel, Fallow. We also had a great masterclass from Chris Arthur who talked to us about the essay and gave us a handful of writing exercises which were really helpful for getting started on our own attempts – finally the essay makes sense!

The Dundee Literary Festival also took place at the end of October. I only managed to get along to two events but I made two excellent choices! The first one was ‘Nasty Women’ featuring three contributors, Jen McGregor, Alice Tarbuck and Becca Inglis, who had written essays for 404 Ink’s sensational collection. Topics ranged from Courtney Love to birth control which made for a really interesting hour of conversation.

I also listened to Erland Clouston’s hilarious but fascinating insight into the life of Nan Shepherd, ‘Zen and the Art of Rucksack Maintenance’. I love Nan’s book The Living Mountain so I was pretty excited about this one but Erland, Nan’s literary executor and family friend, didn’t disappoint.

Last week, I made a trip up to Inverness to interview the very lovely, Cynthia Rogerson. I’d met Cynthia earlier in the year at Moniack Mhor but it was great to find out more about what brought her to the Highlands from California, and her process for writing wonderful novels.

I’ve been very conscious of the fast-approaching deadlines of weeks ten and twelve so this week I decided to take off to the Isle of Skye for a couple of days by myself – and what a productive few days they’ve been! It’s amazing how much more you can achieve when there’s no distractions of day-to-day life. Details of my escapades are on my personal blog and I certainly don’t think this will be the last time I take off on a solo adventure!

Imposter!

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about why it is I’m here, and it boils down to reaching the big 3-0 last year.

If I’ve asked myself, “what am I doing with my life?” once, I’ve asked it a million times. I first graduated in 2008, and since then have floated between cities and jobs trying to find my ‘path’. It didn’t bother me too much that I hadn’t found it, until I turned 30, and suddenly my hodgepodge career wasn’t okay, it wasn’t enough.

I couldn’t stop looking at others with their successful careers and fat salaries, and comparing myself – someone with a half-arsed attempt at a career and who is STILL terrible with money. (Can someone teach me the skills of budgeting? Anyone?!)

I also couldn’t ignore the fact that deep down I was unhappy. None of my jobs felt like the right fit for me and I felt endless waves of panic that I was wasting so much time; treading water and bobbing around in a world of mediocrity. I had a severe case of Imposter Syndrome, questioning why I was never quite getting anywhere and wondering when people would discover that I didn’t belong in the corporate world.

So I took a big step back. People say to do more of what makes you happy, and after spending almost 10 years doing what I thought I should be doing, I decided to do what I actually wanted to do. Inconveniently, this happens to be writing. Probably one of the hardest careers to make real, hard cash from. Brilliant.

But I realised that this was the only thing I felt genuinely passionate about, so I started up a little freelance writing business as a side earner. Then I was accepted onto this MLitt and packed in my full-time job. I know people thought I was ‘aff my nut’ as we say up here, and some days I thought I was too, but it’s always the scary decisions that are worth jumping for.

So now I’m commuting to Dundee from Aberdeen every week and juggling an MLitt with a part-time job and a freelance writing business. I don’t think I have ever been so busy in all my puff, but I am SO happy (underneath all the stress and general terror).

I’ve been asked several times what I’m going to do after I’ve graduated and the honest answer is that I have no idea. But that doesn’t scare me at all because I know that no matter what, I won’t be treading water anymore. I’ll be swimming upstream with no idea of where I’m headed and I can’t think of anything more exciting.

Bears and books

Today I went to see the very lovely, Goodbye Christopher Robin. I’ll be writing a review for assessment and also for DURA (if it’s worthy enough!) so I won’t go into too much detail, but I really enjoyed the film. It gives an insight into the world of A.A Milne and his relationship with his son, who inspired the character of Christopher Robin.

The beautiful Sussex scenery really sets the scene for a real-life Hundred Acre Wood and Will Tilston is excellent as a very sweet and funny Billy Moon AKA Christopher Robin. Set in postwar Britain, it deals with some tougher issues like PTSD and the author’s changeable relationship with his son but overall, it’s a very charming, moving film that I think all writers would enjoy!

I’m one of those people who can’t just read one book at a time, finish it, then move on – I need to have a few on the go at the same time! So currently, I’m reading Accidents in the Home and Sunstroke by Tessa Hadley and Otherlands by Harry Guest. I was also in the middle of The White Bird Passes by Jessie Kesson and Mountains of the Mind by Robert Macfarlane, but those two aren’t on the MLitt reading list so they’ll have to take a back seat until I have a bit more free space in my brain!

I hadn’t heard of Tessa Hadley until recently, but I really love her writing. Her honest, real characters really appeal to me and I love the subtle little twists throughout. Feeling very inspired for some short story writing!

Hello friends!

I’m Lynsey, a very small Dundonian with a very large fringe.

I left this lovely place in 2008 the first time around, and now I’m back for a postgrad. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bricking it but I’m VERY excited!

I’ve always loved to write but it’s taken me a long time to realise that it’s the thing that makes me really happy and the thing that I’m good at. Well, at least I used to think that until I started this MLitt! There is nothing like being around talented writers to give you a huge dose of The Fear.

I love reading fiction involving nature writing and if there’s a quirky, funny character chucked in there too, then all the better! Earlier this year, I read The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, which I cannot stop banging on about. It was a glorious read and truly inspired me to get cracking with my own writing.

So, here we are, week four. I’ve managed to avoid any meltdowns, but I give it another two weeks before I lose my mind over iambic pentameter or the difference between ‘voice’ and ‘point of view’. When I was working towards my undergrad, I was easily distracted from the task at hand, so this time I will be working extra hard and avoiding hangovers caused by the Union’s wonderfully low prices. Lessons have been learned…

I’m also so glad to be struggling onwards with such an ace group of people. It blows my mind to be surrounded, every week, by people who are just as geeky as me. Who knew! Particular high-five to my writing buddy, Jed, who has already put up with a mountain of questions that I should definitely know the answers to. He is an MLitt saint.